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 1938 Buffet Crampon - to overhaul or not?
Author: MommaJBird 
Date:   2018-12-29 02:28

I just acquired a 1938 Buffet Crampon Bb Clarinet (serial # 23473) from an estate sale (everything in the house/on the property was sold with the house.

While the case itself is filthy and latches are rusty, the instrument itself appears to be in relatively good shape - dirty, but no obvious cracks, and definitely needs new pads and corks, also, one key sticks (which means it might be a little bent? ). My daughter plays clarinet, so she'd love to have it to play, but is it worth the cost for the unknown playability?

Question is...
Is it worth it to overhaul at $250.00 (base fee, will be more of excessive work is needed) or keep as cool decor?

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 Re: 1938 Buffet Crampon - to overhaul or not?
Author: Tobin 
Date:   2018-12-29 02:41

Absolutely overhaul.

It might be worth more to you to overhaul and sell. But what you're describing isn't, IMHO, "cool decor".

Nice find!


Gnothi Seauton

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 Re: 1938 Buffet Crampon - to overhaul or not?
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-12-29 07:09

The Great Robert Marcellus often played on a 1928 Buffet. During this era the bores were straight. You might have something very special.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

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 Re: 1938 Buffet Crampon - to overhaul or not?
Author: Max S-D 
Date:   2018-12-29 08:15

Definitely worth overhauling!

I picked up a 1948 Buffet recently, so a bit younger than yours. My understanding is that it's pre-R13, but I've seen some reports that Buffet was already experimenting with polycylindrical bores at that point, though other things I've read seem to indicate that these were straight bores. It's different than my modern R13, for sure.

It's an interesting horn, definitely a bit less of a covered sound than my R13, but it can really take a lot of air. The lower register is powerful and the upper register picks up a fun brassiness when pushed hard where my R13 sometimes thins out a bit. That's generally when I'm pushing much, much harder than I ever have or would in an orchestral setting, but I think this instrument will be fun for all of my non-classical needs.

Anyways, it was cheap and I put about as much into getting it fixed up as I did buying it, but all in all, I've got a great instrument for under $600. In your situation, I'd say to go for it! You're probably never going to get this much horn for $250 ever again.

Just make sure to take some time to break it back in. It probably hasn't been played in years and will be all kinds of dried out by now.

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 Re: 1938 Buffet Crampon - to overhaul or not?
Author: Steven Ocone 2017
Date:   2018-12-29 16:43

I can't imagine repairing a clarinet of that vintage for $250.

If you can get it back in shape you may not end up with a clarinet that your daughter can play in band. Tuning may not be consistent and the keywork may not be dependable due too loose posts, older solder joints etc. Otherwise, it could be a fun project.

Steven Ocone
Ann & Steve's Music

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 Re: 1938 Buffet Crampon - to overhaul or not?
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2018-12-29 17:08

I have a 1937 Buffet A clarinet (serial number 21201) which also needs restoring. It has a huge crack in the lower joint. The LH tenon has a hole in it, presumably so that the Csharp/Gsharp tone hole can be in the "right" place.

MommaJBird: These two instruments could make a nice set. If you decide to sell the instrument after all, please email me privately. :-)

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 Re: 1938 Buffet Crampon - to overhaul or not?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2018-12-30 10:00

I haven't tried that many, maybe a dozen or so Buffet clarinets from around that time. So from that pretty small pool, on average, they are not as good as later ones. On the other hand, one of the best clarinets I've ever tried (not just Buffet clarinets, but all clarinets) is one of those. If you have it essentially for free, then it's probably worth it even if it's just an average one.

>> I can't imagine repairing a clarinet of that vintage for $250. <<

Yes, can't tell from the OP, but sounds like maybe the repairer gave them a base cost of a repad.
Did the actual person who would repair it see the clarinet?

If not, I would try to bring so they see it. Also, if the clarinet is at least partly playable, try to check (even very roughly) how it plays and whether it might be worth repairing.

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 Re: 1938 Buffet Crampon - to overhaul or not?
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2018-12-30 11:37

Old clarinets are not necessarily bad clarinets. At that time the quality of Buffet clarinets in general was excellent. This may or may not equate to better than the current crop, but I've played a Buffet from the late '30's that was truly superb by any standard. Unfortunately the owner won't sell it to me. Personally, as long as the mechanical condition is OK I'd take a punt and restore it. Even if you don't care for the result it will be an easily saleable instrument.
From my collection one of the best instruments that I own is a Bb from Louis of Chelsea, dating from 1928. When I compared my brood against a tuner my 1969 R13 came 3rd behind a 1950's Pustophon and the Louis.

Tony F.

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 Re: 1938 Buffet Crampon - to overhaul or not?
Author: MommaJBird 
Date:   2019-03-03 01:09

Just letting ago who were following the thread... I had it overhauled. The only word I have is Amazing. It may not look "shiny and new", but it plays beautifully.

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