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 A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: clarinetguy 2017
Date:   2013-04-13 13:41

With all the recent questions and comments about Leblanc clarinets, I thought I'd share this. I couldn't find a year, but I'm guessing it's from the late 90s.
http://www.clarinetperfection.com/galleryclar/Noblet/Ads/NobletAd08.pdf



Post Edited (2013-04-13 13:41)

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: rtmyth 
Date:   2013-04-13 13:56

I owned 3 Concertos, 2 VSPs, and an Infinitie. One Concerto was of artist quality, the rest ok. Earlier I had a LL3; it was unplayable, having been bored out by Vito.

richard smith

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: SteveG_CT 
Date:   2013-04-14 03:47

rtmyth wrote:

> Earlier I had a LL3; it was unplayable, having been bored out by Vito.
>

Sadly it is likely that the damage done to Leblanc's reputation by the re-boring debacle decades ago is the reason why the brand has basically been killed off at least as far as professional level instruments go. It's a shame really. I have a 60's vintage LL that managed to escape the "Kenosha Guillotine" and it is a superb player.

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: gkern 
Date:   2013-04-14 14:50

Steve - do you know what years the Leblancs were being rebored in Kenosha?

Gary K

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: sonicbang 
Date:   2013-04-14 20:29

I also have a vintage 60's LL. I bought it from a Swiss gentleman. That horn has never been to Kenosha and it's a great player too. I really can't understand this whole foolish reboring phenomenon.

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: SteveG_CT 
Date:   2013-04-15 17:34

gkern wrote:

> Steve - do you know what years the Leblancs were being rebored
> in Kenosha?
>

I'm not sure that anyone knows for sure when the practice started. It is often said that Vito Pascucci believed that the clarinets being imported from France had smaller diameter bores because the bores had shrunk during shipping. Knowing this it is probably reasonable to surmise that start of the re-boring phenomenom in the Kenosha factory coincided with the introduction of the smaller bore models like the L7, L70, L200, etc. so sometime in the 1960's would be a good bet. We know that Tom Ridenour put a stop to it when he was working for Leblanc in the 1990's.

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: NOLA Ken 
Date:   2019-09-08 00:03

I'm just going to add a note to this thread for purposes of historical information.

I have a Leblanc Classic II that I was gifted upon graduation from high school in 1968. The serial number indicates that it was likely made in 1967 according to the lists I've seen. I've always had to fight to get it to play halfway decently. After returning to playing a couple of years ago I got around to actually measuring the bore, and found that the upper joint bore measures 14.97mm at the top and 14.98mm at the bottom (plus or minus 0.01mm) - about the same as my later Pete Fountain model. I have been informed by a top clarinet restorer who shall remain nameless that "definitely something was done to your Classic II clarinet. Originally it had a 14.80 mm bore."

So it would appear that the reboring of Leblanc clarinets in the US was taking place at least as early as 1967.

- Ken

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2019-09-08 01:08

I own an L200. Is still my favorite boehm clarinet. Sadly, it has been in storage way too long.

Fuzzy

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2019-09-08 12:33

I had an LL, which I sold. Not the smartest thing I ever did, I didn't realize how good it was until I didn't have it any more. I was seduced away by a Buffet that didn't live up to it's early promise. Fortunately this business of reboring Leblancs doesn't seem to have got as far as Australia, at least I've never seen one.

Tony F.

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-09-08 19:32

Fuzzy: What do you like about it? I have one too, but find it just a little bit lacking in flexibility compared with Selmer or Buffet...or JL. I feel it could be doctored up a little though and turned into a very nice instrument (change in barrel, getting some notes better in tune). I wonder why this model didn't take off or last very long.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2019-09-08 19:55

There were so many Leblanc models, it's hard to keep track of all of them. The original bore LL was flexible, and the later Ambiance (Ridenour design?) even more so.

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-09-08 23:00

Seabreeze: the Ambiance was designed by the French clarinetist Richard Vieille and a Leblanc technician whose name was George (last name, I can't remember). It was a wonderful instrument (I played the prototype). Then Vito bought up Leblanc and somebody from Vito (Ridenour, whom I respect?) came along and messed up the Ambiance as if he had a grudge against it!

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2019-09-08 23:42

Ruben,

In the US, we never did get much good information about the Ambiance. It got lost among all the other Leblanc models, such as the Sonata, the Esprit, the Infinite, the Eternitie, the Concerto, the Opus, etc. I didn't know it was of French design by Richard Vieille. The few people I know who managed to try an Ambiance reported very favorably on it as a very agile and flexible clarinet that was a joy to play. Then it just disappeared from the scene. Very strange!



Post Edited (2019-09-08 23:52)

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2019-09-09 03:33

Ruben,

I've found my L200 to be very flexible and in tune. They don't come up very often, but when I played boehm, I was always looking for another one. I finally found one, but lent it to a friend while I worked on her Selmer...I never got the L200 back! (sigh!) It played identically to mine.

As far as what I like about it: well...it was just a perfect instrument for me. Never had any problems with it, it always played in tune, it handled everything from #3 to #5 reeds on the various mouthpieces. It handled a little jazz in my senior year of high school, lots of classical in college, and some classical and jazz after college - all without failing me.

At least twice, when I was looking at new instruments (always feeling the pressure from the clarinet studio to change to Buffett), my college professors picked my L200 as being the superior instrument (blind listening tests) - the last of these tests was in 2003 and included six new Buffetts and three new Leblancs which were current models at the time.

