Leblanc Bliss

Discussion in 'The Leblanc Family' started by Clarinet-Aaron, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. Clarinet-Aaron

    Clarinet-Aaron

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    Hey, I didn't see anything about the Leblanc Bliss clarinet, which is something that I've seen around the net and looks pretty neat. Has anybody tried one? I got an opportunity to play one at the Florida All State convention and meet with Julian Bliss, the inspiration behind them. It was really neat but I only played it for about 30 seconds, which I'm certain, is nowhere near long enough to have a good idea of how it is.
     
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  2. PrincessJ

    PrincessJ

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    I own the LB210 and it literally is one of the best clarinets for your money out there.
    Pros -
    -Solid intonation for the most part
    -Great tone, effective barrel
    -Gorgeous looks
    -Flexibility with different set ups
    -Great sound projection
    -Well adjusted keywork by factory
    -Very well made altogether
    -Excellent value for price


    Cons -
    -Ringless barrel has tendency to crack easily
    -Heavier than your average student/intermediate clarinet (neckstrap recommended for younger players)
    -Adjustable thumb rest found a bit of a chore to adjust (my experience alone, YMMV)
    -Synthetic pads may be leaky. YMMV once again.
    -Backpack style case awkward, but great for school kids.

    All in all I recommend it if you want a wonderful value. I'm interested to hear other's experiences with them, and the plastic and part plastic models. I've heard good things about the all plastic one.
     
  3. Clarinet-Aaron

    Clarinet-Aaron

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    That's really good to hear, I'm not sure which one I played on, but I remember I liked it. I saw an LB210 online a while ago for 600$ (Which seemed like a really good price) But was hesitant to buy it since I hadn't heard anything about them, nor had the seller responded to my emails.

    Thanks for saying something! It's nice to see responses :p
     
  4. Taranto12

    Taranto12

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    Because I live in Montana, I decided to buy the L310NS, which is the composite model with the Bliss Backun designed Grenadilla barrel. I'm just a beginner with the clarinet. I wasn't ready to invest in a wooden clarinet, because the air is extremely hard on wooden instruments. The tone is wonderfully warm and dark. It is very forgiving to a newbie, which will make me practice even harder.
     
  5. Groovekiller

    Groovekiller Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    I worked as a repairman for a dealer of the Leblanc Bliss for years. It is indeed a good playing clarinet, however the lack of reinforcing rings on the joints became a problem. We sent back about 75% of the Bliss clarinets sold because the center tenon receiver cracked. Also, the Bliss clarinets with the black anodized finish on the keys nearly always had plating problems. Nice horn, but don't buy it. It's a loser.
     
  6. Taranto12

    Taranto12

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    Interesting comment. You don't specify which model you had to send back. Also, are you still actively doing repairs? When was the last time you worked on a Bliss? Most importantly, What was LeBlanc's response when you sent the defective part back? If LeBlanc replaced the part and then made improvements since then, your point is moot.
     
  7. Groovekiller

    Groovekiller Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    The Bliss clarinet came with a very good warranty from Leblanc, and the company made good on replacements of all the clarinets we returned, dozens of them. First, we changed to Bliss clarinets with keys in silver nickel finish, and dropped sales of the Bliss horns with black keys. Finally our store eliminated sales of all Bliss clarinets that had no metal reinforcing rings on the tenon receivers. Warranty or not, the returns were not worth the trouble. I retired from the repair business about 6 months ago. The bad experience with bliss clarinets occurred during the last 2 years or so, and to the best of my knowledge, the problem with cracked tenon treceivers was never successfully addressed by Leblanc.
     
  8. Taranto12

    Taranto12

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    Thank you for your reply. It's a shame you didn't post this earlier. It might have made a difference in the clarinet I chose. I did choose the Composite Model not the Grenadilla model. I can see how that lack of tenon receivers on a wooden clarinet would lead to a tendency to crack.

