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Appropriate Clarinet for College doubling

2898 Views 20 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  SOTSDO
Hi all,

The college I plan to attend next year, BGSU, requires that sax majors double on clarinet and flute. I'd like to get a clarinet before I go just to get a little head start on the squeaky little thing. For doubling in college, would a student model like a Yamaha YCL-20 or similar be appropriate? I don't want to spend a ton of money on an instrument I'm only going to be playing part time, but I don't want something that's going to give me grief for 4-5 years, either.

Also, since I play bari sax primarily, I'd really like to get into bass clarinet. Should I start with a Bb clarinet first, and then get a bass, or should I go straight for a bass clarinet and stick to that? Thanks very much!

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Go with the soprano clarinet first. Going straight to bass clarinet, you'll likely have tendencies (i.e. sax embochure) that might develop into bad habits, as the bass is a more forgiving instrument. On sop. clarinet, you'll just have to tough it out and do it right for the start.
As for which horn, do you see yourself playing it for very long past what's required? Try to find a used intermediate model, like a Buffet E11. Leblanc has some good intermediates as well.
I have heard good things about the Yamaha YCL-20.
You could try to find an old wooden Noblet in good condition. They are inexpensive and have a nice tone (IMO)
Dr. G has a great R-13 PRO clarinet available at a AMAZING price. You need to check out that thread.
Or you could buy a used Buffet R-13, one of the long-standing gold standards of clarinets, and never need another clarinet for the rest of your musical life. Is this a double to get you through school or do you intend to be a professional musician?

Disclaimer: I do have a couple of clarinets for sale.
Oops, I was typing while Simon was posting. Thanks for that, Simon. ;)
A wood Noblet can be a screaming good deal. I am partial to the D Noblet as they play well and are usually very affordable.
Go for the soprano Bb first. If you're considering bass you must have a fair amount of money available. Whatever you do don't get a cheap, rough bass if that is an option you're considering. As has been said by SW, Dr G's R13 looks like a good deal if you have that budget. I would look into it, in your shoes.
Dr G said:
Or you could buy a (...), and never need another clarinet for the rest of your musical life.
Hmm, I can't imagine someone sticking to his/her first instrument and never buy something else. How would they know what they might be missing?
To be honest, I'm not sure. I have no experience on clarinet, though I'm very excited to try it out. I do know it's required to learn, but I'm not sure to what degree. I know I need to get one, but at the moment I'm trying to determine how much money I want to sink into one.
tictactux said:
Hmm, I can't imagine someone sticking to his/her first instrument and never buy something else. How would they know what they might be missing?
Easy - stay away from the internet. I played my first tenor, a Continental, for 16 years. I played my second tenor, a Balanced Action, for the next 15 or so. Since SotW, I've gone through perhaps 6 or 8 more. The good news is that between my Ref 36 and my Borgani Jubilee, I'm done.

Guitars - I've had the same Gurian herringbone rosewood Jumbo since the late 1970s.
Let me tell you, Gennusa played the same Buffet clarinets for 40+ years. Close to the end of his life, he had them up for sale. I saw them only once at the oklahoma clarifest years ago. If you find a horn that works for YOU, there is no need to keep changing or looking for something "better".
Simon Weiner said:
If you find a horn that works for YOU, there is no need to keep changing or looking for something "better".
But I don't think that Mr. Gennusa's Buffet was the first he bought, or one that he bought just because everyone claimed they were the best.
If I followed all those suggestions I'd probably still be saving for a clarinet instead of get going with what I could afford. :D
I hear the Noblet's are a stupid good deal. Might want to snap one of those up before more people find out about them.

I would say that if you are doubling at a college level, you must invest in a serious instrument. It doesn't have to be a brand new R13 (although that's what I play, and they sure are nice...), but it shouldn't be a plastic Bundy. I played on a Buffet E13 for years, which is in between the R13 pro model and the E11 student model, and it's a good clarinet.
I've got an old wood body Conn intermediate model that does everything I need it to do.

Incidentally, I'm mainly a bari player who started doubling on bass clarinet first. It's not a good idea. Learning the fingerings is much easier, but I developed all manner of terrible habits. You'll be doing most of your doubling on bass clarinet anyway, but start on Bb.
i played bass for 6 years before ever touching a clarinet
when i finally bought myself a clarinet at the begining of summer, it took a long time before i finally ajusted and overcame my terrible bass habits.

i didnt play bass at all during the summer till band camp started 2 weeks ago, and now that i have relearned my embochure without the bad habits, my playing is much much improved.

moral of the story: start on Bb clarinet with a good teacher!!! (my 5th grade teacher told me specifically to bite to get high notes out, and that is still giving me trouble)
In addition to Noblets I recommend Leblanc Paris clarinets. Intonation on the five or six I purchased for myself and family has been impeccable. It is so nice to pick up a clarinet and be in tune across the range of the instrument just by blowing, which is so unlike the sax with it's many intonation challenges.

I talked my grandson into playing clarinet during his elementary years because there were so many alto sax players which is what he'd been working on. Learning with him has been very challenging. The average sax player first learning clarinet sounds so bad for many hours of practice. Starting a year ahead of the course work should do you a great deal of good.
Along the lines of the Noblet horns...the Pre-r13 Buffet pro clarinets are a great deal for the price, too. I've got one from the mid 1940's that plays great, and they go for dirt cheap a lot of the time, because everyone wants a R13.

of course, as it gets said very often, it's all about what you like and what you can afford. If you can only afford to spend $75, good luck at the garage sales. If you can afford to drop $2000, go into a store and try them out. You may not play clarinet yet, but you know how to produce a tone on a single reed instrument. Play everything you can afford (whatever the price range) and pick the one that suits you best.
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