The quality of orchestral instruments determines the synchrony of tunes of the one playing them. One such crucial instrument is Clarinet and it is worth knowing which system works best.
When I was young whenever my dad was busy creating mellow tunes at the orchestra pit I was backstage playing around with the instruments. Over the years my games turned into a passion and once he noticed it, he bought me my first clarinet. As my skills enhanced so did my curiosity about the systems.
The most common system is Boehm but unknown to many, others like Albert exist. I will look at the differences between the two systems and ultimately discover which one is better. Especially, I will reference Montreux ECL01 clarinet and DanyMusic Models.
What are the differences between Boehm and Albert system clarinet?
|Clarinet System||Boehm system clarinet (Montreux ECL01 clarinet)||Albert system clarinet(DanyMusic clarinet)|
|Fingering||The octave key is at the back||The octave key is at the front|
|Tone holes||Evenly placed||Slightly uneven|
Boehm vs. Albert system clarinet – How do they compare?
The mouthpiece is a very versatile part of any clarinet. Several mouthpieces can be used on the same clarinet and that is why they are always made to be compatible with both systems. One major difference in the mouthpiece of the two systems is that most Boehm clarinetists prefer to have the reed held in place by a metal or rubber ligature while Albert clarinetists use a string to attach the mouthpiece and reed.
Another difference is determined by the type of sound the clarinetist is looking to produce. Some prefer to use softer reeds on Albert clarinet while others prefer harder reeds on Boehm clarinet.
Both Boehm and Albert system clarinets can operate with similar mouthpieces and are both good for clarinetists who are flexible in terms of the brand or type of mouthpiece they use.
While some people don’t notice any differences in the sounds between the two systems others can swear that they differ. Mostly experienced musicians are the ones who can place the difference. This difference mostly stems from the tone holes in the two systems. This difference is in terms of their hole sizes and the placement of the holes within the instrument. Boehm tone holes are evenly spread out and are of different sizes. The placement is such that smaller holes are at the top while the larger holes are closer to the bell. The holes are generally spaced out.
On the other hand, Albert system tone holes are of the same sizes and have uneven intervals. There are topmost holes and lowermost holes. The topmost holes are further up and the lowermost holes are further down compared to the holes in the Boehm system. The DanyMusic clarinet though hard to master gives the most accurate notes with a slightly higher pitch. This mostly has to do with the difference in the tone hole positioning.
For better notes and higher pitch, the Albert system clarinet is a better choice compared to the Boehm system.
Boehm clarinets have the bore slightly towards the bell. The clarinets are technically cylindrical and the bores are consistent throughout the length of the clarinet. However, if the clarinets were to be completely cylindrical there would be intonation in the notes that is why the notes are tuned by slightly enlarging the top joints.
On the other hand, the Albert system bore is larger with less flare and a more cylindrical shape towards the bell. As more clarinets continue to hit the market they present changes in the bores and display a variety. However, Albert system bores continue to remain the same. This might be because of the conventionality of the system and the transition that everyone seems to be taking to the Boehm system. Either way, the Albert system still holds onto the late flare towards the bell.
Albert system has larger bores which give more defined sounds which makes them better. The sizes are also smaller which is convenient compared to Boehm clarinet of the same pitch.
Boehm system is a simplified and improved system compared to the Albert system. However, there has not been much change in the construction of the different systems of clarinets in terms of fingering. The key set-up of the Boehm system is standardized and you will rarely stumble upon a Boehm clarinet with a different key setup. Albert’s system has a complicated fingering mechanism and is not as common as Boehm’s. The octave key in Boehm system clarinets is at the back while the octave keys in Albert system wrap around the front. Despite this, the fingerings are pretty much the same and a representation on a fingering chart barely shows any difference.
Boehm systems are better because of the presence of redundant touch pieces that are absent in Albert system clarinets.
Boehm and Albert system clarinet – Comparison Overview
Boehm system clarinet overview
Boehm system clarinet is a good instrument to have especially if you are accustomed to working with Boehm system flutes since they are the inspiration behind the clarinets. Generally, it is a combination of the bore characteristics of the Oehler system and the fingering technic of Boehm. Using Boehm clarinet requires you to apply more air since the bore resistance is greater. Boehm clarinets also produce lighter and shaper sounds that are ideal for a beginner who wants to learn quickly.
Boehm system clarinets make the player’s experience smooth since it is the most common system used to produce clarinets. It is also general-purpose and will mostly be found in schools, bands and any other musical platform so is the best for someone who wants to teach themselves.
- Is excellent quality
- Its perfect for beginner students since it is easily recognized and known by most teachers
- Is durable
- It is not as advanced as other clarinets
- It is very pricey
Albert system clarinet overview
Albert system clarinets are mostly recognized as a descendant of the Muller system. It has fewer keys and therefore offers the player a window to change the pitch and by partially covering the tone holes they can play the infamous glissandi. This is why Albert system clarinets are mostly used by jazz musicians and most of them have stayed true to it despite the obvious evolution.
This system is mostly played in New Orleans and bares an indistinguishable similarity to the German system from the oddly similar sliding rolls in fingering to the key systems and many tone holes. Though they have gone out of fashion you can still easily spot a number owned by classical musicians from Arabic, Turkish, Jewish, or Armenia.
Albert system clarinets are easy to work with and with the right determination anyone can work their way around it. However, this system has been greatly replaced by the Boehm system and it is rare to spot it on someone. It is mostly used as a second instrument by many jazz players and is great for players who want to step out of their boundaries and play something different for their music.
- Is excellent and is mostly used for folk music
- Is not expensive compared to Boehm system clarinets
- It is a simpler system and is easier to play.
- Has a less rich tone than other more advanced clarinets.
- Is complex and you could struggle with unusual keys plus, Albert clarinets are very rare to come across.
Verdict: So, which one is better? Boehm or Albert system clarinet?
Albert clarinets are hard to come by especially at this time when most people choose to go for Boehm system clarinets. However, if you stumble upon one you are most certainly in luck since the more this system clarinets get scarce the more valuable they become. Boehm systems though common continue to evolve and lack the standardization that Albert’s system clarinets possess. In terms of the overall winner, the Boehm system takes the crown. Albert system might have some features against it but Boehm clarinets have stood the test of time and evolved with the changing needs of musicians. They are not only versatile but are also not so different from other systems. Meaning a Boehm clarinet player can easily play other system clarinets.
How many keys do Boehm clarinets have?
Today’s Boehm clarinets are being constructed with 16 keys. The keys have gradually increased from the time when the clarinets were first constructed.
Is it hard to play Albert system clarinet?
Playing the Albert system clarinet is similar to playing any other musical instrument. It takes determination and learning and once you get the hang of it, it gets simpler.