Yamaha YCL-CSG-H Clarinets/Keywork

Discussion in 'Material Matters' started by pete, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Well, I was playing around on der intarweb today and came across the flyer for the Yamaha YCL-CSG-H custom clarinet. Here's an excerpt:

    "The YCL-CSG-H is the same clarinet [as the YCL-CSG] but with a ‘Hamilton’ plate finish on the keys. Hamilton plating consists of gold with some nickel and copper added. Many players find it darkens the sound while at the same time giving tonal clarity and projection. They feel it also helps create a creamy smooth texture to both the sound and the response."

    I've never read such BS.

    Although I'm sure some player can try to convince you that havening gold plated keys that aren't even over a tonehole will affect the tone, I'd say 99 and 44th/100 of us will say, "Gee, the gold-plated keywork just looks nice."

    If you're wondering, on WWBW.com, the silver-plated keyed version costs $2579 and the Hamilton gold costs $2804. Hey, $225 for almost gold keywork? That's probably worth it, but just don't try to convince me that the keywork is impacting the tone.
     
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  2. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    You've never heard my fur-wrapped barrel. What warm a tone it makes!
    I am now experimenting with (faux) Leopard and white rabbit (warm yet bright, whoa!) :idea:
     
  3. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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  4. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Just for fun, here's a quiz I did some time ago:
    http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=231467&t=231374
     
  5. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    The ad-copy is pathetic. DAVE
     
  6. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I've read it .... once

    i think they are attributing their comments on sounds waves bouncing off the keywork (ok, i'm stretching .. but what else could it be ?)
    and thus gold being denser theoretically would give a darker ... uug ... i can't finish .. doesn't make much sense.

    but FWIW i have had some high end clarinet players say that silver plated keywork gives a better tone than nickel. The only way to really find out is to replace SP keywork with nickel and back and forth as an experiment. Something that is not even on my list of things I would like to try at some point.
     
  7. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Maybe the marketing guy was so dense that he indeed had a darker tone. :cool:
     
  8. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    +1.

    I was thinking that maybe, perhaps Yamaha was referring to the fact that some experiments have been carried out with flutes that if the instrument is physically heavier, it has a different tone. However, a) that has never been tested on a clarinet, as far as I'm aware and b) I doubt that the "Hamilton" plated keys weigh even more than 1/10th of an ounce more than the silver plated ones.

    > i have had some high end clarinet players say that silver plated keywork gives a better tone than nickel
    I think that's equally wrong -- not you, Steve, but the folks that have said that. Possibly they might be referring to the fact that professional horns usually have silver plated keywork and student/intermediate horns have nickel plated -- i.e. they're saying a professional horn > a student horn. Which is kinda obvious. Yes, I do know that you can get some pro horns with nickel plated keywork as an option. Maybe someone was comparing a nickel-plated Buffet Vintage to a silver-plated Selmer Signature, which isn't necessarily a fair comparison: hey, I could like a pro Buffet better than a pro Selmer (or vice-versa) just because ... the Buffet might be a better horn.
     
  9. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    There was a manufacturer that did this on sax, awhile ago, on SOTW -- minus your little trick, TTT. He was selling some sort of tweaked Chinese/Taiwanese horn, so he put up a recording of a) his horn, b) a Yamaha 23 (I think. That's a student sax, BTB) and c) a Selmer Mark VI (that's possibly the best saxophone ever made) and he asked people to see if they could hear the difference and vote in a poll.

    I could and got all three right. So did most people. It was fairly easy to do: the Mark VI sounded lush, the YAS-23 was medium-bright and the Chinese/Taiwanese thing was very bright. Could all of that been caused just by how it was recorded? You betcha. Is it possible that the tone was just endemic to the horns and you should use a different mouthpiece setup to bring out the best characteristics of each horn? Yup. Is it possible that the person making the recording just knew that the VI was the best horn, the YAS-23 pretty good and the Chinese/Taiwanese horn the worst -- and played them like that? Yup.

    Too many variables.

    In the example of the Yamaha Custom clarinets, here, it's possible that I could say to myself, "Hey. Gold plating. It's a better horn!" and play it like it is. And convince myself to pay the extra $225.

    It's just like adding a rock to the neck of a saxophone and saying that that improves the tone. I hope no one decides to do that. Ooops. Too late :).
     
