Klarinet Archive - Posting 000534.txt from 2002/06
Subj: [kl] Key rods on old Albert
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 08:13:09 -0400
Oh ye repair pundits:
Yesterday I bought an Albert system clarinet at a flea market. The condition
looks amazing: no cracks, gorgeous wood, nickel keys all in basic working
order and everything fairly clean except the wooden mouthpiece, which looks
undamaged but was put away dirty and is lined with dried-out slime. Someone
set this clarinet up and played it in the mid-20th century. The reed that
was glued to the mouthpiece with whatever interesting growths cultured
themselves from the former owner's spit is a Rico, marked the same as the
Ricos I was was buying in the 1960s.
So my first question is about the mouthpiece: It looks like it's in good
condition, and it's made of wood that matches the very dense, black wood of
the clarinet (Cocus, I think), but the mouthpiece has to be cleaned.
I've never cleaned up a wooden mouthpiece before. I do want to use it if
possible, because the shape is radically different from that of a modern
mouthpiece. Normally, on wood this filthy, I would use Murphy's Oil Soap: a
solution of it in a bowl in which the mouthpiece would soak for five minutes
or so to soften that gunk. I'm thinking that Cocus or other dense blackwood
can tolerate a brief soaking followed by cleaning with a soft toothbrush. Is
that a good or a bad idea? Other suggestions?
The clarinet needs pads and corks now, but the ones on there are clearly
replacements. (The case is a 1960-ish Bundy case meant for a Boehm-system
clarinet. It doesn't fit this instrument well at all, but fortunately it's
loose rather than tight, since this is a short, high-pitch instrument with a
narrow bore. I'm going to gut the case and re-line it today.) The clarinet
has 13 keys, two rings and no serial number or maker markings whatsoever.
With one exception, the keywork looks exactly like that of the classic Albert
that's the middle instrument pictured on p. 21 of _The Cambridge Companion to
the Clarinet_ (ed. Colin Lawson, in the 1997 reprint edition), in Nicholas
Shackleton's article, "The Development of the Clarinet." The exception is
the G# key, which looks like the one on the Hess clarinet on the right of the
same page, with the little extra flange on the G# lever, to allow that key to
be played with the right index finger.
My other question has to do with the rods. They don't have screw heads.
Instead, the rod itself is bent at a right-angle where it emerges from the
key post. If possible, I'd like a good educated guess as to whether I can
expect these rods to have threaded screw ends, before I try to remove the
rods to do the repadding and oiling. (Fortunately, the clarinet itself is
not in the same dirty condition as the mouthpiece. I think that normal
oiling will do any cleaning that's necessary.) The key action is sluggish
enough to suggest that the old lubricant has dried out, that there may be
some rust or dirt in there, and that I will need to use some pressure to
remove the rods. My instinct is to drip some WD-40 into both ends of the
post-holes, let the oil soak briefly, then first try turning the rod to the
left ("lefty loosey"), on the theory that if it's not a screw, turning it
won't work but also won't damage anything; whereas pulling might strip
threads or break off the bent rod end. However, I'm wary that these rods
might be neither conventional screws nor simple pull-rods. Any suggestions?