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 Contra basses
Author: tucker 2017
Date:   2022-05-26 07:05

I play bass clarinet in a couple of concert bands. One of my band mates is an instrument technician with a Vito BBb contra bass which needs some work. He keeps saying he's going to make the necessary repairs and asked if I might be interested in it. It's been a LONG time since I played around w/ a contra and thought it might be fun to get one to play from time to time. I've check w/ the directors of both bands and they both say they would welcome the addition. This lead me to research contras online..... I've seen a few Le Blanc 342's, 340's (paperclip, I believe) and a boatload of newer models which don't interest me ($$$$). I would appreciate any input regarding the older Le Blanc's 340s, 342s, Vitos, etc. Which to avoid? Which to look for, etc etc. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

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 Re: Contra basses
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2022-05-27 00:14

The metal instruments (342 and 340) are both fantastic. The only thing to avoid are the early 342s (straight model) with only a single register vent. They will have a key connected to the very top of the top bow whereas the later models didn't have any keys on the top bow.

The Vitos, while great in theory, are unfortunately problematic. The posts are held in with threaded inserts which loosen over time. This causes key binding and can make the mechanism unreliable. Also due to the fact that plastic shrinks and expands with temperature the key fit is extremely sloppy by design. The all-metal instruments do not have these problems. Also the case is about 6 feet long and extremely heavy. The plastic versions do not break down into 2 pieces so a shorter case is not an option. You absolutely need a car where the seats fold down at the very least.


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 Re: Contra basses
Author: cearnsh 
Date:   2022-06-15 15:05

A quick note in support of the Vito BBb contrabass.

I've owned one of these since 2005 and love it. I've never had any problems with it, certainly no issues with posts coming loose. There is some 'slop' in the the mechanism which is indeed necessary to prevent binding in cold weather but I've never found this to be an issue (I used to have a Yamaha YCL221 bass which would seize up in cool conditions). The contra has only occasionally needed to have the regulation adjusted over 17 years - probably less than my Buffet Prestige bass. The size is a challenge - when I bought my last car I took the contra with me to the garage so I could ask for a car to fit the instrument...

I also have a much abused Vito contraalto which needed a lot of remedial work when I first bought it, but it has also proved to be be very reliable once it was fixed.


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