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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000359.txt from 2000/09

From: "Clark W Fobes" <>
Subj: [kl] Repair persons as curmudgeons
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2000 19:35:56 -0400


I want to take one step back and offer that even though Bill Brannen has =
a reputation for being difficult he has done a tremendous amount of good =
in the world of clarinet. I have seen exquisite work from him and admire =
his ability to make pads that last for years. He has been willing to be =
innovative in some areas and set a high standard for the rest of us.

That said, I have known many wonderful repair technicians that seem to =
have had reputations for being surly. Glen Johnston of Los Angeles was a =
famous example. I was the unfortunate recipient of his abuse when I was =
a mere boy of 18. He eventually took a liking to me and in my late =
thirties I spent several hours with him as he showed me some of what he =
knew about mouthpiece making. (He knew a lot!)

I worked for a Swiss fellow here in SF for 3 years - Irwin Berger. He =
could be very difficult (and expensive!) of he did not like you.

I have also know many repair technicians (not so famous) that became =
alcoholics or drug addicts.

Repairing instruments can be a difficult profession. You spend most of =
your time alone, most people want their instruments yesterday and until =
you can afford to have your own business the pay is pretty lackluster. =
Also - to be a really good mechanic you have to be a perfectionist. =
Sometimes what makes a person a perfectionist is a great deal of self =
criticism that manifests as a general dislike of others.

I can also vouch for the fact that occasionally players have problems =
that they blame on the instrument and despite the fact that it is =
perfectly adjusted they insist that it is not. This situation requires =
some diplomacy.

I spent 23 years of my life repairing instruments and devoted the last =
10 to clarinets only. It was getting to the point that I could not stand =
to sit down and overhaul one more instrument. I am now retired from =
instrument repair and am VERY happy just performing and making =

I have one last project to finish before I go into full retirement. I am =
in the process of overhauling both of Dan Leesons full Boehm Selmer =
clarinets (Yes! The very one that Hans Moennig would not work on) I only =
agreed to work on these instruments for Dan, because:

A) He is a very agreeable and sweet guy
B) Somebody named Vinny called and said if I did not repair Dan's =
clarinets "he knew some people".
C) The fee I am charging Dan will fund my retirement.

Clark W Fobes


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