Author Archives: Martin Freres

Jean Montour A Paris Clarinet

From Karmin:

I am a graduate clarinet student and have recently come across a vintage clarinet and I would like to find out more about it. I have been researching every possible place, but this one in particular doesn’t have much readily available information. I’m hoping you’ll be able to help me! Here’s what I know:
The clarinet is in wonderful shape and plays well. The parts, including bell and barrel, are all original and there are no cracks. The A key has been soldered, but everything else is original (except for pads, obviously!). It is a B High pitch clarinet with the “Jean Montour A Paris” brand with the little fly and a symbol underneath, with a “B”. I have not been able to find any serial numbers, but may have overlooked something. I believe that it is grenadilla wood, and the wood looks fabulous! The clarinet could stand to be cleaned a good bit, but that is all superficial and should clean up well. 

Reply by Martin Freres Company:

The Jean Montour A Paris is definitely a model manufactured by Martin Freres Paris. We have not ascertained the historical significance or provenance of the Jean Montour name but our research continues. 
What we do know is that this model was manufactured in Paris c1900 – 1905, prior to the Gran Prix model. These were not manufactured for export from France, however, Jean Montour instruments are extant across Europe today attesting to how well they were made. JFB Martin also made Oboes and Low clarinets with the Jean Montour name and the Martin Family’s iconic bumblebee stamp is clearly affixed. No serial numbers are know to have been engraved on these models.
Your clarinet was featured in the 1905 Martin Freres Catalog (advertised with the Martin Freres name) which you can see here:

As far as we are concerned, this clarinet is a priceless piece of history.

Because the piece is over 100 years old, we cannot provide a value for resale or for insurance replacement. 
Take care of it and enjoy it!

Best Regards,

The Martin Freres Company

Jean Montour A Paris by Martin Freres c1905

Grand Prix Low B Clarinet c1906-1914

Good Afternoon,

I wonder if you are able, please, to give me advice regarding my son’s Clarinet which was willed to him some 15 years ago. We are not especially interested in it’s value, although if it is valuable it would be useful to know as more care should be taken of it!

I have had it identified by a company who specialize in instrument repairs here in Brisbane. The instrument in question is a Grand Prix B low pitch serial number 1010. It was difficult to identify as the stamping is very faint but it is definitely Martin Freres with the little fly.

At some time it has had a pinned repair on the section next to the mouthpiece. The repair is still in good order.

What we would really like to know is when it was manufactured, so if you could offer a guidance as whom I may contact who could help me establish this I would indeed be very grateful.

Best wishes and thank you in hopeful anticipation,

John R.



Thank you for your email.
The Grand Prix was a limited edition clarinet produced c1906-1914 by Martin Freres to coincide with first Grand Prix racing in France. Unfortunately, we no longer have serial number to date-stamp data for such models so we cannot be certain of the exact data of manufacture. However, we can find no Grand Prix model advertisements after 1914.

The original advertisement can be found here:
Value estimations can be found here:
Identifying photo can be found here:

Thank you,
The Martin Freres Company Team

How We Appraise a Clarinet

When appraising a clarinet, the Martin Freres Company experts consider the following:

  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 at its initial release;
  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 supply affects the clarinet value;
  5. How well has the clarinet been preserved, stored and/or maintained over the years of its existence?
  6. 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?
  7. 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;
  8. Which of the various Martin Freres maker’s stamps (logos) was used on the clarinet?
  9. Actual recent sales;

Description for the Condition of a Clarinet

  • Used Parts Only to Poor Condition – Not playable; Needs Major Work
  • Used Fair to Good Playable Condition – Playable with minor issues, may have repaired cracks, may have metal loss, fair pads, fair cork, fair springs.
  • Used Very Good Playable Condition – Playable with no issues, may have repaired cracks, may have minor metal loss, good pads, good cork, good springs.
  • Used Excellent Playable Condition – No visible scratches, No cracks or pins, No Metal Loss, new pads, new cork, good springs

Martin Freres Company

The Honored Journey of the Martin Freres Company Namesake

Martin Freres A Paris 19th Century Logo

Early Logo

The Martin Freres Societe (fr., Martin Brothers Company) , was established in the year 1840 in the city of La Couture Boussey, Eure France by (Francois) Jean-Baptiste
(Born 1817, Dec 1877), Claude Eugene (Born 1819, Dec 1874) & Felix (Born 1821, Dec 1896) MARTIN (surname). 

