It’s really a big bore!

I was wondering if you could help me with a clarinet I just purchased. It has a dynamique Leblanc label on it in white. The serial # is 550 —- is that a model #? Do you know what the bore size would be or where could I find that information?? I play on a L7 clarinet that was bought new in the early 1980’s. Very nice clarinet. Thank you for your help. J.


There is something about this question which makes one wonder what is meant by the “bore size”?.

So, here is all the information I can present concerning big-bore sizes and what they may mean. If anything.
Starting with an anecdotal approach, I can tell you that the Selmer Centered-tone clarinet, first appearing in the very late 50’s and the 60’s is now prized as a clarinet made specifically for the playing of Jazz. Why? Because this instrument is known as a “big-bore” instrument, and somewhere along the way of history there came a myth that a big-bore instrument was the correct thing upon which to play Jazz,   Something(another myth) that the notes are easier to “bend”, which is incorrect and well, you just play Jazz on a “big-bore” clarinet. This clarinet had a bore that measured .590. And that diameter has no connection to Jazz at all. What categorized it as such was that Benny Goodman had an arrangement with a Selmer advertisement wherein he is playing a Centered-Tone clarinet. But in actuality, Benny played many clarinets of all types and bores and finally, in the 60’s when I played Principal Clarinet of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, I played on a set of Centered-Tone clarinets, and except for the Cadenza from Rhapsody in Blue, I played no Jazz . And incidentally most of the clarinet section of the Boston Symphony also played Centered-Tone clarinets. Cioffi, the Principal at the time played  Selmer, but the model 55, which he preferred.  But at present, this venerable instrument is commanding high dollar in the used , vintage clarinet auction houses.
Also with a bore of that general size, is the Leblanc Pete Fountain of “Big Easy”clarinet, also with a bore of .590. This I know is a fine clarinet and it has an articulated G# which is a help for any clarinetist. I would recommend this instrument for any purchase because it is a fine instrument, and it is available new, and it is less expensive than the clarinet from any other French company. And, you can play any kind of music using it, anything you wish. There are the Dynamic clarinets from Leblanc, also so-called “big-bore”. The L7 which you own is a far more sophisticated instrument, and one of their very best.
So, if you want to or wish to play Jazz, that is wonderful, but you can play the same Jazz on any instrument, even an R13, or a Lyrique. “Big-Bore” doesn’t mean Jazz.( Jazz means other things).
In addition for those who purchase so-called big-bore clarinets or Leblanc Clarinets, here are some facts of which you ought to be aware. I have it from the source of Tom Ridenour that Vito Pascucci, the head of Leblanc USA, when Tom Ridenour was their chief clarinet designer, had many Leblanc clarinets rebored to a larger diameter in a somewhat routine manner, until Tom stopped him. This is absolutely true and many players have purchased these horns, rebored without care for anything except making a “so-called” bigger sound from the bigger bore. It is no longer an issue because Leblanc Clarinet as a USA company is no more, rather it is part of Conn-Selmer. But the vintage horns of the Leblanc are all somewhat suspect and if rebored, can have manifold intonation problems. So, be forewarned. Here is a response from Tom himself concerned with this article:
“Well, what you say is true, but here are some important addendums:   

Large bore clarinets were largely abandoned by pro clarinetists in the last half of the 20th century because of low register right hand sharpness.  Small bores were chosen because the 12ths were truer, especially in the right hand of the clarinet.
Mr. Leblanc had designed small bore clarinets and they tuned up to the state of the art.  Vito, with the dumb  idea that the bores would shrink from France to Kenosha, and thinking that large bore clarinet was fungible with the idea of large bore trumpet or brass instruments, took it upon himself to rebore these clarinets to make sure they blew with a “big sound”.  As his shop people enlarged 14.65 bore clarinets to 15.00mm bore clarinets, he was unaware he was destroying the tuning of the 12ths, especially the right hand 12ths, making the right hand low register as much as 30 cents sharp to the rest of the horn.
Vito, not understanding clarinet acoustics, thought the switch to small bore clarinets was just  fashion and personal taste and that someday the “fashion” would swing back the other way.  He was wrong; the switch came about because of higher demands for tuning perfection.  And that, not subjective taste or fashion, ushered in the age of the small bore clarinet, especially since bore modifications had made them tonally viable and equal to their large bore counterparts.
I stopped the boring because good horns that played great and tuned very well were being systematically destroyed by energetic ignorance and wrong-headedness.
There you go; straight from the horses mouth.” So sayeth Mr Ridenour, who is the clarinet designer of our time and was there at that time.  
Once more, you don’t have to have a so-called “big-bore”clarinet if you choose to play Jazz. You can play Jazz on any clarinet you can put your fingers on.
Good luck and keep practicing.


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