Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hippolyte Marius Chiron - Vibrator reeds for woodwinds -What Happened?

Anybody who has bought more than a couple of old saxophones has found Chiron Vibrator reeds in the case.  They are very distinctive.  Although they changed a little over the years, the most distinctive aspect is the grooves cut longitudinally into the stock of the reed.  Over the years there were slight changes, however, the grooves remained (although they didn't remain the same width and depth).  The grooves were actually part of a 1924 patent.  You can open any of these links in a separate window in order to refer back to them throughout this blog.

Here are a couple of pictures of an alto and tenor saxophone reed.

Some of the earliest reeds not only had the curved butt, they also a little nip off the end much like a reversed or rocket ship transom on a sailboat.  Some were French filed with the amount of bark removed, and the shape of the removed bark differing.  The alto shown above is filed and the tenor isn't.  The tenor has the flat heel and the alto is curved.  The tenor is made "handmade" in France and the alto is made in the U.S.  You can see that the width and depth of the grooves also varied.

That's not too surprising, as they both vary considerably from the patent.  The patent shows more longitudinal grooves (five) and the patentable claim is for the longitudinal grooves and for "the additional plurality of grooves of similar conformation extending angularly transversely on the curved surface of the reed, the last named grooves communicating with the longitudinal grooves and dividing the longitudinal ridges into ridges of shorter length."  What?  Anyway, the Chiron Vibrator reeds were not even produced with the special ridges that were patented.  The transverse grooves would be very difficult to manufacture economically on a reed that (then) sold for twenty cents or less.

The Chiron Vibrator reed had a long success from the late 1920s, when it was patented, until the mid-1960s, when it disappeared.  And I mean disappeared.  It's easy to work back from when and where it disappeared from, but what happened right at the end is a mystery.  At the end, the offices of H. Chiron and Company were at 1650 Broadway in N.Y.  That's the same building as Alden Music, run by Don Kirshner.  If you haven't heard of him, maybe you have heard of some of his contract song writers, Neil Sedaka, Carol King, Paul Simon, Phil Spector, Neil Diamond, etc.  It was an important address.  Maybe some of those people remember Hippolyte Marius Chiron and Vibrator reeds. 

If you are hoping for me to tell you what happened, I can't.  I was only able to work backwards.  For instance, who was Mr. Frederic Parme, the co-owner of the patent?  Turns out that Mr. Parme was on several of the patents filed by Mr. Chiron.  A 1924 patent (same year as the reed) for a complex adjustable mouthpiece (which seems to be the one used as an example of the mouthpiece shown in the reed patent).  The same year, Mr. Parme and Mr. Chiron filed a patent for a ligature that had a rubber insert to allow the reed to vibrate more.  There is also a later U.S. patent applied for in 1925 that is just Mr. Chiron for a combination mouthpiece and ligature.  In 1928, he got a patent for is for an underslung octave pip actuator.  The latter application lists Mr. Chiron's residence as Paris, so he may have returned to France.  The Vibrator packaging and advertising refers to H. Chiron Company as being in New York and Paris, but I could find nothing about a Paris location.  Maybe that was just Mr. Chiron's residence.

Like many patent claims, it is often difficult to see what is new, non-obvious, and useful about the design.  Those are the three elements required for a patent.  Not so much for a patent to issue (you only have to claim that they exist in the application), but if the patent holder decides to try to defend the patent, those elements will have to be proven in court.  So a lot of patents are granted, few become products, and not all can be successfully defended.  If some body decides to put grooves on their reeds (vintage Isovibrant brand reeds come to mind) or to use an underslung octave mechanism (the vintage Conn 10M comes to mind), then Messrs. Chiron and Parme would likely have been advised to just walk away.  The true value of a patent is often that you can stamp the product "patented" and impress the consumer.  But back to our players, no pun intended.

When trying to find out who these men were, it turns out that there is plenty of information about Mr. Parme and little on Mr. Chiron.  Mr. Parme was born in Avignon, France in 1872, where he studied music in the Avignon Conservatory before moving on to the Paris Conservatory and studying saxophone.  Adolphe Sax was a professor at the Paris Conservatory, however he died in 1894, shortly after Mr. Parme arrived.  Mr. Parme became good friends with Sax's son (also named Adolphe) while studying at the Paris Conservatory.  Mr. Parme and Mr. Sax (also a musical instrument developer like his father) often discussed possible improvements to the saxophone.  Mr. Parme then became a professor at the Conservatory in Versailles, where he won awards for piano and saxophone compositions.

He then came to the United States in 1911 and played with the New York Philharmonic under Gustav Mahler (who also died shortly after Mr. Parme arrived, which is a creepy trend).  In 1914, Mr. Parme, still a French national, returned home to fight in WWI.  Upon returning to the U.S., he joined the NY Symphony, playing saxophone, soprano clarinet, bass clarinet, and contrabass clarinet.  He also became a professor at the Institute of Musical Art (now called Julliard).  Also upon returning from the war, he saw that the saxophone had been adopted by jazz musicians.  Here is a quote from Mr. Parme in a Julliard publication regarding the purpose of the saxophone:

"In France, the saxophone is not relegated to the realm of dance music.  Such famous composers as d'Indy, Debussy, Massenet and Bizet have written saxophone solos both for the theatre and the symphony orchestra.  The sonority of this instrument, as understood by these great writers, tends to imitate the sound of the human voice, the French Horn and the viloncello.  This shows that there is nothing in common between that sonority and the hideous groan heard everywhere in jazz bands.  If Debussy, d'Indy, Massenet or Bizet had heard the saxophone under these conditions, they would certainly have omitted it from their masterpieces."

Saxophones produce "the hideous groan heard everwhere in jazz bands."  Nice. 

It would appear that Mr. Parme's role in the patent process was to add an air of legitimacy to the patent claims.  He had the resume, but I've never seen an advertisement where he endorsed Vibrator reeds.  He was well known, having had a write-up in the New York Tribune for his playing of Debussy's Rhapsody for Orchestra and Saxophone (This is not Mr. Parme, but a great example of the sax as a classical woodwind.  Plus, you can open it in a separate window for a dramatic accompaniment for the rest of the blog.) 

I'm not convinced that Mr. Parme even read or looked at the Chiron patent applications.  The drawing of the reed looks more like a popsicle stick than a reed.  The applications repeatedly refer to woodwind reeds made of "bamboo."  Surely Mr. Parme knew that woodwind reeds are made from the canes of arundo donax, not bamboo, with some of the best material coming from the Var region of France.  Vibrator reeds were later labeled as coming from the Var.  Referring to cane reeds as "bamboo" would not go uncorrected by an accomplished professor and internationally known woodwind virtuoso.