These fine craftsmen hand-manufactured flutes and clarinets from 1840 until their deaths*.

Martin Freres Logo

Martin Freres A PARIS


In the late 1890’s, the Thibouville family of Paris took the baton and continued the Martin Freres tradition until ~1927.


Martin Freres 20th Century Logo

Martin Freres 20th Century Logo

In the 1930’s, a team of French & American businessmen (unrelated to any previous owners) revived the company and licensed the Martin Freres name to various woodwind manufacturers worldwide to produce student and intermediate woodwinds until the 1960’s. In 1992, Martin Freres was dissolved worldwide and the last remnant of its iconic brand name with it. Yet, the instruments live on!


Martin Freres Company Today

Martin Freres Company


Today, a new generation of clarinet makers have risen to the challenge to keep the Martin brother’s dream alive. Affiliated by the great honor and deep respect for the groundbreaking work of its namesake’s founding fathers, the Martin Freres Company woodwind makers carry on that same fine family journey of excellence.


That is why clarinetists of today and beyond will say with pride, I Play a Martin Freres!  sm

– The Martin Freres Company Team


* The Martin Family actually began manufacturing woodwind instruments in the year 1740 (inspiring the collection of models with the 1740 stamp) in La Couture Boussey (Eure) FR. The use of the company and brand name ‘Martin Freres’ (for woodwind manufacturing) does not first appear until 1840.

The Martin Freres Company is a family business.

The Martin Freres Company has never been associated with the Martin Band Equipment Co., USA; the C.F. Martin Company or the Martin Guitar Company.


Take me to:

The Clarinet Catalog   —   About Martin Freres Company


Martin Freres Clarinet Value

Clarinetists, music shop owners, school band directors and vintage woodwind collectors are always amazed that so many Vintage Martin Freres Clarinets are still being played today even though manufacturing began almost two centuries ago! Many examples of the French, Canadian and American made woodwinds under the Martin Freres brand, regardless of age or value, are still in decent playing condition to this day.

We receive numerous inquires daily concerning the value of various Martin Freres instruments. We are not providing private evaluation or repairs services at this time. 

Needless to say, as with any hand-crafted piece, the value depends upon several key factors. First we need to consider the obvious:

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

Next, we need to dig a bit deeper to determine the Martin Freres clarinet’s value. We answer the questions:

  • How well has the clarinet been preserved, stored and/or maintained over the years of its existence?
  • 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?
  • 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;
  • 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. French-made Martin Freres woodwinds that are described online as “FOR PARTS ONLY” are selling between $50 and $120 US. In addition, 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 year by year.

Further, retail prices of re-fabricated or overhauled vintage Martin Freres Clarinets are stable, and actual sales reveal that trend as well. Recent retail prices online for a re-fabricated example of the last model release of the LaMonte series MARTIN FRERES clarinet, Lamonte Model 2, has seen rising sales trends with an average selling price of $450 US.

The value of all original Grenadilla Wood and Rosewood Martin Freres Clarinets with manufacture dates before WWII which are highly sought by woodwind collectors can bring as much as $2000.

The value of all 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 can be worth thousands of dollars.

The Martin Freres Company is keeping an eye on the market of vintage woodwinds in order to be certain of the value of its vintage clarinets and other instruments.

– Martin Freres

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*The LaMonte Model 2 was manufactured in FRANCE by the SOCIETE ANONYME DES ANCIENS ESTABLISSMENTS, MARTIN FRERES CORPORATION for worldwide distribution and includes numerous additional brand names including 1740 (not to be confused with the Martin Freres 1740 Deluxe), Classic, Victoire, Verdome and more; formerly a French company, it has since been re-established in the United States.

