Whatever happened to the Full Boehm?
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....
12/23/2014 01:50:53 am
I have a 1930 metal Selmer full-Boehm. I was surprised to find that it took me a very long time to get used to the extra keys, something I hadn't expected would be the case at all --- perhaps the better part of a year or more. But once I did, I was hooked. The left hand Ab/eb is very useful, but what I liked the most was being able to overblow low Eb into an improvement on throat Bb, which not only sounded better but in many cases provided easier fingering. My guess as to why full-Boehm hasn't caught on more is that most musicians are very habit-bound and slow to change. The extra keys provide more options, that that means more to keep track of, more that could trip one up in the heat of the moment.
12/28/2014 07:57:29 am
One big-name player who uses a full-Boehm (Selmer) is the Bulgarian folk-pop clarinetist Ivo Papasov. It's interesting considering that we usually associate eastern European music with Albert system clarients.
4/27/2015 12:00:42 pm
I didn't start wanting a good full-Boehm until I started doing most of my playing on a Model 33 Selmer bass in our community band, with the left hand Eb/Ab and the extension to low C. With the extra keys in the back for the D, Db, C - I find myself using "my Italian friend" (that lh Eb/Ab) more and more to get around on passages featuring low Ab wrapped with all the wrong notes. That right pinky has to keep the Eb down no matter what.
3/6/2017 02:06:29 pm
I have been feverishly searching for information on a vintage clarinet that I just acquired from a friend who can no longer play due to illness. I played the clarinet as a child and into my early adult years... When I received this vintage clarinet a "Leblanc" I was baffled with the extra keys... and then learned it is a Full Boehm", or similar. I would appreciate any input, as I would like to know for sure what I actually have. Thank you for any response.
3/6/2017 02:13:41 pm
Hi Gloria, I do research and valuation of older instruments for $20 each. Please contact me through my contact page if you'd like to pursue that, and I'll tell you what I can...
1/29/2019 12:13:35 pm
Finding a replacement case for a Selmer is tough!
10/31/2019 06:13:19 pm
I have a Patricola Full Boehm Bb Clarinet with extension to low Eb in African Rosewood. A fantastic instrument: wonderfully in tune. I use the Bb (overblown low Eb) all the time since it is spot on in tune. Makes all sorts of things much easier to play musically without fiddling around with side keys, etc. Highly recommended.
2/17/2020 03:04:29 am
I have been playing on an Amati Full Boehm Bb Clarinet for about 15 years and love it. The extra keys make some of those treacherous passages easier to play. I mainly play Eb Clarinet and was lucky enough to find a pre-Yamaha Full Boehm Eb Clarinet in working condition on eBay. It is quite the marvel!
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
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.