Despite Mr. Parme's insistence that the purpose of the saxophone was for classical music, the H. Chiron Company actively sought endorsements for Vibrator reeds from the popular and jazz music contingency of reed instrument players.  Click on these to enlarge them.

H. Chiron also started another line of reeds that I had never heard of.  In fact, at first every reference I could find for Deru "Speciale" reeds was to this single 1953 advertisement.

But then I came across this 1951 Vibrator advertisement that mentioned Deru reeds in the bottom corner.

I also saw Deru reeds mentioned in a February 1936 Metronome magazine, but I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy yet.

You can go to Ebay any day and see advertisements featuring different famous and semi-famous endorsers for Vibrator reeds.  How did H. Chiron have so many endorsers for Vibrator reeds and then just disappear?  And how did Mr. Chiron himself disappear?  If he sold the rights to the patent, why was it always marketed by the H. Chiron Company?*  I don't know, but I do know a little about where he came from and it is very intriguing. 

The reed/ligature/mouthpiece patents were not his first, last, or only patents.  There are some later U.K. patents having to deal with saxophone key arrangements and mouthpieces.  And here's some historical trivia.  When a patent application is made, it is common for the subsequent patent applications to reference earlier patents, sometimes to differentiate the new application from existing patents.  It is possible to find out which applications reference an older patent like Chiron's underslung neck octave pip (later cited by Martin Band Instruments for their saxophones).  Another patent application that referenced Mr. Chiron's patent for a ligature was the application of a Mr. Phillip Rovner for a ligature design.  We all know Rovner ligatures.  Small world.

But the majority of the subsequent references were to Mr. Chiron's patent for his very complex mouthpiece with all of its adjustments (and which I don't believe was ever produced).  Oddly enough, those references were in patent applications for game calls, like duck, goose, elk, etc.  Do you want to patent something that makes a weird squeaking honky animal-in-heat noise?  You'll need to distinguish the H. Chiron mouthpiece patent.

Before we look at the older patents of  Hippolyte Marius Chiron, let's look at that name.  Hippolyte has two possible sources, both of which are from Greek mythology.  The 9th labor of Hercules was to acquire the girdle of Hippolyte, the queen of the Amazons (not  The Amazons were a society of warrior women who, in order to more effectively throw spears, would cut off one of their breasts.  The girdle gave super powers to the queen, but as it turned out, Hercules was such a stud muffin that Hippolyte just gave him the girdle.  It's a guy fantasy, but a cool name.

The other source of the name is from Hippolytus, a Greek god who refused the sexual advances of his stepmother, Phaedra.  Fearing that Hippolytus would squeal, Phaedra told her husband that Hippolytus raped her.  The father secretly cursed Hippolytus's horses, causing the horses to bolt and Hippolytus to die in a nasty chariot wreck (sort of like cutting the brake lines).  Hippolytus translates basically to "unleasher of horses."  Okay, now you can probably see that I'm just stalling because I've go no more info on Mr. Chiron.  Correct, but first, Chiron in Greek mythology was a wise centaur who tutored Achilles and Hercules.  So Hippolyte Chiron is a really cool name. So fantastic that my French friend insists that it must be an alias.

I do know that Mr. Chiron was more than an inventor of just musical instrument parts.  Prior to the reed instrument patents, he had other patents.  One 1923 patent was a gizmo for washing windows in a tall building without having to send a person outside on scaffolding.  It was limited to washing single hung windows and so it isn't really applicable to today's high rise windows (and might have been of limited use in 1923).  It kind of looks like you clean the window by opening and closing it, or by pulling on some spring loaded scissor mechanism.  It was later referenced by a patent application for a windshield wiper system.  I didn't study this one.
An even earlier 1916 patent was for a "safety boat."  The safety aspect of the boat (actually a ship is depicted in the patent application) was that it had a sponson that ran around the entire waterline which provided extra floatation and "protection from collision and torpedoes."  The Titanic sank in 1912 and the first real use of torpedoes started in WWI about 1914, so the patent seems to fit the requirement of "useful invention" under the patent laws.  However, from looking at the patent I can tell that Mr. Chiron was not a naval architect.

Again, Mr. Chiron had a co-applicant on the patent, a Mr. Berriex, with both Chiron and Berriex listed as residents of San Francisco at the time and Mr. Chiron as a citizen of France.  Mr. Berriex, like Mr. Parme, then went off to fight in the war and later returned to the U.S.
It is easy to get information on Mr. Jean Berriex.  Here's a picture of him and his wife in 1970.
But what about Hippolyte?

I could only find one other thing, and it's an even earlier patent.  It is a U.S. patent, but it lists Mr. Chiron as a resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and a citizen of France.  It is a 1914 patent for a "flying machine."  Keep in mind that the Wright brothers' first flight was in 1903.  You've got to click on this one or, better yet, open the patent application in a separate window for a better view.

No, that picture is not from Monty Python's Flying Circus.  Yes, that is a little man sitting in the bottom of the umbrella plane.  That's the third page in the patent application.  In fairness to Mr. Chiron, this one tops the charts for inventiveness.  If you look at all of the drawings you will see that the fuselage of the airplane is the skeletal framework for the parachute contraption.  It is a "safety flying machine" along the lines of his later "safety boat," i.e., the "safety" part is the allegedly patentable idea.

At the top of the picture (#18) is the rudder of the flying machine (now called an airplane or just plane).  #56 and #57 are the plane's rear horizontal stabilizers, now automatically turned sideways to "help slow the craft's decent" when in free fall.  The umbrella pops out from the fuselage, the flaming engine and spinning propeller are jettisoned, the front wings pop off, somehow missing the opening umbrella, the pilots seat drops into the shown position where the pilot has control of #18, 56, and 57 to steer safely to the ground, where the automatically extended legs allow for a safe three-point landing.  Good luck with that.

This patent application was Mr. Chiron all on his own, although I suspect that he may have secretly partnered with Rube Goldberg.  There are so many physically impossible assumptions in this contraption that I can't even begin to point them out.  If you don't see them, you need to take 5th grade physics again.  But in fairness to Mr. Chiron, he filed a later patent application in 1918 for an improved aeroplane that popped in half at the cockpit, "allowing the pilot to descend by parachute."  That sounds better, except for the popping in half part, which is the only "novel" part of this patent claim.

What was most interesting about the aeroplane application is 1) that Mr. Chiron was then living in Hog Island, PA, and 2) that I found it by accident after searching for H. Chiron, Hippolyte Chiron, and all variations.  It is entirely possible that there are many more imaginative patents by Mr. Chiron, in the U.S., U.K., and who knows where else, than those that I have found in researching this article about woodwind reeds.  As a side note about researching this issue, don't Google "vibrator" without adding the term "chiron."  You will get side tracked.

