Some of the most popular and professionally-recognized clarinets are from Buffet Crampon, who seek to provide every skill level with a high quality clarinet option.
All Buffet Crampon instruments share many elements in common that make them unique from other similar offerings – their innovations and features, which are a result of working alongside instrument users such as composers, band directors, musicians, music instructors, and conductors. Numerous ideas that these instruments show come from virtuosos who want to see improvements in their tools, and these improvements make their instruments very popular.
The brand itself is quite old, having started in the early-1800s in France, then reaching the US in 1918, which made them one of the leading global instrument makers. Their clarinets are famous for their smooth, warm tones, and their wooden or resin composition, depending on whether you are using a professional clarinet or a student one.
Best Buffet Crampon clarinets – Comparison table
|Buffet Crampon clarinet model||Material||Best for||Availability|
|Buffet Crampon R13 Professional clarinet||Granadilla wood, silver keys||Professional players||Check here|
|Buffet Crampon E11 Bb clarinet||Granadilla wood, nickel keys||Intermediate players||Check here|
|Buffet Crampon Prestige RC clarinet||Granadilla wood, silver keys||Premium choice||Check here|
|Buffet Crampon Tradition Professional clarinet||Wood, Nickel keys||Ease of play||Check here|
Best Buffet Crampon Clarinets – A review
Buffet Crampon R13 Bb clarinet – best for professional players
There are circles of people that regard the R13 as a clarinet that begins the journey of a professional-level player, but that classification is off despite the growing trend of ‘super professional’ clarinets. The R13 rightfully deserves its place among the best clarinets due to its build quality, tonal qualities, and price.
The body and overall design is very well-made and durable, adding to the neat finish and edges. The keywork has silver plating and is well built to last for many years, with the keys fitting easily under your fingers as you play. Unlike some clarinets that have the traditional stiff setup that makes the action inflexible, the action here is very responsive due to some changes in the design.
When buying it, you may need to reset the F and E key pads, as well as the low ring key pad. Despite the possible issue this presents, the performance is still above average, and it has very good fittings as well. In terms of its tone, it is quite versatile due to its ability to respond well to different mouthpieces without being ‘shouty’ in its upper registers.
- It has a high resale value
- The tone is full and rich
- Responsive keywork
- Works well for players who are intermediate or professional level
- Quite expensive
- The nylon pins on its lever keys are not durable
- Might not be ideal for outdoor use
Buffet Crampon E11 Bb clarinet – best for beginners and intermediate players
The E11 clarinet is a recurring model that disappeared from Buffet’s clarinet line briefly and made a reappearance. Its latest form is made from wood and has silver keys, alongside coming in a convenient backpack style case for protection. In many ways, it has been seen as a ‘step up’ option for people upgrading from a student-level clarinet, while remaining in an affordable range.
Similar to the R13 and most Buffet clarinets, African Blackwood comprises its body, although it is stained in this case – the R13 has an unstained body. The bore takes its design inspiration from poly-cylindrical designs in the best clarinets, which will allow a young player to develop their air support as they aim to produce higher quality sounds.
The keys have nickel plating, which keeps them resistant to tarnishing and damage, while the mouthpiece design specifically caters to younger players. What makes it different from most intermediate-level models is its tone holes, which improve its pitch accuracy. Its keys are also forged, rather than the common approach of stamping that is present in other clarinets.
- Comprised of high quality wood, making it durable
- The design details are excellent
- Very easy and accurate key movements
- It includes exclusive equipment
- It cannot last the student beyond a certain skill level
Buffet Crampon Prestige RC Professional clarinet – best premium choice
It is easy to see that the Prestige RC is among the most premium models of clarinets you can get in the Buffet Crampon line as every detail it has reveals the precision behind it.
One of its premium details is the milling holes, which Buffet makes to the exact specification. To prevent the wood from splitting, each piece has durable metallic rings on its edges, and the details are due to expert technicians adjusting and modifying the instrument’s parts. Its use of granadilla wood gives it excellent acoustics, while the polishing makes it shine and look aesthetic next to other instruments.
