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Silva-Bet Silver-Plated Clarinet, made by H. Bettoney.

The Silva-Bet is a silver-plated metal clarinet that was probably made in the early 1930s, although I can’t be sure -- I have not been able to find any specific, reliable info on them and the serial numbers. It was Bettoney’s top of the line instrument made to compete with wood clarinets. This particular horn separates into three parts: the barrel, top joint, and bottom joint. The bell is permanently attached to the bottom joint. The barrel has an adjustable tuning ring, shown below.

You can listen to the Bettoney Silva-Bet clarinet on the Metal Clarinet Test page.

Adjustable tuning ring on the Silva-Bet clarinet.

The clarinet also has an articulated C#/G# key, which allows you to trill much more easily from B to C# in the lower register, and F# to G# in the upper register. In trilling from B to C#, you simply hold down your left pinky on the C# key while trilling with the second finger of your right hand. This is accomplished in part by the extra ring key for the third finger of the left hand, shown below. In all honesty, I think that the articulated C#/G# is more trouble than it is worth. The key tends to stick, and it is very hard to access it. This problem is not one that clarinetists usually have to face, although saxophonists have to deal with the same issue sometimes. All of the keys on a clarinet either push something down, or force a pad to open. The articulated C#/G# actually releases the pad, but if there is enough moisture or stickiness, the pad will remain closed.

The Silva-Bet also has an extra key on the bottom joint which serves as a right hand trill key for C#/G#. It allows you to trill from C# to D with the second finger of your right hand, instead of using your left pinky.

Alternate right hand trill key on the Silva-Bet clarinet.

There is a pin that helps you lock the upper and lower joint in place so that the keys line up properly and the pads close when you push them down. When I received this instrument, the pin was missing, but my repairman created one.

Locking pin on the Silva-Bet clarinet.

It takes a little while to get used to the instrument because of the extra left hand ring key, but the action of the instrument is very smooth and even, especially for a clarinet that is more than 80 years old. The silver plating on this clarinet is in excellent condition and there is no wear to speak of at all.

The bell of the Silva-Bet clarinet.

The engraving on the bell is simple, but very elegant. Personally, I think the Bettoney Silva-Bet is a beautiful clarinet.

A closeup of the engraving on the Silva-Bet clarinet.


The Silva-Bet metal clarinet made by H. Bettoney.

Further links:
A brief history of metal clarinets
The Metal Clarinet Test
My experiences with metal clarinets
My thoughts and opinions on metal clarinets
The advantages of metal clarinets
More info and pictures of the Cleveland used in the recordings