Need help - 2 Bass clarinets

I have two bass clarinets that I have the opportunity to purchase for a family member as a Christmas gift. Both seem to need a lot of cleaning and service (pads & corks) but both sound like they work. I am trying to identify which is the better choice based the quality, age, and ultimate value after refurb. Then determine how much I should pay.
Option 1 - LeBlanc serial number 3756. Based on my logo research it appears to be from the early 50's. It is wood with heavily tarnished metal.
Option 2 - Normandy ResoTone- serial number ???. If you can tell me where to find it I can provide. It is plastic and the metal appears to be less tarnished.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_2723.JPG
    IMG_2723.JPG
    1.1 MB · Views: 242
  • IMG_2726.JPG
    IMG_2726.JPG
    1.4 MB · Views: 292
  • IMG_2730.JPG
    IMG_2730.JPG
    1.1 MB · Views: 288
  • IMG_2731.JPG
    IMG_2731.JPG
    942.4 KB · Views: 302
  • IMG_2732.JPG
    IMG_2732.JPG
    1.1 MB · Views: 285
  • IMG_2724.JPG
    IMG_2724.JPG
    1 MB · Views: 220
  • IMG_2734.JPG
    IMG_2734.JPG
    1.2 MB · Views: 325
  • IMG_2736.JPG
    IMG_2736.JPG
    991.1 KB · Views: 368
  • IMG_2737.JPG
    IMG_2737.JPG
    991.4 KB · Views: 369
  • IMG_2738.JPG
    IMG_2738.JPG
    1 MB · Views: 268
This is not easy to do over the web. If you could take each to a local repair person they could give you estimates on what each one need. If the wood Leblanc has cracks on it, the repair would be more than the Normandy. The Leblanc could be worth more, but not if it has more issues.

My first bass Clar was a Normandy. With a good mouthpiece it is a fine instrument. I really only changed because I wanted a BC that went down to low C.
 
Thanks I do appreciate the feedback. My challenge is I have taken to 3 different people and the consistent comment is Normandy was a student level and a Leblanc was overall "a better instrument". Aside from that, 3 people and 3 opinions ranging value from $300-$2000 and repairs 500-$1500. I am trying to determine the age of each and nobody could tell me that. I am just getting so many different comments that I was hoping to maybe find some people that agree on one general consensus. I can provide more information or more specific pictures if that would help. Thank you again for your help.
Brian
 
Tell us about the family member:
38 and used to play wants to join community band
11 and thinks BC is cool
19 and pursuing future career on BC

It might make the difference.
 
She is my son’s fiancé. She is 27 years old and played in grade school through college. She attended college on a music scholarship but never owned her own. She loves to play but does not own one. Hopefully this helps.
Brian
 
Given that your total range of cash outlay is between $1,800 and $3,500, you may want to consider buying a new horn rather than trying to resuscitate an older one. For less than $2,500, you could get a Yamaha or Selmer student model. Most reviews of the Yamaha state that it is a fine, well made horn. Not sure about the Selmer. As mentioned in some other threads, the Kessler Custom is also a well regarded horn.
 
I agree with the new being a better value, but I'd look at the Kessler low C model if you really want to do it right.
 
If you can stay below $1000-$1500, either one might satisfy. Like others have said, a Kessler low C instrument is great value. My 2nd BC is a Kessler 1st Gen. My current one is a mint Selmer 37. They are $8000+ but hold their value well.
 
@saxhound , I am curious as to why the you say the cash outlay is 1875-3500? Are you saying that these is worth that much or that it will cost that much to refurb/restore? I am only interested in buying one (whichever I chose) from an in-laws estate, so I don't anticipate spending that much in the condition they are in.
Thank you again for your help.
 
I guess I should have said $800 (300+500) to $3500 (2000+1500). Hard to say what repairs would be without a closer look. As Mojo said, if there are cracks in the wood, that can get expensive rather quickly.
 