Its bell is egg-shaped, which provides it with the perfect level of resonance and gives the instrument a fuller sound output. Its bore is also smaller compared to what you would find in many professional-level clarinets, and this is due to its vibrant tonal qualities. It also has a six-ring and 18-key system, with the rings consisting of copper and the plating consisting of silver to achieve a fuller sound and durable shine.
Note that the instrument caters to professional players, so it will not include a mouthpiece due to the various demands from different pros on their unique preferences.
- The body is comprised of unstained granadilla wood
- Prevents splitting and cracks due to the durable metal rings
- Small bore and egg-shaped bell contribute to excellent acoustics
- Case is leather-covered
- It does not include a mouthpiece
Buffet Crampon Tradition Professional clarinet – best for ease of playing
If you are a professional clarinet player looking for an instrument that provides a centered tone alongside useful technical upgrades, the Tradition Professional clarinet is likely your answer to your quests.
It has a cylindrical bore and various technical characteristics that high-end models have, such as a low F correction key and metallic tenon caps, all without sacrificing the acoustic properties that its predecessors have. Its main unique feature is the vertical medallion, which adds elegance to its overall design.
It also adds an extra Eb lever key, which will help a professional musician get round the clarinet faster – a feature that is exclusive to the higher-end spec models. The wood is unpolished, so you can see the beauty and quality of the wood, as well as getting a purer sound quality.
- Durable build with an attractive finish
- Adjustable thumb rest makes it easy to play
- Durable keywork system, and can use both nickel and silver depending on preference
- Leather casing to keep it safe from moisture
- Like the Prestige RC clarinet, it does not include a mouthpiece
Buying guide for the Best Buffet Crampon Clarinets
Clarinets are among the most taught instruments in the world due to their broad appeal to students and professional musicians alike. Purchasing one, on the other hand, is not the easiest task, even when dealing with big-name brands such as Buffet Crampon.
You may be faced with many choices, and the process might be confusing if you do not know what you need to look for. The good news is that choosing a Buffet Crampon clarinet is the same as choosing any other clarinet – aside from the premium name that will likely make the clarinets pricier compared to other brands, you will also need to consider many of the same factors you would when buying any clarinet. These are:
Most clarinets are either made from wood or plastic, although this is a special type of plastic specifically engineered for that use. In the case of wood, the traditional choice is granadilla, which is also known as Mpingo wood or African Blackwood.
The material used will determine the level of the clarinet and who can use it. Plastic clarinets work best for children learning the instrument, since they are more resilient and can take the abuse from the student, while wooden ones are favored by professionals and advanced players due to their resonance and deep, rich tones.
However, wooden clarinets are more vulnerable to damage, unlike their plastic counterparts, although some manufacturers such as Buffet Crampon have come up with a material known as Greenline. Clarinets made from this material have the best properties of wood in terms of their tonal qualities, but are resilient to damage like plastic and resin clarinets.
The category of clarinet
Alongside the material comprising the clarinet, there comes another essential question of who is using the instrument. Clarinets are divided into three categories: professional, intermediate, and student level.
If you are buying a clarinet for a complete beginner or a child who has not made a commitment to the instrument, it is best to purchase a student model. These are made from plastic or ABS resin, which is a special combination of rubber and plastic. This makes them very durable and requiring little maintenance. On the other hand, intermediate models are good for a player who wants to upgrade their skill before picking up a professional clarinet, while professional models are for players who are fully committed to the instrument.
There are two metals that can make up the keys: silver, and nickel. Most beginner and intermediate clarinets will use nickel, because it is not susceptible to tarnishing like silver, is very durable, and still has a shiny appearance.
Silver is quite different in its appeal, as it is denser compared to nickel, so it makes the clarinet heavier. It also gives the instrument a darker sound that many players prize, although the problem it has is the higher level of maintenance it requires. If you maintain it properly, it can last for decades and remain as good as new.
