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 How to tell a Chedville mouthpiece?
Author: bwilber 
Date:   2006-12-21 13:00

I understand that Chedville made mouthpieces that were sold to Buffet and other clarinet makers. How can you tell a Chedville mouthpiece from any other mouthpiece? Are they worth more if they were made by Chedville? Thanks.

Bonnie Wilber

 Re: How to tell a Chedville mouthpiece?
Author: Vytas 
Date:   2006-12-21 14:21

All Buffet mouthpieces with 1 line up and 3 lines down (including ones with the wider spacing) are made by Chedeville Company. Blanks are very good but they were finished poorly. Older 20s-50s Buffet blanks are made either by Chedeville or Lelandais. These blanks are slightly better but still required a lot of work to play well.

Vytas Krass
Clarinet Repair
Professional clarinet technician
Custom clarinet mouthpiece maker
Former professional clarinet player

 Re: How to tell a Chedville mouthpiece?
Author: Bill 
Date:   2006-12-22 01:03

Aside from 50s-60s-era Buffet stock mouthpieces, Chedeville made a tremendous number of differently-styled blanks. Some with a narrow, completely parallel windway, some with a slight "A" frame windway, some wth a pronounced "A" frame windway, and I have seen some with wider, almost "oval" windways (these tend to be quite old). For a long time, Ched blanks had a numbering system that ran (from those that I have seen) from 5 to 8. Often they had "FRANCE" on the left shoulder, but just as often not. Sometimes they had 1 line up 1 down, some had 1 line up 2 down (Charles Chedeville, "Bonade," etc.), and of course the most easily recognized (it seems!) were the 1 line up 3 down.

I have sought these mouthpieces out almost exclusively. But, lately I have been rather disappointed with quite a number of "Qual Sup" #5-8 blanks, which can be shrill and harshly focused. Recently, I have been getting interested in substantially older blanks, of which I know little and am still learning. I have some clues to the markings on these, but I don't want to sound geekier than I already do.

A great mouthpiece needs something more than just being a Chedeville blank. And, my experience seems to be that after WWII the Ched blanks weren't as mind-blowing as thought.


Bill Fogle
Ellsworth, Maine
(formerly Washington, DC)

 Re: How to tell a Chedville mouthpiece?
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2006-12-31 16:33

Chedeville used 1 and 1, 1 and 2, and 1 and 3 ligature lines at the top-bottom during various vintages. The configuration of ligature lines does not necessarily indicate anything. I do not use ligature lines as a guide to determine vintage or quality in any mouthpiece because it is not reliable information.

Chedeville was around for so long it is important to try to determine which vintage is best for you and then acquire mouthpieces made during that time. (Please note that not all mouthpieces made during a particular time period are of the same material or of equal manufacturing quality).

The better vintages (in my opinion) were the Chedevilles made a long time ago (when they used rubber rod stock) to mill their mouthpieces. Many of the mouthpieces made pre-WWII were made with rod rubber and those often had two distinct logo trademarks imprinted on the right side of the table: “Artistic Facing” and a logo that I would describe as two interlocking C’s. One of the C’s is tall and the other is squat, to combine into an interlocking CC pattern that is just at the base and to the right of the table. A third trademark that was sometimes used was the “Steel Ebonite” trademark stamped either above the top ligature line or beneath the top line, centered opposite the table. I will try to submit a photo in another post.

I have only seen “Artistic Facing” and interlocking C’s trademarks on Chedeville-made rod rubber mouthpieces but I frequently see “Steel Ebonite” associated with molded mouthpieces, so I would discount Steel Ebonite as a definitive marker and put much more value on the other to logos. If you see all three logos together on one mouthpiece, you have great potential but if you see only Steel Ebonite, it is almost meaningless. For example, many of the post-war Woodwind Co. mouthpieces made from molded rubber Chedeville blanks were stamped with the “Steel Ebonite” trademark and they sometimes came with another pseudo-trademark “patent process.” These medium vintage Woodwind Co. mouthpieces could however be quite nice players but in my opinion, they are not golden era goodies.

Premium grade rubber rod was made with a formula and cure-process that proved much more volatile during the cooling stages and therefore would not have been able to mold in an accurate way. The big mouthpiece makers quickly abandoned the rod rubber milling process and adopted a much less time consuming and cheaper process of molding mouthpieces as soon as their technology and budgets allowed. This occurred around the WWII timeframe and shortly thereafter.

I should mention that placing a date on a mouthpiece’s manufacture is very tricky because there are very few records to verify anything. Some catalogues remain and they can help us learn when mouthpieces were available for purchase but that still is not definitive information because mouthpieces could have been made years before they were put on store shelves. For example, Kaspar re-manufactured mouthpieces with the Evette Schaeffer trademark on them during the late 60’s. Does that mean the mouthpieces were made in the late 60’s or the early 60’s when Chedeville fabricated the blanks. Another example would be during the Forties when Lelandais and Chedeville merged, a lot of their inventories merged as well. I am sure there were rod rubber mouthpieces made from the golden era of the thirties mixed in that had not seen daylight due to all the strife of the war and a halt in their manufacturing facilities. So even if these inventories were being sold as new in the late forties, many of their mouthpieces could have easily been made in the early thirties.

When it comes to identifying a great mouthpiece, I look for the interlocking C’s and “Artistic Facing” trademarks. This usually means that the mouthpiece is made out of good material and it is an older vintage, and it is likely to be made out of rod rubber. Those mouthpieces were most likely made during the golden era of Chedeville and typically have the greatest potential to be excellent players, assuming the chamber volume isn’t too big…as is unfortunately too often the case.