Which gets me back to the H. Chiron Company and Vibrator reeds.  I still wish I knew what happened to the company and to Hippolyte Chiron.  The latest patent I could find was a 1928 U.K. patent that listed his residence as Paris, so I may have to concentrate on France.  But after looking at his patents, I did determine the true purpose of the grooves cut into Vibrator reeds.  They perform the exact same function as the fins on an old Cadillac.  They look cool, they catch your attention, they make you want to try it, own it, drive it, or maybe fly it.  The making of a successful product is often just in the presentation. 

And the H. Chiron company was clearly aware that it had a successful product and trade name.  They should have used that name to diversify.  How about a Vibrator branded mouthpiece?  It could feature the patented longitudinal lines on the exterior of the barrel to promote "brightness and even tonal qualities" just like Vibrator reeds. Whether or not Hippolyte was back living in Paris in the early 1930s when Vibrator reeds became well known, he would have known about the French mouthpiece company Riffault, which was producing mouthpieces for C.G. Conn, Martin Band Instruments, and many, many others. 

Here is a made-in-France, U.S. patent pending, mouthpiece with longitudinal grooves.  Vibrator is kind of crudely stamped on the top ridge.

There are several problems with this early Vibrator mouthpiece.  First, unlike milling grooves in a reed, the longitudinal lines on the mouthpiece would add noticeable complexity and expense to the production costs (Riffault, as with most mouthpiece manufacturers, had stopped milling mouthpieces out of solid ebonite bar stock by this time).  Second, although the distinctive Vibrator logo appears only on the bottom of the H. Chiron reeds and is therefore not visible when in use, the logo appears prominently on the box and in advertisements.  There is no place on a heavily ribbed mouthpiece to feature the Vibrator name with the script ending by underlining the distinctive logo.

So, what is more important, the visibility of the Vibrator trade name or the patented longitudinal grooves that create the rich, beautiful sound that is so distinctive that it could be patented?  First, I couldn't find any evidence that the first Vibrator mouthpiece had ever been patented.  Second, we have the answer based on these pictures of a subsequent Vibrator mouthpiece.  Those of you who are familiar with vintage mouthpieces may be familiar with versions of this piece, although not necessarily when sporting the Vibrator logo.

Does that trade name look familiar?  This is another stencil piece, meaning that it was made by a mouthpiece manufacturer and stamped with the trade name of the wholesale purchaser.  These were made by Riffault.  90% of Riffault's production was stenciled for the foreign market, mostly the U.S. and are seen with Brilhart, Penzel-Mueller, Woodwind Co, etc., logos on them.  The shanks of these pieces appear to have been milled after the molding, and there are some slight variations, but more similarities than differences.

If stamped "Brilhart Hard Rubber" these can sell for over $500 and are claimed to be made of super-duper hard rubber (although Mr. Brilhart simply said that he bought some stock pieces or "blanks" from various suppliers to make his hard rubber pieces).  If stamped Penzel-Mueller or Vibrator," then they sell for under $100.  If not stamped at all, then about $30-40.  Such is the power of a trade name or a famous endorser.

It is slightly more complicated than that.  Below is a picture of the chambers of the two mouthpieces shown above.  The Vibrator from "Paris" has a full chamber like a Dukoff hard rubber piece, while the Vibrator from "France" has a straight sidewall type chamber, sometimes referred to as a "Brilhart-style" chamber.  So identical exterior shapes and even identical brand names on a stenciled mouthpiece doesn't tell you the chamber shape (as I've learned from buying vintage pieces on Ebay).  It would be honest to say that a vintage mouthpiece, as with life, is like a box of chocolates.

To further complicate matters, notice that the word "France" on the first piece in the top picture starts before the b in Vibrator and the "France" in the second picture starts after the b in Vibrator.  Those are likely from two different production runs.  They may also have different chamber shapes despite both being Vibrator "France" pieces.  As a final complication, Riffault molded these same chamber shapes in pieces that don't look like Brilhart, Dukoff, Vibrator, etc. mouthpieces on the exterior.  Oh, and some of the so-called Dukoff blanks are just that.  Completely blank with nothing engraved on them.  Those sell really cheap.  (I need to write a blog on American Hard Rubber Co., JJ Babbitt, and Riffault stock blank mouthpieces, although the stories would be even more sketchy than trying to chase down H. Chiron.) (Here it is).

Getting back to Vibrator, one could always claim that it is the exterior shape of the mouthpiece that matters, for instance, claim that exterior longitudinal grooves "add an evenness of tonal qualities to both jazz and classical playing at all volumes in all registers,"  like in the H. Chiron patent where it is claimed that the heel of the reed produced a tone.  That argument had been made and was even patented (or patent pending).  I find that argument as bogus as claiming that engraving the piece Dukoff makes it way better than when it is engraved Vibrator.  

Unfortunately, the power of the Vibrator name was not enough to  give the Chiron mouthpiece the financial success and cult following of the identical Brilhart or Dukoff mouthpieces.  The H. Chiron Company had the alto saxophone player Julius "Cannonball" Adderly as an endorser of Vibrator reeds back in the 1950s (see advertisements above), but apparently it didn't think to have Riffault engrave Cannonball instead of Vibrator on the mouthpieces that Chiron had stencilled.  Now that might have created success in the day and definitely would have a cult following at present.  Somebody else later figured out how to take advantage of "Cannonball" as a trade name and the H. Chiron Company faded away along with Vibrator reeds.

(to be continued if I ever find out what happened)

January 2018 Post Script:  

I did come across more information in the Publisher's Guide to the Music Industries (details on the PGMI in this blog).  Chiron & Company sold out in 1957 to a company named Vibrator Reed Co. in Hanover, PA.  The April 29, 1961 Hanover Evening Sun had an article stating that Jack Schuler, president of Vibrator Reed Co., had left for Paris to visit Establissements Deru to discuss the manufacture of clarinet and saxophone reeds for Vibrator.  Based on the advertising above, it appears that Chiron & Co. had a long standing relationship with Establissements Deru (whoever they were).

By January of 1970, Vibrator Reed had been sold to Musical Instrument Corp. of America (MICA) in New York (which intended to produce a line of Vibrator brand reeds and accessories).  I haven't found information on Chiron & Co. claiming to have marketed mouthpieces, but the 1974 PGMI states that Vibrator Reed Co. also made mouthpieces.  MICA is still in business, but the "Vibrator" trademark has been dropped by MICA and taken up by the "adult sex toy" industry.

