Confusion about my Buffet Clarinet

November 4, 2010

Dear Mr. Friedland –

I’m sure you probably get many questions about the Evette & Schaeffer Buffet Crampon clarinets, since so many people seem so confused about them. As I progressed on the clarinet in high school, my parents bought me what they thought was a Buffet clarinet. I’m rather confused about the brand of my clarinet.

The clarinet came in a hard case with blue velvet lining. It came with two different barrels. On the top joint of the clarinet is an oval. Above and outside of the the oval are the words “Master Model” (the words follow the curve of the oval). Inside the oval at the top are the names “Evette & Schaeffer”; centered inside the oval is the word “Paris”; at the bottom inside the oval

is the word “France.” Outside of the oval, following the bottom curve of the oval are the words “Modele Buffet Crampon.” This same logo appears on the lower joint of the clarinet and the bell. A serial number (K9463) is engrave on the back of the top and bottom joints, at the bottom. Also at the bottom on the back of the bottom joint, right above the serial number, are engraved the words “made in France.”

Now comes the confusing part. On each of the two barrels which came with the clarinet, there’s an entirely different logo. This logo has an engraved lyre which is on top and outside of an oval. Inside the oval, at the top, following the inside curve of the oval is the name “Buffet”; centered inside the oval are the words, in cursive, “Crampon & Cie.” Inside and at the bottom of the oval are the words “A Paris”, following the curve of the oval. Beneath, and outside of the oval, are joined cursive letters “BC”, and beneath that are the words “Made in France.”

So my question is: is this a Buffet clarinet, an Evette & Schaeffer Buffet clarinet, or what is it? All I know is that it has the most wonderful tone. I recently had it completely overhauled – all it needed were new pads and corks and a general checkup. It has no cracks – I’ve always taken excellent care of it because I know my parents had to really scrape to provide me with a good clarinet (or what we all thought was a good clarinet?).

Since I had to have a root canal done on a front tooth and had to have a crown put on, I’m not going to be able to play the clarinet anymore; the crown just wouldn’t take the pressure (plus I no longer have health insurance and so can’t afford to damage the crown). I’d like to sell my clarinet – I’d like to see it in the hands of a good student who would appreciate it.

Where would I go to get my clarinet appraised? I’d like to find out what it’s worth. Are there people who appraise only musical instruments? I’ve seen Evette & Schaeffer Buffet Clarinets on eBay, but none that match mine. Plus, my clarinet’s case is like new; some of the cases I’ve seen on eBay are in terrible shape. My clarinet is still shiny and new-looking.

Thank you for any information you can give me.

Sincerely yours,

Dear Kathy:
Thank you for your letter about the clarinet with the doubtful provenance. I can give you as much information as I can, but as to the actualy beauty of the clarinet, it’s in intonation, its bore, its basic playability in the hands of a clarinetist, there is nobocy who can give you conclusive comments, because it is a matter of opinion based upon a combination of the different players who may evaluate it.
Ont thing for sure, it is a Buffet Clarinet, but not the R-13 or the Prestige, or others; It is an Evette-Schaeffer Master Model which is a cut below that of the highest and best Buffets. Shiny doesn’t matter, but condition of the body, pads, bore, springs and corks do.
To my understanding, all of the clarinets manufactured in France by Buffet are placed in one style or another. The Evette Schaeffer is not the highest level, however someone might find it excellent. All of these Evettes fall below the quality of the first-line Buffet, and there are many who state that their grading system is highly inaccurate. Be that as it may, Buffet Crampon clarinets are those, everything lower than that can be almost anything.

Barrels for clarinets are made literally in every grotto in France, and none can qualify for inclusion into the fantastic category box.
Again, it is the job of the particular appraiser or evaluator for a declaration as to quality and playability..

