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Topics - el3637

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All about Clarinets / 1956 Selmer Centered Tone - Factory Prototype
« on: April 12, 2019, 12:36:56 PM »
Both of my parents played and taught clarinet.  I have dabbled with it here and there but mostly play saxophone the past 20 years when I got back into music.

In 1956 my dad was given a Selmer prototype, apparently one of only six made.  It has nothing to indicate it is anything but a standard Centered Tone.  I called Selmer almost 20 years ago, and the only information they could give me was that it was a Centered Tone made in 1956.  Selmer gave these prototypes away to symphony players.  My dad was with the Indianapolis Symphony at the time.  He fell in love with this unique instrument.  It was only in the sixties that one of my mother's students tried out dad's clarinet and found it was a fabulous jazz clarinet.  Dad passed away in 1972, and this guy started bugging us to sell him the clarinet ever since.  Unfortunately there is not much information available, but it is a standard bore of .300" for a Centered Tone.  It supposedly has undercut tone holes and other modifications.

I took it to my saxophone teacher, who also played clarinet and his first comment was oh, I don't like Centered Tones (he was an R13 guy and mostly a jazz player).  He played dad's clarinet for a few minutes - it hasn't been repadded or worked on since the early 70s - and said kind of under his breath and then out loud that it "blows away" his R13.  Time and time again anyone who ever played this clarinet wants it.  Even beginners can tell the difference.  A woman I dated for a bit was wanting to learn an instrument.  I let her play my new Yamaha clarinet a bit and then handed her dads and once she blew a few notes her face lit up "Oh I LIKE this one!"  This has been the reaction of everyone who ever played it - I have to pry it out of their hands.

It is not for sale.  I am 61 years old, my brother is 58.  We have no kids and probably won't.  I will keep this clarinet the rest of my life - or my brother will.  It is all we have left from Dad, as he was pretty much penniless when he died and his clarinet was the only thing of any value.  I would really like to document it somehow so that when we're gone, it can go to a player who really appreciates it - a jazz player.  The other 5 prototypes are lost completely, apparently the other symphony players who got them as freebies didn't like the loud and dominant sound - it could be a problem for section playing - and probably sold them and they are out there somewhere lost among all the other Centered Tones. 

Since no one at Selmer knows anything about it, and apparently no record exists of these prototypes being made, I have no way to document it other than just saying PLAY IT!  It has a bottom end to die for.  I'm sure I could sell it right now to anyone who tries it out, but I don't want to ever let it go as long as I'm living.  I was on the phone to mom one time about 18 years ago, and my brother was just sort of doodling on the clarinet in the background and Mom immediately recognized the sound of it.  Over the phone.  I know that most people will not believe this but playing is believing.  I almost think I should find a young jazz player that I really like, let him try it out and if he really really likes it, leave it to him in my will. 

This is my first post.  I would assume the "captcha" verification will not be a requirement of EVERY post I make?

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