Review of the Lyrique 576 by professional clarinetist Robert Straka
For as long as I’ve known Tom, I have admired his logical and steadfast dedication to make playing the clarinet simple and affordable to everyone. Still, I was skeptical when he tasked me with his thirty day Lyrique challenge this past summer. How could a hard-rubber clarinet possibly compete with my R13, especially one costing less than the basic E11 model? I have played R13’s for thirty-eight years and felt that I owned a gem. In retrospect, I have tried and rejected far more Buffets for myself as well as my students than I ever recommended. While I’m sure there are some really great ones still available, they are difficult to come across or be able to afford for all but the greatest artists.
After the initial three-four days of getting used to the feel of the 576, I began to realize just how much less effort it took to make great music on it. The Lyrique allows me to shape beautiful phrases with accurate intonation. Denying my biggest doubt, I am able to make the instrument sing with the same colorful resonance as my R13. Technical passages are much easier to perform confidently since every note responds the same from the altissimo through the chalumeau registers. The key action feels refined overall. My singular concern in this area is a rather short and steep throat A key which takes some getting used to and makes rolling a challenge. Also, I did have to apply Elmer’s glue to reattach the felt to the inside of the case.
When I did retry my R13 after playing for a full month on the Lyrique, it felt blown out and somewhat unwieldy. I suddenly realized how much effort I had been expending to finesse the intonation and response idiosyncrasies of my beloved Buffet.
As an educator, this has been an even more important revelation. My middle school students most likely have no idea how to correctly affect the numerous subtle response and intonation deficiencies of their mostly intermediate level instruments! The Lyrique clarinet will lift that responsibility from them and allow my students to perform to their best ability. I plan to recommend and use the 576 for all of my clarinet students beginning this spring, and look forward to enjoying the musical results in the future. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and craft again, Tom!
-Bob Straka, Masters in Clarinet Performance, Yale School of Music
Customer Quotes.Comments, and Reviews
“I think it's just great to have instruments like that especially considering the cost. I'll definitely recommend them to all my students who want to start with a French clarinet system.”
-Nicolai Pfeffer, Professional Clarinetist in Germany
"Well, I had a new little college freshman sitting next to me last night at one community band concert. She was sporting a recently purchased, for her, 2nd-hand, R13. We had a chat and she was interested in my Libertas and so we swapped mouthpieces and tried it out. Need I go on? She said: "How much is this ... I wish I'd known about this before I bought my Buffet! It's so smooth!". Your horns are the crack cocaine of clarinets ... one puff and you’re hooked!"
-Tom Shuffield, Professional clarinetist
"Ted, I played Buffet exclusively for 40 years. Whatever problems I had I always attributed the problems to me and not enough practice. What I first got the 576bc it took at least a month to unlearn all the problems and bad habits I had acquired over all those years of playing a Buffet. At first I had problems with the 576bc, mostly because I was trying to play it like a Buffet. I kind of took the 30 day plunge and decided to only play the 576bc for 30 days and see what happened. It wasn't long before I didn't want to go back to Buffet. Then the Libertas came along and that was the "nail in the coffin". It was better than the 576bc and the 576bc was better than my Prestige Buffet. Anyway it has taken over 30 years for me to "wise up", but now I truly believe I
have crossed the Rubicon.”
-Kevin Ledbetter, professional clarinetist
"I have found that Tom Ridenour's instruments achieve better results in the making of sound, tuning and pure pleasure of playing than instruments costing ten times their price. These instruments are virtually impervious to extreme temperature changes and the structural integrity is much better than any wood…for students who play for hours and hours a week in bands and other ensembles and suffer the incessant binding of various parts of their instruments, this problem disappears. The instruments all play well, with little deviating from horn to horn. To repeat: these horns cost a tenth of one of these French clarinets, and they are simply better.”
-Prof. Sherman Friedland, Clarinet Corner
“I am principal clarinet in 4 orchestras in Mississippi and Alabama, and occasionally play in one in west Florida. I have played on Ridenour clarinets in both Bb & A frequently in outdoor Pops concerts and never felt that I was taking a step down in quality when doing so. Colleagues in the wind section haven’t mentioned any problems in blend and intonation. To the contrary, they have often been quite complimentary. In quality, these are not student instruments. Only their price would put them in that category.”
-Wilbur Mooreland, Professor of Clarinet Emeritus, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattisburg, MS.
“I’m proud to say that after 100 plus shows of American Girl Revue here in Los Angeles I have now switched to playing my Ridenour Bb clarinet exclusively... I got tired of dealing with the house air conditioning and the effect it had on tuning and response of my wood instrument. I enjoy playing the clarinet parts in the show once again, without my embouchure having to take a beating.”
(from an unsolicited letter to Tom Ridenour).
-Geoff Nudell, Studio Musician, Clarinet and Saxophone Instructor, Los Angeles California
Check out the comment below as well as an indepth discussion of Lyrique clarinets on Andrew Compton's facebook page:
"I'm not exaggerating when I say this, but I would have no problem putting the Libertas I took out of the box up against a Buffet Tosca or Divine, Selmer Recital, or any premium instrument offered today. Are there major differences between all of these clarinets? Absolutely. Are they comparable? Yes, but in different respects. The Liberta's signature characteristic, as advertised, is it's incredible fluidity and even playing resistance. To me, it absolutely delivers on that right out of the box. "
A message from a parent who purchased a Lyrique 576 for his daughter:
"Just thought I would send your company some feedback. I have to say we were a bit leery about buying the Lyrique clarinet based just off the reviews and having heard it on the website. We spent probably a hundred hours between my wife and myself (both musicians) educating ourselves on clarinets. This was a very serious purchase for us as our daughter is aspiring to be the best she can be. She was coming off of a student clarinet which her band director stated she had outgrown and it was holding back her ability. Having personally heard the numerous issues with wooden clarinets playing out of tune, to splitting, to costing thousands of dollars, I was not looking forward to having to purchase one. On Christmas morning when my daughter got her clarinet, within 45 min, she improved. Right out of the case the clarinet played in tune . After a few minutes to get comfortable with the instrument she was playing better than I had ever heard her. Period. She continues to improve and we are overjoyed with the musical ability this clarinet has offered our daughter. It does not just make the note, nor the sound, it is musical to the point of being amazing. This is very likely the best purchase we could have made for a clarinet. Thank you for making such a fabulous clarinet".
You can find Mary Mangini's complete review of the Libertas Lyrique clarinet at the following URL:
Professional clarinetist and clarinet instructor, José Muniz's commentary on the Lyrique A clarinet can be found at the following URL on Facebook:
You can hear professional clarinetist, Josh Johnsson playing the Lyrique Libertas on youtube at: