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Buffet B12, Equivalent or Similar help?

Discussion in 'The Clarinet Family: General Discussion' started by bjazz, Nov 5, 2016.

  1. Hi guys,
    I have not been learning for long, less then two years, but in that short time I have owned nearly 10 clarinets either permanently or briefly, chiefly because I have had great difficulty getting one that wasn't defective in some way.
    The first was an SMS Academy clarinet which although very cheap actually worked well. But when it finished I had a run of bad clarinet after bad clarinet.
    Eventually a shop sold me a brand new Buffet B12 this year for half the normal price when the new model came out, which I thought was amazing, until I found after a few weeks practice that it leaked real bad and would not let me blow through it and the tone in the clarion register was bad to say the least, in the end I returned it. (some of this was due to my lack of technique, but not all of it I am sure) I tell you all of this because I am going to ask an unthinkable question.
    I am now thinking of getting the new 'Buffet Prodige', But before I do, does anyone have any opinions on any other makes of clarinet that might be as good for a progressing student, and maybe not as expensive that I could buy instead? I have all the mouthpieces I need, 'Yamaha 4C' and 5C, 'Hite premier', 'Vandoren 5RV'. So any ideas you guys might have I would really appreciate?

    Thanks for reading,

  2. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    The Prodige is just the B12 replacement, so you'd be replacing a student model plastic clarinet with a student model plastic clarinet. For $749, you can get a lot better pro used clarinet. Give me a few minutes to check.

    EDIT: Yup. If it has to be Buffet, here's one that was made slightly before the introduction of the R13. Overhauled. $700. And with the extra $49, you could take me out for dinner. Active Buy-it-Now ads? Well, there are about a half-dozen Evette Master Model clarinets between $500 and $700. (Yes, I'm cheating: most of these were probably made by Malerene, not Buffet.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2016
  3. Hi,
    Thanks Pete for your ideas, and for responding. But I never made myself clear enough, Unfortunately I'm in the UK so I guess I'm shopping in pounds and I really want a new model clarinet but one that would be comparable to a buffet B12, if there is such a thing? I guess this is probably a road to nowhere, but I thought it might be a good idea to check here anyway.

  4. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    So, you're already planning for failure.

    I really don't see any benefit in buying a student model over the student model you already have, especially if it's from the same company. The cost/benefit scale is extremely low. Hey, if you want another B12 equivalent, our forum sponsor has a bunch of new B18s for only $299. Personally, though, I'd take the step to start looking at some eBay ads for my particular country for pro or semi-pro horns.
  5. Thanks Pete,
    I don't have a Buffet right now, I returned my B12 because it was not a good fit for me and was faulty, I was thinking about buying the new Buffet Prodige, but I was asking if there are cheaper new equivalent clarinets on the market that might cost less?
    if this is primarily a United States Forum I guess I am asking in the wrong place, But I appreciate your input nonetheless.
    Thanks again,
  6. JfW


    Somethings strange here. Ten mostly defective clarinets?

    "Brand new" is not any guarantee against defects as many instruments arrive from the factory in poor adjustment. A lot of second hand instruments on the other hand will be cheaper and in great playing shape depending on who you get it from.

    Woodwind players should always look to build a relationship with a good technician, someone who can spot and fix problems with the instrument. Ask other players who they go to and what kind of job they do. This will provide more mileage than this revolving door of instruments.
  7. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Cliff, Cliff, Cliff ...

    OK, I did miss the part about you returning the B12. I'm going to chalk that up to taking waaaay too many headache meds this week. However, my fault. Sorry 'bout that.

    If you want another student horn, that's fine. The B12 is a decent horn and I'd stand by what JfW said: if the horn wasn't working properly, as determined by your instructor, you should have just gotten it repaired under warranty. However, that's in the past. We can't change that.

    My opinion, if I wanted a new student clarinet, is to buy one of those B18s from Quinn for $299. So, you're in a different county. Ask him if he'd ship to you (probably yes). His number is in the banner ad at the top of the page. I shipped a baritone sax -- a rather long and heavy instrument -- to London a couple years back and the total shipping was just about $100, which was about twice what domestic shipping would have been. You don't know what the exchange rate is? Go to xe.com and look it up. Pounds Sterling have almost always been higher value than American dollars, even after your Brexit thingy, so your Pound will have better buying power.

