Author Topic: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)  (Read 337 times)

Offline windydankoff

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G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« on: March 17, 2019, 07:26:47 AM »
I just got a G clarinet with Boehm system keywork. It’s on eBay, described as "French clarinet G Key Hard rubber”.  (They use the term French to distinguish it from the German system keywork that is normal on G clarinets.) I think it just came out in recent weeks. It appears to be from the same Chinese maker as the C clarinets that I have been fine-tuning. This maker has been selling German (Albert) system G clarinets for some time, so-called Turkish clarinets. They DO have the acoustics worked out. 

Why a G?  As an improvisor and by-ear player (as well as reader), G is a practical key because the low register is in C. It is a wonderful complement to my C clarinet that I play on an equal basis with my Bb.

Mine arrived in just a week, and it played right out of the box. BUT BE WARNED – It's not a mature product. The bell on mine WAY too short.  I pulled the bell out until it nearly fell off, then secured it with electrical tape (for now). Now, it's in tune basically and the 12ths are very good. Thumb Bb was fairly bad. I was able to improve it, much to my relief, but it took a day of experimenting.

It has serious keywork and ergonomic issues, and about 8 holes to retune. It's been a major hacking project, but I got it working with a few days of serious shop work. Simply said, they are dumping their prototypes on eBay. I expect it will be improved over the next couple years, (as the C were). Being an avid instrument hacker, I took a chance on this one, and I've succeeded in making it play wonderfully.

This G horn is not like an alto clarinet. It sounds much closer to a Bb or A. The bore is similar. It takes a standard Bb mouthpiece. I had trouble at first with my favorite Bb mouthpiece. It felt resistant and had trouble with the notes that are typically weak on most clarinets. I switched to my previous favorite MP, a Noblet or Vito FRANCE 2V vintage MP. It improved everything.

Ergonomic issues are not bad if you are over 6 feet tall with fingers to match. I am 5'8" tall, size-L hands. I reshaped the bottom R-hand keys to move them downward. It took lots of metal trimming and epoxy work to reshape the keys. I also formed my own thumb rest. I’ll put up some photos. The action of bottom keys needed a lot of fine tuning, but it came out fine.

I'm very happy now with this new instrument. It has three unusual mechanical features that you can see in the eBay listings. Somebody put serious effort into this design. I think it's on its way to becoming a good product. Meanwhile, I'm the first on my block to be playing one!

REF:  A German production version of a Boehm G clarinet is shown here:
https://www.thomannmusic.com/martin_foag_g_clarinet_model_85_isa_pini.htm
It's a lot different. Some Italian ones have been offered, but they aren't shown on the web sites.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2019, 08:59:14 AM by windydankoff »
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Offline Dibbs

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2019, 04:59:10 AM »
Thanks for the review Windy. 

I've been sort of tempted by those recently.  After your review I don't think I'll bother. 

Here's another non-chinese Boehm G from Ripamonti in Italy.

https://www.ripamusic.com/en/prodotto/315-ebony-g-clarinet-by-l-a-ripamonti/




Offline Airflyte

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2019, 03:25:55 PM »
Yes, thanks Windy. I still like these for the price.
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2019, 01:34:19 PM »
Some photos here!  I did a huge amount of work on this. A month-long obsession. The R4 keys (Right pinkie) were hard to reach because of the stretched hand position. I modified and extended them using epoxy putty. The bell I lengthened by 20mm! You can see in the first picture where the joint shows about 1/4 way down from the top ring. The joint is where I spliced a section of another bell to this one, after cutting both off on the lathe.

« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 10:00:20 PM by windydankoff »
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2019, 03:23:01 PM »
Looks great!

Question - what's the third post on the lower joint for? There doesn't seem to be a key in it.
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Offline jordan.1210

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2019, 04:39:22 PM »
If you look at the listings on ebay, I think the third post was for a LH pinky Eb key.
I spend way too much time looking at instruments I probably shouldn't be buying.

Offline windydankoff

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2019, 04:48:54 PM »
Correct. I removed it because it was adding friction (needed work) AND I would rather not get accustomed to it because I would reach for it on my other horns that don't have it. I have more to say about unusual keywork in the upper joint ...
« Last Edit: July 04, 2019, 07:50:55 AM by windydankoff »
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2019, 08:49:31 PM »
Notes on mechanism:
The upper joint has a 3rd ring, to actuate Eb/Bb, so-called forked fingering. This is a feature normally found on "Reform Boehm" clarinets.

The little extra pad attached to 3rd ring allows the ring to be placed higher, so there is no stretch-challenge on the L hand.

The double RH F/C key pad cups are to vent (or effectively 'unfork') the G/D, so when playing that note, there isnt a closed tone hole immediately below the active one. This is an unusual feature on a Boehm clarinet. But, it is inherent on German system clarinets. Illustrated here in this German G clarinet:
http://www.dietz-klarinetten.de/low_g_boehm_eng.html

I think its needed because the bore is small and nearly straight in that area, like the German system instruments, and seems to need more venting. To confirm, if I close the extra hole,  the G/D goes half-dead.

