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An 'A Clarinet' that measures 26.5 inches?

#1
I have just bought a Boosey & Hawkes Emperor clarinet in a charity shop. I got it serviced in a shop near where I live. I recognised the wood as African Blackwood before I bought it (I used to be a flute maker) and the shop claimed that the clarinet is also at least 63 years old with sterling silver keys.

What I can't figure out is that it has the measurements of a Bb clarinet but it is infact an A clarinet. I had a clarinet technician/teacher out to have a look and he said it is indeed an A but is the length of a Bb. Would anyone have heard of this before or know any info about it?
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#2
Looking over a few posts on the Intarwebs, there isn't really that much agreement in exact clarinet lengths, as you can see here. I think the major factor is that these folks are measuring clarinets with mouthpieces and barrels attached. Both of these can vary considerably in length.

Comment 1: It's possible you have a high pitch (i.e. A=457hz) clarinet. That's a different intonation standard. Modern clarinets use low pitch, A=440hz, or an orchestral standard of A=442hz. An A=442hz instrument would be slightly shorter than a "regular" clarinet. An A=457hz horn would be a lot shorter. The link I linked to, above, says that a high pitch A clarinet, with mouthpiece and barrel on measures 26.75", so we're in the ballpark. Also, any high pitch horn should be in tune with itself, so if your teacher played by ear, he might not have noticed a difference. Try an electronic tuner where you can set A=457hz. Make sure you play the entire range of the horn.

Comment 2: If you make the bore narrower, you have to increase something (or several somethings) to compensate. If you're into math, here's an article about this.

Comment 3: I've mentioned differing barrel and mouthpiece lengths, but the bell could also be replaced. I think the combo of the three could easily make a 1/4" difference.

Of course, I'm not mentioning Bb/A clarinets with fingering to low Eb. That'd obviously make a difference :). I know German clarinets also vary a bit from standard Boehm, too.

The important thing, of course, is that the horn plays in tune with other instruments when t's tuned to concert A is 440hz or 442hz. Nothing else really matters :).
 
#3
@Pete,
Thank you so much! You have made me realise that I was also measuring with the mouthpiece on, newbie mistake I'm guessing. I will have to buy a tuner and see if it is indeed in-tune to others.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#4
No worries. Good luck with the horn!
 
#5
The Emperor wasn't made in high pitch. The keywork isn't sterling silver, it's silver-plated brass. The length of a Bb Emperor without the mouthpiece is around 597mm or 23.5 inches with a standard barrel.
 
#6
Thanks Tony F. My Emperor measures 600mm with the original barrel (the wood and stamp are the same) but it is a semi tone down from Bb which would make me think it's possibly an A? Do you know why this could be and which clarinet it is that I own?

Also, if you have any sites with info on Emperors I would greatly appreciate it.
Kev
 
#9
Checked it to a tuner, it's an A clarinet. Still confused about the length though..
If the clarinet is the length you give then it should be a Bb instrument. The A clarinet was somewhat longer. If you sound a C it should play a Concert Bb, (left thumb and all left hand fingers, not the register key). I suggest you visit the Clarinetbboard (http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/list.html?f=1) and use their search function. You'll find a swag of information about Emperors and just about everything else.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#10
Swag? YOLO?
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#12
I prefer to think we've been invaded by hipsters. :D
 
#13
If the clarinet is the length you give then it should be a Bb instrument. The A clarinet was somewhat longer. If you sound a C it should play a Concert Bb, (left thumb and all left hand fingers, not the register key). I suggest you visit the Clarinetbboard (http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/list.html?f=1) and use their search function. You'll find a swag of information about Emperors and just about everything else.
I would add a +1 to that. If there is nothing there that answers your question, then you could ask there yourself. Experts on B+H there who regularly post are Normal Smale and Chris P. Chris P (as Chris Peyragh) is a member here also, so you could PM him to invite him to the discussion.

Chris
 
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