Buy an Oehler clarinet, help for the right one...

Discussion in 'The Clarinet Family: General Discussion' started by SharPlayer, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. SharPlayer

    SharPlayer

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    Hi,
    interested for the different sonority of german clarinets, I like their tone and so I would like to have one

    The clarinets I'm interested for (in the intermediate bracket, according to my budget):

    Schreiber D46 http://www.schreiber-keilwerth.com/englisch/schreiber/instruments/clarinet_d46.htm
    Uebel 632 / III http://uebel-klarinetten.de/fauebel/klarinetten/b-klarinetten/b-klarinette-632/
    Keilwerth (Richard) Top Sound http://www.keilwerth.de/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=26&Itemid=46
    There is also the Yamaha 457-22, http://www.yamaha.co.jp/english/product/winds/product/wood/clari3/ycl457/main.htm
    it cost less but I've not many sympathy for this Brand, but I would consider if the clarinet is really good...

    Unfortunately there is not any dealer in my area so I need every information possible about the quality, intonation, sound and Manufacturer reliability
    Many thanks for every suggestion :smile:
     
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  2. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    What part of the world do you live in? This will help us to answer this question.
     
  3. SharPlayer

    SharPlayer

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    Sorry Gandalfe,
    I'm located in Italy, there is not any information here regarding german clarinets because they are not used at all
    I need to buy them from dealers in Germany...
     
  4. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Maybe one of the music shops in Bolzano or Merano could help you...not sure if they carry German or Austrian System clarinets, though.
     
  5. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    ... I believe our SOTSDO said it was next to impossible to get a Yamaha clarinet that is anything other than Boehm outside of Germany.

    He'll probably pop in in a bit.
     
  6. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I labored long and hard to purchase a Yamaha top end Oehler horn, writing numerous letters (all of which - every one, without exception - went unanswered (including one translated into Japanese, no less)), but had zero success. None of the retail shops in Germany would answer my inquiries, Yamaha here in the states was totally uncooperative (I reached them through telephone calls), and the Yamaha mothership in Japan never acknowledged my existence.

    (This was in my pre-internet days, mind you - things would go a lot smoother these days with web sites and all.)

    (Also, note that a good number of the clarinets in the catalog sheets you have referenced are not really Oehler instruments. Only those with a finger plate for the middle finger, right hand, are constructed according to the Oehler patent.)

    The up end makers (Uebel, Wurlitzer, whoever) aren't very interested in hearing from non-Germans, if my inquiries can be taken as a guide. Then too, their "up-end" horns are produced on an artisan basis, and they apparently maintain zero "stock", producing only to fulfill orders in hand.

    I ended up purchasing a Amati top end horn from Woodwind and Brasswind. It was a returned stock horn, and it arrived in a cheesy case (with a plastic handle, no less), in poor regulation and without an appropriate German style mouthpiece.

    (It apparently went into the "used" box when the horn was returned, and they (WWBW) just tossed in a typical French style one when they shipped it to me. The mouthpiece sent didn't fit the socket, by the way.)

    The hardest thing to deal with was the lack of regulation. The horn, as delivered, had all but one of the rings set so high that my fingers could not seal the tone holes, press down as I may. The reason for this was easy to divine - to several of the rings are attached small vent keys, sealing adjacent vents. As these have to seal regardless of ring height, the only way to lower the rings was to remove the thick, German-style leather pads from the cups, and then replace them with custom made cork pads sanded to the proper height and then glued in place. It was not fun, but we finally got the problem fixed.

    The other thing about the Amati horn was that the overall "build quality" of the instrument was far less than I have become accustomed to over the years with Selmer instruments. Even though the keywork is silver plated, there are plenty of "rough edges" on the metal, and several of the fittings on the instrument (key stop posts, for example) weren't even fully attached to the instrument. (One of these fell out during the initial overhaul of the instrument, and my local technician had the devil of a time finding in on the shop floor - God knows what he would have done had he needed to get it replaced from Amati.) The bell was also poorly finished, with rough wood within same.

