- The Normandy is one of my favorite instruments to bid on, work on, and resell. Normandy clarinets were made by Noblet/LeBlanc and rank among their products as the first step-up above the Vito plastic instrument. I do not list them under Noblet because some are not overtly marked with that name.They're sturdily built. (Go ahead and use it in marching band.)
- They play well in tune.
- For how to quickly differentiate the many models, see the Normandy Spotter's Guide.For production years for different models, see Detailed Model History.Normandy 4: I class Normandy 4's as contemporary, not-vintage, so for model 4 see this page.
Many Normandys have plastic bells, as that is the part that cracks easiest if made of wood. A plastic bell will have zero effect on the tone. The Normandy 4 has a wooden bell, and the Special has a plastic bell. I have seen Normandy (not a Special and not given a model number) with both a plastic barrel and bell. The plastic barrel will have an effect on the tone. If you have a Normandy with plastic barrel, an easy and inexpensive way to improve the instrument is to buy an Ivorolon barrel from Tom Ridenour for around $75 plus shipping. And I recommend getting either 64mm or 65mm with a Normandy.
These instruments have better intonation than Selmer Signets, in my opinion. The upper register is not so sharp, and that register can be lipped down easily.
The slightly flat E and F throat tones may a concern, but are OK if not played as stupidly loud as I play when testing. Also I tend to be lower in the throat tones when playing a Valentino reed. (See the Wooden Clarinets root page for how to interpret the following results.)
In general, Normandy's are appropriate for intermediate to fairly advanced clarinetists. It would be a good idea for more advanced students playing Normandys to have a 64mm barrel.
Normandy Special: I think what makes them “Special” is that they always have wooden barrels and bells, and Buffet style trill keys.
I have measured some variation, from 14.95 to 14.82mm where the barrel attaches. Overall they are probably 14.85mm at the top, and the 3726A Special is also 14.85 in the middle.
Normandy 4 Bore: 14.75mmPads for upper joint on Normandy 4 are thin 9mm, and F# ring is 8mm.Right hand joint: 16.5 x 3, one 15mm, and 11 x 2. All mediums.
Normandy/Noblet Pad Sizes
On most Noblet/Leblanc/Normandy/Vito clarinets,
Right Hand Joint:
I use normally use Valentino Greenback series pads. The Valentino Master Series pads are also great. But I prefer the Greenback series. All in the right hand are normally of medium thickness (.120 inch/10.75mm):
1 x 14.5mm diameter (or sometimes 14.75mm),
3 x 16.25mm (sometimes 16.0mm),
and 2 x 10.25mm diameter.
Valentino Green Back pads also work fine. Do NOT use the adhesive back kind. These are sizes for floating into place with hot glue.
Left Hand Joint:
Normally I use Valentino Green Back pads in the thin (.110") thickness for all of the left hand joint.
Normally all the pads except one are 9.25mm diameter. Sometimes 9mm works better.
The one exception is the little pad for the throat tone F# (under the A key). That one is usually 8mm diameter. On that pad you must use a thin .110" pad, and sometimes I have used the super-thin .080".
A few models use the 9.25mm diameter in the F# position.
The one place on the LH joint where a thick (.130") or medium (.120") thickness is often better is the low D pad (operated by the left second-finger ring).
The serial number for my first Normandy Special was 4563D.Intonation results above are modified to include another Normandy Special, serial # 8229CPictured left is serial 3726A, reconditioned 28Dec08. This is the first Normandy that I have seen where it appears the wood was varnished. Another difference for perhaps all Special models (at least 3726A) is that the trill keys are made in the humped Buffet style, with the top two sharing a post. Contrast this with the second Normandy 4 picture below.Another difference seems to be that Normandy Specials have a wooden barrel. They may have a plastic bell.
Normandy 4 serial #67336.2nd Normandy 4 is serial #A9021, and has 66.4mm barrel. The bore size listed above for the model 4 is from this instrument. The 66.4mm barrel would be too long for my normal reed and mouthpiece. See Barrels under Stuff I recommend.The A-series Normandy 4 has Noblet style side keys with 4 separate posts. The other Normandy 4 also has 4 posts, but the second pad cup from the top, instead of being “in line” as the picture here, makes a sharp bend to the left.
The Normandy 8 has the wider logo on the bell. The four side keys on the upper joint are on four separate posts. I am guessing 1990s for the date of manufacture. I have worked on Serial # 46772.
Interesting information (which may not be totally accurate) is found at this link:
"i have a normandy 4 wood clarinet made in france seriel # 9368 i need to no the age of it and what it's value.
Answer by Rosemary A:
Is it marked with a "4" above the shield, becuase if it isn't it would be an original Normandy clarinet (circa 1952-1953) if the shield is narrow or late 50's-60's if the shield is wide. I've never heard of a "4" with a serial number that low. From what I have seen the Original Normandy (narrow shields with 4 digit serial numbers) where made only two or three years. They were followed by a wider shield horn with went for a little while longer (5 digit serial numbers) with a closed hole pleateau horn thrown in there somewhere (late 50's). Followed by the "specials" (50-60's), the resotones (60's-70's), the Normandy 4 which is 70's, the Normandy 7 which is 80's and the Normandy 10 which is out now.  I'd personally recomend anything except the resotones.
There is some interesting history on the manufacture of these horns. The name comes as an American honoring of the invasion on Normandy beach. They manufactured these horns in France, shipped them in pieces (cheaper tarriff) to Kenosha WI where they were reassemebled and sold to American school band programs as an intermediate level horn. I have my mother's which was purchased for her in the 5th grade in Michigan, serial number 4554, my step daughter now plays it (she's the 4th clarinet player for that horn including mom, her neice, me and the kid). I have never had a tuning problem with that horn and it has went through hell with me with 15+ years of heavy use.
