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 Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: jack 
Date:   2019-03-08 11:23

I really like the dense tone that Emma Johnson gets on her Peter Eaton Elite Model Clarinet. The tone is so heavy and broad you could almost put it on a scale and weigh it. I wonder if anyone with experience on the Elite Model Clarinet she plays would think that the instrument has something to do with her tone? Plus does anyone have an opinion on the merit of the Peter Eaton International Model Clarinet versus the Elite Model?
I realize these clarinets are regrettably no longer in production.

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: Late_returner 
Date:   2019-03-09 02:28


Not exactly what you want, but perhaps close-ish.

I have a PE International Bb which is just lovely and the best soprano clarinet I have ever played. Never played an Elite, but I did have a 1010 - both are wide bores and the 1010 is commonly thought to have been the model that the Elite is based on.
(Although I seem to remember PE says that he designed both his models to develop on what he had learned making English sound clarinets.)
The 1010 is a great clarinet but I would not now go back.

Hope this may help.

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: jack 
Date:   2019-03-09 10:11

Thanks Late,

Hope to find one (International) someday.

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2019-03-09 15:40

The International is more like the B&H 926-type clarinet and they have the same bore and tonehole layout as the other B&H clarinets apart from the 1010 (which is what the Elite is based on).

So if you can't find an International, you could get a B&H 2-20/Edgware or Emperor in the meantime or if you don't mind a plastic version, then the 1-10 or Regent with a serial number above 200000 will be alright.

As for the 'English' sound, I recommend you listen to Jack Brymer's recordings.


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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2019-03-09 21:09

Just switching off B&H 1010s I've played for several years, and tried an Elite at Peter's home a few years ago. The sound is quite close to 1010s, though the tuning is a lot better. The mouthpiece makes a huge difference, though. The Jack Brymer English sound is certainly possible with them, and easy to get with the right mouthpiece, but both Peter and Ed Pillinger also make mouthpieces that will give you a more German or American style sound. At least to my ears, Emma Johnson's sound, which I like quite a lot, is more in the second than the first category. You could put her in a lot of U.S. orchestras and she'd fit in quite well.

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: Late_returner 
Date:   2019-03-14 22:21

Hi Jack

You will be interested to know that Peter Eaton has written an article on the evolution of his models in the current issue of the CASSGB mag. Spring 2019 vol 44.1

Perhaps you are a member ? But if not I believe you can access it as a non member on the cassgb web site anyway.

Best regards

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: smokindok 
Date:   2019-03-14 22:40

jack said:

"I really like the dense tone that Emma Johnson gets on her Peter Eaton Elite Model Clarinet."

I also play a lovely Peter Eaton International, and I have been called "dense", but I don't think that helps you :-)

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2019-03-15 13:55

I was playing Eaton Elites on my debut CD English Fantasy.

Peter Cigleris

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: Hurstfarm 
Date:   2019-03-15 18:16

To pick up your original question, I’m sure that Emma Johnson’s instruments are a factor in her sound, and the vocal quality of that sound and her use of vibrato are in the English wide bore tradition. That said, players tend to sound a lot like themselves when trying out different equipment, so the extent to which sound is a product of the instrument or the player will always be a subject of vigorous debate! Also, the differences may be more apparent to the player than the listener - as my wife (a musician with a good ear, who I sometimes subject to blind testings) would confirm!

As a student I became the owner of a pair of B&H 1010s just before they went out of production, selected by my teacher (ex-military and Philharmonia Orchestra) who loved them. I stretched my budget and bought an Eaton mouthpiece, followed about 15 years later by a pair of Elites. They had all the qualities I liked in the 1010s but with better intonation and added power. Having tried many other instruments (and I no longer use the Elites exclusively), for me nothing else has offered quite the same warm, velvety quality in the sound.

Peter Eaton clarinets rarely come up for sale second hand, but Peter’s website suggests that he still has a handful of used Elites available, although I’m guessing probably not for long.

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2019-03-17 08:25

Just one thing about the Emperor and Edgware mentioned. I've tried a couple of those (maybe two Emperors and one Edgware... if I remember) and they couldn't be more different from the Eaton International. The Eaton is especially "open", particularly in the "bad" notes (e.g. throat notes). The Emperor and Edgware were just the opposite, really lacking in "openess" and "clarity" for lack of a better way to explain it. I'd rather play a student Yamaha than those (and they were in good condition after repairs, one even completely overhauled).

