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 Conn 424 Albert Clarinet ?
Author: petrosv 
Date:   2024-02-26 00:36

I've seen alot about the praises of the 424 large bore Conn clarinet has anyone played or own the Albert system version? Are these also large bore? I'm contemplating getting one (I have a Couesnon albert) but it needs a complete overhall now sure how much I should pay for it if it's no cracks.

Thanks for any help

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 Re: Conn 424 Albert Clarinet ?
Author: ghoulcaster 
Date:   2024-02-26 01:33
Attachment:  14N v1.png (1201k)
Attachment:  My 14N v2.jpg (122k)
Attachment:  14N v2 announcement 1926.jpg (785k)

If your Couesnon is the common configuration of 4 rings and rollers, a Conn may not be a great upgrade. Those should be pretty good.
I have what I think could be a Couesnon stencil Albert System in C.

However, Conns do seem to be the cheapest way to get a horn with extra keys.
A French Alberts with extra keys are significantly more rare, and expensive.

There are 4 eras of Conn Albert clarinets from what I've seen:
1. Turn of the century: often two rings, made of metal, or "wonder model" a unique Conn system. Often high pitch. Sometimes wood, sometimes hard rubber.
2. 1910ish-1926 most Conn Alberts I see are from this period. Occasionally wood, mostly hard rubber.
3. 1926-1929 refresh that didn't last. Rare. Always hard rubber?
4. 1930-1940? only one basic model, the 344N with 4 rings. Uncommon.

So concerning period 2 the main LP Bb models are:
4N: 5 rings (for fork Bb)
14N: 5 rings, LH Eb/Ab and a fourth trill key for Bb

Period 3, there was a refresh, keeping the model numbers, so I call them v2.
They seem to be discontinued around the onset of the depression. Conn even made Albert system Basses and Altos. Saw an alto on ebay last year, sold for around 300 if I remember correctly via auction.

v2 Changes:
1. register key like a Boehm clarinet, not wrap around
2. The fork Bb has an extra adjustment screw
3. The trill keys are constructed like a Boehm clarinet.
4. LH rings mounted on the left
5. some posts are moved for better leverages
6.The A and Ab key work together with an adjustment screw like a Boehm
7. On the 14N v2, a new fork F/Bb vent mechanism
8. Supposedly redesigned tone holes, etc.

The v1 looks more like the stereotypical Albert, with the wrap around, trill keys mounted like the Albert company in Belgium mounted them, and RH rings on the right side. The v2 was marketed as being more symmetrical and closer in appearance to the Boehm system.

If I were you, and I wanted a Conn for playing, I'd look out for a 14N of either generation, if only for the sake of having more keys.
The Bb trill key is somewhat useful if you get into the habit of using it, the Eb/Ab key can be nice, but the fork Bb ring is super useful and I use that all the time when I have it on an instrument.

A really nice, wood 14N v1 sold for about $130 on an ebay auction this week.
Last year, I won a 14N v2 in need of a complete overhaul last year for around $60!
My Conn hasn't been attended to yet, so I can not speaking to playing characteristics... ;)
Keep your eyes peeled, the models with less keys but still 5 rings often go for peanuts.

Serial numbers for reference (shared with saxophones) mine is 1926 I believe.
The 14N v1 that sold on ebay this week is 1919.
17,800 1910
21,200 1911
22,500 1912
25,000 1913
30,000 1914
35,000 1916
40,000 1917
50,000 1919
58,000 1920
64,000 1921
83,000 1922
101,775 1923
124,600 1924
145,400 1925
167,900 1926
193,450 1927
209,250 1928
224,600 1929
237,800 1930
244,700 1931
249,230 1932
256,501 1933
260,000 1934
263,500 1935
271,000 1936
278,000 1937
284,000 1938
285,000 1939
288,300 1940

Post Edited (2024-02-26 01:46)

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 Re: Conn 424 Albert Clarinet ?
Author: petrosv 
Date:   2024-02-26 18:56

Thanks for that great info. My Couesnon is 4 rings no rollers so maybe an older model? It does sound very good, not as big as a Buffet Albert I once played (that had 5 rings I believe no rollers) so was just curious if a big bore Conn might have a large sound than the Couesnon but I'm happy with it it has new leather pads some super glued bell cracks and only cost me $115 on eBay

I used to see Buffet Alberts on occasion in the late 2000's but seems like nothing comes up anymore...

