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 E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: ThatPerfectReed 
Date:   2011-06-08 14:53

Ok..here goes... : - )

Has anyone seen, or know of a repair tech who retrofits hardware on a Buffet R13, that allows the normally right pinky E flat / A flat key to ALSO be actuated with the left pinky?

I do appreciate that Buffet and other clarinet makers have such keys on some of their clarinets. Ridenour Clarinets indicated to me recently that they soon intend on making this an option.

And yes--to some extent I agree with any potential naysayers who say "suck it up and switch pinkies on the B / E keys, or for that matter, the C / F keys, midnote, to line yourself up for a right pinky E flat / A flat."

But I am also open minded to consider good technology that can make our already challenging instrument easier to play.

Thanks in advance--fellow clarineters!

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2011-06-08 16:08

You could have something like this that I made and fitted to a Peter Eaton International which works pretty much like flute trill keys or oboe feather keys and can be done with hardly any modifications made to your clarinet (no extra holes drilled, no extra pillars fitted or any other keywork modifications made to the existing keywork) as the original LH F/C lever can be put back on at any time (please excuse the out of focus photo):

http://www.clarinetperfection.com/galleryclar/Keywork/CP1/01.jpg

I first saw a double LH F/C and Ab/Eb key like this on a Buffet - the original key was kept and the double one was made specially for it.

More photos can be found here if you scroll down to where it says 'Keywork Modifications':

http://www.clarinetperfection.com/clAltKeywork.htm

Chris.

Post Edited (2011-06-08 16:10)

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: ThatPerfectReed 
Date:   2011-06-08 17:44

Thak you Chris for your kind, prompt, and informative reply. : - )

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Clarimeister 
Date:   2011-06-08 18:11

Hey Chris how does one go about modifying that Eb key? are there any instructions and parts you may provide anywhere? Thanks.

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2011-06-08 19:15

You will have to make them from scratch as there's nothing as far as I'm aware available to buy as a finished product, but you should be able to either buy or salvage/scavenge the parts to make it with.

The first thing to do is get a piece of 2.4mm or 2.5mm steel to make the shaft from. This is drilled and countersunk at both ends and mounted between the existing point screws as the original LH F/C lever was.

You then need tubing - either brass or nickel silver tubing with the same internal diameter as the steel and an outer diameter of around 3.6mm. This is to make the three sections of key barrel from.

You also need a piece of 2.5mm thick nickel silver sheet to make the linkages from - the F/C linkage can be copied from the existing one and the new one to lift the Ab/Eb key will have to be made so it fits and makes contact with the underside of the Ab/Eb cup arm (which you'll stick a piece of silencing material to later on). You don't need a spring for the LH Ab/Eb lever, but you will have to make and hard solder a spring cradle on the LH F/C linkage which will be in the same distance from the end as the original key.

The touchpieces can either be bought new from the maker (if they will supply them) or salvaged from scrapped clarinet keys which will need some modification so they don't make contact with each other along the sides when in use.

Check the fit of each piece but leave the key barrels slightly long as they can be fotted once all the touchpieces and linkages have been soldered on.

Hard solder the touchpieces and linkages to the key barrels and fraise the ends down so all the key barrels fit on the steel when it's between the pillars. You can check how much you need to shorten the LH F/C lever key barrel so the touchpiece is in the correct position so it's neither too near the C#/G# key or too low so the LH F#/C# touchpiece tip collides with it and fraise back the lower end of the key barrel so the new LH Ab/Eb touchpiece isn't too close or too far.

Once the LH F/C touchpiece is fitting right, you have to then pin it to the steel so it's fixed solidly as it has to actuate the linkage at the lower end (which is also pinned to the steel). Drill a 1.1mm hole perpendicular to and all the way through the key barrel and steel, countersink the top side of the hole and tap it out with a 12BA tap, then screw it together with a 12BA screw (or similar size tap and screw - but no more than 1.2mm in diameter or the imperial equivalent).

