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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone tried either/both of these clarinets and can evaluate them as to playability, tone, playing in tune in the different registers, etc. both instruments are within the same price range. I have seen YouTube vids on each instrument, but curious if they are as good as the websites say they are. Also is the sound very bright or a darker tone.
 

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I have a Ridenour clarinet. Tone and intonation more than meet my expectations. There's no guarantee you will have the same impression, as intonation can vary according to the player, and tone quality is subjective and depends on your physical attributes and reed/mouthpiece setup. You need to try them out. The drawback is the quality of the keywork; otherwise, they're great instruments for the money. I would consider the tone to be a bit on what I consider the dark side, but I've been playing for 50 years, and the tonal concept I was taught to aspire to would probably be judged "bright" nowadays. I haven't played the Alpha, but I've tried other Backuns. The others tend to have a quite dark tone, and I found the feel of the keyword odd and uncomfortable, coming from 50 years of playng mostly on R13's. You may not agree. Try them. I'm sure you can find a dealer that will allow a trial.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for your reply. I used to play clarinet, but music change and all I played was tenor sax in a small group. Trying to get back into playing clarinet. I did start on an ebonite clarinet back in the 50's. But being a not so smart musician, sold it, which I regret. It would be used as a doubler instrument. That is the reason why I am looking at these two clarinets.
 

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I own both a Backun Alpha and a Ridenour RCP-576BC.

Ridenour RCP-576BC virtues:
  • Easiest clarinet to play in tune that I've ever encountered
  • Very even response between the registers
  • Not mouthpiece finicky
Ridenour RCP-576BC faults:
  • Soft keywork on my 2010-vintage horn has twice been knocked out of regulation by minor on-stage bumps that other clarinets shrug off
  • Dark tone does not project very well
  • Significant blowing resistance may take some getting used to
Backun Alpha virtues:
  • Comfortable and very robust keywork stays in regulation
  • Somewhat brighter tone projects much better than the Ridenour
  • Silver plated keywork available which, to me, looks and feels great
  • Less blowing resistance than the Ridenour
Backun Alpha faults:
  • Intolerant of less-than-perfect breath support
  • Finicky about mouthpieces; beware wide twelfths and flat altissimo register
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you Ozawa for the great critic of both instruments. The pros and cons will definitely give me something to think about as to choice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Datasaxman, your comment says a lot about the instrument. I am the same way, looking for playability with good sound in tune at all octaves.
 

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Yes, excellent intonation. Fair amount of resistance, so I just blow.
I have not dropped it, so maybe the keys are bendy.
I plan to continue not dropping it and we will see.

I sound better on it that the others I have tried, including some rather pricey ones.

Have not tried the Backun...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I agree with you Dasaxman. I DO NoT drop my instruments either. Just curious, what mpc and reed strength do you use.
 

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I agree with you Dasaxman. I DO NoT drop my instruments either. Just curious, what mpc and reed strength do you use.
I like a Clark Fobes mp with #3 reeds. Almost any #3, curiously. From Rico orange box to Mitchell Lurie to Legere.
Just not much happiness from softer cane at all.

dat
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The Backun is a very high quality student clarinet, possibly the nicest one I've played made from ABS. But, at its core, it's still a plastic clarinet. The tone of a wooden clarinet is always superior. It plays very well in tune but has tuning quirks, as all instruments do. The mechanism is very sturdy, would take a very good blow to bend the keywork.
For the same money (in fact, less) I got my Selmer Series 9, and prefer it in every way, but YMMV with regards to older, used instruments of course. Please take that comment with a grain of salt, as everyone's preferences will differ. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Musicsean, I respect everyone who takes the time to comment on a topic. It may be different than mine, but your opnion is as valid as mine. Getting other people's opnion is very good when trying to make a decision. Thanks for your input on this topic.
 

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... But, at its core, it's still a plastic clarinet. The tone of a wooden clarinet is always superior.
I've play-tested at least a couple of hundred models of clarinet (after servicing).
I've played on many wooden clarinets that are definitely quite inferior to the average plastic one.
The potential tone/response/volume inherent in a clarinet has little to do with the material. After all, the sound is made by a vibrating air column.
It is the precise shape of that air column that makes quite a big difference - bore shape, undercutting of tone holes, tone hole diameter/placement/height, etc.
(However it may well be that the average plastic clarinet is designed more for a beginner to play easily, rather than fulfilling different demands of professional-standard player.)

Note that the top-end "Greenline" clarinet made by Buffet is effectively a plastic clarinet. It really has none of the structural properties of timber.
Don't believe all you read or are told! :)
 

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Plus one. A good plastic clarinet is absolutely preferable to a cheap wood clarinet, and frequently preferable to an old pro clarinet. A clarinet has lots of moving parts. Wear and tear shouldn't be discounted.
I've play-tested at least a couple of hundred models of clarinet (after servicing).
I've played on many wooden clarinets that are definitely quite inferior to the average plastic one.
The potential tone/response/volume inherent in a clarinet has little to do with the material. After all, the sound is made by a vibrating air column.
It is the precise shape of that air column that makes quite a big difference - bore shape, undercutting of tone holes, tone hole diameter/placement/height, etc.
(However it may well be that the average plastic clarinet is designed more for a beginner to play easily, rather than fulfilling different demands of professional-standard player.)

Note that the top-end "Greenline" clarinet made by Buffet is effectively a plastic clarinet. It really has none of the structural properties of timber.
Don't believe all you read or are told! :)
 

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I have a Backun Alpha and have been very happy with it. It tunes well with my Morgan mouthpiece, is a bit brighter than my wooden instruments, which can be desirable in some situations ( I’ve used mine to play clarinet lead in a Glenn Miller band).
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you reed doubler for your comment. I may be getting an opportunity to play in a Dixieland band. So what you have in the Backun on brightness is definitely a factor in my decision.
 
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