What is this about woodwind reed making in Hanover, Pennsylvania??  That probably doesn't mean much to anybody but me.  In researching the start of Rico Products and Roy J. Maier, I found that Roy Maier's first reeds (prior to being distributed through Selmer U.S.A. and prior to joining Rico Products) were distributed by a company in Hanover, PA.  In fact, it was a company run by a Mr. Jack Schuler.  Small world.  That story will require another blog.  Will this Vibrator madness never end!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Plotting a Woodwind Mouthpiece to Examine the Facing Curve

The facing curve on a mouthpiece determines how it will play.  If the curve is really out of whack, it won't play at all.  As the curve approaches the natural flex of the reed, the response will be easier, generally a good thing.  There may be times when the "perfect" curve isn't required or wanted, but that is beyond this discussion.  There also may be times when the internal shape of the mouthpiece and/or the resistance of the instrument will effect the desired curve, also outside of the scope of this discussion.  My intention here is simply to show how one can examine the facing curve on a mouthpiece by plotting the curve on a graph, regardless of whether you want to alter it, copy it, reface it, or simply examine it.

The tools are very simple, or can be very simple.  What is needed is a way to accurately measure and graph a curve that begins from a flat surface.  The flat surface is the "table" of the mouthpiece and the curve is the "lay" of the mouthpiece.  To this end, a feeler gauge is used to measure the height the curve rises above the table and a ruler is used to measure the distance from the tip of the mouthpiece where that height occurs.  Sounds a little complex, but actually all you are doing is getting X and Y coordinates for purposes of plotting a simple graph.  I use Microsoft Excel as a spreadsheet program that has an automatic graph or "chart" function.

One of the traditional methods for measuring was developed by Erick Brand, hence the term "Brand numbers" used in comparing mouthpiece facings.  Mr. Brand used a glass ruler etched in millimeters. The original Brand ruler markings started at the end of the ruler, so if the tip of the mouthpiece was even with the end of the ruler, you could begin measuring by using the feeler gauges.   (Shown in Fig. 95).  Those types of rulers are difficult to find.  Other rulers, which are not "end indexed," are available, sometimes as part of a kit.

When the ruler doesn't start at the edge, you have to relocate the tip over the zero line several times, and there will be some error (more on that later).  And although the Brand ruler is etched in millimeters, the Brand "numbers" are really half millimeters, meaning that if the distance measured is 4.7 millimeters, the Brand number for that distance would be 9.4.  Confused yet?  

What is being done is that, for graphing purposes, the measurement is being made in .5 mm increments.  That adds another element of error because almost every measurement is going to require interpolation between the lines on the ruler.  Add to that the fact that the ruled lines themselves can be 3/10ths of a millimeter thick and it gets kind of silly to think that you can measure 20ths of a millimeter using a ruler with 1mm markings and no way to ensure that the mouthpiece is always positioned the same for each subsequent measurement.

One thing that might help is a glass ruler that is in .5mm increments.  Here's one.  It's from Germany, probably close to 100 years old, and harder to find than an original Brand ruler.  It isn't indexed to zero on the end, so if the mouthpiece is moved during measuring (and it will be), it has to be re-indexed to zero for each measurement and some additional error is possible. You can see the zero line and the next line of the same length is the 1 cm line, with 20 lines in between, thus the very thinly etched lines are .5mm.  You can click on the picture to enlarge.
  The other problem you may have noticed is that the ruler is scratched.  When used during the refacing of mouthpieces, it is common to pick up a little bit of the emory or carborundum from the paper that is being used to face the piece (not covered in this post).  I can quickly tell if there is a little piece of abrasive on the glass, as the mouthpiece resists sliding into place to get it to zero.  But at 100 years old, this ruler has acquired plenty of scratches at both ends, most prior to my ownership.  Of course, I can use 20, 25, 30, etc. as the zero point, and using an unscratched area will make it possible to read the ruler for another 100 years.  Here's another picture showing the scratches and how thin the etched rulings are.

Here is the glass ruler used as in the Brand article referenced above.  Different thicknesses of feeler gauges are inserted between the glass and the mouthpiece and the numbers are recorded and graphed. 
This picture shows a .010 inch gauge inserted between the ruler and the mouthpiece.  Yes, one axis on our graph (the distance from the tip) is going to be measured in .5 millimeter increments and the other axis (the height of the curve above the table) is measured in thousandths of an inch with feeler gauges.  Turns out that it really doesn't matter, as we will mostly be examining the "fairness" of the curve when shown in graph form.  

If you click on the above picture, you may be able to read this ruler in .5mm increments or actual "Brand numbers."  To help you, the long ruled line just left of middle on the feeler gauge is the 10mm mark (meaning a Brand number of 20).  So the Brand measurement shown here is approximately 39.  When I measure, I use a high-powered lighted desk magnifier.  Sometimes, I even use a jeweler's loupe with the desk magnifying glass.  I record Brand numbers to the 10ths (i.e., increments of 1/20th of a millimeter), which, as I noted at the beginning of the blog, is probably a little optimistic as to accuracy.  The reading above might be plotted on the graph as 39.2 for the .010" feeler.

A word about feeler gauges.  Like most measuring devices, the largest and most common source of error is going to be operator error.  Inexpensive gauges can be as accurate as expensive gauges, although they may have to be used with more care.  They can also be modified to increase accuracy.  Here's an example of an inexpensive set ($5 including shipping).  There are sets with longer blades and you can purchase individual blades in various thicknesses for about $4 to $5 each.  I prefer the set, for reasons I'll get to. 
If you click on this feeler gauge set, you'll see that it has some thickness that aren't used in the Brand system, which will only use feelers of .0015, .005, 010, .016, and .024 of an inch for graphing points.  This set is also "missing" some required thicknesses, i.e., .035, .050, .063, .078, .093, and .0109.  The "missing" thicknesses are measured by stacking proximate blades.  Stacking .017 and .018 equals .035.  Add the .015 and you have .050.  Stack .020, .021, and .022 and you have .063.  18, 19, 20, and 21 is .078, etc.  I think that the original "Brand feeler gauge increments" are what they are because they were easy to get from stacking a commonly available mechanic's feeler gauge set.  If you buy individual feelers, you're looking at 11 or more feelers to get the Brand numbers and spending between $50 - $200.

