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 Independent makers
Author: Catwinds 
Date:   2014-08-11 22:44

Could anyone give a list of independent clarinet makers or at least name a few (aside from S&S and Hanson).

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: James S 
Date:   2014-08-11 23:15

Schille (Sweden)
Chadash (USA)
Steven Fox (Canada)
L Rossi (Chile)

Those are 1-man gigs, if that's what you want

James
Owner, James' Clarinet Shop
www.jamesclarinetshop.com

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2014-08-11 23:15

Funny thing is that NOW anyone willing to shell out the money for a CNC machine can build their own custom clarinet.



Luis Rossi
Guy Chadash
Foag
Bernd Schille
Backun


......the list keeps going real........




............Paul Aviles



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 Re: Independent makers
Author: James S 
Date:   2014-08-11 23:17

Hey Paul!
I know for a fact that Schille and Rossi don't use CNC machines. I know Backun does.

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: Catwinds 
Date:   2014-08-12 00:05

Thanks a lot guys. How about other small companies like hanson.?

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2014-08-12 00:20

Peter Eaton

Peter Cigleris

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2014-08-12 00:34

If Rossi and Schille do not use computerized lathes then they are only making themselves unmarketable in today's plethora of clarinet makers that can crank out more clarinets that are more consistent than any fabricators of the past could. It is really a good thing. A technology that I praise, unlike smart phones and IPads.


Oh yeah.......Gerold.






..............Paul Aviles



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 Re: Independent makers
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2014-08-12 06:40


From conversations with Rossi, he made it clear to me that making money comes secondary to making great clarinets. He's been approached by companies wanting to mass-produce his instruments and offer them "off the shelf," but he's turned them all away.

(Whether a CNC machine produces better individual clarinets is another question. I, for one, doubt it.)

And yes, he suffers financially because he doesn't spit them out, but how many other makers with CNC machines would or could offer 5+ bore styles plus reformed Boehm instruments, customize them to individual tastes, then back up their instruments with individualized attention for years and years after the sale?

He does it for the love of it, not for money, that's clear. In fact, what he produces IS "unmarketable" in the sense that we think of it.

Between having to wait for a year or two for an instrument, and then not being able to choose from multiple examples of the same model, but buy the instrument based on the integrity of the maker, most players will go elsewhere. But, everything else being equal (which it certainly is not), who would you rather buy an instrument from, a maker like Rossi or Schille or a company like you-know-which that won't fix things when the plating on the keys starts flaking off after a month or the joint cracks the day after the (short) warranty expires?

In short, money isn't the basis for everything...as long as you don't want too much of it...and it shouldn't be. I'm glad that makers like Schille and Rossi stick to old ways.

Sorry for the ramble. It's my advanced age.

B.

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: ruben 
Date:   2014-08-12 09:02

JL clarinettes in France, that I work for. There are quite a few makers in Germany that have started to make Boehm-reformed clarinets.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: ruben 
Date:   2014-08-12 11:24

Dietz Klarinetten was the German brand that I had in mind. It's a two- man operation: father and son. They make fine clarinetes and are absolutely charming people. Many of the independent makers in Germany are former employees of Wurlitzer. Mr. Joye of JL that I work for, was in charge of production at Leblanc and Selmer. I might add that some of the builders that have been mentioned do not make everything from A to Z. They have a lot subcontracted (usually keywork, but sometimes more. So independent, but not that independent. The German makers usually do know how to do everything.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2014-08-12 12:52

You'll hardly find someone who does "everything" from A to Z. You usually "3rd party" stuff from someone specialised, from pads to key plating. If someone's really good at eg soldering keywork to specs, why not let manufacture there?
A two man shop just isn't big enough to do everything, else the instruments would be next to unaffordable.

--
Ben

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2014-08-12 12:52

You'll hardly find someone who does "everything" from A to Z. You usually "3rd party" stuff from someone specialised, from pads to key plating. If someone's really good at eg soldering keywork to specs, why not let manufacture there?
A two man shop just isn't big enough to do everything, else the instruments would be next to unaffordable.

--
Ben

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: ruben 
Date:   2014-08-12 13:22

Tictabus: I agree: what difference does it make if part of the work is subcontracted to somebody else? There's a limit, though. If all you do is assemble the instrument and touch it up a bit, is it really yours? JL does everything (the owner, not me. I only make the coffee-and not very well!), except makes the pads (we even sometimes make the pads!). The German makers doe everything too, but usually there are about a dozen people in the workshop.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: ErezK 
Date:   2014-08-12 18:42

There are at least two makers under the name Hammerschmidt in Burgau.
Years ago I had the chance to try a Frank Hammerschmidt and I thought it was an excellent clarinet.
By S&S did your refer to Schwenk & Seggelke ? those I had the chance to try them a month ago and they are very impressive. Jochen Seggelke is a fascinating person when it comes to discussing music, as well as business.

