Clarinet Upgrade

Sir:

I have recently started investigating a clarinet upgrade for my daughter. Her teacher has mentioned the topic more than once. I have found the Woodwind.Org site and your entertaining and informative articles.

My daughter is 15 years old and has been playing for over 5 years. Presently she plays a Vito with Vandoren 5RV Lyre mp. She is a member of the Manchester (New Hampshire) Youth Symphony Orchestra and has been accepted this spring for transition into their advanced group. She also plays with the University of NH Youth Band.

So far I have resisted any of the “bargains” on eBay (e.g., E11 for $222 US). I am informed by the owner of a music store in Massachusetts that he has purchased a group of discontinued Leblanc 1142S clarinets and can sell them for much less than what his cost would otherwise have been. They are being sold at approximately $1300 US. As they are discontinued, I cannot find any reference to them on Leblanc’s web site. More disconcerting, I get no matches when doing a search on the Woodwind site, or even Yahoo.

My questions to you are: Is this a suitable clarinet for my daughter’s continued growth? Is the instrument at the offered price likely to have an above average performance/price ratio compared to the legions of clarinets I presume are available? If so, should I expect that the Leblanc mouthpiece will prove adequate over time, or should I plan for an upgrade to the upgrade sometime in the future?

Thank you very much in advance

Thanks for your note on the clarinet upgrade for your daughter. I certainly understand the teachers urging comments about a new instrument which inevitably brings up the question of the acquisition of the new instrument.

And from this point on one needs to be careful and to tread lightly, and proceed with caution prior to purchase.

In no particular order, your daughters mouthpiece DOES make a difference. The mouthpiece upon which she is playing should suffice with any clarinet acquired. It is a medium standard mouthpiece; I’m assuming she likes the sound she makes, and it will only get better with a new instrument, providing of course that the instrument is properly aged, has been properly kept and is in perfect adjustment.

I am also assuming that you are considering purchasing the Leblanc instrument mentioned. The 1142S is a numbering with which I am somewhat familiar and it sounds like the Leblanc “Symphony”, a fine fine instrument. Of course, instruments always vary from one to another and sometimes there are those which are just unfortunate and do not seem to play too well.

This would be an ideal situation in which your daughter can try about five of these instruments and perhaps choose the one she likes best, or perhaps your earnest teacher can also give his or her input.

I remember this Leblanc and most Leblancs to be very fine instruments. I have played many and finished my playing career on a Leblanc Opus, so I can hardly encourage you more.

My only problem would be the price and perhaps I have no business mentioning that one should be able to get this instrument for under a thousand, depending upon the following:
1. You get a guarantee.

2. You get a new Leblanc case.

3. You get a new Vandoren mouthpiece of your choice and a good ligature as well.

Finally, do not try the clarinet using a Leblanc mouthpiece … my suggestion, for whatever it is worth.

Best regards to you and to your daughter in all your endeavours

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