How Much is my Martin Freres Clarinet Worth?

As with any hand-crafted musical instrument, the overall value has many dependencies and can be difficult to determine with complete accuracy. However, here is what we’ve discovered:

First we need to consider the obvious:

  1. Current condition; Is the clarinet playable? Does it need to be reconditioned? Are there any scratches, cracks, leaks, missing components?
  2. Popularity and market acceptance of the model both at its initial release and with clarinet enthusiasts today;
  3. Where the piece was made; The French pieces tend to have a higher value, for example, than do the clarinets manufactured elsewhere;
  4. Current demand versus available supply for the piece by collectors also affects the clarinet value.

Next, to determine the Martin Freres clarinet’s value, we answer the questions:

  1. How well has the clarinet been preserved, stored and/or maintained over the years of its existence?
  2. Even if the clarinet is currently in good, playable condition, did the piece require significant repairs such as cracks, misaligned posts, replacement keys, at any time in its history?
  3. Is the clarinet all original? Meaning: Is the bell original? Is the barrel original? Are the keys the original keys installed by its clarinet-maker? Do the serial numbers on the upper and lower joints match? Is the mouthpiece a Martin Freres? Is the ligature a Martin Freres? Originality of the clarinet certainly affect its value;
  4. Which of the various Martin Freres maker’s stamps (logos) was used on the clarinet?

Because of the trickling supply of Martin Freres Vintage clarinets online, Vintage Martin Freres Clarinets have become appreciable assets. The demand that we receive for original replacements parts is increasing. Even though brand new components to fit the Martin Freres brand of clarinets are readily available from Asia, original Martin Freres components remain far more valuable. This remains true despite the fact that the quality of the Asian components is improving quickly.

So, how much is that old Martin Freres clarinet worth anyway? Here is a list of Bb clarinets for which we are tracking the market value.

Value of Martin Freres Vintage Woodwinds

Many Bb clarinets by the Martin Brothers with manufacture dates before 1920 were not given a model name or number; some didn’t even receive a serial number. The value of all original Grenadilla Wood and Rosewood Martin Freres Clarinets with manufacture dates before the 1920’s are highly sought by woodwind collectors and bring thousands of dollars depending upon the auction-house, clarinet system, the number of keys, the wood species and other materials used (such as genuine Ivory) and of course the condition.

Original English Boxwood Martin Freres Clarinets with manufacture dates before WWI are nearly extinct in playable condition. Reconditioning of Boxwood Clarinets is ill advised, aside from restringing the tenons, as museums and collectors value the originality above play-ability. Regardless of condition, these clarinets are $PRICELESS to us and clarinet enthusiasts. If you own such a clarinet, please consider donating the clarinet to a museum that has a focus on woodwinds. We would be happy to help to connect you with a museum curator.

Please Note: We receive calls daily from folks wishing to sell their vintage clarinets. Although we enjoy speaking with as many people as we can, we are no longer adding clarinets to our collection.  Additionally, we are not providing private evaluation or repair services at this time.

Thank you,
The Martin Freres Company Team

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  1. Pingback: Grand Prix Low B Clarinet c1906-1914 | Martin Freres Company

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