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From: "Patrick.Scully"
Subject: [CB]  I.  Ebay -- Paperclip Leblanc Contra Alto Clarinet F/S -  9 Hours to Close!
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2002 11:38:52 -0800


The Leblanc Paperclip Contra Alto, model 350, is a special instrument and a great way to joint the contrabass club!  There's one on eBay now with reserve met at little more than $1,100 (a recent reserve price auction for this model had a reserve of $4,000 -- perhaps a little optimistic, but you get the idea.  A "beater" sold a few months ago on Ebay to a European buyer for $2200.).  Here's the link:

I already own two model 350s, and would get in to some serious hot water domestically if I got another I will hope to see a colleague get one so I can enjoy vicariously.  Here's some "bidder's background" for those interested (Part I of 2):

Leblanc Model 350 Paperclip EEb Contrabass Clarinet (aka contra -alto) - An Owner's Appreciation (Part 1 of 2)

1.  Compass/Keywork:  The 350 is the only contra alto clarinet in current production (Leblanc Paris, presently) with a range to written low C.  That's equivalent to the lowest playable F on the BBb contrabass, within a whole step of the lowest note of the EEb contrabass saxophone, and just about an octave below the Bb bass clarinet and Eb baritone saxophone.  The ranges of the the bass saxophone, bassoon, string bass, baritone saxophone, and bass tuba lie entirely within the range of the paperclip contra alto clarinet.  The 350 also has three RH1 side trill keys, including the middle clef B natural.  The BBb instrument has only one of these keys -- the crucial Eb key.

2.  Concert Band Performance:  In my band performances, I play my EEb instrument more often than my BBb one.  There are as many or more parts in concert band literature for the contra alto as for the contrabass, but in addition, with an Eb transposing instrument it is very easy to sight read bassoon, tuba, or string bass parts (simply read as for treble clef, and add three sharps to the key signature -- eg, play a Bb major part in the key of G major).  If you're interested in actually performing, and you have the money for only one Leblanc contra, the model 350 would be a good choice.

 ...CONTINUED...see items 3, 4, and 5 on next post

Happy bidding.



From: "Patrick.Scully"
Subject: [CB] II.  Ebay -- Paperclip Leblanc Contra Alto Clarinet F/S -  9 Hours to Close!
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2002 11:44:35 -0800


Leblanc Model 350 Paperclip EEb Contrabass Clarinet (aka contra -alto) - An Owner's Appreciation (Part 1 of 2)

3.  Tone Quality:  You will find opinions, pro and con, on and elsewhere, about the paperclip BBb contrabass clarinet.  However, the EEb paperclip is a distinct instrument, about which little has been written regarding its tone quality.  Let me first say that, in my experience, the mouthpiece/reed setup has more influence on timbre and quality than body tube material, bore, and thickness of body tube combined.  My setup is a Charles Fobes San Francisco Contra Clarinet mouthpiece and Vandoren #3 Contrabass Clarinet Reed, and with it, I achieve a rich, saxophone-like chalumeau, and a clarion not unlike the chalumeau of a Bb clarinet.  The altissimo is similar to a bass clarinet clarion.  Note that the bore of the EEb paperclip may contribute to the richness of tone -- it is the LARGEST bore contra alto clarinet available (it is the same bore as the BBb paperclip, which has a smaller bore than the professional grade Selmer Model 41 BBb contrabass)

4.  Beautiful Design:  Leblanc's paperclip contras -- EEb and BBb -- share their nickel silver construction, bore, mouthpiece and reed, and compact coiled construction.  If you're lucky enough to possess both, you can bring them to your performances and move your mouthpiece from one horn to the other -- no dry reed issues.  The EEb instrument, due to the coiled configuration, is actually shorter than a standard Bb bass clarinet (though the very heavy gauge nickel silver makes it alot heavier than one).  It
travels very nicely.    All contra clarinets require loving care, and an occasional screw tightening by the owner.  The metal Leblancs, it is said, are a bit less finicky because the nickel silver doesn't expand and contract as much as rosewood.  Also, and this is a matter of taste, the nickel silver alloy of these instruments takes a very high polish (get those sunglasses out!).  This, coupled with the fact that the instrument protrudes well above the player's head when seated -- visible above the other woodwinds (like the contrabassoon) -- makes the paperclip contra quite a visual focal point in a performing ensemble.

5.  Cost:  Though it is the most expensive contra alto clarinet, whether new or used, the 350 is clearly the most capable, and, due to the low C extended range, is a true contrabass instrument.  As such, it's the cheapest entry to the foghorn club you can buy.  Also, you'll never be turned down for membership by your local community band, as they commonly have only one contra clarinet if they have any at all.

Happy bidding.


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