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Clarinets Direct is proud to count amongst its clients leading professional players across Europe and the UK. Once in a while a truly unique instrument is offered for sale by a top professional, and this Basset Horn is one such. This is a Selmer Basset Horn in Grenadilla wood, to low C, with an exceptional provenance: It was bought by the great conductor Sir Henry Wood, in the 1920's, for use in his "Queens Hall Orchestra". Subsequently it was owned for several decades by the Royal Academy of Music, here in London. It was then bought by the celebrated clarinettist Keith Puddy, and played in the revived, " New Queens Hall Orchestra" in the 1990's. Its last owner was the London based, New Zealand born, clarinettist: Pauline Ismay.
The Selmer design of Basset Horn differs radically from that of Buffet and Leblanc in that it is basically an extended Bb instrument. Thus it can be played with your usual Bb clarinet m'piece. Modern Buffet and Leblanc Basset Horn designs are essentially modified Alto clarinets. This instrument tunes well with the supplied Peter Eaton Bb m'piece of 1010 bore.
This is a very early Selmer Basset Horn, with serial number 480, which dates to 1927. That stated the modern Selmer Basset Horn, which retails at almost 10000, has not changed design all that radically. This example is part plateau: in the LH. This has the advantage of allowing the player to part cover the RH holes in the chalumeau, to improve intonation in soft passages. The instrument has tan leather pads on the upper joint, and old, white leather pads on the lower. It was last overhauled by Jon Steward of Howarths & Co. Ltd. at a cost of 600. It is in good regulation, though the pads on the lower joint are elderly. The low pitches, Eb, D, Db, and C are each fingered in only one way: Eb, and Db, are at the bottom of the RH "pinky" stack, just like a modern Selmer Basset Horn, low C is fingered by LH F/C, again just like the modern example. Low D, however, is fingered by the touchpiece at the back underneath the thummb rest. The original thumb rest was removed by Pauline, who also had a Leblanc floor spike attachment fitted. And the original thumb rest screw holes have been left unfilled, see photo 10. It goes without saying that Basset Horns do not get heavy use, but this instrument is almost 90 years old, and it shows marks and surface scuffs to the wood, and German Silver key work, commensurate with careful use, as do the crook and bell. However it has never cracked, or needed any major repair. We will replace the tenon corks on m'piece and crook prior to sale. This Basset Horn plays very well in tune and with a lovely sweet sound, it is ideal for Classical use, i.e. in the Mozart Serenades and Opera obbligatos, or the Mendelssohn Concert Pieces. The supplied case is robust and protects the instrument well.