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76 year old coming back to clarinet after 25 years

After suffering from denture problems I gave up clarinet and saxophone and studied classical guitar and piano. I noticed an older buffet R13 for sale locally at a reasonable price and decided to have a look, like going to the dog pound and looking at puppies but not really interested.

So now involved, once again, with clarinets I feel that I have been living in a bubble all of these years. Ligatures with screws on the top???, double embouchure???, neck straps??? and plastic reeds. If I were to mention any of these things to the professor and first chair clarinetist of the Toronto Symphony, who I was privileged to study with, I would have been laughed out of his studio.

I am excited and having a great time, this is all a new learning experience.


Striving to play the changes in a melodic way.
Staff member
Dunno, to some people it's more about the gear than the playing. I'm kinda stuck in the middle, I like to play on a nice instrument. (Every time I went cheap I regretted it.) There always are a lot of quick fixes to playing well that for some reason don't seem to include practicing and get instruction from a good teacher.
I believe that it is best to obtain top notch equipment, that way you can rule out the gear when your progress not up to par (that means that it's the player :))

The good news, concerning Clarinet, is that a good used Pro model is available at a reasonable cost.

I've found Selmer Series 9 Clarinets to be available for ~$500.00 or less on Ebay. Even if a re-pad is needed, it's not a big deal since your fingers are used as many of the pads (on all Sop Clarinets with few exceptions). Some Series 10s can be reasonable also. I have never studied Balanced Tones or Centered Tones but I'm sure they can be had at a reasonable price. Also, the Selmer 9* is a Buffet style Clarinet.

I don't think ligs make much difference, but I do like the ones that can be attached and removed easily. I'm not sure a strap is needed, as the Clarinet is very light, I do like to use a padded thumb rest though. Syn Reeds (I use Fibracells) are fine, esp for practicing IMO.
Thank you all for the replies.

Bari Sax Guy! what are the differences between Fibracells and cane reeds? I will give the Fibracells a try hoping to keep an open mind, and as far as ligatures making a difference, maybe very slight, I will see. A clarinet strap or support of any kind on a Bb clarinet....really!!!

I am finding all of this a lot of fun and my opinions are based on a traditional player from way back when any real? player would only play a Buffet since all other clarinets at the time, were not of professional quality, except the odd Boosey and Hawkes, all of which, of course, is nonsense.

I did buy the older model Buffet R13, had it checked and adjusted by a tech., so any problems are mine not the instrument.
JD: Cane reeds are...cane, Fibracells are synthetic, one cost about the same as a box of cane reeds, but last a long time and once you find your reed, every one is a keeper. Also, they don't need to be moistened.

As stated, a lig is fine if it holds the reed and fits well, that being said I have an overpriced gold plated Ishimori lig:

I bought it used from a SOTW member, it fits my mouthpiece well, and it looks cool!


Staff member
Unfortunately, it seems that Fibracell quality has taken a turn for the worse recently. I love them and have played them for over 20 years, but lately they have been very inconsistent. I'm not a fan, but it seems that a lot of clarinetists are turning to Legere.
Once again, thank you all for your responses, I am finding this all amusing.

Synthetic reeds going out of style and new ones taking over........an over $100 gold plated Ishimori lig, metal that holds a reed to a mouthpiece looking cool???? maybe to the odd single reed player but most music lovers would think it is insanity since the tone it might change is infinitesimal.
Ligatures with screws on the top???, double embouchure???, neck straps??? and plastic reeds. If I were to mention any of these things to the professor and first chair clarinetist of the Toronto Symphony, who I was privileged to study with, I would have been laughed out of his studio.
Back in the '80's I participated in a summer graduate workshop on teaching beginning clarinet/saxophone. The instructor: Dr. McClintok was a woodwind doubler himself. One of the music teachers in class asked if "neck straps" for clarinets (they had come out recently) were necessary. McClintok's answer: "oh, that's an example of voodoo clarinet....Harold Wright (principal clarinet of the BSO), Carl Baerman, Daniel Bonade, (and so-on) never used them.....and they played pretty well...."
Yup, voodoo clarinet
I'm chuckling as I type this....
Hey Mike, I am chuckling too.

I have not seen any advanced? clarinet players using neck straps but maybe plastic reeds...don't think so.
I play bass clarinet in a professional orchestra. We were playing one of the Mahler's (or was it a Shostakovich piece) a couple years ago and the gal (hired extra player) playing Eb clarinet and I got talking about Legere reeds. She said that she does use them when she's doubling on different clarinets when there is one clar. in particular that isn't played too much as it's difficult to keep a reed wet during the winter season do to the dry-heat conditions.
For me, I use Legere European cut 3.5 reeds for practice mostly and go over to V12's when a series approaches.
OK. you guys win. My 76 year old clarinet brain thinks this Legere or whatever plastic thing reeds is insane but I will give it a go and let you know.
Trying to keep an open mind and enjoying every moment of it.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I've seen a couple pro players using neck straps. I would say it's not something that clarinet players, in general, use. It also might be a question of what "professional" means. Is that just someone who gets paid for playing clarinet or do you have to be a member of the NY Philharmonic or something? My opinion is that if you think it makes playing easier, go for it. However, I can't say I know of any clarinet brand that produces a horn with a strap hook.

My playing days ended long enough ago that my opinion about synthetic reeds would have to be refreshed. If I started playing again, I'd give them a shot.
Congratulations on getting back to playing.
It’s a thrill isn’t it ?
You did good on picking on a decent instrument. Choosing an upgraded mouthpiece as you progress is a good idea.
A great mouthpiece can make the biggest difference to your overall sound and definitely worth looking into.
Yes it is a thrill after all these years. My biggest challenge right now is developing a decent embouchure with dentures. I am trying both my traditional single lip plus the new to me double lip which has been the suggestion from others playing with dentures.

Fortunately my technical facility is rapidly returning and long tones seem to be the answer to developing a solid embouchure.....my wife says that she would prefer I play piano??????

I am using a Vandoren B45 mouthpiece with a Rovner C1R Mark III ligature and will work with that combination for a while.
After working on double embouchure for about a month with dentures it is starting to work for me. I obviously need to open my old traditional? mind.

I have ordered a Legere reed, (uh oh not cane) and will give it an open minded trial.

So far having a lot of fun but need to do a lot of work on tone. During my initial studies 50 years ago tone was the most important part of my work, the rest followed. Listening to a clarinetist with beautiful tone to me is more pleasurable than listening to one with superb technique.
You are a smart musician. I agree about tone. The simplest song played with a great tone trumps technique any day
I’ve never tried a synthetic reed either so let me know how it goes. Are you enjoying yourself? Is your wife warming up to the idea at all?
Hi Keesha, still waiting for the synthetic reed. No question in my mind, and I agree with you, that tone trumps technique any day.

I am certainly enjoying myself and yesterday my wife said that she still prefers my piano playing but the clarinet is starting to sound not too bad.....hope I am going in the right direction.
This is wonderful. When you get your synthetic reed, could you give us your thoughts on it. I’m interested but want to know from someone’s who has used only authentic reeds beforehand.

Piano is a gorgeous instrument so I can’t blame her there. Maybe if you learn a romantic love song just for her on clarinet she might warm up on it some. Us woman are such sentimental souls, it will probably steal her heart.

By the way…. I love piano too so she’s clearly got good taste.
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