Buffet E11 Wood Clarinet Review

This is a classic, expert-level clarinet that boasts great playability. But is it the right instrument for you?

If you are looking for a high-end, high-performance, and reliable intermediate-level clarinet, you have come across a long list of options that would be ideal for you. But which one should you choose? Is the wood clarinet a good choice for you or the plastic one? Are the silver keys better than the nickel keys? Is the overall build of the clarinet durable enough to make sense of the high price tag it comes with? Is the clarinet suitable for a student? And more importantly, should you buy a Buffet Crampton clarinet?

These are some of the questions you may be struggling to find answers to. But they also mean that you know what you need. And we’ve come up with this review to guide you in the right direction. We’ll also acknowledge that even though this clarinet is an excellent option for some people, it still isn’t the go-to option for all clarinetists. So, keep reading.

Read this review to find out more about this wood clarinet.

Buffet E11 Wood Clarinet – Overview

The Buffer E11 clarinet is a classic musical instrument made in Germany. This clarinet is one of the most popular clarinets for intermediate learners – it is a Bb clarinet. It is also quite popular thanks to the fact that the use of wood for clarinets results in the production of deeper, richer, and woodier sound superior to what you’d experience playing the clarinet made of resin or plastic. And though this use of wood means a pricier clarinet that needs constant and expensive maintenance, it is a good choice to invest in if you want to enjoy great sound. This clarinet’s responsiveness is impressive thanks to its construction out of hard reed. It yields an average pitch of 442Hz. And the highly-developed embouchure or use of mouth and facial muscles make it an ideal option for intermediate and advanced players rather than beginners.

However, it is interesting to learn that this version has silver-plated keys and not nickel-plated keys, as was the case with the original Buffer E11 clarinets made in West Germany. This switch in the design and production elements of the clarinet was made decades ago, although the specific time for this change is unspecified.

The other notable change from this clarinet’s build is that its production now takes place in France, hence the Made in France logo on the body of any new Buffer E11 you will buy. Along with the silver-plated keys, the other notable feature of this clarinet is its stamped 64.5mm barrel. However, this Buffet E11 we’re reviewing is the classic piece made in Germany, with nickel-plated keys.

Its body is made of superior-quality and very durable unstained African Blackwood. The pads are made of high-quality double fish skin for durability and ease of playing. The black and the brown from the wood blend with the nickel-plated keys perfectly, leaving you with the most elegant clarinet you could spend your money on. It also comes with a 5-year warranty.

What we Liked

  • It is a reliable intermediate-level clarinet, but advanced players can also use it.
  • It comes with a durable, sturdy, and stylish leather case
  • A trustworthy and well-known brand makes this clarinet
  • It produces a rich, deep, and woody sound
  • It’s beautifully built
  • Impressive attention to details
  • It comes with all the exclusive parts from Buffer Crampon

What we didn’t like

  • Expensive maintenance and care
  • Not ideal for beginners
  • Expensive clarinet for intermediate players
  • You must use hard reeds for the great-quality sound


View price here


Buffet E11 Wood Clarinet – Specifications

Body African Blackwood or Grenadilla
Bore Slightly largePoly-cylindrical inspired design
Keys Nickel-plated
Average Pitch 442Hz
Pads Double fish skin
Thumb rest Adjustable
Maintenance cost High
Best for Intermediate and advanced learners

Buffet E11 Wood Clarinet – Main Features

  • Construction – African Blackwood Body

This Buffer E11 is made of African Blackwood from Mozambique and Tanzania. Its special features include its strength and the dark color that makes for the best wood for clarinets. This wood is typically referred to as the Grenadilla wood or mpingo to the locals.

In addition to its beauty and strength, this wood is chosen and used for clarinet because it yields a rich and powerful sound and great tones, as long as it’s oiled properly. The bore must be dry too for the great sound. And because of the build and the work that goes into making the perfect clarinet body from this type of wood, it makes sense that this clarinet is costlier than most intermediate-level clarinets.

  • Sound

It delivers a deep and very rich tone. But you need to maintain the bore to maintain the tone; otherwise, the tone from the clarinet turns dull and even airy. With the right kind of maintenance, the sound from this clarinet features higher notes consistently, and the tone is great in general, with little or no screeching.

  • Keys, bore, and pads

These elements blend perfectly. The coffee-colored bore blends perfectly with the silver-plated keys, and with the black ebonite body, the clarinet stands out beautifully. These design features also contribute to its high sound appeal.

  • Case

It comes with a leather case whose interior is plush and velvety soft to keep the clarinet in good condition. This leather carrying case also ensures that you take the clarinet with you very safely to wherever you are needed to perform.

Who is this Buffet E11 clarinet ideal for?

As mentioned above, this Bb clarinet that offers great tone is perfect for intermediate and advanced-level players. It is not ideal for beginners because it only yields the best response in the presence of harder reeds and offers the highest level of embouchure; you can only deliver these with developed muscles of the face and the mouth. Gaining such a level of experience requires time, and beginners will not benefit much from this instrument.

Alternatives for the Buffet E11 Clarinet

The best alternatives for this intermediate-level clarinet include the Yamaha YCL-255, Glory Ebonite Clarinet, and the Mendini MCT-30 clarinets.

Here is a breakdown of their features

Clarinet Buffet E11 Clarinet Yamaha YCL-255 Glory Ebonite Clarinet Mendini MCT-30 clarinet
Body African Blackwood Resin Ebonite Low-quality wood
Maintenance Hard/ expensive Easy Low Less and easy maintenance
Sound Deep, warm, and clear tones Warm Mediocre Moderate
Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price

So, Should You Buy the Buffet E11 Wood Clarinet?

Yes. Even though the price for this clarinet is much higher than what you normally see for the intermediate-level clarinets, this E11 is built unlike the other clarinets for intermediate players. It has this elegant but classic look enhanced by the sturdy leather case. And on top of this, there’s also the high response and great tone quality that you will enjoy from this clarinet. These, along with the Grenadilla build, make it our top-recommended clarinet for intermediate and even advanced players. Its features make it worth the high price tag. Just don’t forget that it is a sensitive instrument that requires careful and expensive care/ maintenance.


What is the difference between the Buffet Crampon E11 and the R13?

The R13 has the revolutionary bore that is poly-cylindrical designed by the acoustician called Robert Carree, and modern professionals and orchestra players prefer it. At the same time, the E11 is a preferred fit for intermediate players or students.

Why is the E11 ideal for students over professionals?

The reason for this is that the Blackwood body is complemented by a bore whose design is inspired by the professional-level poly-cylindrical bore design. However, the student E11’s bore is slightly wider for more free blowing, which is what a learner needs to produce good quality sound. The larger bore presents less resistance, allowing the learners to master the instrument, even as the air support for these students develops.

Charlotte Moore is a Clarinetist by profession and has over time offered lessons on how to play the clarinet among other musical instruments. And while a majority of clarinet players are well versed with the process of settling with a good clarinet among other accompanying features. There is little information about clarinets. The reason why Charlotte prepared comprehensive experts touching on the various facets of the clarinet. The consolidated information will offer more insight on everything clarinets including the best stand to use, and the best plastic clarinet that you can invest in, among other information. Charlotte Moore is a devoted mother of two and a professional clarinet player.

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