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Old June 12, 2009, 08:38 AM   #1
wackymother
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[2009] Buying a clarinet? Any advice?

A while back I asked about buying a cello. Well, predictably, that kid ended up dumping the lessons and moving on.

Now my youngest is taking clarinet lessons and actually seem to enjoy them. The rental on the clarinet is surprisingly high, and I'm thinking about buying a clarinet for her.

Any advice? Do you think it's safe-ish to buy one on eBay? If a clarinet needs refurbishing, is that expensive? Is it difficult to find a place that does it competently?

Thanks for any info!
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Old June 12, 2009, 09:45 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by wackymother View Post
Now my youngest is taking clarinet lessons and actually seem to enjoy them. The rental on the clarinet is surprisingly high, and I'm thinking about buying a clarinet for her.

Any advice? Do you think it's safe-ish to buy one on eBay? If a clarinet needs refurbishing, is that expensive? Is it difficult to find a place that does it competently?

Thanks for any info!
Best advice is to stay away from the no-name el cheapo clarinets (also saxophones, flutes, etc.) -- I mean the kind that flood eBay and that have slowed the progress of young music students because those el cheapo no-name horns are so difficult to play, not to mention virtually impossible to repair. Those el cheapos are so bad that some music teachers call them "instrument-shaped objects" rather than real instruments -- even though the shiny new el cheapos start off looking great.

It's not necessary to buy a brand-new clarinet, but you can pretty much count on needing repairs -- pads, springs, keywork adjustments, etc. -- on used clarinets. It may take some digging to find a good woodwind instrument technician locally, but it's worth it. I'd guess a complete clarinet overhaul with new pads & new corks & new springs & everything would cost in the neighborhood of $200. (That's just a guess. I play horn, not clarinet -- not that there's anything wrong with clarinets.)

A used clarinet that is has cracks, breaks, missing parts, etc., is no good for playing -- making a lamp, maybe, but that's about it.

The "good" names in clarinets include Noblet & Yamaha & Conn & Leblanc & Selmer (not Selman -- Selman is an el cheapo knock-off), etc. Selmer's student-line clarinets for a long time carried the Bundy brand & student Leblanc clarinets carried the Vito brand.

The Big Three USA instrument companies have had their business eroded so badly by sales of those eBay el cheapo no-name instruments that Conn & Selmer & Leblanc have all 3 shrunk drastically & now are all owned by the same parent company, which also owns the Steinway piano works. It's as if Honda & Toyota & Nissan were all taken over by a single owner.

Many if not most student clarinets are plastic (resin, ebonite, etc.). Professional clarinets are typically wooden. Wood clarinets don't automatically play better than plastic clarinets & plastic clarinets don't automatically play worse than wood clarinets.

Your daughter's clarinet teacher should be able to offer some practical guidance about selecting a good instrument.

-- Alan Cole, McLean (Fairfax County), Virginia, USA.
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Old June 12, 2009, 09:52 AM   #3
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We have purchased musical instruments for our kids off eBay. A few years back we bought a brand new flute for my daughter for I think $125 with shipping and taxes. When she decided she no longer wanted to play it we sold it on Craig’s list for $120.
The manufacturer was based in the USA and sold many other instruments on eBay. The music teacher was impressed with the quality and sound of the flute.
I say get them started off with one from eBay and when you belive it's the instrument the kid will stick with then look into upgrading.


Good luck

Last edited by Corman; June 12, 2009 at 09:58 AM.
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Old June 12, 2009, 10:30 AM   #4
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eBay Is. O. K.

No problem buying eBay clarinets -- just skip the no-name el cheapos & stick with Yamaha & Selmer (Bundy) & Leblanc (Vito) & Conn & Noblet, etc.

Also, be prepared to spend a little $$$ to get your eBay clarinet put in great playing condition after it's delivered.

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Old June 12, 2009, 10:44 AM   #5
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Thanks! This is just the kind of info I'm looking for. So, to summarize,

Good names are....
Selmer
LeBlanc
Noblet
Yamaha
Conn
Bundy
Vito

Bad names are...
Selman
and anything that sounds like a knockoff of one of the better brands

Other tips:
Wood is not automatically good
Plastic is not automatically bad
Avoid cracks, breaks, missing parts
Be prepared to spend about $200 for overhaul

All okay? Thank you again!

I'm waiting for Sfwilshire to weigh in, I know she has a musical family.
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Old June 12, 2009, 11:02 AM   #6
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Here's a handy list of bad brands (or CSOs, Clarinet-Shaped Objects), from a board about woodwinds. Anybody disagree with any of these?