Martin Freres Catalog of Clarinets 1905

Select pages from the Martin Freres 1905 Catalog of Clarinets.

In 1905, Martin Freres instruments were manufactured in La Couture Boussey, Eure, France.
The catalog features Boehm, Demi-Boehm, Albert, Simple and J-B Martin System Clarinets.

What does J-B Martin stand for?

  • J-B, Jean Baptiste Martin, one of the company founders; son of Francois Martin, founder of Martin Clarinets of La Coutoure Boussey, FR c1740;
  • J-B Martin is the name given to the patented System of clarinets designed and manufactured by Jean Baptiste Martin and his brothers;
  • J.B.M. stamped on many clarinets dating c1888 – c1927 stands for Francois Jean Baptiste Martin (the son of Jean Baptiste Martin, the company founder);
  • J-B Martin is also a d/b/a and brand name used by Martin Freres for worldwide sales and distribution;

Martin Freres Clarinet Catalog 1905

Martin Freres Clarinet Catalog 1905


Independent Review of the Martin Freres E34 Sopranino Eb Clarinet IS IN!

The Martin Freres Model E-34A Eb Soprano (Sopranino) Clarinet is a hit! Recently, the Model E-34A, with the 35mm Grenadilla Wood barrel, was reviewed by independent clarinet reviewer, Phil Pedlar, of Although our customers have been telling us how much they enjoy playing their new Efer, we had no independent and unbiased professional review of the mini clarinet until now.

>>Click to See and Hear the Martin Freres E34 Eb Sopranino Clarinet

Here is a partial copy of the 2014 review:

Martin Freres Eb (new)

Serial  #E34-1242  MFG. 04-2014 This is called Sopranino Model E-34

Barrel:   34.9mm wooden [with Bb Reed Acceptor], 36.5mm hard rubber.

Bore LH joint top:  13.1mm

This is made of Ebonite (hard rubber). Everything came in plastic bags that were sealed on both ends, even the bell. It looks like no one has touched this since it was wrapped at the factory.

Martin Freres Eb (new)

Intonation results taken when playing loud and not lipping.

For this test, I used the longer barrel (hard rubber) and I did not pull at the barrel.

High register

Android Pitch-Lab






I couldn’t get higher than this with this reed and mouthpiece.






















Throat tones


-21 / 14 using the right trill key













12 but easily lip-pable down to 0




17 Even this can be lip-ped into tune!







Intonation summary: The A above the staff on this is only slightly flat, and above that is not flat. I noticed also that I was able, with this mouthpiece to easily lower the sharp notes in the low register. One can do this way more than the corresponding notes on the Bb.

Mouthpiece: This mouthpiece seems rather open, and that works well with the somewhat soft reed that came with this. The clarinet came with an excellent retro-look ligature.

Key work quality: Excellent!

This clarinet is most appropriate for: Anyone needing an Eb. This is a GREAT DEAL!

For the entire review of this and many other clarinets, visit:


Vintage Martin Freres 1740 Deluxe Model Turns 70 Years Old

During a time in instrument manufacturing history, when clarinets were being widely produced for the Big Band Jazz sound, Martin Freres Woodwinds was focusing their manufacturing efforts on superior quality Grenadilla Wood Bb clarinets for the Symphonic enthusiast. Just after World War II, Martin Freres released a well fine-tuned instrument for experienced clarinetists engraved, ‘Martin Freres Paris Model 1740 Deluxe.’  Today, 70 years since its debut, the instrument is still performing for artists and collectors around the globe.

The 1740 Deluxe did not follow the mainstream clarinet build of the era, known as the large-bore clarinet (15.0mm and larger) made popular by such manufacturers as Conn, Selmer, Boosey & Hawkes and Penzel Mueller. Rather, Martin Freres manufactured the 1740 Deluxe using a very small 14.5mm bore, which was embraced by clarinetists throughout the world for playing classical pieces.

