Vintage Metal

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What is the general consensus on metal clarinets?

I play clarinet, and I just bought a vintage metal one for cheap at an antique store. It seems like they're more obscure than the dreaded curved soprano, and I was just wondering, do people not like the tone? Is there some other issue with them?

My Grandmother has one of these- they're so cool! :)

Actually, the issue isn't the tone... it's the "fad" mentality, to be honest!

In the mid 1800's, the Russian and Austrian military bands began using metal clarinets because they could withstand the weather better than wood clarinets- but they were made of brass, like the sax... European manufacturers tried to market the same clarinets to America, but found that the tone was too harsh and nobody bought them.

Then, around the 1920's, Harry Bettoney (Boston, Mass.) decided to change the metal... he remade the clarinet out of German silver, but kept all yellow metals and brass out. The result was the "Silva-bet". This was an amazing metal clarinet that not only retained the sound of the wooden ones, but also had better clarity, resonance, and played the higher notes in tune! This became a VERY popular clarinet... schools, military bands, pro musicians- everybody wanted one. European clarinet makers- including giants like Buffet and Selmer- even began making metal clarinets, even to the exclusion of wooden ones for a few years!

Manufacturers found that unlike wood, they could manipulate the metal to exact specifications. Metal also was not subject to the harsh conditions of weather in terms of moisture and cracking. Jazz musicians loved them because of their clarity. Classical musicians loved them for the same reason... they were HUGE in the 30's and early 40's. Of course, there were still brands that were of a better quality than others, but the high end ones, made with more silver than anything, sounded beautiful and were in high demand. So what happened?...

ABS plastic was invented, and America went to war. The plastic clarinet was just as durable as the metal one- for a fraction of the cost. With the need to save on metals and money for the war effort, manufacturers switched to plastic and the metal ones fell out of favor. Later, the pros said "Hey... this plastic doesn't give us what we need" and went back to wood. The metal clarinet had been forgotten, or worse- turned into lamps in obscure studios across the globe.

Now, to be taken seriously as a clarinet player, you have to play a Buffet R13 or Selmer Signature. If you show up with one of those old metal guys, you will be laughed off the stage before you ever play a note... sad. "Grenadilla is the new German Silver."

ORSI is the only manufacturer that still makes metal clarinets, but they are not well known. I think the metal clarinet may have never made a comeback just because the recording equipment at their height of fame was fairly poor, and we associate bad tone with them. Think about Lester Young- he was a GREAT sax player, but in his recording of "Pagin' the Devil", he sounds like an 8 year old (talented 8 year old! lol)... and he's playing a metal clarinet. Also, some of the big name jazz clarinetists traded their metals in for wood around WWII, and I think we now see it as they were "upgrading". It's amazing how history becomes skewed, huh? Anyone who's actually TRIED to play a metal clarinet will tell you that it feels different, but its sound is very cool (most of the time anyways... there are still some lemons out there!).

Anyways, I hope you have a great time with your new horn! Hopefully someday you'll be able to play it in public again! :)

Find Vintage Metal On eBay Below:

