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Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2001 16:58:16 -0800
From: Grant Green
Subject: Re: [CB] Leblanc Contra Alto

> >Is yours a model 352 (all nickel silver)?How old?
>I dont Know what model I have or how old it is its serial No. is 328

Sounds like it must date from  before 1950.  Possibly one of their very early models.

>The Octive mech is essensialy the same as my Lablanc Alto and is
>just a single Bb/register vent  changeover

This is how the Selmer Paris (and Bundy/Selmer USA/Buescher, and probably others) works.  It isn't inherently bad, if adjusted properly: I've just never seen it on a Leblanc contra.  When this type of register mechanism is out of adjustment, high G is often the hardest note to play (at least, that's how my bass seems to go).  Does it play better *above* the high G (e.g., does high Bb speak better)?  I would check to see if the Bb vent closes all the way when the upper vent opens.  Try holding it closed with your right hand while playing high G and above, and see if the response improves.

>all the serial numbers match up

I'm relieved to hear that the horn wasn't "Frankensteined" - it is probably just a matter of new pads and some careful regulation.  And perhaps a new mouthpiece... ;-)

Best of luck!


Grant Green
Professional Fool ->

Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2001 17:27:17 -0800
From: Grant Green
Subject: Re: [CB] Leblanc Contrabass Clarinet

> > black nickel!?
>Reminds me of a story I read recently (
>describing painting a nickel contrabass black to fool an ignorant but snooty
>composer. :-) And Leblanc's change might well be for about the same

Certainly looks ... well, *interesting* anyway... ;-)  That's the
second horn I've heard of being painted black to fool a conductor.
The first was a Conn Eb contrabass sarrusophone, painted to
masquerade as a contrabassoon by the late Mr. Marcus.  I think Al
Norman picked that one up - Al, are you still here?


Grant Green
Professional Fool ->

From: "Quist, Jean"
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 09:04:49 +0100
Subject: [CB]

'Narrow bore double reed instruments that look like
emaciated saxes, rather than being folded into the upright
configuration characteristic of sarrusophones. '

And a double reed on an ordinary saxophone, under which conditions would
that work? Presuming such a construction does work.



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Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 04:56:13 EST
From: BJacobs571
Subject: Re: [CB] Leblanc Contrabass Clarinet

> > black nickel!?
>Reminds me of a story I read recently (
>describing painting a nickel contrabass black to fool an ignorant but snooty
>composer. :-) And Leblanc's change might well be for about the same

Having looked at the pictures it could be nblack paint I have seen black nickel plateing on saxophones and it looks different.
I have been told there is a problem with plating and laquering instruments in Europe because the EC has decreed that companies cannot use the old cleaning techinques required to give a good finish. I think they are not allowed to use the same solvents. Bosey and Hawkes I am told spent about £350,000 installing a new cleaning plant only to find it doesn't work and the laquor and plating stripped of their instruments. They then moved the production of their cheep instruments to India where they don't have such strict regulations.
This could also be a factor why keywork for Lablanc instrument is to be made by Vito in the states. My friend has ordered the top of the line Lablanc Bass clarinet and has been told that the body of the instrumen is in stock but they have no Idea when the bell will be made/ plated.

The EC is very good at making up stupid regulations which seem sensible to beurocrats who are technicaly ignorent. They are going to ban the use of lead in solder for electical equipment. This will make manufacturing electronics in Europe uneconomic as soldering with tin only is more expensive and not as good as using lead/tin. The far east and the USA wont have thease extra costs.
 As you may have guessed I am not a great fan of the EC. When England joined the EC we were told it was only a trading group which would be a good thing. It is only now we are starting to realise that was a lie.

Bernard Jacobs

From: "Dave Spiegelthal"
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 10:10:06 -0500
Subject: [CB] Proud 'New' Contra-Alto Clarinet Owner

     I finally received the Buescher EEb contra-alto clarinet I 'won' on eBay
more than a month ago, and I just wanted to make a few observations about the
horn, and most of all, to thank you folks on the CB Digest who have provided me
with lots of good advice while I was searching for instrument and mouthpiece.
     The instrument plays surprisingly well, confirming what some of you told me
about the bore and mechanism being very similar to those of the rosewood Selmer
instrument (despite the Buescher/Bundy contra clarinets being plastic
student-line instruments).  I've never been a fan of anything Bundy, but this
contra is well-designed and feels far better than I expected --- I think I can
live with it!   The keywork is rather soft and flexible, however (typical of
Bundys) so I'll have to be careful not to let anything get bent.
     Before receiving the instrument itself, I had purchased a barely used
'spare' Bundy 3 mouthpiece from Jonathan Smith (thanks again, Jonathan!) and I
refaced it without having an instrument to try it on (not the ideal way to
operate, but I've been refacing for years and I can do it practically by sight
and feel now).  Lo and behold, the mouthpiece plays very well on its 'new'
instrument, using a Rovner bass clarinet ligature (which does indeed fit the
contra mouthpiece), and for a reed all I have at the moment are some Frederick
Hemke #4 baritone sax reeds, but these fit the mouthpiece perfectly and seem to
work reasonably well until I can something better (Vandorens, I suppose?  Any
recommendations from the group?).
     One thing I don't like is the lack of a left hand index finger half-hole
for the altissimo register --- I realize that contra clarinets rarely are asked
to play above the top clarion C, but I've always enjoyed playing any and all Bb
soprano clarinet music on my bass clarinet and I see no reason why I shouldn't
be able to do the same on the contra.  I've got an idea for a supplementary
altissimo vent key, and if I go ahead and build it I'll provide the details to
the Digest (if it works, that is!  If it doesn't work, I'll be too embarrassed
to mention it).  I'm flush from the success of my latest gadget, a homemade
low-D extension for my bass clarinet (removable, made from PVC pipe and old
tenor saxophone mechanism pieces!).
     Again, thanks for everyone for the help along the way, and especially of
course to Grant for maintaining the Digest.
               Dave Spiegelthal
               Calverton, VA  USA

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