    I do fine woodturning as one of my hobbies. I have worked with grenedilla and cocobola (I love both woods since they work very well). All woods when stressed can crack. I was under the impression, however, from LeBlanc (& Conn-Selmer) that the polymer used in the composite due to its random molecular structure, mixed with the wood fiber/pulp created a much more flexible and resiliant blank, from which the clarinet joints were turned. The technique is similar to the one I use to fill wood defects in my turning blanks (I use a cyanoacrylate monomer which then polymerizes and strengthens the structure).

    There is no doubt that the black nickle plating is impressive when you first see it. However, the pH of most people's sweat does not react well with this plating. As a family physician, you don't know how many cases of dermatitis caused by nickle alloys and plating, I've see. Just look where your watch, wedding band, rings are. If you see red, itchy, scaly areas, there's a good chance that nickle is in the metal.

    Thanks again for your answers and open responses.
     
  9. DaveKessler

    DaveKessler Kessler & Sons Music Distinguished Member

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    This is an interesting thread. I have sold the Bliss clarinets since their inception. I have never once seen one of the composite models crack (and we have sold well over a hundred). The wood barrels can crack, the wood bodies can crack. The 75% figure though has me at a loss. Being in the desert, we are more prone to cracking than most other climates (combined with the general lack of proper maintenance by student musicians). We have had maybe 10 total barrels crack (wood barrels on the 310 series with the composite body).

    In my experience, many times these wood barrels might not be fit right. In the initial "1st Generation" models (start with an "LB" in the model number), the wood barrels were made by Backun in Canada and the composite bodies made by Leblanc in the USA. However, in the newer "2nd Generation" models (start with just an "L" in the model number - i.e. L310 rather than older LB310), the barrels, bodies & bells are all made by Leblanc in the same facility. So far, I have seen a better "out of the box" fit of the joint parts whereas on the Gen1 models, we sometimes had to ream a barrel to ensure it was not too tight before selling it to a customer.

    I think this might have attributed to some of the reported issues.

    Personally, I think the Bliss clarinets are the best in their price range, period. They play VERY well, easily and offer great performance. And as I said, we have had relatively few issues on a VERY large cross-section of these instruments.
     
  10. sushidushi

    sushidushi

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    Thought I might resurrect this thread. I have been thinking of buying a clarinet, just for my own gratification. I have no plans to perform, or anything like that.

    I have a saxophone, but have never played the clarinet for more than a few minutes. I don't want to spend too much, and wouldn't get clearance from my 'Treasurer' for an expensive horn. I looked at a few clarinets in my local music shop the other day and, just from the feel of the keys, pretty much narrowed it down to two - the Leblanc Bliss LB310 (the composite one with a wooden barrel) and the Yamaha YCL-255. Both were just under 600 Canadian dollars. I asked for the stock mouthpieces for each horn. To my inexperienced ear and embouchure, the Bliss was the very clear winner - the sound was rich and full but mellow, whereas the Yamaha seemed rather shrill and somehow lacking. The Bliss also just felt good.

    My instinct tells me to get the Bliss before it's sold - I think it's the only one they have and they wouldn't be getting any more, as it has been discontinued. The job of those brave souls who have read this far is to confirm that I should go with my gut feeling, or to explain why I ought to reconsider.

    I know different horns suit different people, of course, but that doesn't seem to deter people from offering their thoughts.

    Many thanks.

    Simon
     
  11. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Did you switch mouthpieces between the 2?

    Same reed on both?

    Did you have a real clarinet player play them for you to listen?

    Have you searched craigslist or other online resources for used equipment - must your clarinet be purchased new?
     
