Contrabass Digest

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From: "Steven M. Ehrin"
Subject: [CB] new subscriber!
Date: Mon, 05 Nov 2001 19:23:43 -0500

Greetings to all! I am very excited to have finally subscribed to the digest. I am a bassoon/contrabassoonist in college have been a fan to the site for many years. I also have of experience playing BBb Contrabass clrnt and Bass Sax. I feel that the world of music should revolve around us bass/contrabass instrumentalists!


From: "Helen Kahlke"
Subject: [CB] Bari Stand
Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2001 20:30:32 -0400

Andrew, you don't mention if you want a stand to play out of or just a
regular stand. I "wear" my bari, so I use a K&M baritone stand. It is
adaptable for either a low Bb or for the low A horns. The stand is really
stable, very light-weight, and very well made. When the stand is folded up
it is very compact. It takes folds up to about the size of my tripod. The
horseshoe where the bell rests is the widest part. All my horns are
regularly parked in K&M stands. I've never had a problem with any of them.

Most places sell K&M stands. Check the WW&BW prices against the others. I
have bought a fair amount of things from the Sax Shop in Evanston Illinois.
They also have a mail order division. Their prices seem pretty competitive
to Woodwind & Brasswind, and I've had better service. (I've just had really
bad luck with WW&BW).


From: "Spencer Parks"
Subject: Re: [CB] Bari Stand
Date: Mon, 05 Nov 2001 18:48:38 -0600

>I have bought a fair amount of things from the Sax Shop in Evanston

If any of you are interested, I live in Evanston.  If you ever come into
town to the Sax Shop, e-mail me.

Spencer Parks

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Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2001 16:54:12 -0800
From: Grant Green
Subject: [CB] Contrabass serpent

For anyone interested, the contrabass serpent (aka "anaconda") is now "commercially" available (for about 6K British pounds).  See



Grant Green        
Professional Fool  ->

Date: Mon, 05 Nov 2001 18:41:40 -0700
From: "David F."
Subject: Re: [CB] [CB Digest]

inexpensive bass clarinet on ebay, called a saxophone.

Date: Mon, 05 Nov 2001 23:46:18 -0400
Subject: Re: [CB] Contrabassoon still wanted
From: Robert Howe

Hello double reeders.

As I mentioned last week, I wish to buy a contrabassoon, new or used.  I
will be using it in community orchestras and expect to loan/rent it to other
players.  Quality of tone is of course desired, but pitch and reliability
will be more important.

My budget for this project will not support a Heckel, but I am willing to
pay fairly for a fine instrument.  I am astonished to find, however, that
contrabassoon prices do not follow a bell curve, but are instead a step
function; there are a few cheapies for $5-6K, then most of the rest of the
world at $15-18K, then Heckels for the cost of a new home.

Please tell me about your experiences with the contrabassoons that are
available in the USA: Adler, Amati, Fox, Kroner, Mollenhauer, Moosmann,
Puchner, Wolf, any others?  My only experiences (all positive) are with Fox
and Mollenhauer, from listening to friends play them.  Can anyone comment of
the craftsmanship and technical reliability of these various instruments?
Please feel free to write me privately if you wish.

I hope to make a purchase by the end of 2001.

Many thanks,

Robert Howe
One Baldwin Lane
Wilbraham MA 01095

From: "Patrick.Scully"
Subject: Re: [CB] French music store?
Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2001 22:45:43 -0800

> >Oh goodness no!  Not a representative transaction at all!  It would be like
> >calling a sale of Callaway golf clubs to Tiger Woods a representative
> >transaction.  Granted, the contrabass community is a bit smaller than the
> >golfing one, but the proportion of the total market that "tunes in" to
> >, directly or indirectly, is such that it wouldn't have
> >surprised me if Gramps Leblanc himself made Grant's instrument by hand
> >personally and delivered it in his teeth with a certificates for a lifetime
> >supply of Vandies and a full no questions asked perpetual replacement
> Well, it would certainly surprise me!