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: clarinetguy 2017
Date:   2014-08-12 21:43

Very interesting discussion. I had no idea there are so many small outfits producing clarinets. I can think of two that are still around, Howarth and Taplin-Weir, that at one time made clarinets, but no longer do so (unless my information is incorrect).

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: fskelley 
Date:   2014-08-12 21:51

So where does Tom Ridenour fit into this list?

Stan in Orlando

EWI 4000S with modifications

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2014-08-12 22:30

He'd be the next one mentioned. And a fine clarinet maker he is.







................Paul Aviles



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 Re: Independent makers
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2014-08-12 22:59


Well, Tom doesn't actually manufacture his clarinets himself. He farms that job out, then tweaks them to his quality level.

B.

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2014-08-12 23:02


Ben, I don't know about other makers, but everything on Rossi clarinets is done in-house by about five people. Nothing is farmed out, from plating to padding.

B.

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: sax panther 
Date:   2014-08-13 00:12

Marvent is one I recently came across.

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: clarinetist04 
Date:   2014-08-13 00:57

Bruce said:

"(Whether a CNC machine produces better individual clarinets is another question. I, for one, doubt it.)"

Why do you doubt it?

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2014-08-13 03:21

Clarinetist04,

Because I'm not convinced that the differences in the tolerances obtainable between CNC and traditional tools is enough to significantly affect the playing characteristics of the instrument; that CNC provides instruments that "play better" for a given design.

B.

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: HANGARDUDE 
Date:   2014-08-13 03:37

Martin Foag and Wolfgang Dietz in Germany, they make diverse ranges of clarinets, both German and French. Foag also makes a huge range of metal clarinets.

Josh


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 Re: Independent makers
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2014-08-13 03:51

When I worked with Peter eaton everything was done in house with just 2 exceptions
1. Initial (undersize) pilot bore of upper and lower joints blanks was gun drilled by a specialist firm.
2. the silver plating was contracted out.

Staffing was Peter full time assisted by his wife in the later assembly/test stages stages plus 2 part time.

Just normal lathe tooling - no CNC, though tone hole positioning was semi automated.



Post Edited (2014-08-13 03:53)

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2014-08-13 06:06

Tom Ridenour DOES design his Clarinets, and gives the manufacturer HIS specs.

He doesn't just get a Clarinet from a company, and tweak it, it IS his design.

fact.

http://www.MyTempoMusic.com

http://www.skypeclarinetlessons.com/about.html


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 Re: Independent makers
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2014-08-13 06:58


Never said it wasn't his design, just that he doesn't manufacture it.

It certainly is his design...and I own 3 of his clarinets (low C bass, Libertas, and C), so I'm a fan.

B.

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2014-08-13 07:08

Cool Bruce!

I had just wanted readers to know that he didn't just label his instruments and do tweaks to an already existing brand.

Wasn't aimed at any posters.

http://www.MyTempoMusic.com

http://www.skypeclarinetlessons.com/about.html


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 Re: Independent makers
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2014-08-14 00:37

In Boston, Mass., Yuan Gao makes clarinets. Jonathan Cohler uses his barrels and H. Karlsson in Carrollton, Tx. distributes a range of Gao instruments.

I'm not sure of the details. Gao does work directly on the clarinets and they are his design, not just something off the shelf.

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2019-03-11 01:31

Just a bit of perspective, as someone who spent much of his life designing devices/apparatus/etc that require precision manufacturing.

Manufacturing started out as a craft...many just made functional objects (shovels, dishware, etc). Each one was unintentionally unique, so there were good ones and bad ones.

Artisans (just convenient terminology) made more complex objects that required precision, design, and often specific materials (e.g. blackwood). Their objects were often intentionally unique, but with some 'natural' variation that depended on their precision capability.

Manufacturing began when demand for specific objects exceeded the capacity of craftspersons. Machinery was designed to replace labor for specific components and controlled precision...keep in mind that 'precision' at any level still involves natural variation.

What CNC has done for industry is to allow the "specific" machinery to be emulated by a software-defined tool by being able to program an operation to be executed in three-dimensional (3D) space...like slicing, machining, grinding, polishing, cutting, laser-engraving, etc...

CNC allows designs in (nearly) arbitrary material sets to be replicated to very high tolerance, and has moved design to a more important place than manufacturing (which previously limited the complexity of objects to be replicated because of cost of the tooling, which now can also be fabbed by CNC).

This has freed up clarinet designers like Ridenour and Backun to experiment with new designs and contract to have them made. Today the biggest limitation on both the designs and the ability to execute on them is wood, which adds variation (Buffet is the best example of the unintended variation possible with wood). They are both experimenting with alternative materials....currently, mostly molded plastics, but I believe that the future will lie with fabricated preforms to gain access to superior materials with 'directional' properties (e.g. stiffness of the column, while avoiding things like the circumferential variation of mechanical properties of wood from grain direction issues.

