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Boosey & Hawkes: much esteemed?

Discussion in 'Other Makes and Models' started by warumtubendieheiden, Jul 15, 2010.

  1. warumtubendieheiden

    warumtubendieheiden

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    Hello Friends,

    If I were a woodwind player rather than a brasser, I could wet a reed and answer most of my own questions. Failing that, I hope I can rely on some of you for guidance.

    Description: it's a B&H 2-20 Bb soprano that turned up in a relative's closet. Serial number: 254641. It was stored under favorable conditions, so it should be fine, structurally speaking. I would judge it as made of nice-quality, tightly-grained grenadilla. The only other distinguishing mark is the familiar Globe-with-Superimposed 8th-Note logo which is stamped on the barrel, not on the bell section as one would expect. It is in a molded plastic case, which would probably mean it was manufactured after 1960.
    To my eye, it presents as an intermediate-level instrument, but remember, I'm a brass player.

    Questions: Can anyone pinpoint the date of manufacture? (My own searching turns up conflicting dates.) Were these B&H clarinets much esteemed? Or, in other words, how would this B&H compare to other intermediate clarinets of past decades, like the LeBlanc Vito? After a competent cork-and-pad overhaul and key adjustment, would this instrument be a nice gift for a young player? Could it fetch an honorable price if offered for sale, even though it's not of FRENCH origin?
     
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  2. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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  3. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    1960-1966

    Unfortunately B&H does not really have a following in the US. You can get more money for them in the UK, as that is where their heritage is from.

    B&H does not exist anymore as a clarinet maker and their instruments usually required a special mouthpiece for proper intonation, which the mpcs are more easily found in the UK than the US.

    I can't recall the value but I tried getting one off ebay several months ago and i think it sold for about $150 in really good condition.
     
  4. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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  5. warumtubendieheiden

    warumtubendieheiden

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    Thanks for the replies. The intent of my inquiry is not so much "what's it worth?" as "what's it like?" As I said, too bad I can't play the thing myself.

    I hope to hear from a forum member who actually owns a B&H 2-20 or has had a number of them in his hands.

    Now, I was able to google-up a couple of long discussion threads on the www.woodwind.org forum, where there were both cheers and boos to be read. Apparently there are players who love the sound the old Booseys make, although nobody really does a good job of explaining in what way their tone differs from the dominant Buffets and Selmers. (But then, tone and timbre are notoriously hard to describe in words.)

    The upshot of what I've read so far is this: if you want your B&H 2-20 to play really well, (1) use a VanDoren B45 mouthpiece (2) send it to a gent named David Spiegelthal and have him do some tonehole undercutting and re-contouring of certain "clunky" keys. (His work is praised by a number of posters on that forum.)

    So, knowing that this is a really hard question to answer, here it comes:

    After the trouble and expense of the modifications mentioned above, would a player be rewarded with a good-playing, distinctive instrument?
    Or should one just leave the old B&H in the closet and hunt for a good used French or Japanese instrument?
     
  6. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I have an Edgware (sic? I don't know and am not about to dig it out. One of these days, I'll give it a blow and see what I think.

    They are very thin on the ground over here, however.
     
  7. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Tough call. As you know, we all perceive "good sound" a bit differently as there are too many variables (including, but not limited to, preferred style of music to be played on that instrument) involved to make an educated estimation. You may like its sound, or you may not, I simply cannot tell from here. You alone are the judge, and all I can recommend is to get hold of that instrument and give it a whirl, without any modifications (maybe a new reed, yes).
    You should be able to hear if it is a lost cause or if it has at lest potential. And what good is the sweetest sound if the keywork doesn't match your beefy hands?

    If you intend to sell it, sell it as-is. Check prices on eBay UK.
     
  8. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I always go with the best I can afford and this instrument doesn't strike me as something I'd use or keep in the long haul. Also, I like to check the instrument's inherent intonation, sound, and ergonomics if I'm thinking of plunking down my hard-earned pennies. Putting good money on an inferior instrument doesn't make sense to me. YMMV.
     
  9. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I've had through my hands Eatons (the modern super-pro variant of the 1010s), 1010s, 926s, 2-20s 1-10s edgewar, etc.

    I'd highly recommend the Eatons, 1010s and 926s if you are looking for that sound. And I think they have excellent keywork (in an example that is not worn out)

    as to the other models I don't see the financial reason to put much money into them.. why not just spend more money and get a 926?