There can be a problem with accuracy when using a set and stacking the blades.  The first problem is cleanliness, which is a problem with all feeler gauges.  You have to make sure that nothing gets on the blades and between the blades if you are stacking.  Second, if you simply slide two or more blades between the ruler and the mouthpiece, a blade may be cantilevered out, or a top or bottom blade may be back a little from the leading edge, which can affect the measurement.  It's easy to prevent this and should become routine for every multi-blade measurement.  If you have the set that has a tightening screw (as shown below), tighten it down good before evening the blades.  If you have a set without a thumb screw (like the one above), you simply pinch on the outer case to hold the blades tightly together (which also works for the thumbscrew types).
  Place the blades on a perfectly flat surface, like a piece of glass or, in this case, a granite counter top.  Lift up a tiny bit on the casing that's holding the remainder of the blades.  This will force the chosen blades to align against the flat surface. The thumb screw or pinching the casing holds them in alignment while you take the measurement.

Here are the aligned blades.  Click on the picture and you can see that the ends of the feeler blades don't align perfectly.  The other side blade edges are probably also out of whack, but we don't care.  The edge that we are going to use for measuring thickness has the blades all perfectly aligned and held in position. 

There is one final thing that should be done to improve accuracy.  The individual blades are stamped out, causing the edges of the gauge to not be at a perfect 90 degree angle to the width of the blade.  The generally have one edge slightly "rolled over" as a result of the stamping.  The general "thickness" of the gauge is accurate for its intended use, but we are using it in a little different manner.  We need the very edge of the blade to be accurate.  To ensure that, look at the picture above where the blade is on the granite slab.  I usually remove the blade from the set and, holding it perpendicular to the granite slab, draw it over emory paper.  I can examine the edge with my jeweler's loupe and make sure that I have put a 90 degree edge on the blade.  Then I wipe the edge with steel wool to remove any burrs.  Be careful not to erase the chemically etched numbers that show the blade's thickness!  When you are done, the edge of the blade will feel kind of sharp compared to the original undressed stamped edge.

Now we are going to insert the blades between the ruler and the mouthpiece.  A little wiggle and you'll get the hang of it. You want the blade(s) flat against the ruler and the same force each time so that you are measuring "apples to apples."
The thumb screw type of gauge set is also nice because the thinner single blades (.0015 - .010) can be taken out of the set and quickly picked up off of the work bench.

Hey, wait a minute!  That's not an expensive, rare, scratched glass ruler.  Right, this is an inexpensive, easy to find and replace, accurate ruler.  It's a rigid "mechanic's ruler" that is end indexed, just like an original Brand ruler, and ruled in .5mm increments (or Brand increments), just like the Brand ruler didn't have.  These are also made in a flexible version and that isn't what you want, as that type will flex away from the feeler gauge and screw up the measurements.  These are about $10 off of the web, including shipping. 

Hey, wait another minute!  I can't see through it!  Well, you can't see through the feeler gauge or the mouthpiece either, so what's your point?  

Here, we zero it out using a flat surface to accurately get the same starting point every time.  That's one of the nice things about a mechanic's ruler, it's edge indexed.
I've offset the mouthpiece so that you can see what's going on.  The ruler would normally be lined up down the center, or it can be lined up running closer to the rail as long as the piece is perpendicular to the ruler.  If you are off by three or four degrees, it can make a measurable difference (which is another source of error that negates any supposed accuracy in reading to 20ths of a millimeter).

The Brand article above at Fig. 95 shows the author using a finger to align the mouthpiece tip with the end of the ruler.  That would basically be using the inaccurate eye-ball method that will change a little each time the piece is re-positioned.  What good is a super accurate .5mm ruler with ruled lines exactly .2mm thick help you measure in .05mm increments if you start each measurement by saying to yourself "Does that look like it's lined up at the zero line?" Or, "Does the tip appear even with the end of the ruler this time?"

Three additional notes on accuracy.  First, if you are trying to eyeball up to a zero line, you need to decide which side of that line is zero.  The thicker the line, the more important that is.  It isn't just the area in between the lines that is .5 mm (or whatever the particular metric of your ruler), it's the space and the thickness of one of the adjacent lines.  On the ruler shown above, it is the leading edge of the ruled lines (the lower edge in the picture) that is exactly 1mm from the edge.  Then there is a line that is .2mm thick, then an open space that is .8mm, and you are back to the next full millimeter beginning on the leading edge of the next line.  Likewise on the .5mm scale.  The line is .2, the open space is .3, and you are back to the face of the next line.  Your ruler type may vary, but use it properly to maximize its accuracy.

Second, I don't think that an exact zero starting point is as important as a uniform zero starting point.  By that I mean that the importance of whether a facing curve is 22.5 mm long (45 in Brand numbers) or 22.75 (45.5 in Brand numbers) pales in comparison to whether the curve is accurately measured over its length so that the fairness of the curve can be analyzed.  If you index to zero "inaccurately," but uniformly inaccurately for every measurement, meaning, for example, that every single Brand reading you recorded is uniformly high by exactly .2 mm because of your inaccurate zero point, you will still have an accurate map of the curvature.  If you eyeball your zero for each measurement, and your Brand numbers look perfect, but your eyeballed zero point varied by plus or minus .2 mm for each reading, you've got an accuracy problem.  For purposes of refacing a mouthpiece, I'm concerned about attaining a smooth curvature and not necessarily attaining some magic numbers.  An accurate curve requires a uniform zero, which doesn't have to be an exact zero, and won't be easy to achieve using a repeatedly eyeballed zero reference. 

The same is true for just mapping the piece for analysis.  Think of mapping a mouthpiece as making a geological topographic map.  You start out by marking sea level as your zero point and start mapping your contours at 20 foot height increments.  Every contour is indexed to the same sea level marker.  20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 1,000 feet, etc.  Now let's create a map a different way.  To establish the 20 foot contour, we put a marker at sea level.  For 40 foot, we put in another marker to establish sea level and measure from that marker.  Each time we measure, we put in a different marker for sea level using our best technology.  Let's say that our best GPS technology is accuracy within 6 inches.  Given that the purpose of the map is to show contour in relationship to one point (sea level), it doesn't make sense to re-establish sea level for every measurement.  And given the fact that we are interested in the overall topographic detail, whether our single sea level marker was off by 6 inches is not as important from a mapping point of view as the accuracy provided by using a single point starting point for every measurement.  That's my theory. 

Third, the accuracy of feeler gauges themselves is often the source of concern, especially when stacking blades.  What if by stacking the .017 and the .018 blades to measure the .035" number that results in some inaccuracy?  It might really be .0353" thick.  Because of that extra thickness, the feelers won't slide in as far, say by .03mm.  Or what if the edges of the feeler gauge is not perfectly plumb, but rather, rounded from use?  Because it's not properly plumb, it slides in further by .03mm.  If you play around with your feeler gauges, say by measuring first with the .024" blade and then .025," you'll see a measurement difference in Brand numbers.  That huge difference of going from one blade thickness to the next might make only a .2 difference in the Brand number.  Lesser changes, say a .0003 inaccuracy in the blade thickness would be barely visible, barely visible being the key here.  An inaccuracy of .0003" in thickness resulting from stacking the blades is easily imaginable, but don't let your imagination run wild.  It's going to be your eyeballs and your technique, not your tools, that limit your accuracy.

