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Buffet Crampon Tosca Bb ClarinetThe Buffet Crampon Tosca series was created in a collaborative effort between Buffet Crampon luthiers and artists such as Michael Arrignon, Romain Guyot, Pascal Moraguès, Guy Deplus, and Paul Meyer. The result is a clarinet designed for the 21st century with incomparable style and elegance.The Tosca is the evolutionary result of advanced materials and manufacturing techniques. It has a warm, velvety sound and extremely consistent intonation at either 440 or 442 Hz as it comes with two barrels. The keywork is shaped for a comfortable and a natural feel. It is made with a low F correction key to better match instruments holding down the low end of the ensemble, Gore-Tex and cork pads, and select grenadilla or Green Line bodies.
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I've had this clarinet for about a year and 8 months and it still amazes me how gorgeous it sounds. The tones are even throughout all the octaves and the sound is so warm and liquidy it makes you get goose bumps. It took a while to get used to the left hand Ab/Eb lever, but now it makes so many passages so much easier!! The low F correction key doesn't do much for me (doesn't raise the pitch enough to make an aural difference) but maybe it does more for others who play differently. I highly recommend this clarinet. It may seem like a lot of money but trust me, you will never need to upgrade again! The clarinet itself is very sturdy (though I suggest getting a sheepskin case for it because the case it comes with does not take well to wear and tear), I take good care of mine and it has yet needed to go in the shop for anything major. Good luck and happy clarinet shopping!
I've been hearing about this clarinet for a few years now. After completing my freshman year as an undergrad in music ed/performance, I wanted to step up to the next level.
My poor old 1960's era R13 pales in comparison...
The tone, obviously, is wonderful. With my Pyne mouthpiece, it absolutely sings.
I really love the keywork. Even for my small hands, the ergonomic shape has done wonders on my technique.
The physical bore is one thing I can't help but also like. Very very dense, heavy, full of substance. When I first played on mine in particular, I could literally feel that it was an extraordinarily substantial instrument.
The thing I hate most about this horn is not the horn... The case. It's so UGLY.
Now, everyone talks about the luscious tone of this clarinet. MINE has that tone, yes. I made the long drive to South Bend so that I could try as many clarinets as possible without actually having to purchase any. I played on 5 Toscas. All, except the one I bought, had a dead, stuffy tone. One of my clarinet instructors claimed that the bore was SO thick and dense that the tone had nowhere to go, and was therefore stuffy. Mine, for some reason or another, still has that gorgeous color of a Buffet R13, but still maintains that luscious darkness of tone that is characteristic of a Tosca.
As someone else said, try as many as possible. This horn is incredibly inconsistent, tone-wise.
The Buffet Tosca clarinet strives where many other professional clarinets are lacking. The most enjoyable parts of playing such an instrument are the low notes (clear, bouyant, round,) the altissimo register (not shrilly, confident attacks with that "ping" that one often gets with that one coveted reed,) and the over all resonance on every note (lack of a bell ring helps more than one thinks.) The upper joint is already outfitted in all cork pads (saves the pain of repadding.) Clarion A and Ab (often notes with a tendancy to have a weaker threshold = squeaking) are strong, dominant notes that are always clear. Minimal gripes include the provied case (thin, small, brittle) and weak sounding throat tone (althought perfectly in tune.)
I bought my Tosca Bb to replace my old faithful nickel plated R-13. The difference was instant and amazing. For the first few weeks, I was shocked by how much better I sounded on excerpts I had been playing and working on for years. The sound is very warm, full bodied, and sweet. I have received many compliments on it since I got the new instrument. The key work is very well done but takes a little getting used to, especially the left hand C#/F# which is a little shorter than the one on my R-13. I love the alternate Eb key which I use often, and I sparingly use the extra low F key to bring myself better in tune with the low instruments of the orchestra (or band when I play band gigs- actually, I use it a lot more in band situations to get in tune with the bass clarinets, trombones, and low saxophones). Now that I am used to the Tosca key work (it took a couple months to fully get used to it), I have no difficulty in switching back and forth from my A to my Bb. The Tosca Bb actually matches my R-13 A clarinet better than my old Bb did because the sound is sweeter and it has a little more resistance, which makes switching between my A and Bb easier. Technical passages are much easier for me on this instrument than they were on my R-13 even when I was still getting used to the new key work. All that having been said, I must point out that every Tosca is going to be different simply by the fact that it is made out of an organic substance (wood :) and every one is going to have a unique sound. My advice is to try out as many as you can before coming to a decision, try to get a few sent to you so you can pick out the one that you like best. This is an expensive instrument, but well worth the money when you find that one very special instrument which outshines all the rest.
Selecting an upgrade clarinet is a huge positive investment into one's life. Store personel were very intelligent and patient. The instrument that I selected stays very well in tune and has the warmest, darkest sound of all in our professional clarinet choir. This is not just my opinion!
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