Our range of Selmer Clarinets for sale offer the discerning player a premium choice. Designed and produced by specialists in Paris, the Selmer Clarinet range provides a rich sonorous tone and exquisite response.
A French Evolution
The young Henri Selmer, founder of this famous French company, was initially a professional Clarinet player performing in Paris orchestras. He found a niche in the woodwind community as someone who was adept at refacing mouthpieces and working on reeds to improve their performance. In 1885 he founded his fledgling company that began by manufacturing reeds and mouthpieces for Clarinet players.
Around this time his younger brother Alexandre left for the USA where he performed with various orchestras including in Boston and Philadelphia – more on him later. Back in Paris Henri Selmer began manufacturing his own Clarinets in 1898 which were rewarded with a Gold Medal at the famous Saint Louis World Fair in the USA. The Clarinets were widely acclaimed, and Selmer opened a boutique in Manhattan where Henri’s French made Clarinets were sold to US customers. In 1905 when Alexandre Selmer was returning to France, he left the US operation in the hands of his prize student George Bundy. That enterprise went on to become Conn-Selmer who today distribute the Selmer Paris brand throughout the US and Canada.
Production Expansion & Development
By 1910 almost all members of the Clarinet family were being produced by around 20 workers and various apprentices in Paris. In 1919 there was major expansion as Selmer opened a large factory in Mantes-la-Ville (not far from their competitor Buffet Crampon).
The period from 1920-1935 saw huge developments on the Selmer Saxophone range in-line with a global craze driven by jazz musicians exploring the instrument in more depth. However, the Selmer Clarinets continued to gain notoriety for their excellent tone and intonation.
Throughout the 1930-1970 era the Selmer company continued with their expansion, mainly driven by the popularity of their Saxophones. Meanwhile the Clarinets such as the Centred Tone became the 'go-to' choice of jazz Clarinet players around the world. Alongside this some classical players also started to choose Selmer for its unique Clarinet tone.
These days Selmer offer a range of professional wooden Clarinets including models such as the Privilege, Signature, Recital, Muse and Presence. Each has it’s own tone character and response. The most ‘different’ is the Recital which features a 2mm thicker wooden body than any other model. We’re often asked which Selmer Clarinet is ‘best’ but it really does depend on the player and your style and preferences.
Selmer Clarinet Manufacturing Methods
Even to this day there is a huge reliance and emphasis on hand-finishing and traditional luthier skills within the Selmer Paris factory. Raw precious woods (Ebony wood from Mozambique – not to be confused with Ebonite which is a vulcanised rubber used for mouthpiece production) arrives in the form of narrow rectangular woodblocks. This wood has been grown for around 70 years and is dried by the forest operator over a 5-year cycle before it arrives.
The wood is seasoned when it arrives at the factory to help with stability and longevity. It is then turned to give it a rough final shaping. Tone hole positions are marked and then bored along with the sites for the key pillars. This is a critical operation that affects the core acoustic definition of the Clarinet, and the specifics are closely guarded and controlled by digitally programmed machines operating at minute tolerances.
The internal bore of the Clarinet is shaped, this can be a multi-step process on the professional models and even subtle differences here will affect the tonal characteristics of the Clarinet. Each range of Selmer Clarinet has a different bore design, albeit with many overlapping core principles.
At this stage the keys are being cut and shaped – one of the most time-consuming elements of Clarinet production. Finally with the body perfectly prepared and all the hardware ready to be added the instruments are hand assembled and finished by a team of expert finishers. The last stage is for the instrument to enter in the Quality Control phase which includes blow-testing by an elite team of professional players highly skilled in the nuances of each model.
Why Choose a Selmer Clarinet?
In our opinion the Selmer range still offers something unique within the Clarinet marketplace. There is a rich, woody, and full tone in the lower registers coupled with a sweet singing character in the upper registers. The Recital and Privilege models offer an excellent response and projection for orchestral players and the Muse, Presence and Signature models offer a more all-round option for players performing in a variety of different genres.
Our 'Recommended Choice' products are proven favourites with players, teachers and staff. They are selected on a variety of criteria including; quality, value for money, customer reviews & feedback, and best-in-class performance features. These products are regularly reviewed to ensure our recommendations are current and relevant.