Old Conns and Marching

Dear Mr. Friedland,

I have Conn 424N B-flat, judging by the serial # it is around 55 years old. It has been in my wife’s family for most of it’s life, if not all of it. My 6th grader has been using it in band and has just broken one of the key springs. I contacted Woodwind and the Brasswind in South Bend, Indiana (I was pleased to see you referenced them in one of your other articles) and they quoted $175 for a re-pad/re-cork and $30 for a re-spring. Is this Clarinet worth the cost of the repair and if so in your opinion was is the value of this clarinet. The wood is in good shape but a little dull, what do I use to polish it? Is there anything else you would recommend doing for this to bring it into fine shape? I am also looking into getting a Selmer Bundy 577 Resonite for here to learn on and keep the Conn 424 for later as she gets better and more responsible. She may also use the Selmer in marching band as I just read that you do not recommend using a wood clarinet for marching band.

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Hi Chris:
in general, this is not considered a fine clarinet or even a better clarinet, however without trying it really no one can say for sure. It depends upon how much wear there is, the working quality of the mechanism, the bore dimensions, and the pitch of the instrument.
These are mutually exclusive from the prices quoted for the repair which is simply similar to an auto repair. You pay for the work, and hopefully you get your money’s worth.
The only thing you mention being wrong is the spring, so why do a mini-overhaul?
Take my original words about its quality…or send it in for an appraisal, which is more money.
Clarinets, especially Conn clarinets do not appreciate.
The Bundy plastic clarinet is an OK student instrument, and that is all. Its value is purely intrinsic.
If one plays a wooden clarinet in a marching band, one marches in the weather which occurs , which depends on the climate.
If a small child marches with wood or metal or plastic it doesn’t much matter, unless of course she trips and falls on the instrument or someone else does. It also depends upon how clean and dry the instrument is kept; If you march in inclement weather you are in a problem zone with a wooden clarinet. In short unless one is playing in say, the Army Band, or the Field Forces Band, one is risking all kinds of things.
It really comes down to how serious the person is and how well they play. A new student does themselves no good marching with an instrument, the opposite is more apt to occur.
good luck, sf

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