    Anyhow, don't count on us to do all the work for you. Make some phone calls. Visit some websites. Use the search function here. Visit our page on beginner clarinets.
  8. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Admin and all around good guy. Staff Member Administrator

    We (I work for Quinn the Eskimo Vintage Horns) ship worldwide and have a very good reputation for standing by our horns and providing replacement instruments. My granddaughter has played a B12 clarinet for 2 years now and I often check it out. I would note that because of the brushed plastic finish, many people can not tell it's not wood. And, this is a big one, this instrument does not crack. So far, knock on wood, it has done well by us and I feel like it was an amazingly good investment for the money. YMMV.

    If you really are having a hard time finding the right clarinet I might suggest getting help from a clarinet instructor or professor. They can help you play test, checkout your setup (mouthpiece, reed, etc.) and steer you right on the price of an instrument. There are so many variables that come into play when selecting an instrument. For example, the size of hands might mean that you select one instrument over another. If you have a hard time closing the holes, maybe you'd prefer a plateau clarinet. So working with an expert can save you a *lot* of money and time.

    Good luck, here's hoping we soon hear you are playing a clarinet you appreciate and having a great time doing so.
  9. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Didn't see this thread until now.

    But I would have recommended that you take the B12 in and get it serviced at a reputable service location (although you don't have it now).

    You've gone through many "defective" clarinets it seems. Any instrument requires a qualified repairperson to correct problem instruments. Though, there are certain brands (usually the ones no one has ever heard of) that are simple too cheap to fix and only work well for short amounts of time. Then they are normally cost too much to get them fixed versus replacing them.

    The Buffet B12 is a fine clarinet. Good and sturdy. Clarinets though, will always needs some sort of maintenance over time. If you buy it used you need to also consider potential fixes to make it play as well as it can play. Without having it in-hand I wouldn't know if the problem is the clarinet or you or a combination of both.

    As a student I'd be wary of moving up to a used professional clarinet.
    Student clarinets usually have smaller toneholes which are easier to cover for smaller hands or newbies.
    Professional clarinets have larger more varied toneholes not for training, but for performing and allowing the musician the flexibility of tonal coloring, et all.
    Some students hands/fingers do not fit well with certain clarinets. I recall a student who had an Artley clarinet, her fingers weren't long enough to reach the toneholes properly, but did fine on a Yamaha student clarinet.

    Since you sold your B12, you may also want to look into used yamaha clarinets. But be careful, anything used may have playing problems. Anything refurbished, repadded, etc may also need some tweaking. Or, I've even had to totally refurbished a newly repadded clarinet in the past due to a "cheap" repad. So buyer beware in used instruments that you cannot play test. But from a reputable reseller/dealer.

    If you have a teacher I'd recommend having the teacher help you find a used or new instrument, or even helping get it repaired.
  10. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    SOTSDO mentioned a couple of times that the "small finger" thing was the reason he recommended Vitos. IIRC, I recommended plateau clarinets ("closed hole") as an alternative ... only for SOTSDO to mention (and I confirmed) that nobody makes them anymore. Interestingly, there's a new, old stock Vito plateau clarinet on eBay right now, for $995. That's ... not horrible ... for the price, although I've seen them for under $300, used. Brief Google. OK, I was off by $8.

    FWIW, the argument against plateau clarinets is that they have a stuffier sound. Strange that I never noticed this on any bass or contrabass clarinets I've played and those (almost always) have to have plateau keys. Also, this plateau horn needs waaaay too much work, so skip it.

    The professional clarinet part was me misreading OP and thinking he still HAD a B12 and he wanted to buy a $750 Buffet Prodige. That's not a cost-effective decision.
  11. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Plateau Bb clarinets normally were not designed for the covered keys, but just were modified keywork to be covered. The higher end Leblanc LLs and Selmer Paris models may have been modified but I'm pretty sure the students models were just out fitted with covered keys. Alto and Bass clarinets are designed to have covered toneholes.

    I've always used the example that on my Selmer Centered Tone that I could literally stick my RH 3rd finger INTO the RH 3rd tonehole - half way down the fingernail. It was a learning process to be very exact in the pad of my finger to cover that tonehole. On Pre R13s my finger covered it much better as the tonehole was less wide. Selmer 55 was a same issue of it being large. Student instruments like my Normandy 4 are just a breeze to play as you don't have to be very exact to cover the tonehole, versus a Noblet 45.

    So when it comes to newbie players I always recommend a student instrument. Various ones too have various tonehole placements which may affect the student dependent upon finger length. One of the Artleys was one I recall that stretched my fingers apart and was difficult for my small hands and thin fingers.