Okay, I got a little carried away with my vision of Gramps Leblanc (the
kindly guy playing that enormous if elusive octocontrabass clarinet in the
image on delivering your clarinet personally.  However, I
don't think I'd be too far off the mark if I said that your site has made a
difference, not just for me and others who have a certain prurient interest
in the subworld of the lowest low, but for the entire musical world.  For
contrabass performers and other "insiders", has not only
informed, it has helped us to be a community that is growing to a potential
probably none in the musical instrument business had dreamed that it had.
This community is of great value to Leblanc, Selmer, Eppelsheim, Heckel, and
the others who build our instruments (or, as the case may be, feed our
habits).  It is also a lightning fast critic and hivemind that is forcing
their business to change straightaway from a semi-feudal guild structure to
a postmodern automated supply chain linking old-world craftsmen with the
future.  When the dust settles, there will be more contrabass
instrumentalists, more arrangers and composers who actually write parts for
them, more instrument choices and better quality --  and richer, fuller
music in the world.

In other words, Grant, I think you qualify for "VIP" status with the contra
manufacturers.  Big time!   My view is, if they don't treat YOU well, it
only goes downhill from there.



Date: Tue, 06 Nov 2001 06:23:43 -0500
From: Chip Owen
Subject: Re: [CB] [CB Digest]

While Leblanc should certainly be able to supply pads in a timely manner, I
would put some pressure on the repairer to get the job done.  There is
nothing sacred about getting pads from Leblanc or any other maker, and
Leblanc certainly doesn't make pads in Kenosha.  There are other sources of
quality pads.  Perhaps your repairer needs to know more about pads than how
to stick them in the pad cup!  The problem in this story is not Leblanc but
whoever is insisting that the pads must come from Leblanc.

Chip Owen

> >In my post I mentioned the summary removal of my name from the BBb waitlist
> >at WW and BW - after having been on that list a year.  In case the reader is
> >thinking "yeah, but how often does one purchase a brand new contrabass
> >clarinet...I mean, what are these lunatics talking about anyway?", let me
> >tell you about how long my used Leblanc contra has been in the shop waiting
> >for -- get this -- a set of pads.  How about in excess of TWO MONTHS
> >(delivery date is "indefinite").  For a set of pads for an instrument that
> >is in production right here in the USA, a copy of which was delivered to
> >Grant in (this makes me cry!) a WEEK.  My repair technician was told that
>Well, it is still possible that the pads are sourced from France.
>But there should be alternate sources available, or pads that fit
>just as well: contra pads are smaller than many of the pads on an
>alto sax.


Date: Tue, 06 Nov 2001 08:46:17 EST
From: BJacobs571
Subject: Re: [CB] Leblanc Pads

When I bought my Leblanc Contra Alto ( stright) I wanted to get new pads for it. I Went to my local repair shop as the owner is a personal friend. He told me that pads for it would be very hard to get hold of because they have a hard disk on their back. This disk either metal or Paxolin is there to make the sound brighter. Where as you can easly get pads with cardboard disks these hard disks are very hard to get and the cardboard pads wouldn't last. None of his catalogues had pads of the correct size. You can get them for Bari and Bass saxes but they only make them the sizes for the sax. Contra Alto pads are a different size so they wont fit. He said he could try to get some from Lablanc or he could recoverer the old pads. Getting them from leblanc is very difficult even here in Europe and I couln't afford hand made pads. We then patched the instrument up so it would play and left it at that.

Regards Bernard Jacobs

Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2001 05:59:18 -0800 (PST)
From: Andrew Phillips
Subject: Re: [CB] Contrabassoon still wanted

> Hello double reeders.
> As I mentioned last week, I wish to buy a
> contrabassoon, new or used.  I
> will be using it in community orchestras and expect
> to loan/rent it to other
> players.  Quality of tone is of course desired, but
> pitch and reliability
> will be more important.

I own an Amati contrabassoon and what can I say?  You
get what you pay for.  I didn't have much of a budget
back when I was 16.  The tuning is not too terrible
and the keywork was improved greatly right before I
bought it in '97, but the tone quality is very
lacking.  I've also played a great deal on my school's
Mollenhauer.  The tone quality is better but the scale
is very uneven.  Alan Fox once told me they don't make
as good of instruments as they did about 50 years ago.
 The first contra I played on was a Fox and that was
quite nice, despite me having no prior experience to
playing on it.  I hear they're competing with Heckel
now, but the waiting list is also growing for one.  I
hope this helps.

