I bought this clarinet on eBay because it looked interesting. I count it a good purchase because it still is interesting. If anyone ever finds information about the maker/s, please contact Phil here at clarinetpages.net.
The clarinet shows the signs of being a one-of-a-kind, perhaps made as a prototype for a new company. The clarinet is stamped on 3 of the 4 joints as Darog, USA. Darog is in cursive, which I usually take as a sign of a later model clarinet, say in the 1960s. But I would place this in the 1930s or before. The Art-Deco tenon rings are really unique, with four lines circling. The serial number is marked as 1030, while most of the keys are keys are stamped with the number 30. I don't think the repetition of 30 is a coincidence. The thumb rest looks to be home-made. And where have I seen keys like this?! They don't look like French Stencil keys. The rings are kind of wide when viewed from the top, but they are rather thin in thickness. The keys are just German Silver with no top coating of nickel.
One friend (Pedro) wrote to say that perhaps it is Dorog, which is a city in Czechoslovakia. I already wondered if the Darog USA was made by a Czech immigrant who ordered the keys from his home country. But the name is definitely Darog with an -a. Perhaps someone can find English, German or Czech keys that match this, and that would help.
I have considered some similarities with the Pruefer clarinets. The Deepwood USA at least starts with the same letter. But Pruefer clarinets are too different, except one thing, the prominent USA stamp. Here is what I think happened: Young lovers named Daleen and Roger collaborated together to make the Da-Rog, but that the project got killed by the Great Depression. They may have been acquainted with Pruefer. This is probably the only Darog clarinet in existence because it was the only one ever made.
[Update Dec2014] A reader has written that she has another Darog clarinet, and the keys on the underside are stamped 49. The one I reviewed here had keys stamped 30. So some of the rest in a limited run have survived!
Barrel: 59.1mm Very short, but appropriate for this clarinet.
Bore LH joint top: 14.9mm
Bore LH joint at bottom: 14.75mm This may have been made experimenting with poly-cylindrical bore!
Intonation results taken when playing loud and not lipping. See how to interpret these results on the Model Comparison Page.
For this test, I pulled only 1.4mm at the barrel and 0.1 at the center tenon. I did this test with my normal Legere Signature reed #3 3/4, but this time using my old Hite D mouthpiece, since my other mouthpiece would not fit in the barrel.
Intonation summary: Wow! What a surprise! Before when I tried this clarinet with a different barrel, it was terribly out of tune. With its own barrel, professional level intonation. The low E/B flatness could be very simply fixed with a hole in the bell.
Key work quality: There are places where the key work looks rough, and some pad cups are not at the best angle. Pad had to go in at an angle instead of flat in the key cup. This supports the hypothesis that this was a trial model.
This clarinet is most appropriate for: Anyone interested in having a one-of-a-kind mystery clarinet.
Condition issues noted: none.