Contrabass Digest

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list                           Fri, 26 Jun 1998           Volume 1 : Number 13

In this issue:


Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 00:22:24 -0700
From: "Jason Hsien" <>
To: <>
Subject: Leblancs Octocontras

-----Original Message-----
+AHw-From: +ACI-S.K. Pasisozis+ACI-
+AHw-Also, to satisfy my bottomless curiosity: Years ago, Leblanc made an
+AHw-octocontraalto and octocontrabass clarinet. Were these just prototypes made
+AHw-to prove they could do it, or were they ever commercially available.

Yes, Leblanc did design and make an octocontraalto and octocontrabass, and
they were prototypes just to see if they could do it. They were never
commercially available, and are currently in Leblanc's private Museum.
According to Contrabass, some of the notes on the octocontras were so low
(into the 25-40Hz range), barely audible to humans, and possibly not even.

More info is at, but I haven't visited in a while. Grant?
ICQ UIN 191252 / Class of 2000+ACE-
+ACI-It kind of makes you wonder why man considers himself such a big screaming
                         -Hobbes, Calvin and Hobbes
+ACI-I've been singing you songs all day. I'm not a bloody jukebox.+ACI-
                         -Shary Bobbins, The Simpsons
A+ACE- WK+AFs-r+AF0AKwArACs- YK- P+ACY-B--- DT+- SL+-+-+- SK+-+- RR-- GDF--- PO I+- E42 H42 PonYiddish


Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 10:48:35 -0700
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: Instrument FS


Just noticed the following offered at Wichita Band Instrument Co.:
"SELMER model 1440 contra-bass clarinet (in Eb) #9110, maybe six months old
"Demo" model. Hard to get, new list price is $2325. $1095"  Note that the
Selmer 1440 is Selmer USA (aka Bundy): this is the horn that lists for
$1883 new at King Music.

Dillon Music is listing a double bell euphonium for
$1250 (Buescher), a York DBE for $1450, a King Bb trombonium for $450, a 5
valve F cimbasso for $3K (look under used tubas), and a 3 valve BBb
cimbasso for $2500 (look under used valve trombones).



Grant D. Green             Just filling in on sarrusophone
Contrabass email list:   


Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 11:39:41 -0700
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: Re: list V1 #10

At 08:13 AM 6/25/98 -0700, you wrote:
>Also, on this thread, I was told that the bore of Leblanc's metal
>contrabass is narrower (proportionately) than their own contraalto and
>other companies' contrabass; presumably this gives it an edgier metallic
>tone. Could increasing the diameter of the bore mellow it out?

I think that would be the result.

I looked up the bore diameters of several horns (including all the contras I could find data for, without leaving my desk...):

Bb bass Eb contra  Bb contra
Selmer USA: 0.932 0.987 NA
Selmer Paris 0.920  0.988 1.333
G Leblanc 0.945 --- ---
Vito   0.945 1.182 1.182

I didn't find the Leblanc figures right off, but I *think* they're also 1.182" in diameter (both the Eb and the BBb contras).  Selmer USA is or was also known as Bundy: Selmer Paris is considered the professional line.

The Selmer USA instruments are both plastic.  The Selmer Paris instruments are all wood (the Bb contra is rosewood).  The Leblanc bass is wood, while the Eb and Bb contras are all metal (the straight and looped models of both Eb and Bb contra have the same bore diameters).  The Vito instruments (also made by Leblanc, and also available under the name Holton) are all plastic instruments: yes, the Vito Bb contra is a straight plastic instrument.  I wonder if it breaks in the middle?

The "rule of thumb" for scaling bore diameters is that you should double the cross-sectional area of the bore for every octave you descend.  So a Bb contra should have twice the cross-sectional area of a Bb bass, meaning that the diameter should be about 1.41 times (the square root of 2) the bass diameter.  The Selmer Paris Bb contra is 1.45 times their bass's diameter, and 1.41 times the diameter of Leblanc's bass.  I guess thatmeans that the Selmer Paris bass has too narrow a bore ;-).  The Leblanc/Vito instruments are only 1.28 times the Selmer Paris bass bore, and only 1.25 times the Leblanc bass bore.  I wonder how they picked their measurements?


Grant D. Green             Just filling in on sarrusophone
Contrabass email list:   


Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 14:41:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Instrument FS

Wichita Band also has two Double belled euphoniums listed, on is an 1896
Conn, the other is a 1912 Conn.


Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 16:48:44, -0500
Subject: Mollenhauer contra $2000!
Message-ID: <>

I have a friend that is an alcoholic and has lost everything in his life.  He wants to sell his contra-bassoon for $2000 so he can get off the streets.

This was an air force contrabassoonist so I assume it was kept in gfreat condition.

The contra is currently in Virgina.

Anyone interested, let me know before Sat night and I will hook you up with him.



Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 15:02:05 -0700
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: Re: Plastic Paperclips
Message-ID: <>

At 04:29 PM 6/24/98 -0500, Chip wrote:
>Plastic is a very expensive material, despite the common perception that plastic
>is cheap junk.  The cost of a block of polypropylene is approximately ten times
>the cost of a block of sugar maple of the same dimension.  Plastic is not cheap!

I think this misconception probably arises first in clarinetists.  We see
"cheap plastic" beginner's clarinets, as contrasted with expensive
grenadilla pro models, and conclude that the material must be a big factor.
 Actually, the cost of the materials is a relatively small part of the
total instrument price, but it is easy to forget that.  Repeatedly!

>With the low volume of contrabassoons (I make a lot of them at about 30 per
>year) any plastic bodied contrabassoons would have to be fully machined from

Its just too bad that there isn't a greater demand!  It seems like
something as inherently wonderful as the contrabassoon ought to support a
market of several thousand new horns a year, at least.  Of course,
considering how often I've had to explain what a contrabassoon *IS*.....

>If Leblanc wanted to make a plastic paperclip contra clarinet, they could and

They do, sort of: the Vito Eb and BBb contras are both plastic, but
straight (both with range to low Eb).  Hmmm, I wonder if they've ever
considered substituting rosewood for the straight sections on a curved


Grant D. Green             Just filling in on sarrusophone
Contrabass email list:   


End of list V1 #13

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