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 1954 Buffet Alto Clarinet Pads & Keys
Author: Klarnt 
Date:   2024-01-12 11:53
Attachment:  measurements.png (14k)

Hello. Im a little embarrassed to ask a couple of repair questions again but Im at a point where doing so might be the second wisest thing to do. After a busy semester I jumped right back onto my project. Recently however my friend and I ran into some troubles involving pads and keys. To knock two birds with one stone:

1) Any clue how I can at least estimate the pad heights (mm) of an 1950s Buffet Alto before ordering pads? What I assume to be the original pads are bloated and has an annoying layer of glue messing up any hope of an accurate measurement. Ive done my best to get a range from the edge to the middle but it makes ordering pads a precarious situation. If possible Id like to replace them with synthetic pads.

2) Thoughts on sandblasting solid nickel keys?
My friend and I spent a solid amount of time polishing these wretched things just for it to start tarnishing an ugly yellow in a matter of a few days. A repair tech in another city suggested to give it a satin finish. The keys will never stay shiny for long and I dont like dealing with fingerprints anyways. Im also acquainted with a guy who might be able to lacquer it.

I have a new found appreciation towards the work repairmen put into instrument repair. Woodwinds are more intricate than I thought. As a player I never gave it much thought until I worked on one. So much goes into the design of these systems.

edit: I apologize for accidentally bloating the front board. I was just proof reading before posting and was trying to attach a screenshot. I have no idea why it posted my drafts before I hit "post" but Im not trying to spam the BBoard! Now Im double embarrassed.

Post Edited (2024-01-12 12:05)

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 Re: 1954 Buffet Alto Clarinet Pads & Keys
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2024-01-12 18:06

With low clarinets, a good rule of thumb is to set the pads as high as you can go without being excessive (in other words as high as you can go without grinding off metal or using paper thin key corks). Alto clarinets especially need all the venting they can get, for some reason many manufacturers set the pad heights too low from the factory which doesn't help with the reputation of alto clarinets as a whole... If unsure, it's better to have them set too high than too low.

Older Buffet alto and bass clarinets work best with thin pads for everything from RH3 up and thicker pads for the Ab/Eb key down. Generally I get the best results when using Ferree's B32s on the upper end and Ferree's B42s (which are actually sax pads) on the 5 or 6 largest pads.

For synthetic pads, I would probably either use Valentino .110" Greenbacks or Master Series pads on the upper end and Valentino bass clarinet pads for everything from the Ab/Eb key down.

I would probably not recommend sandblasting or lacquering nickel silver keys. Personally I like leaving them as is and letting them get a nice patina, but if that's not your style I would send them to Anderson Silver Plating and have them plated in silver. It will be a few hundred dollars, but you will have a very nice looking horn when you are finished!

Best of luck getting it fixed up, these older Buffet alto clarinets are great players!


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