Vintage GEP Actionized Rod by Gephart Metal Flycast Fishing Rod
Vintage GEP Actionized Rod by Gephart Metal Flycast Fishing Rod
$40.00
Rare Bristol Cored Metal 90 + Inch Long Retractable Hexagon Metal Fishing Rod
Rare Bristol Cored Metal 90 + Inch Long Retractable Hexagon Metal Fishing Rod
$49.99
Antique Metal fishing rod Cork Handle lot11297
Antique Metal fishing rod Cork Handle lot11297
$45.00
Rare Vintage Superior Brand Metal Telescopic 9 Foot Fishing Rod Cork Handle
Rare Vintage Superior Brand Metal Telescopic 9 Foot Fishing Rod Cork Handle
$69.95
Vintage Antique Powell metal fishing rod Thos E Wilson  Co lot10208
Vintage Antique Powell metal fishing rod Thos E Wilson Co lot10208
$95.00
Antique Metal fishing rod 610 lot11450
Antique Metal fishing rod 610 lot11450
$35.00
Antique Metal fishing rod Otter Steel Rod PAT April 2 1907 lot3776
Antique Metal fishing rod Otter Steel Rod PAT April 2 1907 lot3776
$65.00
Vintage GEP ACTIONIZED REGISTERED ROD by Gephart Metal Fly Fishing Rod w tube
Vintage GEP ACTIONIZED REGISTERED ROD by Gephart Metal Fly Fishing Rod w tube
$58.00
Vtg Shakespeare Steel Fishing Rod Metal Pole Glass Guides Honor Built
Vtg Shakespeare Steel Fishing Rod Metal Pole Glass Guides Honor Built
$74.99
Vintage Telescopic Metal Fishing Pole Redi Rod South Bend Automatic Telescoping
Vintage Telescopic Metal Fishing Pole Redi Rod South Bend Automatic Telescoping
$80.00
Vintage South Bend Collapsible Metal Fishing Rod Opens to over 8+ Nice Old pcs
Vintage South Bend Collapsible Metal Fishing Rod Opens to over 8+ Nice Old pcs
$13.99
VINTAGE FISHING LURE DISPLAY CARD JOHNSONS SPRITE LOUIS JOHNSON CO
VINTAGE FISHING LURE DISPLAY CARD JOHNSONS SPRITE LOUIS JOHNSON CO
$35.00
VINTAGE FISHING LURE DISPLAY CARD WALKER DIMPLE JIGS NEW OLD STOCK ON CARD
VINTAGE FISHING LURE DISPLAY CARD WALKER DIMPLE JIGS NEW OLD STOCK ON CARD
$15.00
Vintage Montague 5 ft Cork Metal Handle Fiberglass Shaft Casting Rod
Vintage Montague 5 ft Cork Metal Handle Fiberglass Shaft Casting Rod
$14.99
VINTAGE 9 METAL FISHING ROD
VINTAGE 9 METAL FISHING ROD
$18.76
VINTAGE GEP METAL FISHING ROD CORK HANDEL
VINTAGE GEP METAL FISHING ROD CORK HANDEL
$13.05
vintage south bend metal fly fishing rod collapsible 9
vintage south bend metal fly fishing rod collapsible 9
$3.99
Vintage True Temper Raider Metal fishing rod lot11806
Vintage True Temper Raider Metal fishing rod lot11806
$45.00
4 Vintage telescoping metal fishing rods Bristol + More FREE SHIPPING
4 Vintage telescoping metal fishing rods Bristol + More FREE SHIPPING
$39.00
GEP Gephart Metal Extending Telescoping Fly Rod Fishing Pole 102 Cork Handle
GEP Gephart Metal Extending Telescoping Fly Rod Fishing Pole 102 Cork Handle
$58.95
Vintage Metal Telescoping Fly Rod
Vintage Metal Telescoping Fly Rod
$9.99
Vintage Gep Actionized Register Rod metal fishing rod 56 lot11275
Vintage Gep Actionized Register Rod metal fishing rod 56 lot11275
$49.95
Vintage Winchester Model 5655 Metal fishing Rod Spinning
Vintage Winchester Model 5655 Metal fishing Rod Spinning
$99.99
VINTAGE RICHARDSON CHICAGO USA CORK HANDLE 1 PIECE 54 METAL FISHING ROD
VINTAGE RICHARDSON CHICAGO USA CORK HANDLE 1 PIECE 54 METAL FISHING ROD
$16.99
Retractable Metal Fly Rod Looks To Be 7foot With Pflueger Alpine Reel No 2675 F
Retractable Metal Fly Rod Looks To Be 7foot With Pflueger Alpine Reel No 2675 F
$90.00
Vtg Shakespeare Steel Fishing Rod Metal Pole Glass Guides Honor Built
Vtg Shakespeare Steel Fishing Rod Metal Pole Glass Guides Honor Built
$88.00
WINCHESTER CASTING ROD 47 L METAL 5545 Cork Handle Nice Condition
WINCHESTER CASTING ROD 47 L METAL 5545 Cork Handle Nice Condition
$95.00
Vintage 5 Piece Split Bamboo Fly Fishing Rod Pole Made Japan 2 Tips
Vintage 5 Piece Split Bamboo Fly Fishing Rod Pole Made Japan 2 Tips
$29.99
Vintage Montaque Bamboo 8 Fly Rod with case and metal tube and extra end pieces
Vintage Montaque Bamboo 8 Fly Rod with case and metal tube and extra end pieces
$100.00
Gold hoop bar steel elastic rod telescopic rod metal elastic rod high quality YR
Gold hoop bar steel elastic rod telescopic rod metal elastic rod high quality YR
$5.82
Vintage Great Lakes Metal Fishing Rod Silver with 4 eyes Cork handle
Vintage Great Lakes Metal Fishing Rod Silver with 4 eyes Cork handle
$6.70
Vintage 1940s Vim Metal Spinning Rod 8 ft 6 in Made in USA
Vintage 1940s Vim Metal Spinning Rod 8 ft 6 in Made in USA
$30.00


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