Selmer Paris

Early Years Selmer 55
BT / Balanced Tone CT / Centered
CT versus Series 9

Series 9 Marchi
10G 10S II



Selmer (Paris) Clarinets

Professional clarinets since 1885 The Series: is the letter in the serial number itself and not the model
Example: Selmer, Series 10S, #B0478 is a B Series made in 1980.
We have no information on Selmer clarinets made before the L Series

Selmer Paris clarinets in various years through the 1980s had markings
similar to “Sole Agents, US & Can Selmer New York – Elkhart”.
Clarinets with markings similar to these can be identified as clarinets exported
to the United States. European and Canadian Selmer clarinets had no

old Selmer Paris PDF on the Factory

A fantastic writeup on the beginning of Selmer Paris from Don Makrill

The Bb Boehm system clarinet was first introduced in the Selmer
catalogue in 1910
per the

Selmer “Clarinets: The essentials” (click here) catalog circa 2010
Click here for more detailed information below


Harmony and Metal clarinets
were serialized separately until at least 1930. By the N series all
their instruments are serialed together. Later Metal clarinets had
and adjustable barrel with a highly grooved section, earlier models
where not adjustable.
Date Soprano Harmony Metal
1/1/19 (14) 1000
1/1/20 (15) 2000
1/1/21 (16) 3000
1/1/22 (17) 4000 300
1/1/23 (18) 5000 (300)
1/1/24 (19) 6000
Old Emblem 65xx
1/1/25 (20) 7000
1/1/26 (21) 8000
1/1/27 (22) 9000 1000
1/1/28 (23) K1000
1/1/29 (24) K2000 2000
1/1/30 (25) K3500 (K3000)
1/1/31 (26) K5000 (K4200)
1/1/27 K5600
1/1/28 K7000 1000
1/1/29 K8400 sn1906 courtesy of

Pic # 1

Pic # 2

Pic # 3

Pic # 4

Pic # 6

Pic # 7
1/1/30 K9800 900 2000
1/1/31 L1000 Later Metal clarinets had an adjustable barrel with a
highly grooved section, earlier models where not adjustable. –>
Bb 23xx & A 29xx with adjustable barrel

Pic # 1

Pic # 2

Pic # 3

Pic # 4

Pic # 5
1/1/32 L2100 3000
1/1/33 L3250
1/1/34 L4300 4000
1/1/35 L5500
1/1/36 L6600 5000

RI – Radio Improved started around K7000
BT – Balanced Tone started around L5000

The modern Selmer emblem starts in 1926, somewhere around K4500. There
was also an earlier emblem, up to somewhere in the 4000’s, that has a
winged globe over the H SELMER A PARIS oval. I have heard that the
winged-globe emblem indicates the era when Henri Selmer himself still
tested and finished the clarinets but that’s purely anecdotal, there’s no
reason to assume it’s true, but he was primarily a clarinet player and i’m sure
he tested many of the clarinets produced in his factory – why not?
Wouldn’t you !!

The RI model begins around K7000, the BT around L5000. The articulated
G# was not particular to the M-series, it appears in some horns of every
model up to even the 10S.

K Foster


Year of make Serial number Emblems (click on pic to see larger view)
1885 to 1926

1904 – clarinet launched at the Saint Louis /
USA Exhibition

no records

1910 Catalog – click the pictures for full screen

1/1/1927 #400

1928 Ads – click on picture for full screen






1/1/1929 #3070

1/1/1931 #9999
Emblem change. The old emblem, pictured right was similar to the
Buffet Logo in that H. Selmer is on the top arch, Paris on the lower arch
both in an oval. And an emblem of HS is below the oval similar to the
BC for Buffet-Crampon. Also above is a music lyre

The import/bell emblem was also changed as below in the K series. The
two bells here show that the US Import stamp was done separately from the
Selmer logo as they are both in different positions – notice the space or
lack thereof from the Selmer Paris wreath logo between the two.
L Series: Old Selmer Emblem is Buffet-like (many makers had
Buffet-like emblems)

  • Transition during the L series
  • The saxophone emblem was changed in circa 1926. The Clarinet
    emblem was changed in the 1930s
12/1/1931 L1000
1932 L2100
1933 L3250
1934 L4300
1935 L5500
Manufacturing Pic – click for full page

1936 L6600

Catalog Pictures – click on each page for full

1937 L7750


1939 L9900
M Series
2/1/39 M1000


1944 M3400

Selmer 55

1945 only (?)


Emblem of sn # M70xx
Below- M 61xx. This shows the large register nut associated with 55s.
Also, inside it shows the thread and nut protruding into the bore. This
large nut gave the instrument some significant resistance – not my
favorite Selmer by a long shot.

