Plateau Clarinets are very good! The above photo shows my personal plateau clarinet and the alterations I had to make so I could play. Read the explination in Plateau Clarinet Concepts at the bottom of this page.
I make and play the plateau clarinet…
I hear a lot of clarinet players saying the plateau clarinet does not play good… This is of course BS… That same clarinet player does not play an open hold bass clarinet, an open hole alto clarinet, an open hole saxophone…and many play a plateau (Closed hole) flute.
Great features of the plateau clarinet:
1. Even response and tone color: The air comes out of the tone holes the same every time. Making the tone and response the same all the time. On a traditional clarinet with keys the air coming out of the tone holes depends on how high the fingers are picked up off the open keys.
2. Who should play the plateau clarinet?: The Plateau clarinet is great for the young student that has small hands or the older person that has hand problems.. I personal have been playing a plateau clarinet for several years now because of bad hand problems….
3. ABS Plateau B-Flat Clarinet: Plateau clarinets come in ABS or wood just like traditional clarinets… I really like the ABS… WHY YOU SAY! The bore is very smooth and the response is very fast…. The bore does not change from day to day like a wood clarinet…. There have been many studies that believe there is no real difference in the tone of the material the clarinet is made from…. One of the great sound on the clarinet I have heard came for one of the “Dukes of Dixieland”.. He played a Bundy plastic clarinet because the wood clarinets would mildew in New Orleans… He had a beautiful tone…..
4. Wood plateau clarinets: The wood clarinet is believed by most clarinet players to have the best tone… Well, I can say without any reservation that there are more bad wood clarinets than ABS or plastic in the world today.. Because it is made of wood does not make it a great clarinet…..
*I have many ABS, plastic and wood plateau clarinets… there might be a slight difference in the tone but no more than from one clarinet to another….
5. There is a small learning cure when switching to the plateau clarinet… no different than going from a Buffet to a Leblanc or YAMAHA clarinet…. It only took me about a week to get use to the plateau keys…
*Most clarinet players are very opinionated… this is not news to most of us….. If it is not what they think it should be then the only answer is “It cannot be good”… no major clarinet player I know or have ever met plays a stock Buffet clarinet….. they have all been worked on to improve their playing…. I worked at Buffet setting up the clarinets when they came into the country for a couple years with Mr. Kloc and even after they were set up, working great.. they could change during shipping to the client….. wood is a very unstable material….
*My personal plateau clarinet set up: I use a Greenline Buffet 66mm barrel (Greenline is stable), and ABS body and a Mazzeo ABS Bell (I like the response and tone of the middle C & B with the bell) … I use one of my ABS mouthpieces made in the US…
The Plateau Clarinet Concepts:
Just because you purchase a Plateau clarinet (Covered Hole Clarinet) does not make you a better player. It only allows you to be the player you are now.
There is a learning curve, it feels more like an alto or bass clarinet under the fingers etc.
It depends on your hand problems as to how well you can play the clarinet even with a plateau.
What you can and cannot expect from the plateau clarinet:
When you purchase a Plateau Clarinet it will not make you the best clarinet player in your community band, it will not make you play as good as you did as 1st clarinet in your High School Band. What it will do is allow you to continue to play the clarinet at the level you are able to play the clarinet now.
I was 1st chair clarinet at the Navy School of Music in 1963 of the combined Army Element and Navy honor band. I was 18 years old. To get out of the school I had to play the Premiere Rhapsodie by Claud Debussy, Clarinet Sonata by Paul Hindemith on clarinet and the Concertino de Camera by Jacques Ibert on Alto Sax. I bought these pieces last year and didn’t have a chance at playing them now! By playing my plateau clarinet I am able to be the best clarinet player possible for me to be now! You can hear me on YouTube (Just type in the Hollywood Clarinet Quartet) I still play ok but am not even close to the clarinet player I once was. So, I am happy to be as good a clarinet player as I can be now and enjoy playing the clarinet at that level.
So, don’t expect miracles from the plateau. It will help you be as good as you can be now!
I personally love the Plateau clarinet
I personally play a Plateau clarinet. It has allowed me to play for many extra years. Having said that, I have lost most the use of my left hand 3rd and little fingers.
So, even with the plateau I had to do extra key work to be able to play the instrument. I extended the E-B left little finger key, I extended the C#-F# left hand little finger key and straightened the G#-Ab little finger key and raised it so I could reach these keys. I also have a bad 2rd finger in the left hand. So, I glued a Pearl on the key to raise it higher in the air than the other stack keys. (Before I was not always able to keep the key closed with the 2nd finger). Now I am able to reach the keys and play things that were hard before the work.
I spend many hours working on the things I cannot play. On the problems I have with my bad fingers and have written many exercises to help develop technique using my problem fingers. If you can’t go from B to C# very well then practice going from B to C# a million times until it gets better. The more you practice the less problems you will have.
The extra work I did on my clarinet is custom work and not a part of the original set up of the clarinets. Buffet, Selmer & YAMAHA build their clarinets with their set ups. I don’t know anyone who plays a Buffet clarinet that has not had some custom work done to the clarinet. I have been a clarinet and saxophone repairman for now over 50 plus years and spent a lot of my time moving, extending and customizing keys for artist. I am unable to guess your personal needs when you purchase the plateau clarinet. If you come to Muncie to try the clarinets then I would have an idea if you need custom adjusting. I am not a mind reader or doctor so cannot know your personal needs when you order a clarinet. The plateau will help but might not be the end all for you as it comes from my shop. There are a lot of good clarinet repair people that do custom work if you need more help.