ok, so I can not say enough how appreciative I am for your feedback and @saxhound I appreciate the clarification. I want to tell you what I have found out. After 2 days and 350 miles of visiting instrument repair shops that talk good on the phone but when the rubber hit the road, they ran like scared cats when I showed them the instruments, except for one. I even had one person tell me they worthless an I should make a lamp out of the plastic one. All agreed they were very aged and tarnished and all said the Leblanc key had all plating worn off and would never shine again. The Leblanc does not have any visible crack, but does have a could areas that are looks small screw holes that maybe a sheet music holder was. The Normand has a crack at a joint that would need to be repaired and the keys do have the plating worn off. Everything on both seem to be in working order. Then at the end of the day yesterday I found a guy in Winston-Salem NC that again sounded impressive on the phone but it wasn't until I went to visit that I knew I found the right guy. All the metal on the Leblanc is German silver and will clean up very nicely (with a lot of buffing). Also the small holes could easily be repaired and he agreed there are no cracks in wood. He showed me several clarinets he has restored and he indicated they looked similar to this one. He is going to completely disassemble and clean all keys/levers, repair wood, install new pads, adjust play in lever/keys, and he said that he would reoil the wood to bring it back to life. If it looks anywhere near the other pieces he had, it will be a beautiful restored vintage Leblanc instrument from the late 40's early 50's. That was his estimation. All in (after purchase & repairs) not including time and gas, I will have about $1000 in it. I THINK, and your input would be appreciated, it will be something that if taken care of will last for years to come and hold it's value if not appreciate. Thoughts? Thanks again everyone!
 
That is a great deal, and it's good that you found a tech that sounds like he knows what to do. I paid $900 for a rubber (plastic) Artley BC about 9 years ago. It's an OK horn, but definitely not a pro model.

Another critical element will be the mouthpiece. I struggled for years with two different mouthpieces (a Yamaha 4C and a Garrett). After playing a friend's Clark Fobes piece the light went on. I didn't buy the San Francisco model, but found that the Nova was perfect for me. YMMV.
 
All in (after purchase & repairs) not including time and gas, I will have about $1000 in it. I THINK, and your input would be appreciated, it will be something that if taken care of will last for years to come and hold it's value if not appreciate. Thoughts? Thanks again everyone!
If you're getting a restored bass clarinet for $1000 total (i.e. the total of the purchase price PLUS restoration price), that is a beyond excellent deal. Make sure you get that in writing. I'm totally serious on that.

I'll be blunt: unless you have some especially odd woodwind, the instrument will not appreciate in value. Period. Full stop. It just won't. Please do not buy any woodwind in hopes that it'll be worth even twice as much in 50 years -- and make sure to adjust for inflation. Just buy the best quality instrument available that satisfies the specific need.
 
Except a wood pro clarinet might increase in value. Here is some data.

 
Thank you again for your input everyone. I am not sure what you mean I need to get it in writing and from whom. This is simply an inner family estate sale of the horn to me and I am having it restored by The Vintage Clarinet Doctor. Anyway, is there any way to tell what model Leblanc bass clarinet this is? Based on logo it appears to be an early 50's wooden instrument, but I can not find what Models were made at that time and how to tell the difference. L60 or 400 maybe?? IDK I am just fishing. Thanks
 
Except a wood pro clarinet might increase in value. Here is some data.

I've got a fall/winter 2006/2007 catalog from WWBW. Price for a Buffet BC1193 is $14320 list, WWBW price is $8592. That's $18,250.26 / $10,950.16, adjusted for inflation. A brand new one a WWBW, today, is $12,956. A used one was recently sold on ebay for $7299 (also a Quinn horn). Here's another 1-year-old horn from Quinn at just under $9000. So, a loss. I will give you mad credit, though, Mojo: the two Selmer models before the current one seem to be holding their value quite well and/or have appreciated slightly.

I know of the person that wrote that blog. He's got a doctorate in playing, a well-traveled YouTube channel, he's the former principal bass clarinetist in the NJ Orchestra, and he's a college or university professor. That might have influenced the prices he sold and/or bought a bit.

Anyhow, I was more referring to vintage instruments, as OP's is "vintage" and because that's my thing. I'll just do one example, because I have the page open. Most expensive bass clarinet from Selmer in 1922 was $245. Adjusting for inflation, that's
$3,739.82. Oddly, someone IS selling one, but I don't think anybody here would say that the horn, fully restored, is worth almost $4K. I could be wrong.

===========

Bdevious, I did a bit of spelunking, and the answer I come to is early-to-mid 1950s, but, because of the logo, not later than 1957. See this.

Additionally, "400" isn't really a "model." It's a set of features:

300: Small bore, non-pro, low Eb
400: Plain low Eb pro
415: Low Eb instrument with forked RH Eb/Ab mechanism
417: Low C
425: Double-automatic register key low Eb (two bridge linkages across the upper and lower joint)
430: Double-automatic register key low C (two bridge linkages across the upper and lower joint)

... Kinda like how you can get a Mustang, Mustang GT, Mustang Cobra, Mustang Shelby, etc. The best example of an instrument manufacturer doing this is probably Yamaha.

