Centered Tone? or the much earlier “balanced tone”?

Dear Mr. Friedland,

Hello, and I just happened to look for this clarinet on Ebay, and I was wondering if the price on this Selmer ‘Centered Tone’ Clarinet – that has about a week from now (6-17-09) from removal – was worth buying. Here were the descriptions:

“This listing is for a Bb clarinet made by the Selmer Company of Paris, France. It is the famous “Centered Tone” model which some consider one of the finest jazz clarinets ever produced (no)  It is made of wood with nickle-silver keys. The serial number is in the N74XX series placing production about 1950. We have oiled the bore and body and have installed new pads. This instrument plays well. It does have a repaired crack in the top of the lower joint that does not leak (see photo). The keys are tight and show little wear.(NO)  Free USA shipping. Included is a nice case, new Selmer mouthpiece, ligature, cap, a reed.

swab and cork grease. I also sell new Selmer, Yamaha, Conn, LeBlanc, Buffet and other fine instruments. Email for a great quote.

This Clarinet is up for $799 ‘buy it now’ and I was thinking if this one is worth buying. I also had some doubts since this clarinet had a crack on the top of the lower joint.

This was the site for the item.
 

It would be greatly appreciated if it was replied soon as possible! J thanks!
-M Y

Dear MY:
thanks for your note on the Centered Tone Selmer Clarinet, a subject dear to me because I owned a set of them for many years, and at that time, they were not a Jazz Clarinet, as I’ve mentioned before. I was trained to be an orchestral clarinetist and that is how I used them, except for an occasional Gershwin.
They have come to be called a “Jazz” clarinet because of only two small reasons: one is the fact the the bore is a tiny bit wider than most, and a big bore is considered to be for Jazz. (Funny thing is that Jazz doesn’t know) The other reason is that Benny made an ad advertising the horn when it first came out in the late 50s or so.
Those are the only reasons.
As far as the clarinet you asked about, I think it is overpriced and worth no more than perhaps 500 dollars.
Not only that, but that crack in the lower joint scares me just to look at it. It is in a crucial place and looks as if the repair was crudely done. Any clarinet is diiminished by a big crack right in the middle. There are plenty of horn of Centered tone bore out there for sale and look for one that is not so over-advertised, (read hyped), or try to get a Leblanc Dynamic, same bore size and just as “famous” for Jazz. They’ll go for much cheaper because of the maligned state of the brand , as such.
 One final caveat: I do not think that the clarinet pictured and described is a CT Selmer/ The serial numbers don’t match the CT series of serial numbers, but they match an earlier clarinet, the BT. This according to a viewer who notified me of this.

When I checked out the photos with the clarinet, the shot of the CT written on the clarinet didn’t match what is normally acceptable . In my opinion, based on the above. The clarinet in this ad is not a Centered Tone Clarinet. So please be careful. Auctions sites can yield bargains, but also items which are counterfeit, so, be careful! ( bull-doggiescomment)

“Mr. Friedland, I am the owner-player of a fine Bb Selmer Centered-Tone clarinet(“Q” series) since 1958, and a CT A clarinet (“P” series) for about 10 years. Both are wonderful instruments.  A few years ago I caught the new clarinet virus, and so I tried out the various top-of-the line clarinets.  I decided that they were vastly over-priced and really not any better for me than my trusty CTs. 

In the listing referred to by the correspondent, I was surprised that the “N” series clarinet is shown as a “Centered Tone.”  All of the websites listing Selmer clarinet serial numbers show that the Selmer “Centered Tone” began with the “P” series through the “Q” series.  ACcording to www.clarinetperfection.com, the “N” series was known as the “Balanced Tone” and was in production 1946-1951.  The “Centered Tone” (P and Q series) was in production 1952-1957).”

 

CAVEAT EMPTOR

Stay well, Sherman

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One Response to Centered Tone? or the much earlier “balanced tone”?

  1. bulldoggy2008 says:

    Mr. Friedland, I am the owner-player of a fine Bb Selmer Centered-Tone clarinet(“Q” series) since 1958, and a CT A clarinet (“P” series) for about 10 years. Both are wonderful instruments. A few years ago I caught the new clarinet virus, and so I tried out the various top-of-the line clarinets. I decided that they were vastly over-priced and really not any better for me than my trusty CTs.

    In the listing referred to by the correspondent, I was surprised that the “N” series clarinet is shown as a “Centered Tone.” All of the websites listing Selmer clarinet serial numbers show that the Selmer “Centered Tone” began with the “P” series through the “Q” series. Acording to http://www.clarinetperfection.com, the “N” series was known as the “Balanced Tone” and was in production 1946-1951. The “Centered Tone” (P and Q series) was in production 1952-1957).

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