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Review: Yamaha CS-GIII B flat clarinet

Is the new(ish) Yamaha clarinet all it's supposed to be?

My new CS-G (mk III model) is the first time I have changed my clarinet in over 30 years (previous model was B & H 926). I bought it from John Packer and was able to compare it with a good number of other pro models. Other ones I considered were a Buffet RC and one of the Selmers, but the CS-G had the greatest depth of tone to my ear and a level of projection that I have never managed on any other instrument.

I had been looking for a new clarinet for a year or so and was surprised by my eventual choice, but fellow musicians confirmed my feeling that this was the right instrument. I used it in a chamber music concert in the week I bought it and swapped to it from my old instrument with very little difficulty. I still need to orientate myself a bit more regarding intonation etc, but my initial feeling is that playing it is a very secure experience - no high notes that you are not sure quite where they are or any notes that feel uncentered. The middle D is not sharp like on many clarinets and you can get a really solid sound in the lower register. It sings in the upper register and you can get real accuracy with the articulation in say, a Mozart piece, where clarity is everything. If you want a clarinet that gives you a real English sound I am not sure this is it, but I am happy to try something different to what I am used to, and so far I love it. And although it is not like a 926 or 10-10, I can still get a lovely rich and sweet sound on it. Projection is excellent, intonation is secure and the supplied mouthpiece is very good; I might even swap to it from my trusted Vandoren B40. It comes with a standard and a short barrel, so tuning to the Europeans (A = 443) is perfectly possible. Both barrels seem to work very well. If I have a criticism it would be that the keywork is a little noisy on the lower joint - the pads really seem to hit the body very hard and the fact that the left hand little finger keys are pinned permanently to the right hand keys makes for added and (in my view) unnecessary key movement. However, this is a minor point and one which might be addressed on later models. If you have played on a Buffet you would be used to that anyway. Whether you agree with me on the only con I can find or not, there is no doubt that this a great clarinet.