This West German-made Buffet E11 has black paint on the wood plus unusually dense grain, so I thought it was actually plastic. How embarrassing! I reconditioned the instrument thinking the whole time it was extremely good plastic disguised to look like wood!
I received this very helpful information from a knowledgeable clarintist:
Yes they do have black paint. It wears off and looks kinda ugly. A lot of them have plastic tone hole inserts too, which can also throw you off. The newer E11's are even worse because the Buffet logo is just more of a decal rather than impressed into the wood and it just wears off really fast. But I think on yours, if you look really close you may be able to see the faint impression of the "E11" marking under the Buffet logo.
The E11 mark, if it once was there is totally gone, but the top part of the logo also is totally gone. Paint wearing off slightly visible below.
Bore: top 14.9mm, middle 14.65mm
Pads: 9mm thin, 16 thick x 3.
Note from 27Jan2010: An E11 that I have worked on today, serial 935xxx, has no logos remaining anywhere. The black paint is also wearing away, leaving a somewhat mottled appearance. The thing that I most want to report is that some keys seem to bend too easily. The metal has kept a very shiny chrome finish, but it is an alloy that is light in weight. This model also has an adjustable thumb rest. The shape of some keys looks Czechoslovakian to me. (It still has the stamp that says "Made in Germany.") This model has the pin-in-hole left pinkie keys.
The reed and mouthpiece make a lot of difference! I would need a shorter barrel with the first combination, and the Ontario reed caused the flat throat tones. The second is a better combination, which would allow a tiny bit of room to pull out. In any case, an intermediate or advanced student would appreciate a 64mm barrel to use with sharper ensembles. The bottom line is that this instrument plays consistently in tune with itself. The upper and chalemeau registers are not as sharp as many student class instruments.
I recommend this instrument for intermediate students.
The key work is very sturdy [on this pictured model]. The left pinkie keys are not pin in hole type, which is a departure from the norm for Buffet. The springs also are not the sharp blue steel kind.
This is serial 231304, but it probably was not made on 14Oct82 as the Buffet site says, since that site is only accurate for the French-made instruments.
One can see French Buffet serial numbers at their own information look-up site.