1946 M8000
N Series – Later N series were also known as BT – Balanced Tone – both
identifiable by a large domed speaker bush (the body octave hole)
with two holes to remove it, and a removeable speaker tube.
10/1/46 N100
2/1/47 N1000
1948 N2800
1949 N4900
Enhanced Boehm N54xx
1950 N6600
1951 N8100

P Series – Centered Tone series – identifiable by a large hexagonal speaker
bush (the body octave hole). Benny Goodman made these
instruments famous.
The Centered Tone bore changed through the
years. Initially it was a cylindrical bore of 15.00mm to 15.10mm.
The barrel was 66mm long and had a slightly wider 15.15 bore.After the Q series the bore changed and continued on through the Series
9. The Q series brought along the change of longer upper and lower
joints of approximately 5mm.
If you click on the brochure for a full page view you will notice the
options you had with these clarinets. And another interesting note – the
mouthpiece in the picture is a lower emblem mouthpiece – not the oval table
(which has a middle body crest emblem – see the Mouthpiece gallery for
pictures of these). So .. one would assume the Ovals came AFTER the
introduction of the CTs.

Selmer Centered Tone
I’ve had the opportunity to play and setup a nice Selmer Centered Tone “A”, and
respectifully compare it to my Bb variant. The Centered Tone clarinets were
pinnacle of Selmer’s “Jazz” clarinet. Not that it is a jazz clarinet only, as I
believe the entire clarinet section in the Boston Symphony also used them back
in the day, but Benny Goodman was used extensively in marketing/sales of this
clarinet. And Benny Goodman is known as a jazz player, thus the CT was known as
a jazz clarinet.But there are two versions of the CT. Earlier versions had a cylindrical upper
joint, where as later versions had a tapered upper joint which continued on with
the Series 9 model.

One can go here for pictures and a quick comparison of a late CT and an early
Serie 9 by clicking here

For me, a tapered instrument provides a bit more balance by providing a more
consistent backpressure through the entire instrument especially with this
“large bore” clarinet. With cylindrical clarinets I feel as though the
resistance lessens as one plays down the instrument. With the tapered bore it
becomes more consistent and controlled.

The CT also has large toneholes. The large bore and large toneholes allows the
player to blow as much as they want with the mouthpiece reed combination really
being the point of resistance. In other words, if you need to be as loud as
possible, the CT was the clarinet to have especially if you don’t have a mic.
But of course, on the other end of the spectrum one is able to control the
instrument to the finest pianissimos. My CT I actually overblew once in a
(practice) concert setting above the trumpets right behind me trying to make
sure we were balanced … oops.

Tonally the CTs are fantastic. Full sounding, and a full deep woody tone. Not as
deep sounding as say an Artys but pretty good. The upper register sings clear
all the way through altissimo. The large toneholes don’t restrict the tone at
all and all notes become clear from top to bottom.

Now if one really likes big bore clarinets then one would really like the “A”
variant of the CT. This is really one “A” model that would benefit any player.
So well controllable across the entire dynamic range with a nice full tone very
similar to the Bb. Normally an “A” can, in some words, sound duller to the
comparable Bb. But the CT “A” is a joy to play all the time. I certainly
recommend one if one can be found. But be careful. the large toneholes require
some getting used to as if you have smaller fingers they can be a problem in

LIKES: A real jazz clarinet, the “A” a great combination of flexibility and
tonal control.
DISLIKES: keywork is great if not worn out but nothing like modern Selmer

Standard Boehm CTs normally had nickel plated keywork.
Enhanced Boehms normally had silver plated keywork.
manufacturing dates of 1952 to 1960

1952 P1200 P1549 – Enhanced Boehm

1953 P4200
1954 P7400
Q Series:
1955 Q1100
1956 Q4350
1957 Q7290
R Series:
1958 R1200 CT R series. Upper joint top bore of 15.23 and lower
bore of 14.85. So later CTs are Series 9 bores. On series 9s you can
also see the large octave nut similar to the CTs.
1959 – Mazzeo system (more
R6100 Selmer Mazzeo
Clarinet Article

Mazzeo Brochure #1

Mazzeo Brochure #2

(click on each small
for a popup larger view)
The Early Centered Tones were
cylindrical bore whereas the later one were tapered bore. The taper
being the exact same as the earlier Series 9. In this example a CT P & Q
series having the same bore as an early 9 S series. The 9’s speaker
bushing is higher and smaller on the body, and the lower joint was slightly
longer. But both entry and exit bores of both joints were exactly the
same. And a few measured toneholes diameters on the upper joint were exactly the same
but on the lower joint the toneholes were smaller on the Series 9. The P series and 9 are both modified boehms but have the same
entry/exit bore dimensions top and bottom joints.

