This week's blog is just to let everyone know that I've added a new page to the site to share some of my favorite Jazz play along tracks from YouTube!
A lot of people don't realize that YouTube has the biggest collection of backing tracks online, including Hal Leonard and Jamey Aebersold, and they are great for sharpening your improvisation skills, or just tightening up your time and intonation if you don't have enough opportunities to play with a live group. Just open your Bb fake book, click on the video and off you go :) http://www.thevintageclarinetdoctor.com/play-along.html
After a couple days of hard work, the Martin Freres Supra is done! The further I got into the job, the more impressed I was with the quality of this horn: silver-plated keys, posts, and body rings, 7 ring keywork with an extra resonance key for Low F, post lock-downs for all the spring bearing posts on the lower stack, really nice grenadilla...the list goes on.
After disassembling, soaking the wood in oil, and swedging/countersinking the mechanism, I dropped the keys in a silver tarnish dip....a minute, nothing. 10 minutes, nothing... I ended up hand polishing every key with Wrights silver polish! I have no idea why the dip didn't work, but the keys came out looking great. Then, new corks and tan leather pads.... the body parts were lightly buffed with no compound, posts and rings hand ragged with a silver polish cloth, tenons recorked, and reassembly began. The forces of neglect and age had taken their toll, but boy, am I glad I spent the couple dollars and did the work! It took about 9 hours to turn this:
Its a really nice player! The bore is .575", but has a much more open response than I expected; bright, loud, even through the registers and with good intonation. The extra hole for low F made for a fuller low end. This would be a great jazz horn for someone who likes a vintage Conn or Penzel Mueller sound - quite a surprise out of a French instrument, as they tend to sound sweeter and more intimate, in my experience.
The biggest surprise was that, in trying to research the model, I found the company still alive and well! Their website is http://martinfreres.net/ and I encourage you to check out their history and current offerings. They've been quietly building horns for over 100 years, in the shadow of the Big 3, and I plan to pay more attention to their instruments in the future....
UPDATE - turns out the Martin Freres name is actually defunct and is now a Chinese owned company...guess I can't recommend them after all:(
Having a home based business in a small town is occasionally interesting: yesterday morning I heard the doorbell ring, and saw a woman with a clarinet case. This is not a completely uncommon occurrence (although I generally get a phone call first, so I'm not just standing there in sweatpants, as I was yesterday) but she wasn't here for a repair estimate - she wanted to give me the clarinet!
She told me that she was moving to Colorado and wanted to lighten the load before she departed. Now, on the rare occasions that people want to give me clarinets for free, they tend to be worth what I'm paying, so I wasn't too optimistic. However, I opened the case and found this Martin Freres Supra...
Now, of course I've heard of Martin Freres (an old and somewhat obscure French maker, generally known in later days for undistinguished student instruments), but I've never seen anything like this! Seven rings, extra key-cup on Low F for intonation, silver-plated keys and rings, post lock-downs, factory tenon rings....it gives every appearance of a really nice professional quality horn. So, I'm curious: does anyone have experience with one of these or know anything about it? I'm going to start tearing it down for overhaul today, and would love to hear your thoughts....
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.