A question of worth of vintage gadgets. And the really new.

I did a Google search and found your site. I am trying to find out the value of a Leblanc Stubbins clarinet, serial # 61855 which my mother purchased for me new in 1969 (I think) but unfortunately it needs new pads. Fortunately the wood is in great condition. Can you help me? Thanks, B

For those that may not be conversant with the history of different configurations of keys on the Boehm System clarinet, that is to say the conversion from the Boehm system, originally for the flute, that history is long and complex though the results are scanty and are largely not of musical significance.There are many reasons for the addition of any complexities to those in the fingering of notes on the instrument. Some are actually made out of some physical infirmity on the part of the inventor. For instance I played in the Boston Arts Festival Orchestra some years ago and the second clarinetist had an arrangement that he made himself in order to play with a numbingly arthritic right hand.
Others with more imagination and a considerable desire of achieving some sort of immortality within the world of the clarinet devise contrivances in order to ameliorate a bad situation within the scale, for instance the throat Bb. Two of these are Rosario Mazzeo, inventor and patent holder for the Mazzeo System of achieving Bb wherein an articulation was made that opens the third trill key with the A spatula making the most acoustically perfect Bb readily accessible. Many made the decision to acquire this system, which was only available on the Selmer Clarinet, the uniqueness of the availability was its failing . Players like to pick from different instruments, and the availability of the Mazzeo Bb only on a Selmer clarinet made the change prohibitive. There was really no other drawback than that of brand , and because the demand was modest the maufacture followed suit and there were not that many clarinets available to try.

Another device to ameliorate this throat Bb was that mde by William Stubbins of the University of Michigan, and through an addition hole being drilled in the acoustically perfect place for the Bb achieved that note rather easily, however the adjustment was one drawback, and the clarinet was only made by Leblanc and only on a few of their instruments.
Selmer on their first Omega clarinet had the same general type of system, however it has long been lost in the sands of clarinet history.
Actually the most interesting system of fingering was made by Selmer in the Marchi System, which actually enable the player to add a full octave to his available range.The case of the Mcintyre System is somewhat strange because the two brothers devised a system of playing the throat notes with combinations of the left hand rings, a complicated system which finally bankrupted the company after the two invested their entire worth.

The worth of any of these instruments is deidedly intrinsic, though a new looking Marchi might fetch a pretty penny by a collector of these.
There is a small device made now by the Runyon company which adds a tiny outcropping of the second ring of the left hand which enables a relatively easy Bb by using only the seond finger of the left hand and is easy to use , uncomplicated, and is available at a price of only 18.95.
No system of fingering fixes anything. The music comes first, the sound of the instrument second and down the line is how to finger your clarinet.
The system of learning to play the clarinet is much more simple than that of the piano, because there is so much more music written for the piano than the clarinet or any single-line woodwind instrument.
But rather than mastering all of the many works for the clarinet, most clarinetists concentrate on the sound they make and the various contrivances that may make a difference, available only to them, that is to say if they remember exactly how they sounded prior to adding the time-consuming elements of clarinet, mouthpiece, reeds, ligatures and makes.
No new contrivance that one tries necessarily makes a difference, however the newness of the contrivance confuses the ability to discern.And many think that new “thing” is better.
This discernment actually makes a difference only after an interval of the passage of time, that interval dependant upon one’s experience.

Now there has been one person of whom I know who actually changed and improved the clarinet significantly, on the very same system, keys and availability, with the addition of a price which places the instrument within anyones grasp.Under one thousand dollars.
Mr William Ridenour, better known as Tom is a designer of clarinets, having designed the universally accepted and respected Leblanc Opus Clarinet, and several other Leblanc instruments, the Sonata 1020 and effected the rescue of the L70.
His invention has been to make the bore readily tunable and within the ability of just about any clarinetist. His Ridenour Instrument is totally even in tone quality,therefore easy to play, especially on the embochure, made of an indestructable material and costs ( I believe) under one thousand dollars. That material is natural hard rubber, hardly an invention for rubber has been around for years, however his reboring has made the definitive clarinet, regardless of your particular rubric.
I would be remiss as a mature professional not go include this clarinet, the Ridenour Clarinet, because I have found it to be an amelioration of the many problems found on most clarinets.
Time and time again I have played my other Clarinets(which include Selmer, Leblanc, Yamaha), only to return to the Ridenour instrument,. He must have the best ear and the best ability to change the bore to accomodate tuning and timbre of any of the many craftsman.
I mention this becuase I believe that he has been ignored by people within the industry that could help but have chosen to ignore. Reason? Mostly financial, I would think. But nevertheless his instrument, Arioso, Lyryque have the best sound and response of any instrument made and designed within the US.
If you play this lovely instrument of ours, it will behoove you to investigate this instrument. William Ridenour will answer all of your question personally, with honesty and the integrity of the clarinet designer who has achieved more than any other.

stay well and play well.

Sherman Friedland


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: