CLAVIOLINES

 

This is a 1963 Selmer Concert Clavioline in excellant condition and used by myself in my studio. The stand was with it but are very scarce. Photo taken while the clavioline was sunning itself at the persons home that I bought it from.

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Latest Clav News.

I have been asked many times if I have any 7 pin leads or plugs to replace the damaged ones which connect the keyboard to the amplifier. We are now searching to locate a supply source and will inform, on here, if, and when available. Beware that this cable carries a high voltage and great care should be taken with a self made d.i.y job.

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The next two claviolines that will be for sale are the Concert models. Once serviced and checked over they will appear on the Sales Page. I do have people waiting but if you are looking for one working, please let me know so I can add you to my list.

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WANTED URGENTLY.

Selmer Claviolines.

We are looking to purchase Selmer Claviolines, or either just the keyboard or amplifier. We also buy good condition 7 pin leads.Any condition considered.

Please e mail details, photo if possible, to byron@chestnutbankproductions.co.uk or byron.elwell@tesco.net

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SAN FRANCISCO MAGAZINE ARTICLE.

Did an interview with a top San Francisco collectors magazine on the Clavioline. Full article, please visit, www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/the-otherworldly-sounds-of-the-clavioline/

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A MUST FOR SELMER CLAVIOLINE OWNERS.

I have published an A4 booklet called "AN INTRODUCTION TO THE CLAVIOLINE". This contains 28 pages of info, photos, history, common problems,etc. It is not a Service Manual (these I sell separate,see below), although there is some information and advice. Anyone who has an interest in the Clavioline will find this of great interest. Cost is £5 plus postage, £1, £6 total, to UK, and that includes updates, as and when I publish them.

 

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Claviolines For Sale.

I have advanced orders for claviolines, so as soon as one is repaired it goes out to a customer.

Please check the Sales Page on this site for latest news.

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CLAVIOLINE HIRE.

I have had a few requests to hire one of my Claviolines but due to the delicate nature of these instruments I have had to decline. Transporting them is the main problem.

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I have just received a selection of old papers relating to the clavioline. One collection of papers are extracts from Electronic Engineering October 1952 by G.H Hillier. It is all about how the electronics work in the clavioline. Way above me. Others are wiring charts, diagrams, a couple of booklets and even the fixing brackets to fix the clavioline under a piano. It will take a while to sort everything out.

 

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Although not a Clavioline, this is a rare Selmer Companion 49 Reed Organ that is in first class and working condition. Suitable for collector of early keyboards. Unlike the clavioline,on this you can play cords. Comes with the three stand legs. Not a stage keyboard although there was someone who boosted the sound and played through his amplifier.

SOLD.

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Photo showing work in progress on a Selmer Clavioline. New capacitors have been fitted.

 

 

A collection of Claviolines 

26th August 2012.

A rare sight indeed. Nine Selmer Claviolines reunited.

 The one at the front has been purchased for spares and as you can see below, is in an unwell condition.

 

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A very poorly and sad clavioline.

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8th June 2012.

Just obtained another Selmer Clavioline. This is a Console Type C and is unusual in the fact that it does not have it's own amplifier. It has a jack socket output which can be plugged into an external amplifier. It is powered by an external power supply module.

This one has now been sold.

This is the module that came with the above mentioned clavioline. This is used instead of it's own amp.

 

 

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Now in stock.

Reprint and updated Service Manual and History of the Selmer Clavioline. A must for anyone who owns a clavioline.

£15 plus p and p £3.75. Total £18.75

Please make cheques payable to Byron Elwell and forward to,

BYRON ELWELL. CHESTNUT BANK HOUSE, BOBBIN MILL HILL, FRITCHLEY, DERBYSHIRE, DE56 2HN.

Order now while still available.

 

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Original Dealers Servive Manual.

 

The above was a very rare find on ebay and is an original Engineers Service Manual. It contains much detail and is highly technical. The detailed wiring diagrams will be most useful. With this manual and a good service engineer, there is everything in here that will help keep the Claviolines going.  I have later copies but they do not contain much of the information that is in here. With this, I hope I can continue to have claviolines restored because repairers are very few but with the help of this manual, it should widen the availability of finding an engineer. I am going to try and make copies of this manual also.

I have managed to locate another copy of this very rare manual which is listed for sale on the SALES Page.

 

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Method for the Clavioline.

Another rare find on e bay. Printed in 1955 it explains how to incorporate the clavioline into every day playing at home or within an Orchestra. How to use the stops, knee swell, etc are fully explained. Contains 88 pages and incorporates many pieces of sheet music.

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Received notification that the clavioline used in the film, Telstar, is for sale at £1,195.!!! This is the Auditorium model and not the later Concert model.

As I have stated below, these things can cost a lot to have a full overall and you should be sure that you will beable to locate someone who can overall correctly.

If you want to hear a clavioline then I have tracks on You Tube.

Enter GALACTIC BYRON ELWELL and the clavioline has a solo in the middle.

Also  ODYSSEY   BYRON ELWELL.   TELSTAR   BYRON ELWELL. This track lead is a mix of keyboard and clavioline.

TORNADO  BYRON ELWELL. My first instrumental that I wrote for the brand new steam locomotive, Tornado 60163. Lead played by distorting an Hammond XK2.

Please go on You Tube and listen to Frank Chacksfields version of Little Red Monkey. This was one of the first recordings of a clavioline and is used to great effect. These would be really weird sounds for it's day.

 

Consider   the name Clavioline given to this electronic keyboard. The name is coined from the two words "Klavier" and "Violin" which simply means "keyboard violin".

BUILT TO A STANDARD. (Taken from an early Clavioline leaflet)

 "The Clavioline is the only electronic keyboard which incorporates, and is protected by, the patents of Monsieur Constant Martin. It is marketed and built throught the world by companies whose name are universally respected. In the British Empire and other countries it is manufactured and distributed by Selmer, an organisation which has for generations been privileged to serve the most discriminating members of the musical profession. It is not, in any respect, a cheap instrument. Only the finest of materials and components are employed in it's construction whilst the assembly is, at every stage, checked by tests which ensure that the very highest standards are reached.

 Valves are pre-heated for 96 hours before fitting whilst certain components are soaked in water for 24 hours to test their insulating capacity and resistance to humidity".

  • TIPS.

TUNING. Tuning a Clavioline can be quite a complex operation. In the past I have just used the right hand side tuning knob and adjusted alongside playing a high A note on another keyboard. I then 'tweak' the left hand side one and this has worked for me. However, if you have or purchase the Selmer Service Manual it gives you quite a bit of detail on tuning both the Concert Model and the Auditorium Model.

SELMER SERVICE MANUAL. If you have a Clavioline this manual is a must. It contains so much detail, circuit diagrams, valve referances, resistor referances, fault guide, plus loads more. I recommend if you do not have a copy, order one now while they are still available.

VIBRATO FAULTS. No vibrato or intermittent vibrato. Faulty valve, V1 or V2 (Replace). Leakage of C1, C2, C3 (Replace). Incorrect adjustment VC4 (Adjust). Faulty switches. (Adjust).

On many old claviolines the keys tend to come off as they were glued on with what can be best described as basis white paste. I have had to reglue many using modern types of glue. CAUTION. Be careful not to let glue fall inside the keyboard!!!

Be very careful when carrying. The handles have a tendency to break off and can result in the whole unit dropping to the ground when being carried. Bad News!!! I located some replacement handles and catches on Amazon.

Many claviolines that I have had have a key that is stuck down or seized up. Do not force up. The only way to correct this is to reset the keys by following the Service Manual.

WARNING. Many people have purchased a clavioline that requires work doing to it. Be warned, from experience, I have found that it is quite difficult to find anyone who will attempt to repair or the costs are so high that you wish you had not bought it. Original parts are almost impossible to locate. Capacitors can be obtained and replace the old paper type. Valves can usually be obtained but in some cases, very old ones will require a modified one with a new base.

If you remove the two side plastic plates and the front octive slide cover, you must put something over the keys, otherwise they will all jump out of their sockets and you will have a time consuming job to coax them all back into the holes.

Do not do any repairs yourself with the power connected. These things are quite high voltage. When buying one that has not been repaired it is important to get a qualified electrician to check it over. As I have stated, these are quite high voltage and would not pass todays strict safety regulations.

One of the main things to check when buying a clavioline is that the 7 pin plug that connects the keyboard to the amplifier is there and that it is not damaged. At the moment replacement plugs are still trying to be located. These can carry quite a high voltage. Be warned.

The clavioline was invented by Constant Martin in 1947 at his factory in Versailles, France. It came as a keyboard, a separate amplifier and speaker unit.  At first it was intended to be fitted to the righthand underside of a piano by metal brackets. Later, possibly the early 1960's, an adjustable stand became available. Sounds were controlled by the toggle switches at the front of the keyboard, in the case of the Selmer Concert model, this was 22 switches. On this model there were four relating to vibrato, four for bass and depth and fourteen to create the various tones. There was a slide adjuster that covered three octaves. Volume was controlled by a knee lever that was below the keyboard. Tuning knobs on either side of the keyboard enabled the player to tune the clavioline to other instruments.

You could create many instrument sounds including strings, brass, banjo and really way out spacey sounds. It was this, that we presume, led record producer, Joe Meek, to purchase one and no one as ever recreated the sound Joe got for the Tornado's hit, Telstar. Of course he did a lot of tweaking, including treble tracking the lead line. Along with his compression, reverb plus many of his secret devices, Joe created his own sound.

The Clavioline was licensed to many global manufacturers including Selmer UK and Gibson USA.

There is also the Univox. Most I have seen in the UK are Selmer who produced the earlier Auditorium Model, later the Concert Model with the bass and depth buttons and finally the Reverb Model. It was the Reverb Model that I purchased around 1966, complete with stand. This I used to play Telstar on in the 1960's, also Robot and many other numbers that the Tornado's did earlier. There were of course a few problems with the Clavioline as a stage instrument.  First, it needed a mike in front of it to boost the volume via a Vox AC30. Secondly, there was no great reverb produced so I had to purchase a Selmer Reverb Unit which worked fine. Thirdly, the Clavioline only played one note at a time (no cords) and only the highest note played. Still ok as we used the Clavioline as a lead instrument but on some numbers I used it to play bass as we did not have a bass player in the early days. I sold this Clavioline for £10 in the early 1970's and to this day, this is one of the biggest mistakes I have made in life. Reverb Models now are very rare.

