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 Grinnell Detroit clarinet
Author: kcarlee 
Date:   2010-10-16 15:11

I have a Grinnell Detroit clarinet in a Penzel, Mueller box that I played back in the 1960's, It was tarnished then and I'd like to know how old it is. Can't find anything online. Says made in germany

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 Re: Grinnell Detroit clarinet
Author: clarinetguy 2017
Date:   2010-10-16 16:53

When you mentioned Grinnell's, it sure brought back old memories! I remember when they were one of the major players in the music business in the Detroit area. There was a large downtown store along with many branch locations. It was a popular place for students to get instruments. Although my first clarinet wasn't purchased there, I bought a lot of sheet music and method books from them over the years. It was sad when they closed in 1981 or so, but they had been on the decline for a while. There are still a lot of Grinnell Bros. upright pianos out there.

Although my memory might be faulty, I seem to remember a lot of young clarinet players in the 60s getting Conn clarinets from Grinnell's, a major Conn dealer. It's possible that Conn manufactured some clarinets with the Grinnell name.

For whatever it's worth, I remember going to an excellent elderly repairman when I was young. He always had great stories, and he frequently talked about the quality of Conn clarinets in the "old days." He worked on every type of clarinet, and he said that in the early years of the 20th century, Conn made the best clarinet out there. I'm not sure if he was right or not, but I do remember reading once that the clarinetists in the Sousa Band played Conns (if I'm wrong, please correct me). He said that Conn cheapened their instruments over the years, and by the 60s, he thought they were nothing special.

There have been other discussions over the years about German-made Conn clarinets. It's very possible that this is what you have. Here's an old link:

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 Re: Grinnell Detroit clarinet
Author: clarinetguy 2017
Date:   2010-10-16 20:45

An interesting link about the rise and fall of Grinnell's:

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 Re: Grinnell Detroit clarinet
Author: kcarlee 
Date:   2010-10-17 11:51

thanks for the info, there is no conn on the instrument -a number
9169 above made in Germany, also the second piece from the top down from the mouthpiece is shorter than other clarinets.

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 Re: Grinnell Detroit clarinet
Author: kcarlee 
Date:   2010-10-18 15:54

I took the clarinet to Marshall Music in Lansing MI. said it was a no brand from the 40's. (Grinnells probably put their name on?) That if I put $300 dollars in it it would still not sound good. The barrel joint is shorter. Said it was only good for sitting on a shelf. I also have a Selmer 100 from about 1996 which is in very good condition. They said that was definately the better instrument. Too bad, but I remember the band teacher making me pull my barrel joint out farther on the grinnell so I must have been flat or sharp? My aunt who was a band instructor sold the grinnell to my parents for $25 back in 1961. It was tarnished and ugly and now to find out it was pretty inferior no wonder I didn't want to keep playing it. Seems like she would have given me a better instrument.

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 Re: Grinnell Detroit clarinet
Author: SteveG_CT 
Date:   2010-10-18 16:44

Having a shorter barrel doesn't mean it won't play well, just that it has a different accoustical design than the typical modern boehm. Keep in mind that the Yamaha CSG uses a 56mm barrel and is considered to be a pretty good professional-level instrument.

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 Re: Grinnell Detroit clarinet
Author: clarinetguy 2017
Date:   2010-10-18 20:19

Thanks for sharing the rest of the story with us. It's too bad that you had to play on such a lemon back then, but it's possible that's all your parents could afford. In those days (which I do remember), when a gallon of gas was about 20 cents, a loaf of bread about a quarter, a clarinet method book about a dollar, and a new car about $2,600, $25 was a lot of money. It's good to hear that your Selmer is a nice instrument.

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 Re: Grinnell Detroit clarinet
Author: stevesklar 
Date:   2010-10-20 20:19

Grinnell - I bought my Buescher french horn from the closeout sales at the Oakland Mall, Troy, Michigan store. Must have been about 1982/3.

Stephen Sklar
My YouTube Channel of Clarinet Information

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