  12. Thanks Steve and Pete,
    sorry for taking so long to read and reply to all your input. I do appreciate everything you have said and I understand now the difficulties in finding a good clarinet that's just right. I am looking at cheaper models for now because they will do for a few years while I save for a Buffet, which I will prepare to get checked as soon as I get it, knowing what I now know.
    Thanks again for all your dedicated help.
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Content Expert/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    You don't need a clarinet that's "just right". You just need a decent working clarinet with a middle of the road mouthpiece and then spend a lot of time with it. It sounds like you've spent more time acquiring clarinets than practicing.
  14. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    ^^ agree

    I've seen too many new players trying to find a "cheap and good" clarinet only to get one or the other. usually the other (cheap).

    Then only to spend multiple times what they would have spent if they just got a good brand and model and have a tech go over it at the start.
    plus the time wasted trying to find a good one, then finally realizing down the road that every one else was right.

    When I bought my first guitar I looked at the "cheap" end. Only to keep looking at the quality reviews out there and realizing that I know I wanted good too. being a former string player too I understand the quality of every thing. I ended up getting a 80s Korean made Epiphone. Used and in great condition. the best "cheap and good" one can get but with a good understanding of what one is looking for. And it was still more than 3x the price of the "Cheap" ones out there. Then new higher end strings took it up the price range a bit. but no "bloody" fingers or anything after hours of playing. Good high quality instrument at a used price which actually cost more than the last R13 clarinet that I bought.
  15. Thanks Merlin and Steve, I'll consider my wrists well and truly smacked!!
    I get exactly what you both mean, But to be fair I only stopped practicing as much because all the cheap model clarinets I ended up with were faulty in some way, with a good clarinet cheap or otherwise new or second hand, my practicing would have been consistent to be sure.

    I agree that cheap new is not always best. and you get what you pay for.
    I think I've sorted it now and I've learned a lot about this strange instrument market.
    Thank you both for your interest in my question.

  16. Bloo Dog

    Bloo Dog Consider the plight of the boneless chicken.

    Phil Piedler commented on his clarinet blog that the Conn-Selmer/Artley Accent is the same instrument as the Buffet B-12. I am not sure of that, but if price point is an issue, that might be a good start. It is a better-than-decent plastic instrument.

    Other plastics that I've liked are the Vito 7214 PRAG (PRAG is a stabilizing brace at the middle joint) or the LeBlanc Vito 7214. (They're identical instruments). Both may be acquired on the used market cheaply.

    Moving up from there, you can get a Yamaha YCL-34 on the used market for under $400.00. It's a Grenadilla wood instrument and is a very good clarinet. The precision of manufacture is quite good.
    Aulos303 and TrueTone like this.
  17. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    I'm assuming you mean Phil Pedler. If Mr. Pedler said that, I think he's meaning it in the sense of, "They're all student-quality instruments," rather than, "They're the exact same instruments." If he did mean the latter, I'd love to see the documentation on it.

    I had never heard of it, so I Googled. Took a bit: Positive Radial Alignment Guide (P.R.A.G.) Quoting: "The P.R.A.G. helps students properly align the bridge mechanism, a tricky part of the instrument to align." The Vito 7212 also has this available, from what I Googled, but no place I went had pictures of the thing. If you've got one, Bloo, please post. Sounds interesting.

    Regarding the YCL-34, which I purchased new when they were brand new, I agree it's an excellent horn that you can get for cheap on eBay. The problem is, I'd really rather not point beginners to eBay. They don't know what they're looking at. While I might easily be able to say, "Oh. This $200 YCL-34 looks great. I'll ask if it has any cracks. If not, I don't mind sinking an additional $200 into it."

    Oh. BTW, I'm probably going to give you this avatar:

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  18. Bloo Dog

    Bloo Dog Consider the plight of the boneless chicken.


    This is the link to Phil Pedler's post. The comment is FAR from revelatory:


    This is my understanding of the Vito 7200 series:

    The Vito 7212 has no bell ring

    The Vito 7213 has a bell ring

    The Vito 7214 (pre-LeBlanc acquisition) had the PRAG AND the bell ring. The others don't.

    The Vito 7214 pre-LeBlanc acquisition and the 7214 post-LeBlanc acquisition (i.e., Vito by LeBlanc) models differ in only one aspect: the pre-acquisition has only the lyre logo on the instrument. The post-acquisition model (Vito by LeBlanc) bears a gold V on the middle joints and the bell also bears the gold V with the words "By LeBlanc" running through the V.

    Then there's the V 40, which had a limited run. I can't remember its features well enough to discuss them.

    I may be all wet about which model preceded the other. I've never tried to look up the serial numbers. I assumed that after all of the effort that Vito put into acquiring LeBlanc,
    the Vito by LeBlanc is the later model.