From pictures I have seen, the clavioline Joe Meek used was definitely a Selmer, possibly the Concert Model. One thing Joe did not need was a cheap sounding reverb because of his skill at producing his own echo sounds, via his many little secret boxes.

While I used mine on stage for around three years, I had no major breakdown problems, even though the clavioline could have a mind of it's own. I think this is why the Tornado's in the early days, used a Vox Continental single keyboard instead. I too changed to a Vox Continental, but a twin manual. This, on cold winter days, had a problem with distorted sound and I kept a hair drier with me so that I could warm up the inside. However, this seemed to work.

    Max Crook heavily modified a clavioline and called it a Musitron. One number that stands out is when he used it on Del Shannon'"Runaway" (1961). Who can forget that fantastic lead in the middle.

Also, one of the earlier musicians to use one was Frank Chacksfield's Tunesmiths. Jack Jordan played clavioline on "Little Red Monkey" in 1953. I understand this was the first record to feature an electronic instrument that featured in the UK pop chart, April 1953. Others were Van Phillips who composed the music for the clavioline for the radio series, "Journey Into Space" (1953-54).

Some of the later musicians to use the clavioline were the jazz musician, Sun Ra, "Baby You're A Rich Man" by the Beatles in 1967 and most famously, Joe Meek on his top ten number Telstar by the Tornado's which topped both the British and UK charts.

Claviolines can still be found today but not many are in good condition. After all, they are over 50 years old. Be careful when buying one because even if you find someone to repair it for you, the cost is quite high as I have found out.

     On  the Internet there are many published articles on the Clavioline which offer wiring diagrams, sound samples, and lots more. Search under CLAVIOLINES and you will find much information and also whats on YOU TUBE in relation to clavioline demonstrations.

     When buying a Clavioline to overall, one of the best things to do is to replace all the resisters/capacitors and this can make a considerable  differance to the sound.

     Although the Clavioline looks a bit "rough and ready" in their constrution, the Selmer one's were built to high standards. The valves were soak-tested before use, and there were many of the components and assemlies that were immersed in water to test their insulation and resistance to high humidity. It's not surprising then that so many have survived to the present day, although many have been subject to abuse and neglect and are in very poor condition.

   

As this is a new page, I will be adding various articles to it over the coming year. If anyone has had any experiance with repairing and can offer any tips,please contact me and we can pass on.

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This is the first one I purchased and is a 1960's model. I had to pay a good price for it but it had been serviced. I used this one for some of my instrumental recordings. This one has now been sold to a musician in Toronto., Canada.

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This is the second Selmer Concert Clavioline that I purchased and it has had a complete overall with all the resisters being changed. All the operating toggles have been removed and cleaned and an external jack socket has been fitted to enable a jack plug lead to be used to connect to a larger sound system. The repairs did not come cheap. However, I now have another excellant working model. This too has now been sold.

 

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  This is the Auditorium model and as you can see, it's in need of TLC. This is how most claviolines finish up and they need quite a bit of work doing to them which can be very expensive.This has now been stripped down and rebuilt to sound as it should do. It has also now been sold.

 

 

  I am always looking to purchase Claviolines, either working or not. They can be also, either just the keyboard or amplifier. Clavioline stands are also required. Please e mail the details to byron.elwell@tesco.net   and, if you able, any photo's.

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An early Jennings Univox, Model J7.

This is a more basic model to the ad below.

These I tend to avoid as I have a selection of parts for the Selmer ones. Not many of these come onto the market.

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    This ad for the Univox states that Telstar was played on the Univox. We doubt this very much as all our findings show that Joe Meek used a Selmer model.

 

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Just purchased a Selmer Electronics catalogue for Selmer Amplifiers, Echo Units, P.A Accessories and of course, the Clavioline. Here are just three pages out of 14. This cost me around £13 for the original but if you want a copy please forward cheque for £6, made payable to Byron Elwell. The address is on the Contact Page.

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a copy of Selmer's Hire Purchase Terms. Please note the Clavioline price.

 

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This is an Instruction Manual that I managed to obtain. I can make a copy for anyone at a price of £3.40 inc postage to the UK.

 

 

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Two of the many wiring diagrams I have. The ones I have are clearer than these shown.

 

 

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An early advertisment for the Claviolne.

 

 

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  This is a fantastic book I located on Amazon. Contains details on most Claviolines. Much also about some instruments you may have forgotten about.

 

The following sites I found useful,

www.antiqueradio.org

There are also many interesting articles under claviolines on Google.

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LETS HAVE YOUR VIEWS.

Let me have, by e mail, your experiance with the clavioline and we can share each others problems and enjoyment. byron.elwell@tesco.net.