I will now refer you to the article preceding this one, which gives hints on selling your clarinet.It concerns Leblanc clarinets, but with the name change, it works equally well for the Buffet. The philosophy of the company is questionable, calling all of its products,Buffet-Crampon, but differentiating wildly between them. In other words, they allow so much depth in perception, giving the retailer the ability to sell Buffets at all price levels, without actually stipulating the quality. It’s questionable at best and I find it very frustrating personally. While I find an excellent Buffet to be a very good instrument, they are few and far between, wildly fluctuating between instruments. Your Buffet-Crampon Evette and Schaeffer, Master model, is just that, and nothing more. Perhaps that is enough, or not.

good luck, sherman


That Clarinet Mystique is a mistake.

August 20, 2010

Dear Mr Friedland,

First I would like to congratulate you for sharing your knowledge with the whole world.I think that people like you, with your credibility and exemption, and  William Ridenour, with his technical ability and entrepreneurship, are revolutionizing the clarinet market – hard rubber seems to be the way to go.I have one question for you.Some time ago, the quality of the clarinets made in china was a joke, and now they have improved a lot, specially the hard rubber (ebonite) clarinets.We know too that any one can order one hundred or less clarinets from a Chinese maker and print a logo on it and create her/his own brand. This scenario makes things harder.Recently you post a good review about the Orpheo 450 Pro clarinet, a good instrument for its price. But how much can we trust a clarinet from an unknowing Chinese brand?Like this “JinYin” ebonite Eb clarinet for $ 179,00 “Lazarro” ebonite Bd clarinet from ebay for less then $100,00

I know that you can say specifically nothing about those instruments. But about the overall picture, do you have something to say?
Thank you.

Best regards,
RFS Ps.: Excuse me for my poor writing. English is not my first language.

Dear RFS:

Thank you for your note with its questions about ebonite clarinets from the Orient.
I have played many more than several as I bought and tried and returned perhaps 10 or 11 so-called Allora ebonite Bbs from 23 Music. These were actually Ridenour Arioso clarinets with a different name. They were advertised as such however with the name Allora, and they played just beautifully , by and large. The deviations between each clarinet were very small indeed.I think I probably returned the best one I had, a testament to the ability to machine hard rubber more easily than grenadilla wood.At the time the instruments from the Orient were called CSI, ir Clarinet Shaped Instruments, an obviously derisive term. These instruments shocked me with their really excellent tuning and basic response, and finally when I got the chance to try an Allora A clarinet, I bought it and still it is mine today.Ridenour has said on several occasions that he is not sure which one of his designs is the best, but feels it either his C or his A clarinet.
Then I tried another Bb Ebonite clarinet imported by some music store on the West Coast.  I sent it on to Tom.He wrote back saying it was like a big “Buffet clarinet”, which was taken as a compliment.I still have that one, though it is not being played at present.
Then, for a pittance, I bought yet another, the 450 Orpheo, same strong case, two barrels and a mouthpiece, ordinary register key.  Excellent. Curiously enough, I was able to switch register keys with the ergonomic register key on my Lyrique, and the scews and keys matched perfectly. This is a fine free blowing instrument, though I felt the second register started to be slightly sharp as it went up, but a horn with a nice feel, a good thumb rest and a good response. Cost 133.00, shipping included. I recommend it without reservation.

You see, there is a mystique associated with the French Grenadilla clarinet, and it actually refines into something like “each clarinet is carefully tested and tuned”. I say that statement or inference, is total hyperbole, overspeak or plain BS. I spent some time at the Selmer factory in Paris and visited the Buffet place as well, and to me it looked like an assembly line. I wondered if some of those workmen could even hear. The Selmers were the most consistent and dependable. The Buffets were the least. The years past have proven that to me over and over again.

I think finally, that the clarinets from the Orient made of ebonite are to be taken quite seriously. The Lyrique is clearly best because the designer actually works on each and offers an actual guarantee. The others need to be tried. In the final analyses, one doesn’t mind when the price for the whole deal is about $150. and sometimes that price includes shipping.

All of the advertising you see for all of the many clarinets being offered for sale costs money, big money. Guess who pays it? You, for it is in the price of the horn.

