One of the clarinet makers I watch for these days is Thibouville Freres, a French company that seems to date from the 40's - 60's (based on case, design elements, etc). These restore to be some truly fine playing horns, with nice design features and a slightly larger than standard bore. I've sold them to Jazz players, Klezmer players and others of uncertain affiliation, always with happy results!
The nicest one I've ever seen was an 'Artist' model that I bought from Goodwill for about 75 dollars! It was a large bore pro horn with all tenons metal lined, a metal lined barrel, and 7 rings. After a full overhaul, it was a wonderful player with a fat, 'vintage' tone and good intonation, ideal for Jazz or Classical, depending on choice of mouthpiece.
I do notice, BTW, that mouthpiece seems to be a critical factor: a customer of mine who had purchased one last year (and reported being unimpressed) called me recently, raving about its tone and playability with a change of mouthpiece. Maybe that made all the difference, or maybe he's been practicing more, who knows ?
Thibouville Freres also made nice bass clarinets (under their own name and as stencils, I believe), and was responsible for building some or all of the McIntyre system instruments that I've seen.
Does anyone else have experience to report with this company's instruments and any idea why they aren't a whole lot more famous?
I've worked on a lot of clarinets in the last 10 years, but admit to having a soft spot for the Full Boehm: the mechanism solves many technical issues, the tone tends to be fuller and darker (due to extra length and bore size), and, with the low Eb, they can do double duty for an A, thus saving that piddling $4k for another car! Finally, they were made as pro horns and uniformly well constructed.
So, why are they so little used and rarely made? The only company I'm aware of that still offers a standard production model is Amati, which wouldn't be my first choice, given the historical instruments available.... Buffet, Selmer, Leblanc, Malerne, Penzel Mueller, Kohlert, Conn, even Rampone all made Full Boehms at one time, most of them excellent instruments.
Its hard to find a customer who has seen one, a tech who has worked on one, a fingering chart for one, or even a replacement case! What do you folks see as the pros and cons of these horns and do you have any idea why they are no longer readily available? Just asking....
The Licorice Shtick Blog is the creation of the Vintage Clarinet Doctor, a Winston Salem, NC based woodwind instrument repair shop specializing in vintage and antique clarinets, saxophones, and the occasional flute.