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C Albert System

Discussion in 'A, C and D Clarinets' started by Dave Dolson, Aug 15, 2008.

  1. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    This week, I've acquired an old Albert System soprano clarinet in C from a relative. It has no brand name or serial number. The parts all have "Made in France" stamped on them and the bell has "C" with "Low Pitch" stamped below the C, in addition to the Made-in-France stamping.

    The mouthpiece was the same size as my Bb soprano clarinet mouthpieces. I put my own piece on it (a Vandoren 5JB with a soft Fibracell reed) and the horn played amazingly well . . . at least it was in tune and matched my piano's pitch (a tuned piano).

    The case is solid (if MUSTY) but no clues there.

    The horn needs some work (corks on all the joints and some pads are missing).

    I'm guessing turn-of-the-20th Century for this horn. It belonged to my nephew's grandfather (Wisconsin-based).

    I also acquired a King alto saxophone which I will discuss in an appropriate thread.

    Any ideas about manufacturer, or is that going to remain a mystery? DAVE
  2. Tammi

    Tammi Private woodwind instructor

    Have you gotten the areas where a makers mark would be wet to see if there are any slight impressions? On some of my Alberts' the 'Made in' is pressed deeper than the makers cartuche. The worst one I have is an eefer with the J.W. Pepper branding. It's barely legible unless its wet.

    I've got an Albert/Simple system *C*. It's a hard rubber? stamped Henri Farni & CIE. No serial number.
  3. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    No, I haven't tried wetting the surface. I looked it over closely with a glass in the sunlight and couldn't see anything resembling a logo or name. The body of the horn (wood) is pretty scratched up under close inspection . . . looks like it was cat's toy!! Great middle register, though! DAVE
  4. Tammi

    Tammi Private woodwind instructor

    Just out of curiosity, Does yours have rings on the top joint?
  5. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Tammi: Yes . . . L1 and L2, and R2 and R3 are ringed. DAVE

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Stencil horns back in the day were often imported from a manufacturer and then stamped here by the "distributor", for want of a better term. Since the stamping was done outside of the traditional workshop environment, it's quite common to find that the American "brand" is less than well displayed.

    (You see the same with serial numbers on French horns, where the logo from the manufacturer is always sharp and legible, but where the "hand stamped" numbers are something less than distinct. I've got one Selmer horn where the last digits on each joint are "barely there" (so to speak).

    It's easy enough to get an Albert horn in good playing condition, and you'll get to experience the somewhat more "open" and "natural" tuning that Albert horns possess. There is the problem of finger spacing that may put some Boehm players off a bit, and getting used to the thumb hole is another issue with others.

    Finally, I've always preferred Boehm horns in flat keys and Alberts (and Oehlers) in sharp keys.
  7. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Terry: You are spot-on about the finger-spread pain in Albert clarinets, at least for the Bb models. But I found this C soprano to be comfortable enough and an Eb 'nino Albert I once owned was even easier in that regard.

    The finger-spread on my Bb Alberts is one of two reasons I don't play them much, in addition to their overall stuffy sound (and they are in good repair).

    I will take the C-soprano to the tech for some work (maybe a complete overhaul) - it sounds pretty good and will no doubt be a good conversation piece among my trad-jazz cohort. DAVE
  8. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Today, I got the horn (a no-name MADE IN FRANCE C-Albert System clarinet) back from a complete overhaul and cleaning/polishing. Jim Scimonetti's store in Lancaster, CA did a great job on it. It looks nice and plays fine.

    I spent the afternoon trying several mouthpieces I had in my music-equipment storage. Most stock pieces were too long for me to play to pitch against my tuned piano. However, I found three that came right to pitch . . . two Lakeys and a Selmer HS**. The Selmer had more edge for me and I think that's what I will settle on. I used a Medium Fibracell reed.

