Read what our satisfied customers have to say….
Ah, my dear old banger! My 48-year-old Moenig bass clarinet has seen and done much around the world, and was rapidly slipping into its dotage: over the years soft metal gradually altering venting, hence tuning, response and finger pressure requirements; tiny cracks emerging; appearance becoming shabby. Over the hill like John Wayne and the cavalry rode the (almost) unflappable Andrew. How he kept his cool with what I had thrown at him I don’t know. Perhaps it was as well I wasn’t around to find out. He rebuilt all sorts; repositioned holes; repadded the lot; somehow managed to make dodgy key work revert to original positions (or better) with barely any protests from it (I dread to think what A said to it, though!); discovered and sorted tiny cracks…You name it he did it, and did it so expertly that amazingly many things were an improvement on the original when it started life for £208 all those years ago. And it is shiny again too! Many thanks Andrew, for your intimate knowledge of instruments, your skill – and patience in the face of serious adversity!
Clarinettist, Director of Gemini
Andy is a genius….
He has once again made my clarinet feel like it works even better than a new one.
I have been struggling when playing my clarinet recently, so I sent it to Andy, I will not let anyone else touch it, he said it was losing 40% of its air tight seal! He has worked his magic, fixing a crack and replacing a tone hole and fitted his new pads and it now feels amazing and so much easier to blow. Thanks Andy
Principal Clarinet Orchestra of the Swan & Clarinet tutor at Birmingham Conservatoire
Having put up with incredibly noisy keywork and other mechanical hinderances for quite some time, I knew my clarinets needed some serious attention. My main fear was that in making improvements, the character of my instruments would be changed irreversibly. I saw Andrew’s work on other instruments, and finally took the plunge with my own. I’m so glad I did. As a performer himself he completely understands the requirements of the individual, and sets about finding solutions that work for you. His approach yields fantastic results, blending the knowledge of a master craftsman with a skilful and experienced performer. Playing is now so much more enjoyable with my “new” instruments. Thanks Andy!
Clarinet Opera North & ABRSM Examiner
There is no other Clarinet technician that creates, modifies, and repairs instruments to such a high standard as Andrew Roberts.
I have been using ARCS for a number of years now, and every time I return, the quality of my instrument increases exponentially. Andrew integrates new and innovative ideas into his work. He uses his experiences as a professional player as a basis to create unique styles of clarinet modification, which directly responds to the growing needs and demands of the twenty first century clarinettist.
I have yet to find any other clarinet manufacturer or technician that creates a result as this; playing has become enjoyable again. I no longer feel restricted by instrumental limitations. From new pad material to barrel manufacture and extremely high standards in his work, Andrew endeavours to do all he can for his clients. My own playing has been taken to a level I never thought possible. I would recommend ARCS to anyone and everyone!
Freelance Clarinettist Manchester
I got to try my clarinet late yesterday evening, playing through some scales, arpeggios and so on.
I am very pleased by everything you have done, and also very surprised by the difference in quality of the clarinet. It is now better than ever, truly amazing, and such a wonderful experience to play, it’s so quiet! There is hardly any “mechanical” sound from it all now, so I presume that must be because of the new pads. The throat b flat is also better than ever; perfectly in tune and clearer than it’s ever been. Overall the clarinet seems just so much smoother and somehow “easier” to play than before, with quite an extraordinary response. As far as I can tell it’s better than it’s ever been, and certainly by far the best clarinet I have ever played.
Thank you so very much for the work you have done on it. I honestly hadn’t expected my clarinet ever to be as good as this!
The clarinet is boss!! Thank you very much, just played for a good hour, it makes such a difference to the enjoyment of being a musician!
I can’t remember the last time I was playing the clarinet and felt some personal pleasure from it! It’s so easy to get caught up in work and education all the time, that I think I started treating music as part of my course and therefore a chore, but I genuinely forgot how much I enjoy playing for my own benefit… such a buzz thanks for a great job!
Dan Williams Clarinet Student at Hope University
It is my belief that a good repairer studies the problem from both within and independently of context in order to work a solution. Andrew Roberts is one such example; being a consultant and lecturer on behalf of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM), as well as an experienced and most meticulous clinician for players and instruments, means his results are borne of an holistic approach.
Such is the case with me; whilst I may be a life-long musician and competent clarinettist, there were aspects of my technique which were impacting my instruments beyond the usual wear and tear expected from playing.