A final Caveat:yes, you can purchase a Buffet Clarinet, and it mahy be a good one, but it is useful to paraphrase Anthony Gigliottis statement” Every year I would try 55 Buffet Clarinets and I would select two and then bring them to Hans Moenig to arrange them sothat I could play them in the Philadelphia Orchestra. Gigliotti was principalin that orchestra for many yhears and Hans Moenig was the techician who was responsiblefor tuning and arranging many top players clarinets.He also developed the “Moenig”reverse curve”barrel, emulated by many makers and played by many. When a director directs a first-year student to buy a Buffet to play in band, one should really think many times and perhaps reread the above. Of course the choice is yours, or your sponsors and/or parents.

Keep practicing.


Roll out the barrels!

May 17, 2010

Dear Mr. Friedland:

Could you please give me a recommendation as to what type of barrel you would consider using on both a Selmer Centered Tone and LeBlanc Dynamique Clarinet. The fact that these are large bore instruments to the DEG barrels etc. work well on them or should I stay with the barrels that came with them?Thank you for your time,ML

Hello ML:

My information is that the Accubore is made for Buffet clarinets, though only that recommendation can be found, no reason at all.
I think that aluminum is a good stable alternative to wood, but ebonite or hard rubber may as good or better. That being said, the best judge of which barrel is best is you, and your reaction to the barrel, its response and of course, its pitch.

Regardless of the small difference in the bore of the Dynamic or the CT clarinet, no one barrel is better than another. The final judge is the player. The addition of the rings to take up the space is a good idea, however the cost is also a factor. The barrel, made by Ridenour clarinet products is as good as any and less expensive. There are all sorts of things out there at even more sorts of prices, but one must remember, in order the compare a barrel, one must listen and play more than one at a time, an impossibility. The time it takes top change barrels is enough to obliterate ones recent memory for reponse and/or pitch.

Here is the description for accubore:
AccuBore Clarinet Tuning barrels replace your existing tuning barrel and improves intonation and sound. Machined from aluminum alloy with a distinctive and acoustically beneficial fluted design which provides a stable bore unaffected by temperature or moisture changes. Each barrel is supplied with 3 bore matched tuning rings, 0.5mm, 1mm, and 2mm.Your Choice – Please SpecifyB Series – (For Buffet Clarinets) Measured in Millimeters – B60, B62, B64, B65, B66, B67M Series – (Moennig Bore, Professional Clarinets) Measured in Millimeters – M64, M65, M66, M67C Series – (Reverse Taper Bore, For Leblanc, Selmer, and Yamaha Clarinets) Measured in Millimeters – C62, C64, C65, C66, C67S Series – (For Student & Intermediate Clarinets) Millimeters – S62, S64Specially designed for Buffet clarinets, these barrels will add more tonal focus and even intonation to your playing. The aluminum construction makes it very stable in environmental changes.

There is a huge “group thought” that the two clarinets are big bore, meaning as part of the group thought, they are best for jazz, wrong, wrong wrong.
Many of Bennies recordings were made on clarinets other than the CT, nothwithstanding the legend, and the original advertisement for the Centered Tone Selmer he made so many years ago, and virtually all of my classical symphonic playing was done on a pair of Centered Tone Selmers clarinets, so the CT is not a particular instrument for a specific type of music.

Good luck, and play well.


Tuning in any ensemble,part II

March 29, 2010

Dear Mr. Friedland,

I was lucky enough to get to your ‘Clarinet’s corner’ on the web. First I want to thank you for setting up such a helpful site. Second, I’m playing a Selmer 10S clarinet (sn Z9004) in an amateur local orchestra, after many, many years without playing it regularly. I switched to sax as a main instrument a long time ago. So I realize that currently everybody there in the orchestra is tuned at 442. Fortunately enough, my 10S came with two barrels, but I can’t get in tune even with the shorter one. Well, after some warm up, it goes a little better, but I regularly found myself lipping it up to approach the 442 diapason. I thought that this shorter barrel was a 442 one, but when testing it with an electronic tuner it seems to be a 441 barrel.

So, my questions are:

1) Would any of the current in-catalog 442 Selmer barrels fit for my 10S? Or would any other brand barrel do the trick? Or maybe the problem is me and not the instrument? 🙂
2) Would the instrument intonation be negatively affected in any way by using a 442 barrel?

