bitguru blog

a guru of bits, or just a bit player?

Plateau Clarinets

Posted by bitguru on February 29, 2008

I don’t play much B♭ soprano clarinet, but when I do I use a plateau (closed-hole) model. Plateau B♭clarinets are oddballs, but not exactly rare. Several turn up on eBay each year. That’s where I bought the Noblet plateau B♭ clarinet I play.

Plateau clarinets in A, however, are rare. Until recently I had never heard of one. That has changed, though, because I just picked up a matched set of B♭and A plateau full-Boehm Selmer Paris clarinets made in 1937. They are in pretty rough shape and I probably overpaid for them, but now I’m one step closer to world domination my goal having a nice set of “soprano bass clarinets” to play.

plateau clarinets

The horn on the left is my Noblet B♭plateau clarinet. In the middle is the Selmer Bb plateau clarinet. It’s as long as a standard A clarinet because of the extended range to low Eb (notice the fifth RH pinky key). On the right is the Selmer A plateau clarinet, which also goes down to low E♭ and is even longer.

Interestingly, the LH thumb hole is not plateau on the Selmers. (It is on the Noblet.) This is the reverse of a Mazzeo System clarinet, in which the thumb key is plateau but the other holes are open.

The first thing I have to do is find a case for these guys. (The case in which they came is falling apart and is beyond repair.) A standard Bb/A clarinet case won’t do because these horns are too long. If anyone out there has suggestions, please leave a comment.

After that I’m going to see about getting them overhauled. Just about every pad and spring needs to be replaced, and several keys need to be bent back into position. A large crack on one of the bells needs to be repaired (or probably I’ll just obtain a replacement bell) and what would seem to be an old repair of a substantial crack on the top joint of the B♭ should be scrutinized. After that, we’ll see if these things can even play in tune.

9 Responses to “Plateau Clarinets”

  1. Hi Bitguru…
    I am looking for a plateau clarinet in Bflat. Do you know where there is one ?
    I have arthritis so I think one of those will help me out.
    Doreen In Canada

  2. Dan said

    It’s pretty easy to make cases if you have a good shell. In other words, you might use a soprano sax case or something else with the correct length. Take out the inside molding and replace it with high density foam. You can cut the foam to whatever shape and size you like. ~Dan

  3. Bob MacMillan said

    Hi Doreen;

    I bought a new VITO 7214P plateau clarinet. Search the web for “VITO 7214P” Its cheaper to import from the USA than purchase in Canada, and because its manufactured in the USA there is no import duty.

    Bob in Canada

  4. Kev Foster said

    Aha! It is you who got those beautiful Selmers! I remember seeing them (and bidding on them). The A is really beautiful.

    I have a Triebert C clarinet with albert system plateau keys with a mechanism to allow a third fingering for Bb/F. They called it “triple fa”.

    Regarding Doreen’s comment — as of a few months ago Vito was offering a plateau model, I saw it at one of the big online instrument dealers.

  5. Isaac said

    how low does the keywork take it?

    how much do they cost?

  6. Steve Colebrook said

    I recently was in need of a case for my selmer 10S Basset clarinet. Howard Wiseman made custom case for me. His web site is cool…

  7. Gandalfe said

    I think this is the link to the Boehm discussion from your post: http://biskey7.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/full-boehm-clarinet-in-a-modern-world/

  8. Jillbull said

    I recently came across a closed hole Leblanc Normandy clarinet with serial number 36752. I wanted to know if you would know how much it is worth. I am looking to sell it.

  9. [...] five years ago I purchased a pair of full-Boehm clarinets in B♭ and A. At the time I wrote, “the first thing I have to do is find a case for these [...]

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