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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000876.txt from 1999/11

Subj: [kl] Re: [K] Robert Marcellus And The Long B?
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1999 22:56:48 -0500

The Problem you describe with the inconsistent timbre of the long B has
plagued clarinetists for many years! My first encounter with the stuffy B
came in 1977. Robert Marcellus sent a Graduate student to Hans Moennig's
shop to have his new R-13 Clarinets set up. Although the instruments had
been picked from 20 clarinets, much custom work was still needed.
When Mr. Moennig and I arrived to work that cold winter's morning, The
Northwestern Student was standing outside of the repair shop trembling in the
freezing Philadelphia Wind. Mr. Moennig asked him, "How long have you been
out here in this cold weather?" The Student replied, "For 2 Hours." He had
flown into Philly the night before and slept at the train station. He know
that by getting an early start on the clarinet work, Mr. Moennig would have
enough time to do the complete "Marcellus Set Up" on both the A and Bb
clarinets. The student was prepared to stay the whole week if necessary.
Mr. Moennig picked up the Bb bell and measured it. He then looked at the
student and said, "So you are having trouble with your long B?" The student,
in total shock, replied, "Wow! How did you know that when I never even told
you what was wrong?" Mr. Moennig smiled and said, "Because I'm Moennig, the
repairman of Bob Marcellus." At that point, I asked Mr. Moennig to please
explain to me what he had discovered in the bell to form that conclusion. He
told me to open up the safe and bring him the box labeled "McLane" and I did.
He removed an old bell, stuck it on the graduate student's horn and the
instrument came to life. When the student tried the bell, he became ecstatic
and offered lots of money for it. Mr. Moennig said, "My dear boy, over the
years many offers have been made to buy this bell but I can't sell it, as it
is my prototype. But don't panic, before you go back to Chicago, we will find
the right bell for you and your teacher."
At that point Mr. Moennig pulled out his bore templates and made a
comparative study of the two bells. He said, "Look at the small throat of
this new bell compared to the one used by Ralph McLane. There lies the
problem. The top of the bell is too small and is of the wrong taper.
However, If we enlarge the bell too much the long B will become shrill and
sharp. So now, we must enlarge the bell at the correct pressure nodes to
make the necessary timbre adjustment. What one is striving for here, is to
make the long B fit within the scale and not stick out like a sore thumb." At
that point Mr. Moennig placed the bell on the lathe and reamed, sanded and
polished the bore to the proper dimensions. After the student tested the
modified bell, He was really please with the acoustical improvements. Next
Mr. Moennig changed the register tube to add a little more brilliance to the
long B. The Hour glass shaped Moennig tube not only improved the long B, but
enhanced the timbre and response of the throat Bb as well.
After several days of intense tuning, Mr. Moennig finally finished the
"Marcellus Set Up." Perplexed by the Amount of money that the Northwestern
student and spent flying to Philly, Renting a Hotel Room, and having hired
Mr. Moennig for several days, I asked the player why he did not take his horn
to the famous woodwind repairman in Evanston? It certainly would have been a
lot closer and cheaper i.e. a $2 bus ride. He said, "Because Mr. Marcellus
was really concerned about the long B and wanted my clarinets to play as well
as the instruments that he had used during his playing career with the
Cleveland Orchestra."
When the student got ready to pay his repair bill for several days worth
of extensive tuning, he asked Mr. Moennig, "Well, How much do I owe you for
your wonderful work?" Mr. Moennig smiled and said, " Ahhh just give me what
Marcellus charges for a one hour lesson."
There is hope for a stuffy Long B!

Good Luck,
Alvin Swiney
Affordable Music Co.
P. O. Box 4245
Virginia Beach, VA 23454
757-412-2160 fax 412-2158

<< From: Shouryu Nohe <>
> (The pad is quite fine, the tone hole is clear, and I've tried turning the
> bell...but playing a GL, grain inconsistency between the bell and lower
> joint aren't really a problem...the B has been like this for the most part
> since I purchased the instrument.)

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