    It was cheaper, however. I paid under $900 for an instrument that they were selling for about $1,200 new at the time (if my memory serves me well).

    As for the instrument as an instrument:

    • The ergonomics are horrible - thumb rest in the wrong location for anyone other than an orangutang, left hand little finger key touches either mis-located too far around the horn or you have to assemble it with the right hand finger holes out of alignment with those on the top joint.

    (I do have an instrument that is worse than this, however. My Italian "Albert" system bass clarinet puts the little finger keys for both hands in what feels like the wrong place.)

    • The keywork is somewhat bassoon-like as far as noise is concerned. The persistent tendency of German clarinet designs to use "clapper" keys on the lower joint, instead of relying upon the Boehm-Klose style axle keys, is one of the more puzzling things about the German clarinet. If the French - French, for God's sake - makers could figure this out in the 1800's, you would think that the German makers might catch on in the next hundred years or so, but no...

    • You will need to resist the urge to play a German instrument with your current mouthpiece. First off, it may not fit - the mouthpiece socket will most likely be of a different diameter. If the horn you end up with does not have a mouthpiece, measure the socket and then purchase a Vandoren German style mouthpiece of the correct diameter.

    • You will also need to purchase some reeds appropriate to the mouthpiece - Vandoren also has these. The German style mouthpieces have a tighter lay than you will be used to, so moving upward to a 4 strength (for someone used to playing a 3) will probably be appropriate. A 5 strength is not unusual when playing a German mouthpiece.

    • Finally, the German style mouthpieces are grooved for a string ligature. You can use a Rovner without a problem, but I would recommend that you use the string (beeswaxed twine works just fine for this - the string and the beeswax (purchased at your local fabric store in the sewing notions department) will set you back all of three dollars) and learn why German players have retained the antique method for so long.

    Would I convert to a German style clarinet for all of my playing? Most likely not. The "system" is quirky compared to the Boehm-Klose one, and things are definitely different above high C. Also, you can look far and wide and long, but you will never find a German system bass clarinet for sale in the used market.

    Speaking of that, it is possible that you will find a suitable instrument on eBay's German service. Do a search for "klarinette", and sort through the listings, paying attention to terms like "Klapper", the number of which will define the number of tone holes on the instrument (not the keys). The greater the number there, the higher the overall quality of the instrument and thus a higher justifiable price. As always, the buyer should be wary - there are fraud experts in Germany as well as here.

    Having said that, there are perceivable differences in tone/timbre. If you like the German sound, then you will probably enjoy what you hear coming out of the horn.

    I have primarily used my Oehler for playing shows, but the changeover to the Oehler fingering system always takes me a couple of days to handle smoothly. And, bear in mind that I have been playing the Albert system on clarinets for a long, long time - you most likely have not. There is a difference - I call it the "first fingers difference" that you will have to overcome before you can handle them well.

    Oddly enough, the "problems" with the long keys (the lack of the duplicated C, Eb, B and C# keys on the lower joint) are not as bad as they have been played up to be. The "patent C#" mechanism covers most of the difficulty, and those who have played saxophone (with much the same key arrangement in that regard) will find themselves wondering what all of the fuss was over.

    More than anything else, you will find yourself treated as a sort of pariah amongst clarinet players. Regardless of what comes out of your horn, you will be viewed as "different" and non-conformist. Just how you will handle this remains to be seen. (I even run into these attitudes when playing my full Boehm clarinets.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2010
  7. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Not really surprising. One may be tempted to call it "bad customer service", but Yamaha explicitly forbids out-of-country sales. (Else I'd buy them elsewhere, as the same model from a local dealer costs easily twice than what it'd cost in the U.S., including shipping, taxes and all).
    You'd need a straw man to buy and forward the instrument to you. But then either of you might be faced with the Yakuza (and playing a clarinet with one or two pinkies missing might be quite an adventure).
     
  8. SharPlayer

    SharPlayer

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    Terry, many thanks to sharing every aspect of your experience !!

