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Author Topic: Just got a Semer Series K!  (Read 14651 times)

Offline bbrandha

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2016, 04:37:06 PM »
I read somewhere that the Selmer logo changed at the beginning of the K-series. The bell on mine is the "new" logo, and the other sections have the old one. The bell may have been replaced, for all I know.

Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2016, 06:03:58 PM »
The bell is the least important piece to have matching. It's good that it's a Selmer bell, because the shape of the Selmer bells is pretty distinctive. They have a straighter cone shape than most clarinets. Most of the other clarinets the sides of the bell are a bit more curved. I saw your thread over on the BB, and I am not too familiar with all the trademark variants on the Selmers, so I learned something new. I've watched a number of them along the way, but the Selmer name commands more interest and they usually sell pretty high compared to the fixer-upper no-name or off name brands I tend to pick up. I suppose it has something to do with how easily they play and how good they sound. Then again it could be the Benny Goodman factor. That was a strong and lasting endorsement. It means a reasonable Selmer vintage replacement part sells for more than many whole clarinets. Whoever matched that with a Selmer bell could have put almost anything on there. It wouldn't hurt the sound that I know of, but it definitely helped maintain the value of the clarinet.

Recently I saw one quite similar to yours that might have been a series 9 that someone in the Netherlands was selling. I was tempted but it kind of caught me off guard and someone got a sweet deal on it. It also had the 7 ring articulated C# mech.

Talking about mismatched bells, I see quite a lot of that and it results in sellers listing the instruments incorrectly, particularly when the other parts aren't marked. I used to think that bells of a slightly lighter or darker shade meant they were substitutes;- not always. Certain vintage French clarinets appear to have been very deliberately two toned and a few USA makers copied that look around 1900, using lighter wood or wood with more definite grain for the bell. And then there are the custom bells that are fancy wood. Some of those are tempting too.

Me? I will take a bell that comes to me in 3 pieces and meticulously re-assemble it if it's an older clarinet. I don't know if there is anything to it, but I wonder if the parts "get to know each other" over the years? There's very few clarinets that were the same stick bell to barrel, but a good number of them are the same stick except for the bells.

On the up side, I am glad the parts are partially interchangeable because it makes recycling the stray pieces a lot easier. I have one clarinet that I have to do a thread on soon. It's a playable but largely messed up one with military markings. I think it might have been repaired close to the front line or maybe on a ship where tools and instrument parts were scarce. Some parts are USN, some just US. The joints match and the bell and barrel are from a different clarinet or two. The wood is all in great shape, but the key work;- just wow! Like I said, it plays pretty well, just everything wobbles. Getting that one tight and gorgeous is going to be laborious. If it had played badly, I wouldn't try, but when an instrument wants to play, it makes me want to repair it. It was sold for parts but the wood is just too good for that.
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Offline bbrandha

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2016, 07:55:36 PM »
I don't know what fascinates me about clarinets. I have always liked wood and I used to refinish furniture when I had more room. For years, I plastic Vitos or something and never gave a thought to anything other than playing.

My original vintage clarinet I found at a junk store and my grandma and I shared the cost of  restoring it. I played it for years with Mounted Band and never thought about it more. When my son got into HS, we joined the local youth symphony so we would have a shared activity. My clarinet was complimented by other players and played in tune. It also cracked at about the 5th practice. The local music stores told me to throw it away and get another, but by that time, my research had found the site and I sent it to Phil. He fixed, reviewed it, said it was yummy, and sent it back. It played better and more in tune than the new Buffet of the 1st chair player did. (I didn't chortle too loud.) I bought the Selmer 100 Mazzeo as a replacement at that time and learned about other fingering systems.)

I got engraving tools and have done a bit of that on clarinets. I have stripped and relacquered a brass one. I have repadded some and donated them to schools. I figured out how to glitter a clarinet. And then I stalled. I have a few here I need to work on. I did several that were easy, and then nothing went right. I have collected some beauties, but they just sit there, waiting for me. Maybe this summer.

My goal. maybe, besides getting some very nice ones for myself, is to get kids interested in the clarinet. I am a teacher and I hear the band kids complaining about their ugly black clarinets. Well, if I could fix up some nice student level clarinets with engraving, plaint, different stain, or whatever, and make those kids proud of their clarinets, why not? Anything to get and keep them playing! (I would never do that to a nice vintage clarinet. Don't worry!)

Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2016, 11:35:51 PM »
OK, we are off topic, sort of.....

I've thought about the same thing you are thinking, how to get kids (and parents) to think differently about clarinets. Personally, I think the black with white pads is super elegant. A little wood grain is gorgeous. Give me some well tarnished nickel-silver keys;- I'll leave them just like that.

But kids, they want something new. They also like to make it their own in some way.

So I see all these faded hard rubber clarinets that are a few decades older than I am and I am an old adult. I also know these are better clarinets than most new ones. All you have to do is pick up one of the new student instruments and look at the hardware and the machining, screw threads, etc. The whole shooting match looks and feels like dime store junk compared even to my brother's old plastic Bundy. Musical instrument are becoming just another disposable item.

It's something that should not be, but corporate ownership of the instrument makers is behind that. The companies used to be run by musicians entirely. Not so much now. They are run by executives concerned with "growing" the bottom line. That can only happen during a baby boom when school band is a popular endeavor. It isn't going to be happening in the foreseeable future. Not unless a band student has to buy 3 instruments from grade school to high school graduation. These corporate wonks have that figured out. Once upon a time you bought an instrument and played it until you graduated. Now you have entry level (junk), step up intermediate (a little better than junk), and then instruments that might play as well and last into college but still aren't considered pro. When I was a kid, the step up from a Conn Director was what Maynard Ferguson was playing. Those Conn Directors from the 60s are still in service, and so are the pro models like Ferguson made famous.

There were enough high quality professional level musical instruments built during the 20th century to be played for at least another century if these were maintained. And the resources, particularly the better woods, were used up making them. With guitars, the spruce is better and better the older it is. That isn't a result of aging, it is the result of the best trees being cut first. We are down to almost no mature spruce world wide. It's the same for violin bow wood, clarinet wood, etc.

So what about all these old hard rubber clarinets? They are nearly indestructible. Parts are interchangeable to a large degree. And there are tens of thousands of them. There's a great supply of good vintage wooden ones also, but the hard rubber is the often ignored resource. Lately, rubber is getting more of my attention.

I prefer not to do anything to an instrument that is not reversible. It's sort of the opposite direction of restoration. But I am looking at a bunch of faded hard rubber that can make some sweet music and those clarinets, some are professional Pedler models, are like low hanging fruit on ebay.

So it came to me one day. Latex paint. Latex paint is rubber paint. It will stick really well to rubber. But it will also come off with a bit of elbow grease. And it can be done again and undone. So I am thinking, take the keys off for re-padding, take the bodies to one of my visual art buddies and get some left over exterior grade latex colors. Or just use one color over the rubber. Make them different. Put some patterns on them. Display them somewhere and play them in public. When I busk, the children in the park are always the best audience. What if I was out there with a day-glow clarinet with cartoon characters on it playing the Sesame Street theme?

I learned this secret about faded rubber from Tom R. In one of his videos he said he used a Sanford permanent black marker to re-blacken faded rubber clarinets. Ridenour is one strange and cool fellow. Who would think of using a Sanford marker? Tom. I tried it on a mouthpiece and it works great but you have to do it fast and let it dry over night and then it even polishes really well. So anyhow, I was thinking about letting some artists do some paint work on a few rubber clarinets and see if kids like those better than the ubiquitous student instruments that the band directors and schools generally push. I think it could be done for well under the prices of new student instruments. Dress them up and set them up well. See what happens?

My primary interest has been collecting off-beat and forgotten brands, usually instruments that were pro when they were built, but the idea of recycling the huge stock of rubber stencil branded clarinets is appealing for so many reasons. Could I justify painting over that wonderfully dull hard rubber with the unforgettable 20th century graphics on the bell? There has to be a way to do it and respect the instruments, but every instrument I've talked to about this wants to be played.  ;)
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Offline bbrandha

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2016, 09:18:19 AM »
I am enjoying this thread. We should set up a shop!

Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2016, 11:35:53 AM »
I'm catching up my tech skills and tool set to match my inventory, but I don't have a time frame. It will happen. If I don't do it someone else will think it's a good idea and take off with it. That's what happens when you share ideas on internet forums. I really like what Dave and Phil are doing here already. It's a labor of love in progress.  :)
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Offline rezzie

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2016, 12:17:27 PM »
OK, we are off topic, sort of.....