Where a previous repairer has in fact denied there was any problem (by refuting my abilities and knowledge of my own instrument) Andrew has worked with me, discussing with me everything from the fundamentals the physics of the clarinet through to the very music. As a result, my understanding and fascination have grown; my instruments have changed beyond all recognition for the better; most importantly, however, my enjoyment of playing my instruments has also been greatly enhanced.
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone as knowledgeable and scrupulous as this gentleman; to find those same attributes in someone as personable as Andrew Roberts is rarer still.
Kat Browning RNCM post graduate student
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
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.
The only downside to Andys full overhaul is that ‘ you can’t blame the instrument anymore’ !!!! *X( angry
Thanks again Andy for a great job – my instrument is now playing better than new.
After an embarrassingly long time without proper attention, I decided to send my tired pair of Buffet Festivals to Andrew after reading the excellent feedback on this website. I promptly received a phone call from him and we discussed in depth what I was looking to get out of my instruments. It was immediately apparent that the level of pride he takes in his work far above the norm.
The results were way beyond my expectations; I now have a pair of clarinets which have retained all of their individual characteristics, but which are now far more responsive, colourful and ‘obedient’! Over the years I have grown to love aspects of their sound and behaviour, but it was only upon receiving them back ‘ARCS-style’ that I realised the extent to which their wear has led me to compensate in many areas; eg intonation, response, evenness, colour and volume.
Max Welford 2014 Park lane Group Young Artist 2014
As a recent graduate or student, it is easy to put off investing in such work and to ‘make do’, but my advice to anyone in that situation is to just go for it; it unlocks possibilities that you may have forgotten your instruments could give you, and allows you to just get on with making some good music! For this reason I recommend this service without reservation to anyone considering it.
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
“My clarinet was getting harder and harder to play and despite several visits to a local repairer still felt as if it was stuffed with wool. After finding Andrew’s web site and reading the endorsements, one of which was actually written by someone I had met, I decided to try sending my instrument away. It’s come back as a completely different beast and is much easier to blow. I can’t believe the detail of the work that has been done. It does mean I’m now having to go back to basics a bit after years developing bad habits to compensate for faults. This must be the first time I’ve played on an instrument that seals properly. No excuses anymore. It’s all up to me!”
“I have been very fortunate for over two decades to have Andrew Roberts as a friend and clarinet colleague in his capacity as a very gifted player and also as a craftsman and clarinet technician of painstaking quality.
“I deliberately do not use the term “repair man” because Andrew is much more than that. He has been looking after my aging Leblanc clarinets for many years now (at least 10) and has miraculously kept them in fine enough condition to enable me to play at the highest level possible. I have recorded 3 solo albums using the clarinets he has personally vetted and tweaked and also they have had to cope with a witheringly exhausting (mechanically speaking) Welsh National Opera schedule (I am the W.N.O. Principal Clarinettist).
“His workmanship and attention to minute detail is supreme and he manages to lift my clarinets into a new lease of life every time I see him – whether just a simple maintenance job or complete overhaul Andrew gives his fullest attention and care to the task.
“I cannot recommend his ARCS service more highly. It is worth every penny – perhaps on paper it looks as if the service is more expensive than some overhauls but in my experience the cost is negligible compared to the standard of workmanship he delivers. Top professionals and students alike will see and hear for themselves the difference between an ARCS overhaul and a cheaper inferior less comprehensive service. If you want the best you sometimes have to pay a little extra but having said that Andrew’s rates are very reasonable indeed especially given the time and care he takes over the slightest job.
“I shall continue using ARCS for many years to come.”
“I have known Andrew personally and as a clarinetist of the highest calibre for the the last 25 years. It was for this reason that I chose him to work on my instruments; he is a performer who understands others needs and expectations.
He was always interested in the mechanics of the clarinet and experimenting on his own instruments in those early days and has since gone onto develop that passion into a real expertise and service to others.
I was shocked to discover, using the latest technology, how my well worn instrument had a leakage of 50%!
Using his new pads it sealed perfectly and immediately performed wonderfully on a humid tour of Thailand and the dry Middle East. Better than the day I bought them in fact.
I have no hesitation in endorsing and recommending ARCS to anyone who is serious about improving their instruments and making their performing life easier.”
” For many years I had assumed that the repair to a crack in my Selmer 10G clarinet had been successful, it was only after Andy had tested and applied his skilful attention to detail that I fully realised how bad the instrument had been before. I now have an instrument that I can play with confidence and control in a way that has not been possible for years. I can highly recommend the professional service that Andy provides plus the added bonus that any instrument repaired will be tested to the highest possible standard. Thanks for a great job and taking the time to explain the repair process.”
