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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone on this forum play plateau keys clarinets? I was just wondering out of interest and what are your opinions of them. The one I bought is show here from wwbw http://www.wwbw.com/Vito-7214P-Plateau-Key-Bb-Clarinet-i51056.music
the picture is sort of wrong or maybe an old model but the one I have the D key and C key match the rest of the horn.

stefane
 

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Discussion Starter #3
i went with the plateau setup because I find open holed clarinets hard to play due to right hand issues and I am a sax player and this horn is just a double for me.
 

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A plateau horn from Normandy (the only source from which they can be obtained new) would be a more than adequate clarinet from the mechanism and operation standpoint. However, the sound from a plateau horn is more veiled than from a standard horn, and that takes some getting used to.

If your finger issues are serious (i.e., a broken and badly set fingertip), ti's the only way to go. Absent something like that, I'd buckle down and play a regular horn. With enough practice, the fingers will fall in the correct spots and your "issues" should disappear.

A good rule of thumb to follow is if a sax player has trouble with the finger spacing on an A soprano clarinet, then a plateau horn might be called for. However, far too many sax players want them because they are used to flopping their fingers down on touches without any need for precision at all. The clarinet shares with the strings the need for precise placement of the fingertips, and other than them and the bassoon, it's a unique requirement.
 

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Several weeks ago, a fan brought a new one in to my gig and I blew a few notes on it before a set. Actually, I don't recall the brand name on his but they're probably the same - not many different makers, I assume. He bought it from WW&BW - had to wait a long time for it, too.

Anyway, it played okay - not nearly the resonance of my Buffet RC Prestige but it didn't have the price tag, either. I'm sure it'll work for you. DAVE
 

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Make sure when you get a closed-hole clarinet that there's plenty of venting on the main action. If not, then get the action opened up by a good tech.

Aim for 2.5mm to 3mm maximum for the right hand main action, and plenty of opening on the thumbplate so the throat F# and G isn't stuffy. This can be done by shortening the thumbplate key foot so it opens more and the throat G key cup isn't opening so far that it clatters against the throat A key. It's all about getting the leverages right on this part - a short underlever acting near the end of the long overlever will give good venting on the thumbplate.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm sure normandy is not the only company that you can obtain them new from because mine is a student vito and i've also seen a pro leblanc. Horn plays great through out all registers and tuning is good so I will not worry about adjusting key heights.

stefane
 

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I've not seen the plateau offered in the Leblanc line for a long, long time, but there's always something new out of Kenosha. They were, or are, also offered in the Vito line, in addition to those available in the Normandy selection.

All were owned by Leblanc, but are now owned by Steinway/Selmer.

I've never seen a Selmer plateau from the factory. I have seen an "aftermarket" conversion, but it was obvious from the work quality that it was a rework of a ring horn.
 

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At one point Selmer sold a set of plateau keys that could be fitted to a standard Bundy. I have a Bundy that I am keeping around for the express purpose of one day installing this set of keys.

Having said that, I should probably check and see if these are still available. Selmer's product line has changed significantly since I last inquired....

-DH
 

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No reason at all why it shouldn't work. As mentioned, proper key heights and venting will be very important.

You won't be able to play the opening of "Rhapsody in Blue" anymore, of course. Also, in jazz or klezmer type stuff, I do a lot of glissing and a lot of half-holing, and a plateau would limit this flexibility. The other downside I can imagine is the added weight of the keywork.

But if you can live with these things, the basic sound and scale should be about the same, and some problems that occur when tone holes are inadeventantly left partly open, i.e. squeaks, pitch problems, bad legatos, etc., can be partly to wholly alleviated.

Good luck!

Mike
 

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The Plateau Clarinets I know are an absolute booger to repair. The construction is shoddy and the mechanism a bit unfamiliar, so extra attention is needed. Also, IMO they dont really play that well. I'd rather have a standard clarinet and practice my fingerings.

Saxaholic
 

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As I have said many other times, the main problem with sax players moving over to clarinet (other than the embouchure issue) is the sloppy finger placement that is enabled by the Sax key system. Putting a typical floppy fingered, "hit the bis key" player on a clarinet and expecting him or her to play clarinet without frustration is a big order. They feel that since they can get a decent tone on the mouthpiece and that they can manage the finger up/down movement well enough, that they are not "progressing" on the clarinet at an adequate speed.

The only way around this is to play a lot of clarinet, often to the expense of saxophone playing (and with the subsequent degradation of saxophone skills) in order to "imprint" the finger location technique needed to seal the holes. Few of the saxophone players that I have known have been disciplined enough to take this approach.

The learning theory that I have read and been taught tells me that you need to effectively repeat a given behavior no less than three hundred times in order for it to become "imprinted" on your mind and to become second nature. That's a lot of chromatic runs and interval studies to be playing on a horn where you are not up to speed, all the while when you know that you can do the same just fine on another instrument.

And, all of this aside, there are players for whom a plateau clarinet is the only option (physical disability, marching band players where the director wants everyone to wear full gloves).
 

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I've never seen a Selmer plateau from the factory. I have seen an "aftermarket" conversion, but it was obvious from the work quality that it was a rework of a ring horn.
Perhaps they haven't made them for several decades, but I've run across several references to Selmer plateau models. My set of plateau Selmers are from 1937.

At one point Selmer sold a set of plateau keys that could be fitted to a standard Bundy.
This would result in a different clarinet from the the plateau models I have seen. The wood (or plastic) wouldn't be gouged out around the finger touches, so the pads would have to sit high off the body of the instrument. (Also, how would LH3 be handled? The pad would have to be conical or something to sink into the unfraised hole, right?)

If these kits did actually exist, I'd like to hear more about them.
 

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Bassclar, since my last post, I checked into this --- this thread renewed my interest in converting my clarinet... My original information was from a repairman, though I don't know that he ever made a conversion --- he may have simply seen the keys in the Selmer parts catalog, which of course dates the information (when did Selmer last publish a parts catalog??). I asked another repairman about it, who did a little research. Upon further investigation, it appears that the plateau keys in the Selmer parts catalog were replacement keys for a factory plateau Bundy, not conversion keys for a standard clarinet. He checked in some repair forums, and this seems reasonable, especially considering that a number of people have mentioned factory-made plateau Bundys.

Now, I do know a gentleman who *has* done custom conversions to plateau keys, and currently plays on a custom plateau Buffet.... I don't recall if *every* key has been converted (for example, LH3), but I know that he designed the modifications to work for him (he suffers from arthritis).

Sorry for any misinformation --- at the time of writing I certainly thought it to be valid. Thanks for the follow-up post.

By the way, within the past couple weeks there was a metal plateau Noblet on eBay..... Couldn't justify the cash outlay at the time.... Drat!

-DH
 

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Discussion Starter #17
since I last posted this my clarinet has been great everyone who plays loves it. I have convered three full time pro clarinetists to this horn and my tech sid it's the best plateau keys clarinet he has ever seen
 

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I just won this plateau clarinet on ebay. It's a Leblanc Normandy. It probably will need some pads like most eBay clarinets. I'm not a clarinet player, just looking for something to double on if i have to. I also took SOTSDO's suggestion and got a Vito student clarinet as well so I'll have two to try.





 
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