I've thought about the same thing you are thinking, how to get kids (and parents) to think differently about clarinets. Personally, I think the black with white pads is super elegant. A little wood grain is gorgeous. Give me some well tarnished nickel-silver keys;- I'll leave them just like that.

But kids, they want something new. They also like to make it their own in some way.

So I see all these faded hard rubber clarinets that are a few decades older than I am and I am an old adult. I also know these are better clarinets than most new ones. All you have to do is pick up one of the new student instruments and look at the hardware and the machining, screw threads, etc. The whole shooting match looks and feels like dime store junk compared even to my brother's old plastic Bundy. Musical instrument are becoming just another disposable item.

It's something that should not be, but corporate ownership of the instrument makers is behind that. The companies used to be run by musicians entirely. Not so much now. They are run by executives concerned with "growing" the bottom line. That can only happen during a baby boom when school band is a popular endeavor. It isn't going to be happening in the foreseeable future. Not unless a band student has to buy 3 instruments from grade school to high school graduation. These corporate wonks have that figured out. Once upon a time you bought an instrument and played it until you graduated. Now you have entry level (junk), step up intermediate (a little better than junk), and then instruments that might play as well and last into college but still aren't considered pro. When I was a kid, the step up from a Conn Director was what Maynard Ferguson was playing. Those Conn Directors from the 60s are still in service, and so are the pro models like Ferguson made famous.

There were enough high quality professional level musical instruments built during the 20th century to be played for at least another century if these were maintained. And the resources, particularly the better woods, were used up making them. With guitars, the spruce is better and better the older it is. That isn't a result of aging, it is the result of the best trees being cut first. We are down to almost no mature spruce world wide. It's the same for violin bow wood, clarinet wood, etc.

So what about all these old hard rubber clarinets? They are nearly indestructible. Parts are interchangeable to a large degree. And there are tens of thousands of them. There's a great supply of good vintage wooden ones also, but the hard rubber is the often ignored resource. Lately, rubber is getting more of my attention.

I prefer not to do anything to an instrument that is not reversible. It's sort of the opposite direction of restoration. But I am looking at a bunch of faded hard rubber that can make some sweet music and those clarinets, some are professional Pedler models, are like low hanging fruit on ebay.

So it came to me one day. Latex paint. Latex paint is rubber paint. It will stick really well to rubber. But it will also come off with a bit of elbow grease. And it can be done again and undone. So I am thinking, take the keys off for re-padding, take the bodies to one of my visual art buddies and get some left over exterior grade latex colors. Or just use one color over the rubber. Make them different. Put some patterns on them. Display them somewhere and play them in public. When I busk, the children in the park are always the best audience. What if I was out there with a day-glow clarinet with cartoon characters on it playing the Sesame Street theme?

I learned this secret about faded rubber from Tom R. In one of his videos he said he used a Sanford permanent black marker to re-blacken faded rubber clarinets. Ridenour is one strange and cool fellow. Who would think of using a Sanford marker? Tom. I tried it on a mouthpiece and it works great but you have to do it fast and let it dry over night and then it even polishes really well. So anyhow, I was thinking about letting some artists do some paint work on a few rubber clarinets and see if kids like those better than the ubiquitous student instruments that the band directors and schools generally push. I think it could be done for well under the prices of new student instruments. Dress them up and set them up well. See what happens?

My primary interest has been collecting off-beat and forgotten brands, usually instruments that were pro when they were built, but the idea of recycling the huge stock of rubber stencil branded clarinets is appealing for so many reasons. Could I justify painting over that wonderfully dull hard rubber with the unforgettable 20th century graphics on the bell? There has to be a way to do it and respect the instruments, but every instrument I've talked to about this wants to be played.  ;)
Well, Fiebing's Leather Dye is the trick for bringing old hard rubber back to black (another Tom R. "dark arts" trick), and I suppose it might even work for any of the available colors you might see below.  Here's their color sheet.  Just a thought that crossed my mind reading this...
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Offline bbrandha

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2016, 08:55:16 PM »
That would be fun!

I just heard back from Backun. "Thank you for your inquiry. The "EX" barrels we made were specifically designed for European markets that tune to A=442. The "EX" stands for "Export". :-)"

Hm.

