The “Demise of Leblanc” ?

Hello Mr Friedland,
What do you think about the “demise” of Leblanc as a clarinet maker. It seems that on pro spec intruments they are producing multi wood clarinets for pros and I reckon that alot of people could not afford a nice traditional Leblanc clarinet at a reasonable price. The Backun models are very pretty but do not look that robust to me. The Opus again a nice clarinet but alot of money. If I wanted a quality instrument say priced around a Noblet Artist then I would have to go to Buffet or Yamaha or buy second hand because Leblanc do not cater for me and besides I do not want a USA made clarinet.
Best wishes

Hi IH:

Thank you for your interest and for your thoughts concerning the “demise” of Leblanc as a clarinet maker. Leblanc,and Selmer are now distributed in the US by Conn-Selmer,and of course, the most publicity is being poured into the Backun addition to Leblanc. However this addition of all the furniture of the barrels and bells, which add little or nothing to the sound of the instruments, is what seems to be grabbing all of the attention. The price adds to the farce that is being perpetrated on the buyers of these very pricey instruments.
One guesses that the theory is based upon the idea that more money means a better instrument. Leblanc actually is still being made in France, at least those that are made there. And, they are a very fine instrument. The Opus II and the Concerto, the Sonata, and the Rhapsody are all made in France, as they have been for years, however the changes that take place when they are sold in the US can be vast or purely cosmetic. Selmer is also still being made in France. The Leblancs and Selmers that are made in the US are of a lesser quality, and always have been. The prices have risen to the point of prohibition of purchase for many. The idea of any clarinet costing more than five or six thousand dollars is strange indeed, or at best highly inflated. Actually discounts range from 30% to sometimes 50% or more.
Leblanc has always been somewhat shady in the US, but the French instrument is a superior one and very much around, as they say.
I’m not sure where the Normandy or the Noblet clarinet are made, however there quality was never that of a professional instrument.
There are no instruments made in France these days that can be purchased for “a decent price”, however after all the cut throat discounts that can be found, it is the quality versus the price that must be considered. Some of the best instruments are coming from the Selmer Company.
And incidentally, the Yamaha is fully equal to any French instrument, the tuning generally better, the price a third less or more. Buffet costs as much if not more than all the others, their quality and finish having deteriorated steadily over the years., their quality control a thing of the distant past.So, there is not a demise but a redistribution of the instruments, as far as Conn-Selmer is concerned

Keep playing,
sincerely, Sherman


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