  12. sushidushi

    sushidushi

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    ��No, I didn't switch the mouthpieces. I just used the 4C with the Yamaha and the hard rubber Leblanc thing that was in the case for the Bliss. I ought to have swapped them, and I might well pop in again and do just that.
    I went toto the shop (one of a Canadian chain called Long and McQuade) with my son, who is thirteen and played for about a year until recently. By played, I mean he had a weekly lesson and was only rarely cajoled into playing at home to practise! But he's better tha II am. He preferred the Bliss, both to play and to listen to.
    I'm not absolutely set on buying a new horn. I have looked at eBay and other online places, but there is little available in Canada. My main concern with that is that I don't know enough to take the risk. Many ads on eBay say that the clarinet is in excellent condition, with new pads and so on, but it isn't possible to play test them, unless the seller happens too live very close. I might have been tempted by a secondhand Yamaha 250 or 26ii, which seem to bee local sellers' favourites, but I'm not so sure now after a quick blow on thethe new Yamaha student horn.
     
  13. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Hi, Simon. You might want to take a peek in the Beginner's Area. We've got some good info in there.

    First, and in all seriousness, it's very good that you know enough to know that you don't know enough about clarinets. (Something like that.) My suggestion for you is to get a clarinet teacher -- and your teacher should be someone that plays clarinet as his main instrument -- and have him check out whatever horn. Using this thread as an example, the Leblanc Bliss and the Yamaha 250/26 are both decent student horns. Based solely on the feature set, a composite Bliss with a Bakun barrel is probably worth more in the long run. Better? That's a question of taste. I happen to really like Yamaha instruments because they're consistently high quality, even their student models. I've not played a Bliss, but it's got a really nice feature set.

    I have serious issues with buying any used instrument for any beginner unless you can have your teacher play the horn OR if you can get a money-back guarantee that says you can ship it back if it's junk. In the link I have above, there are a couple of places listed that do have money-back guarantees on their used horns.

    I don't recall if Dave Kessler, one of the posters in this thread and also a dealer, has a money-back guarantee on his used horns, but I do see that he has warranties on some of his used horns. He's also good to deal with -- and I base this on past posts;I've never bought anything from him. You might want to just give him a call and see if he can get something together for you.

    Back to the mouthpiece, a clarinet mouthpiece makes as much difference to playing the clarinet as a saxophone mouthpiece does on a sax. The Yamaha 4C is actually a decent mouthpiece, but it's really a "starter" mouthpiece. Spend a few more bucks and get a Vandoren B45 or a Selmer C85 and you'd see a big difference.
     
  14. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    I'd be more inclined to take mouthpiece recommendations from your teacher.

    I personally dislike the B45 (Sorry Pete) and have given several away over the years. YMMV

    None of us have any accountability to you. We're just anonymous somethings posting online like we know something.
     
  15. sushidushi

    sushidushi

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    Just a quick thank you for your replies. I had tried posting a more detailed reply on several occasions using my mobile phone, but this forum isn't really designed for mobiles and my laptop is currently unavailable.

    I haven't yet bought a clarinet, but the Bliss is the one that keeps coming to mind and hanging on tight. I don't think I'm likely to outgrow it for a long time - if ever - and it has a ten year guarantee, which is more than I have, so I might well go for that one, if my next test play goes well...

    Thanks again.

    Simon
     
  16. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    Generally the best idea. +1.

    :p Well, I do like my C85 a lot more.

    Well, sorta. "We've got years of experience that keep us from getting hurt."
     
  17. Carl H.

    Carl H. Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    How DARE you take my borderline surly post and give it a calm and well intentioned reply!!!!!! :geezer1:

    (Posting from a phone makes it seem like I'm in a bad mood, when in reality I hate the phone keyboard and only give abbreviated bursts of words til I can't take it anymore...)

    Quando omni flunkus moritati
     
  18. Twist_Of_Fate

    Twist_Of_Fate

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    Dave Kessler stands behind what he sells...period. I was pleased with my purchases from him.

    Both the Bliss 310 and 320, are great instruments. I own the L310 NS with the grenadilla barrel. I did splurge and get a Backun Cocobolo barrel/bell and Ridenour RZ MT-36 MP. he barrel did tune it up across the board. What's sad to say is that (I believe) those composite models have been discontinued, so what's out there is all that will be available. I would recommend the nickle silver keys rather than the black nickle keys. The plating on the black keys does not wear well.
     

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