Now for value....$100 if it's good, but in need a repad, up to $400 if it has been professional overhauled/replated. The instrument is definatly worth more in the hands of a good player. My college clarinet professer passed it as a good performance horn for the music major (but not a performance major).
List of Phil Pedler's restorations:
25Nov08, serial number #23933, made around 1963-64. Intonation like Normandy 4 above.
7Dec08, serial #16360, made around 1962-63. (nickel silver keys, not chrome plated)
Feb08, #33578, from perhaps 1965 (nickel plated keys). Plastic bell and barrel.
Early 09, #26638, 1964.
Restored Mid-09, #90830, 1978. All wood.
Mid-2010, #14297, 1959-60. All wood.
Mid-2010, #17167, from around 1963. Repaired chipped tenon.
Sept. 2010, #24271, from 1964, All wood, and the wood in excellent shape.
14June2011, mismatched clarinet from a school somewhere. LH joint #17970, RH #11616. There were two fragments from the original matching joints. Plestic bell and barrel.
18Jul2011, #15216, barrel and bell plastic. No chips in tenons. Very nice keys.
21Dec2011, #531, bell is plastic. Has combined post, Special style trill keys (top two on combined post). Beautiful horn for this early serial number.
14Jan2012, #14671, all wood, and all wood in excellent condition. Keys showing significant wear in all the common touch points.
25Mar2013, #5831, all wood, and perfect condition. Keys in excellent shape. The trill keys are a bit different in style. It is like these are better-model Noblet keys.
18Aug2013, #22986, plastic bell. Three very minor chips filled. The barrel had a hairline crack that was not visible on the inside. That was filled. This clarinet plays very well. The keys are nearly perfect. Ab throat tone has a tiny spot of brass showing through.
7Jan2014, #2221. This must be an early Normandy. I fixed chipping in the upper tenon.
24Jul2014, #12720, for Jeffrey Girsch and the MD school system that enjoys his band boosting support.
11Nov2014, #1828, for Chris N. in NY. Slight cracking in lowest tenon stabilized.
28Dec2014, #9659. Slight chipping repaired on the center tenon. Wear marks are visible on some of the most used keys, right pinkie keys, register key, etc. Long unplayed. Great playing rescued clarinet. This has a plastic bell.
Phil's Special model reconditioning:
The woodwind.org site does not list clear dates for Special models, as far as I can tell.
My first Normandy Special (from HIS) was 4563D, fixed early 2008.
Mid-2008 I reconditioned #8229C, nickel keys.
28Dec08 #3726A, reddish color and pictured above, has nickel keys, Buffet-like trill keys, plastic bell with wide logo, wooden barrel. The wood seems to have a slick finish on it. Because of these things, I am guessing this was from the later 1960s.
Oct09, #8716, wood barrel, plastic bell, maybe made 1953-54.
13Apr2010, #4104B, wood barrel, plastic bell.
12Mar2011, #7890A, wood barrel, plastic bell. For Ed! Perhaps from 1978? I don't know how to interpret numbers ending with a letter.
16Nov2012, #9419A, wood barrel, plastic bell.
25Nov2012, #17049, for Amy G. Serious chip in middle tenon on LH joint repaired. Someone put a brass sleeve in that tenon.
4Dec2012, #3750, plastic bell. Bottom tenon of the LH joint had a 1/2 inch chip out, but it was not very deep. Spliced in wood, filled and stabilized.
5Jan2012, #2278, for Ralph L. Very slight hairline crack at the top of the LH joint filled and stabilized. Terriifc instrument.
25May2013, #61010, for Stephanie V. One right hand tone hole sealed at the top. Very nice playing clarinet!
18Nov2013, #2979A, for Jeanette C. The wood was in excellent condition. The keys were shined by Jeanette and they are dazzling! Because of the -A I would say this was made in the early 1980s. However Jeanette sent this word:
I bought it from the women who used it in school in the 60's and bought it from the town music teacher whose daughter was done using it in the late 50's. Somehow, then, it has to be older. The case is a 2 tone tan with the word Leblanc on the outside and old-timey looking like the other Leblanc and Noblet cases of the 50's.
19May2014, #3185, plastic bell. No condition issues. Very nice keys and wood.
Normandy 724Dec2012, #57080. The 7 appears only on the LH joint. Straight top trill key. Very wide logo on bell. 14.7mm bore at top and bottom on LH joint. No condition issues.
Serial #46772. This appears above to have Buffet-style trill keys.
25Nov08, serial number A12317, probably a Normandy 10 (although not stamped as such), from around 1981. 11Dec2013 Amanda has played for around 5 years and this has been in for two Spa Treatments. This time stabilized a hairline crack in the trill key section of the LH joint.
3Sept09, A12419, 1983. All wood, nice keys. Slight hairline crack stabilized. Also not stamped as a model 10.
mid-2009, #38269 1965. Wood barrel. Now paired with a wooden Andre Chabot bell.
18Nov2012, #38746 from 1965. For Chris T in CT.
9Dec2012, #43020. The Normandy logo is the wide one. I spliced about 5/8 inch of wood to the bottom edge of the RH tenon. Otherwise this one was perfect.
I am classing this as a fairly current model, not vintage. So see the Normandy 4 page.
Serial number information below was taken from this woodwind.org page.
Normandy Wood Clarinets Model #8,10,4