Reply To Message
 Re: Conn 424 Albert Clarinet ?
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2024-02-26 22:29

Thanks for the great observations, ghoulcaster!!

I've never seen the Conns broken down into different eras in this way. Great to know! Thanks for sharing!


Reply To Message
 Re: Conn 424 Albert Clarinet ?
Author: ghoulcaster 
Date:   2024-02-27 01:27
Attachment:  Bechet Blue Note 1944.jpg (27k)
Attachment:  horns.jpg (503k)

Always happy to see discussion about vintage instruments on this forum, wish there was more interest.

I believe Sidney Bechet used a Couesnon on the famous "Blue Horizon" for blue note in 1944. There are pics from this session, I'll attach one-- looks like a Couesnon to me.
Another angle on the pic in the video:

My main albert is a Buffet that showed up on ebay last summer. All sorts of interesting things still show up on ebay if you are patient.
Buffet Alberts in both Bb and A are apparently the most desirable horns for Greek music (like Selmers in Jazz), so they go fast and sometimes for too much money IMO. You also have to be careful, because many HP instruments Buffets specifically are not marked as such!
Do you play Greek music Petros? ( I am just a lousy jazz player myself).

Apart from the Conn, these are the coolest horns (second picture attached) I picked up over the past two years L-R:

1. old, 8 key Nach Meyer flute, listed on ebay a week or two ago as "antique clarinet" $50 buy it now! Never played flute, but I couldn't resist. Needs some pads and should be good to go!

2. 1912 Buffet 5 ring LP Bb. was in a double case with a HP 2 ring Thibouville in A. Seller accepted offer for $600 and I had it restored by Jeremy Soule.

3. c. 1910 Penzel Mueller 6 ring LP A. Estate seller on ebay accepted offer for $400, plays well as is, but needs a longer barrel.

4. 1952 Selmer Centered Tone Full Boehm Bb was $700 buy it now.

5. 1929 Conn 14-Q "military system" LP English Horn. Was $400 buy it now, just about the only price at which I'd ever afford an English horn! Pads mostly good.
Open tone holes for glissandos like a clarinet!
Surprised that it appeared to be a Kohlert stencil upon inspection. Conn made oboes in the US, but not English horns I guess.

Aside from the extra keywork on Alberts discussed previously, the Buffet has a mechanism connected to the register key that lowers the front rings. This allows one to play altissimo C# with only the thumb (like playing C on boehm). This is a really cool feature and, along with the patent C#/F# mechanism, is one of the few technical advantages over the Boehm.
Enhanced Buffets are the only French Albert I've seen with that mechanism. A lot of German and German influenced designs have it (like my Penzel Mueller, for instance). I believe Oehler clarinets still have it as well.

Secondly, The tab soldered on the G#/C# key is great for trills, but it can actually be used to play from B/E (a situation when both pinkys are occupied) to G#/C# by rolling up the right hand index finger and hitting it in a way similar to the throat A key. Slide down off of it is even easier.

One final digression, those old large bore Selmer Boehm clarinets like that CT are often cited as being among the most difficult clarinets for smaller hands to play because of the large tone holes, them being inline, etc.
However, in this side-by-side pic, you can see how much more demanding the hand spreads for the Alberts are.
I'd venture that I am a man with slightly above average sized hands, and the CT is no problem at all, but the old system instruments can really be a stretch for me.
The same for the left hands of that flute and especially that old English horn.
The LH stretch for the index finger to move between the plates is ridiculous, I can't imagine there is worse out there on an instrument designed for human hands.
Maybe some crazy Baroque bass instrument or something.

I'd have to imagine that a large portion (if not the majority) of women and children would simply not be able to play these instruments as-is, certainly not comfortably.
I think that that playability factor is something not discussed as much as it should be when discussing the evolution from simple system instruments to Boehm and conservatory system.

Sorry for another long-winded post, I hope it was at least somewhat informative ;)


Post Edited (2024-02-27 01:37)

Reply To Message
 Re: Conn 424 Albert Clarinet ?
Author: super20dan 
Date:   2024-02-28 19:22

try the bohem 424 conn-it will knock your socks off

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