The clarinets I use(d):
I will try to describe my clarinets here. Perhaps tell a story or two – From left to right:
- ‘Lamp’. Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy & Cie, simple system, probably beginning of 20th century. Bought it cheap in miserable condition on a market. Gave it an overhaul to find out it’s tuned in B natural (didn’t know about “high pitch” back then). I couldn’t throw it away, so I made a lamp out of it.
- ‘No name’. Totally anonymous. No traces after any labels. But it was cheap!!! My first Albert clarinet. I got it shortly after my first recording of George Lewis, came as a set of A and Bb. A friend sold them to me for 6 beers.
- ‘Penzel Müller’. A powerful clarinet made by German immigrants in New York. Still one of my favorites. According to the serial number, it should have been made at the beginning of the 1940s. A great friend of mine and sponsor to several of my clarinets, Mogens Møller Jensen bought it for me in New Orleans. Chris Burke sold it to us with a barrel way too short. I had to replace it with a Buffet to get it in tune. After the bell cracked, I got an A. Andersen bell to fit (no idea who he is). That means only the body is Penzel Mueller.
It seems like George Lewis liked the Penzel-Müller clarinets as well. Read this interesting article by Eberhard Kraut.
This clarinet is now sold to an enthusiast who needed a good Albert…
- ‘Buffet Crampon’. 1914. A lovely instrument. A classic Albert with the characteristic wrap-around ‘octave’ key. I played it for a couple of years, altering the Buffet. The intonation is perfect – unfortunately, the tone is unsuitable for jazz. That made me start the search for a combination of the two…I don’t have this clarinet anymore. It was used as payment for my latest Selmer.
- After a year of investigations, I found the solution: ‘Selmer’ K3488. Six months after my preferred model showed up on eBay. Almost perfect. Low pitch, big bore, 4 rings. The best keywork I have ever seen. A funny thing about it is the low Eb. Quite unusual and annoying, but I’ll get used to it. K-series from around 1924, old logo, in original case – previously owned by a member of “Fat Waters and His Danceonians” (whoever they were). This one has been sold.
- ‘Selmer’ M1900 from 1939. While I was bidding on the K-series, my friend Mogens turned up with a Selmer he bought a few years ago. My earlier attempts to wrest it away from him had been in vain, but now he asked me to check it out for him. “Something is wrong when it’s getting warmed up”, he claimed. Fantastic tone, but the key-work is not the most elegant. There is a third ring for the left hand, and I can’t figure out what it is good for. Nothing wrong whatsoever!
I liked the K-series better, so I returned the clarinet back to my friend. In October 2018 Mogens decided to give it to me… Thank You, Mogens !!
- ‘Selmer’ K6164 from around 1927. New logo. Dating the K-series is only approximate, as Selmer didn’t keep any records on the production.
But we know they changed the logo in 1926. I know that K 3633 has got the new logo, and K 3488 the old logo. More info on logos, and how to date your Selmer clarinet here.
- ‘Selmer’ M8940. After trying out different Selmer clarinets, I decided that the M1900 works best for me. It became my preferred horn. I sold the others, and all of a sudden one more appeared. Exactly the same model as the M1900. Even with the annoying extra ring on the left hand. I bought it immediately. A great reserve to have in case something should happen to the other. This Selmer clarinet, M8940, is one of Selmer’s last Albert clarinets from 1946 when they discontinued the production. Made in the factory in France for the German market (this is characterized by a special design of certain keys), and then it unusually for an Albert has a straight register key.
- ‘Harry Pedler’ Premiere. 1933/34. Albert system metal clarinet which I got in exchange for a piccolo flute. Good for outdoor use, as wooden clarinets are not too fond of bad weather conditions. George Lewis used to play a similar model back in the 1940s. Read this exciting article in German by metal clarinet expert Eberhard Kraut.
- Street parades. What to do? Thousands of clarinet players showing up. PLAY Eb!!! Nobody plays Eb anymore, even though it was standard in old New Orleans. A good way to annoy the trombones in front of You, though!?! I believe it’s a ‘Forté’ from the Czech Republic. That is a guess – the logo is almost worn out.
That means, only four of the clarinets are active in my hands:
Forté E-flat clarinet for brass band
Selmer 1939: 1. clarinet
Selmer 1946: Backup
Pedler metal clarinet: For outdoor use
Learn more about the Albert System here…
Read about the difference between Albert, Oehler and Boehm here…
Find out why the pitch is such a struggle…