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Discussion in 'Clarinet Makes and Models' started by Second Sounds, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. Hi,
    Does anybody know much about this make of clarinet? I have acquired one and want to know weather it's worth getting it restored to a playable state or left as an antique?

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    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Like so much else in life, "It depends..."

    First, the instrument is an "Albert" system, which automatically makes it a musical (if not a real) antique. Alberts have not been in common use since the 1930s or so. That doesn't make it worthless, it only raises a group of further questions that have to be answered.

    Playing an Albert instrument is a bit different and takes some time to get used to. The classic Rubank elementary method has an Albert fingering chart, and you can also find them posted on line. Getting across the break, a classic problem faced by clarinet players since the invention of the instrument, is a bit more problematic on an Albert, as the tones immediately above the break are not as easily fingered by the player. But, if Henry Lazarus, the great English clarinetist who played the Albert to the day of his death could handle it, so could you.

    Although I don't know the size of the telephone/tablet displayed next to it, but from the relative size (and bulbosity) of the barrel, it looks as if you have an Eb sopranino or a C/D soprano instrument. Nothing wrong with that, and if it's a C instrument, you gain the ability to play off of a piano melody line without transposing.

    Older instruments often have cracks, this due to the lack of care and humidity that old instruments suffer in storage. A careful examination will detect most cracks, but the best approach is to have it looked at by a technician. Closed cracks don't affect playability, but once they open, it's major repair time.

    Now for the bad news. Since it is an Albert, and since it is quite old as a result, and since you are located in the Olde Countrie, it is highly likely that the instrument is a high pitch one. Modern instruments are set at A = 440 or 442. High pitch instruments were pitched at about 452, and instruments made to one standard simply cannot perform with instruments built to another.

    Some instruments from the era have a "H" or a "L" stamped on the back, this because players from that era often owned one of each for performing with different groups. If the instrument is so marked, then you have your answer right there and then.

    High pitch lasted in the United Kingdom much longer than it did over here. According to one source, provincial orchestras were using high pitch as late as the 1940s, and provincial bands until the 1960s. As the instrument is apparently an Eb horn (commonly used in bands), this sort of points towards a high pitch instrument, which means it is likely to be only a curiosity.

    In order to determine high or low pitch without a clear marking on the horn (and without the aid of a scientific instrument able to measure the frequency of concert A), you need to first figure out what type of horn it is. Hold it next to a regular Bb clarinet (the kind played by most students), and if it is much shorter, then it's of the C/D or Eb breed. (It is far too long to be an Ab clarinet, the smallest common instrument of the family.) Your next action would be to find a horn of similar length (start with the Eb instrument) and see if it's a match to one of those.

    If it is close to one of the above, then you put a reed and a mouthpiece on each horn and play the same note. If it spot on or close, then you have a low pitch horn. If it is sharp to an extreme degree, you've got a high pitch horn.

    I don't bet much, but I'd be willing to lay a guinea or two on this being a high pitch horn. Well, that is if I still had the guinea coins my family used to own...
  3. Thank you very much. You have given me a good starting point to further my research. Just to let you know it is a sony xperia j mobile phone that is in the pic. needed to prop it round to get another angle for pic and it was closest thing. Have since had a lady look at it in my area and she says . . .

    "It seems to be a bit of a mystery instrument - very hard to get any information on it. There was a company called J.R.La Fleur and sons which was bought by Boosey and Hawkes. However, I believe this is LaFleur, a different company - possibly based in London c1880. However I have also read that the Lafleur company was founded c1780 (though i have no information as to where they were founded).

    I believe your clarinet is an Albert system (not Boehm). It is Bb but a high pitch Bb (modern clarinets are tuned A = 440Hz but this older instrument is high pitched and A = 452Hz (as were instruments between late 1800 - 1930s).

    I would guess it to be from somewhere between 1880 - 1920 though that is a guess!"

    So this tallies up and sounds like it would possibly leaving it in an unplayable but original state.

    Any other info from anyone else would also be greatly recieved.

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