Restoring Centered Tone Clarinet

Dear Mr. Friedland,

I’m trying to restore a Selmer Centered Tone Clarinet for my father, and I’m very appreciative for the information already available on your site so thank you very much for that. So first the clarinet description…..my dad played in the Army band in Germany in the 1950’s and bought this clarinet in Paris. The serial number is P 7458 and the 4 has an asterisk above it. The keys work fine, but are tarnished, and the instrument is in need of a general overhaul repad/recorking. The biggest problem is that the bell is missing, so I will need to find a replacement. I have seen Selmer bells on eBay, but I’m not entirely sure what the embossing should look like on a P series instrument that was purchased outside of the US. So the question I would appreciate your help with is in describing what the embossing might look like on the bell, i.e., would you expect it to have only the basic Selmer Paris insignia, or would you also expect other words/designs? I have seen some that have the words “Sole Agents for US and Canada Selmer Elkhart” just below the Selmer insignia on the bell, but I was wondering if this is germane to instruments purchased in North America, or if instruments sold in Paris would also be expected to have the same design. I have also seen a picture of a Selmer bell that had the words “Centered Tone” inscribed on it similar to the way they appear on the top section. Of course the second question is regarding your advice on where I might find such a bell? Trust me, I have tried eBay, numerous web searches, and have even called some local repair shops in Maryland, but my luck has not been very good in finding a replacement.

The third question is regarding the keys. They work fine but look terrible, so I was thinking of having them replated with silver. Is there any reason not to have them replated, and do you have any advice on what to look for in a quality replating vendor? Would it reduce the value of the instrument? Can you recommend someone that is skilled and proven in replating keys? We have several local repair shops, but I’m not sure I want to turn this instrument over to them to experiment on without some confidence they will do a good job and not damage it.

Thank you
Carl P

Dear Carl:
Many thanks for your question concerning the Selmer Centered Tone clarinet that belonged to your father. I would really have to see the condition of the keys. If there is pitting, it will be a considerable expense to replate, which may even mean replacement.. If only tarnished a simple polishing will do. Were the keys originally silver plated? That information is crucial in advising you as to how to proceed. The very best advice I can give you is to consult with Emilio Lyons of Rayburn Musical Instruments in Boston. Emilio will have know all there is to know about reconditioning your instrument and Rayburn will most probably be able to replace the bell with as close a match as can be found. They are the biggest Selmer dealership in the US, or have been for many years. Please remember me to Emilio.
Best wishes.
Sherman Friedland

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