David Pagett, Emerald Ensemble
“Having played the clarinet for over half a century I thought I knew most of what there was to know about the subject; that was until I first met Andrew Roberts. A couple of hours spent in his workshops discussing various aspects of the instrument convinced me that I was in the presence of that rare combination of master craftsman and accomplished performer, and that the long drive up from London was about to pay off big time. I had thought that my old Leblanc LXs were in such poor condition they were beyond saving; in fact I felt rather embarrassed opening the case and handing the wreckage over to Andy. My concerns were groundless, for after a few minutes investigation with one of the largest magnifying glasses I have ever seen, all faults had been identified and solutions decided upon. It was going to mean a major re-build, but I knew I was leaving my instruments in the best possible hands.
“On returning to pick up my Leblancs I was amazed by the transformation. I have had instruments overhauled before but this was off the scale! They were, as Andy had promised, better than new. This is not a cheap service. In fairness, service is not the right word to describe what actually takes place. However, thanks to Andy’s knowledge and skill I now have a pair of clarinets as good as, more likely better than, any new instruments.
“From the moment I arrived I was aware of the professional yet friendly and helpful ambience of Andy’s workshop. Here, every instrument is treated with the same degree of care at every stage regardless of who its owner may be. I strongly recommend to anyone who is not completely happy with their clarinets to take them to Andy as there is no limit to what this man can do with an instrument regardless of its age or condition.”
Bryan C Edwards, Kent Sinfonia
“I really can’t recommend the Andrew Roberts Clarinet Service enough, the difference in my clarinets and how they play is remarkable. My clarinets had been slowly getting worse since I got them in 2008, and then my teacher recommended Andy’s service as they were really quite hard to play and were playing very flat. When I took them to Andy, he was really helpful and explained the whole process of what he was going to do, at which point I realised that I was losing 80% of my air in one joint just because it didn’t seal properly! He also pointed out some key maintenance that I could carry out myself in future to help keep my clarinets in optimum condition. The equipment that he has got is really quite impressive, some of which is custom made by Andy himself for the purpose. After the service, I could not believe the difference! My clarinets are now so much easier to play and take so little effort at all, in fact, they take less effort than when they were brand new! Challenging pieces of music in terms of stamina are much more do-able now and the tuning matter is completely fixed! I really can’t recommend this service enough. Other services that I’ve had before on my clarinets from other music repairers do not compare at all to the precision, professionalism and care that Andy gives. I really would recommend it to any serious clarinettist.”
Lauren Dennelly, Birmingham Conservatoire Student
“My clarinet had been becoming progressively hard to play over about three years. Andy repaired a small crack, as well as replacing corks, felt, pads, work on tone holes etc. It now feels and plays like a completely different instrument – extremely quiet mechanism, blows freely, overall feel of the instrument – and he even improved things which I didn’t realise needed improving! Excellent – thoroughly recommend it (and already have!).”
“Les Craven had told me about Andy’s unique method of overhauling clarinets at a time when my E flat was in need of repair. When I got it back it was literally like a different instrument – far better than new. It is testimony to how pleased I was that within 2 weeks of this I had booked in my B flat and A clarinets for the same treatment. I now have them back and they are playing better than I knew clarinets could play. Now that Andy has attended to all the sealing and venting I feel that an obstacle between myself and the music has been removed. It is his attention to tiny detail that makes the huge difference. I would recommend this service to anyone who is serious about getting the best out of themselves and their instrument.”
Jane Calderbank, Glyndebourne Touring Opera
“I would like to recommend the clarinet overhaul to any professional clarinettist. Andy’s service is excellent; it covers every single aspect with great detail and care to ensure that the instrument plays to its full potential. Now my clarinet is air-tight it allows me to persuade it to play in the way that I want it to. It responds instantly at all ranges and dynamics and is no longer stuffy and resistant The main difference is being able to perform without being distracted by the flaws of the clarinet-I no longer have noisy keys or poor intonation that I have to compensate for. Thework on the tone holes has improved the intonation vastly and it is such a nice change to play a clarinet that is actually in tune! Aside from the brilliant technical work, Andy sent my clarinet back beautifully polished and looking brand new!”
