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  1. #1
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    Default Couesnon Monopole

    I've come to consider Couesnon Monopole clarinets to be something of a "best kept secret". Since I have two of them in superb condition I'll let the secret out so others can discover what a treasure Couesnon clarinets can be.

    I have David Speigelthal to thank for his rave comments on the Woodwind.org clarinet forum about vintage Couesnon clarinets. This inspired me to look for a Couesnon. The alinements of the Universe must have gotten behind my search for a Couesnon. Within only three days I found one that had just been restored. Not only that, its price was a fraction of the cost of a new R13. My first impressions of this Couesnon were extremely positive. I especially fell in love with the Couesnon's dark, vibrant sound and its consistancy of tonal quality throughout its range. When I took the Couesnon to my repair tech for a check over he raved about the high quality of its grenadallia wood and overall craftsmanship. After Eric's adjustments the Couesnon was even more impressive.

    This Couesnon has a 285xx serial number. Amazingly, though the Woodwind.org forum I was able to get in touch with another clarinetist who has a Couesnon only 6 serial numbers away from mine. Even more amazing, he is the original owner and still has his Couesnon's sales receipt. This enabled us to date our 285xx Couesnon clarinets to 1960.

    After playing my Couesnon for a year I decided that I needed to have another Couesnon as a back up. Happily, I stumbled upon a 70's model Couesnon on ebay being sold by a repair tech I recongized from the Woodwind.org forum. The starting bit was only $450. Remarkably, it turned out that I was the only bidder. My repair tech found several things that needed to be fixed on the clarinet. This added $200 to the ebay price. Still, it boggles the mind to think of getting a pro-level grenadilla wood clarinet for $650! This Couesnon has a 348xx serial number. Since it appears that there are no Couesnon serial number lists in existance, I have not been able to determine the exact production year for this clarinet. 1970's seems to be a reasonable ballpark estimate.

    Comparing my 285xx and 348xx Couesnon clarinets, I quickly discovered that their parts are not interchangable. Therefore, Couesnon made some design changes between the two models. I asked my repair tech to measure their bore sizes. The 348xx Couesnon has a smaller bore than my earlier model and is more Buffet-like in terms of its bore size. Performance-wise, it's my impression that the 348xx Couesnon has a bigger sound, more "ring", and a greater level of projection. My initial comparision was done with a Grabner K14 mouthpiece. I've recently discovered that a Grabner K11e gives the 285xx Couesnon a greater amount of ring and projection. So, it's a matter of experimenting and finding the mouthpieces that are an especially good match for the particular Couesnon model.

    I've come to use the 348xx Couesnon as my primary clarinet. Happily, a few months ago the same ebay seller put a 65 mm Couesnon Monopole barrel for sale, I was able to get it, and it fits my 348xx Couesnon.

    For me, vintage Couesnon clarinets have characteristics in common with 1930's Buescher saxopohones....which I also dearly love. I've come to feel a special bond with vintage Couesnon clarinets. For whatever reason, it seems to me that Couesnon is a perfect match for what I'm looking for in a clarinet.

    Roger
    1936 G.H. Huller alto saxophone, Ralph Morgan 6C mouthpiece, #3 1/2 Legere Signature reeds, Theo Wanne ligature
    1969 Couesnon Monopole Bb clarinet, Walter Grabner K14 mouthpiece, #3 Legere (old) Quebec, Klassik string ligature
    Yamaha bass clarinet, Walter Grabner LB mouthpiece, #3 1/2 Legere standard tenor, Optimum ligature
    Yamaha flute, diMedici alto flute

    Visit my website and listen to my originals: http://www.rogeraldridge.com

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Couesnon Monopole

    I think well cared for older horns are a much better bargain for most players than a new Tosca. I have a couple of vintage Conn's and a vintage Noblet that work well for me. I've never tried a Couesnon Monopole clarinet but own an alto sax.
    1972 and 1969 Vito/Yani Bari - Berg Larsen 115/1 SMS - Rico Royals
    Selmer Mark VI 170k Tenor - Custom Modern Otto Link Tone Edge 7* - Vandoren ZZ's
    Selmer Mark VI 87k Alto - Chicago Mouthpieces R Series C** - Hemke Reeds
    Rampone & Cazzani R1 Jazz Soprano - Selmer S80 D - Fibracell Reeds
    1950's Noblet - vintage Woodwind Company G8 - Mitchell Lurie Premium Reeds

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Couesnon Monopole

    Yah. When I was searching for modern Couesnon serial charts, I saw a LOT of writings that said these were good horns. I'm unlikely ever to get one, but it's something to keep in mind!