Please note however that rod rubber was made in a variety of grades, and Chedeville didn’t use the same grade for all of their best vintage mouthpieces. So even if the trademarks are there, it is no guarantee that the mouthpiece will be great.

Additionally, Chedevilles of many vintages (certainly the older ones) were also made without any trademark or special ligature orientations. They made blanks for many different clarinet makers and mouthpiece craftsmen, and sometimes the trademarks were entirely left out. But in some cases the re-manufacturer of the mouthpiece actually removed the Chedeville logos and put their own logos in place of the previous…as is the case with both Kaspars.

It is important to note that the “Artistic Facing” and interlocking C’s logos did not always appear together and they did not only appear on great Chedevilles. Lelandais, after the merger with Chedeville was also associated with these trademarks. They used remaining mouthpiece inventories made by Chedeville that had already been branded with “Artistic Facing.” This occurred in the forties but it is likely that the blanks were actually made in the thirties.

It is also worth mentioning that during the mouthpiece golden era, because Chedeville made mouthpieces with a wide variety of rod rubber grades and because they were in large part hand-finished at that time (pre-war), quality and consistency was variable.

Much later, Chedeville and Lelandais mouthpieces were branded by the CC and AL logs inside of a crest that was located in the middle of the mouthpiece, between top and bottom ligature lines. They were often accompanied with the “Qualite Superieure” trademark stamped along the right side of the table. But they often didn’t have the QS stamp too. Those mouthpieces along with the Ch. Chedevilles with the scrolling at the base are much more recent representations and were most likely made in the later 60’s. Kaspar used those mouthpieces as blanks in many cases. He also used Babbitt blanks and Riffault blanks and many “finished” (poorly) mouthpieces by Buffet, Carl Fisher, Bundy, and many more, and Frank L. Kaspar even used Selmer mouthpieces from time to time.

If an old mouthpiece has the “Steel Ebonite” trademark it may have been made out of rod stock but it may not have been as well, so I typically discount this trademark as a definitive marker in any way. Additionally it is important to note that many of the newer Woodwind Co. mouthpieces used a “Steelite Ebonite” trademark and they were made either from Riffault blanks or more recently from molded rubber blanks that come from New York Hamburg http://www.nyh.de

New York Hamburg is the same manufacturer of blanks for Zinner, Vandoren, Bari, Woodwind, and many more. They are one of the great rubber companies with a history that goes back to the origins of rubber research and manufacture. I find it interesting that Vandoren mouthpieces clearly state “Made in France” on them but the origin of the blanks that Vandoren uses is Germany. You can even see the Vandoren mouthpieces proudly displayed on the New York Hamburg website homepage.

Babbitt however molds both finished mouthpieces and blanks from their own rubber formula and cure process in Indiana. http://www.jjbabbitt.com

Some of the better known Babbitt made mouthpieces are Gigliotti, and Pyne. Kaspar used some Babbitts late in his career. Many of the Gennusa mouthpieces are made from Babbitt blanks, but I believe they also offer a fine option in a Gennusa Zinner mouthpiece as well.

Babbitt also makes a very popular plastic mouthpiece that is the most common acrylic student option in use today. It can bee seen and heard in the form of Fobes Debut, and Hite Premier to name a couple, but there are many more who use this blank (myself included).

In the end, I feel that in order of importance, a great old mouthpiece, made during the Chedeville golden era, could have the following trademark indicators. Please note that the mouthpiece in question would not usually have all of the indicators, and it may not have any…

H. Chedeville
Ch. Chedeville (block letters, beneath bottom ligature line)
“Artistic Facing”
Interlocking C’c trademark
Charles Chedeville (half round script logo beneath the bottom ligature line)
Steel Ebonite

At this point all bets are off. There are many other Ch. Chedeville logos including the crest with the two C’ and diagonal script “Ch. Chedeville” but these were made much later.

On the other hand, there were many mouthpieces made during the golden era by Chedeville that have a different maker’s logo. But, generally speaking if a mouthpiece branded by a different maker (Bettoney for example) had the “Artistic Facing” and/or the interlocking CC’s trademarks it was made by Chedeville, probably during the golden era and there is a very good chance that it has excellent potential to be a great mouthpiece.

I hope some of this information will help.

Brad Behn

 Re: How to tell a Chedville mouthpiece?
Author: Lelia Loban 2017
Date:   2007-01-01 10:52

>>When it comes to identifying a great mouthpiece, I look for the interlocking C’s and “Artistic Facing” trademarks. This usually means that the mouthpiece is made out of good material and it is an older vintage, and it is likely to be made out of rod rubber. Those mouthpieces were most likely made during the golden era of Chedeville and typically have the greatest potential to be excellent players, assuming the chamber volume isn’t too big…as is unfortunately too often the case.

I'm an amateur, but fwiw-- Mouthpieces with a chamber volume that's "too big" often work very well on clarinets of the same vintage that *don't* sound good with a modern mouthpiece. The wide bore mpcs (not just Chedville blanks but also other pre-WWII mpcs) are often shorter and stubbier-looking on the outside than modern mpcs and will play in tune on clarinets that sound horribly flat or tune inconsistently with the longer modern mpc. I don't know the physics of why that bigger bore works better on older clarinets, but it's definitely true with my 1931 and 1937 Buffets, both of which play well with old, squat, fat rod rubber mpcs but have serious intonation problems with modern mpcs that work well for me on modern clarinets.

To hear the audio, click on the "Scorch Plug-In" box above the score.

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