Offline bbrandha

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #23 on: April 22, 2016, 07:51:36 PM »
Had a practice with the "real" symphony tonight (as compared to the youth symphony I play in). I know the lady I sat next to. She wanted to see what I am playing now. She admired, then passed it to the 1st chair guy to show him the extra keys. He looked at it and poked at it, said, "They're coming up with new strange stuff all the time." I told him it was from 1930. He then said, "Well, at least it still plays." Hmph.

Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2016, 11:55:30 AM »
That is great to be playing with a real symphony. I don't know that I will ever reach that level of proficiency. I have reached the level of buying a cheap seat to hear the Atlanta Symphony or accepting a free ticket whenever one of my ensemble members who works for the symphony can get me one. To me a symphony orchestra is magical to hear and it must be a wonderful playing experience as well.

It's funny to me both reactions of your "first chair" player. If you went in there with my "new" WW1 era PMP 7-ring, he'd see the canyon bell crack  :o. It makes me laugh to think about it. At least it still plays!

Over time features like a 7th ring and articulated C# mechanisms have become scarce unless special ordered. That 7th ring can make life so much easier I am finding out.

I was a bit surprised when I started shopping for a clarinet to find that there is such a strong bias against vintage instruments in the professional circles. This is exactly the opposite of the bias with most string instruments. With a double bass, it is almost embarrassing to have a brand new instrument in a top symphony position. The basses are usually instruments at least a hundred years old if not two hundred. Most of them have had extensive repairs over time. At least they still play... At least.
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Offline bbrandha

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #25 on: April 23, 2016, 06:23:31 PM »
I am nowhere good enough to play with them. This is a one-time thing where the kids get to join in. I am a "kid". Both oboes are also grown-ups, too. Of course, I would be much better if I would practice.

Offline andybeals

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #26 on: May 17, 2016, 09:01:02 AM »
The (string) basses are usually instruments at least a hundred years old if not two hundred. Most of them have had extensive repairs over time. At least they still play... At least.

Ahh, the double-bass of Thesus.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVAHXiKjgRo

All old stringed instruments are no longer in their original configuration - their necks have been reset, changing the angle.  Parts have been repaired and replaced.  When is an original instrument no longer an original instrument? 

For all other instruments, the older ones are cherished and said to have a unique sound, even if they've been heavily restored by rebuilding tone-holes and replacing things like valves or leadpipes.  Clarinets are thought to "blow out" and just aren't worth dealing with, with vague statements about the wood not being good anymore, and a crack?  "Just toss it/Make a lamp out of it."

As a woodworker, I know that wood only gets harder with age — fresh-cut to seasoned is the greatest step, but working on houses from the early sixties (I know - that's not "old") has shown me that even softwoods get quite hard with time.  Post holes may change in size (shrink/warp) a little, but that can be compensated for and isn't a change to how the instrument plays. 
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #27 on: May 17, 2016, 10:14:32 AM »
My favorite part of clarinet fixing is coloring the logo. Nothing makes me more satisfied than seeing an old clarinet look new with just a bit of gold in the logo.  And I bet that kids would like a clarinet with a pretty gold or silver logo more as opposed to one with just a monotonic hard to see logo.  As shown with that Kohlert logo, you always discover something new when spending 45 minutes picking at the engraving with a needle and another 20 getting the gold out of the cracks. Destroys my eyes and ends with my hands shaking harder than a San Francisco earthquake... But it's worth it :)
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Offline Silversorcerer

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #28 on: May 17, 2016, 04:13:43 PM »
I like to get them to look pretty but my favorite part is when I put a mouthpiece and in it and it makes a note for probably the first time in several decades. It's like waking up Rip Van Winkle. The clarinet comes back to life in an era when good wood and quality metals are no longer plentiful, bore oil is likely to be a petroleum distillate, and cork grease is now chap stick, pads could be synthetic foam.

Hopefully, once awake, it can find a few English system screws sizes if it needs them and A is still 440Hz. Keep your fingers crossed on the pitch standard....
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Just got a Semer Series K!
« Reply #29 on: June 23, 2016, 08:31:49 PM »
Did I ever tell you me K series selling story?
Well, I was asking $360 and the guy agreed. I meet him in the middle of nowhere. He only brings $300 and asks if that's okay.
I say absolutely not.
He says well there's no atm here.
I say well I know where one is.
I end up jumping in a strangers car, driving 10 minutes to the atm just for that extra 60 bucks.
"He loved bargaining more than an Arab trader and was twice as shrewd" - Ralphie, A Christmas Story
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