Thanks in advance,


P.S.: My 10S briefing: It was bought at the Selmer head office in Paris, as no music shop in the city, at that time (circa 1976), was selling it. I was told they didn’t sell clarinets with Eb low key because nobody used them in France (I’m from Spain). The very attentive Selmer technician that served us at the Selmer office initially hold me the instrument with sn. Z9003. He told me to play it for a couple of days before considering it a definitive purchase. Eventually the central joint got a fissure thru the c#/g# hole, and the company took back the instrument and sold me the Z9004, that now has gone fine for already 35 years!

Dear Pierre
I do not think that the tuning problem is your fault in any way, but it is your responsibility to fix.

This can be done with some understanding of the tuning exercise in an amateur orchestra, which probably varies considerably, as does the meaning of the word “amateur”.

First, you must start the rehearsal already warmed up, meaning that you should arrive earler than the time you play so as to have your horn playing at its normal pitch. If you do not arrive early, I have found that you will spend the entire rehearsal out of tune and groping around for something like a pitch center to hang on to.
Please take that advice. You must be warmed up prior to the beginning of the rehearsal.
It is my practice to arrive at least a half hour prior to the beginning of the rehearsal. Stick to that time. As you warm up your clarinet, you will receive the benefit of hearing others arriving. They have to have a pitch to hang to, and perhaps they will listen to you or begin to associate their pitch with yours. This is really a part of the rehearsal. Get with the first oboe if they are to give the A and tune with him/her This will assist all who arrive at the rehearsal.
Attempt to tune to the note given by the first oboe.
If you cannot reach that pitch, you must come to a resolution, which may be solved by a shorter barrel. On the 10S, which happens to be very familiar to me, the pitch should easily be reachable with the 64.5 barrel that came with the horn. If not, I recommend first obtaining a pitch fork, or a small battery driven electrical tuner. which you can get in any music store. If you are in tune with that, then you must resolve the issue with the pitch giver.
Who is right? You are both wrong, if the giver of the pitch is higher than 442.
You can obtain a movable barrel which are also available and are not that expensive, and should be able to get you above 442. If not, you can buy a shorter barrel which may help . Or it may not.
When I was playing either in an orchestra or in chamber music ensembles,pitch always came first, and it was really a part of my livelihood. I made sure that I could reach the pitch by any of the methods mentioned above.
I also had a couple of extra barrels always with me in case of playing in very cold rehearsal spaces or with real amateurs, the kind that don’t really bother with tuning. Then you are in “tiger country”.
Mouthpieces can be an issue as well. There are certain brands which tend to be a few cents sharp, such as the Van Doren mouthpiece. And mouthpieces made on the Zinner blank, a gorgeous sounding blank are also a bit sharp. These can help.
The last culprit is you , your embouchure and/or, your reed, which I can tell you nothing about without hearing you play .
I know that it is not your clarinet, which I know is basically an in tune instrument . The two barrels are 66.5 and 64.5.
A 63 mm barrel is available, but that is an extreme.
Try one of the fixes mentioned above. I know that early arrival at a rehearsal is a plus, and warming up is also. The shorter the barrel, the more the notes closest to the barrel will be sharper, in other words, the entire instrument is thrown a bit out of tune.
Wooden clarinets , such as all of them take more time to warm up than specifically hard rubber, which are coming more and more into vogue these days, specifically for tuning purposes. Hard rubber is a much more stable material than is wood, and is more easily machinable.

I am not saying you should change clarinets, just that is is a crucial issue with really any ensemble playing.

I’ve spent at least 60 years concerned with tuning.
Good luck., and keep practicing.

(Get in touch with Ridenour Clarinet products. He sells a hard rubber barrel in many sizes which will fit your clarinet.)

Please see Part I , “Tuning the Clarinet”, from 2004, which is more specifically for an individual clarinet, not necessarily ensemble tuning.


