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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000454.txt from 1999/01

Subj: RE: [kl] Leblanc Corp/T.Ridenour
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 16:17:48 -0500

>Mr. Borchart noted re Tom Ridenour:
><<<The request for payment by Tom for their own book keeping inaccuracies
>speaks volumes more about the corporation's mind-set than anything else.
>Shouldn't they have researched the missing 1992 clarinets before
>this? I certainly hope Leblanc is not in that much financial trouble.>>>

Kevin Fay wrote:
>There are 2 ways to look at this. One is that the instruments were
>entrusted to Tom, who didn't mind the store. When I was a waiter, I was
>responsible for folks who "dined and dashed"--I would end up paying for
>their food. It was up to me to keep an eye on my tables to make sure that
>this didn't happen. In this scenario, Leblanc has waited a long time to do
>the accounting, perhaps giving Tom as much time as possible to set things
>right. I hope that this is what happened--not for Tom, but as far as how I
>view the ethics of that corporation.
>The other way to look at this is not so rosy. Tom--who designed their new
>line of horns--had a job to demonstrate them to the world. In doing his
>job, his personal stature in the clarinet world rose; after all, he designed
>these spiffy new horns. For whatever reason, he stopped working for this
>company, and publicly endorsed the product of a competitor, making the
>company none too happy. Is this perhaps some sort of corporate spite?
>Now, I don't know and have never met Tom or anyone from Leblanc--I have no
>personal knowledge of any of this. All I know is what I read off the web:
>that Leblanc wants $$ from Tom for horns, and that he endorses the Selmer
>Signature. I do know, however, that my personal buying decisions are often
>affected by how I see people get treated.

Dear Klarinet list members;
In looking at the responses to my request I feel I have no other
alternative than to log on and respond, as it is not having the effect I
hoped for.
My purpose was not to cause any detriment or controversy to anyone,
most particularly, Leblanc Corp. My years there were great fun for me. I
am grateful for them and I am very, very proud of the work we did.
(Perhaps surprising to some on the list, the work I am most proud of was
the VSP, Sonata and Esprit clarinets. These instruments are terrific and,
in my estimation, have no equal at their price level. What's more, they
play and tune great; just what young, developing players need to help them
improve as young clarinetists).
Further, the people at Leblanc were always great to me, most
especially Mr. Pascucci.
I have no axes to grind with any one there; all I would like to do
is clear this matter up. The speculation is utterly counter-productive
and unnecessary.
Since I had exhausted every other means at my disposal to clear
this up, I decided to contact the list at the suggestion of my lawyer for
the following obvious reasons:
The professional clarinet world is very, very small. Further,
there are not thousands of Opus A clarinets out there, but only a few
hundred. The same with Concerto clarinets. Information gets around
quickly, so I thought a direct appeal to players and teachers was my best,
last bet; in my opinion, Leblanc should not lose the cost of these of any
other instruments; nor should I be held responsible in any way for them,
for a whole variety of reasons.
Kevin, of course, is right. Employees need to be responsible for
product entrusted to them. There are only a few qualifications to that
statement. One is that employees need to be given authority commensurate
with that responsibility, else wise it is impossible for them to fulfill
the requirements of responsibility; for example, making someone
responsible for rowing a boat across a lake is one thing; but giving them
a toothpick instead of a boat oar as the means of propelling the boat is
clearly unreasonable.
At Leblanc Corp. I took hundreds of instruments out for "show and
tell". These instruments were carried by me and under my direct control
and supervision _all_ the time they were in the field. To my mind, having
direct control _is_ authority commensurate with the responsibility.
Instruments which I took out like this were all accounted for, without
The three instruments in question were out of my possession over
95% of the time they were out in the field. What's more, one was reported
sold by one of the most honest and upright men I know of any where; Don
Lott, Leblanc rep for the mid-west; Lott would never issue a false report,
even if he were offered three times the retail price of the clarinet to do
At any rate, these three instruments were sold and/or shipped and
completely out of my control and beyond the scope of my capability and
authority. Tracking them required a boat oar, all I had was a toothpick.
Further, often those in upper management put things on my
consignment without my direct knowledge or permission. I, at first,
naively, thought that this was just a formality.
In defense of Leblanc, the klarinet listers should know that most
all of the manufacturers have had trouble at one time or another in their
history with keeping track of instruments shipped into the field, and all
have lost money in the past.
It is a difficult balance to strike; keeping track of product and
yet allowing instruments to be shipped or taken for the "show and tell" so
necessary in creating direct market demand among players. In my own
business I now have the same problem and have lost several mouthpieces in
the past year in similar fashion. For corporations, as with individuals,
this is a process of living and learning, and, hopefully, devising a
method or system that prevents or minimizes further problems in the future.
In any case, I am grateful to Leblanc and certainly would like to
see them be able to account for the instruments, and am willing to do what
I can to help that be a reality. We are all human, and paper work often
falls through the bureaucratic cracks due to such human error, rather than
from any purposed mendacity or illegal intent on the behalf of any
individual. I believe this is the case in this instance. (I am proud of
the consistent honesty and integrity of the clarinetists I met in my years
at Leblanc.......perhaps, they make up, in some small way, for the
indiscretion and waywardness of Anton Stadler! ;-) )
All I am asking is for help in correcting the error for Leblanc. I
just want the matter settled and to go on with my life trying to serve the
clarinet community. I know I did the best I could with the authority and
training I was given. My job, after all, was acoustics and design, not