It is easy to increase the accuracy of indexing to zero by using a flat surface, as shown above.  Even better is to zero the piece by holding it horizontal and aligning against a flat surface like the front edge of the countertop (my favorite method).  Or, like the picture below, where I am holding the tip upright and coming up under a flat surface, using the smooth overhanging edge of the milled granite countertop. 

That way, the mouthpiece and ruler are comfortably oriented in the same way that I will hold them when I take my measurement.  Very easy, very fast, very consistent, very accurate. 

Here's how I hold the mouthpiece and the ruler.  Index finger right up against the beak lip, middle finger over the ligature line, with most pressure between the middle finger and thumb and basically no pressure from the index finger (it's only used to index, yuk, yuk).  I've never had a curve start behind the "lip" of the beak, so the thumb is pushing the rigid ruler only on to the flat table (or hopefully flat table, not covered in this blog) right before the lay begins. 
This mechanic's ruler is indexed to zero on both ends and ruled on both sides, so if I want to use the .5mm rulings to help in getting direct read Brand numbers for either rail, it's just a matter of flipping the ruler over.  Because re-indexing to zero is quick and accurate, it doesn't matter that I've moved the mouthpiece on the ruler or to the other side of the ruler.  In fact, this is a good way to double check the accuracy of my readings. 
Here, the .5 mm markings (or Brand numbers) are on the left hand rail.  The rulings on both edges help in determining whether the rails are even (when the feeler will balance at 90 degrees to the ruler).   You've probably noticed that in the above picture the .010 feeler goes in farther on one side than the other. That's because on this tenor mouthpiece the curvature of the rails is uneven.  The further the rails are from even, the more difficult it gets to measure them accurately.   

That's the basics of measuring the mouthpiece.  This is not an exhaustive treatise, therefore, you may have to use common sense to increase the accuracy of your readings. 

Finally, we get to the interesting part.  Here are numbers from a new "no name" mouthpiece for a BBb contrabass clarinet which, when compared to a baritone saxophone, is physically much larger (its internal chamber is about 1.25" in diameter as compared to a baritone sax at .75").  If you are familiar with lay lengths and tip openings for baritone saxophones, you will notice that this BBb clarinet mouthpiece has a long lay for a relatively small tip opening.  And this particular lay is actually very short for a BBb piece.  This piece is new old stock (1960's?) and was intended as a student grade mouthpiece.  The mouthpiece was about $40 on Ebay.  It appears to be plastic rather than the hard rubber used on high-end pieces.  I've also written down some other notes to make it easier to compare this piece to other BBb mouthpieces and maybe help in improving this piece if I decide to modify the facing curve.
If you clicked on the picture, you can see that the left and right rail are measured and recorded separately.  And on this piece, those measurements are not the same.  It is possible for a skilled and experienced craftsman to adjust the rail to differing heights at different locations to improve the piece, but on an inexpensive, mass produced plastic student piece?  Nah.  This unevenness is just the result of the quality control in the manufacturing. 

We then need to graph the numbers to see what's really going on.  Excel does this automatically.  On this graph, the distance from the tip is on the Y axis and height from the flat table is on the X axis.  Remember, the Brand system is 1/1000th of an inch on one axis and interpolated 1/20th of a millimeter on the other, so don't expect the graph to look too much like the curve on an actual mouthpiece.  Okay.  Ready?  Click on it.
So what are we looking at here?  The dark blue line is the facing curve on the right hand rail.  Red is the facing curve on the left hand rail.  The smooth brown line is one of my facing curves for a BBb piece.  The first impression is that this brand new mouthpiece is screwed up, and it is, but actually not that bad.  In fact, I've seen worse.  This piece is playable, although not particularly fun or pleasant sounding.  You might refer to this as a fairly standard example of a "student curve."  Similar student curves show up on saxophone and clarinet mouthpieces.  Generally a bit lumpy, relatively short lay, flat curve, small tip opening.  Easy first register, second register gets difficult higher up, limited volume (the latter might be what band teachers like), but no way to start a note at ppp.

The right hand rail is quite "playable," even with the "kink" at the top, which is right as the reed would leave the table.  I know that this kink would be the measurement that was taken with the .005 feeler gauge.  I could take additional measurements using the .003, .004, .006 and .007 gauges and get an even more accurate picture of what's happening at that point in the lay (another advantage of a full set of feelers).  But since I can already see that what's happening at that point is not good, I don't really need an extremely precise picture.  From the way that this graph is set up, I know that I could adjust the kink with several passes over sandpaper at that point.  Instant improvement, but limited improvement.

More troubling is the left hand tip.  The reed is not going to flex into a dip in the railing (actually, a double dip with the other rail higher).  This tip is a classic picture of a "squeaker" that would likely perform only with a soft, mushy reed.  And the difference between the L and R rail at the tip is going to make playing a struggle.  Now you know one reason why student recitals can be an ordeal for both the player and the audience. 

This mouthpiece, with all its flaws, could be called average, given the cost and purpose.  Because of the dip in the left rail towards the tip, any fix is going to require quite a bit of change over the length of the lay.  The tip opening is going to have to be increased to accommodate the dip, and then the curve rises from there, with the left rail adjusted all the way back to match the new left rail lay.  Given that this is a small tip opening to begin with, that's not a problem (assuming that working on this piece is not intended to turn a profit). 

Another way to improve this would be adjusting the table, which hasn't been examined yet.  If the table were flattened a tiny bit in a way that slanted towards the left hand rail, that would have the effect of raising the left rail all the way down, as was done in this blog.  It might even be possible to move the red line to the other side of the blue line just by working the table and then reface to straighten out the red line to match the more accurate blue line.  That assumes that you wanted to keep it as a short, flat student facing.  Let's move along.

Below is a graph for another BBb mouthpiece.  Left and right rails are much closer to each other, although not perfect (the rail colors are blue and yellow, with the yellow hard to see).  The lay looks pretty good when compared next to a nice smooth computer generated curve (brown).  This lay curve and tip opening is what you will see on high-end pieces, although this tip opening may be the smallest available from this maker. 