Opus, Selmer and Buffet, big orchestras influence markets

March 26, 2010

Dear Mr Friedland
I am in Boston, where it seems most people play Buffet clarinets. I want to sell my son’s Leblanc which he used for only 2 years, and I am not sure where to advertise or how much to ask. It is in great shape, but the clarinet teacher wanted him to have a Buffet. He has only used this instrument at home because I would not allow him to take it to school. It is in excellent condition with a nice case cover and 2 reverse curve barrels.
Any guidance would be appreciated,
It is a Leblanc OPUS wood clarinet with an extra key on the left hand pinky. Not sure which note this is for. Also not sure if the keys are silver. Is it possible to tell the difference between nickel and silver plating just by looking?
Thanks, Terry

Dear Terry:
If the clarinet is only two years old, it is one of the finest clarinets available today anywhere and is worth a considerable amount to either sell or trade for a Buffet if your teacher insists.

I cannot help but insert here some pertinent information concerning all the clarinets mentioned above, and that you are in Boston, which was my home .

Back then, (in them there times) nobody, simply nobody played a Buffet, because the entire Boston Symphony Orchestra clarinet section played Selmers. So, all the teachers played Selmers as well.

Gino Cioffi, one of my last teachers, was Principal clarinet and of course, he played Selmers, as did Cardillo, Valerio and Mazzeo, the others.
Buffets were known and sold in New York, where all the clarinets in the New York Philharmonic played Buffets. So, there you have the whole story, and I’m sorry you have to sell your Leblanc Opus, which is considered the finest clarinet made today. Two of the most important clarinetists in the US play the Opus or a derivation of the Opus, Larry Combs, Principal Clarinetist of the Chicago Symphony,(retired), and Eddie Daniels, arguably the best Jazz clarinetist.
The lines in clarinet buying have been blurred in recent years, first by the Opus, designed by Tom Ridenour when he was the chef designer of Leblanc. Ricardo Morales, whos reputation is considered above all those mentioned here, is principal in the Philadelphia Orchestra. He plays the Selmer “Recital” clarinet. That particular clarinet has a smaller bore and a larger diameter than others. It is called frequently, “the fat clarinet”
Now, Larry Combs and Eddie Daniels both played Buffet prior to the Ridenour-designed Opus.
I have owned a set of both Opus and of Recital Clarinets and also Buffets and can say unequivocally that they all have good qualities, however the Buffet as a clarinet, is the most inconsistent.

In German and Austria many play play on a different system: an Oehler system with a different fingering, bore and resistance factor. Or they play the Wurlitzer Reform Boehm in Concertgebow Orchestra and the Hague in Holland.  I’m told that French style clarinets  mentioned above are making their way into European orchestras.

But, all this is not in your direct interest. What is, is the worth of your Opus.

If you want to simply sell the horn, it has to be worth about 1500 or perhaps even more.If you would consider trading for a Buffet, call Emilio Lyons, who works for Rayburn Music in Boston, (and is an old old friend) and tell him of your concern. He will give you a good trade on the Leblanc.
If you wish to sell it outright, you could use the internet, specifically Ebay,however this is frustrating unless you are an experienced seller on Ebay.
My recommendation is to find out from Emilio Lyons, determine if your teacher will get the Buffet from Rayburn, who I’m sure, sells them and go from there.
I truly hope that this has been of some help.
Good luck.

