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 Online Bought Leblanc/Backun Legacy Questions
Author: JF Clarinet 
Date:   2017-03-27 06:06

I recently bought a set of Bb and A Leblanc by Backun Legacy clarinets off of Ebay, which should be arriving in the next week. They were a great deal, and come with a 14 day return policy, so the worst case scenario if I don't like them is that I send them back and pay for shipping. I am not used to return policies like this, and am looking for advice as to how to best use those 14 days to decide if the instruments are right for me. Other than testing intonation, tone, and general feel of the instruments, what are some other tests I should do?

Additionally, probably because of the short duration of the partnership of Backun and Leblanc, I can find relatively few reviews for these instruments. I have looked through all threads/articles I can find on the partnership of the the two companies and the instruments they made, but most of what I have found is from shortly after the clarinets were initially released. Since these aren't brand new anymore, are there any shortcomings/idiosyncrasies of the Legacy that have been found out over time that I should look out for or be aware of?

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 Re: Online Bought Leblanc/Backun Legacy Questions
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2017-03-27 07:02

Don't just play whatever is easy for you and makes you sound good. Play some hard passages that give you trouble. Be sure to play soft entrances like the Pines of Rome solo, fast staccato like the Midsummer's Night Scherzo, prominent melodic passages from Brahms Symphonies, passages from the second Brahms sonata that hang on that pesky throat Bb and so on. Try some passages that highlight the forked fingering for the altissimo F. Does it speak easily? Is it in tune? By all means play with other instruments. If you play regularly with a band, bring the Bb clarinet to the rehearsal. Bring both to a symphony rehearsal if you can.

Play something with a piano that is an acoustic challenge to sound well on the clarinet. For example, the second movement of the Saint-Saens Clarinet Sonata--the Lento in 3/2 where the lowest notes on the clarinet have to blend with the piano. How are the tuning and balance in that pairing? Some clarinets tend to sound thin like kazoos or shapeless like fog horns. Yours should sound rich and focused.

Ask other people who are used to your playing how you sound on these new instruments. Try as much music as possible, in different settings and instrumental combinations. Play with strings, brass, and percussion, as well as other woodwind instruments. If you can find a singer to do something with you for a page or two (Shepherd on the Rock), how well the instrument blends there will also tell you a lot. Duets with another clarinetist can also tell you something.

Make music with the clarinets, and if the music sounds good to you and to other musicians, then the clarinets are also probably good.

Post Edited (2017-03-27 07:05)

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 Re: Online Bought Leblanc/Backun Legacy Questions
Author: nellsonic 
Date:   2017-03-27 07:48

A slight correction - that would be the *third* movement of the Saint-Saens.

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 Re: Online Bought Leblanc/Backun Legacy Questions
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2017-03-27 08:23

Yes, the Allegro animato is second; that one is so idiomatic and falls so naturally under the fingers that in my memory I overlooked it. The third one, the Lento, is deceptive--a beginner can play the slow chalumeau notes of the first five lines--but what a challenge to make it really sound!

Post Edited (2017-03-27 08:27)

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 Re: Online Bought Leblanc/Backun Legacy Questions
Author: Steven Ocone 
Date:   2017-03-27 16:21

If the clarinets were a great deal, you might have some money left over to get them repaired. In that case I wouldn't worry if you can't play a fast passage. That is a repairable issue. What might not be repairable is tuning and tone quality across the range of the instrument, playing both loud and soft.

Steve Ocone

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 Re: Online Bought Leblanc/Backun Legacy Questions
Author: sfalexi 
Date:   2017-03-27 17:05

First I find a couple mouthpieces that seem to play comfortably with it. Most people have a baseline of resistance that they like, and if it seems to come from the clarinet, they want a freer playing mouthpiece. If the clarinet is freeblowing, they use a resistant setup. That sorta thing.

Then I first play a slow chromatic scale (using every normal alternate fingering for as many notes as possible) at about mp. So that means middle finger B natural, as well as fork fingering B natural. I focus on a constant mp airstream, and I'm testing for big differences in evenness between notes (for example, how smooth is going over the break? Does the fork B natural sound MUCH louder than middle finger? is chalemeau C# OVERLY stuffy?) I want a clarinet that has a baseline of evenness first and foremost (of course some notes might be a little different, but too many or too big a difference would annoy me.

Last, since it's now pretty warmed up, I do a quick tuning check on each of the notes. I want them all to be within 5 cents sharp or flat, with most of them being as close to in tune as possible. I tune the open G by pulling out at the barrel, the G on top of the staff by pulling out the middle joint, and the C by pulling out at the bell (which usually puts the long B a little flat, but not by a crazy amount).

If those three things are good, I feel I have a good setup and a good clarinet. You can check flexibility of tone, but if you're comfortable with your setup, you'll probably get your idea of a good sound no matter what clarinet you play. For myself, I sound like me. Whether it be on my personal professional level horns, or on a bundy, so long as my setup gives me the resistance I'm comfortable with. THe tuning and evenness of notes varies GREATLY between pro horns and bundys, and THAT'S where I think the body of the clarinet matters.


US Army Japan Band

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