My first Malerne project is not actually stamped by Malerne, but I have good reason to believe is by Malerne.
The clarinet is just stamped “Made in France,” and that only on the bell.
The serial number appearing on both keyed joints is A8476.
I have a professional model Malerne also with similar key work and a serial number of A6373, pictured as unrestored below.
The bore for both is 14.55mm. The barrel on the no-name is short at 63.6mm. The barrel of the Marlerne was shortened. It is 57.6!
63.6 seems to be the perfect or slightly long for this brand of clarinet.
I have just received a Ridenour barrel (64mm), and it is terrific. So I was curious to see how that barrel, with a slightly larger bore, would work on this horn. Amazingly, the Ridenour barrel has very similar tuning results.
I wish we could find out who JL was, and what P stands for. The professional Malerne has a Bar-V brand in the same place, hidden under the keys of both keyed joints.
The left clarinet is a Malerne Masson professional model.
The right is the no-name clarinet.
Notice how the pad cup above the right hand first finger ring curves upward on both. [2013 update: I no longer see this curve as a signature of Malerne clarinets. At different times Malerne modified their key work so not all of them have the curve, and other manufacturers also often have this curve.]
These clarinets have Buffet-style peg-in-hole left hand pinkie keys.
The no-name clarinet's F# key is 6.9mm wide.
The left clarinet 7.3mm wide.
The other keys on the no-name clarinet are similarly a shade thinner.
The keys are good quality, springy nickel, and sturdy enough.
The bridge key is narrower than most student horns, so this calls for being careful in assembling and disassembling.
The pinkie keys do not have numbers stamped on the underside.
The register keys are straight near the top, again Buffet-like, and unlike some other French clarinets of this period.
Notice the difference in the appearance of the wood and especially the keys. That's part of what I enjoy doing in restoring these instruments.
I was not trying to skew the results! This instrument plays with incredible intonation! This was using my default Hite mouthpiece and Legere reed.
Having a narrow bore, I find that this clarinet plays better with a softer reed than what I normally use, one that would be too bright on other clarinets. The lower register especially seems a little soft-spoken.
With the softer reed, and narrow bore, I enjoy the nice, chaste chamber sound, and I seem to be able to play more effortlessly in quick passages.
If I am not imagining it, the Ridenour barrel seems to improve the projection over the original barrel, which does have some thin checking damage in the bore.