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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001099.txt from 2000/04

From: "Kevin Fay (LCA)" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] German/Albert System Clarinets
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 20:49:43 -0400

Ryan Burrage mused:

<<<Well, yes the sound and edge in the bore of the Alberts is phenomenal.
It is the characteristic sound of the great Albert players like Sidney
Bechet, Jimmy Noone, Barney Bigard, Johnny Dodds, and George Lewis and

When you listen to someone like Pete Fountain there is a drastic difference
in sound.

I believe my best compromise would be a Wurlitzer(Reformed Boehm) System
clarinet. It is my understanding that it is the French key system on a
German bore clarinet>>>

Um, sorry to throw water on your fire, but a German-bore clarinet is
probably the *very last* thing that you want. Two observations: First, as
far as getting the sound you want, the equipment you use is less important
than the approach that you take with your oral cavity. Second, the effect
of equipment on your sound is almost directly correlative with how far that
equipment is from your mouth -- the mouthpiece and reed matter more than the

What gave the Albert-system clarinets used by the "great Albert players" the
sound you seek was a mouthpiece with a short, very open facing used with
butter-soft reeds. To get extra volume, this set-up was perched on top of a
clarinet with a very large bore, with straight tone holes (no undercutting).

The German approach to clarinets is the very opposite end of the scale.
(The fact that Karl Leister & Sabine Meyer don't sound much like Jimmys
Noone & Hamilton should be a hint.) German mouthpieces have a very long
lay, close tip and take very hard reeds. They are placed on the end of a
clarinet that typically has a smaller bore. I don't know that you'd be able
to fit a French-style mouthpiece on a reform Boehm.

I don't know of any New Orleans-style clarinet players that use either a
Oehler-system or a reform Boehm; not a one. It's just not the right tool
for the job.

You may think that the Oehler-system keywork is indicative -- that somehow
you'll sound like the Albert guys if you use funny-looking keys. It is
exactly not true.

If you want to sound thin, edgy & reedy, get the Boehm clarinet with the
biggest bore you can find. The Pete Fountain Leblanc is a good start, as is
the Selmer Series 9. Find a really open mouthpiece, and use a 1-1/2 reed.
Blow really hard.


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