Then do the same with the F/C linkage piece once it's in the correct position and use two pinning screws on this for security. To be sure neither the F/C touchpiece and linkage piece barrels move during fitting and drilling, squeeze them slightly with pliers so they grip the steel firmly and won't move unless you have to move them.

Once it's all done, you'll have to paper it up, polish it and then have it plated to match the rest of the keywork, then you'll need to refit the parts again once plated due to the thickness of the plate, so ream the insides of the barrels out so the LH Ab/Eb key spins freely on the steel but making the F/C touchpiece and linkage piece barrels a nice tight fit on the ends of the steel.

Chris.

Post Edited (2011-06-08 19:41)

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Wes 
Date:   2011-06-08 19:25

Beautiful and artistic work, Chris! You are valuable to the clarinet world!

There is probably a market for this key with all the R13 owners in the world. However, I played a Buffet with the alternate key for 40 years, but now with a 2005 Buffet R13, I survive well without it.

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Grabnerwg 
Date:   2011-06-08 19:26

That looks (and sounds) like a very neat piece of work, Chris. Congratulations! Can you tell us the amount of actual working time you had to put in to accomplish this modification?

Walter Grabner
www.clarinetxpress.com
Mouthpieces, barrels, and Buffet clarinets

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2011-06-08 19:37

I tried it out on my plastic Yamaha first (photos are further down the same page as the Peter Eaton International along with the oboe photos) but it's reasonably straightforward if you have all the gear ready to do this kind of work. I also made and fitted the LH forked Eb/Bb mechanism to the Yamaha - I had this in mind for my 1010 but someone bought it off me before I had the chance.

I think it took somewhere around 12 hours maximum from start to finish - I didn't keep track of the time, but I'd suspect it's around that as it was nearly two days work.

I wrapped the original key up in acid free paper and tucked it into the case lid cushion so the owner of the Peter Eaton can always have it put back on at a later date if she wants to: http://www.clarinetperfection.com/galleryclar/Keywork/CP1/20.jpg

Chris.

Post Edited (2011-06-08 19:46)

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2011-06-08 21:48

George Opperman (Kal's brother) did this modification. I played one at Kal's workshop and loved the layout. Of course you can't slide off of it as you can with the usual placement, but then you don't have to. Concentric rods for the two trill keys are standard on even the least expensive flutes, so the design should be reliable.

Mazzeo created a complete duplication by including the C#/G#, which was operated by Ab/Eb key. It was insanely complicated and made the Ab/Eb key action very heavy, even on his hand-made "personal" model.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2011-06-08 22:14

Thanks for that info, Ken. I wondered what the extra linkages from the Ab/Eb key were for on the full Mazzeos but couldn't really see too clearly from the photos. They had the LH low Eb lever as well which was also fitted to Selmer basset clarinets.

With the LH Ab/Eb repositioned below the LH F/C touch, there is a fair amount of movement in the touchpiece compared to the short, snappy action of the LH F/C touch.

Chris.

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: ThatPerfectReed 
Date:   2011-06-09 02:25

This is just great info! I really appreciate people's replies.

Even if I never implement it, I find it interesting.

Chris: people would pay money to watch a video of your work!!

Ken: (With humor) If the great Kal Opperman were alive today, and we showed him this instrument modified by his brother, a part of me thinks he'd yell at us, and ask us to name any piece of music for our instrument, for which MORE PRACTICE, not more hardware would solve the problem.

We might retort "the opening of the cadenza in Messenger's Solo de Concours" in which case Kal would get his left pinky Ab /Eb absent clarinet out, blaze through this passage at incredible speed to prove us wrong, and insist we practice more, and complain less!

===========

I must say, I am impressed with the forethought of virtally all the manufacturer's implementation of just such a key on the models they have out which offer it, be it for example, Buffet's higher end models (my brand--R13, not Tosca), or say Morrie Backun's clarinets. They've put the key close enough to reach, and yet out of the way enough so you don't "finger confuse" it with the existing keys operated by the left pinky.