In the below pictures you can see some of the keywork differences between
the Centred Tone and Series 9. This is comparins S06xx and P and R CTs.

CT (Centered Tome) on top, 9 (Seriese 9) on bottom. Same entry/exit bores but the 9 is longer
(and the bells are the same length.

can see the overall length difference. The upper joints are the same
length of CT v 9

may not be able to tell from the picture but the CTs toneholes on the lower
joint are much

CT top, R CT mid, 9 bottom – keywork variations.

CT top, R CT mid, 9 bottom. 9 has a higher register vent.

P CT (top) v R CT (lower) trill key shape differences.

9 (top) v CT R (bottom)

S Series – 1960 – Series 9 started production (large
diameter tone holes with no undercutting) and 9*
1960 S1150

Selmer 9* emblem

1961 S4160
1962 S7390
T Series:


1964 T5800
U Series:
1965 U1100
1966 U5700
V Series: Selmer made some refinements to improve intonation.
1967 V1000
1968 V4800

v789x Series 10


Bb & A
1969 V7900  

v822x Series 10 A

Bb & A

W Series:
1970 W1700

1971 – Series 10 is launched (per Selmer) W5900

X Series:
1972 X1500
1973 X6400
Y Series:
1974 Y1200
1975 Y6300

The Marchi mechanism Clarinet – really interesting.
Take a look

Selmer 10G Clarinet
Z Series:
1976 Z1100
1977 – model 10 SII is launched Z5200

Selmer 10G

  • “G” stands for Gigliotti, a principal clarinetist in the
    Philadelphia Symphony
  • Selmer made the 10G as a copy of Anthony Gigliotti’s personal
    Buffet R-13. Though being machine made they were accurate up until a
    point. Hans Moennig apparently hand tweaked the 10Gs to be more like
    AGs R13, but only in the serial number range of Z6835 through A1200

  • 10S followed the 10G in production


A Series:
1978 A1000
B Series:
1980 & 1981
1984 – Recital series launches Selmer A clarinet


Recently I had the opportunity to setup a set of Selmer Signature clarinets,
both the Bb and A version of these instruments. They both had wonderful
accoustics and playing capabilities. Their projection seems wonderful, and
the overall balance from top to the bottom of the clarinet was very smooth
and very tonally centered.
The Selmer Signatures are a specially designed clarinet. All the toneholes
are raised to increase the total length of each tonehole. The barrel, to
alot of modern Selmers have a smaller bore than the upperjoint. This barrel
seems to provide a level of centered and resistance to make the clarinet a
very balanced instrument preventing the player from “overblowing” in a
sense. Though to someone like myself that prefers excessive dynamics, ie being able
to go from not only very soft pianissimmos but to loud but balanced
fortissimmos, the Signature is a bit too reserved to my liking. This in no
way means there is a problem with the clarinet in any regards but that it is
more of a symphonic or chamber players clarinet. For me, I really enjoy my
Leblanc LLs for chamber music as it can mix very well tonally with other
select woodwinds and string instruments but then I don’t play them often for
the same reason.Other players have commented that the Signatures are “stuffy”. But I like
the term “reserved”. If one prefers a high airflow and/or larger tip
mouthpieces they will feel held back by these instruments, or in their term,
it seems “stuffy”. But in all other scenarios, such as small ensemble
playing this instrument is fantastic. This is in no means saying one cannot
use it for any setting, but with so many other great clarinets out there
this one seems to fit into only certain categories for me.

Tonally the instrument has a very centered tone. The playing balance top to
bottom allows for easy emission for very nice control of the tone. On
Selmer’s website it states “The tone, a right compromise between roundness
and presence, is a subtle mixing of sweetness and energy. A wide dynamic
range facilitates pianissimo and unsaturated fortissimo, with a perfectly
homogenous tone over the various registers …” Interesting description and
sounds fairly correct except for the unsaturated fortissimo. But one can
take that a f versus a ff. Fortissimo isn’t a problem just that the back
pressure increases significantly which can be much easily accomplished on
other instruments of other design. I personally do not like so much
backpressure as compared to say the Buffet R13.

The keywork is superb silver plate, and smooth as silk motion. When properly
set up the intonation on the barrel is fantastic. Though when it comes to
intonation this instrument seems to have a limited temperature range. Don’t
try to use this instrument when the playing environment is cold, such as mid
60s degree fahrenheit. I could not get this instrument within 20 cents of in
tune throughout the entire range even with the shorter barrel. When playing
this instrument in the 70s and up there was no intonation issues. So if you
live in a cold climate and most of your venues are more on the cold side I
recommend not using this instrument.