    I have some large bore clarinets such as the Selmer CT and I actually prefer the Eaton Elite & 926 to it. BUT they are very, very mouthpiece picky.

    Keep in mind B&H is out of production, so you are only looking at used models, so buyer beware. The UK eBay is the best place to find them but you will pay a premium for them and overseas shipping, and returns would not be as financially easy to swallow.
     
  10. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Unless Warum... lives overseas. He hasn't filled out his profile so we don't know.
     
  11. tictactux

    tictactux Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    You Americans (as in continent, not country) live overseas. We Europeans do live "here" indeed. :tongue:

    (Per the shipping cost - this indeed pays only if you fish in a downstream pond. Then again, $70 isn't much of a premium if you get an otherwise unobtainable instrument. Returns are more of a PITA, as are import duties and taxes)
     
  12. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    UK eBay has the best selection of B&H clarinets. When I look at them and have thought about bidding for them I've always gone to UK eBay. In US eBay the better models are few and far between. If I were to get a 2-20 i think the ringless bell one is the way to go (if i recall my models correctly - though I can't recall anything else about the particular model I was looking at). I was looking at getting a 2-20 in the past).
     
  13. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    The whole diminishing returns thing operates here as well. As they have gone out of production, a good number of even the top drawer, elite horns are going to go to seed. (These are the ones that are stuffed away in an attic rather than in a controlled environment and then don't see the light of day for the next twenty years.)

    So, the already slim supply becomes even harder to access, hence the seldom seen nature of the better instruments.

    It's extremely fortunate that I like Selmer horns. The top end ones are like roaches on eBay - a day does not go by without several choice specimens being offered up new.
     
  14. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Y'know, I've heard so much about how wooden clarinets deteriorate 'n' such, that most plastic clarinets are student models, and that most rubber clarinets are student to intermediate quality, I think that if I wanted a pro clarinet to last for an extremely long time, I'd look for an old silverplated horn. Or a sterling silver horn. I was rather fond of that metal Pan American that I had.

    Anyone got a Haynes Thermocouple that they'd like to sell me? I'll pay $100 and even take care of shipping!
     
  15. warumtubendieheiden

    warumtubendieheiden

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    Sorry, guys, I didn't mean to vex anyone by not filling out my user profile. I am just making a brief guest appearance here because I'm not a woodwind player ... but, thank you, you folks have been helpful hosts.

    For the record, I reside in metro Atlanta, but lived many years in Tempe, AZ, a couple of blocks from Desert Winds, an estimable woodwind shop.
    I'm a euphonium and tuba player who happens to teach German, which explains my rather pedantic username.

    The Boosey 2-20 I refer to lives in Orlando in my sister-in-law's closet.

    And what I've learned from you all is: the old clarinet might be worth restoring for one or more of the following reasons: (1) one wanted to prepare it as a spare (2) one is a bit of a clarinet contrarian (3) one likes to give every old instrument a loving home, kinda like my next-door neighbor with all her cats (4) one is looking for a new way to snub the French. (insert smiley-face)
     
  16. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I also play french horn and cornet ... but they guys here don't hold that against me .... at least I don't think so ... hmmmm
     
  17. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Didn't know that was a requirement. I think I'll go ban myself ....

    Or not :p.

    I'm definitely not going to dissuade you from restoring a horn, primarily because I like old horns, but it is very possible to spend a lot of money on an overhaul and still not end up with a very good clarinet.

    Take a peek at http://www.woodwindforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2547. A completely overhauled, pretty good-quality, used Yamaha student horn is $244. If you take the B&H in to a repair-person, like Steve, you need to decide if the repair cost is worth it to you. And, if the horn's got any cracks, it will definitely not be worth it.

    Considering you're going to be a beginner, I really don't recommend going the overhaul route. At the very least, go to a music shop and lease a new horn for a few months.
     
  18. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I'm disappointed you felt that I was vexed by the lack of info in your profile. My bad and let to try to clear that up. Putting a little info in the profile helps us help you better. That's all.
     
  19. English Sound

    English Sound

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    The Boosey and Hawkes 2-20 or Edgware as it was known here in England was a wooden student model (or ebonite for the later ones). I moved onto a pair of Edgwares as my first wooden clarinets.They had some tuning problems and were certainly not one of the better B&H instruments. I have used B&H clarinets my whole career, having a pair of Symphony 10-10s and an Imperial 926 as a back-up.
     
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