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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000604.txt from 2002/06

Subj: [kl] Same barrel on Bb and A
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 17:15:37 -0400

Walter Grabner wrote,
>My experimentation over the past year has led me
>to belive that you can use the same barrel on both
>Bb and A, for SOME pairs of instruments. I am lucky
>enough to be able to do this, with a bore I designed
>specifically for my own clarinets.
>However, it does not seem possible, at this time, to
>reproduce that "success", if you want to call it that,
>for all the various combinatins that are out there at
>this time.

Interesting that it ever works at all. I'm glad someone made the suggestion,
since (as mentioned elsewhere) I'm plotting an escape from the attic. The
idea of being able to swap the whole barrel- mouthpiece assembly at once is
very appealing (and wasn't possible between the 1958 Conn Bb I used as a kid
and any clarinet in A that my schools owned), because I'm too much of a klutz
to take the mouthpiece off the barrel without moving the reed; and I don't
want to grab the other clarinet with a mouthpiece already in place and find a
dry reed. Sure enough, the barrel of my 1931 Buffet clarinet in A appears to
be identical with the barrel from my closest match and favorite Bb clarinet,
a 1937 Buffet.

These two clarinets have somewhat different keywork and the intonation issues
are a little bit different from one to the other (the clarinet in A has a
one-piece body, which means a better G# / C#), but they make an excellent
pair, with matching tone quality. I already did prefer the same mouthpiece
on both of them (hard rubber with no markings, probably from the 1930s).
They both play best with the same reeds, too. Well, whaddya know! The
barrels *are* interchangeable. The color of the wood is different enough so
that I won't mix them up in the cases, but I can't hear any difference in the
tone or the intonation. The fact that this swap works, even though these
clarinets were made several years apart, may mean that other old pairs from
the same manufacturer and of the same generation could match up, too, even if
the clarinets weren't made as a set. Worth checking, anyway.

I tried swapping barrels between this clarinet in A (the only one I own) and
some other Bb clarinets. As Walter Grabner's caution would predict, not one
of the other swaps worked. Some of the barrels had tenons of sufficiently
different thickness or length to make the swap impossible; and none of the
swaps that were possible sounded acceptable. The intonation of the throat
tones suffered the most. The second most common problem was an ugly-sounding
combination of muffled, weak tone quality on clarion D and E, with a raw,
loud, "honking" tone on clarion long C and B. In the past, the same problem
has alerted me to a tiny pad leak getting started, or a hairline crack in a
mouthpiece, so I suspect that in this case, it resulted from the inside
diameter of the barrel bore being too different from the inside diameter of
the top of the upper section. Anyway, it was an interesting experiment and
has given me some flexibility I didn't expect!



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