Other than the climate issue everything else on this instrument is spot on.
A truly top of the line professional clarinet.

LIKES: keywork, fit/finish, tonal balance throughout the range
DISLIKES: very temperature sensitive, backpressure.


That is my first reaction on playing on a set of Bb and A Selmer Artys
clarinets after they were properly setup.
This instrument is truly one of my favorites modern clarinets from Selmer
Paris, though they were discountinued a few years ago. At that time they had
the Odyssee, Saint Louis, Recital, Signatures and Privilege (did I miss any
?). 6 models of clarinets can certainly get confusing. In the old days there
was one or two models available. I do not know why they discontinued the
Artys other than it probably did not sell as well as the other models or
there was too much of an overlap in characteristics of another model. But
they certainly are a wonderful clarinet that should not be overlooked in the
used market.Not only is the craftmanship first class from Selmer Paris but the
instrument offers the capabilities that I look for in a clarinet. This Artys
clarinet offers a wonderful tone in addition to allowing me to get the
instrument to offer some exceptionally well balanced and sounding dynamics.
In other words, one could also use this in a jazz situation, in which they
would have the ability of playing louder easier than with other clarinets,
assuming a moderately open mouthpiece. The tone is very woody and full and
resonant throughout the entire range. The only thing lacking is a
significant “ring” which can be found in the more famous Buffet R13s. But if
you are not after that certain tonal “ring” then this is a perfect clarinet
for those looking for more flexibility than symphonic or chamber music.A description from Selmer states “Today, the Selmer Paris clarinet range is
an artistically open offer. In the very heart of this variety, “Artys”,
expression of the Selmer maturity and modernity, sets the tone. The Bb and A
“Artys” clarinets assert themselves as high quality, all-purpose
instruments, covering a wide range of playing options. The profound
personality of this model is built up from an amazing playability and a
deep, resonant tone. The overall sound and tuning qualities are particularly
homogeneous through all the registers and shades ; a great flexibility and a
remarkable control complete the global acoustic performances.”

My lack of descriptive words would say that their own description of the
Artys is pretty accurate. From the deep resonant tone to the flexibility and
remarkable control. This clarinet is a Selmer Centered Tone with slightly
more resistance and control and the tonal flexibility of a Buffet R13,
though lacks a significant “ring” of an R13. In other words, it plays more
like a Serie 9 but with better overall flexibility and a fuller deeper tone.

After some extensive though minute setup items the Bb simply sang from top
to bottom with a consistent backpressure that provides an excellent feedback
to the player. The A was also very good though the low A was slightly
stuffy. If one slighlty expands the opening on the 3rd tonehole then the
slight stuffiness goes away and the tone becomes more powerful and full as
with the range of the instrument. Though one has to be careful as the
register E is nice and clear, too much expansion can cause the mid-staff E
to be unbalanced a bit.

Interesting side note on measurements of these examples:
Bb – 66mm barrel entry/exit bore of 14.54/14.50, 65mm 14.50/14.51
The entry /exit bore of the upper joint was 14.99 / 14.43

The A barrels: 66mm 14.49/14.34 65mm 14.45/14.34
and the upper joint was 15.03 / 14.57

This shows what Selmer has been doing lately, as in restricting air flow via
the barrel (for some reason unknown to me).

Interesting item about the construction. The stopper material used for the
throat A key and the register key is a synthetic rubber. This rubber is a
nice stopping material but very hard to adjust, ie to thin as the register
key was just a bit too closed and by thinning the stopping material one is
able to open up the register Bb. Most of the clarinets I work on for tonal
issues are mostly related to the keywork, pads, etc being too close to the
tonehole. Simply thinning the material helps open up the notes tonally and
may provide the quick solution. But in this case this rubber material is
like an anti-sanding material.

On a negative side, the middle tenon is metal. The cork on metal will slide
easily while playing and I found myself constantly realigning the joints. I
have never tried synthetic cork in this fashion but this is the same problem
I have had on some past clarinets with a metal tenon. I guess my hands move
too much.

This is a winner of a clarinet in my book and certainly on the short list
for me from Selmer Paris.

LIKES: nearly everything
DISLIKES: Why did they discontinue this model ?
This was a new model in 5/2002 until 2008 when it was discontinued

Selmer Catalog PDF


Other Serial Number Info:

10G, sn E74xx, January 1991 (Selmer provided)

9* – reduced some tone hole diameters and introduced
undercutting and a smaller bore. 10 move towards a polycylindrical
bore. 10G – work with Anthony Gigliotti to mimic the Buffet design.

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