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I'm playing alto sax and have started doubling on my daughter's Boehm system Bundy clarinet. She switched to bassoon a couple of years ago. So far, so good.

I've started looking at getting another clarinet. Some of the vintage clarinets use the Albert fingering system. I was curious what others had experienced. Is the Albert system more awkward or easier for a saxophonist, which is also a Boehm system, right? Or are the Albert and Boehm systems close enough that it doesn't matter?

Thanks
 

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Boehm is easier for saxophone players.

The Albert has a fatter sound and a louder chalumeau register. The Albert is my favourite sound for jazz, but they are old and hard to play in tune unless you're a motherf*%#er like Dan Block.

The modern version of the Albert system is called the "Oehler System" or "German System". The bore dimensions are different than the Albert. The fingering is the same, but the tone is not as fat.

Bottom line: If you live in North America, UK, France, Belgium or Japan, life will be easier with a Boehm. If you live in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic,etc... Play the Oehler clarinet. If you are a trad jazz fanatic, and you're committed to "shedding" the clarinet, find an old Albert.
 

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The main problem with Albert "system" horns is that most are in very poor repair. At a mininum, they will require a repad and setup - at the worst, they will be cracked in one or more places.

Unlike saxophones, with their metal bodies, old clarinets do not age well. As the "simple" system horns are largely a thing of the very distant past (say the 1920's), few have been in use for any portion of that time, and the ones that have are likely to be well treasured and guarded by their owners. The rest become the charter members of the mildew and crack society.

That's not to say that there are not benefits when going the Albert route. I have a working horn, and still occasionally pull it out for a spin, and I learned to play clarinet on an old Albert system bass from Buffet.

In sharp keys, they are a bit easier on the mind than a Boehm horn, but other than that, the main difference seems to be related to bore size. The ones that I have played feel more like an old Selmer BT than a modern Buffet R-13. Some folks like this, others don't.

In short, they're still a clarinet, but a different sort of clarinet. The main problem is finding a good low pitch horn to put into playing condition.
 

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SOTSDO said:
The main problem with Albert "system" horns is that most are in very poor repair. At a mininum, they will require a repad and setup - at the worst, they will be cracked in one or more places.
I find that many very old wooden horns, although not necessarily cracked, play quite sharp. Is that because the wood has shrunk significantly over time? So even if your 'bert is in good repair, it might be useless for ensemble playing, just because there's not enough tenon left when you have to pull the barrel "a bit"...

A noble exception are, of course, the plastic Alberts (eg #230135162507 on That Auction Site) manufactured by Indian craftspeople.:D
(edit: I should add that the sellers appear to be honest - my order was promptly delivered within one week.)
 

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Being a trad-jazz guy, I own two Alberts (a hard-rubber Conn and a wood Buescher) and I can play them. I recently sold an Eb Conn Albert to a friend and I've owned other Alberts in the past. But for performing (as little as I do on clarinet), I use a Boehm System Buffet RC Prestige.

I don't think anyone can really say which is more difficult as a doubler - Albert or Boehm. Much depends on the individual player. For me, Boehm is easier . . . the cross-fingering of the low B/Bb on an Albert is just too much for me.

Yet I know of a couple of local players (SoCal) who play the heck out of their Alberts and soprano saxophones. They are virtuosos on Albert. One plays a Buffet made in 1887, the other has a new Albert.

And, I am not convinced of much tonal difference regardless of the conventional wisdom on such issues. In MY opinion, it is all the player. DAVE
 
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