    You have described everything regarding what a Boehm clarinet player (or a non-German clarinettist) will find going to the german clarinets world for the first time, ostracism included (fortunately this is not a problem in my situation)

    You are right, the web has made the musician's life more easy (my credit card has not the same opinion... )

    It is not the first time I'm interested for the different sound of a german bore clarinets and, as you have suggested, I've made my first purchase on e-bay but after few days I've realized that was a mistake. I didn't know anything about that old clarinet regarding the pitch, intonation, quality and it needed a complete overhaul (not just a repad) so it has returned to ebay...
    also I'm not interested for too cheap student quality instruments, I've made this choice in the past but I know myself, and after played few time, I've sold it and took a better horn (soprano sax and bass clarinet for the record)
    I've made some good searches in these days and I'm prepared for the different setup (fingerings, mouthpiece, reeds...)
    I have never found positive comments regarding Amati clarinets...

    Regarding the purchase I've found some good dealers who have a good selection of german system clarinets, Thomann is one of them
    The price I'm oriented for my purchase is around 1400 Euros, enough to get a decent horn (I hope)
    At this price we have the Yamaha 457-22 and the Schreiber D-41
    http://www.thomann.de/it/yamaha_ycl_45722.htm
    http://www.thomann.de/it/schreiber_d41.htm
    There are interesting sound samples ( I don't think they "pilots" the play-test),
    and listening more times with a good headphone, the tonal differences are noticeable
    The D-41 it seems to play with a better intonation and a little more deep tone than Yamaha, which become really interesting from the 657-24 model, imo
    Also, I've just received an answer from a pro clarinet player who cares the woodwind department of another German dealer, he also recommend the D-41 over the 457-22 for the best tone and response... unfortunately any dealer carry also the Uebel 632 and the Keilwerth Top Sound so my choice is limited in some way...
    I'm oriented to the D-41 but if I can afford, I will try to buy the D-46 as my definitive and best choice.

    Thomann also have a good assortment of mouthpieces:
    http://www.thomann.de/it/german_cut.html
    otherwise
    http://www.basdejong.com/index.php/en
    http://www.klarinettedirekt.de/webshop/main_bigware_29.php?bigwareCsid=pabi3fbv4u71vp3ma3rruhnhq4

    I'll wait for other suggestions... :smile:
     
  9. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    I'm sticky-ing this thread. Good primer for folks that want this style clarinet. Hey, I wasn't aware that Oehler = buy a new mouthpiece.
     
  10. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    On a related note, Buffet purchased Keilwerth-Schreiber last week. It might be a good idea to wait for a bit before you buy: the current crop of horns might be sold at cut-rate prices, depending on what Buffet wants to do with Keilwerth-Schreiber's current stock.

    You might also take a look at the Richard Keilwerth company (ttp://www.keilwerth.de). Their major focus is Oehler clarinets.
     
  11. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    With the mouthpiece, I thought that I would be facing a smaller, but still nightmare, scenario - no way to order one from the Mother Country, unlikely to get a decent one even if I returned the horn and got one "fresh out of the shipping crate". (Remember, this was back in the day before easy internet access - particularly with our 28,800 baud connection rate out here in the sticks.)

    Imagine my surprise, then, when I turned to the mouthpiece section of their catalog to find that good ol' Vandoren carried them in multiple facings and two tenon diameters - and the reeds for them as well. It's always something...

    And, I'm not kidding about the string ligature. It really is a different experience, even from the "string like" Rovner (which isn't very string like). It's more like the string-like Reedwrap (which really is)...
     
  12. clarnibass

    clarnibass

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    The ones I spoke with were always very helpful. At least some of the companies sometimes have instruments to try (occasionally even to buy).
     
  13. SharPlayer

    SharPlayer

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    Thanks for the info Pete,
    I strongly hope that !
     
  14. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Bear in mind that my initial search took place before any of the smaller makers had web sites, or even an internet presence of any kind (like email). I was able to track makers by their "real" addresses, but the trouble of an international reply (even though I took the effort to include International Reply Coupons) was probably more than most wanted to take.

