The “Balanced Tone” Selmer

Dear Mr. Friedland

Thanks for reading this,

I recently inherited a Selmer Paris BT clarinet serial L7206 manufactured in 1936. It is currently being polished and the instrument repairman commented that it was in excellent shape.

I was curious about its value as I have no IDEA. The band rental shop said it was quite valuable so I thought I’d ask around to the experts what to ask for it.

Thanks for your consideration.
RT

Dear RT:
Thank you for your inquiry concerning the Selmer Paris BT or Balanced Tone clarinet made between 1935 and 1939. I have never owned one of these but have read considerable commentary on its playing characteristic, which generally be qualified as being quite free. The bore was a bit wider than the Centered Tone,with slightly different key work and without undercut tone holes. It was probably quite a good instruments, as all Selmer Paris instruments seem to be, key work and intonation being more amenable than other French brands.

Anthony Gigliotti attests to this saying, “The first time I went to the Buffet factory in France was in 1953 and I remember trying 55 Bb clarinets. After selecting the two best ones I then spent countless hours with Hans Moennig tuning and voicing them until I could finally try them in the orchestra. My reason for becoming involved with the Selmer Company was to make it possible for a student or professional to buy an instrument that didn’t need all that work and it has resulted in the series 10G which was based on my Moennigized Buffet which I played for 27 years.” This of course, explains his changing to a Selmer 10G clarinet.

Determining worth of a vintage clarinet is always interesting and highly subjective. The first consideration is the wood and its condition, cracks, scratches and other deterioration. Then of course, are the keys, and finally the pads, corks and springs, all of which can be replaced, the keys being the most difficult. If any keys are pitted, which is caused by wear, they should be replaced, the cost of which can be prohibitive. So,if your BT has this problem, you’ll know what to do. If not, and the wood is in good condition, and the keys are excellent as your repairperson says, you are in very good shape

Still, it is highly subjective. The best place to determine what it may be worth in the market of vintage clarinets is in the auctions sites. You’ll be able to match your instrument against other such models, and be able to get a reasonable idea of price, or what to charge, if you’re selling it.

Good luck with it.

best regards, Sherman

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