The 1740 Deluxe features outstanding intonation and key action throughout the registers, as well as the throat tones, making it an ideal example of a mid 20th century professional clarinet.

The Martin Freres 1740 Deluxe was manufactured in Paris, France from 1945 until the 1960’s. Originally tuned in the European playing style (A = 442 Hz), tuning barrels, made of various wood types, are available allowing the 1740 Deluxe to be tuned to A = 440 Hz and fitted to mouthpieces with tenons measuring 22.0mm – 22.6mm.

Acoustically, the 1740 Deluxe boasts an underlying whisper (silvery overtones) to complement its bright, rich tone and reaching projection. Players can easily blend with the full cast of instruments or stand out solo in virtually any venue.

So, Happy 70th, 1740 Deluxe. Clarinetists and collectors everywhere know the significance of your arrival!




Top Receiver ID: 22.25mm; Tenon Receiver Depth: 17.30mm; Center Bore: 14.50mm

Bottom Receiver ID: 22.85mm; Tenon Receiver Depth: 20.30mm; Center Bore: 14.50mm

Bore Style: Straight

Length: 64mm


Upper Joint:

Top Tenon OD: 22.7mm; Tenon Height: 19.9mm; Center Bore: 14.50mm

Bottom Tenon OD: 21.9mm; Tenon Height: 16.3mm; Center Bore: 14.69mm


Lower Joint:

Top Receiver ID: 21.2mm; Tenon Receiver Depth: 15.7mm; Center Bore: 14.77mm

Bottom Tenon OD: 27.2mm; Tenon Height: 19.8mm; Center Bore: 21.9mm



Top Receiver ID: 26.8mm; Tenon Receiver Depth 19.8mm; Length: 105.3mm

How to Oil a Grenadilla Wood Clarinet

Dalbergia melanoxylon (also called African BlackwoodGrenadilla, or Mpingo), is a material used to produce musical instruments, especially woodwinds such as the clarinet, because it is one of the hardest (most dense) woods available. Due to harvesting restrictions on the trees, grenadilla wood is slowly becoming more difficult to procure. So, if you own a clarinet made of this precious material, care for it well!

Prior to being turned on a lathe into a clarinet body, the wood is processed and aged for many months to ensure its stability over various temperatures. Many clarinet makers apply oil to the clarinet body during processing.

Experience tells us that oil should be swabbed into the bore about once per year for a grenedilla wood clarinet. If the clarinet is used or stored in an arid climate, or if it is regularly played outside in wet weather, oil can be applied more often to keep the bore clean.

So, what is the best way to apply clarinet bore oil?

1. Ensure that the clarinet bore is thoroughly dry by swabbing the bore.

2. Cover each pad with a bit of plastic wrap material to ensure that the pads do not come in contact with the oil.

3. Pour approximately a teaspoon of oil (bore oil is typically made of mineral oil but some use olive oil, almond oil, walnut oil or other light oil) on a swab to be used only for oiling the clarinet.

4. Rub the oil into the swab and then slowly swab the bore of the barrel, upper and lower joints of the clarinet from the top down, then the bottom up.

5. Inspect the bore to ensure that a very thin slick of oil has been applied evenly. If not, swab again.

6. Let the clarinet rest until the bore is dry.

7. Swab the clarinet using a dry swab.

Now for the most important step:

8. Store your grenadilla wood clarinet in a climate controlled environment.

Because the grenadilla is naturally saturated in oil as it grows, the oils inherent to this tree species remain in the climate controlled wood even generations after it is carved into a clarinet. In climate extremes, too dry, too hot, too wet, too cold, grenadilla oils break down and leave the wood porous and brittle.

After each session of playing, be sure to disassemble and dry the bore, the pads and the tenon cork before returning the instrument to its case. Anyone who has ever found a vintage grenadilla wood clarinet in less than ideal storage conditions can attest to the unsightly corrosion, mold growth and truly foul odor that consumes the unmaintained instrument. How do you remove that foul odor? Ah, that’s a story for another day!

– Martin Freres