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Discussion Starter #1
Just curious as I see a lot for sale saying "good beginners clarinet" do they really vary and if so, how?
I have a Boosey and Hawkes Regent from the 20's and have had it since I first began to play. I am at UK Grade 6 standard and like playing it. Don't really want another one!
 

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The biggest differences are the quality of materials and the handwork required. A student instrument is made of molded plastic, or maybe inferior wood that has been given a perfunctory reaming. Keys are typically cast metal, and soft for easy bending back to approximate shape when mishandled by beginners. Some key touchpieces are left uncomfortably high so that students can find them more easily. A mouthpiece that blows easily but doesn't necessarily have a good tone or response through out the range completes the package. A pro horn is typically made of good wood, the reaming is more complex and finished by hand, keys are stiff due to forging so they require less maintenance. It will have better tone quality and response top to bottom, and better ergonomics. Mouthpieces can be good or pedestrian. That said, there are student instruments that play really well, and the addition of a good mouthpiece can bring them close enough to a pro horn to make one question the wisdom of upgrading. If you like your horn, stick with it!
 

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Well you learn something new every day! Thanks, always was curious-even more so when I took my clarinet in for a service and the guy was stunned that I had played mine from a beginner upwards! I was in a rush so couldn't ask him about it, but it seemed to think it wasn't a beginners instrument lol.
 

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More likely the tech was surprised that you played a pro quality clarinet as a beginner. Maybe someone who knows BH clarinets better could weigh in on that particular model?
 

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@Lomaserena: Yes I'm sure that is probably what he meant. He did like the quality of it-put little leather pads on it at no extra cost and everything lol.
 

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I'm just saying that the "beginner(student)-intermediate-pro" thing is a product of the manufacturers and the marketing MBA's and that anyone can play any level of instrument they want to play and it doesn't matter a whole lot. Sure, there are differences among those levels but there is no rule that requires a beginner to start on a student-level horn. If one cannot afford hi-end stuff, then cheap Chinese junk will suffice. If one can afford the best, then why not start on a Selmer-Paris instrument? No one is keeping score. DAVE
 

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If I were a manufacturer and would crank out godawful "student" instruments, would the students blessed with one of my instruments ever consider buying from me again? Certainly not.

Thus, at least for the established makers, it is halfway safe to say that student instruments are in most aspects every bit as good as their more costly brethren, but of course certain corners had to be cut, be it the overall finish, nickel vs silverplate, plain vs undercut tone holes, cheaper mouthpiece, and so on.

So if you buy a student Buffet, Yamaha, Leblanc, Selmer, you get a perfectly good instrument. It just doesn't come as refined as a $4000 pro instrument.
 

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I don't think they made the Regent back in the '20s - I think it appeared around the late 1950s.
The early model were really rather good - and I think they were all built with wooden bodies.

I have a feeling though that they experimented with Mazac keys at one point...and if you ever break such a key, it's had it. Can't be fixed with any degree of reliability.

Regards,
 

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Absolutely. Who wants to ruin a good name selling crappy beginner instruments?
I'm sure that's part of the reason Selmer discontinued their "Bundy" line (which started out as darn good line long ago) and started to label their entry level horns as "Selmer USA". I wonder if people will ignore the fact that the "Prelude" instruments are also marketed by Selmer/Steinway?
If I were a manufacturer and would crank out godawful "student" instruments, would the students blessed with one of my instruments ever consider buying from me again? Certainly not.

Thus, at least for the established makers, it is halfway safe to say that student instruments are in most aspects every bit as good as their more costly brethren, but of course certain corners had to be cut, be it the overall finish, nickel vs silverplate, plain vs undercut tone holes, cheaper mouthpiece, and so on.

So if you buy a student Buffet, Yamaha, Leblanc, Selmer, you get a perfectly good instrument. It just doesn't come as refined as a $4000 pro instrument.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I don't think they made the Regent back in the '20s - I think it appeared around the late 1950s.
The early model were really rather good - and I think they were all built with wooden bodies.

I have a feeling though that they experimented with Mazac keys at one point...and if you ever break such a key, it's had it. Can't be fixed with any degree of reliability.