These two extra features are well designed and constructed, and work very nicely except the extra spring action is a bit excessive. I loosened springs all over this horn, to make it feel normal.

The left-hand low-Ab/Eb (extra) key is the only part of the keywork that was not well implemented. It was adding friction even to the normal right-hand key. Rather than refine it, I removed it. I dont want to get accustomed to it and then find it missing on my other clarinets.

Total length with MP originally 78cm.  80cm after I extended the bell.

I use a neck strap because my right thumb was starting to get sore at the first joint, from the weight. I made a deluxe thumb rest, from epoxy putty.

Pads are double-skin, with the two skins bonded together. They seem to be good tough pads. I replaced one leaky one, and found it labeled on the backside:  Lucien Deluxe - same brand as the leather pads on the Chinese C clarinets (they have been flawless).

I was wondering what European importer or designer has made this product possible. I don't know, but I searched and found the same horn sold in Bulgaria. This fellow shows a branded stencil of the Chinese G clarinets in both wood and hard rubber:
http://folkmusic123.com/clarinets-1.html     scroll to bottom

or another source in Bulgaria:
http://gemamusic.net/product/2814/sol-g-klarinet-clemens-schnider-wood.html

The "Clemens-Schnider Germany stencil seems to be fictitious they spelled the name wrong! Google finds no such company, even when Schneider is spelled correctly! So I still have no clue who designed it.

Youtube has music on G clarinets, mostly WILD ethnic stuff!

But first, watch how this wizard Jared De Leon converted the German (Albert) version of this G to a semi-Boehm. Brilliant! and he demonstrates the sound very well, in a classical context. Thank you Jared!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvavGoOsTmg

Ill note here that it helps to try a variety of mouthpieces. My vintage Vito or Noblet FRANCE 2V MPs work very nicely. Some other MPs I tried have lots of resistance, or other mismatch issues.

I opened the bore slightly in the top half of the barrel. This made the tone beautiful, and improved throat tuning. I enlarged the hole in the register key stem and more about that later. I shortened the barrel top a bit to eliminate an air gap all to get a good thumb-Bb.

Even unfinished, I performed several songs in Sabbath service last Friday night, and got several compliments! The contrast with the C clarinet is dramatic and wonderful.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2019, 07:47:58 AM by windydankoff »
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Offline jordan.1210

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2019, 11:30:50 AM »
As a collector of clarinets and other instruments, these Chinese clarinets really interest me because they are affordable, decent quality, and in some harder to find tunings. Thank you for your reviews of this and the others. Thanks to you I got one of the C clarinets and I really do enjoy playing it.

When I found this searching ebay it immediately sparked my interest because it's a G Boehm (prefer Boehm over Albert/Oehler since I know it better), it has some of the features found on my full Boehm (forked Eb/Bb and LH Ab/Eb) that I really enjoy, and it has the double F/C mechanism. I'll probably hold off for a while to see if they iron out some of the issues that you mentioned.
I spend way too much time looking at instruments I probably shouldn't be buying.

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2019, 01:49:22 PM »
As a collector of clarinets and other instruments, these Chinese clarinets really interest me because they are affordable, decent quality, and in some harder to find tunings. Thank you for your reviews of this and the others. Thanks to you I got one of the C clarinets and I really do enjoy playing it.


Perhaps it's time to rethink the CSO (clarinet-shaped-object) reputation of Chinese makers. It's proven that Chinese-made clarinets CAN be good. The factories absolutely have the capability to produce very decent instruments.

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Offline jordan.1210

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2019, 02:10:47 AM »
Im starting to agree. While Im probably not going to be one of the firsts to try these Chinese instruments, I have no issues with getting them if they have good reviews. As of right now, I have a Chinese C clarinet, soprano sax and bari sax and I love playing all of them. They are more than enough for my playing.

Also looking at the keywork on this G clarinet, it looks to me like it uses a system similar to the Reform Boehm that some brands like Wurlitzer have made in the past, minus the rollers typically found on them. Does it look like that to you?
I spend way too much time looking at instruments I probably shouldn't be buying.

Offline windydankoff

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2019, 10:35:18 AM »
Yes. The upper joint has "reform Boehm" keywork.
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2019, 04:59:07 PM »
Jared De Leon has posted two more highly informative videos on the Chinese G Boehm. First, to review the instrument BEFORE his improvements:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NA6KhQZ8vnw

Second, to explain some of his tuning and adjusting:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrYU3D-fPjc

Great work Many thanks, Jared!
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Offline jordan.1210

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2019, 08:37:49 PM »
Watched both these videos, glad to see that the major adjustments seem to be pretty easy to do.
I spend way too much time looking at instruments I probably shouldn't be buying.

Offline windydankoff

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Re: G Clarinet Boehm (French) system, new from China (!)
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2019, 07:25:41 AM »
It was a LOT of work! This is the project log for my G clarinet. Jared said his tuning work was similar.
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