Both times, the professors chose my L200 as the best instrument. Both times, I was told by the professors that this particular L200 must have had special work done to it (I bought it used, so I really figured this must be true). My classical professors all loved it, and I found it aptly suited for my ventures into early jazz as well. Never had any issues with it. That second L200 I had purchased was identical, though - so I have doubted that my first one had any special work done to it.

If I still played boehm, I'd offer to buy yours from you! They're hard to find. It's still hard not to try to get another one even though I don't play boehm anymore - I love mine that much. I used mine all the way through college, and some after. Eventually, I started playing around with vintage instruments (1890-1920) and unintentionally left boehm system, otherwise, I'd still be playing the L200.

I'm sorry yours hasn't provided you that same experience - it's always great to find that "magical" instrument that works for you.

Fuzzy

[Edit: fixed some wording]



Post Edited (2019-09-09 03:35)

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2019-09-09 05:01

Fuzzy,

I can echo your praise of the L200 as I have one with the beautiful original case (even the warranty card). When I was lurking on eBay almost 20 years ago, the seller did not have very good pictures on the website. However, Tom Ridenour gave me the name of a person at LeBlanc who I called. I showed him the pictures on eBay and he said "Yes, it is am L200..." He also said "I hope that is not one of the L200s that was rebored (it was not). I think I got a real steal on the clarinet as it needed a repad which I quickly had done.

The instrument has been the backup for my Yamaha CS Custom for all that time. The L200 is probably one of the best playing clarinet in my arsenal. The intonation is amazing from the top to the bottom. The instrument is built like a tank and I love playing it.

So you ask "why are you always playing your Yamaha instead of it?" Easy answer, the Yamaha CS Custom is an even better player. So, I'm a lucky man with a great wife, wonderful instruments for playing and doubling, a fantastic retirement, and all our grandchildren dote on us.

Life is good!

HRL

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: gwie 
Date:   2019-09-09 06:31

I had a LL full boehm A at one point...got it for $1900! Should have kept it...

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2019-09-09 08:07

Hank,

Thanks for sharing your story - I hadn't realized the "reboring" issue existed with the Leblancs (before reading this thread). Likewise, even after reading about the issue, I didn't realize it might affect some of the L200's. What a shame!

I bought my first L200 for $250 back in 1987, and bought the second one for $250 in 2003. Unfortunately, all I ended up with on that second one was a Selmer with a cracked bell. A friend needed some work done on her Selmer, and I offered to take care of it - lending my second L200 to her while the repairs were made to her instrument. She moved out of town, taking my L200 with her. She ended up becoming a music therapist and changed to guitar. I'll always wonder what happened to that L200!

Fuzzy

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-09-09 12:49

Dear Fuzzy, Basing myself on your very persuasive arguments, I took out my Leblanc L300 (it's actually an L300, but from what I've been told, not very different from an L200), which is in perfect shape, and practised on it for an hour and a half. Your right! It is a fine and rather unique instrument; rich, resonant tone and well in tune and very smooth an velvety. It plays better with a Clark Fobes barrel. I will go on experimenting with it. I bought it here in France, so there is no danger of it having messed with in Kenosha. Nobody in France has ever heard of Kenosha!
Many thanks, Funzy, and look me up when you're in Paris, France!

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-09-09 12:56

Dear Seabreeze, The Ambiance was the very last Léon Leblanc clarinet. The others you have mentioned were under the Vito reign. After Richard Vieille finished working on it, Vito took over and as I said, "modified" it; in other words, messed it up. Richard Vieille played it for a couple of years then went back to his Buffet Prestige, as he found the Ambiance had too small a sound for the large Salle Pleyel here in Paris. This is another case of the tester no longer playing the instrument he himself designed. Another case is Michel Arrignon that soon stopped playing his Buffet Elite because of intonation issues.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com
JL-Clarinette

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2019-09-10 01:41

Ruben,

Thanks for the info. The practice of testers deserting new instruments they have designed and going back to one of the "standard" Buffet models (such as R13, Prestige, Tosca) suggests that the "Buffet mafia" is a myth. Large numbers of players select the popular Buffet models not from some external herd pressure but because those models are time and again pragmatically up to the demands of the playing situation. They are objectively the best choice. Still it is a shame that Vito didn't leave the Ambience alone and let the market decide on the merits of the original design (which may have been entirely adequate to the needs of many players not requiring great projection in a large hall. )

Having said all this, it is still another question why the Leblanc 300 never really took off in sales, even though ads appeared showing Stanley Drucker playing and endorsing it. He also seems to have very quickly reverted to his Buffet.



Post Edited (2019-09-10 01:45)

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: richard smith 
Date:   2019-09-12 17:59

Drucker had the Leblanc for ads; he did not play them.

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: GBK 
Date:   2019-09-12 18:13
Attachment:  Drucker Leblanc L-300.JPG (599k)

richard smith wrote:

> Drucker had the Leblanc for ads; he did not play them.


1984 ad, with Stanley Drucker, for the Leblanc L-300

...GBK



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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: GBK 
Date:   2019-09-12 18:16
Attachment:  Leblanc L-200 advertisement.JPG (390k)

1978 ad for the Leblanc L-200


...GBK

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 Re: A trip down Leblanc memory lane
Author: GBK 
Date:   2019-09-12 19:29
Attachment:  Drucker2.JPG (1127k)

And who can forget this 1983 Drucker ad for Leblanc?


...GBK

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