The design of the bore
The bore size and design will ultimately affect the instrument’s general feel as you play it, with larger bores being more challenging to play, and smaller bores being easier to play.
If you are buying the clarinet for a young player, a beginner, or an intermediate player, it always helps to buy smaller-bore clarinets since they will be easier to keep in tune and play. An intermediate player can use a medium-size bore as well, as these offer a good balance between flexibility and focus. As for a professional player, they can opt for a larger bore due to their pitch flexibility.
Other than the bore size, the design also counts in the sound and playability. The cylindrical bore type will give the clarinet a large sound with plenty of volume, while a poly-cylindrical bore will have greater ring, greater projection, but less flexibility.
Are you buying a used or new clarinet?
There are many instances where buying gently used clarinets is a good decision, as long as you keep some things in mind – you need to ensure any repairs the instrument needs are not more expensive compared to its price.
Your best bet is always buying a new clarinet, or renting one in good condition if your child is playing it and you are unsure whether they will like it.
Caring for a Buffet Crampon clarinet
When you are taking care of Buffet Crampon clarinets, there are two rules you need to be mindful of – one is storing the clarinet inside its case when you are not using it, and avoiding keeping it in the reach of children who do not know how to handle it properly.
These tips should help you keep your Buffet Crampon clarinet in good shape for years to come:
Using cork grease
When you are assembling or cleaning the instrument, it is always advisable to use cork grease sparingly, since this will help to avoid the problem of bending the keys. Over greasing is a bad idea though, because this will result in the joints separating, in addition to leaving quite the mess as components start falling due to the weight of the lower joints.
Oiling the keys
Twice a year, apply clock oil or key oil on the moving rod ends. Ensure you use the oil very sparingly by applying very small and few drops – applying excessive oil will just make the keys uncomfortable to hold when you play.
If the pads are torn or damaged, they will produce a buzzing sound when playing, so replace them as soon as they show signs of damage.
Check the tenon rings
You need to check the rings regularly, but even more so during the drier days or winter seasons, because they tend to loosen. If you are not sure how to do this, you can take the instrument to a technician who specializes in woodwind instruments, and they will take care of this. Keeping them tight will be beneficial for the body itself, as it will prevent cracks from forming.
Cleaning the mouthpiece
To promote the instrument’s best performance, the mouthpiece needs to stay clean. Fortunately, it is quite easy, since you only need room temperature water and a very small amount of mild soap.
You need to be careful when cleaning it though, since the soap can make it slippery. Use a soft cloth or Q-tip for the best results, and never clean it using an abrasive object like a scrub brush. Additionally, avoid soaking the cork areas when cleaning the mouthpiece.
Always dry the sockets and tenons after playing
This will help to keep the instrument in top shape for years and prevent swelling of the joints.
When you are playing a Buffet Crampon clarinet, use its swab frequently to wipe off the moisture, and cigarette paper to dry the pads.
If the swab becomes completely soaked, you must replace it. additionally, when placing the instrument in its case, never place a wet swab with it. The moisture on the swab will lead to rust formation on the springs, as well as the keywork discoloring over time.
How can I tell a clarinet is from Buffet Crampon?
These clarinets will all have the Buffet Crampon logo as their identifier, while other marks are for the model’s identification. These include the letter and number, which are stamped under the Buffet logo.
What are Buffet Crampon clarinets made of?
Most of their clarinets are comprised of granadilla wood, while their student-level clarinets use ABS Resin, which is a mixture of plastic and rubber that mimics the sound of wooden clarinets.
What is the time span I can expect from a Buffet Crampon clarinet?
It depends on the level of the clarinet and how well you take care of it. If it is a student one, it should last for about 10 years, intermediate-level ones last between 15 and 20 years, while professional clarinets last for 30 years or more.
If there is anything we have learnt from this buying guide, it is that choosing a Buffet Crampon clarinet is not the easiest task – but with these suggestions and extensive buying guide, you should get a good place to start from.