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My daughter is a very good musician on clarinet and piano.
I have been looking at upgrading her clarinet and have found a few R-13's at seemingly reasonable prices. They date from 1959, 1969 and 1975. Assuming they are in equal condition, would any date be considered superior?
Any other tips appreciated.
 

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My understanding is that R13s of the 50s and 60s were made of markedly better quality wood than modern R13s are. That said, a clarinet from 1975 is hardly new. See here anyway: http://www.clarinetsdirect.biz/R13-49359.html

It suggests that you should have nothing to fear from older R13s anyway!
 

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I've heard that the early (up to the late '60's) had the best sound, but had particular intonation problems that might be an issue for a young player. My B flat and A R13's were made in the early '70's, and are great instruments. That said, the instruments you are considering are quite old, and condition is key.
 

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About 10 years ago I simultaneously overhauled three R-13s (for three members of a local community band); one was an 'early' R-13 from the mid/late 1950s, one was from the mid-70s, and the third was a relatively recent one from the early 90s. I tried to do exactly the same things to them (in terms of key heights, clearances, etc.) and the comparison, once they were completed, was interesting. These three clarinets, allegedly of identical design, had very different sounds to my ear. The best-sounding instrument, I thought, was the mid-70s one; I liked it a lot. The early R-13 was just OK; but the newest one had an unpleasant, strident tone quality which turned me off completely.

Some subjective data points for your research.
 

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I have a 1961 r13 that I like better than the newer r13 prestige I once had- the older one has a much 'creamier' sound
 

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I've tried more than a few Buffet R13s from every decade and especially a lot from the last two decades. My experience is that you can't rely on comparing one from each era and come to any conclusions. Some of the best R13s I've tried were from early 90s. OTOH one of the worst Buffets I've tried was from early 90s. Just an example.
 

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I agree completely with Clarnibass. It often comes down to the particular qualities of an individual instrument. I also agree with The Rumbler's mention of how there has been a progressive decline in the quality of grenadila wood. That is one of the main reasons why I use an older clarinet.
 
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