    I can't blame them, but I can blame Yamaha. There, I went with the native language (Japanese) and also included the Reply Coupons. There is no excuse for a multi-national corporation to act that way. They could have at least said no.
     
  15. SharPlayer

    SharPlayer

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    It seems that you wanted a lot Yamaha horns... why?
     
  16. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Why not?
     
  17. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Yamaha has excellent quality from student to professional instruments.


    truthfully, if i was going to buy a german bore clarinet I would search and find a boehm keywork one. They exist (used too), you just have to look for them. But then I'm far away from germany and rarely see anything but boehm or the occasional albert clarinet.

    There are also current makers of german bore boehm clarinets.
    http://www.schwenk-und-seggelke.de/englisch/klarinetten_3000.php
    http://www.rossiclarinet.com/
    http://wurlitzerclarinetsamerica.com

    This one also makes them out of boxwood
    http://www.schwenk-und-seggelke.de/doks/Prospekt_Profi_Buchsbaum_e.pdf

    interesting as they also have "period correct" clarinets ... like the bassett horn (I think we should send Gandalfe to investigate)
    http://www.schwenk-und-seggelke.de/englisch/klarinetten_historisch.php
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2010
  18. SharPlayer

    SharPlayer

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    sorry, my bad english don't allow me to express exactly what I mean...
    I meant why a particular interest for Yamaha Deutsch system clarinets, based on what elements you think that they produces very good d. sys. clarinets ?
    Steve, speaking for clarinets with a german bore but with boehm system keywork you mean the Reform-Boehm clarinets?
    Sure, these clarinets would give me an easiest solution to avoid to learn a different fingering but they are very expensive and I think that it is almost impossible to see one of them on ebay at reasonable price...
    http://wurlitzerclarinetsamerica.com/products/clarinets.html
    http://www.leitner-kraus.de/englisch/clarinets/boehm_a_b_eng.html

    I'm currently searching every info regarding affordable clarinets and I've read some threads on klarinette24.de forum,
    translating in english post by post (!!!)
    Naturally the impressions are different for everyone but interesting however...
    it seems, as my impressions listening the sound samples, that the Yamaha (I'm speaking for the intermediate mod.) has a more brighter tone (which is not what I'm looking for) than many others
    a pro point for them is a more comfortable (subjectively) keywork,
    at the opposite, there are many cases of cracks, always on the upper joint
    cracks always on the same point sound no good to me
    Regarding the dark and mellow tone, good impressions for Uebel, but it seems that the keywork (especially in the middle area) is not so reliable in many cases
    The Schreiber is well considered regarding the tone (more deep than Yamaha), intonation and a 5 years warranty for the wood...

    My search is always in progress...
    I don't dare the registration on klarinette24 because my 0 knowledge of German and my location !!

    P.S.- A contemporary German production of metal clarinets
    http://www.metallklarinetten.de/1.html :emoji_astonished:
     
  19. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Orsi also makes metal clarinets, IIRC.

    Referring to the Yamaha comment, Steve essentially said anything I would have regarding the company/build quality. There's also the point that ALL professional instrument from respected manufacturers have things to recommend about them. In other words, any pro player would probably find things to like about any pro clarinet, but he's probably going to prefer one more than any other. It's not that one is inherently better than the others; one is just better for him.
     
  20. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I have had customers with used german bore standard boehm keywork picked up on US eBay. I can't recall their brands at all but they do exist, you just have to look for them (I haven't).

    about Yamaha, I should also add "consistent" in relation to build quality and intonation. If i bought a, say tenor sax 875 and something happened to it, i could be assured that more than likely if i bought another 875 that it would be very close to what I bought before in every nuance.

    But then I do not know much about the german makes out there except for Schreiber clarinets. They, to me, seem to have excellent keywork and build quality ... though keep in mind I see them when there's a problem so I have to keep it in context.

    once again the german reformed boehms etc just are not seen in the US so I'm not of much help on this topic.
     

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