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 old Buffet Albert in the key of?
Author: klook 
Date:   2010-10-12 00:07

Okay I just got this small shipment of clarinets from a friend. Just some stuff he "laying around", nothing I would be very interested in he tells me but I can have them to mess around with.

Well in this bag (yes a plastic bag with tape to hold it shut) was a very old Buffet Albert clarinet. No cracks, needs new pads, plus two old MPCs one wood, one hard rubber.

The clarinet is interesting of course because the wood is drop dead gorgeous, and I LOVE old Albert clarinets, but get this: its not a Bb.

My first guess based on size is a C (I know its not an Eb because I own an old Buffet one of those).

But the thing that gets me is the serial number , which is 581D.

A clarinet in the key of D would be closer in size to an Eb right? And this D in the serial number just signifies something else?

Anyway I'm curious what ya'll think. I don't want to blow in to it until I can get some oil in the bore, it looks hella dry. And I'm gonna rebuild it of course.



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 Re: old Buffet Albert in the key of?
Author: klook 
Date:   2010-10-12 01:12

I should add two things:

It measures 20 1/4" (approx) without the MPC

and it has no rings on the top section, and two on the bottom, no rollers of course.

String on the tenon joints too!

I just stripped it down, looks amazing, I think its gonna come out really nice!


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 Re: old Buffet Albert in the key of?
Author: susieray 
Date:   2010-10-12 01:35

It's probably in the key of C based on the length. The D in the serial number has nothing to do with the key.

Based on the serial number it's made in 1890, quite an oldie!

Post Edited (2010-10-12 01:35)

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 Re: old Buffet Albert in the key of?
Author: Jack Kissinger 
Date:   2010-10-12 01:52

The key might be on the front of the upper joint. Do you see the letters LP or HP anywhere? (But sounds like a C to me as well.)

Best regards,

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 Re: old Buffet Albert in the key of?
Author: klook 
Date:   2010-10-12 01:56

I don't see anything on the clarinet except for the serial at the very bottom joint, and of course the Buffet emblem on the pieces.

I imagine it might be HP but oh well! We'll find out when I get it back together and play it.



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 Re: old Buffet Albert in the key of?
Author: ned 
Date:   2010-10-12 09:08

klook says: ''....and it has no rings on the top section, and two on the bottom, no rollers of course.''

I would say that this horn is more accurately described as a ''simple'' system rather than an Albert.

Albert system instruments employ more rings and have rollers as well. How many keys does it have? I'd hazard a guess and say 12 at the most. My Buffet Albert (circa 1918) has 14 keys, 4 rings and 4 rollers.

THe Cambridge Companion to the Clarinet, Lawson, Cambridge University Press 1995, states that...... ''Instruments of this type were ubiquitous well in to the twentieth century popularly known as 'simple system' in Britain and as 'Albert system' in the USA''. This citation refers to Figure 2.3 (b) where the instrument pictured has features of both systems, that is, there are rollers, but only 2 rings and (although the picture is somewhat unclear) seemingly, a total of 13 keys.

My understanding is that the word 'Albert' has crept in to popular parlance to describe non-Boehm system instruments, in general terms of course, notwithstanding the plethora of systems which have emerged from around 1835 or thereabouts.

Albert is something of a misnomer in any event, as the 13 or 14 key, roller version clarinet is probably more accurately described as a 'Muller' system.

I have a small collection of simple system clarinets too....................which I look at from time to time.................they are not all that easy to play due to the primitive setup.

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 Re: old Buffet Albert in the key of?
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2010-10-12 16:40

Look on the bell, just above or below the logo. If it's stamped HP, it's at high pitch, which means it can't be used with modern instruments. You want to see it stamped LP. However, not all older instruments are stamped.

There's a store in NYC that has a 90-year-old high pitch Buffet in C that they claim is in D and want big bucks for. I brought in my C clarinet and a tuner and showed them that it wasn't in D, but about halfway between C and D -- that is, a high-pitch instrument in C. They said they didn't believe me. Damn fools. Too bad, too, since it played really well.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: old Buffet Albert in the key of?
Author: Lelia Loban 2017
Date:   2010-10-12 18:03

Though our contemporary perspective on HP clarinets is that they won't play with modern clarinets, some of us who've picked one (or six...) of these look at them the other way around: Modern clarinets won't play with *them*!

To hear the audio, click on the "Scorch Plug-In" box above the score.

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 Re: old Buffet Albert in the key of?
Author: klook 
Date:   2010-10-12 18:18

Yes I agree, I've got another old "simple" system clarinet in Eb from Carl Fischer that is HP, and I kinda hope this new find of mine is HP as well so i can use them together!

It does seem that people lump the Alberts with the earlier systems. I've just been guilty of this. Its something I knew but always just called anything that wasn't German or Boehm the "Albert" clarinets.

Okay, simple system (or Mueller) it is!

I actually don't think they are that hard to play once you get used to them, I spend most of my time doing actual playing on Alberts and simple system clarinets, although I work on alot of Boehms too.

I just like that something special the older, simpler clarinets have. Thats just me.


PS There is no marking of HP or LP on this clarinet

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