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Clarinet Roadshow => Make and Model lists and research => Topic started by: Silversorcerer on June 29, 2016, 07:15:47 PM

Title: R. Malerne serial / date stake
Post by: Silversorcerer on June 29, 2016, 07:15:47 PM
I searched and found several threads that mention Malerne clarinets but none that addressed serials and date of manufacture. Typically we have 3 Malerne production periods, Lebret/Malerne, pre-war Malerne, and post-war Malerne. Most of what we see are student post-war Malerne Standard models and stencils that are similarly serialized.

Recently a hard document appeared with a Malerne clarinet (I didn't bid on the clarinet) and I appropriated the photo of this document for reference purposes here. It will help with guestimating manufacturing dates for post-war Malernes and stencils. Malerne serial number A-3287 was sold Oct. 10, 1956. It probably was built within a year of that date. All of the post-war Malernes and Malerne stencils I have seen so far have the letter prefix serials.
Title: Re: R. Malerne serial / date stake
Post by: DaveLeBlanc on June 29, 2016, 09:02:31 PM
awesome!  it's almost like detective work huh :)
Title: Re: R. Malerne serial / date stake
Post by: Silversorcerer on June 30, 2016, 03:24:01 PM
I think of it as archeology. I do a lot of digging. Most of the time I just stumble on these tidbits. Somewhere the information exists, eventually it gets caught in the sieve.
Title: Re: R. Malerne serial / date stake
Post by: philpedler on June 30, 2016, 04:46:12 PM
That is great information!

What can you tell us about the three periods, especially the first one?

There are of course tons of Malerne models. Do you have information on which seem to be the best ones?
Title: Re: R. Malerne serial / date stake
Post by: Windsong on June 30, 2016, 09:46:28 PM
Magnificent find.
Imagine any manufacturer or seller making good on a guarantee 20 years out these days!  It would likely never happen.  Of course we live in a disposable goods society now, and it's nice to be occasionally reminded that it was not always so...that craftsmen actually spent a tremendous amount of time and effort to ensure a product would last the ages.  Oh, for the good ole days.
Title: Re: R. Malerne serial / date stake
Post by: DaveLeBlanc on June 30, 2016, 10:31:46 PM
Ha!  You're lucky to get one of those 90-day limited warranties nowadays...
Title: Re: R. Malerne serial / date stake
Post by: Silversorcerer on July 01, 2016, 12:49:03 AM
Penzel-Mueller also had 20 year warranties back in the 1930s.

Interesting that you should ask about the periods of Malerne manufacture. Over the past 4 years I have managed to pick up 3 Standards separated by serials far enough to have slightly different key features, but these are all A serials (A -882, A-5001, A8444). A-882 plays very well and the others need pad and cork work. I also picked up a Benetone stencil that is very certainly a Malerne and it has the serial B-7069. All have the familiar "Made in France" arch on the bells and very similar keywork. Somewhere between A-882 and A-5001, the Standard picked up an adjustment screw at A/G# and a T-shaped lower bridge engagement. All of the Standards have generous post locking screws. All have a very consistent 14.7mm cylindrical bore. I have seen photographs of later Standards that looked like Martin Freres LaMonte stencils with nickel plated keys. I don't know who bought who when but something like that happened I think.

My impression from looking at the wood and key metal is that older might be better. I prefer the earlier keys to the LaMonte type keys.

More recently I negotiated a reasonable price for one marked "L. Lebret Robert Malerne, SuccR." that has no serial number at all. Obviously, it is one of the early Malernes made soon after he acquired the workshop from L. Lebret. That puts it early to mid 1930s.

This is something like the Standards and also nothing like the Standards. It is early enough that it has a flat spring under the C# and a shared lever pivot at LH5. Otherwise the keys are similar to a Standard but seem to be a better grade of nickel-silver when polished. The metal polishes very white like silver, but I am sure it is not silver. There is no silver tarnish. The wood and the finish of the wood is far finer than on the Standards, polished to a high gloss. The bore appears to be polycylindrical 15.4mm at the top of the UJ and 15.2mm at the bottom. Some tone holes on the upper joint are cut visibly larger than on the Standards. The barrel is taller than on the Standards. Unfortunately it will need an entire repad to evaluate. The tenon corks are all in good shape and most of the regulating corks can probably be saved. It appears to have been maintained well, also played a good bit, then put into storage where the pads dried out and crumbled.