    To wit: the Vito 7214 and the Vito by Leblanc differ only in the appearance of the logo.

    I have photos of both. I'll post them soon. I don't think I have photos of the Vito 7212 or 7213 handy. I'll look.

    I'm okay with the avatar. I wear shades most of the time. Even indoors. It makes me feel like a 1950's cool cat. When I take off the shades, nobody recognizes me, which is okay because I'm a nobody anyway.

    Apologies to Phil Pedler (aka Phil Fields) for misspelling his screen name.

    To learn more about Phil, here's a link: http://www.clarinetpages.net/clarinet-shopping-advice/who-s-phil
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
  19. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    OK. I think I understand, now:

    * Buffet makes the Accent clarinet. (Original reference. Main website. Much more reading.)
    * Artley is a Conn-Selmer brand that sounds a lot like "Accent."
    * Because I want to create maximum confusion, I'll note that AccentMusic.com sells Artley clarinets.

    (I think the Artley brand has been completely discontinued by Conn-Selmer.)

    So, that's straightened. Well, for me, at least. Yes, I can assume that both Conn-Selmer and Buffet do source some stuff from China/Taiwan/Indonesia/Vietnam, but I'm fairly sure the design of the Buffet and the Artley is considerably different.

    Anyhow, Vito. Vito Pascucci eventually became Leblanc president in 1993, but Vitos were around waaaay before that. I tend not to keep up with student horns -- topic for later -- so I'm not terribly familiar. According to this, the 7212 was available in 1972. Looking at a couple horns, I think the number in a circle on the top joint indicates the "series" or "revision" of that model.
    TrueTone likes this.
  20. Helen

    Helen Content Expert Saxophones Staff Member Administrator

    Did I ever tell you guys how scared I am of owning a wooden instrument? The chances of them cracking are waaay to great. You have to keep them dry, but not too dry. They have to be played-in properly, but then eventually--how long of course depends on how many hours a day you play them--they have to be replaced b/c they get "blown out". (That blown out comment refers to smaller clarinets especially.) Oh, and of course you shouldn't play them outside. All in all, give me something indestructible like my saxophone made of brass any day...

    Clarinet purists will disagree, but these were primarily the reasons I stuck with non-wooden materials for my clarinets. Since I double, I will likely always have my clarinet sitting in a stand beside one of my saxes regardless where I'm playing. It could be hours before it gets dried after being played.

    Until last summer I had one of those Artley Prelude clarinets that I got back when they were still considered "the best" student model clarinets. It had been used for one year in school, but basically left in its case. It could basically have been considered NOS. It had a simulated wooden look to it, and together with my Herb Couf MP, sounded decent enough--remember I'm not a small horn player, and that extends to the clarinet family.

    Fast forward a long while, and the clarinet had been in its case since I switched over to bass clarinet in Grade 12. It wasn't until 18 months ago that I needed it again for a musical I was playing in. At that point it became clear that: 1. The Artley played very sharp when warm, and 2. The brand wasn't nearly as good as some of the brands of today. (BTW, yes, Artley has been discontinued by Conn-Selmer, although mine was made prior to the C-S takeover I think, since mine was circa 1978.)

    Last summer I did another musical that required my (limited) Bb clarinet skills, so I talked to my tech about renting a clarinet from him. He gave me a Vito to use (sorry, don't know the model, but it doesn't have a bell ring.) It does however, have the P.R.A.G. which is described this way:

    I've attached a photo of it from the Conn-Selmer site below. I find the P.R.A.G. unnecessary, but whatever...


    Last summer when I played the Vito in pit, I played with the former 1st chair clarinetist of one of Canada's top military bands. Jack was really impressed with my tone, and was wondering what kind of clarinet I was using--he had offered me his Selmer for the job, but I politely declined. He was very surprised that is was a composite-bodied Vito. When I told him what I could buy it for if I wanted to, Jack to me to jump at it. I did. Then I left my Artley with David on consignment.

    The Vito is beautifully spot-on in intonation, has a rich, warm tone, and despite operator errors--which were many--blended very nicely with the rest of the real clarinet players in the pit. (I happened to be the only real sax player, and was brought in to do all the heavy lifting of the bari part, which carried the sax section.)

    All in all, these Vito student model clarinets are quite remarkable. I'm not sure where they are made--I am guessing off-shore, but wherever they are being manufactured, the plant is doing an amazing job. If they can make this sax player sound like a clarinet player, they are quite remarkable indeed.
    TrueTone likes this.
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