Backun Musical Services

Backun Musical Services Ltd. (BMS) is a Canadian manufacturer of clarinets in Bb and A and accessories, based in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Backun Musical Services Ltd.
Genreinstrument makers
Founded2000 by Morrie Backun
Headquarters
Key people
Morrie Backun, Joel Jaffe
ProductsClarinets and Accessories
Number of employees
estimated 70-80
Websitehttps://backunmusical.com/

History

In 2000 clarinettist and entrepreneur, Morrie Backun opened a small repair shop for woodwind instruments with two employees. After having been commissioned by J. Wesley (Wes) Foster, Principal Clarinet of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to overhaul one of his clarinets, Backun was unable to complete the project, as the original barrel of the instrument was missing. After consulting with Foster, Backun set out to make a barrel from cocobolo wood (Dalbergia retusa), which became the first Backun Barrel. After a short period of making only barrels, Backun then set out to design a clarinet bell in 2001 and mouthpieces in 2004. Gaining international renowned for clarinet barrels, bells and mouthpieces, in addition to designing and modifying clarinets by other makers, Backun was approached by Conn-Selmer, which had 2004 acquired the clarinet maker Leblanc, to redesign and develop their line of clarinets. His first complete clarinet in Bb, which was distributed by Leblanc and Conn-Selmer under the label "Leblanc by Backun". During the partnership with Conn-Selmer and Leblanc from 2006 to 2010, Backun continued to develop accessories for international distribution, which expanded the Backun brand around the world. After the end of the engagement with Conn-Selmer, Backun launched his first custom clarinets at the 2011 NAMM Show, these instruments were of exceptional high quality for professional clarinettists, closely resembling the artisan work of custom flute makers. As the company grew, Backun built in Burnaby, near Vancouver, a modern factory, equipped with the latest CNC machinery and design equipment, including 3D printers and scanners.[1]

In 2012 were produced by 15 employees in the monthly production of 30-40 clarinets and thousands of accessories, largely industrially. According to the intentions of Morrie Backun, the numbers in 2013 should be more than twice as high.[2]

In January 2017, the Eastman Music Company made a significant investment into Backun to acquire partial ownership of Backun Musical Services.[3] This investment allowed both companies to grow significantly in the clarinet market. Today (November 2019), an estimated 50 production employees produce a considerably higher number of instruments and accessories per month, with the brand's global impact being felt throughout the band and orchestra community.

Products

Backun produces only clarinets with French fingering system (Boehm) and so far only the most common clarinets in Bb and A, and Basset, though the company has done considerable research and testing of German fingering system clarinets, as well as developing both Bass and Eb models. To the A-clarinet, model Lumière (top model), there is also a lower joint attachment that allows for the instrument to be played as an A Clarinet, but also as a Basset Clarinet down to Low C.

The following clarinets are in the program:[4]

1. Student model Alpha in Bb made of synthetic ABS material with 17 keys and 6 rings plus optional Eb lever, with nickel- or silver-plated mechanism

2. Student model Beta in Bb made of grenadilla (Dalbergia melanoxylon) wood, with 17 keys and 6 rings plus optional Eb lever, with nickel- or silver-plated mechanism

3. Intermediate model Protégé in Bb, optionally made of Grenadilla or Cocobolo, with 17 keys, 6 rings plus optional Eb lever, silver- or gold-plated

4. Professional model Q Series in Bb and A made of Grenadilla with 17 keys, 6 rings plus optional Eb-lever, silver-plated
As a special limited edition Q Series in Bb and A made of Cocobolo, like Nr. 5 with 18 keys and 6 rings including Eb lever, gold-plated for certain markets

5. Two custom models Lumière and MoBa in Bb and A, optionally made of Grenadilla or Cocobolo, with 18 keys, 6 rings plus Eb-lever, with silver- or gold-plated mechanism. A small extra key at the bottom of the lower joint (like the Tosca by Buffet Crampon) enhances the intonation of low-F. It is important to note that Backun was and remains the first company to offer a Low F Vent mechanism as standard on all custom clarinets. The two models differ in appearance, as well as bore and tonehole design, given that Backun designed the Lumiere to meet the needs of players looking for more vibrant and sweeter tone than the MoBa, which is considered to be dark and powerful. Both the Lumière and MoBa models in Cocobolo are offered at a considerable extra cost as Super Series sets, in such a way that the clarinets are made entirely from the same single five foot piece of wood, and therefore has the same grain structure throughout from the Bb down through the A.

6. Custom model CG Carbon Clarinet in Bb and A with 18 keys, 6 rings and Eb-lever (CG are the initials of the italian clarinettist Corrado Giuffredi). These patent-pending clarinets, developed by BMS and available only from BMS, have a carbon-coated body (upper and lower joint) over either a Grenadilla or Cocobolo wood core. The hard-pressed with the wood core coating to prevent cracks and increase the life, but also leads to a different sound. The surface is black-mottled; barrel and bell are made of grenadilla or cocobolo for tonal reasons.

It should be mentioned that differently shaped barrels and bells of the two types of wood and mouthpieces are also available as accessories for clarinets of other producers including a mouthpiece and a bell for a bass clarinet.

To emphasize is the thoughtful and characteristic design of the instruments, including the student models, and the items, such as barrels and bells. Due to the uniformity of their design, Backun clarinets are instantly recognizable despite a certain amount of detail. Unfortunately, the previous innovations of the BMS developers do not extend to the mechanics, which still largely corresponds to the standard developed in the middle of the 19th century. Here, other manufacturers offer additional mechanisms that serve on the one hand to improve the intonation or the sound of problem tones, on the other hand, but also to simplify the game by fork handles. In this respect, Backun currently lacks models of lower clarinets (basset horn, alto clarinet, bass clarinet), for which some of these mechanisms are obligatory. However, some of them are under development at Backun. On the other hand, most players of French clarinets, unlike the German clarinetists, do not seem to be spoiled in this regard and are satisfied with that.

The company sells its instruments not only itself, but also through a worldwide dealer network. The current prices for the mentioned models are shown on the website.

Mouthpiece for Bass Clarinet
Barrel Lumiere
Barrel Fatboy
Carbon clarinet gold-plated, detail
Wooden Bell for Bass Clarinet

References and notes

  1. For this paragraph, see Jane Ellsworth, A Dictionary for the Modern Clarinetist, 2014, p. 11 and the presentation on the company website
  2. Das Musikinstrument 9/12, Backun Musical Instruments: Das Beste aus beiden Welten
  3. Notice on the Eastman website
  4. Website
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