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[ Buffet Idenfitication ] [ Keywork Trivia ] [ Spring History (flat v needle) ] [ Model Variations ]
Not sure where I got this blurb from, probably Boosey & Hawkes (Buffet is now a separate wholly owned company)
Founded in 1839 by Jean-Louis Buffet-Crampon, Buffet clarinets soon became the choice of the majority of the world’s professional players. By 1900, Buffet had a workforce of 200 craftsmen, producing clarinets, flutes and saxophones, all of high quality.
Paul Evette and Ernest Schaeffer bought the firm in 1885. "Evette and Schaeffer" clarinets were the "step up" instruments from Buffet until about 1980. A public corporation since 1929, the company was absorbed into the Boosey-Hawkes conglomerate in 1981.
Instruments made between 1935 and 1980 are considered by many to be the very best of Buffet’s production. The American investor Martin Tolchin bought Buffet in the mid 1970’s. He was aware of the fact that not all clarinet players agreed on the tone-color of their instrument, so the "R-13" ("Arthur King", we call them...) model was soon joined by the "Continentale", the "S-1", the "BC-20" and later the "RC". All have subtle differences, all are considered to be "top of the line" equals. Before 1980, the Buffet name was only engraved on their best clarinets: the "step up" and student quality instruments were stamped "Evette & Schaeffer" or "Evette". Today, the Buffet name and logo are engraved on the entire line of Buffet instruments, from the German-made plastic to their very best clarinetsvin
Buffet is now a part of the Boosey-Hawkes Musical Instrument Company of London."
Current Buffet History as taken from the Buffet-Crampon
In 1825 a French “luthier”, Denis Buffet-Auger, established his workshop right in the heart of Paris. He quickly became well-known in the music world for developing of the excellent 13-key clarinet. At that time, clarinets were entirely hand-made, which required a wealth of experience and craftsmanship.
In 1830, Jean-Louis Buffet (Denis’ son) took over the business. He married Zoé Crampon in 1836 and so the famous Buffet Crampon brand name was created. The logo used today first appeared in 1844.
Louis-Auguste Buffet (Jean-Louis’ uncle) met the clarinettist Hyacinthe Klosé, a virtuoso musician and a teacher at the Paris Conservatory. These two men, the technician and the artist, worked together. They took the idea of movable rings which the German Theobald Boehm has developed for the flute and adapted it for the clarinet. First exhibited in 1839, this new system was very successful and in order to meet the demand, the Buffet Crampon factory was built in 1850 in Mantes-la-Ville. As early as 1866, Buffet Crampon was producing its first saxophones, 20 years after the invention of this instrument by the Belgian Adolphe Sax.
Buffet Crampon has received many awards for the quality of its instruments, notably in 1889 during the Universal Exhibition in Paris.
In 1918, Buffet Crampon entered the American market and established its position as the leader in the world of professional clarinets.
In 1921, a young beginner, Robert Carrée, was hired by the company. He was an extremely talented acoustic technician and developed the R13 clarinet in 1950 and the RC clarinet in 1975. These in turn led to the creation of the Festival and Prestige professional models.
The factory modernizes its workshops and has adopted modern technology, but remains faithful to its original standards for quality.
In 1981, Buffet Crampon was bought by the famous music publisher Boosey & Hawkes, of London.
Buffet Crampon has always had a tradition of innovation. In 1994, a new material was created and named Green Line. This innovative material is composed 95% of ebony powder and 5% of carbon fibre, eliminating the risk of cracking while maintaining the acoustic qualities of wood. Today the Green Line range is used worldwide by the greatest professional clarinet and oboe players.
In 2003, Boosey & Hawkes withdrew from the famous French manufactory of instruments, and sold it to The Music Group.
In 2005, Buffet Crampon regained its independence under the supervision of the President Paul Baronnat, who is deeply committed to the accompaniment of the musicians and the protection of the brand. In 2006, Buffet Crampon acquires two famous brands of brass instruments: Antoine Courtois Paris and Besson.
