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How to Tell the Model of a Buffet Clarinet

Buffet clarinets are stamped on the side of the upper body with an identifying mark.
the clarinetist image by Pix by Marti from Fotolia.com

Denis Buffet-Auger established a clarinet workshop in 1825 in Paris. Buffet clarinets became widely recognized for their award-winning quality as early as the 1889 Universal Exhibition in Paris. Buffet clarinets first came to the United States in 1918 and have been sold there since. Because Buffet clarinets have such a long history, determining the model can be exciting, especially if you discover that yours is one of the original--and valuable--models.

Examine the side of the upper body of the clarinet to find the long, thin key just above the only hole located on the back of the instrument. This is the register key. Beside the top of the register key should be a marking that Buffet uses to identify the model of the clarinet. All Buffet clarinets come stamped with the basic, round logo, so any other distinguishing marks can be used for identification. If there is a letter followed by a number, such as B12" or "E11," stamped below the emblem, this is the model of your clarinet.

Check below the emblem for a small, metal plaque or a marking that appears to have held such a plaque at one time. Buffet uses these plaques to identify modern, professional-grade clarinets. Determining the model without the original stamp or plaque involves such technical differences that you will need to enlist the help of an expert.

If the word "EVETTE" is stamped in the center of your the Buffet emblem, it is one of the company's student- or intermediate-level clarinets from before 1983. A wooden-bodied clarinet with this emblem is a B12 model, and a plastic-bodied is the E11. Some Evettes also may have "Master Model" stamped below the emblem. These upgraded models were mostly produced before the 1960s.

If the emblem stamped on your clarinet has no extra markings, stamps or plaques, it could be one of the highly regarded R13 models. Check your clarinet's serial number, located on the case or on a small stamp on the back of the barrel. If the number is above 50,000, it is likely an R13. You can also look at the "A" and "A" flat keys near the top of the clarinet. If the two keys are fused onto a single joint, your clarinet is not an R13.

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