Oh yeah, measuring tip openings is another thing that the feeler gauge set does that a few individual blades can't do.  I've found using feeler sets as accurate as electric caliper gizmos costing many times more than a set of feelers.  Maybe it's just me.  Place the mouthpiece on plate glass, slide the blades under (may take a few tries to get the right combination), get your tip opening, which isn't really very important to have accuracy in excess of a couple thousandths of an inch, something a $5 set of feeler gauges is more than capable of providing.  People might ask you your tip opening, and you have your choice of measuring it (most accurate), reciting what the opening is supposed to be according to the manufacturer (semi-accurate) or just making up a plausible number.  That's how much tip opening matters.  Most people make up big numbers.  Don't know why.

This second mouthpiece is a well known, well respected, hand finished piece.  It costs in excess of $360 and there is a waiting period if you want one. If you study the graph, you will see that all of the points at which the mouthpiece varies from the computer generated line are "high spots" in the lay, meaning that a careful touch-up on the facing would reduce those spots and make it a perfect match with the curve.  In fact, the computer generated line was purposely designed to show the facing curve, given this mouthpiece's measurements, that would require the smallest amount of fairing in order to be "true." Question is, would a perfect curve be better?  Again, not covered in this blog.

So there you have it.  It is possible to do a self-examination of your mouthpiece.  Whether you should then play Doctor is another question.  I have talked about how to play Doctor in other blogs, but that isn't for everybody.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Revere horns - A trademark of Sorkin Music Company

I bought a nice Revere saxophone (then I bought a few more) and wondered who had them stenciled, stencil being a term applied to designate a horn that was ordered by a music store to be used as a private label instrument for their exclusive sales.  I thought Revere might be related to Sorkin Music because one Revere closet horn (not a sax) on the website Hornucopia had a Sorkin Music registration and warranty card in the case.  So I looked into the history of Sorkin Music.  The little Sorkin Music history that I had already heard was that Sorkin had used the Martin company to stencil a saxophone in the 1930s-40s with the name Dick Stabile (a then well known player).  I needed more Sorkin history.

Sorkin started as a music store owned by Lou Sorkin in Philadelphia during the depression.  It then moved to New York and became a musical instrument wholesaler.  The company changed its name to Peter Sorkin Music Company in the 1940s. Lou's nephew, Joe Saltzman, was the buyer for the business and travelled around the world to source products that were often branded with one of the Sorkin held trade names. 
Instruments were also sourced from the U.S., as in the case of Sorkin using Kent Drums of New York to produce the Revere drum kits sold by Sorkin.  The Sorkin Revere drums had the exact same distinctive metal foil lyre logo sticker on them as on my Revere saxophones and sax cases.  That was my second clue that Revere might be a Sorkin trade name. (the Revere badge is 2/3 down the page). The lyre seems to emphasize a mirrored S (for Sorkin?).  The same lyre logo appears engraved on the brass instruments and on the cases.  Click on any picture to enlarge.

From looking at various articles about Sorkin instruments on the web, Sorkin began by sourcing quality instruments and sometimes helped to develop new lines of instruments.  Sorkin always seemed to be close to the cutting edge in the musical instrument field, if not at the cutting edge.  Sorkin got on board with electrically amplified guitars early on, including developing a line of tube amplifiers through a subsidiary called Multivox.  One of its lines was Premier amplifiers (which supposedly introduced the first piggyback amp, usually attributed incorrectly to Fender).   (Scroll down for the Premier piggyback amp shown next to the Cannonball Adderly record release notice).  
 Premier electric guitars were built with parts sourced from various vendors, including DeArmond pick-ups (and made-in-Japan knock-off pickups when they could get the same quality from another supplier).  Some of the electric guitars were badged “Marvel” or “Beltone.”  All of these badges have their cult followers today and are thought of as good examples of instruments of the era.  Other collectible Sorkin guitar trade names were Rhythm Ace and Royce.  The Premier line of guitars had a flashy scrolled upper bout, along with some eye-catching trim.

Sorkin was also the sole US distributor of Hofner guitars from Germany.  When the British invasion hit, Paul McCartney was playing a distinctive Hofner violin-shaped bass guitar, and sales must have been good at Sorkin.  At about the same time, Mr. Saltzman was at NAMM in 1964 and a Japanese inventor (Ikutaro Kakehashi) was showing an electric drum-like metronome thingy.  The big organ companies passed on that idea.  Sorkin then became the sole U.S. distributor for the first programmable drum machine (still in business as the Roland Company).  No matter what your opinion of drum machines, this was cutting edge stuff.  Sorkin also distributed the Ace Tone electronic organ, another Kakehasi product.  The organ was endorsed by Steve Chapin (brother of Harry Chapin and later the leader of a Harry Chapin tribute band).  A few years later, engineers at Thomas Organ finally got on board and developed the wah wah pedal and used it with a saxophone until somebody had the idea to use it with the electric guitar.

Despite a successful 1960s, Sorkin Co. was dissolved in the 1970s, but Multivox Corporation of America continued active production until the 1980s and still exists as a corporation but apparently does not presently produce or distribute electronics. 
Ace Tone.  Yeah, man. (see what a vintage Multivox synth can do).

Sorkin also had U.S. made acoustic guitars, banjos, ukuleles, and mandolins that they sold under their trade name “Stra-Do-Lin  in the 30s-60s.  There was even an electric Stra-Do-Lin hollow-body bass.  There is some evidence that in the early days Sorkin owned the Stra-Do-Lin shop that made these instruments.  The early mandolins are highly regarded, despite the fact that even those who deal in vintage mandolins don’t seem to know where Stra-Do-Lins came from.  (calling it a “catalog instrument”).  That catalog was Sorkin.  The early reputation for these instruments is good (mandolin player Bill Munroe liked them).

The Sorkin ukuleles were endorced by Bobby "Uke" Henshaw and claimed by one web site to have been "made in Sorkin, N.Y."  The early ones are said to be of a very high quality.  Check out the foil badge on the headstock.  There's the lyre again.

As with the Revere drums and Stra-Do-Lin mandolins Sorkin later sourced cheaper, lesser quality imported ukuleles and sold them using the trade name recognition that it had built.  By the 1970s, the guitars were from Korea, drums from Japan, and who knows where the banjos and mandolins were from.  The badging of Revere instruments seems to have ended in the 1960's.
What’s interesting about the Stra-Do-Lin trademark is that Hornucopia and other brass wind web sites show 1940-60s vintage trumpets, flutes, cornets, trombones, etc. engraved “Revere by Stradolin.”  They all appear to be stencils using two of the Sorkin trade names at once, but it caused some people to think that the Revere instruments were manufactured by a company called Stra-Do-Lin when a close inspection of the horns shows that they are stencils from well known brass and woodwind manufacturers.  All of the “Revere by Stradolin” instruments that I’ve found seem to be U.S. sourced stencils.  Maybe I just haven’t seen enough of them, because horns badges with just Revere were commonly high quality German, French, and English (also Japanese and maybe Italian).