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Couesnon Monopole

    Do you need an alto? It's on my list of horns to sell. Come on . . . everyone needs another alto (except me - my wife says five is too many).
    1972 and 1969 Vito/Yani Bari - Berg Larsen 115/1 SMS - Rico Royals
    Selmer Mark VI 170k Tenor - Custom Modern Otto Link Tone Edge 7* - Vandoren ZZ's
    Selmer Mark VI 87k Alto - Chicago Mouthpieces R Series C** - Hemke Reeds
    Rampone & Cazzani R1 Jazz Soprano - Selmer S80 D - Fibracell Reeds
    1950's Noblet - vintage Woodwind Company G8 - Mitchell Lurie Premium Reeds

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Couesnon Monopole

    Clarinet or sax?

    The next thing on my "big expenses" list is an overhaul for my wife's Selmer Omega alto. If you were talking really, really cheap bari or bass clarinet, I might be interested.

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

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    Default Re: Couesnon Monopole

    alto sax.

    I have a cheap bari available too. It's ugly as sin though. Old Vito (Beagnier) Low A.

    I'm trying to get rid of a few horns since five altos appear to be too many and four bari's are definitely too many.
    1972 and 1969 Vito/Yani Bari - Berg Larsen 115/1 SMS - Rico Royals
    Selmer Mark VI 170k Tenor - Custom Modern Otto Link Tone Edge 7* - Vandoren ZZ's
    Selmer Mark VI 87k Alto - Chicago Mouthpieces R Series C** - Hemke Reeds
    Rampone & Cazzani R1 Jazz Soprano - Selmer S80 D - Fibracell Reeds
    1950's Noblet - vintage Woodwind Company G8 - Mitchell Lurie Premium Reeds

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Couesnon Monopole

    Mmmmmm. Might talk with you, elsewhere, on the bari. I don't see the horn when I play, so what do I care how it looks?

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Couesnon Monopole

    anyone know what this thread is saying about the Couesnon Monopole ??

    http://clarinetemania.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=499

    actually... i just want to know what a "Malerne profissional taco" is?
    Is there beginner and intermediate Tacos ? What is Taco Bell vs Taco Loco ?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Couesnon Monopole

    Portugese, isn't it?

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Couesnon Monopole

    looks like it

  11. #11
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    Default Courneson Serial #s!

    As my first ever post here on TWF I am hoping to be of a little help. Found this by scrolling down a little on the clarinetmania forum referenced in preceding posts.

    http://www.clarinetperfection.com/sn...t.htm#Couesnon

    Ah- just saw that Steve has previously listed these data on the Clarinet Perfection site. I will leave this post as is, however - so that it might have an additional opportunity to be noted by those interested.
    Last edited by jhu6569; 10-23-2008 at 10:19 PM.

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    Default OK-Purchase!

    Just tonight bought a Couesnon clarinet for $87.00 including shipping on "that auction site." Solely because of this forum. Pictures looked very good - obviously I will not really know until the instrument is delivered and tested. But? For $72 dollars plus shipping? Serial number unknown - but pictures not demonstrating obvious problems? Has to be a reasonable chance at a bargain, I think.

    People - without my new addition to this forum - I would NEVER have even heard about this clarinet maker. And would never have bid. No fear - if this turns out to be a total clunker - not that much money has been expended.

    Wish me good fortune.

    Ah- timing between posts? Totally at the whim of the gods, whomever they may be. I got engrossed in the Woodwind forum and then, when checking on an E-Bay Leblanc clarinet that I am watching - saw this Couesnon! Looked good - bids were essentially non-existent - so I thought. Go for the gusto. Talk about immediate turn-around.
    Last edited by jhu6569; 10-24-2008 at 02:47 AM.