  Also, thanks for advice on the bari sax.

                           --Andrew Phillips


Date: Tue, 06 Nov 2001 09:39:40 -0500
Subject: [CB] BBb pads
From: "delmatto"

i had my bundy bass clarinet repadded last year with leather sax pads.  my
tech guy said they'd last longer than the white pads.  are you concerned
with keeping the leblanc as a stock instrument?
nick delmatto.

> Well, it is still possible that the pads are sourced from France.
> But there should be alternate sources available, or pads that fit
> just as well: contra pads are smaller than many of the pads on an
> alto sax.


From: "Patrick.Scully"
Subject: Re: [CB] BBb pads
Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2001 07:51:59 -0800

Thanks for the advice, Nick.

I'm pretty sure that the replacement your technician made on your bass
clarinet left you better off than before.  Alas, if the same solution were
adopted for the metal contrabass I have, I'm not so sure of the
consequences.  This is because the pads for my horn are unusual and have
integrated metal resonators.

Please see my earlier post this morning on this.



From: "Patrick.Scully"
Subject: [CB] Leblanc Contrabass Clarinet Pads
Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2001 07:59:46 -0800

Thanks for the suggestions, Chip.

Agreed, the repair technician could have dropped the ball in any number of ways which resulted in the still ongoing downtime of my contrabass clarinet.   My focus, originally, was on him.  My main concern was when and from whom did my repair technician order the pads.  I rattled my cage at regular intervals.  I offered to "assist" in expediting the pad set order; I finally suggested maybe we would terminate the job and have the old pads reinstalled.

In the end, my focus shifted to Leblanc.  While in general it is true that there are alternative sources of pads for woodwinds - and a technician could even make pads by hand if need be - there are no original-quality second sources for metal Leblanc contra clarinet pads (at least as far as I know).  As you may know, the pads for these instruments are of atypical design.  They're similar in concept to flute pads, having integral metal resonators and are adjusted by means of paper shims.  The pad assemblies screw in to the pad cups.  It's the loss of the resonators in any non-original solution that concerns me most, but subtle alteration of the instrument's resonant qualities and possibly major alteration of resale value are also risks I face if I go the non-Leblanc route.

Doubless some very reputable repair technicians have used saxophone pads or some other non-original parts to overcome the "supply difficulty" here, but I take it as evidence of my technician's integrity that he never considerd this a viable option.  Certainly, as time goes by, this calculation may have to change, and like I said, I've come close to just throwing up my hands and having the old pads reinstalled.  Interestingly, on that point, my technician was especially stern and said that he could not stand behind the job if this was done...and of course he was right.

I just read the post by Bernard Jacobs - it looks like I'm not the only one who's had a problem getting the original quality pads for the Leblanc contra.  And I can see that eventually, poor Mr. Jacobs had to give up and it sounds like they recovered his old pads!  Oh nellie, I hope this doesn't happen to me!

Thanks again for the advice...I will keep y'all posted on the outcome.  BTW, anybody have a spare set of Leblanc contra pads they'd like to sell?



Date: Tue, 06 Nov 2001 12:35:07 EST
From: BJacobs571
Subject: Re: [CB] Leblanc Contrabass Clarinet Pads

      I couldn't afford to have my pads recovered. The one or two which realy were past it we replaced with sax pads as a tempory measure and the other pads which I had not removed were "treated with a special coating" which means they will last a little longer. I cannot tell you what the treatment was as it is a trade secret which I will have to check with my friend  before I disclosed it
     The pads on a contra are leather rather than fish skin (white covering) anyway.

regards Bernard Jacobs.

From: "Karen James"
Subject: Re: [CB] Leblanc Contrabass Clarinet Pads
Date: Tue, 06 Nov 2001 09:54:25 -0800

Aaack! This is depressing!

Add me to the list of those waiting for paperclip pads! Mine has been in the
shop since the end of August. My tech tells me the same thing, the LeBlanc
pads are definitely the way to go, but we hafta wait. In addition, I'm
waiting for them to send a replacement low D key. That will probably add
another six months to my wait!

How many others are out there waiting for their pad sets??? Hey, if we ALL
call LeBlanc every day and be a pain in the *ss, do ya think that will

Karen James
San Jose, CA

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