Hard Rubber Clarinet Reviews
Look for more Hard Rubber clarinets filed under Older Composite Clarinets. See any page that includes HR in the name.
Here are comments about Tom Ridenour's clarinets from Sherman Friedland's blog:
I came to know William Thomas Ridenour about a dozen years ago. Having experienced playing on wooden instruments for a quarter of a century, the familiar feeling of the lack of its stability, waiting for wood to warm to its correct pitch, Performing live CBC concerts in cold Montreal churches,performing as Principal in Milwaukee, I felt quite familiar with the vagueness of the instability of wood. I was looking for an instrument that would be stable in very changeable temperatures. I was looking for a clarinet made of a stable material, much more stable than any wood.
The clarinets were uncanny in that they were as in tune as any clarinet I had ever played. They were more stable in pitch than any clarinet I had ever tried and they were made well. The keys did not break or even bend and I came back again and again , testing them on my tuner, but even more , on my ear. I began taking them to rehearsals to receive comments from colleagues who knew my playing . What I heard from others was "it sounds the same". It certainly felt the same although it was much easier to tune than my other instrument, which, at the time was a Selmer Series 10.
Toms ear is totally unique. He not only hears the sound, the very vibrations made by his own clarinets or any other, but he has amassed the expertise to discern minute differences in pitch and timbre, and has amassed the expeience of being able to correct easily errors in construction.
There are those who profess these digital skills, but none to the degree to which this sensitive and highly intelligent designer..
Ridenour is also a philosopher, understanding not only music, but the knowledge and desire to produce instruments of remarkable quality, through the utilization of hard rubber, which unlike grenadilla and similar woods , is not only plentiful, but is much more easily stablized, stabilized to a much further degree than any wood.
Having the ear and the ability to manipulate the material correctly and the philosophy and desire to make this more consistent material available to a larger group of interested people, Ridenour is aware of the economic realities of todays world, the great diminution of available playing positions, indeed orchestral positions an/or any performing position.
Hard rubber clarinets, though excellent— even superior, are very easy to criticize. If you play your ebonite clarinet for your teacher, they will immediately compare the two prices— the rubber being a third of the cost, and the hard rubber will lose to the price. [meaning: People will discount the quality just based on the lower price. False reasoning.]
Repair persons make similar judgments for the same reason, Hard rubber is virtually trouble free and wooden clarinets tend to be finicky. "If it ain't wood , it ain't good" is an easy comment to make. [Again, false reasoning.]
While the C clarinet of Ridenours is probably his best and most frequently used professionally, the Bb and A are less so. There is a Principal player in Scotland who plays them, but none within the US. Somehow you feel better at an audition with an instrument costing as much as ten thousand dollars, than one that costs $1500 which plays better in tune.
I have found the Ridenour instrument to be as good or better than any other clarinet of any other material.