Buffet Crampon is a French woodwind instrument company which produces top quality instruments for the world's most renowned musicians and orchestras, as well as schools and students in numerous countries. With subsidiaries in the US, Japan, China and Germany, it has become one of the world's leading manufacturers of clarinets, oboes, saxophones, English horns and bassoons. Since African blackwood is the material of choice for most woodwind users, in 2018 the company began to support the ABCP by allocating funding to support tree planting programs for the species. The ABCP is grateful for Buffet Crampon's generous help and applauds it for its efforts towards sustainable practices for this precious, but increasingly vulnerable, tree. Following is a brief history of the company.
Denis Buffet-Augur, the founder of Buffet Crampon, was born in a small village in France in 1783 and was well equipped from childhood to make important contributions because of his family's well-established tradition as woodturning experts. Wishing to expand his business to a larger market, he moved to Paris and in 1825 set up an instrument shop in the heart of the city, where it still exists today.
In 1830 his brother, Louis-August, followed him to Paris and started his own workshop in collaboration with the highly gifted clarinetist Hyacinthe Klose. The two became known for developing an innovative keywork system for the clarinet (known as the Boehm system) which enabled musicians to attain greater proficiency in their use of the instrument. In 1841, after the death of Denis Buffet, his son Jean-Louis took over the company, renaming it Buffet Crampon by adding his wife's name. Through several subsequent changes of ownership this is the name it still carries today.
The original company began with three craftsmen working solely with hand tools, but through the two centuries of its existence, Buffet Crampon has been quick to introduce numerous technological and acoustic advancements, thus continuously improving and upgrading, not only its line of instruments, but also introducing machine tools and techniques to facilitate production and achieve greater precision in manufacture.
The continued quest for perfection has been rewarded by its performance in international exhibitions, in which Buffet Crampon has often carried off the highest awards. As early as 1875 the company obtained a Gold Medal (by unanimous vote) for its complete family of 42 instruments, and in 1889 it became the official supplier of wind instruments to the Paris Conservatory of Music (Paris Conservatoire National de Musique), as well as to other music academies in France. Today Buffet Crampon remains an international leader in wind instrument development and manufacture, continuing the pioneering traditions that first established its reputation as a leader in the field.
Workers at early Buffet Crampon instrument factory in Paris.
Buffet Crampon has also led the industry with its introduction of an eco-friendly line of instruments labeled "Green Line" - made from a patented product that primarily contains finely ground blackwood. Often called Granadillo in the music trade, African blackwood is an extremely slow-growing tree, taking 70-100 years to reach maturity. Its main trunk generally has an irregular profile with frequent heart checks and random voids in the wood, and often only about 10% of the total wood volume is recoverable in the milling process. Therefore much of the tree is often wasted.
Because there can be so much waste in the production of usable material, Buffet Crampon has developed a proprietary process that utilizes the discarded cutoffs from the milling process to manufacture a material that can be molded into music blanks and worked the same as a timber species.
Another positive result of this technology is that it produces an instrument that is in some ways superior to those milled from trees. A woodwind made with Green Line material does not warp or shift with climactic changes, remaining stable in all playing environments, a property important to musicians who travel the world. Most significantly it also eliminates the risk of cracks - a traditional problem with woodwinds. This innovation is a major development towards easing the international demand for the species.
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