Category Archives: Learning

How to Select a Mouthpiece for a Vintage Clarinet

Selecting a clarinet mouthpiece for a vintage clarinet with a non-standard tenon receiver bore can be a bit challenging, but it’s important to find a mouthpiece that fits properly to ensure good playability and sound quality. Here are steps to guide you through the process:

  1. Measure the Tenon Receiver Bore: Begin by measuring the internal diameter of the tenon receiver bore on your vintage clarinet. Use a caliper or a measuring tool designed for this purpose. Record the diameter in millimeters, as this measurement will be crucial when choosing a mouthpiece.
  2. Consult a Clarinet Specialist: Contact a clarinet specialist, repair technician, or a reputable music shop that specializes in woodwind instruments. They may have experience with vintage clarinets and can provide guidance on mouthpiece selection.
  3. Explore Custom Mouthpieces: Due to the non-standard bore size, you might need a custom mouthpiece made specifically for your clarinet. Custom mouthpiece makers can create mouthpieces to fit your instrument’s unique requirements. They will take the measurements you obtained in step 1 and design a mouthpiece accordingly. Keep in mind that custom mouthpieces can be more expensive but are tailored to your clarinet’s needs.
  4. Try Different Mouthpieces: If a custom mouthpiece isn’t an option, you can try different standard mouthpieces with various bore sizes. Look for mouthpieces that are slightly smaller than your clarinet’s tenon receiver bore but not too small to avoid air leaks. You can experiment with different mouthpieces to find one that fits snugly and provides a good seal.
  5. Use Mouthpiece Adapters: In some cases, you may be able to use a mouthpiece adapter to fit a standard mouthpiece onto your vintage clarinet. These adapters are designed to bridge the gap between the mouthpiece and the tenon receiver bore. However, they may affect the instrument’s playability and tone, so consider this option cautiously.
  6. Seek Expert Advice: If you’re uncertain about which mouthpiece to choose or whether an adapter would work, consult with a clarinet expert or technician. They can provide specific recommendations based on the unique characteristics of your vintage clarinet.
  7. Test and Adjust: Once you’ve obtained a mouthpiece that seems to fit well, test it on your clarinet. Pay attention to intonation, tone quality, and ease of play. If necessary, you may need to make small adjustments or seek further guidance from a professional to optimize the setup.

Remember that finding the right mouthpiece for a vintage clarinet with a non-standard tenon receiver bore may require some patience and experimentation. Prioritize playability and tone quality to ensure that your instrument sounds and feels its best.

Exploring Career Possibilities and Probabilities of Success in Studying the Clarinet

When it comes to pursuing a career in music, the possibilities are as diverse as the instruments themselves. One such instrument that has captivated audiences for centuries is the clarinet. A young person considering studying the clarinet may wonder about the career possibilities and the probabilities of success that lie ahead. Let’s delve into this fascinating world to shed some light on the subject.

Performance Opportunities:
For those passionate about playing the clarinet, a career as a professional performer is a compelling choice. Clarinetists have a wide range of options, including joining orchestras, chamber music ensembles, or even pursuing a solo career. Opportunities to perform can arise in symphony halls, concert venues, opera houses, or as part of touring ensembles. Successful clarinetists often secure positions in renowned orchestras or pursue teaching positions in prestigious institutions.

Session and Studio Work:
Clarinetists can also explore session and studio work, contributing their skills to a variety of musical genres. This includes participating in recording sessions for albums, film scores, television shows, or even video game soundtracks. Versatile clarinet players can adapt to different musical styles, enhancing their chances of securing such opportunities.

Teaching and Education:
A career in teaching can be a rewarding path for those who not only excel at playing the clarinet but also have a passion for imparting knowledge. Teaching positions can be found in schools, conservatories, universities, or through private instruction. Some clarinetists also choose to offer masterclasses or workshops, sharing their expertise with aspiring musicians.

Orchestral Opportunities:
Orchestras provide a platform for clarinetists to showcase their skills and passion. While securing a permanent position in a major orchestra can be highly competitive, there are other avenues to explore. Freelance opportunities, substitute positions, or participating in regional orchestras can help young clarinetists gain valuable experience, build their network, and increase their chances of success.

Chamber Music:
Chamber music, an intimate form of ensemble playing, offers clarinetists the chance to collaborate closely with other musicians. Joining a chamber music group can lead to performances in various settings, such as concert series, festivals, and even international tours. This path allows for artistic expression and the opportunity to establish oneself as a versatile and sought-after musician.

Composing and Arranging:
Some clarinetists choose to explore their creativity by composing or arranging music. This can involve writing original pieces for the clarinet or adapting existing compositions for the instrument. With dedication and skill, a clarinetist-composer can find opportunities to have their works performed, recorded, or published.

While the possibilities for a career in clarinet playing are vast, it’s important to acknowledge the probabilities of success and the challenges one may encounter along the way. The music industry is highly competitive, demanding continuous dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to ongoing improvement. Success often requires not only exceptional talent but also networking skills, entrepreneurial mindset, and a willingness to embrace new opportunities.

Building a successful career as a clarinetist often requires years of study, practice, and performance experience. A solid foundation through formal education, such as a degree in music performance or clarinet, can provide crucial training and guidance. Additionally, seeking mentorship from established clarinetists and participating in competitions, masterclasses, and workshops can help young clarinetists develop their skills and gain exposure.

Success in the music industry is not solely measured by fame and fortune. It is a deeply personal journey, where fulfillment and artistic growth play vital roles. Remember that success can take various forms, and finding joy and fulfillment in playing the clarinet can be a rewarding achievement in itself.

In conclusion, pursuing a career as a clarinetist offers a wide range of possibilities for young musicians. Whether it’s performing on grand stages, recording in studios, teaching future generations, or exploring other creative avenues, a career in clarinet playing can be rich and fulfilling. While the path may be challenging, with dedication, talent, and a passion for music, young clarinetists can increase their probabilities of success and embark on a remarkable musical journey.

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-plating loss, fair pads, fair cork, fair springs.
  • Used Very Good Playable Condition – Playable with no issues, may have repaired cracks, may have minor metal-plating loss, good pads, good cork, good springs.
  • Used Excellent Playable Condition – No visible scratches, No cracks or pins, No metal-plating loss; must have 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 1890s, the Thibouville Family of Paris partnered with the Jean-Baptiste Martin Family to continue the Martin Freres tradition through ~1927.

Martin Freres 20th Century Logo

Martin Freres 20th Century Logo

In the 1930s, a team of French & American businessmen revived the company and licensed the Martin Freres name to various woodwind manufacturers worldwide to produce student and intermediate woodwinds until the 1960s.

Martin Freres Company Today

Martin Freres Company

For the 21st century, a new generation of clarinet makers has risen to the challenge to keep the Martin brother’s dream alive. With 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 released in the 1940s and 50s) in La Couture Boussey (Eure) FR. The use of the company and brand name ‘Martin Freres’ (for woodwind manufacturing) does not first appear anywhere in the world 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 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


Vintage Martin Freres 1740 Deluxe Model Over 75 Years Old

During a time in instrument manufacturing history, when clarinets were being widely produced for the Big Band Jazz sound, Martin Freres Woodwinds continued 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, over 75 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 construction techniques 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 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 1960s. Originally crafted to play to 19th-century tuning (A = 442 Hz), clarinet barrels are readily available to transform the 1740 Deluxe tuning to the modern A = 440 Hz; 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 in solo performances for virtually any venue.

The 1740 Deluxe has become a rare find. Catch one if you can!



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