Thank you for being such a terrific resource.
Adult beginner seeks a single clarinet to buy and enjoy. Based on your comments, and others I am focusing on the Leblanc Sonata(pre-owned- refurbished) or a similar state L7. The Sonata suggests ease of play and the “non-quirkiness” as even back pressure through the registers. Is the L7 similar and is there any downside to the much older L7?
Regards.Thank you ,John. It is my pleasure.
Of the two Leblanc clarinets you mention, the L7 is clearly the better of the two as it was the top line of their instrument at the time of manufacture. I have found that all of the Leblancs with the letter L are very fine instruments, though the Sonata is also good, and similar to the rahpsodie, the espirit, etc.
I had an L27 which I especially prized, and was recently sent one to try and found it as well to be very good, the only difference being in the fact that mine had been new. The LL is considered the best of them and I have found that true. The Opus and the Concerto have come along since the aforementioned L’s and may be better, though clearly more costly.
The Leblanc Company has been sold and is now a part of the Conn-Selmer group, which I believe is part of the Steinway Company. The clarinets are still made and sold and finally(curiously) Leblanc has come into its own, because for many years it was the most reviled brand around and few players , especially symphony players ever played them, preferring the more inconsistent and out-of-tune Buffet clarinet.
It is still the case where one gets several Buffets to try and usually picks the better of the three, meaning of course that logic dictates that most are not really great; one only picks the best of the bunch .
I have never found Leblancs to be anything but consistent and I worked as a clinician for Selmer for 30 years. (irrelevant, but true)
I have always felt that Selmer has the best and most bautiful keywork, the sound being somewhat less liked than that of Buffet with at least one notable exception, rather two, and those are Gino Cioffi, Principal of the Boston Symphony and Manuel Valerio, principal of the Boston Pops. Both played selmers and Gino played a crystal mouthpiece and Manuel a selmer “A” facing. Never have I heard such beautiful sounds coming from the clarinet.
Nowadays people are talking about the art being in the facing of the mouthpiece, and I would beg to disagree. The art has always been in the performer regardless of what reed, mouthpiece or instrument brand he played.
Godd luck in whatever you choose.