Since its inception, the company has ranked first amongst clarinet manufacturers, owing to its unrivalled expertise, innovative approach and modernised facilities, from which Buffet Crampon oboes, bassoons and saxophones also benefit.
The tradition, the spirit of the company and the musicians accompaniment have been, since 1825, and are now more than ever the centre of the dynamic of Buffet Crampon.
|The modern Buffet logo first appeared on Buffets approximately in 1844 after in 1936 Mr Buffet married Ms Crampon to make "Buffet-Crampon".|
|Late 1800s||No serial numbers
Wrap around register key
"H. Bettoney" is stamped on the Bell as the US importer. LP can be lightly seen under the UJ under the Made in France stamp below the Buffet Emblem. The 1906 version of this clarinet has a normal backside register key & vent.
These early Buffets featured the cutout below the crows foot and a flat spring underneath the F#/C# key. You can see the metal piece as the touch point for the flat spring in the cutout. It also featured a flat spring on the C#/G#
Also note, as below, that that C#/G# tonehole actually is not cut as the other toneholes but simply a hole in the cylinder - the surface is curved to the cylinder. You can use a leather pad for sealing or a cork pad. With a cork pad one simply holds some fine grit sandpaper on the body (grit facing out) and then carefully sands down a cork to the body curvature .. works pretty good. With leather or bladder pads it is best to use the method that Moennig liked to use and that is to bend the pad slighlty to give it some curve. On bladder pads though that may create the sealing surface to loosen which may invoke it buzzing in the air stream (not a good thing for tone), thus the thicker leather pad (or cork) is more preferred.
|1920s||single piece body, full boehm|
|1926||per the serial number this is a 1926 Buffet. Albeit quite dirty.|
This 1928 Albert you can see that most keywork is sprung with flat springs, also the screws were inserted into a hole that went all the way through the touchpiece and then sanded down smooth. Sorry about the pics - my camera broke and the replacement was a dud.
|1910-1930s||1910-1930s Buffets were imported by Karl Fisher and had an appropriate designation to that. Any "LP" stamp designated Low Pitch at 440hz|
|1936ish||keywork modification when the [a] LH pinky
spatula keys went from 1 shared post to two posts and rods
Below shows also shows [b] and 2 horizontally placed screw thumbrest (see pics of 1936 in SN list #18450)
|1941-1950||Carl Fisher Musical Instruments Company of New York
continued to import the Buffet clarinets. They (Carl Fisher and
not Buffet) had
the designations of R13, R13 1/2, R14, R14 1/2, R16 R16 1/2, R16 3/4 -
this was found in the Carl Fisher catalogs, not on the clarinet
The "1/2" represented an Eb lever.
The R14 had 17 keys and 7 rings & the Eb lever.
R16 was the 19 key, 7 ring with articulated G#, Eb lever and forked Eb key.
R16 3/4 had 20 keys, 7 rings, articulated G#, Eb lever, forked Bb and a partridge in a pear tree !!
|pre R-13||Pre-R13s Stopped production around 1955. Visual
attributes: Shared throat post keys; key guide for top two trill keys
is a flat metal with triangular sides.
From at least 1941 - 1955 Pro Buffets had a "Master Bore". During the 1950-1955 time frame Carree's polycylindrical bore was used experimentally and evolved towards the introduction of the R-13 in 1955.
|R-13||Started Production in 1955 through today.
Some "prototypes" were developed earlier than 1955. Primary identification included separate throat key posts; shape of the key guide for the top two trill keys - R-13 has a cylinder with slot cut down the middle.
|Early R13s has a flat spring for the C#/G# key until,
supposedly 1970. To some, this provides a much smooth key
action. This was the preferred method going back to the earliest
Buffets but was not used in the 1940s - mid 1950's - as a needle
spring was used.
