Clarinet Talk: Video- Trying Buffet Festival clarinets, the saga continues.

Trying Buffet Festival Clarinet

After trying these in our hall, the Ohio Theater with its dry acoustics, I ended up choosing the second clarinet in this video.

It's around 3:30, half way through. The first one, which I show in the end with the beautiful wood, ended up feeling too "tight" in resistance, ultra focused, but unable to expand. The second has more resonance and ring, and has flexibility.

This past week was a whirwind of intense rehearsals and difficult music. I had little time to devote to testing the Festivals one by one. Since I had picked the #1 as "the one", as you see in the video, I only took #1 to test briefly in the theater. Luckily I had a good set of ears in the hall for the quick test after rehearsal. Colleague Paul Bambach, who teaches clarinet and wind ensemble at UCSB California, went out to listen to 5 seconds on the Festival (the tight one) and my old R13. He favored my old R13.

So the next day, during the dress rehearsal break, I brought out the two Festivals, #1 and #2, and played a scale on each right there on stage. It was obvious to both Paul and me that #2 had the resonant fullness which my old one has, but with a "fresher" resistance, a bit easier to voice. It's a world of difference in my field.

Whew, that was close....

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8 comments for “Clarinet Talk: Video- Trying Buffet Festival clarinets, the saga continues.

  1. May 11, 2011 at

    When I was a student (oboe, sorry!), generally we considered that the instrument was what it was and the rest was the player’s fault: we had to play around the instrument, so to speak. Today, I read forum threads about oboists criticizing one individual oboes versus another of the same maker and laying a lot of blame on the instrument. When you say you’re in love with Sr.# …., is it because you don’t need to do so much compensating? How much tolerance do you give for tuning, sound quality, dynamic range, responsiveness etc.? If you don’t like an instrument, do you expect the maker to adjust it, or do you just move on to the next? Is the general distribution of a model the same as the one played by soloist so-and-so?

    • May 20, 2011 at

      Very interesting questions Robin. (again thank you for your comments and sorry for the very tardy replies)

      I used to believe that every mouthpiece and instrument was “what it was”, and that beyond basic tuning or ease of playing, one was similar to the next.

      But now I realize that the great, great players have found their “match made in heaven”, so to speak, the instrument which is part of them. Paradoxically, however, any great player will sound good on any instrument.

      My own history parallels these truths. While I succeeded to a point with average equipment, it was not until I fatefully met the mouthpiece man who sold me the greatest mouthpiece of my career, the one which defined my tone, my style.

      I have been a late bloomer in many ways, and I now understand the “magic” that is possible with the right instrument. It’s more than just quality, it’s a matter of matching equipment with player. And sometimes that happens just by chance.

      When I said I “fell in love” with that old instrument again, I did not meant that I could not live with it, but that I realized what it’s tone offered. It’s intonation and response would have caused problems, so in the final word, I do not regret selling it. But I am happy that I learned what it had to offer before I sold it.

  2. April 7, 2011 at

    David, I notice you use the same barrel on all. Since different barrels (even nominally identical ones) can affect the sound differently to an extent that I find surprising, is it possible you’re finding the instrument that matches that barrel? But maybe one of the other barrels, plus another of the Festivals, might work even better.

    • April 12, 2011 at

      HI John, I have found that a really good barrel can give me a better overall picture than fussing to find one which goes just with that horn. I know that that barrel sounds GREAT on both my good Buffets, so I am confident that it is not hampering the horn in any way (or boosting it quirkily). I also like to feel that as much of the equipment is exactly the same, so that the main variable is the bore of the newer part of the instrument. After choosing a horn, I then fine tune the barrel combination to get the best effect possible.

      • April 12, 2011 at

        What did you think of my old R13? Was it the sound you know me for? Or? I don’t think it would be TOO hard for me to find another old R13 if I put the word out.

  3. Ed
    April 1, 2011 at

    Yeah, I want to play an instrument that feels pretty comfortable. I don’t want to get an instrument and hope that it eventually becomes what I want. I couldn’t resist teasing you!

  4. Ed
    March 30, 2011 at

    Of course, there are many who say that the instrument will open up over time………


    • March 31, 2011 at

      Indeed, but I have learned that they only open a bit. In fact, the one I like needs to open just a touch, which I think it will.

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