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Couesnon Monopole

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
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.
 
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.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
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.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
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 ....
 
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
 
After reading this and getting some advice from Pete in another thread to look into Couesnons , I took the plunge and bought a Couesnon from the "pig in a poke" on line store. I want something to learn to play on that I can be proud of. I truly belive that if I have an instrument that I really like,it will induce me to practice more. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of this guy. It is truly going to be a pig in a poke too. The photos in the posting were not very clear and I couldn't see much of the markings, so I guess that I'll just have to wait and............................................................. This is just too much for me to believe. As I was writing this last line, my wife came in form the front porch and said, "You have a package here. Didn't you hear the doorbell? It is my Couesnon! It is a monopole, or at least I can barely make out that word on the tiny, tiny, tiny writing. The bell and barrel appear to be plastic or hard rubber, and the barrel is lined with a metal sleeve. The two body sections are wood. The posting said that they may be rosewood, but I don't know enough about instrument woods to tell what kind it is. No chips or cracks. All the keys work. The pads and corks are history, and there is no mouthpiece. I paid $75.00 for it including the shipping. I have been buying some cheapo clarinnets and tinkering with them, but I'm not going to try that with this one.. I get a special rate form a woodwind tech friend that will repad it, recork it, polish up the keywork and give it an oil bath for $95.00. So, for well under $200. This is what I got. For a newbie I think that I did all right, what do you think?
 
I acquired a Couesnon "SA" clarinet a few years ago at a pawn shop and had it restored. I know that figuring out the history of these instruments is difficult due to the fire that wiped out the company records in 1969, but what seems odd about mine is that unlike other "SA" models I've read about mine appears to have a serial number: it's either 999 or (I kid you not) 666 depending on which way you read it. If you read it in the same orientation as the "Made in France" mark it's 666.

This clarinet has nickel keys which look smoothly made and operate well. (I'm kind of pre-beginner as a player - so I can't testify to the sound quality. I would sound wretched on a concert soloist's instrument)

I have two mouthpieces that happened to come with it: a Premiere by Hite and a Buffet Crampon C, neither of which match the interior size of the
Couesnon, being of substantially larger bore. Does anyone know where I find a mouthpiece that would match the smaller bore? Does it matter? (I'm embarrassed to admit, I don't know)

Would be Player
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
> unlike other "SA" models
"SA" is French for something like, "Société Anonyme." It's the French equivalent for "Incorporated."

> a Premiere by Hite and a Buffet Crampon C, neither of which match the interior size of the Couesnon, being of substantially larger bore
Pics might help. I'm not sure if you're saying that the mouthpiece's ring of cork will physically not fit in the barrel joint or if you're saying that you want a mouthpiece that better suits the horn.

> After reading this and getting some advice from Pete in another thread to look into Couesnons , I took the plunge and bought a Couesnon from the "pig in a poke" on line store.
wanabe, I think that a good clarinet for $200 isn't bad at all, especially because it could be a very good clarinet. I wasn't aware of Couesnons with hard rubber barrel and bell, but I have heard of that configuration with other horns.
 
I currently own a Cuesnon bass clarinet but the problem is that there is no serial number on It. However, according To an article I recently read, It is possible to know the year of manufacture of the Cuesnon instruments. In fact, the article indicates that in the circle with a flame coming out of the top ( some say it s the shape of a grenade ) and below the Word PARIS, is a number corresponding To the year of manufacture : for example 65 means 1965...
However my Cuesnon clarinet has the number 99 engraved on It. So I'm wondering if it means that it was manufactured in 1899 since the Cuesnon factory burned down in 1980 (approximatively ) therefore the number cannot indicate the year 1999.
Here is the link To the article I mentionned earlier :https://everythingtrumpet.com/gearhead/Couesnon.html
Here is Also a picture of my clarinet . If anyone knows the answer To my question please respond. Thank you !
 

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pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Grenade fruit. Or, in English, a pomegranate.

Couesnon used the year-in-a-fruit design until the 1930s, so "99" would = "1899."

A bigger problem for you would be if the clarinet you have is low pitch, which is the modern intonation standard, or high pitch, which is an older standard that was generally available until WWII. High pitch instruments are pitched almost a half step higher, so your Bb bass clarinet would be an almost B bass clarinet. Look to see if there's a stamp on your horn that says "L," "LP," or "Low." If there isn't, I strongly recommend sitting down with an electronic tuner and test it before you spend big $ on repairs.

There is a possibility that you have an A bass clarinet. They're very uncommon.
 
I think the grenade is a grenade as in incendiary device rather than a fruit. Couesnon has a very long history in supplying military music groups (Republican Guard). Compare it to the emblem of the Grenadier guards - one of the oldest regiments of the British Army. https://www.army.mod.uk/who-we-are/corps-regiments-and-units/infantry/grenadier-guards/

Before Couesnon took over the instrument business, it was owned by Gautrot and Triebert. I think the logo on the bass clarinet bell is a combination of G and T which was their logo, and Couesnon continued with that during the take over (more of a hand over by marriage) and afterwards until creating his own logo.

Couesnon was quick to update his accolades that were shown on his instruments. After 1900 they were marked with Hors Concours Exposition Universelle Paris 1900. In 1900 their instruments got a Hors Concours, Member of the Jury of Awards, in the Paris Exhibition. They got a Gold Medal Award in the 1889 Paris Exhibition.

The bass clarinet bell boasts that 1889 Gold Award, which makes the instrument predate 1900, so I would say for sure that it was made in 1899.

As well as interested to know if it is high pitch or low pitch, I would also be interested to know whether it is simple system keys or Boehm.

Chris
 
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