Guest Blogger Post
This post is brought to you courtesy of David Blumberg. I asked him to write a review of his experiences with the new Buffet ICON Series barrels.
Mr. Blumberg is the Principal Clarinetist for the Seabrook Opera, a Philadelphia Orchestra International Music Festival Clarinet Faculty member (PIMF.org), a professional clinician and a Rico Reserve Reed Artist. His website is: https://www.MyTempoMusic.com
Buffet ICON Clarinet Barrels
I have had 2 Buffet ICON Barrels (the Silver Ring, and the Gold Ring) for the past 3 Months, and would like to share my impressions with you. Buffet has hit a home run with this new design! The Icon Barrel is not a straight bore barrel such as the standard barrels that come with Buffet Clarinets, at least that come with the non “Premium” Buffet Clarinets. This bore is tapered, “Inverse Conical” however the taper starts smaller, and flares out, which is the opposite of the taper of say a Moennig Barrel. Technically, I wouldn’t expect it to play well in tune, but it does!! The taper does work! (Inverse CONical = ICON)
I much prefer the sound of the Icon compared to my Moennig Barrels. I have been playing my Cocobolo Backun Barrels for many years now (as well as his Mouthpiece, and Bell), and this is a very good alternative to that, so it gives me yet another sweet, and resonant color palate to choose from. I feel that the Icon has more focus, and ring to the sound than my Moennig Barrel does. The ICON is quite supple in all of the registers, from the lowest E, to the highest C.
I recently played a run of West Side Story, and with switching from Bb to Eb, and Bass, I didn’t want to play with my Cocobolo Barrel, as that material can take slightly longer to warm up. I don’t have any Grenadilla Backun Barrels, so it was a choice of my Moennig, or Icon Barrels to pick from. The icon didn’t let me down at all. Great sound, really good feel, and the intonation is fantastic.
Now for the ring materials….. The ICON comes in a Gold, Silver, and a Black Nickel ring finish. The wood of the ICON is very, very refined looking, and the smoothness of the rings are gorgeous. My Gold Ring ICON does play differently than my Silver Ring ICON, it doesn’t have quite the projection that the Silver Ring one has. I refuse to acknowledge that the material of the ring has a single thing to do with the difference in the barrels sound – but there is one. No two barrels play identically, so I’ll chock it up to that, or there is a dimension difference (not that Buffet admits, nor probably has) between the two, but the two barrels do play differently.
Buffet describes the Ring Plating differences as “Gold produces more high harmonics, and timbre. Silver frees up and rounds out the sound, and Black Nickel seems to stand halfways between the two.” Well, there is a difference between the barrels, and you will have to see for yourself in a test. The ICON Barrel is made to use universally between the A, and the Bb Clarinet, so you don’t have to get another barrel if you want to use your mouthpiece/barrel to switch between the A, and Bb. Just of course make sure that you get a 65, as you don’t want your A Clarinet to play flatly (65 MM is pretty much standard for the A Clarinet). The Barrels are available in 64, 65, 66, and 67 MM Lengths, and also a 6 piece “Box Set”.
There is an ICON Bell that came out in early 2014, that has also gotten very positive comments. Kessler Music is a great supplier of these Barrels, and Bells.
In closing, I highly recommend the ICON Barrel as another weapon in the arsenal of Clarinetistry.
Philadelphia Orchestra International Music Festival Clarinet Faculty (PIMF.org), Reserve Reed Artist, Principal Clarinetist Seabrook Opera, and Clinician.
Mr. Blumberg received no compensation for this post or his review.