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....
For a few years now, I've been using tan, kidskin pads almost exclusively on my older horns. Folks ask why, from time to time, so I thought I'd take a moment and answer some of the implicit questions:
I find that they last longer than bladder and can be oiled occasionally, further extending their useful life. As an experiment, I once oiled pads that had been in an early R-13 for 40 years and, after softening and adjustment, the instrument played fairly well!
I find that they take a better impression from aging toneholes. Slight warp-age, small nicks, uneven wear, can all be forgiven by a leather pad, which will take a better seat than the harder double skin felt pads in common use in modern horns. This often saves me having to reface a tonehole made slightly uneven from wear or abuse, which is my preference when possible: the Hippocratic Law for clarinets being "First do no harm".
I find that they give closed keys a feeling more consistent with bare fingers on open holes (especially on Albert/ simple system horns) versus hard felt. I am often distracted by the difference in feel between my fingers and hard felt or cork pads; its somewhat uneven.
Finally, I find that the tan kidskin shows less wear and discoloration than white bladder, keeping the horn looking fresh longer.
I hope that players and other techs will consider these pads and their advantages next time they undertake the overhaul of a vintage instrument of quality!
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.