(http://www.backunmusical.com/clarinets.html)

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Clarimeister 
Date:   2011-06-09 07:56

Chris. Thank you very, very much for the info. Maybe someday I could duplicate this. You don't take orders do ya?  ;) That is a great mod though!

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2011-06-09 11:35

The main problem with making something like this for commercial purposes for a specific make of clarinet is that it will still need fitting by a repairer as it may not fit on all the instruments it's designed for - it will fit to some degree but will still need some fine adjustment to be sure it fits properly (as is the case with any new key) and also still allows the original to be replaced if requested.

The kind of adjustments that should be expected (which apply when any new key is fitted) are countersinking the ends so the point screws don't bind or countersinking the point screws further into the pillars if it's loose between the points - and also shortening the overall length if it's too tight a fit between the pillars.

Howarth also fitted this same style LH Ab/Eb lever as an option when they started making clarinets again back in the early '90s, but later went for the one resembling an oboe d'amore LH F key that runs over the top and along the outside which Buffet and others fit as they still retain the standard LH F#/C# levers and F#/C# linkage arms instead of differently shaped ones.

Chris.

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2011-06-09 17:04

I've fitted the more traditional style LH Ab/Eb lever with the touch in the usual place to my Yamaha alto clarinet - based on the LH Ab/Eb lever fitted to Yamaha basses.

The new Ab/Eb lever shares the same pillars and screw as the LH E/B lever (but mounted on a separate short key barrel) and a new cranked linkage piece had to be made and soldered onto the Ab/Eb key barrel. I used a Buffet nylon pin in the end of the Ab/Eb lever to connect it with: http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/download.html?1,2091/AltoClarEbLever.jpg
(I've polished it up since these photos were taken)

But this one requires more surgery to fit and also if it has to be removed to restore the instrument back to its original form.

Chris.

Post Edited (2011-06-09 17:08)

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Paul Miller 
Date:   2011-06-10 04:37

I think RDG had ordered some left hand Eb/Ab keys from Buffet. I'm not sure if they have them in stock though, probably worth calling them up though.

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: ThatPerfectReed 
Date:   2011-06-11 14:16

Other than the Tosca, is anyone aware of which Buffet clarinets of their current offering come with, either standard or as an option, this key?

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: ThatPerfectReed 
Date:   2011-06-11 14:21

Wait, I think I have this.

Standard on the Tosca, Festival and Vintage, optional on the RC, and not available, at least as Buffet OEM, on the other models.

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2011-06-11 14:40

The LH Ab/Eb lever is optional on the (non-Prestige) R13 and RC A/Bb clarinets - not available on C, D or Eb clarinets.

Chris.

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: ThatPerfectReed 
Date:   2011-06-11 23:51

Thanks for the clarrification Chris. I got my info from Buffet's US website.

No doubt do I believe your information more timely. : - )

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: DD 
Date:   2017-11-25 12:19

Hi Chris, I'm an amateur clarinet/ oboe/ flute player. I have been researching about options to retrofit LH Ab/Eb level to my old SML Lemaire clarinet and bumped into here. I am interested in the project you did on the Peter Eaton clarinet. Would you help me to do it? Thanks in advance!

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 Re: E flat / A flat left pinky key retrofit
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-11-25 20:23
Attachment:  P4280003.JPG (715k)
Attachment:  P4280002.JPG (709k)

Hi Desmond - I fitted a LH Ab/Eb lever to a Selmer Signet clarinet at the owner's request.

I mounted the lever on the LH E/B lever (the upper of the two key barrels) due to the room there and made it like the trill keys with a telescoping key barrel. I had to solder a linkage piece on the Ab/Eb pad cup for the end of the lever to engage into.

See attached photos and ask any questions you need to and I'll help you with any of the finer details.

Chris.

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