    Against my Buffet RC Prestige Boehm Bb soprano clarinet, this C-Albert lacks the tonal depth and robust tone of my Buffet. But, by itself, it plays quite nicely. Now all I have to do is master the fingering differences between Alberts and Boehms.

    The "C" nature of this new acquisition allows for less finger-spread than I've found on Bb Alberts - the C being much more comfortable on my right hand. I'm happy. DAVE
  9. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Additional . . . I took the cleaned and polished clarinet out into the sunlight, and with a magnifying glass, could barely make out some markings on the bell.

    It faintly read "TRIOMPHE" across a very faint logo of some sort, with "Paris" below TRIOMPHE. I'm assuming that is the French version of TRIUMPH.

    Then, below the logo was a "C" and then "LOW PITCH". I know what those two markings mean.

    Each joint including the barrel were stamped MADE IN FRANCE.

    So, any input on TRIOMPHE instruments? DAVE
  10. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

  11. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Al: Thanks for that . . . I shoulda thought about Google!!

    Jim: It has a shortish wood barrel like most wood clarinets - not tunable (unless one would want to adjust it flat by pulling it out a bit). DAVE
  12. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    After a lot of searching through those websites, nothing informative was found. Only one of the HITS even mentioned the brand TRIOMPHE - and that was a question similar to mine.

    Does anyone here have any input about Triomphe clarinets? DAVE
  13. Tammi

    Tammi Private woodwind instructor

    I think that those little guys were designed to be played in more intimate settings, but there's a better than 50/50 chance that I'm mistaken here.

    You may want to look around for a mouthpiece made specifically for the *C* clarinet. I know someone makes them, but can't remember who.
  14. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Tammi: Thanks for the reply. My Selmer HS** and Lakey mouthpieces for Bb soprano clarinet, play fine on it.

    However, Jim Scimonetti, whose shop did the overhaul, told me that he thought Vandoren made a specific C clarinet mouthpiece and that he'd try to find one for me. I agreed to buy it if he found it. Otherwise, I'm not going to spend much time searching for one. By the way, Scimonetti's did a great job on the overhaul.

    I'll try this little clarinet at my gig today. I'm not all that enamored with C-pitch instruments, having spent my entire playing career on Bb and Eb horns. Trying to get through a tune in Ab on a concert-pitch instrument would test my skills, especially with an Albert - at least at this point.

    I know, I know . . . proficiency in all keys. DAVE
  15. Most (maybe all) modern C clarinets are basically meant to play with a Bb mouthpiece. I don't know about your older one, but if it works... no problem!

    I know of at least two makers of mouthpieces specifically for C clarinets. I'm sure there are other makers too. I have a C clarinet mouthpiece and it has a serious problem (made this way by the maker, nothing chipped, etc.), it is made by one of the American "custom mouthpiece makers". It's essentially useless, so I use my Bb mouthpiece which works much better.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2009
  16. Dave Dolson

    Dave Dolson Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    Nitail: Thanks for the comment. My C-Albert came to me with a Bb mouthpiece included. While it wasn't for me, it told me that a Bb mouthpiece may be a good choice. As it turned out, it was.

    Still, if I can find a C mouthpiece, I'll give it a go. I'm not going to go to great lengths to find one, though.

    I had the same experience with my C-Melody saxophone. The various C-Mel pieces I have don't sound nor play nearly as good on my old Buescher C-Mel as does a Kessler Bb tenor mouthpiece I have. DAVE
  17. Folks --- is anyone selling an albert? I am looking for an albert or two! ...
  18. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    eBay has many starting at $15 and upto $300 (today using albert clarinet as the search terms with no quotes).
  19. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    And, watch out for "crack free" clarinets that are anything but. If they don't offer to take it back if it's cracked, I would pass on the deal.

    So many of the older horns have been poorly stored that cracking is quite common. When you consider that many of these "base level" horns were turned out as "student" level instruments, you can see why chipped tone holes and poor fit and finish are often found.
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