Laval, Rex, Diamond, Monique, Wexler, Weimer, Heinse, Gruskin, Parrot, Bestler, BandNow, Cecilio, Simba, First Act, Harmony, Lindo, Selman, Bentley, Hawk, Iolite, Sky, Schill, Bridgecraft, Wernburg, Jinyin, Heimer, Maxtone, Artemis, Venus, Cibaili, Grand, Blue Moon, Steuben, Top Tone, Earlham, Lark, Palatino, Elkhart Series, Johnson

Last edited by wackymother; June 12, 2009 at 11:12 AM. Reason: to take up less room
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Old June 12, 2009, 11:13 AM   #7
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Public Service Award.

Whoever compiled that list has done a major serious public service & deserves an award.

That list, BTW, covers not just Clarinet Shaped Objects. Many of the same brand names appear on Horn Shaped Objects & Trumpet Shaped Objects & Saxophone Shaped Objects & Trombone Shaped Objects & Flute Shaped Objects & so on & so forth right on down the line.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Keep in mind also that some uncommon brand names go with extreme high-end professional wind instruments, but none of those unfamiliar names are anywhere on the el cheapo list. So just because it's not Yahama, Conn, etc., that doesn't mean it's automatically cheap junk. But for student instruments sticking with the quality names & avoiding the Selmans, etc., remains good advice.

-- Alan Cole, McLean (Fairfax County), Virginia, USA.
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Old June 12, 2009, 11:19 AM   #8
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I feel like, if I 'm going to spend $200 or so on refurbing it, I don't want it to be a hunk of junk. Same clarinet board says Henkin is good, Epoch bad. Here's the link--I would post to the board, but it doesn't seem to be very active.

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/archive...p/t-34124.html
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Old June 12, 2009, 11:43 AM   #9
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I know nothing about clarinets, in fact I know nothing about choosing a good musical instrument. We bought our older dd's first flute in NYC without her even trying it. I guess that was a bad thing to do. A few years later when we got her a better one we went to our local music store, worked with them, and had her try out a few flutes.

Just realize that if you dd sticks with it, this will most likely be her first instrument and you will be replacing it several years down the line. The good thing was that dd used her old flute for marching band since she didn't care if it got beat up or wet.
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Old June 12, 2009, 11:57 AM   #10
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A few years later when we got her a better one we went to our local music store, worked with them, and had her try out a few flutes.
That's what I really should do, support a local business, but one of the local stores specializes in strings, to the point where they couldn't even give us advice about what kind of reeds to buy, and the other leans heavily toward guitars and drums.
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Old June 12, 2009, 12:03 PM   #11
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I think someone suggested asking her music teacher for advice? I'd ask for their input on where to buy.

We have a few music stores in the area who sell all kinds of instruments. Those are also the stores that handle the rentals, and where our dds have taken some of their music lessons. When older dd was in high school the band director had someone from one of the stores come to a band boosters meeting to talk to us about buying instruments. It was very helpful.
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Old June 12, 2009, 12:08 PM   #12
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I think someone suggested asking her music teacher for advice? I'd ask for their input on where to buy.
Already asked her--not helpful. Nice, but not helpful.
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Old June 12, 2009, 12:12 PM   #13
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Already asked her--not helpful. Nice, but not helpful.
So, back to square one. But, you said you are renting a clarinet for her now. Does that store sell them as well?
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Old June 12, 2009, 12:24 PM   #14
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So, back to square one. But, you said you are renting a clarinet for her now. Does that store sell them as well?
Maybe, but they're really far away--shockingly far in densely packed northern NJ. They seem to just have the contract with our school district to provide band instruments. (The local store with the strings provides the orchestra instruments.) I'm not even sure if the far-away store does sell instruments; they seem to be rentals only.

There's also a Sam Ash, where we ended up renting the cello. We have to bring it back this weekend, so I can look at clarinets there.
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Old June 12, 2009, 12:27 PM   #15
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Buffet Crampon S-1 if you can get it at a reasonable price. Otherwise go for an R-13.
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Old June 12, 2009, 12:30 PM   #16
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There's also a Sam Ash, where we ended up renting the cello. We have to bring it back this weekend, so I can look at clarinets there.
That may be where we bought older dd's first flute. I know we bought younger dd a used Gibson Les Paul electric guitar when we were in NYC several years ago. She loves that guitar.
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Old June 12, 2009, 12:32 PM   #17
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I have bought my kids' instruments used from a small local music store. The kids got to try the instruments, quality was good, price reasonable, and service and advice top-notch.

Summer is a pretty good time to buy it, as they've probably just gotten back rentals from the school year. Ask them to go through the returned rentals as they clean and service them, and pick a good one for you.

Re the cheapos that everyone above says to stay away from, several of the repairmen we've talked to says that besides poor quality, parts are difficult if not impossible to get, so when it needs service, forget it.

Stick with a quality used instrument.
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Old June 12, 2009, 12:36 PM   #18
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Summer is a pretty good time to buy it, as they've probably just gotten back rentals from the school year. Ask them to go through the returned rentals as they clean and service them, and pick a good one for you.
Oh, that's a good idea! I'll chitchat with the Sam Ash guy when we take the cello back.

