Introducing the Plateau Clarinet.
A covered hole clarinet is a huge help for players with smaller hands or with finger problems such as arthritis, but it is also recommended for any player who simply wants a clarinet that is easier to play! On an ‘ordinary’ clarinet the main six finger holes need to be perfectly covered by the players fingers for the notes to speak properly. This is very difficult for youngsters and beginners to do and the main reason why beginners squeak so much!
Plateau Clarinets, helps players with Arthritis who could no longer play a traditional Clarinet, or youngsters who just couldn’t quite get to grips with one. The Plateau Clarinet is helping more people to discover, or rediscover, their love for playing the clarinet.
The body of the Plateau Clarinets can be made from wood, ABS or Ebonite, a hard rubber material that will stand up to any knocks and bangs it may get, and what’s more it’s guaranteed for life against cracking. It’s also a lighter material than wood, which makes it easier for younger players to hold, and it has a rich tone. Plateau systems in general were offered by all clarinet makers in the 1930s. They are enjoying a comeback in 2022….
Plateau systems were thought by many players to be stuffy, the reason for this was simple… most plateau clarinet keys were just set too close to the tone holes so they could not speak properly….. When the pad and key heights are set properly the plateau plays great…
The Alto, Bass, Contra Alto and Contra Bass clarinets are all plateau and they play great… No one complains about them being the Plateau system… but they would be stuffy if they are not open enough…
*They are also good for marching bands so the players can wear gloves and not worry about marching with the clarinet causing them not to cover the holes.
Plateau systems in general were offered by all clarinet makers in the 1930s.
Plateau key systems are the big exception on the clarinet today. All clarinet makers offered them in the 1930s. They were popular among doublers, musicians who played the clarinet and saxophone.
However, since the system is relatively complicated and therefore much more expensive, all companies stopped production. Another problem was the problematic acoustics. The sound was often too closed and muffled.
But there can be very good reasons to have the ring keys changed to closed or plateau keys. We have been offering fully and partially customized clarinets with closed/plateau keys since the 1990s and they are even played by top players in national orchestras, by professors and great military bands. They are also sometimes called jazz or plateau clarinets .