As a physicist and materials scientist (past life...) I remain unconvinced that the difference between wood and properly engineered materials. By pretending to deny it, Buffet has successfully demonstrated that engineered materials (Greenline) can be accepted...it is hard to argue that any powder mixed with epoxy can be considered 'wood-like'; once Buffet runs out of their significant (I'm guessing) collection of scrap blackwood, they will switch to another filler material to add to their carbon fiber and epoxy matrix.

If you stop and think about it, historically wood was used because it was a convenient source of machinable, long sticks of solid material; one can argue about the wood in instruments where it is a resonant, radiating element (stringed instruments, percussion, etc...), but not woodwinds where the body of the instrument is a simple resonator for the air, not a radiator.

The predominant issue is that wood clarinets came first, and plastic clarinets were created because molding techniques made it a very inexpensive method. Straight bores and toneholes and old designs were used for most of these instruments. However, in the early 21st century, both Ridenour (hard rubber TR147 plus follow-ons) and Vito (the last ABS 7214s and V40s) demonstrated that very respectable instruments could be made.

An engineered material combined with CNC manufacturing of the very best designs could likely create a highly stable instrument that performs among the best. This could still be 'hand tweaked' with undercut reamers and custom barrels, etc, but would never warp or crack, and be drop proof (except of course the keywork alignment. There are an increasing number of keywork solutions available, although they do somewhat dictate tonehole placement.

I would love to see someone copy the Yamaha Custom SE and CS bore designs, for example, in a carbon-fiber loaded material (or HR) with the properly satisfying density and surface finish...many composite choices already exist that would work for clarinet 'blanks'. Right now all we have are the Ridenour designs which are naturally small-bore, small tonehole designs.

...end rant



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 Re: Independent makers
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-03-11 03:18

Dear shmuelyosef,


The most current Buffet Greenline R13 has made me a complete believer. The issue with wood is that it settles and continues to alter its form AFTER manufacture and finishing. This I believe is the main issue that I had experienced with Buffet over my decades of heartbreak with them (probably a result of less stable "cooked" billets rather than being able to allow them to cure better over time).


The carbon fiber suggestion sounds intriguing. I threw that out there concerning keys in another thread, though the problem there would be that the heights of rings (for example) would ONLY be able to be addressed through changing the thickness of pads (as opposed to judicious bending). The clarinet body itself makes more sense as a target for more modern materials.




..............Paul Aviles



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 Re: Independent makers
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2019-03-11 07:13

Backun has their carbon fiber clad instruments--"features a body crafted from carbon fibre with an exotic wood core." Haven't seen one, let alone played it, but someone who did said it was quite resonant and, well, loud. "A giant leap into the future . . . and beyond." Think about that for a second! 11K a pop.

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2019-03-11 08:41

What's an "independent maker," by the way? A shop owned by someone who actually gets his hands on some instruments? Or did at one time? How many apprentices/employees makes you dependent? There seems to be an idea that Buffet and Yamaha are "factories," and their instruments are therefore not "handmade." That's probably not entirely accurate or helpful.

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 Re: Independent makers
Author: Luuk 2017
Date:   2019-03-11 14:51

During my visit to the Leblanc factory in France, in 1995, I witnessed the complete manufacturing process. Every step included interaction of an employee with the machines used. The bore was made by hand-pushing a pre- drilled wooden cilinder over a rotating drill. Next, the tone holes were drilled one by one using a master stencil (is this the correct word?) in form of a massive aluminum clarinet joint with small holes located at the equivalent positions of the tone holes. With help of a feeler mechanism the holes were drilled.

The undercutting was done by putting a rotating thread end through the tone hole, receiving it with a small conical mill held in place using tweezers. Then the rotating thread was pulled up, thus removing a wooden cone from the inner side of the joint. I'm not sure what mechanism restricted the amount of undercutting.

I expect normal variance or repeatability could be up to +/- 0,1 mm, for each step involved.

Thus, it was necessary to finish all clarinets by hand at the end of the process. And some (10%?) were sent back for rework.

Now, it is not 1995 anymore, but have a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31KR46tCucI (published 2011).

Interesting observation was that finished clarinets had not been played up to that moment. Professional clarinetists visited the factory now and then to play test the top line models, after which they were released for sale, or again sent back for rework.

So what is the difference with small workshops? Maybe not much in terms of production facilities/machinery, but maybe more with respect to the knowledge and craftmanship of the worker. The latter could limit variance while using the same machinery.

Now my question is: how important is variance of +/- 0,1 mm? I know no two clarinets of the same model really are the same (feel, sound, intonation). However, this creates a choice for musicians. The same argument as I heard a Vandoren importer use: when all reeds are the same in a batch, chances are no reed is useable for a given musician.

Regards,

Luuk
Philips Symphonic Band
The Netherlands

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