I've played clarinet from elementary school to college (about 10 years) and was always the lead clarinet, doubled on E-flat and played B-flat for one year. My teachers all thought I could join an orchestra and go professional, and then I formed a passion for Japan and completely redirected my focus toward mastering the language and moving there after college. Not wanting to bring too much luggage, I left my clarinet (and other instruments) back in my home country.
It's been 7 long years...
and I'm finally in a place in my life where I'm looking back at my life honestly and realizing that I should be in music after all. Clarinets are expensive here and there isn't much of an affordable used instrument market in Japan, so I opted for playing flute instead. I didn't have much of a problem starting it and got used to it rather quickly. It's only been 6 months since I started so I'm nowhere near professional but...
every time I hear or see a clarinet, I am overwhelmed with the feeling of nostalgia. So I'd like to do both.
I went to a Yamaha store and tried out their student model (YCL-250) on a 2 1/2 reed, and was horribly shocked that I could not produce a sound at all at first! I felt like I had to use a TREMENDOUS amount of air pressure to make any sound and it felt very unstable and...ugly (like "HONK..hhhHONK"). I had the ligature firm but not too tight and slightly below the ligature line on the mouthpiece, and the reed was a hairline just lower than the tip of the mouthpiece (I am remembering correctly, right?)
I don't recall EVER having this problem with the clarinet, even when I first started. (In fact, I remember other fellow student clarinet players making this HONKING sound and thinking it was really weird, because I never did that.)
I noticed that whoever put together the clarinet for me did not use any cork grease, though I'm not sure if that would affect the sound at all.
All the years of my clarinet playing, I used a Selmer student model, though I don't remember the model number. I had a gold-plated ligature and an upgraded barrel and I think I used 3, 3 1/2 and 4 reeds depending on the song. The e-flat I used was Leblanc, and it was rented so I didn't upgrade any part of it.
Is there any difference in models? Is this weird or what? I'd like to know what people think is the problem and if they have any advice. I'm thinking of trying other clarinets if I can find any.
Yamaha claranets have always had a rather hollow sound to them. Your upgades on your personal claranet would also have had an effect, especially if, I think I'm reading right here, you changed your barrel. You do have reed placement and ligiture right, but since you are still a practicing musician maybe you should try a higher level reed (maybe a 3). If I were you stay away from Yamaha claranets. if you can, try to find an older claranet that is already well used and broken in. If the claranet is brand new, chances are it will not sound right. I own two claranets, both of which are older and well cared for. My first that i played in school is a french/german plastic claranet that anyone could play easily and have no worries about sound. To this day it is my favorite and i didn't pay all that much for it because it was used. My second is a near brand new wooden claranet that i find to be more difficult to play and though the sound is excellent, it requiers alot more air to play. Still, I find it is a much better instrament than any Yamaha. Your best option os to find an older claranet that someone would like to sell, you might find it a better instrament overall.
I have heard that te Japanese aren't keen on 2nd hand instruments at all, so they're exported to the West. Might it be an idea to contact a music teacher to ask if they know of any instruments for sale?