Introducing My Clarinet
July 3, 2021
Leblanc, six rings, stubbins.
I bought this clarinet on eBay because I was interested in working on and playing a clarinet with the Stubbins mechanism (an explanation of how it works is below).
The tone of the clarinet is very centered and warm, something that I couldn’t quite find in the Buffet I was playing previously.
I overhauled this clarinet with black Valentino Greenback pads. I chose not to use the “masters” pads as I had used Greenbacks on previous overhauls, and enjoyed the feel of the pads on all of them. The black, in my opinion, makes the clarinet look much “cleaner”, in the sense that there are only two things that you can really see: the wood of the clarinet and the keywork.
The only problem with this clarinet was the third ring, which was soldered onto the second ring. Normally the third would be separate and have an additional vent to facilitate the use of the 1-3 Eb/Bb. The result of soldering the third right onto the second ring was a flat and stuffy 1-3, and a ridiculously sharp 1-1. I put a cork in the second ring tone hole, and this a brought the 1-1 in tune but rendered the 1-3 completely unusable, which I likely wouldn’t have used much anyways.
Just for fun I changed the thumb rest to a Ton Kooiman Etude 3, and soldered on an additional C#/G# touchpiece, inspired by the old albert clarinets and modern makers like Cannonball. The piece was sourced from the register key of an albert system clarinet, and though it is comically large, it is very easy to reach and does not interfere with the existing keywork.
The Stubbins Mechanism
The Stubbins mechanism was designed by William Stubbins, a professor at The University of Michigan, and was used on Leblanc clarinets. You will mostly seem them on Noblet clarinets, with the Stubbins stamp at the top.
This Leblanc clarinet has a different variation of the Stubbins mechanism; it activates only when the throat A key is pressed, via an arm that extends over the top of the A key. When a throat Bb is fingered, the register vent switches to a larger tone hole that is a few centimeters lower on the clarinet. There are two adjustment screws to regulate the action.
I have been playing this clarinet for several months now, and there was a slight learning curve, as the mechanism introduces three new springs. I had to relearn the action of the register and A keys, but it did not take long, and I can play regular clarinets just fine.