‘Tis the Season to be….wary

December 15, 2009

Ah, the Christmas season, and buying is “in” so-to-speak, even when not affordable. That’s OK, for in these times the definition of “affordable” is very wide indeed, and we all acquire goods not needed immediately, but my concern is that what we do buy is at least….what we buy.
Like many of you, I look at the auctions on the internet with great frequency and I am rather dismayed to see for instance, many Yamaha,(in quotation marks) 250 clarinets for sale , bids starting at 99 cents.
As to the Yamaha 250, the actual one, it is nothing more than the model 20 with an added zero and several hundred dollars added to the price. In itself, that is a high price for a plastic clarinet, Yamaha or not. I bought a brand new model 20, in a sealed box for 260 dollars before they switched the number to 250.
In thinking about that inflated number, it can easily be justified by the comparably low cost of their best instruments, the CSG or whatever, which is way under the french ripoff and is much better in tune, and also better finished. So, they may make their money by boosting the low end price, of which they sell many more , in order to compete with the French clarinets, which they undercut totally.
That may be, therefore, a reason.
Bt these 250s advertised today, all at a staring price of less than a dollar, are slightly suspicious to me, and I would suggest staying away, if you’re interested. There are many many Yamaha dealers in this hemisphere a place to try first, whether or not the are shipping charges. Stay away also from the Yamaha clarinets which have another name; frequently they are nothng more than an ordinary 250 with a bag of tricks, adding up to more money.
I purchased an Orpheo 450 hard rubber clarinet for 135.00 US dollars, no shipping and a two year warranty.I did not think I could go wrong and I didn’t . The clarinet came with a couple of barrels, a nice case, a mouthpiece, cap and ligature.
And it had a good adjustable thumb rest , but most of all,responded very well.
Only the tuning was off in the second register, it all being sharp and getting sharper as it proceded. But, I repeat, a very nice response, well fitting parts and for the price, with no shipping, it was terrific.
Somehwere in Taiwan or China, they are making a very good sounding ebonite instrument.
With the Ridenour treatment, you could have a great horn.
I would also be quite wary of the “Buffeee “clarinet being touted as well, for this is more of the same kind of thing  from which we stay away.
There are many bona-fide used clarinets out there and a  bunch of new ones as well, but please be wary of the horn that is simply “too good to be true”, for it is frequently in that place.

best regards for the holidays,and let your practice be true.

The Orpheo 450, economical package

November 9, 2009

For clarinetists, parents, their children : This is a free blowing , good playing clarinet that comes with two barrels, a mouthpiece, a ligature and a reed, in a good strong case. It is made of hard rubber and it is built well. The tuning is sufficient for any kind of playing within reason.  It plays and tunes better than the Greenline and many others. It does not tune as well as the Ridenours Lyrique ;that intonation is the best in the industry.

Last , but important for many is the price I paid: 135.00 US, no shipping charges. All things considered, for the money, it is the bargain of bargains. For students, doublers, guys who play outside, military bandsmen, etc, this is a terrific horn.

This article was written during the past winter. The price now seems to have risen to 159.00.(April 2010)

For the past several months I had been hearing about this name, specifically with regard to a bass clarinet going to low C for a price around $1500, which is, as all know, an extraordinarily low price. I did receive a note from an acquaintance concerning this instrument, and that he was going to buy one. I’ve never heard since except that he had found a use for it in some ensemble. As time as gone by, I have been hearing about more clarinets of this name.What attracted me initially was the statement in their ad that it has silver plated keys, which is impossible. I wrote them concerning the combination of rubber and silver producing sulphuric acid and they have now made their ad “under construction”.

Finally, I ordered one and received it this week.
This clarinet is made of hard rubber, comes with two barrels of different lengths.(The longer barrel produces a low throat Bb,.) mouthpiece, a ligature, a tube of cork grease and a reed.
It looks similar to my Ridenour Lyrique Bb clarinets.

Reading about it, there is a striking resemblance to the kind of thing which is written describing the seamlessness of the Ridenour clarinet, it imperviousness to climate change and of course, the fact that the material doesn’t grow from trees, it oozes from them.
The package I receives looked good, perhaps even very good. In some ways, there is a similarity with the Lyrique. But clarinets all look alike, don’t they.

The only thing in common is the material, ebonite, (hard rubber) and the similarity in shape and look. It plays easily and evenly.
The the chalumeau is  well in tune. The clarion is somewhat uneven and the altissima, starting with high C begins to sound rather sharp in varying degrees. This was all tested with three excellent mouthpieces, and an electronic tuner.
I have and play the original, the Ridenour Lyrique, and also his A clarinet. Ridenours are the best instruments for intonation in the industry.

The horn looks good, the keys work and she blows well , however compared to Tom Ridenours Lyrique clarinet and in fact, the 447, and the Arioso, the Orpheo 450, it is not as good. Finally, the clarinet is listed at about the same as the Lyrique; the comparison ends there , but not a bad instrument at all, and they offer a good year or two guaranty.

I paid 135.00. That’s free, comparatively.

