Come across a metal clarinet lately? Most people have only seen metal clarinets used as a decorative lamp base, probably stowed away in grandma's attic. However, metal clarinets are legit instruments worthy of respect. One web site dedicated to the instrument, www.Silver-Clarinet.com, presents a historical overview and useful information on metal clarinets. Here you will find a chronological overview of manufactures (Selmer, Silver King, Buescher, Conn, etc.), brand specifications, current market value, and numerous photos. This site also holds links to related web pages, a vintage metal clarinet forum, classifieds, and instruments for sale.
Not sure what a metal clarinet sounds like? Often favored by jazz musicians, this type of clarinet has a timbre akin to the saxophone. Silver-Clarinet.com features an audio clip of a metal clarinet being played on the homepage. You can also watch videos of an eccentric clarinet-playing cab driver (TaxiJazz.com) playing metal clarinets via the "Purple Page" link located in side-bar menu. And don't forget to test your own ears in the link to Kyle Coughlin's web page (previously reviewed by Clarinet Cache) where his Metal Clarinet Test compares metal and wood clarinet sound files.
If you are interested in another perspective concerning the history of metal clarinets, check out the article "The Clarinet that Made History" by Eberhard Kraut. This noteworthy article takes a look at the history of metal clarinets sprinkled with anecdotal reflections on George Lewis's use of metal clarinets in forging the sound of jazz in New Orleans.