We offer a service where we can retrofit a flat spring to the C#/G# key for those that prefer it (the needle spring can be unhooked and kept in position if desired)
The R13 from
1955 through 1970 register vent was smaller and higher than current
production. These earlier models are considered to have the best sound
of any era R13 but at the cost of a thin/stuffy throat Bb and also
quirky tuning of the 12ths. A reverse conical barrel (Moenning
type) can improve the tuning.
|DG||DG stands for Daniel Gautier. Mr. Gautier (a top
Parisian clarinetist) developed this clarinet which was produced from
1993 to 2000 and came in Bb (model 1141AG) and A (model 1241AG).
The bore dimension was 14.62mm which is very slightly smaller than the
respective aged Festival (at 14.64mm).
The DG was made with unstained African Blackwood, metal rings on the tenons, a new design ring keys which were flatter (aka Selmer like) and adjustable thumbrest. The Lower tenon bore is 14.62mm but the upper bore is more RC like. This gives it a fairly large flair from top to bottom of the upper joint. Coupled with a higher speaker tube design like the RC (about 4mm higher than a R13) and smaller diameter gives is a unique tone which is brighter and more expansive than a regular R13.
(High end Intermediate)
|pre E-13s (before they were sold as Buffets) are Evette-Schaeffer and Evette clarinets - please see that section for more information.|
(Conservatory/High end Intermediate)
|Made in Germany. Current E-11s have plastic tonehole inserts|
|Clear E-11||Not many were made but a few E-11 and B-12s were produced that were clear and had lacquered or brass keys. Approximately 1989.|
|R113s were also known as the Academy model which were
supposedly identical to R13 with some minor default such as body or
Apparently the Buffets from 38,000 through 41,000 were designed with a lower joint a bit too large. This created a problem with clarinetists playing the instrument in tune and Buffet was losing business. Buffet brought in Hans Moenig who some how corrected the faults and these instruments were relabeled as an Academy model and sold as a student model.
|S-1||1970s. R-13 with a inverse taper barrel for a slightly brighter sound. Recognizable by the S1 in a diamond below the Buffet emblem.|
|Limite||A store marketed brand (Brooke Mays, Caldwell Music of
the US) of the E-11 with a cheaper plastic thumbrest, soft sided case,
silver plated keys.
Recognizable by "Limite" in script below the Buffet emblem.
|Continentale||The American investor Martin Tolchin bought Buffet in the mid 1970’s. He was aware of the fact that not all clarinet players agreed on the tone-color of their instrument, so the "R-13" model was soon joined by the "Continentale", the "S-1", the "BC-20" and later the "RC". All have subtle differences, all are considered to be "top of the line" equals. Before 1980, the Buffet name was only engraved on their best clarinets|
|Olds Opera &
|supposed R-13 stencils (or Master Models) from the 1960s and 1970s. BUT since this really can't be proven they really don't sell for much.|
|Buffet Elite||Manufactured from the 1980s through 2002. Thin wall
body made of a premium grenadilla. The reinforcing rings were made of
black polycarbonate fiber. It was supposedly designed for
"chamber" settings and not orchestra or concert band setting
you can see more pictures of the Elite here
(pics taken from German eBay)
Special keywork. Notice the "open" hole just above the bell.
And the extra keywork from the top of the register key going all the way down the lower joint
Built with Gold plated posts and silverplated keywork.
If you look closely there an open hole on the left as a vent
Take a close look at the register key, the pad cup. It activates a long actuating arm which has it's own bridge and continues to the lower part of the lower joint.
You can see the rod keywork alongside the bottom of the lower joint. It ends and the padcup goes along the backside.
|B12 (brushed)||Very lightweight brushed plastic, great for beginners. Made in West Germany and the quality is unmatched for a student instrument. Excellent keywork, fit and finish.|
|Evette||predecessor to the B12 - separate throat key posts, triangular trill key guide an a large Evette emblem on a plastic body|
The Vintage was designed to capture the tonal quality of the 1950s Buffets. They did a wonderful job of accomplishing this. The Vintages sound so identical to the 1955s taht I own except they have less resistance.
Per Buffet Crampon website
"A highly colorful clarinet!
