The Selmer “Centered Tone” Clarinet

Dear Mr Friedland,
I have read in one of your postings that you were associated with Selmer for 25 years, and therefore it is possible that you can answer a few questions I have about an older Selmer clarinet that I have acquired recently.
It is a “Centered Tone”, Full-Boehm, serial # Rxxxx, therefore dating from c. 1958. It has silver-plated keywork, and all the usual extra mechanics of full-Boehms.
It has the usual Henri Selmer Paris logo on the bell, but does NOT have the very common Sole agents for US and Canada Selmer Elkhart stamp underneath that. Does this mean it was a direct import from France? What mouthpiece and barrel were originally provided with such clarinets as standard equipment? The one I have came with no mouthpiece, and had a 67 mm barrel. Only with a 62 mm barrel will it play in tune, however. Was a particular mouthpiece to match the 67 mm originally issued? If so which? Right now, with a 62 mm barrel and a contemporary (1949) Chedeville mpc, I have a very fine, singing horn.
Where would a clarinet such as mine have stood in Selmers line back then  top-of-the-line or mid-range?
Hope you can find the time to answer

Hi Mr P.
The Centered Tone clarinet was the top of the line Selmer, definitely all French made and with the silver plated keys and full boehm. The clarinet may or may not have been directly imported by the buyer or it could just not have the stamp.
Canada stopped being a distributer for Selmer in 1990 or so and at present there is no distributer for Selmer in Canada, however the point is moot because the company is now called Selmer-Conn and although the clarinets are availble, the Centered Tone clarinet was discontinued in around 1960 .
This was a popular model and has developed a reputation as being a “Jazz” clarinet and was favored by Benny Goodman or he made an ad for it. In any event his name is associated with it.
It is difficult to say what barrel came or was originally supplied with this clarinet but I would say 65 or 66 mm. 62 mm is definitely too short, but bores do change and I would suspect that yours has . Also we play at different pitch levels during different decades in our lives, (an arguable point, but it certainly has in mine)
62mm is considered a short barrel per se, but if that is what plays for you and if the horns sings, then that is all you need.
Selmer clarinets , especially the Selmer (Paris) clarinets were always supplied with Selmer (Paris) mouthpieces, and it would be usual to see an HS* on a CT clarinet, that being Selmers most popular mouthpiece, then and perhaps now as well. You may wish to try a Selmer C85 mouthpiece which is a bit more covered in sound.
The Chedeville mouthpiece is of course one of the better mouthpieces as far as reputation is concerned, however all of these so-called vintage and/or contemporary mouthpieces have been changed or perhaps refaced. They are all different and I feel that no two mouthpieces of the same manufacture and facing play exactly the same, even when brand new.
Once again this was the top of the line Selmer Clarinet for its time and is still very very popular and in fact costly
The dotted line is that you have a “fine singing horn” which is really all there is to say.
Good luck with it.
best wishes,

I have received a message from a clarinetist who purchased a new Centered Tone and mentioned that the barrel supplied was a 67mm.


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