Yamaha YCL-450 III Clarinet, Pre Sale Set Up Included

Yamaha YCL-450 III Clarinet, Pre Sale Set Up Included[YCL450III]

AU $1,999.00 AU $1,659.00
Date Added: Wednesday 29 April, 2020

by Philip Wheatland

One of the first things you might notice about the YCL-450 is the size of its case. Despite the size of clarinets remaining pretty well unchanged for 300 years, instrument cases seem to be getting larger year by year. Yamaha have outdone their rivals in providing a case whose thickness is about double the diameter of the instrument's bell ring. Let no-one complain that the YCL-450 is inadequately protected.

The YCL-450 is the next model in Yamaha's range up from the highly capable plastic YCL-255. Along with most clarinets in the intermediate segment of the market,* the 450 gives you a Grenadilla body and silver plated keys powered by blued steel springs. You also get a barrel with the thickest walls going into the upper joint of any instrument in this line-up. Perhaps this thickness contributes to the instrument's resonance.

Speaking of the barrel, the only concern with quality that I had with the 450 involved one of the barrel's tenon rings coming off in the first week after I'd bought it. I'm unable to say if this is a one-off problem or whether there's an enduring issue with wood shrinkage. Other than that, my only note of caution relates to the thickness of the tenon wall on the lower joint where it goes into the bell. I'd say there's only about 1mm of wood there. Although I wouldn't expect a clarinet to crack at that end of the tube, you might be in trouble if that part of the joint ever caught a decent whack.

As with the YCL-255, you would want to plan to replace the mouthpiece in the 450. The stock plastic 4C mouthpiece gives a dark sound that for me becomes bland when played softly. It's also fairly resistant and doesn't have a huge dynamic range. Other than that, I have no concerns whatsoever about the 450's tone, intonation, ergonomics and response. These criteria were all more than satisfactorily met when the instrument is teamed with a professional mouthpiece. (In my case I use a Selmer C85-120.)

So is there anything to stand out in this package? Among the instruments in this review, the 450 is the only one to use fishskin pads and the only one with a bell ring. It's also the only one to avoid the use of nylon pins at the end of the left hand lever keys. I've never owned a clarinet with nylon pins but there is some commentary around to suggest that they can break.

In my view, the YCL-450 beats its competitors for overall quality, capability and value. The Buffet E12F offers a more complex and rewarding sound, and I leave it to you to decide if this is worth another $400.

* This review forms part of a comparison of the following clarinet models:
- Uebel Etude
- Yamaha YCL-450
- Jupiter 1100DS
- Buffet E12F
My reviews of these other models may help you to evaluate this segment of the clarinet market.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]

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