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Clarinet/Cundy-Bettoney silver clarinet Martin mouthpiece OLD


Kruzi wrote at 2007-11-24 21:00:40
Hello Rebecca,

the Bettoney Three Star is an upper intermediate (or semi-pro) model and with the exception of the materials used in it the Three Star is identical to Bettoney`s top-of-the-line model, which was named Silva-Bet and made entirely from silverplated nickle-silver. In opposite to the Silva-Bet the Three Star has a copper bell while the rest of the body is made of goldbrass and the keyworks are made from nickel-silver. The whole clarinet has a thin galvanic overlay consisting of either pure nickel or silver to protect the sensible keywork material from sweat and to make the instrument look nice and shiny. The Three Star also doesn`t have the thick tunable barrel with a screw mechanism like the Silva-Bet. But this is no disadvantage because sooner or later most old Silva-Bets develop problems with the delicate tuning-mechanism which gets worn out and starts to drone while you play. So the simple barrel of the Three Star can be seen as an advantage here.  

The sound of these two metal clarinets is virtually indistinguishable to the sound of a good wooden clarinet with cylindrical bore.

Your neighbour indeed has made a very good choice in getting her son this clarinet.

Most clarinet students of that time had to start on one of the countless beginner models with clunky keyworks and awful intonation that were flooding the market back then, similar to the many chinese noname-instruments made from plastic or fake-rosewood which you can get from chain-stores like Walmart or on eBay for one to a few hundred dollars today.

Most of the mouthpieces delivered with the Bettoney clarinets were also made by the company and are highly sought-after mouthpieces today, especially the ones made entirely from brass or the hard rubber mouthpieces with a solid silver table. The Martin company of France was another renowned clarinet-maker at that time who besides offered a line of fine handcrafted rubber mouthpieces that also went into export. The mouthpiece on your neighbour`s Three Star seems to be one of these.

Another good choice made here.

Unfortunately the Three Star model won`t bring in much because it was built in larger quantities than the Silva-Bet and thus appears more often on the market for woodwind antiques. Another thing is that almost all of these old silver clarinets need to be fully overhauled before one can play them and decide if the money spent for the revision was worth it or not. This bears some risks not many musicians are willing to take because repairing and repadding any clarinet isn`t cheap to say the least.

So many old silver clarinets end up as lamp stands or simple decoration objects. And over 98% of them don`t actually deserve better because they`re just among the aforementioned cheap student instruments with clunky keyworks... that can`t compete with today`s student clarinets from serious companies like Yamaha or Buffet.

But there are still some silver clarinets beneath the vintage Silva Bets and Silver Kings which seem to be all the rage among vintage clarinet fans today and when restored and in playable condition fetch up to 1000$.

The Three Star from Bettoney is among these.

And if you`re not after a fancy show-off instrument like a Silva-Bet with heavy-barrel gadgetry but want an elegant-looking robust player with the classical tone and feel of a vintage horn from the Swing-era it is definitely worth restoring the instrument. There`s only one important thing to consider - never ever let the body of a silver clarinet be replated in a galvanic bath using the overplating method or applying a layer thicker than the original plating. You can have the plating on the keyworks renewed and here a thicker overlay is okay. But if you put this on the main tube the instrument`s sound and resonance behaviour both are ruined.

I have experienced this with two old silver clarinets that were almost unplayable after they got a replating job. They looked brandnew and smashing but they got intonation issues, gave a stiff response and didn`d sound right anymore.

With an old silver clarinet, it is best to have a replating job on the keywork done while the rest of the instrument is just cleaned and highgloss-polished and fitted with new corks and leather pads. The result will be a nice player.

And if the Martin mouthpiece isn`t the right thing for you you shouldn`t hesitate to buy another good mouthpiece for your old Bettoney.

Though it is a vintage horn it goes along well with most modern mouthpieces for Boehm clarinets.



Molloy wrote at 2009-07-29 00:37:39
"the Bettoney Three Star is an upper intermediate (or semi-pro) model and with the exception of the materials used in it the Three Star is identical to Bettoney`s top-of-the-line model, which was named Silva-Bet and made entirely from silverplated nickle-silver."

This is not accurate.  The Three Star was a student instrument and far from identical to the Silva-Bet.

Grinder wrote at 2009-08-06 02:40:05
Your wrong I have both of them and the are identical in sound but the Three Star used cheaper material. It may have been a student grade but intonation and sound was dead on.

William VGas wrote at 2013-03-09 21:35:49
Hi my Nme is William..and I own afew of does clarinetts. They are pretty good and they sound great..I have mine recond by a gentleman in El PAso Texas If you get back to me I ll be  gald to give his will charge you around $145.00...or so..Hes very resonable..


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Gale Mack


I can answer questions about playing saxophone or charinet. I have taught these instruments privately for over 40 years. I was a public school band director for many years. At the time of my retirement, I was an adjunct faculty member of Saint May College, Leavenworth, Kansas.

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