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 Old Buffet
Author: John 
Date:   1999-09-19 22:49

I was given an old Buffet this week. I play a decent R-13 from the late 60's. I have a Bb/A set of Albert Buffets from the about 1918. I expected this one to go in storage like the Alberts, but it plays very nicely! The serial numbers are 99.5 % gone. The left hand joint has a major crack, which has been filled and pinned. A silver band has been installed at the top of the joint in connection with that repair.

The design of some of the keys (referring to Dee's post of March 5) points to an older instrument. The register key curves towards the front. However, the thumb key does not have a depression carved out of the wood. It has the ring on the left ring finger key and the large open hole "pancake" key for the middle finger. It also has the little key that moves with the middle finger key.

I'm guessing that, without a clear serial number, this clarinet is an example of the transition from Albert to Boehm? Whatever is the case, it sure has a sweet sound, not stuffy at all.

Any thoughts on a date for this Buffet?

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 RE: Old Buffet
Author: Mark P. 
Date:   1999-09-20 01:52

I have an Downbeat magazine from 1937 that has an ad for Buffet clarinets and shows a Boehm clarinet with a wrap around register key. So at least as late as 1937 you could get this style. The other ring is an extra that produces a better Eb/Bbm, the 17/7 seems to have been popular in the 20s and 30s.

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 RE: Old Buffet
Author: Brent 
Date:   1999-09-20 02:29

I have a Buffet A clarinet which matches yours except that the register key is straight (has the same crack, too! but no band). It dates from 1901 (a "P" serial number).

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 RE: Old Buffet
Author: Dee 
Date:   1999-09-20 03:41



John wrote:
-------------------------------
... this clarinet is an example of the transition from Albert to Boehm?

-------------------------------

The Albert and Boehm systems were developed at about the same time. The Albert did NOT transition into the Boehm. Initially the Albert system was the more popular but in many parts of Europe (especially France) and in the Americas, the Boehm system steadily gained ground and pushed out the Albert system. Meanwhile, the Albert continued to develop in countries like Germany and became the Oehler system.

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 RE: Old Buffet
Author: Don Berger 
Date:   1999-09-20 15:22

Yes, as Dee has said, there have been so many developments, some really "inventions" to my way of thinking, others merely minor modifications and "idea-combinations" [called agglomerations in "patentese", that is nearly impossible to simply define "transitions". See the above posts on "Systems" for research reading. Yes, I have seen cl's like what you describe in museums, and nearly bought a pair at an estate auction, where I gave up bidding too early, dern it. As to date, I'd guess not before 1880 and not later 1920, how about 1900? Don

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 RE: Old Buffet
Author: Doug P 
Date:   1999-09-20 15:25

Brent's dating is correct for your clarinet also...1900-1910. I remember seeing this type of clarinet many years ago used by an excellent player and recently passed up one at an antique shop because it was also labeled H.P. By the way, the "pancake" key for the second finger of L.H. which looks like the padded yet open key of a French style flute, was called years ago a "doughnut" model.

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 RE: Old Buffet
Author: Ken Shaw 
Date:   1999-09-20 18:45

John -

You almost certainly have a Boehm system instrument. The sure way to tell is to look at the keys for the right little finger. The Boehm system has 4, with the Ab/Eb and F/C side be side and then the F#/C# and E/B side by side and lower down.

One of the common additional keys for the Boehm system is a ring for the left ring finger which also closes the pad above the left middle finger, giving a "forked" Eb/Bb. However, the fingering needs additional venting, since it is flat with just the middle finger hole open. On modern clarinets, there is a tiny additional hole just above the left middle finger ring that opens on the forked fingering. The "doughnut" key does the same thing without the extra hole. However, it's heavy and looks odd, and requires a flute-type pad, which clarinet repairers are not used to working with.

On instruments of this vintage, the serial number was stamped very lightly with small numbers, so they're all hard to read. The number should be on the back at the very top; of the upper joint and the very bottom of the lower joint. It usually helps to take an old toothbrush and a little water to get any crud out of the impressed numbers. Also, the numbers are more visible when wet, and of course you should look at it in the brightest light possible. Once you figure out the number, there's a chart here on Sneezy that will date it for you.

The old Buffets have a wonderful tone, but there is often so much bore erosion from years of swabbing that they don't play very well in tune.

Best regards.

Ken Shaw

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 RE: Old Buffet
Author: John 
Date:   1999-09-21 02:48

Thank you all for your help and comments. I played the buffet tonight at community band and even sight-read a couple solos with the band while using it. Of course, some of the clarinet players wondered what the odd register key was, but they like the "tight" sound it produced. I hate to think that the bore might be OK from lack of swabbing! Yuck!!

Thanks, also, Mark C. for this wonderful forum!!

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