  10. DavyRay

    DavyRay

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    Symphonies used to hire only male trombone players, because only men could sound "right" on such an obviously manly instrument. It was only after one symphony started using a blind (behind a screen) audition that the first woman trombonist was hired for a major symphony. (This story is from the book "Blink").

    People rarely trust their ears alone to hear with.
     
  11. clarnibass

    clarnibass

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    What a coincidence, material always seem to affect in the way the material looks or how much it costs. I've seen gold instruments described as prestigous, silver described as bright, lacquer as darker, etc. etc. Very regular human psychology. Pretty much every wind instrument maker have claims like this.

    Some would say silver plated keys look even better :)
     
  12. Ed

    Ed Founder Staff Member Administrator

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    Some things about material make a difference.

    I think resonators in pads in saxophones make a difference. I have experienced it first hand with my own horns on overhauls.

    Gold plated keys . . . probably not.

    Horn constructed from different materials - more than likely they will sound different even when using the same acoustic design.
     
  13. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I've also tested resonators. Changed pads/ resos back and forth from metal domed to plastic domed and noticed the difference. I prefer plastic on my horns.

    FWIW .. also in the past being a brass player I preferred non-silverplated cornets/trumpets and also brass french horns not the nickelsilver ones. I thought all the SP trumpets/cornets were too bright sounding for my taste. and lately when i've been perusing getting a Selmer paris cornet .. lacquer all the way.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  14. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    This is a fascinating open ended topic in the area of woodwind acoustics. The latest scientific research by Gilbert found that the measurable effects of wall vibration on the standing wave inside the tube to be negligible. That seems to represent the view of the scientific community and would indicate that the materials and/or finishes used in constructing the body of the woodwind instrument would have no effect upon the tone or the volume of the sound.

    The other viewpoint of many in the community of skilled players is that they can tell subtle differences when playing instruments made with different materials and having different finishes.

    The answer to this discrepancy may lie in what some call the "bio-acoustic" feedback the player receives through his senses when the instrument is played. In Gilbert's experiments a woodwind mouthpiece attached to a tube was artificially blown to remove the human variable. He could not very well ask the mechanical device if it felt or sounded different when the walls of the tube were allowed to vibrate freely and when the vibrations were muffled. Until science can someday measure and quantify the acoustic feedback to the player the debate will rage on in my opinion.

    Another pet theory of mine is similar to the placebo effect or what one might call a "musical self-fulfilling prophecy" It may be possible that a player who believes that lacquered saxophone plays with a darker tone will play all lacquered saxophones in a way that achieves this effect and plays all unlacquered and plated saxophones in a way that brightens the sound. The same could be true of a player who believes that gold keys make his clarinet play with a different sound. Who knows?

    John
     
  15. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Actual testing to disprove all of these artist-held theories (I tend to disbelieve them myself) awaits concerted testing done in a fashion to remove all variables but the actual perception. And, as that costs money and involves a peripheral issue (as society sees it), it's just not gonna happen.

    "They" could replicate a artist clarinet body in blackwood, plastic and metal, insulate the artist's hands with latex or nitrile gloves to disguise the physical feedback, put blinders on them, and then run the tests. My suspicion is that what you would have is a random distribution of what sounds the best.

    We did a test in 1960's Springfield MO regarding the difference between the sound of an A clarinet and a Bb clarinet. We used the screen method to isolate the visuals from the sounds, worked off of relatively simple charts (no florid phrases that would be significantly harder in an extreme key), wrote out all of the transpositions for both horns (so that there were no fumbles with the transposition process) and then running through the whole process with about fifteen pro and semi-pro clarinet players.

    Everyone both played the horns, and then served on the panel that rated the horns from the other side of the screen. We had (as I recall) about twenty Bb horns and about ten A horns, all from a variety of brands. (We did run each pair in the test with horns from the same maker, although not all were of the same model.)

    The end result proves (to me, at least) that the whole "A clarinet more mellow" bit exists solely in the mind of the player. No one (out of the fifteen or so participants) could make the call on a consistent basis as to A or Bb. All in all, it was the most comprehensive test of that nature that I have ever heard of.

    In my opinion, the "mellow A" clarinet myth exists because of a perception in the minds of the players alone. We are all brought up on the Bb clarinet, and instinctively perceive a given pitch as being associated with a given fingering. Throw the half-tone lower A horn into the equation, and we "see" a given tone as being associated with a lower toned fingering on the normal horn (Bb), and come up with the "mellow" association.

