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Discussion Starter #1
My dad used to double on clarinet, using a sax-fingering model by Sioma of Paris (he always intended to learn Boehm system but never got round to it).

There is almost nothing on the web even about the fingering system, let alone the make, though I've found reference to one in a collection from c1935.

The instrument is in rather a sorry state and it would be a good project to restore it. Does anyone have any info on the make, the fingering and where on earth I could get pad sets, springs etc? Is it rare and valuable or rare and worthless?
 

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Sax and clarinet fingering is based on Boehm system.

Clarinet fingering is prettty much the same as sax fingering, except for the extra notes involved with a clarinet overblowing a 12th. If this clarinet does not oveblow a 12th, then it can hardly be called a clarinet. So something is wrong here.

Can you post a photo?
 

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You may be referring to an "Albert System" clarinet. At least I think that's what it's called. These had rollers on pinky keys, instead of the normal Boehm system clarinets. I don't think all the fingerings are the same as sax, but the roller system associated with the saxophone might be what you mean. I am sure someone here who knows about such things will be able to help you out. Hope you've got a treasure!
 

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Albert system does not have rollers, that's the Oehler system (an evolution of the 13 key Albert). And, by the way, my (Boehm) horn has rollers too, as do "Reform Boehms". So these alone aren't much of a hint.

But there have been at least two manufacturers who did clarinet with sax fingerings (Martin and Sioma). I agree with Gordon re the "octave" key, but the rest may bear some resemblance (especially the pinky parts) with a sax.
Photos would be welcome indeed.
 

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Weren't there some wooden clarinets made with covered tone holes?
 

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They are also common with those players who have lost portions of (or have malformed) fingers. It's not quite as common these days, but prior to the advent of modern medical procedures, a mashed up fingertip was not all that uncommon.

(Such modifications to musical instruments were quite common in the 1920's and 1930's, with far more deformed hands coming back from The Great War, when plastic surgery was in its infancy. There were also a rash of "Concertos for One Hand" during the period, with modern composers writing them to suit their piano playing friends who had lost a hand (or worst) to the huge shell fragments of the day.)

Nowadays, the Leblanc company (since absorbed by Steinway Selmer) make/made them for a different purpose. Marching band folks sometimes put their musicians in gauntlets, and clarinets were the great exception to the "smartly dressed band" rule, as they either had to go glove-less or (even worse) cut the fingertips off of the gloves. No such problem with a plateau horn (and closed hole flutes).

I had a "friend" (technically, he was but in actual truth I couldn't stand being around the guy) who had a broken finger in the days of his youth (1940's) and who (as a result) had the end of the middle finger of his right hand set off at an angle from the rest of the finger. He couldn't play clarinet worth a damn with a regular horn, but once he got a Noblet plateau horn he picked it up really quick.

Unfortunately (for him, certainly) he shortly thereafter died...and the widow had trouble selling the "oddball" horn.

Another friend (a saxophone player who took up clarinet later in life) bought one for the hole alignment issues. He was used to flopping a finger down on or near the touch pieces, and just had too much trouble with finger alignment on the holes. Despite my warnings that they had a "veiled" tone quality, he bought one and learned to play on it, but gave it up for the ever present R-13 as soon as he became proficient.

For the record, I always started students on Vito horns, simply because of the tone hole coverage issue. Children have real troubles with standard clarinets (and open holed flutes) due to reach issues, and a smaller hole Vito horn minimizes or eliminates these problems. Once they are up to speed on the Vito, then a move to an intermediate (Noblet or Signet back in the day) was in order, with "serious" students meriting the purchase of an LL, R-13 or Series 9.
 

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electricninja said:
Can't they design a clarinet with an octave overblow?
Quite difficult with a cylindrical bore...
 

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I remember Mike Manning had made a clarinet for Paquito a couple of years ago that had keys like a saxophone. It had some snappy name like Paquinet or something. Sorry, I don't have any more information than that (Google gave me nothing) so I'm not sure what the relationship between the upper and lower registers was, but I remember people playing it and thinking it was a cool little thing.
 

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Hey Potiphar,

How about some photos of this sax-configured clarinet beast of yours? That should solve the issue about what we are really talking about.
 

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i recall a clarinet like that. a large sculted LH covered thumb rest and sculpted octave key and other sax like table keys. I forgot who designed it but it was more ergo friendly like a sax, but still clarinet fingerings.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
OK guys, gather round...



Dad was quite handy on it - here it is in RAF Melksham band c1941:

I can't answer whether the split is at the octave or the twelfth because the thing's in such an unplayable state. What would be the left thumb rest on a sax actually covers a hole, and there's a vent key like an octave key above it.
Thanks to the guy who identified Martin ans Sioma variations on this theme.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The 1956 Hoffnung Music Festival had some variations on Annie Laurie that featured Heckelphone. Just thought you'd like to know.

I'm not sure my clarinet evolved into anything as the factory got bombed in the war. Probably why they're rare.
 

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tictactux said:
It is, but I'd say it's a later Albert, about to evolve into something Oehler-like. Early Alberts didn't have roller keys.
probably later Albert. I was thinking "early" due to the wrap around octave mechanism which are also found on early modern key boehms

potiphar - are there any markings at all on it ??

potiphar said:
The 1956 Hoffnung Music Festival had some variations on Annie Laurie that featured Heckelphone
Rats .. i just missed that !! =-)
 

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potiphar said:
I'm not sure my clarinet evolved into anything as the factory got bombed in the war. Probably why they're rare.
It certainly is. And an old instrument with a known history (and family heritage) is priceless.

Pads at reasonable prices and modest shipping cost can be had (even in single units) at musicmedic's (www.musicmedic.com). I do the odd missing spring myself (steal one of the missus' pin cushion), but musicmedic's has them as well. (no affiliation whatsoever)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
tictactux - thanks for renovation hints. Will become clarinet tech imminently.

Stevesklar - various bits are stamped "Sioma - Paris" in diamond logo with "Selectone" underneath. Serial number B317 is stamped on adjoining sections of barrel. The original case has the mark of the distributor, Alex Burns Ltd, Band Manufacturers of Palace House, 128/130 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1.

Priceless to me, of course, as are my Martin Committee Tenor bought used in 1947 and Selmer New Largebore bought used around 1936. Both have some family photos corresponding, but my mother has mislaid the 1930s picture of my young father posing with the Selmer in front of the swan-neck cymbal stands! It'll turn up in her wardrobe, I expect.
 

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It appears to be a plateau Albert "system" horn, with the giveaway being the "patent C#" mechanism on the lower joint. Also, note the offset plateau touch pieces on the upper joint, an indication of the ever-funky finger hole spacing on an Albert horn.

And, I'm not so sure that the RSM for your relative's RAF unit would be all that happy with the set of his overseas cap. Maybe there was a war on, but all of that ties and spit shine stuff never really left the minds of the senior NCOs...

As for rollers on a Albert horn, I've owned about six over the years, and all but one (an old Buffet, I think) had rollers on the little finger keys. I think that they were an option when purchasing them back then, just like they are nowadays on bassoons.
 
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