Some years ago I wrote an article on how to play the E flat clarinet, which emphasised the need for the instrument to seal perfectly.
As my own instrument had not had any attention for quite a number of years (actually a millennium has since passed) I realised it was in need of some TLC, as I had been asked to play in Till Eulenspiegel with the Ulster Orchestra. What drew my attention to this was the difficulty I had with the altissimo register and the problems with the tuning in that register. I can report that having got the instrument completely air tight, its normal excellent tuning and ease of production was restored, and the concert last night went well for it … and me!
As the highest register of the Eflat often remains uncharted territory, the difficulties we encounter could easily be attributed to our lack of skill/practise.This is caused by the lack of upper partials/harmonics which simply cannot work if there is a loss of seal. It is nothing short of a revelation to find that a top C on the Eflat is relatively easy to achieve, which although it may not appear in the repertoire very often, does make the notes below it feel much feel comfortable and easier to control. If you would like more information on this please contact me, you could find out just how much you are losing out to your instrument!
Read the latest testimonial from a recent customer below
Upon visiting Andys workshop/home, I realised straight away that this was a man who knew his business. A close inspection of my Selmer 10S clarinet which I’ve owned for over 30 years, using technology along side his own expertise and experience, soon established what was needed. You don’t often find a very accomplished clarinettist who is also top notch in the repair/ overhaul business. This is exactly what Andy is, making modifications to my instrument so the throat notes sing out much better, and a double top C which can now be played with relative ease. A true professional whose aim is to bring the very best out of each instrument he gets his eager hands on.
We are pleased to announce that from August 2014 ARCS will be one of the few distributors for the outstanding Silverstein Ligatures, check out their site here http://www.silversteinworks.com/ligature/
We now have a full stock of clarinet and bass clarinet ligatures available to try.
A very high quality product, which carries a limited life-time guarantee, this innovative design is proving very popular amongst players in the UK already. Keep checking here for pricing and availability.
Do you want to avoid this happening to your new clarinet?
This is the kind of problem we all dread happening to our new clarinet. This clarinet was a rare unused Leblanc Opus which had come from France after sitting in a warehouse for quite a number of years, there may be more to come from this source keep checking this site!
Despite the best prevention techniques being applied in its preparation for sale, this instrument was returned to the workshop in just 6 weeks.
So why did it crack so badly? African Blackwood or Grenadilla, which is the wood mainly used for clarinet production, has one big problem for the instrument maker. It absorbs water at an alarming rate, pulling the clarinet through after a few minutes helps, but if you want to avoid this problem follow this simple procedure.
From new you should play the clarinet for only 10 minutes at a time and then pull it through and leave it for at least one hour before you play it again. The ten minutes allows some water to go into the wood, which gets into the wood at the end grain, for example the top of the socket of the joint or in the top tone holes. If you continue to play after the 10 minutes the water builds up in the top of the joint and can’t dissipate through the rest of the joint. This build up means the water will make the wood swell and as it swells, it will force the outer wood, which has not absorbed any water to split open. After a week of blowing for ten minutes you can gradually increase the time by 5-10 minutes at a time, but no more.
The problem for most players is that they want to play their shiny new clarinet as much as they can because they like it so much, which is a good and bad thing. If you don’t want your instrument to look like the one above then follow the simple advice above. After a month your clarinet will have got used to absorbing water evenly throughout the top joint, it is extremely rare to see a cracked lower joint, and you can then increase the time you play for confident that it shouldn’t crack, don’t forget to pull it through with a good quality pull through after 10 minutes of playing though.
The instrument above was repaired including a metal socket to strengthen the joint, and is now playing just as well as before
The New Reserve and Reserve Classic reeds are now available through this website. After a period of substantial trials with many players around the UK involved, Reserve reeds now have a new profile and are proving very popular. Why not try them for yourself? Check out the D’Addario website here
Following the ARCS work undertaken on his 1960’s Buffet R13 clarinets, the world famous mouthpiece maker and Principal Clarinettist of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra Brad Behn wrote the following I know of no other high-level clarinet repair technician who performs with as much frequency and in as many high-level ensembles. Andrew Roberts is on stage on a weekly basis! And through his extraordinary professional experiences his repair service is informed in a way that brings very special results. For this reason, combined with his generous spirit, and intelligent pedagogy, I believe Andrew Roberts is a great resource to clarinetists worldwide. Through an extensive career as soloist, recitalist, and orchestral clarinetist, Andrew has learned first-hand the huge advantages a properly setup and personalized instrument can have over your performance life. And so his desire as a craftsman, and artisan is to customize his work to your individual needs, preferences and sensibilities. When Andrew begins your instrument’s service, he communicates with you; he discusses how you would like your instrument’s setup. Andrew addresses each service comprehensively. From key height, ergonomics, thumb position, to your instrument’s intonational tendencies, tone and response, he skillfully addresses your wishes with precision and beauty of craftsmanship. I am very pleased with the work Andrew did on my two clarinets. They are both older instruments which needed much care and some intonational improvements to allow me to use them. To my amazement, he made them both play beautifully and they now serve me in my orchestra. Andrew not only made unusable instruments play beautifully, but he actually moved a tone hole to fix some major intonation problems, he totally repadded both instruments with his bespoke super-quiet pads, made in-house, achieved the best seal I have ever experienced, and mechanically setup my clarinets with wonderful key motion. And not only that, Andrew was able to enhance the spirits of these very special instruments; their unique voices as manifested through their combination of sound, response, and tonal character are now even more beautifully stated. Andrew’s service allowed me to experience the truth in my instruments, in an inspired way. I can now have a relationship with these clarinets which will allow my artistry to unfold with a confident adventurous enthusiasm. Thank you my good friend Andrew! Sincerely, Bradford Behn
Brad Behn mouthpieces
The latest shipment of Behn Artist and Overture mouthpieces are now available, There has been a slight increase in the prices, the Artist model retails at £185 and the Overture is now £45, in the new improved packaging.