Stay well, and keep practicing,


A Selmer “Centered Tone”, rediscovered

November 1, 2009

Dear Mr. Friedland:
I have a Selmer Centered Tone clarinet I got when I was about 10, probably around 1956 or so but not played for many years. Picking it up today it seemed to have a number of squeaks which I assume result from loose/leaking pads. Also, the ring on the bell has not been tight for perhaps 40 years. How do I tighten the bell? Can I put it back in playing shape with the kits that are sold for re-padding and lubricating? Is it reasonable to take it apart carefully for cleaning? It has a metal ring at one of the joints but is otherwise wood.

Is it possible to produce a shorter barrel joint so that it will actually play in C, so I can play with my son who plays the flute, without having to transpose?

When I was in high school another student had a clarinet which supposedly had fingering the made the break easier to cross but I can find no info on that system. I think it was a buffet clarinet. Are those better than the Selmer? I have no idea what the quality of my instrument is/was but I think it might have cost around 600 or so back then … is there a way to find out?
Thanks – J W,

Dear JW:
Thank you for your note concerning your “Centered Tone” clarinet. This was at the time, the best Selmer Clarinet; in fact I owned a set (Bb and A) for many years. To determine its value now would be fairly easy, since it is in demand and considered a clarinet good for playing Jazz because it has a slightly larger bore. Its reputation is excellent. To determine what it may be worth, look at an auction site that sells musical instruments and simply compare prices.
Of course the condition is crucial for these 50 year old clarinets.

I would suggest that you have it overhauled by a competent repair person. The pre-packaged kits are not something I would recommend at all.
The keys have to be stripped and the clarinet soaked in oil. All springs and pads and corks should be replaced and any cracks repaired. There should be competent technicians in the Boulder area. They will also tighten the ring for you, which takes a special tool. Replacing the pads is a precise job and requires someone who knows what they are doing, preferably with experience to which you can refer. There are many people who advertise, and when the horn is returned, all looks well, but it will have all kinds of small problems, which will not seem small at all.

It will cost you several hundred dollars, but for the clarinet you mention, it is well worth the price. But do get a reference.

As far as playing in C is concerned there is no barrel that is short enough, for it would take several in use at the same time to get your Bb to play in C and it cannot work. You are best advised to buy a C clarinet, as they are not terribly costly and you are ready to go with the same mouthpiece you use on the Bb.. Transposing to clarinet in C is something which is not difficult to do. For starters. if the key signature is in flats, take away two of them, and in sharps, add two. After that you simply play everything up one step, observing your new key signature and you will be fine.
Most clarinet students learn to prepare their lesson in both the key written and in the key of C, and in fact, sometimes other keys as well. Now, I am not advocating that, but if you can purchase a C clarinet, you will like it as it is fun to play, or you can learn to transpose.

As far as “the break” is concerned, that is basically a misconception, however there was a clarinet which made negotiating between registers much easier. I t was a Selmer clarinet designed by Rosario Mazzeo. There are still many of these for sale, but they must be adjusted carefully.

Finally, as to the squeaks you seem to be experiencing, they may be loose pads, or perhaps something closer to home.

Kind regards,
Sherman Friedland

Buying Buffet, a walk in the forest.

September 11, 2009

Dear Mr Friedland:

Hi. I’m nineteen years old, and have been playing clarinet for several months. I cannot afford a teacher, but am making considerable progress on my own, with the help of books and my ears. One issue I have is that when I tongue notes in the upper clarion register, I often find that all I get is the note as it should sound without the register key. Also, I need to tighten my embouchure for the higher notes. It that supposed to happen? Any response would be a big help, Thank You. (I’m playing a Selmer 1400, Fobes Debut, Luyben Ligature, Legere 2.5 student reed)

My second question relates to a clarinet I bought last week in a local store. I was told it’s a Buffet R13. The serial # is 38,251. Is this really an R13, or is it too early to be an R13. Also, I got it for around $600. Is that more, or less than it’s true value? It’s in playable condition, but could use some work here and there. Also, the barrel is newer- it says “R13 B 660” on it. Anything you can tell me about this clarinet would be helpful- I can still return it if it was a ripoff. Thank You Very Much.


