Yamaha YCL 255 Clarinet
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For many years now the student clarinet market has been dominated by just two brands; the Buffet B12 and the Yamaha YCL26. That these two instruments have achieved worldwide acclaim is a testament not only to the manufacturers but also to the undoubted value of the student market.
Make a mistake here and you could lose a market share that dwarfs what can be gleaned from the pro sector range. So it follows that when changes are made to a leading brand they had better be for the better, or there's going to be disappointment all round! Yamaha claim to have made improvements in many areas, most notably to the barrel and bell. These improvements aren't exactly visible to the untrained eye, and the effects will only show themselves in the playing ( as we'll see later ). The body is made from a tough ABS resin and finished with a brushed effect. Very nice it looks too, and should withstand the usual hard knocks the average student instrument gets in its lifetime.
My only note of caution here is that this resin doesn't stand up that well to excessive heat - and although that shouldn't be an issue it never hurts to remind people not to leave their instruments locked up in cars on a hot day. The keywork looks to have had a bit of a makeover. Yamaha keywork has always been well designed and made, and the 250 makes no departure from that standard. Everything is well laid out, unfussy and spotlessly finished. The keys are strong too - and should resist all but the most severe of knocks. The springs are the standard stainless type. These will last practically forever - but the trade-off is perhaps a slightly less sprightly action.
Much can be done to improve the feel by having the springs correctly tensioned, the factory setup is unnecessarily stiff. The pillars and fittings are just as neatly made and finished. The point screws are of the shoulderless variety - which means the action can be adjusted to take up excess play in the keys as and when required. The drawback of these is that they can work loose unless secured with threadlock - but that's more an issue for the repairer. I does mean though that you should never attempt to adjust them yourself unless you know exactly what you're doing or you'll lock the keys up tight.
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