Now to another matter:

Regarding my relationship with Selmer; those on the list seem to
think I am exclusively "endorsing" the Signature. To maintain this is to
misunderstand what I have tried to do in serving my art and other
The fact is, that Selmer offered me nothing and has paid me nothing
to do what I have done and write what I have written; there is no "deal".
It is true, they are now marketing some of the products I make, but that
was agreed upon before I even knew about the Signature, and no one ever
asked me to do anything in reciprocity for Selmer's distribution of some
of my products. What I did, I did freely, without outward influence or
recompense of any kind; both then and now. Presently, I am intent on
independence, which frees me to be objective and "call it as I see it."
My work on the clarinet, as I understand it, is not that of
"spin" as some on the list have insultingly insinuated, but that of
analysis resulting in technical and aesthetic description: Some of us are
genuinely concerned about the future of music making on the clarinet.
The Signature was and is exciting to me in that it points the way
to the rounder, darker, more homogeneous shape that players in America seem
to desire or be looking for in clarinets; but this does not come without
some price in color and shape variability, analogous to the German
clarinets; and I allude to this in the article Selmer has posted. I also
make note of its' more resistant bore (but remarkably resonant), and point
to the value such resistance can give to music making on the clarinet.
So many players I have spoken with over the years seem to have the
rather flat and, frankly, erroneous notion there can only be one "best"
clarinet. This is a "high school" and immature notion, in my opinion.
Over the years, I have noted with pleasure, that players of other
instruments have the curious habit of actually taking the nature of the
specific task at hand into account before deciding the best tool to use for
the job. This is a much more commendable approach if you ask me; and it
actually requires the player to look past the instrument's label, and to
be thoughtful about the technical and aesthetic demands of the
music..........remember the music?!?!?!?
What players, in my opinion, need to know are the technical
playing characteristics of an instrument to assist them in making
intelligent choices in instruments according to their particular playing
needs and tastes. Most manufacturer's ads only contain visual information;
ie; shiny keys, plated with silver, rich, aged wood, blah, blah blah.
That would be great if all you were doing with the instrument was
looking at it. But what of its' real use? How it feels, flexibility,
color, shape, response, resistance, tuning characteristics, , dynamic
control, etc. Most manufacturer's product description are void of this
essential information. Some might rationalize and say something like:
"Well, we let the players' decide for themselves." (If this is sincere,
this posture is absolutely unique in the world of marketing).
This, to me, seems a cop out. If I didn't know what a particular
model offered the player (why _specifically_ it was designed) and couldn't
give a general description of its' unique features and benefits I would
be ashamed to offer it.
Yet, this is the MO of not a few. So much so, that I have to
conclude that they are shooting in the dark; they don't really know what
they are making and just relying on other factors to sell their product;
specifically, their name or past reputation, peer pressure and the
ignorance and/or inexperience of large numbers of players; the less we know
or think about as clarinetists, the better some like it.
Personally, I would never put a new model of instrument into a
player's hands and ask him what he thinks without first sharing with him
what I, as a designer, hoped to offer him regarding specific improvements
and playing features in the model.
In my opinion, clarinets need to be reviewed as accurately as
possible regarding their technical and aesthetic characteristics so that
the players can decide whether such an instrument might be worth looking
into. Automobile manufacturers do as much with their cars. If all they
talked about was the shiny chrome fenders and bright new colors their cars
come in they would sell next to nothing and compel no one.
The Signature excels at some things; wildly so, in my experience.
Those who have those needs ought to know that such a fine tool exists to
help them do their work with greater ease, security and confidence. The
Leblanc clarinets, most especially the Opus/Concerto excels in other ways
and might be preferred in other instances.
At Brook Mays, where I am the clarinet specialist for the whole
corporation, we have an enormous stock of instruments. When I get a new
model which strikes me as having potential or something of value to offer,
I play it, compare it and think about it for weeks, and often discuss it
with other fine players; I am interested in finding out what it is in its'
self, not what I might want it to be, any thing less than that is very
unproductive and unhelpful to anyone.
I worked with the Signature for two months, exclusively, before I
would put down anything about what I understood it had to offer the
clarinetist. I sent the article to potential Brook Mays customers and
individuals I knew to help stimulate interest in the model. I did not do
this as part of a "deal" or at any one's request, but because I sensed the
instrument warranted this kind of scrutiny when I first played it.
Sustained testing proved to me that my initial instincts were right; this
instrument had a lot to offer players with certain needs and tastes.
Selmer got a cyber copy of the article and asked if they could
publish it as a review. It's that simple.
If someone is helped by the work I try to do, I am glad, for that
is my intent. If not, they are welcome to form their own opinions
unassisted or assisted by an array of others......or simply go back to the
mindlessness of the "shiny keys" and "rich, aged wood" format. Whatever!
In the meantime, if anyone knows about these clarinets please let
me know, and please try to minimize speculation; it's unproductive,
probably wrong and certainly unnecessary.
Many thanks and much gratitude ahead of time for anyone who makes
an effort in helping me clear this up. I apologize for the length of this
post. Happy new year to all of you and God bless you in the coming year!
tom ridenour

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