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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently received a 1965 Buffet Crampon bass clarinet from a SOTW member and today I was examining it, planning the various works it needs to be playable again and I discovered something weird...

The clarinet is a Professional model, meaning that it's stamped "professional" as a model name. Clearly this does make googling for information an exercise in futility and I have yet to find a website with some history of the Buffet Crampon harmony horns.

Anyway, it is a single register key instrument: if I press the register key the upper hole opens up unless I press the front A key and then the upper hole shuts and a more apt Bb hole (still way too small to speak clearly) opens.

The mistery is that there's a broken key that I didn't notice earlier because it's notably absent from any bass clarinet I've seen on internet.
The "mistery key" was located just below the C#/G# key and it's role was to "trick" the register key mechanism to think that the front A key was open, thus closing the register vent and opening the Bb hole.

I looked in the rest of the instrument, looking for some other clue, but that's it: the leverage is confined to the upper joint and it seems complete, beside the broken lever.

It was an optional key, as I've seen an eBay auction for the same model where the entire mechanism was not present.

Any clue on what it was used for and where was the lever originally located?

My first idea was that it was something added to mimick a double register key, but it seems likely that the lever was somehow burdened in the left pinkie cluster and it would have been then pretty useless: if it was used by the pinkie the same finger was clearly not available to finger lower register notes below F...

Maybe something related to the third register?
Any info is appreciated, so I can decide if I have to include a new key fabbrication in the already long list of jobs that the clarinet needs.

Thank you
 

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Hmmmmm. My Buffet from that era (not marked PROFESSIONAL) WAS as double register key instrument. Where is the single register key hole? On the body or on the neck? There should be 2 bridge key linkages. One that enables the 1/1 Bb/Eb and another which switches between the two register keys when one switches from 4th line D to fourth space E. Maybe that linkage is missing?

May SOTW member AGreene will chime in here. He just bought a 60's Buffet Bass Clarinet quite similar to the one you describe above.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hmmmmm. My Buffet from that era (not marked PROFESSIONAL) WAS as double register key instr
ument. Where is the single register key hole? On the body or on the neck? There should be 2 bridge key linkages. One that enables the 1/1 Bb/Eb and another which switches between the two register keys when one switches from 4th line D to fourth space E. Maybe that linkage is missing?

May SOTW member AGreene will chime in here. He just bought a 60's Buffet Bass Clarinet quite similar to the one you describe above.
Well, I got it from him, maybe he knows :)

The register key is on the body and there’s only one linkage (the one enabling 1+1).
I know that most of the Buffet Crampon are double register, but this one is not... maybe it was called Professional just to tell to the player “yeah, man, you’re playing a good horn even if it hasn’t a double register and you didn’t pay a lot for it... you can show the engraving to your pal with a Selmer 9”.

More than enough for me, but still curious about the extra key (that I may as well remove...)
 

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I'll file my response under "oops".

Sorry. I hope its a good player!
 

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My research found that there were many versions of this instrument. Some with the second register key on the neck while others have the second register key at the very top of the body. Your particular model does have two that are about 4 cm apart just above the RH thumb. I didn’t get a chance to work with it but there’s some sort of seesaw mechanism that switches between the two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hello A Greene...
Just yesterday I found the same: a bass clarinet sold in USA, marked Professional, that had a classical double register key.

I'll try to be clearer with some pictures. This is my particular horn (I'm recycling your pictures, A Greene :) ):

IMG_1977.jpg

The seesaw mechanism is not that different from a Bundy clarinet: it switches between the Bb hole and a register hole, located higher in the body. The only "discriminant" used to decide which hole has to be open is the front A key: if it's pressed the mechanism thinks that the player wants a Bb and opens the lower hole.

A similar horn has been recently sold on ebay:
Buffet single.jpg

Mine, however had this strange supplemental key:
IMG_1986.JPG
IMG_1985.JPG

The lever is broken but it's easy to miss as it not regularly present on bass clarinets.
The mechanism works as described: it makes the clarinet shut the register vent and open the Bb hole even if the front A key is not depressed.

Upon further comparison with a double register key model sold on eBay (another Professional from 9 years before) I doubt that the extra key couldn't act to mimick a double register key: the Bb hole is quite lower, on the body, compared to the register vent on the body of a double register key model and the upper register vent is quite higher than the register vent of my clarinet.

I hope it makes sense... :)

The mistery remains...
 

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Good luck. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
 

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Buffet did some weird stuff in the 60's-70's (witness their low C basses). The key below C#/G# looks like part of the articulated C#/G# mechanism. No clue on the register tangle. I guess as long as it plays, good to go!
 

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If I understand the photo correctly and that mechanism is going over the C#/G# linkage and has nothing to do with it, then it looks like what you described - a way to use the left pinky to open the lower vent instead the upper vent. Basically the same as current double vent models except it is operated by a separate key and not automatically by the G/D key. I guess if it's broken it's possible it was more elaborated and might have been linked to somehow work automatically... but hard to say, unless you see some other areas with supposedly missing parts? Or apparently useless linkages?

It looks original, very similar to the other keys, plus there's a small guide for it on one of the posts. I guess anything is possible. Like someone mentioned Buffet made some experiments with bass clarinets, with the occasional "weird" model or feature that was often quickly changed or cancelled.

Comparing as much as possible from those photos, the vents don't looks that much lower than current ones (at least the lower one), though they do look somewhat lower. The only half decent comparison is the trill keys locations, and they could be placed differently on that model too i.e. if the trill keys are higher it could make it seem that way.

What I would do is check each note of the clarion register to see if it plays better with the top or bottom vent open. You can check left hand notes yourself, using your right hand to switch between the vents, and get someone to help for checking B to F#. If no note improves by using the lower vent I guess you can just leave it. If some notes play better with the lower vent open, maybe consider how many, which ones, how much better, the ergonomics of using an added left pinky key to switch, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks clarnibass for your extensive answer. It seems to pair with lomaserena opinion on the "weird stuff they did".

It seems there's no way to easily automatize the key using the G/D key as there are no useless linkages that I can see, unless the key was pressed by the keys on the pinkie cluster. I suppose it will be checked once the instrument will be working again.
 

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Normally I just browse this forum but I've seen an instrument like this before so I'll chime in. The broken linkage should be connected to the LH E/B lever and is only used for Clarion B. It's a weird design but it was supposed to solve the sharp B that many bass clarinets have

-Jdbassplayer
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Normally I just browse this forum but I've seen an instrument like this before so I'll chime in. The broken linkage should be connected to the LH E/B lever and is only used for Clarion B. It's a weird design but it was supposed to solve the sharp B that many bass clarinets have

-Jdbassplayer
Excellent info!
Thank you very much.
 
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