  13. #13
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jhu6569 View Post
    As my first ever post here on TWF I am hoping to be of a little help. Found this by scrolling down a little on the clarinetmania forum referenced in preceding posts.

    http://www.clarinetperfection.com/sn...t.htm#Couesnon

    Ah- just saw that Steve has previously listed these data on the Clarinet Perfection site. I will leave this post as is, however - so that it might have an additional opportunity to be noted by those interested.
    That's an old page .. text left there just in case people (and bots) have it cached.
    here's the newer page with the pictures

    http://www.clarinetperfection.com/clsnCouesnon.htm

    fyi, that's my website

    any new pics or information is greatly appreciated

  14. #14
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    Default Couesnon History

    Having just purchased an old Couesnon SA clarinet, I am searching for info as to its' actual age. Turns out that essentially ANYBODY with an old Couesnon instrument of any type is also seeking the same, because a fire in 1969 destroyed the archival records of the company, which is still in existence (more or less) after over 180 years.

    Access this link to find out more:
    www.dallasmusic.org/gearhead/Couesnon%3F.html
    This info has also been posted, essentially verbatim on a few other message boards over the past few years.

    Since my newly acquired clarinet is marked Couesnon S. A. and it is NOT a Monopole, I am guessing it must date between 1931 and the very early 1950's. Currently unplayable, so it will be a while before I can address how the instrument will eventually actually sound.

  15. #15
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    Default

    Couesnon was reformed in 1931 and their serial numberage changed. I heard about their fire. Happened with Selmer and Buffet, too.

    I would think that pre-1931 instruments followed the same theme as their saxophones and they'd stamp a number on your horn in a grenade-fruit. The number is when the horn was made.

    1931-1937 saxophones were ... interesting.

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

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    Default Serial Number

    My Couesnon S.A. clarinet has NO serial number, but the local pro technician today thinks that it IS a real Couesnon and not a stamped knock-off. The woodwork and key work seem to indicate this, but, again, only more time will tell the true story.

  17. #17
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    Default

    Aldo: Much depends on the individual characteristics of each instrument.

    That overhaul price doesn't sound unreasonable to me. If it were me (and mind you, I don't know either of these brands except to think the Evette isn't the same quality as Buffet's pro-line horns, but I could be wrong) I'd have the Couesnon overhauled.

    Many of us can tell tales of stumbling across a no-name horn and finding a real player. I've done that before. Recently I was gifted an old Triomphe C-Albert System clarinet (wood, Made In France). I had it overhauled locally and it plays very nicely. You pays your money and . . . DAVE

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    Default

    The Couesnon Monopole is designated as a professional instrument back when it was made. The Evette a student level vintage clarinet. I know alot of people have faith into the Evette but I would prefer the Couesnon between the two when comparing two well setup instruments.

    As to the "old wood - ain't good" comment many professionals and semi-pros prefer their older instruments. It has been stated that after approximately the year 1978 the "wood hasn't been as good". Of course this also is around the time the "old world craftmanship" was introduced to mechanization.

    As long as a clarinets body is in good shape it can be "revitalized" and brought to a new condition. Many prefer the tone of older clarinets versus the newer ones too. When you hear names such as Leblanc LL or Selmer Centered Tone these have not been produced for a while and are of course an older model but still revered by many players.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Dolson View Post
    That overhaul price doesn't sound unreasonable to me.
    +1.

    The Evettes were really nice student instruments ... but it's a student horn. Having a completely overhauled professional horn isn't a bad thing, even if it's old. Old doesn't necessarily mean "bad", especially when we're talking clarinets -- provided the clarinet is pitched A=440hz or A=442hz.

    Now, if the Couesnon has bands, pins or cracks, that's a different story.

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

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    Default

    I forgot to address that comment about old wood being not so good. My favorite trad-jazz clarinetist plays a Buffet Albert System clarinet made in 1887. The horn sounds great! DAVE

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    Default

    And my Selmer Centered Tone sounded pretty awesome (1950's horn). When I lined up that tone hole in the tenon properly.

    I think Steve or Ed posted an article here, someplace about "restoring" wooden clarinets by submerging them in oil or somesuch. I really couldn't say if that's helpful or not: I'm not a repairman or carpenter.

    However, if you have a horn that sounds "decent", but has some problems, an overhaul is going to make it better. If you have a horn that, for lack of a better term, is a "basket-case" (i.e. the horn and all its parts are in a basement someplace and the rats have gotten to 'em), it's only "possible" that an overhaul will make it all better.