“Told it was an R-13”
Well, Aaron, perhaps we have a lot of talking to do.
It could have been an R-13, or perhaps an E-11, in any event, the barrel is a 66mm and is probably not original, as you have said. Suffice it to say that you could have an R-13, but most probably not. In any event this particular clarinet is quite famous for being infamous, meaning uneven, complete with many tuning problems, and in general, not a great instrument, and I’m sure you paid quite well for it, at $600.00. The going price for either a new actual R-13 or anything like it is usually much more. So let us say, you got a good deal.

But, if I could not afford a teacher and had 600 dollars, I would have put the money into perhaps a dozen lessons, a much better deal than some leaky clarinet purported to be something it is not, which in general , is the Buffet story,regardless of price, or deal. If you have a perfectly good student instrument, why would you buy something not as good, and with money you can’t afford?

How does one know that one is making “considerable progress” without a teacher? One does not.
It is not a matter of your ears, or anything having to do with what you play on or how you clamp it to the mouthpiece. All this equipment plays , but you are either taking in too much mouthpiece, or the clarinet is leaking , or you are not covering the keys properly. In short, you donot have a clue.

But, I have a solution: Take the “Buffet” back today to the place you bought it and get your money back. Then, find out about getting a teacher, who is a clarinetist, or a graduate student in Clarinet at a school nearby. Call her (or him) and arrange for at least one lesson. Maybe, it might cost you 50 bucks. You’ll find out more in that one lesson about why the clarinet sounds the way it does than all the crap you can buy at a local music store, and what is more, you’ll be getting what is most valuable for a new clarinet player: that extra set of educated ears. If you get lucky, you’ll learn more in that one lesson than all the Buffet has taught you.

Good luck to you.
Best regards,

The “Demise of Leblanc” ?

August 18, 2009

Hello Mr Friedland,
What do you think about the “demise” of Leblanc as a clarinet maker. It seems that on pro spec intruments they are producing multi wood clarinets for pros and I reckon that alot of people could not afford a nice traditional Leblanc clarinet at a reasonable price. The Backun models are very pretty but do not look that robust to me. The Opus again a nice clarinet but alot of money. If I wanted a quality instrument say priced around a Noblet Artist then I would have to go to Buffet or Yamaha or buy second hand because Leblanc do not cater for me and besides I do not want a USA made clarinet.
Best wishes

Hi IH:

Thank you for your interest and for your thoughts concerning the “demise” of Leblanc as a clarinet maker. Leblanc,and Selmer are now distributed in the US by Conn-Selmer,and of course, the most publicity is being poured into the Backun addition to Leblanc. However this addition of all the furniture of the barrels and bells, which add little or nothing to the sound of the instruments, is what seems to be grabbing all of the attention. The price adds to the farce that is being perpetrated on the buyers of these very pricey instruments.
One guesses that the theory is based upon the idea that more money means a better instrument. Leblanc actually is still being made in France, at least those that are made there. And, they are a very fine instrument. The Opus II and the Concerto, the Sonata, and the Rhapsody are all made in France, as they have been for years, however the changes that take place when they are sold in the US can be vast or purely cosmetic. Selmer is also still being made in France. The Leblancs and Selmers that are made in the US are of a lesser quality, and always have been. The prices have risen to the point of prohibition of purchase for many. The idea of any clarinet costing more than five or six thousand dollars is strange indeed, or at best highly inflated. Actually discounts range from 30% to sometimes 50% or more.
Leblanc has always been somewhat shady in the US, but the French instrument is a superior one and very much around, as they say.
I’m not sure where the Normandy or the Noblet clarinet are made, however there quality was never that of a professional instrument.
There are no instruments made in France these days that can be purchased for “a decent price”, however after all the cut throat discounts that can be found, it is the quality versus the price that must be considered. Some of the best instruments are coming from the Selmer Company.
And incidentally, the Yamaha is fully equal to any French instrument, the tuning generally better, the price a third less or more. Buffet costs as much if not more than all the others, their quality and finish having deteriorated steadily over the years., their quality control a thing of the distant past.So, there is not a demise but a redistribution of the instruments, as far as Conn-Selmer is concerned

Keep playing,
sincerely, Sherman