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2019-03-18 02:18

Whereas The Elite developed initially as an evolution of the B&H 1010 there is no relationship at all between the Eaton International model and the B&H 926 based models excepting that the physical keywork is styled and built on old B&H factory jigs.

The International was derived from the idea to provide a model that recreates the sound as nearly as possible of the large bore Elite but that worked well with the standard French bore mouthpieces that a great majority of clarinetists use.

The bore of the International at 14.8 mm is considerably smaller than 926 models which are 15.0 mm
The tone hole sizes and positioning is unique to the International which also has undercutting. There was rarely any undercutting on the 926 models, and in all the professional level 926s I measured, if undercutting ever occurred, it was only on one or two holes.
The 926 based models had strictly parallel bores, no top end cones at all, and strictly should be played with a specific 926 bore mouthpiece, although generally one could get away with a French bore one.

So it should be no surprise that the Internationals feel and sound quite different to the B&H 926s.

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: Morrigan 
Date:   2019-03-19 15:13

Jack, I was at Emma’s house yesterday and alerted her to this thread! She’s very flattered by your comments about her tone, and recommends contacting Peter Eaton directly as he’d be very happy to answer questions about his instruments. I believed she used to word “obsessed” to describe him and his craft!

Principal Clarinet, Central Band of the Royal Air Force, London
Masters Graduate, Royal College of Music, London

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: donald 
Date:   2019-03-20 10:57

I've often wondered how the Howarth clarinets fit into this puzzle... I know they're not wide bore clarinets, but they ain't Buffet "pea shooters" either...

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2019-03-20 22:16

Howarth S1 and S2 clarinets have a 14.75mm bore and the S3 is 14.65mm.

Perhaps the older NS1 clarinet from the late '40s has a wider bore and I suspect it was based on the Louis Chas Draper model (as Howarth took the baton from the Louis company), which were based on Martel clarinets.


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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: donald 
Date:   2019-03-20 22:33

Thanks for that info, but there are a lot of other factors involved other than bore that can affect playing characteristics (as the Eaton "International" model shows us). Anyone out there who has compared them to the 10-10/Eaton models etc?

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: John Peacock 
Date:   2019-03-21 02:42

Donald: at various times I've performed on Buffets, 1010s, Eaton Internationals, and Howarth S2s. I found the Howarth most 1010-like: not a great deal of resistance, but able to produce a sound that combines purity and power. The Eatons I found better suited to chamber playing than orchestral: I found it hard to keep the sound warm at high volumes. But a proper comparison with 1010s is hard because you can't use the same mouthpiece. I think the Howarths are great, and I'd encourage anyone who gets a chance to get hold of one. Their main drawback is that the plating quality wasn't as it should have been, and there is often above-average wear.

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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2019-03-21 21:09

The plating problems were down to the platers they used at the time - they should have had a minimum of 25 microns of silver on their clarinets (and pro level oboes), but it turns out one of the plating companies Howarth used wasn't doing anything near that (and probably less than the 12 microns specified for student level instruments), but the plating company still charged them for the full 25 microns. Other problems were poor adhesion between the copper flash and nickel flash, so plating would peel off and others had too much current used so the ends of the keys were rough.

And another plating company (also no longer used and I hope they've gone under) did a lot of poor work as time went on, sometimes adding far too much copper instead of a copper flash which left the keys far too big and with an uneven finish (I had some side keys on my CT A clarinet replated by them and I had to file all the plating off so they didn't contact one another). The last straw was when they lost and destroyed several sets of keys for top level oboes and also customer instruments that were having their keywork replated.

They have since been using another company that does a fantastic job, but it's too late as clarinet production had pretty much ended by then as how can they compete if people keep on buying Buffets?


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 Re: Emma Johnson / Peter Eaton Clarinet
Author: jack 
Date:   2019-03-22 09:53

Hello Morrigan,

It is so cool that you visited with MIss Johnson and that she is now aware of this thread. Thanks for your very thoughtful message.

And yes, I have spoken with Mr. Eaton over the phone (I'm in Pasadena, CA). He was very happy to answer questions and discuss his clarinets. But, alas, they are no longer in production. It seems he may have a very small stock of new Elites, but I could not talk him into selling one. He is saving for his own purposes. I have asked him to let me know if a used one comes to his attention.

Please let Miss Johnson know that I really admire her work very much and am amazed and astonished that she chose to play songs associated with Omer Simeon, Sidney Bechet and Benny Goodman on her latest album!

Oh and let her know that I am taking lessons with Helen Goode, a marvelous teacher that came up with and is a peer of Miss Johnson. So we have that connection.


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