    My opinion is that the #1 thing that makes any horn difficult to play, other than the player, himself, is the mouthpiece (and reed). Seriously, I made my student-model Buffets sound excellent with my Selmer C85 mouthpiece -- and that's not even Selmer's top-of-the-line 'piece.

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

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    Roger is right about the mouthpiece. A good one will make all the difference. When you find a teacher, have him/her evaluate the MP with your Monopole.

    I'd definitely have the Monopole overhauled. They are great horns, every bit as good as similar vintage pro Buffets. The bad news is that it doesn't say Buffet on the bell, so you would be hard pressed to make much more than the price of the overhaul should you decide to sell it.

    Mine was made in 1953 (20K serial number) and is pitched to A=442. By pulling off the joints, I don't have any problem blending in. Both the community band and Oktoberfest band I play with tend to drift up in pitch during performances, which helps my intonation. I regularly get complements on how good it sounds.

    By the way, you should have two barrels in the case, each serial numbered and marked with a length. The short one will play sharper.

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    Exclamation

    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    And my Selmer Centered Tone sounded pretty awesome (1950's horn). When I lined up that tone hole in the tenon properly.
    On all of my horns with the articulated G# mechanism, there is a small line cut in the ring around the socket on the lower joint that you match up with a similar marking cut into the wood of the upper joint in order to keep things lined up. In order to make things simple in dark performance situations, I've filled the lines in the upper joints with a bit of white paint, the better to make it visible to these tired eyes.

    On my metal Selmer that's similarly equipped, I believe that there is a pin and a detent notch into which it mates. This is along the lines of some recent student clarinets by (I believe) Leblanc, where there is a large pin that mates in a cut-out on top of the lower joint, the better to keep the bridge key lined up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SOTSDO View Post
    On all of my horns with the articulated G# mechanism, there is a small line cut in the ring around the socket on the lower joint that you match up with a similar marking cut into the wood of the upper joint in order to keep things lined up. In order to make things simple in dark performance situations, I've filled the lines in the upper joints with a bit of white paint, the better to make it visible to these tired eyes.

    On my metal Selmer that's similarly equipped, I believe that there is a pin and a detent notch into which it mates. This is along the lines of some recent student clarinets by (I believe) Leblanc, where there is a large pin that mates in a cut-out on top of the lower joint, the better to keep the bridge key lined up.
    Mmmm. I don't remember either of those on my old horn. Those would have been helpful!

    It's been a lot of years since I had that horn. It was given to me and when I stopped using it, I donated it to a church. Continue the giving ....

    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my photoblog! Latest article: October 6, 2013, "The Eye (Brows) Have It."

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    Many thanks Rodger for taking the time to write about Couesnon clarinet. Having played for thirty odd years on a variety of clarinets I thought some while ago that I would treat myself to a new Yamaha ycl 250b which requires little maintenance. Well although not bad I’m the sort of chap who always wants to look over the brow of the next hill and to this end looked on that auction site for a reasonable clarinet and then spied this Couesnon Monopole which was owned by a clarinet teacher who had had to retire with arteritis in the hands. It was then that I spied your recommendations on the Couesnon as I had never heard the make before. No reserve and I bid up to £62 but on leaving for work the next morning something made me bid to £72. It sold to me at £63 and I waited to see what would turn up. Perfect except for one lower pad and the bridge cork missing ( I think the seller was not the owner in question and had knocked it off when assembling for the photo ) It came with a 5 RV mouthpiece and a Bonade ligature both well used but serviceable as was the clarinet. Quite an unusual instrument with the flat spring on Ab Eb key and no adjusting screw on the top A key, instead just cork the size of half a match head which has to be paired down just so to get the right clearance, this and repad the lower section I did and I must say I have never had such a job repadding as this one, the counter bores around the tone holes are perhaps 20 thou bigger than the cups which means no pad overhang at all. But what a beautiful instrument, no scratches, cracks etc. and what a good tone, lovely key work and the tenons nice and tight, on opening the case instead of a smell of plastic out comes the odour of an old church. Claimed to be 25 to 35 years old, serial number 532xx , would this be somewhere near that age? So then if you see a Couesnon on the UK Auction site and wonder who the other bidder is , that will be me. Value now to me , priceless.

    Peter

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