Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Gear Review: Vito V40

You get an emergency call to play the national anthem at Lambeau Field in January. They need you to warm up the crowd, like the clarinet soul singer you are. So you go to your equipment room and panic--all you've got are vintage large bore beauties, ready to crack as you vainly attempt to float your sonic power over the unforgiving tundra. But you need to take this gig: you'll be nationally televised, and Aaron Rodgers has promised you a spot on a State Farm commercial if you do it.

That's when you need a Combat Clarinet. A plastic or hard rubber beast that can withstand the most extreme environments: hot, cold, and smoke machines.

My recommendation is to get an old Vito V40 and put it into adjustment.

Vito V40
According to some internet the sources, the Vito V40 was based off of the Pete Fountain model, making it an ideal horn for a large bore jazz clarinetist. Invariably the keywork will need some adjustment for each player--it's nowhere near the quality of a vintage Selmer or pro level Leblanc, but the sound of these horns with a good mouthpiece is quite beyond your average student model.
The sound is consistent from the top to the bottom. The clarion is centered, with a compact Leblanc tone, and a very responsive, neat altissimo. Most importantly, the intonation on these horns is very good. Projectionwise, these aren't as powerful as a good Selmer, but they do have considerable 'jump' to them.
Don't be caught when that call comes in from Green Bay next winter. Line up your Combat Clarinet.



richpagemusic said...

Thanks for the review. I have an old set of Boosey and Hawkes which play beautifully - I've been looking for something that might compare with a large bore for my "temperature sensitive" work.

Do you think that the Vito would compare to my B&H?

Eric Seddon said...

Rich, if you're a dyed-in-the-wool B&H player, you're in a potentially great position. I'd suggest looking for a 926 Imperial model--these are pro models B&H made of rubber, and would likely match your wood B&H better than anything. If you can't find one of those, I'd look into other, lower line B&H composites before the Vito. I've played several student B&H horns over the years--the bore and sound concept is different-- and they can work really nicely.

The Vito V40 is a great horn (and obviously my composite of choice right now). I'd definitely suggest checking them out....but beware: if you really find yourself loving it, you might end up chasing after a Pete Fountain model (ha!). Eric

Tom Deecy said...

I'm just now in the process of buying a V40 on your recommendation, so I'm hoping your enthusiasm has legs.
My "good" horn is an R13. I wonder how the sound and projection of the 2 horns will compare?


Eric Seddon said...


Well, I'm not much of an R13 man myself. I reviewed an R13 of mine here: http://thejazzclarinet.blogspot.com/2012/12/jazz-clarinet-gear-review-1990-buffet.html

Major Caveat: I personally dislike the Buffet sound concept and I despise polycylindrical bores. Having said that, I know of at least one player who has told me that when he uses his top mouthpiece on a Vito V40, it sounds as good as his primary horn, which is an R13. So good luck man--and let us know how it works out!