    At the time, there was apparently only one C clarinet in Springfield, at my college (Drury). Had there been a couple more of them, we would have thrown them into the mix as well. As for the A clarinet and mellowness, so too for the C clarinet and "shrillness"...

    While everybody talks about saxophone lacquer (with/without), there has never been a similar test done in the above fashion to prove/disprove it. Getting a large enough universe of horns might prove to be difficult. (Most of our clarinets were contemporary, with only a couple of Center Tone and one Balanced Tone Selmers in the mix.)
     
  16. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    For some reason, I came back to this thread, today.

    While I do insist that a) the material that your clarinet's keywork is made out of does not affect your tone and b) the material a saxophone is made out of or the finish used on it does not affect the tone, I think I found something that does: intonation standard.

    I have Dr. Paul Cohen's Vintage Saxophones Revisited CD and he demonstrates a high pitch (A=457hz) and low pitch (A=440hz) Evette-Schaeffer Bb sopranos from about the same year. I like the tone of the HP one more. It's not that either is "bad", it's just that the HP one sounds sweeter.

    Now, as far as clarinet is concerned, I think most clarinets sound like ... clarinets, until you get fairly high (Eb soprano) or low (Bb bass), so, to me, a C clarinet sounds like a Bb clarinet which sounds like an A clarinet. No real difference.

    Now, talking about sax, again, I think that both the F alto saxophones and the C melody saxophones do have a different tone color than their Eb and Bb brethren, but it's also in the way you play 'em: for example, I have a couple CDs of Dr. Cohen playing Conn-O-Sax (an F alto) and he sounds very lush and not quite like his Eb alto playing. On the other hand, I have recordings of Rob Verdi playing his Conn-O-Sax and I really can't tell much difference between his Eb alto tone and F alto tone.

    One thing might be the complexity of the tone of the two instruments: a clarinet's tone is very close to a perfect sine wave, in the middle register, at least.
     
  17. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Pete: I am no expert, but I've owned a few horns in my time and played a lot more than that. I'm wondering if the normal variances among similar saxophone models has been factored into your comments. In my experience, I've found that numerous instruments of the same model have different tone, with a few exceptions.

    I would think that it would take the playing of MANY of the same model to draw any conclusions as to overall tone. Wouldn't a mass of Conn-o-Saxes or F-Mezzos produce a variety of tones depending on numerous extraneous factors? What if you had many HP horns and LP horns (like Dr. Cohen's two sopranos); maybe the next comparison would produce a better LP than HP tone?

    I have two Buescher TrueTone LP sopranos, silver-plate, about 4500 numbers apart (237xxx and 233xxx). They are different from each other, albeit both are good players.

    I once tested numerous Yamaha pro-line altos and found a world of difference among them.

    The only saxophone model that I've found with a consistent tone was the Selmer Ref 54 altos. While some played better than others, they all sounded similar.

    As to clarinets, I have a C-clarinet and while it plays most of the same notes as my Bb soprano clarinets, the C has a definite "smallness" in sound while the Bb models all seem to have more depth in their tone when playing the same notes as the C.
     
  18. hakukani

    hakukani

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    In a woodwind, one of the parameters of the harmonic content of any note is how loud the note is played.

    Listen to the opening of the 2nd mvt of the Ibert. It almost sounds like a flute, regardless of the player.

    One of my favorite recordings of Messaien's 'Quartet for the end of time' has a wonderful clarinetist. In the clarinet mvt., you can clearly hear harmonics (the odd ones, being a clarinet) being added one at a time as the clarinet crescendos from pppp to ffff.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Messiaen-Turangalila-Symphony-Olivier/dp/B00000DNHT
     
  19. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Back in the dark ages...

    of the 1960's, when I was a college student, I was part of a test of A, Bb and C clarinets (well, only one C clarinet) that were playing the same music (transposed and transcribed for each instrument) from behind a screen.

    While we had only one C horn, we had a considerable number of A clarinets (eight or more) and many Bb horns. Nobody could consistently pick the pitch of a given instrument, including professionals, the clarinet professors of two universities, or schumcks like me.

    We all took turns grading the horns and playing the horns, and the test ran on for six hours or so.

    Never did it with saxes, though...
     
  20. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Terry, you're repeating yourself in the same thread. I find that amusing :).
     

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