Quote:
Re the cheapos that everyone above says to stay away from, several of the repairmen we've talked to says that besides poor quality, parts are difficult if not impossible to get, so when it needs service, forget it.

Stick with a quality used instrument.
It's my curse that I have to feel like I got something really nice for a moderate price. My father played the clarinet, so of course in my heart of hearts I want one just like his.
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Old June 12, 2009, 12:51 PM   #19
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I'm partial to Selmer. Within the brands there are many different models, so even just saying look for a Selmer, Bundy, etc could still make the task confusing.

For a used student horn I like the Selmer Signet series. It has good tone ... but that's the other caveat about buying one that you haven't seen in person ... the same model can sound slightly different when played.

If you are shopping used instruments in person, having your daughter play a chromatic scale will give you an indication if there are any bad keys or pads. (not 100% since there are alternate fingerings for some notes, but it will cover just about every key).
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Old June 12, 2009, 01:41 PM   #20
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Hi Wacky,

I have used this company to purchase a beginning trumpet for my son some years ago http://www.1800usaband.com/ It was recommended by our band director. They had nice beginner packages that included the book he used, etc. They let you make payments no problem. Payments were less than rental-so I felt like if he abandoned it-at least I still owned the instrument.

When he bumped up to playing Baritone-I bought on Ebay-but I knew what I was looking for. Bought Yamaha from a guy who basically played in HS and then let it sit in a closet. Great deal and only a minor pad-issue that was resoved at the local music store.

DD played my flute (Bundy) still in great shape after all these years.

Good luck in your search!
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Old June 12, 2009, 06:44 PM   #21
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I'm partial to Selmer. Within the brands there are many different models, so even just saying look for a Selmer, Bundy, etc could still make the task confusing.

For a used student horn I like the Selmer Signet series. It has good tone ... but that's the other caveat about buying one that you haven't seen in person ... the same model can sound slightly different when played.

If you are shopping used instruments in person, having your daughter play a chromatic scale will give you an indication if there are any bad keys or pads. (not 100% since there are alternate fingerings for some notes, but it will cover just about every key).
Good to know. There are indeed a wide range of styles for every brand name--it's a little overwhelming!
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Old June 12, 2009, 06:46 PM   #22
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Buffet Crampon S-1 if you can get it at a reasonable price. Otherwise go for an R-13.
Can I ask you--is "Buffet" a different brand than "Buffet Crampon"? Because I'm seeing professional quality "Buffet Crampons" and then ordinary-looking "Buffets."
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Old June 12, 2009, 07:43 PM   #23
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Buffet Crampon S-1 if you can get it at a reasonable price. Otherwise go for an R-13.
I second the vote for Buffet Crampon R-13.

If buying used, you need a qualified player or repair person to test it for you (worthwhile if buying new too).

Older violins and saxophones are often better than what you can buy new. Not so clarinets: fortunately top quality clarinets cost maybe 5% of what top quality strings cost, because tp clarinets tend to break down with age.
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Old June 12, 2009, 08:42 PM   #24
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I just bought a Yamaha Flute made in Japan for my daughter. I paid three hundred dollars for an eight hundred dollar flute. I found a reputable music teacher who sells instruments on Ebay.

Here is his ad "I am a high school band director that worked 7 summers in a band instrument repair shop specializing in flutes and clarinets, so this instrument has been professionally disassembled, cleaned and polished, adjusted, and play tested to ensure it is ready to play. It plays easily to low C with a light touch. Perfect for a student enrolled in band. Get out from under expensive monthly payments! FREE TUNING/CLEANING ROD AND FREE SHIPPING WITH BUY IT NOW! (Wait for adjusted invoice to be sent so shipping can be deducted). 100% positive feedback on over 700 transactions - bid/buy with assurance of a worry free purchase "

He sells Clarinets too! We were very, very happy with the flute we purchased! We would highly recommend him!

Here is the link, but at the moment he has no instruments for sale! I would check daily! http://myworld.ebay.com/ready-to-play/


Here is another one I would have purchased! They provided musical instruments for schools that can't afford them and Ebay is a side business for them. I have not purchased from them but I spoke to them over the phone. Feedback is 100% 1684! http://myworld.ebay.com/hyson-music/

For $239.00
http://cgi.ebay.com/CERTIFIED-YAMAHA...3A1%7C294%3A50

Or this one for $279.99
http://cgi.ebay.com/CERTIFIED-YAMAHA...3A1%7C294%3A50

Good Luck!
Dorene
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Old June 12, 2009, 08:47 PM   #25
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Can I ask you--is "Buffet" a different brand than "Buffet Crampon"? Because I'm seeing professional quality "Buffet Crampons" and then ordinary-looking "Buffets."
Buffet Crampon (Paris) is the real deal.

Just plain "Buffet," not so much.

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