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A Rare, Vintage Model S-1 Clarinet from Buffet-Crampon. Made in the Paris, 1971.


This S-1 clarinet came to us in fine condition with original parts, but was in need of a full mechanical overhaul. The keywork is not worn, and the original nickel plate shows no wear. There are no cracks in the wood and the tenons are still sharp.


All pads and corks are new. Note the cork pads to the top joint and white leather to the lower joint. The instrument comes in a new case, everything clean and proper.


9/30/2022 - Update: We’ve spent a bit of time this morning confirming what we already knew about the diameter of the bore. Our S-1 measures just a hair (.40 mm) wider than the several vintage R-13 models that are now in our shop. That gives our S-1 a rather nice lower register, and a sound slightly less reedy than an A-13.


Long story about the this instrument's excellent quality…


Around the early part of the 20th century, the US distributor for Buffet-Crampon clarinets was Carl Fischer Musical Instrument Company. US businessman Martin Tolchin acquired controlling interest in the French firm in the late sixties, and a new company was formed. Shares were listed on the American Stock Exchange as Buffet-Crampon, the name later changed to Tolchin Musical Instruments.


One of Tolchin’s innovations was to introduce several new models for the pro players in Europe and elsewhere. The idea was that multiple models, all priced the same as the traditional model R-13, would result in more sales.


Between 1961 and 1966, the Buffet workshop plugged out 27,246 clarinets…5450 units per year. A decade later (1971 to 1976) Buffet’s production had increased to 56,678 French clarinets: 11,215 per year. The “Continentale", “BC-20”, “Super-Dynaction” and “S-1” clarinets, none available in the States, were a great success. Sales numbers indeed increased; All looked rosy for the new firm.


It’s still a mystery to many Tolchin minority shareholders, but by the late seventies losses had set in and continued to mount. Faced with massive financial problems, all of Tolchin Musical Instruments was absorbed in 1980 by the British Boosey-Hawkes Company.

That was pretty much the end of the models noted above. As a result, they are a bit rare, and some play very well; None play exactly like an R-13, but rather with (arguably) subtle improvements.


At the end of the day, our S-1 is a superb example of a vintage Buffet that we heartily recommend.


*** WBIC has been in business since 1953, with the same owner since 1963. We do know a bit about French clarinets, and yes, we still hold 565 shares of “Buffet-Crampon U.S.A.”.


*** Many of the comments and opinions noted above are the direct result of our having had personal conversations with Buffet-Crampon management and from financial information I (the Owner) have, as a shareholder, received from the Tolchin firm.


Office Code: GR/DD E, R, W

Refurbished 1971 Buffet-Crampon Model S-1 Clarinet

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