The Vintage clarinet was designed in 1996 by René Lesieux, master craftsman and responsible for instrument research and development at Buffet Crampon for over 40 years.
In creating the Vintage, Buffet Crampon especially wanted to satisfy those musicians who wish to find the same features and sound they had with their 1950's R13 clarinet.
Today, the Vintage has charmed many clarinettists over the world. They choose the Vintage for its fluid, focused tone, its homogeneity in all registers, and its easy response.
The Vintage in A has a special bore designed to provide a previously unreached level of flexibility and remarkable tuning with a warmth in all registers.
The D/A and G#/C# tone holes have been raised. The Vintage clarinet comes with both a cylindrical and a double conical barrel."
Keywork Trivia only the Buffet mafia will love (post installation and touch piece screws)
Below is an early 1900s Buffet with a wrap around register key. The posts were simply screw in. This provides a tight foundation but as the threads or wood compress a bit it can become loose. Even a little lose may, when no keywork is on, show that the post when tightened is no longer in parallel adjustment to the other posts.
Post installation evolved over time. This 1959 Buffet the post itself screwed in and there was a wood screw to maintain it's angle - the post has the flush screw-in extension.
The picture below of a 1968 Buffet shows that the post is a plug that is pushed into the body with a tightening wood screw.
Flat Springs versus needle springs
One can only really theorize that in the 1800s it was much easier to install a flat spring than a needle spring. It's easier to drill a hole through a key for a long screw to hold a flat spring, then just grind and buff (thus the reason in early Buffets you see the screw on the top piece). Needles on the other hand, back then could be harder to drill a small hole in a small post. Try this yourself with crude instruments and you may concur.
In the below picture of a late 1800s Buffet Albert you can notice the use the flat springs on the UJ Eb sliver key, the C#/G#, LJ sliver F# key and of course the trill keys etc. There were only a couple needles used on the ring keywork.
Below picture shows an early wrap around Buffet (1898) with a flat spring on the lower spatula key. This, of course, was later replaced with a post needle spring. You can also see the plug for the needle spring to rest against on the body. The early Buffets also had flat springs for the C#/G#. (trivia .... some 1960s - 70s Selmer USA Signets used needle springs on the throat A key)
And on really early clarinets the toneholes were not as tall as they are now. They evolved. In the picture below you can see that the tonehole isn't higher than the surrounding body itself. They are cut with a "gap" for the ring but the sides of the tonehole drop off. You can also see on the Ab and Eb key the screw holding the flat spring in that was cutoff and grinded/buffed down.
Difference Between Models
So what's the difference between a R-13 and a BC-20/RC or S-1 or other models. From time to time I'll take measurements of various attributes and post them here
Comparison between late 1950s R13 and a late 1960s BC-20 (RC model)
|R-13||BC-20 (67xxx)||Academy Model (38xxx)|
|UPPER JOINT||distance from top of joint (minus tenon) and middle of tonehole||Diameter of tonehole / diameter of overcut of tonehole||distance from joint top to mid TH||Tonehole / Overcut Diameter||distance from joint top to mid TH||Tonehole / Overcut Diameter|
|4 trill (Bb)||53.0||5.77|
|register vent||19.75 mm||2.75|
|top ring||5.20 / 5.65||115.00 mm||4.98 mm / 5.30||115.75||4.86 / 5.00|
|2nd ring||6.60 / 6.85||147.80||6.57 / 6.84||148.50||6.85 / 6.87|
|C/G tonehole||7.55 / 7.75||171.60||7.68 /8.08||172.50||7.10 / 7.10|
|top pad||6.90 / 6.96|
|top ring||7.90 / 8.25||38.50||8.09 / 8.38||38.00||7.61 / 7.86|
|2nd ring||7.35 / 7.61||64.50||7.75 / 8.00||64.40||7.36 / 7.55|
|lower ring||8.85 / 9.15||87.60||9.40 / 9.60||87.00||8.60 / 9.00|
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