A Mother is Considering a Clarinet to buy

What can you tell me about the LeBlanc Esprit clarinet? What mouthpiece should be used with it? Any quirks? Any helpful tidbits? Any inherent problems over time? I recently purchased a used one for my son as a gift. It is used and I will be taking it to my local music shop for a good look over.
My response was vague.
Oh, Iím sorry, I must not have been clear. I do appreciate your time in answering my question and will value your opinion as I am no expert on the clarinet and am trying to make sure I am purchasing a quality clarinet for my son, as well as a wonderful surprise gift. I know he has purchased separate mouthpieces for clarinets he has had in the past and I didnít know if I there was one that worked well with this specific clarinet. You seem to be fond of the LeBlanc Opus after reading some of the comments you have made, and have offered tips on playing one as well. I didnít find any archived articles where you mentioned specifically the LeBlanc Esprit Bb clarinet and did not know if you had had the pleasure of getting acquainted with one or had heard other clarinet players comment. I know my son has previously played clarinets made by Buffet and Sempler, not a LeBlanc. I came close to purchasing a Buffet R 13 (Iím going off the top.. I hope I am saying that right) but being a woman went on that instinctive impulse and purchased the LeBlanc Esprit. I do have a 30 day examination period to return if this is not a satisfactory purchase. Although, my son will be able to tell me once he receives it, heís the type that would just be gracious and say it was wonderful and play it anyway. I suppose I am looking for reassurance that this is what a talented clarinet player would be very excited about receiving. In short, I have no idea what I am doing, but want it to be great. Can you give me any advice? Somehow, I sense your going to say return it and give him the money to go buy what he wants. I can accept that, but before I do, Iíd like some education on the LeBlanc Esprit Bb clarinet. I was under the impression it was an awesome clarinet.
Friedlands response:
LeBlanc (France – Student line: Vito) also offers a variety of Bb
Clarinet. Their top of the line is the “Opus” with their “Concerto” and
“Iterniti” as seconds. The Opus and the Concerto also being common
choises among the virtuosos. Their traditional model is the “LL” and
their Jazz model is the “PeteFountain”. Other
professional/semi-professional models are: Infiniti, LX2000, Espirit,
and the Sonata
I would say the instrument lies somewhere within the semi-professional models. This however does not mean that much. It really depends upon your sons level of sensitivity and playing ability. Also would be the playing condition of the instrument. Is it new? Has it been tried or prepared by a competent player/clarinetist.
I do not believe you mentioned where you puchased the instrument.
No, I do not think you should tell him to get what he wants after returning the instrument, however it may be advisable to request that you take out several for him to try, allowing him to pick the best, if in fact he has this knowledge, this amount of discipline, which is what it takes to discern.
I have found that all the Leblancs of a certain upper category are well-made, though there are variances in playability.
One would need to know just where your son is in the process of discernment, which is certainly a part of the discipline. I had and performed on a Leblanc L27, which was a wonderfully intune instrument, and instrument that I wished I had kept, however at the time I was a very busy performer and teacher and was able to borrow anything that I wanted for as long as was necessary, which is where my respect for the Leblanc comes. This is an instrument which in professional clarinetistic circles has been reviled, not because it is bad, but because it is not a Buffet or a Selmer. I found out the instrument is in general a beautifully made clarinet, however save for a few exceptions it is not the choice of professional clarinetists…..yet.
If you begin to understand that the world of adjudicating playing characteristics of instruments is complex, you may add exponential to the kinds of variances that exist.
Most professional clarinetists insist that their students play the same model and make as they, and spend a considerable amount of time in denigrating simply everything else that is out there, which is not right, however typical.
I find the Opus to be the finest Leblanc entry into the professional model of clarinet. Intonation, response, and quality is even, beautifully made and simply excellent. I know some performers who criticize the instrument for not being one that projects well, however this is so much in the hands of the particular player, it is almost uselesss to speak about.
I hope that this is of come help and I wish you and your son the very best in the world of the clarinet SF

Thank you. You have been very helpful. You have definitely given me more insight on the complexity of choosing the ďrightĒ clarinet. As much as I had hoped to give the gift as a surprise, upon your consult I feel this is one that is definitely intimate and individual enough he should choose himself. I will just surprise him with going shopping for one.
PS The joy of hearing him play is the best gift.


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