Getting back to the Revere lyre logo, Sorkin’s Premier line of amplifiers also included wonderful little “harp” amps, popular with harmonica players.  In fact, one of the Premier amps was called the Harp.  Of course, there is also type of harp that is a stringed instrument, like a lyre.  Check out this Sorkin Premier Harp amplifier. Notice anything about the logos on that little baby?  I couldn’t believe it. I had to stare at that a while (after hitting mute).  And it's small enough to busk at the Laundromat, like this guy is apparently doing.

And then I came across a good picture of a Dick Stabile saxophone stenciled by Martin Band Instruments for Sorkin Music from the mid 30s to the mid 40s.  The Stabile model is said to be one of those horns where the stencil is better than the manufacturer's "run of the mill," and Martin tenors from the mid 30s and 40s are no slouch.  Here is a picture of the tenor on the left and an alto on the right.
Notice anything interesting about the logo below the name Dick Stabile and above the name Sorkin New York?  Yeah, it's not a Stabile lyre, a Revere lyre, or a Premier lyre, the logo could really be called a Sorkin lyre. 
What's interesting is that I've found few of the Sorkin house brands of the 1930s through the early 60s ridiculed as second line or student instruments.  Those instruments that were intended to be student grade they were clearly marked as such.  Here is a student metal clarinet, probably from the 1930s.  I have one of these (not a Sorkin) and kept it only because it plays very well and cost about $40.  Still a bargain.  Notice the lyre above the name? 

Here is a wood Sorkin clarinet.  I have no idea where they sourced these or their reputation, but considering the reputation of other Sorkin stencils, I wouldn't hesitate to bid on one.

Here is Dick Stabile saxophone that makes it clear who was ordering the Martin stencil.

 Some Sorkin stencils might not be top-of-the-line professional instruments, but Premier, Revere, Marvel, Rhythm Ace, Multivox and a few other Sorkin lines were quality competitive in their day.  Multivox, for instance, the electric part of the Sorkin line that was started in the 1940s, was very well known in the late 1960s for wah wah pedals, fuzzboxes, etc.!multivox-big-jam-pedals/cig3  (go back and listen to the Marvel video at :33 to hear what they do).  Multivox continued into the 1980s with less expensive, allegedly “lower quality” keyboards, pedals, and synthesizers, said to be inferior to the top-of-the-line keyboards and synthesizers made by the Roland Company and others.   
Remember the Roland Company?  That’s a company started by Ikutaro Kakehashi, the guy that Sorkin partnered with and had exclusive rights to distribute some it his electronic synthesizer products.  The “lower quality” claim might be a bit bogus on the early products.  Multivox synths could be stencils of Roland equipment, and like many stencils, they could be identical except for the badging.  That’s the same problem with all stencils, including the Revere badged instruments.  They are immediately considered inferior until somebody recognizes that the stencil horn was made by Blessing, Holton, King, Martin, or one of the quality European makers.  Then they get a second look (or hear) after their parentage is determined and many players recognize that stencils are often a hidden bargain.
There is a U.S. trademark for “Revere” musical instruments that is still in effect.  It covers “Musical Instruments-Namely, Trumpets, Cornets, Trombones, Alto Horns, Mellophones, French Horns, Baritone Horns, Bugles, Bass Horns, Sousaphones, Clarinets, Saxaphones, Piccolos, Flutes, Oboes, English Horns, Bassoons, Mouth Pieces for Musical Instruments, Mouth Piece Caps, Drums, Drum Covers, Drum Sticks, Drum Spurs, Tamborines, Triangles and Maracas.”  The misspelling of saxophones as saxaphones is in all of the trademark references that I found.  Same with tambourines as tamborines.  Weird.

Best I can tell, the Revere trademark was first filed in 1947 by the Peter Sorkin Music Company and is still held by Entertainment Music Marketing Co. of New York.  The trademark is held in common with the Multivox Corporation of America.  Hey, we know them.  These two entities also still hold the trademark for Premier amplifiers and guitars.  Oddly, they also hold the U.S. trademark for Kohlert musical instruments (a well respected German company that stenciled different types of woodwind and brass instruments for Sorkin Music with the Revere name, including one of my saxophones from 1957, before going out of business in the 1960s). 

 The common story is that Kohlert entered into a contract to sell stencil instruments to a foreign wholesaler at a set price for 10 years.  When it couldn't meet the terms of the contract because of inflation, it filed for bankruptcy.  Often, one of the most valuable assets remaining when a business fails is its reputation (i.e., its trade name).  The creditors divvy up the inventory, equipment, etc., and somebody ended up with the Kohlert trade name. 

If you check Ebay, you can buy a new Vietnamese-made Kohlert saxophone for about $700, which means that Entertainment Music Marketing Co. of New York and Multivox Corporation of America are still in the horn business and are presently using their Kohlert trade name.  There are also new "made in the USA" plastic saxophone mouthpieces.  It looks like Sorkin Music was the foreign wholesaler who contracted with Kohlert and ended up owning the Kohlert name. 
A “real” vintage Kohlert saxophone is shown here and valued at about $1,500 completely rebuilt.  The majority of the Revere alto saxophones that I have seen (and purchased) were made by Kohlert in 1957, based on Kohlert serial number charts.  The 57 Kohlert is a great horn and the Revere is identical.  That is one of the great things about sourcing from foreign manufacturers in the 1930s through the 1960s; foreign companies didn't generally have "second tier" lines or "student horns."  The Revere badged Kohlert is identical to the company's well respected "Kohlert 57" professional model.  

My Revere badged Beaugnier tenor saxophone is the same horn as the Beaugnier "Perfect" model, another very nice horn.  Mr. Saltzman was doing a good job finding quality manufacturers for the Sorkin house brands. These Kohlert and Beaugnier produced saxophones, even if in great condition, now sell for half or less than a beater Kohlert if they are badged Revere.  So the name engraved on the horn can drive prices up or down completely unrelated to quality or condition.  It’s that old trade name magic.

From looking around the web, I’d guesstimate that the Revere trademark was used on woodwind and brasswind stencils from 10-20 different foreign and domestic quality instrument manufacturers in the 1940s through 1960s.  From watching Ebay, I know that Revere horns have ended up in Europe, but I don’t know if that was from original sales or if they were taken there by players.  Revere musical instruments were manufactured all over the place, but all paths lead back to the house brand of a U.S. wholesaler . . . Sorkin Music. 

(addendum:  I later found a 1958 Sorkin Music catalog and it shows the Kohlert Revere alto and the Beaugnier Revere tenor.)