Barbier Couesnon / F. Barbier

This page is for the pre-Selmer F. Barbier. If I am right, Barbier worked with or for Couesnon before he worked with Selmer.


Pitch: Bb

Key System: Boehm System

Maker: Cousenon

Brand Name: F. Barbier

Place of Manufacture: France

Approximate Date: 1920s

Body Material: Wood

Bore Type: standard, 14.5mm

Key Metal: Nickel silver

Keywork Quality: sturdy

Serial Number: none(!)

Recommended For: display or lamp

Value: Up to $200

There are two models of Barbier clarinets done under Selmer sponsorship.

This clarinet is a good example for observing Couesnon traits. The stamp on the LH joint is not clear whether it was stamped as being a Barbier. Only the bell has the Barbier mark. It is clear the two keyed joints belong together. Both are marked PARIS and Bb LP in the same way. Other clarinets have been produced where only the bell carries the complete marking. I think the unmarked barrel and Barbier bell are part of the same original clarinet made by Couesnon. The traits I will be focusing on are Couesnon's, since they will be valuable in discerning other Couesnon projects.

Serial # none! Stamped FRANCE and Bb LP (low pitch: A=440)

Barrel: 62mm

Bore LH joint top: 14.5mm This seems typical of Couesnon clarinets.

Bore LH joint at bottom: 14.5mm

This instrument has the extra hole below the E-flat bis key, which can be used to lower the high B and C into tune. The clarinet seems to have been designed to use the 1 + 1 E-flat and B-flat fingering, which is lower than both of the standard fingerings.

Note the batch mark with X and a number (X 10). This is only marked on the lower joint, and the position is a bit unusual.

There is a chiselled out place under the right pinkie keys, and a single post for the pin-in-hole left pinkie keys.

The thumb rest and the three posts for the A and G# are also typical of Couesnon, but not necessarily peculiar to that brand.

Intonation results taken when playing loud and not lipping. See how to interpret these results on the Model Comparison Page.

Testing pulled out just a hair breadth at the barrel, but 2mm at the center.

Intonation summary: This isn't even workable for a beginner. The low pitch on B and C in the middle of the treble clef make this totally unusable.

What happened? Usually Couesnon clarinets are much better than this!

[3March2011: I undercut the F/C tone hole, and that brings up the middle C. Using another bell with a hole in the proper place, the middle B is also in tune. But so many other notes are too high, so high that I wonder if the instrument was made as a high pitch horn. But both keyed joints are stamped LP. So this instrument just is not one of Couesnon's best. No wonder really. I have seen older model Buffet R13s that play out of tune.]

Key work quality: Older high quality nickel silver keys. These are sturdy enough, but not recommended for marching band.

This clarinet is most appropriate for: Nobody.

From the original case, this looks like a school or rental instrument. There is a painted 97 on one end. And I would date the case as early 1940s.