Yamaha YCL-450NM Duet+ Intermediate Clarinet Review

There comes a time when a beginning clarinet player becomes serious about improving his or her sound and is ready to make the transition to a better quality instrument. Intermediate clarinets may fit the bill as there are many quality models to choose from with high ratings that won’t necessarily break the bank.

Things to Consider Before Buying an Intermediate Clarinets

It’s always a good idea to seek the input and advice of an experienced player when choosing an instrument that will be the best fit for you. Trying different models and bringing along an instructor to give you feedback can be immensely helpful. You’ll also need to decide on your budget. Ask yourself, just how much am I willing to spend, and how long do I plan to stick with it? If you’re not sure that you’ll be playing beyond your school years, then an intermediate level clarinet might be a good choice.

The Yamaha YCL-450

Yamaha has long been recognized as a top level clarinet manufacturer for all levels of players. Worthy of consideration is the YCL-450NM Duet + B♭ Clarinet. One feature that makes this model unique is the use of Duet + patented technology, a process that improves the clarinet’s durability without sacrificing the handsome, traditional look of grenadilla wood or its bright, full tone. Another noted feature is a new bell shape design which allows for better projection of sound, particularly in the lower register. The barrel has also been redesigned to improve response, flexibility, and intonation that rivals the sound of professional clarinets. Bottom line—the patented technology and new design features make for a clarinet that is consistent in sound and very durable.

  • Suitable for use outdoors and varying climates
  • Professional sound
  • Responsive
  • Improved projection
  • Quality construction
  • Durable and long lasting
  • Wood: While Grenadilla wood is preferred, it does require meticulous care to keep it in good condition
  • While of excellent quality, musicians may still choose a higher end model later on
  • More expensive than many other intermediate level clarinets

Features and Benefits

The Yamaha YCL-450NM offers exciting innovation in its patented Duet + technology. This process combines traditional grenadilla with ABS resin, making the instrument less prone to cracking. The body of the clarinet is made of wood throughout with the upper joint being drilled to a slightly larger diameter in order to receive a thermoplastic ABS resin injection which forms to the bore. This provides stabilization, helps preserve 90% of the wood and creates an interior impervious to moisture. Also included are a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece, plastic mouthpiece cap and nickel-plated ligature.

Traditional Grenadilla Wood Body:

This preserves the attractive, traditional look of wood on the exterior and favored tone quality.

Patented Duet + Technology:

The injection of ABS resin in the upper joint creates added durability.

Redesigned Bell Shape:

This offers better projection and intonation.

Redesigned Barrel:

The new 65mm size helps student players produce a more professional sound.

Power Forged Nickel-Plated Keys:

A good alternative for those who experience allergic reactions to silver plating, the power forging allows for ergonomic contouring and increased durability.

Tone Holes:

Professional quality intonation and response are created with a straight inset and a tapered undercut.

Adjustable Thumb Rest and Strap Ring:

The adjustable thumb rest helps accommodate smaller hands while the strap ring helps take weight off the instrument.

Pivot Screws:

Used in Yamaha’s higher end models, these allow for easier adjustment.

Second Register Vent Tube:

The new vent tube shape aids playing in the second register, making it easier for young players still developing breath support.

Blue Steel Needle Springs:

These allow for quicker, snappier key work action.

Valentino Pads:

Considered the gold standard among musicians of all levels, these pads are known for superior stability and easy maintenance. Resistant to tearing, these quality pads wear well in changing humidity and make it easier to achieve clear tone with light resistance and quick response.

RATING

Design

5

Performance

5

Construction

5

Value for the Money

4

User Satisfaction

4.5

Alternative

Buffet Crampon E11 B♭ Intermediate Wood Clarinet

Buffet Crampon clarinets have a long established tradition of excellence, and the E11 B♭ intermediate clarinet is an exemplary model. Similarly priced to the Yamaha YCL-450 NM, many of the E11’s features, such as traditional wood body construction and key work, are modeled after Buffet’s professional level clarinets. Also included are stainless steel springs and silver-plated keys.

Compared to the Yamaha YCL-450 NM:

  • Similar price range
  • All wood body with no added ABS resin may be less durable and more susceptible to effects of climate
  • Well regarded for accurate intonation and responsiveness

Cecilio 3Series CT-380 B♭ Clarinet

One feature that makes the Cecilio CT-30 unique is its rosewood body, which gives the instrument a distinctive appearance. Rather than standard black, the body is a warm, reddish brown with silver-plated keys. It also features an adjustable thumb rest. Other features include Italian pads, inline trill keys and two different sized barrels to help adjust pitch.

Compared to the Yamaha YCL-450 NM:

  • Generally less expensive
  • Rosewood body gives distinctive appearance
  • Some quality issues have been noted by customers and instrument technicians

Selmer CL211 Intermediate B♭ Clarinet

The Selmer CL211 is similarly priced as the Yamaha YCL-450NM and is designed with the student player in mind. Features such as an adjustable thumb rest and smaller tone holes make it easier for smaller fingers to play. A smaller bore size also helps younger players maintain a more accurate pitch as they develop breath support. Considered comparable to professional clarinets in sound, it is noted for its refinement and a resonant tone quality.

Compared to the Yamaha YCL-450 NM:

  • Similar price range
  • Grenadilla wood throughout, no added resin
  • Warm, full tone
  • Solid choice for intermediate players

Final Thoughts

The Yamaha YCL-450NM is a great choice for a serious intermediate player. Its innovative design and construction make for a durable clarinet suitable for playing indoors or out with excellent sound. For more basic criteria of intermediate clarinets you can visit our homepage.

Stephanie Su
 

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