At ProSono, we’ve been promoting the use of mopane for clarinets for many years. It’s in this context that we welcomed Buffet Crampon’s introduction of a special, limited edition of mopane clarinets this year.
Buffet Crampon is far from the first respected clarinet maker to use mopane – but it is among the most famous to do so.
In this article, we outline:
Please note that we don’t currently have a commercial connection with Buffet Crampon. However, we do admire beautiful instruments – and as an international supplier of African hardwood, we see compelling reasons to promote mopane as a sustainable alternative to grenadilla.
In July 2021, Buffet Crampon launched a special mopane edition, consisting of 85 instruments. These include a selection of Divine, Légende, Tosca and R13 clarinet models.
Since July, musicians around the world have had time to try out and react to Buffet Crampon’s mopane editions of the R13, Divine, Légende and Tosca clarinet models. We consider some of the responses so far.
In the video, Mark elaborates on the environmental advantages of mopane for clarinets. Grenadilla is in increasingly short supply and, as he notes, “alternatives are necessary.”
After playing both the mopane and grenadilla clarinets, he had this to say about mopane:
Here, clarinetist Guangzhao Huang plays the new mopane Légende, followed by a grenadilla instrument. Worth a listen.
In a YouTube video, clarinetist Eric Black plays an excerpt from the Cavallini 30 Caprices, first on a grenadilla Tosca model and then on a mopane R13. Among his reactions:
In two interviews for Buffet Crampon, international soloists Nicolas Baldeyrou and Paul Meyer give feedback about their respective Légende and Divine mopane clarinets.
Some responses we think are worth noting:
Nicolas Baldeyrou: “After two years of use and despite the winter, the heating, the change in humidity, the wood has not moved. We checked the drilling, nothing moved, no tuning required for the clarinet, which is often the case with other woods. Unbelievable, a definite advantage, the stability of mopane wood.”
Paul Meyer: “Compared to others, this [mopane] instrument is particularly resistant to ‘sound shocks’.”
“…a fluting, soft, pleasing sound. With beautiful colours.”
Here, Matt Vance interviews well-known clarinetist, Greg Raden, and the CEO of Buffet Crampon USA, Francois Kloc, about the tonal differences between boxwood, grenadilla and mopane for clarinets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBat1mKNxyg
About Buffet’s mopane clarinets, Raden says:
“…they have a beautiful sound, beautiful quality. I guess I would characterise it as a slightly more mellow quality – a little warmer, maybe – than grenadilla.”
On behalf of Buffet Crampon, a number of eminent clarinetists have featured in video clips, unboxing and then playing their new mopane clarinets.
The videos – all under a minute long – are an entertaining way to get a feel for the sound of mopane clarinets, as handled by musicians with a range of different styles. We recommend picking a few to give a listen!
Just some of the world’s well-respected clarinet makers that offer mopane models are:
Compared to grenadilla (or African blackwood), mopane offers:
To our knowledge, ProSono is the only supplier of musical-grade mopane in southern Africa.
We also have a history as a supplier of grenadilla (African blackwood) to the musical industry.
For over a decade, we have been promoting the use of mopane as a suitable alternative to grenadilla. This is based on:
For more information about mopane for clarinets or other musical instruments, contact us at ProSono. We’ll be happy to discuss your needs and assist where we can.