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 Selmer alto clarinet
Author: notthatricardo 
Date:   2019-02-27 22:23

I've been offered a W series (1970) Selmer alto clarinet in excellent condition for $1900. The seller is a professional player and it's a commission sale via his website.

Given the cost of a new Selmer the price would seem to be fair but I'd like to know what changes to the design there have been in the last 50 years and would welcome the opinion of those with experience of the instrument.

Many thanks!



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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2019-02-28 02:28

In my opinion it's not worth it. While Selmer alto clarinets are good quality, the post 1950 models only have a single register vent. They also tend to have a very flat lower chalumeau register. If you want an instrument that has a good strong upper register look for a Vintage Buffet "Professional" model (Not the Radio Model) or a Yamaha YCL 631. Unfortunately these models can be quite hard to find however.

My #3 favorite alto is the Leblanc Professional model which is a good alternative. While Leblancs don't have a double register vent mechanism, their intonation is better than the Selmer instruments.

As for the changes to the design in the last 50 years, other than a floor peg and silver plated keys there haven't really been any.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: Johan H Nilsson 
Date:   2019-02-28 03:09

I can second jdbassplayer on the flat low tones on Selmer altos. I don't like the ergonomics either, where you have to move your right hand to reach the relatively short trill keys.

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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: notthatricardo 
Date:   2019-02-28 04:22

Thank you, both.

Since posting I've stumbled upon this report:

https://depts.washington.edu/uwwinds/cbdna/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/A.%20Cl.%20Paper.pdf

It corroborates your findings and is damning in its appraisal of the Selmer alto.

The seller sent me a video of the instrument being played and I have to say it did sound quite stuffy/resistant to me. As an amateur player, I thought perhaps this assessment was unfair but I am now inclined to trust my own judgement.

Oh well, this might explain why the instrument has been on sale for the past 7 months.

The search continues...



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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2019-02-28 09:29

Leblanc! When I tested the instrument (very briefly though) I pretty much fell in love! Very smooth, voluminous sound, not too much resistance and tuning seemed good, too! I got all the way up to altissimo f without too much effort, something which is not the case with the double-register, no-low-Eb Selmer I was gi. But this one's a fine instrument, too... just wait till a decent Leblanc pops up - it was the one with the bass clarinet-like s-shaped neck. Not sure whether there are major differences within this type though.

Edit:
That being said, there's a series 9 on that auction site which probably needs a complete overhaul, but that might be worth checking out.



Post Edited (2019-02-28 09:38)

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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-02-28 14:18

There must be quite a few used Leblanc or Noblets out there, especially as bands have seemed to stop using alto clarinets and they are seldom used in orchestras.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: Clarineteer 
Date:   2019-02-28 19:42

jdbassplayer,
I have had a number of both Professional Model and Radio Model Buffet alto clarinets and I asked Mr. Kloc what the difference was and he said they were exactly the same specs and materials. The Radio Model was made specifically for the Radio Orchestra.

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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: Johan H Nilsson 
Date:   2019-03-01 01:52

Clarineteer,

How do the old Buffet altos compare to today's Prestige?

The latter is superior in terms of resonance to every other alto I have tried and better than Buffet's basset horns and basses.

Leblanc altos have the best ergonomics for the hands.

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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2019-03-01 03:13

Clarineteer,

Every Radio model alto clarinet I've ever seen had only one register vent and one vent for Bb, while every "Professional" model I've seen had a true double register mechanism like you find on top of the line basses. You can tell the difference because the Professional models have a long rod running down the back of the upper joint. My own personal alto is a Professional model and has the double register vent.

If you have any evidence to the contrary please do post some pictures, I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to alto clarinets and always like to learn more!

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: notthatricardo 
Date:   2019-03-01 20:27

Is a 1935 Buffet alto (19xxx) worth pursuing?

What's a sensible price for one in good, playable condition?

Thanks.

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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: Ebclarinet1 
Date:   2019-03-01 22:03

I play a Buffet Prestige and it is an AMAZING horn. Great sound and much better to play with its peg rather than strap. I hate straps!

Had a couple older LeBlancs before I owned the Buffet and they were reasonably in tune and had a nice sound. These seem to come up on eBay quite frequently. Have also heard a couple decent Yamahas although I've never played them.

Good luck. Altos can sound quite pretty when played well.

Eefer guy

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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: notthatricardo 
Date:   2019-03-01 22:05

I've been informed that this model has two register keys.

Is this arrangement difficult to adjust to (apparently, the previous owner didn't get on with it)?

Thanks.

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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2019-03-02 02:41

notthatricardo wrote:

> I've been informed that this model has two register keys.
>
> Is this arrangement difficult to adjust to (apparently, the
> previous owner didn't get on with it)?
>
> Thanks.

Yes they can be, but in my opinion the payoff is worth the hassle. Once you get it in proper adjustment and are careful to position the joints in the same orientation each time you should be fine. Remember most pro bass clarinets use this system.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Selmer alto clarinet
Author: bradfordlloyd 
Date:   2019-03-02 03:29

Some additional perspective...I have a Selmer Paris Series 9 alto clarinet from 1962. It's a great horn in every way, but it did take me quite a bit of time to get it overhauled, adjusted properly, find the right mouthpiece, get the right reeds/setup and play it well. I find the tone to be lovely and open, not stuffy or resistant at all (the right mouthpiece and reed combination are critical here, obviously).

The low end of the horn is a bit flat, as others have noted, but it has never been a huge problem for me either in practice or performance.

$1900 is A LOT for that horn though. I acquired mine and had it fully overhauled and set up for substantially less than that.

Good luck. Altos can be wonderful horns. I hope you find what you're looking for and enjoy it!

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