It's a great looking clarinet, perhaps I'll do a separate thread on it. I haven't taken photos of it yet. The wood is simply incomparably beautiful in both color and grain. I hope that it sounds as good as it looks. The bore dimension is surprising. This a bore that is more like a Conn 444N than like other French clarinets of the same era.

I don't know anything about the other models. I know there were professional and intermediate models and also some composite body models, but I have no experience with those yet. The L. Lebret model definitely has the appearance of a professional clarinet. The wood grain is continuous bell to barrel and of a very fine coloration all the way up. The embossing is also very much finer lined than on the later Standards.

Title: Re: R. Malerne serial / date stake
Post by: Silversorcerer on July 01, 2016, 12:59:41 AM
Here are a few shots of the "L. Lebret / Robert Malerne SuccR" model, circa 1930:
Title: Re: R. Malerne serial / date stake
Post by: Silversorcerer on July 01, 2016, 05:09:47 PM
I took a few photos showing the L. Lebret early Malerne (1930s?) model next to an early 1950s Malerne Standard.
In the first one you can see that the keys look the same but the barrel is 66.5mm on the Lebret, 63.5 on the Standard. Also note that while the rings are the same size, the tone holes in the rings are noticeably larger on the Lebret model. The Lebret model has the flat spring on the C# side key. That is about the only difference in the upper joint keys. The 63.5 mm barrel size is the same on other 1950s Malerne Standards.

On the lower joint the biggest differences are the shared pivot post and the thumb rest. Note also that the Standard has all the post anchor screws and the Lebret has none.

It is not that common but this particular Standard model has quite colorful grain in the bell. The bells for the two models are the same size.

The big surprise was the difference in the upper joint bores;- 15.4 -15.2mm on the Lebret vs. 14.7mm on the Standard. I think this and the size of those tone holes indicate a clarinet that will play differently from the later 1950s model that it has so much in common with.

This Standard in the photos is one that is very playable and I really like the ease it has in all registers. There are some intonation aberrations here and there, but overall it plays well. I played it probably for a month or so and the corks became a little loose. Oddly, letting it sit for a while, the corks recuperated. I play it off and on using a Goldentone 3 that came with it and medium reeds
Title: Re: R. Malerne serial / date stake
Post by: Silversorcerer on July 02, 2016, 07:42:48 AM
So that's about the most brief summary I can show of the Malerne progression, one of the earliest next to one of the latest. There is however no middle link there, no example that is pre-war but substantially later than the Lebret / Malerne. I have my suspicions that some future find will reveal an original early Malerne Standard, and I think it will be a more finely finished instrument than the 1950s examples.

One of the 1950s Standards I acquired came with a mis-matched barrel that was the wrong length and a poor fit. So I kept my eye out for wandering Malerne barrels and a while later, one popped up for $10 and I snagged it. I was quite surprised by this barrel, which while it had the same marks as the other two Malerne Standard barrels, looked nothing like them. It was the same length, 63.5mm, but the shape of the barrel itself was more a uniform bulb rather than the more pear-like shape of the other two. The barrel rings were different also, strongly contoured to match the rounded shape of the barrel and wider top to bottom than the others, and also silver plated. This barrel obviously did not come from a 1950s student Malerne Standard. The finish is very highly polished, like the Lebret / Malerne. When I put it with the 1950s Standard, it looked out of place. It fit like it should and probably was fine functionally, but even though it had the right markings it was very obviously a substitute. So I kept looking for a matching barrel and finally two new-old-stock generic Malerne barrels showed up and those have no model designation, but otherwise are identical to the 1950s Malerne Standard barrels.

What we need to fill in the blank is a clarinet that matches this odd Malerne Standard barrel in finishing details. If it had silver plated barrel rings, it was probably silver plated on all the metal work. If the barrel was polished to a high gloss, most likely the rest of the clarinet was also. This was a Standard closer to the standard of quality of the earlier Lebret / Malerne.

The name "Standard" as applied to musical instruments has historically changed somewhat. For instance a Gibson SG Standard guitar is the fancy model with nickel covered double coils, ebony fretboard with binding, pearl trapezoids, transparent maroon gloss finish, etc. The SG Deluxe and Special are lesser models. I'm going to guess that the pre-war Malerne Standard was a professional quality clarinet.

The first is a photo of a 1950s Malerne Standard barrel and one of the NOS Malerne barrels. These are interchangeable differing only in the missing model designation. The second photo is the mystery Standard barrel. I'd really like to see the clarinet that one came from, or another one like it.