Both represent outstanding value and offer amazing consistency. Many of the top professional players in the UK now use the Artist model as they offer excellent sound quality, flexibility and most importantly, improved tuning in all registers. ARCS offer a 7 day trial period, so why not try these outstanding mouthpieces for yourself.
New ARCS instruments in stock
ARCS now has a larger range of pre-owned clarinets in stock, check them out in the for sale section of the site.
Advertise your second hand instruments
Want to sell your second hand instruments then advertise your second hand clarinets somewhere that will attract interest. With some many hits our website offers the perfect place to add you instrument, include a picture and make it sell quickly. Why pay too much commission? Our initial commission rate of just 5% is the lowest available and will mean you get more cash from your instrument sale. Ask about our enhanced sales offer, you can’t lose! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Andrew was not only the soloist in the two successful concerts with the Liverpool Mozart Orchestra of the Finzi Clarinet Concerto on the 28th & 29th March, he went on to play in the Lindbergh Clarinet Concerto, with Kari Kriikku as soloist, with the Ulster Orchestra the following week. Congratulations to Kari for a stunning performance of what must be one of the most challenging works for clarinet ever written Click here to see a short extract of the Frodsham performance.Finzi Clarinet Concerto Andrew is in demand throughout the year for his different skills, as you can see from the events above and a busy orchestral schedule, so if you are looking to give your clarinet the ARCS upgrade remember to book early as there is already quite a long waiting list!
My instruments are completely better than new now! The clattery keywork, grotty pads, wobbly tuning and general shabbiness has all gone. I absolutely love playing them again and the moved thumbrest is amazing – Why on earth have I waited decades to realise that my hand was in the wrong place? They now play in tune without much thought – I can’t believe that that is possible having been consistently out of tune for years! I now do not have enough time to enjoy playing them but will work on that…… I cannot thank you enough for completely restoring them back to an even better state than they were when I bought them in 1979 in my first year at the Guildhall. I recommend your work without question to anyone who needs clarinet repair or renovation. Go to Andrew immediately and you will you will wonder why you have waited so long. Massive thanks Andrew…. Tamandra Ford December 2013 Area Leader for Musical Development NW Derbyshire, ABRSM Examiner
I’d been experiencing problems with my A clarinet for a few months (flat throat notes, sharp right hand,) before a chance meeting with Andy in London. The instrument had become very stuffy, the intonation was inconsistent and I was finding it very difficult to articulate in the high register. Andy made some suggestions as to the cause of some of the intonation and articulation problems. I arranged to see Andy at his workshop in Liverpool to see what could be done to correct the tuning. We experimented with different length speaker tubes until the right hand intonation had dropped and the throat notes raised. Thoroughly cleaning out the throat note tone holes and replacing my old blown out barrel, made further improvements. Unfortunately there was not enough time that evening to complete all the necessary work, but I returned to London with a greatly improved instrument. Since then Andy has given it a complete overhaul and I’m delighted with the results. Having discovered a tiny hole and 3 cracks under the cork of the middle joint tenon, a metal socket was made and fitted to prevent further cracks occurring. He replaced all the pads with his own design ARCS pads and re made every tone hole to ensure they were all airtight. It’s retained the warm sound that I liked about it when I first bought it, but now the articulation has improved in the high register, the sound is even throughout all the registers (it had become very thin in the high register,) and the intonation is where I’d expect it to be. I’m enjoying playing my `A` again and feel as though I’ve rediscovered a long lost friend. Thanks Andy! Marina Finnamore Principal Bass Clarinet- Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden London
I first met Andrew, just after I joined the Ulster Orchestra three years ago, having tried his clarinets during a rehearsal I realised that my ageing Buffet clarinets were not performing as well as they could. This was mostly due to the wear over 15 years since I had never been brave enough to allow any repairer to work on my instruments as I was scared that they might change in the wrong way. Andrew worked on my clarinets in an emergency and it was clear to me that he understood my demands for the instruments. I eventually got the courage to take my instruments to the ARCS workshop in Liverpool and stayed with them to check that everything was done to my satisfaction. I was so happy with the work that was done to my instruments that meant I could play with so much more security and control, this is important to me as the clarinet sound should be flexible and easy to change colours and dynamics. I also found that legato was now much easier to achieve than I had thought possible. During our work together in the Ulster Orchestra I began to trust Andrew’s tuning ability, which is unusual as most repairers cannot play to the highest levels you need to change the tuning of an instrument for another player. I now feel I have the right tuning and setup with my clarinets for the first time in my life, I don’t know anyone else in the UK or in Europe that I trust in this way. My friends, many Principal clarinets around Europe, have been made to try my clarinets and they were all shocked as to how well they worked and how quiet the ARCS pads were. The ease of legato which no other pad has allowed before was a big surprise. I now send my friends and students to ARCS to find out for themselves what they have been missing in their clarinets! A huge thank you to a friend that has made my life easier Francesco Paolo Scola Principal Clarinet Ulster Orchestra