My B-flat is a Centered Tone in the R-series (R35xx), so it’s from the last few years of Centered Tone production in the mid-to-late 50’s. The Series 9 followed the Centered Tones, and I’ve read in several places now that the later CT’s switched from a purely cylindrical bore to a tapered bore which was then carried over to the Series 9 without changes. Based on that information, I took another eBay gamble recently. I was in need of a shorter barrel, because I often have to pick up the clarinet cold and play it immediately, without any time to warm it up. I play on a 64.5mm barrel, but when it’s cold, I have to voice everything really high until it warms up – but I hate doing that because there’s a tendency to pop out overtones instead of the note I want. I already owned a 62.5, which fixed that pitch issue, but it was a ringless job that was modified to fit, and I never liked the way it played. So when the one you see above came up on eBay recently, I decided to give it a try. Here’s what I discovered:
Other than the pitch differences, I literally could not tell any difference between the original barrel and the 62.5. It fit perfectly on both the top tenon and the mouthpiece, just like the original. And I couldn’t tell any differences in response, tone, articulation, etc. between the two barrels. If you did a blindfold test with me playing them, I guarantee you I would never be able to tell the difference. I also did an informal comparison of the barrels with my ring finger, which fits in the original barrel with just a tiny bit of tension, and it felt exactly the same in the Series 9 barrel.
These things are on eBay now, from a Canadian seller, and I got mine for just over $100 including the shipping. So if you’re looking to replace or supplement your barrel collection for use with a late model CT (or Series 9) I can highly recommend you pick up one of these “new old stock” barrels. You won’t be disappointed.
So does this prove the Series 9 bore is the same as the late CT’s? Well, not really, but if not, they must have been really really close – at least in the barrel section, and at the top of the tenon.