Note that a LOT of manufacturers didn't use model names or numbers. It's very possible that the model is, "Leblanc bass clarinet from early to mid 1950s, but not later than 1957."
 
@pete, Thank you very much for your research and opine on my instrument. I had also found the post WRT the logo that helped me date this to the early 50's. If the 300, 400, etc.. are features, what is an L60? I also see that listed frequently. Is that also a set of features or just another generic term? So based on the collection of information I have gathered from this thread, I have come to the following conclusions, feel free to make any corrections:
1. This LeBlanc instrument for ~$1000 all in fully restored is a very good deal.
2. It is likely worth maybe $1500 or so to the right person, however, @Gandalfe showed a link possibly showing them worth 2X that in a retail store. So maybe somewhere in-between. Again, to the right buyer
3. I am still not sure this will/will not appreciate, but unlike a new instrument, it is not going to depreciate if maintained and cared for. To hijack @pete analogy, if I had a 69 Shelby that was kept in a barn with rotted interior, worn paint, and dead battery but it would start, and I got it for $25K then put $25K in to it $50K all in), I may have $75K car, and it may or may not appreciate but will not depreciate. I am thinking of it like this, as with anything vintage it is only worth what someone is willing to pay. But, being a very nice restored vintage horn from LeBlanc France, inherently carries some weighted value.

At the end of the day it will make a very nice Christmas gift for my son's fiancé who loves the Bass Clarinet and plays very well (state awards, scholarships, etc..) but has never been able to afford to buy and own her own instrument. Thank you again everyone, you have helped me immensely make some decisions and choices this past weekend. BTW - Has anyone heard of the Vintage Clarinet Doctor, Jeremy Soule? He is the person dong the restoration.
Thanks
 
To hijack @pete analogy, if I had a 69 Shelby that was kept in a barn with rotted interior, worn paint, and dead battery but it would start, and I got it for $25K then put $25K in to it $50K all in), I may have $75K car, and it may or may not appreciate but will not depreciate.
I decided to carry that analogy further. A base 1965 Mustang was $2,368. With inflation, that's $19,566. They're now worth between $15,000 and $29,000, and it looks like the average is around $23K. Look like your 1969 Shelby starts at $89,000 on the same website. Original list was around $5000 (I just Googled "1969 shelby original price"). That's $35,460 in today's money.

I've owned two Mustangs: a 1984 with a 4cyl (always amusing opening the hood and seeing about a foot of blank space that the V8 would have taken up) and a 2007 (IIRC) convertible V6. That was a fun car.

==========

Assuming that we're talking about the guy in North Carolina, his website is https://www.thevintageclarinetdoctor.com. He has a really interesting looking Couesnon clarinet on his main page. I don't know exactly how he got that effect, but I kinda like it.

cou-after_1_orig.jpg

I don't know if he's a member, but you can try to look him up on https://napbirt.org. You could also try the NC BBB (yes, I know you have to pay to be a member of the BBB). He also might be on Yelp or an equivalent. Hey, I haven't had a clarinet repaired in almost 30 years.
 
I decided to carry that analogy further. A base 1965 Mustang was $2,368. With inflation, that's $19,566. They're now worth between $15,000 and $29,000, and it looks like the average is around $23K. Look like your 1969 Shelby starts at $89,000 on the same website. Original list was around $5000 (I just Googled "1969 shelby original price"). That's $35,460 in today's money.

I've owned two Mustangs: a 1984 with a 4cyl (always amusing opening the hood and seeing about a foot of blank space that the V8 would have taken up) and a 2007 (IIRC) convertible V6. That was a fun car.

==========

Assuming that we're talking about the guy in North Carolina, his website is https://www.thevintageclarinetdoctor.com. He has a really interesting looking Couesnon clarinet on his main page. I don't know exactly how he got that effect, but I kinda like it.

View attachment 9975

I don't know if he's a member, but you can try to look him up on https://napbirt.org. You could also try the NC BBB (yes, I know you have to pay to be a member of the BBB). He also might be on Yelp or an equivalent. Hey, I haven't had a clarinet repaired in almost 30 years.


Ha, the $75K was a guesstimate for purposes of the example, not too far off! I had 2006 GT that I reluctantly sold to my son then he sold it to get a truck. I loved that car.
 
Back
Top Bottom