“I almost didn’t believe they were my clarinets when I opened the box – they looked at least 10 years younger! Andrew has done a great job with my Selmer Recital clarinets. I am very fond of these instruments, but after 15 years of heavy professional use, they were getting to the stage where I thought they might be approaching retirement if something wasn’t done soon, and now they have been given a new lease of life. On an aesthetic level they look wonderful. I have had quite a few keys re-plated and the rest have been polished to a lovely shine. But the best improvement is in their feel when I play. Andrew has regulated the key-work and springing so that they feel even and responsive, without any slack. The pads seal perfectly so that the instruments respond immediately at every dynamic level.
Some excellent repairers have worked on my clarinets in the past, but I think that Andrew’s attention to detail and, (as a fine clarinettist himself) his knowledge of what sounds and feels right, makes his repair service special. I don’t think my clarinets have ever been this good.”
Daniel Rye, Freelance clarinettist
‘I instantly recognised a vast improvement when playing my clarinet after Andrew’s overhaul. I could finally hear my true sound without the interference of the clicks of keywork that I previously had, and with this I am able to achieve a lot more variety to the colour of sound. The perfect seal that Andrew has achieved enables legato lines over large leaps very smoothly. I would recommend this service to any serious minded clarinettist completely.’
Tom Jackson, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
When I attended the Clarinet Summer School last year I was thinking about changing my clarinet. Many people, including Les Craven commented on the nice tone of my instrument, but it was a shame that it didn’t seal very well, amongst other things!
The key-work had too much play in, the tones holes were damaged, springs were too weak screws randomly loosened themselves. When it was tested by Wolfgang Lohff on his machine, my clarinet had the worst seal on the course, all this and my clarinet is less than four years old.
Deciding I loved my clarinet (and couldn’t afford a new one) I turned to Andy’s overhaul service and was astounded at the difference it made. Within a week Andy transformed my clarinet from a tired intermediate instrument with a nice tone, to a fully responsive, non wobbly and 100% airtight sealing top notch instrument. It plays better now than when I first bought the instrument.
The overhaul has meant that I no longer have to worry if my clarinet will respond properly, and I can now concentrate on my performance with a confidence in my instrument I’ve never had before.
” I certainly noticed the difference to my elderly 1010s after Andy’s extensive overhaul. Not only did the clarinets look much better, but the tone seemed more mellow and focused. The intonation of a few notes which I had previously been unhappy with was improved, and the sound seemed freer, particularly in the altissimo register. This was definetely money well spent.”
“Since having my clarinet overhauled by Andrew Roberts I have noticed a huge improvement in my instrument’s performance and, as a result, my standard of performance. I hadn’t realised that my ten year old Leblanc Opus had so many small imperfections that were making my life as a musician more difficult than it needed to be.
Before its service the most noticeable problem was the noisiness of the keys, but the keywork is now virtually silent. The smooth keywork action has made my legato playing much more fluent, and playing really smoothly over the break and in other difficult areas now seems effortless. As there is much less movement in the keys I find that my fingers can relax more as they have to travel smaller distances.
Another huge difference has been the improved tuning in all registers, most noticeably on the throat notes and the altissimo notes. I used to have to compensate quite noticeably to make these notes reasonably in tune, but I now find that I can play with the same embouchure and set up on all notes without having to adjust in order to be in tune. When my friends and colleagues have tried the instrument they have immediately commented on the marked improvement that this service has made and I would highly recommend it to anyone… you will feel like you have a brand new instrument in perfect playing order! I think it’s a small price to pay for such a thorough overhaul and I’m already saving to have my other clarinets done! ”
“I’d like to whole-heartedly recommend Andy’s clarinet overhaul service. Like many, I was sceptical to begin with, as I’ve had my clarinet looked at several times at different places. With a fair amount of money spent so far, I didn’t know if it was worth trying again. Nevertheless, as I am starting a short one-year postgraduate course, I felt it was worth a shot, and can honestly say I am really pleased.
My clarinet plays like a dream, the best it’s ever sounded and I feel the most comfortable I’ve ever been with it. It’s had such a thorough job done, I know I’ll be good to go for several years. Plus, with the long guarantee ( 3years) I trust that he’s done his best and that if anything were to go wrong, it will be put right at no extra cost.
I also really appreciated the time Andy took with me to explain what would need to be done, why it was necessary, and how it could help, and learnt a great deal. Some might say that the best players can play on any instrument and make it work beautifully, however, for the less super-human clarinettists among us…a kickstart from a real working instrument is priceless.”