Jupiter JCL 637: Student Clarinet

This review was published on: November 23rd 2013

The Jupiter 631 Clarinet has been available in the UK for the past 10 years, and although the well established B12 and YCL 250 continue to have a significant market share both in education bulk purchases, and individual student selection, KHS, the parent company of Jupiter UK will I suspect have been encouraged by the inroads JCL 631 has made into the share of sales both in comparative price bracket instruments, and the cheaper retail shop branded outfits. They have established an enviable reputation for quality and reliability, with year on year development, balanced with national magazine advertising and strategic trade pricing. Most teachers are now happy to recommend the 631 along with other makes and models previously mentioned. Jupiter therefore must have considered very carefully what could or should be done to continue the improving sales of clarinet units, along with possible genuine improvements to an already well received and established clarinet.

Jupiter have made various adjustments to this new model, some of which add to the core 631 technical success, all adding to direct competition with the main two market sales competitors . The ABS matt plastic body has had its bore increased to 0.583 (14.80mm) perhaps hoping to emulate the very successful B12 tone.
The domed throat A key has an increased curved angle towards the closest ring key, helping young players, particularly in their break register work. The C/G tone hole has been uplifted giving a height balance with the index and middle fingers, and the Eb/Bb key has been redesigned to be parallel with the C#/G# key, allowing easier fingering.
Prior to playing the Jupiter I considered how the clarinet outfit looks. A new style case has strong catches, giving a well made impression. Jupiter include a good looking accessory kit with glossy leaflets and a Vandoren reed, not essential but a nice touch completing the overall package. Assembly has been improved with the alteration of bridge keywork preventing possible damage to the joints. The keywork changes add to a most pleasing ergonomic feel, resting into the hands with a solid well produced satisfaction. The mouthpiece, ligature and cap are again well made and ideal for a student.
I played the clarinet firstly with a supplied mouthpiece, followed by my own choice a Lomax A3. Both give evidence of a free blowing instrument, with clear responsive tones. Throat notes have an unrivalled clarity, and the movement between registers is very responsive. I do believe the bore change and undercut toneholes have added to a distinctive tone production, in a positive rounded way. It is not dissimilar to the Jupiter wood clarinet reviewed in an earlier magazine issue.
How possible is it for Jupiter to keep all parties happy in the difficult 2011 retail conditions? The 637 will not be the cheapest clarinet on the market, but then it should not be. Saturation point has been truly reached with internet bargains. With the 637, retailers will be able to make a reasonable margin knowing the technical changes and improvements focused on in this review will be very well received by teachers, student, parents and music educationalists.

Graham Honeywood

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The Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 3010228, whose registered office is at Flat 51, Parkview Apartments, 122 Chrisp Street, London, E14 6ET. Email: membership(@) Tel: 01642 769 558

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