Regards,
I have probably got the date wrong...managed to find the ABRSM forum who can date clarinets based on their serial number, so will give that a go when I have been approved [Impnt]
 

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When my wife started up on clarinet again after a near 30 year break I surprised her with a used Buffet R13 festival clarinet. She had her Selmer Soloist and asked me why she needed another clarinet. So we had her play a scale from the lowest note to the highest on each instrument with me manning the tuner and marking the difference from in tune +5, -10, ect. The difference was amazing with the same mouthpiece and reed setup.

The Soloist varied as much as + OR - 20 cents while the Buffet was at most + or - 5 cents. Twice as many of the notes on the Buffet were in tune comparied to the student level Soloist. Suzy understood immediately and never looked back. 8 years later she now plays the eeffer, a real squeaker and her intonation is excellent there too.

Many hobbyist tune to one note and think they are in tune. The old question, "If you tune to one note how many notes are guaranteed to be in tune?" comes to mind. The correct answer, of course, is none. That's why the long notes excercise (soft to loud to soft) against a tuner should be done by everyone. Alas, it isn't done by many. And there is a theory that if you haven't developed an ear for intonation by the time you are 8, you may never comes to mind too.

Get the best instrument you can afford that you can play test. Bring your tuner. I'm just saying...

<Yes, it is more complex than what I have said here, but this is a start.>
 

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Thus, at least for the established makers, it is halfway safe to say that student instruments are in most aspects every bit as good as their more costly brethren, but of course certain corners had to be cut, be it the overall finish, nickel vs silverplate, plain vs undercut tone holes, cheaper mouthpiece, and so on.
I don't know, I just saw a nearly new beginner/intermediate model from Buffet. It had silver plated keys. Tone holes were undercut. Mouthpiece wasn't cheaper than the one coming with professional model Buffet clarinets. However in many ways it was poorly made and I wouldn't recommend it for anyone.
 

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I don't know, I just saw a nearly new beginner/intermediate model from Buffet. It had silver plated keys. Tone holes were undercut. Mouthpiece wasn't cheaper than the one coming with professional model Buffet clarinets. However in many ways it was poorly made and I wouldn't recommend it for anyone.
Describe "poorly made".
 

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Describe "poorly made".
From new and even more after a few months it needed way more significant repairs than this type of clarinet should need. Actually the same for significantly cheaper clarinets. Here are some of its problems:
  • Falling corks and felts.
  • Corks and felts glued poorly i.e. half glued to the key, not where they should be.
  • Materials that create a spongy feel to the keys.
  • Huge double action for left hand F/C lever.
  • Terrible quality pads, several ruined after just a few months (torn or felt falling off compeltely).
  • Awful binding of all the tenons, not the "usual" wood swelling, but much worse, actualy worst I've ever seen, with tenon diameter much bigger than socket diameter. Looks like a major flaw missed in QC, no way anyone ever assembled that clarinet all the way.
  • Much worse post mounting system than available on significantly cheaper models.
  • etc.
 

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Jeez, I wonder what Buffet were smoking when they released that instrument as is...

May be time I removed B. from the list of recommendable brands...
 

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From new and even more after a few months it needed way more significant repairs than this type of clarinet should need. Actually the same for significantly cheaper clarinets. Here are some of its problems:
  • Awful binding of all the tenons, not the "usual" wood swelling, but much worse, actualy worst I've ever seen, with tenon diameter much bigger than socket diameter. Looks like a major flaw missed in QC, no way anyone ever assembled that clarinet all the way.
I bought my E11 (France) about a year ago; and yes, the tenons are way too large. They had to be shaved down twice. Somebody mentioned to me that Buffets are notorious for that.
 

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From new and even more after a few months it needed way more significant repairs than this type of clarinet should need. Actually the same for significantly cheaper clarinets. Here are some of its problems:
  • Falling corks and felts.
  • Corks and felts glued poorly i.e. half glued to the key, not where they should be.
  • Materials that create a spongy feel to the keys.
  • Huge double action for left hand F/C lever.
  • Terrible quality pads, several ruined after just a few months (torn or felt falling off compeltely).
  • Awful binding of all the tenons, not the "usual" wood swelling, but much worse, actualy worst I've ever seen, with tenon diameter much bigger than socket diameter. Looks like a major flaw missed in QC, no way anyone ever assembled that clarinet all the way.
  • Much worse post mounting system than available on significantly cheaper models.
  • etc.
and what model was that?
 
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