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Paperclip Leblanc Contrabass Clarinet low D


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
The complex design of the Eppelsheim is what makes it so great. It uses linkages and other type of mechanics I've never seen on any woodwind. Really making it work very good. It's really something to see to know. I wouldn't call it "overly complex". The advantage of avoiding the very long hinges is very good and the much smaller case is very helpful too.
The more parts, the more things that can break or otherwise malfunction.

I know the Eppie horns -- even the Eppelsheim-designed horns are good, according to anyone that's played them -- but think again of Leblanc: Le Rationnel, Semi-Rationnel and Leblanc System instruments: wonderful horns, but very difficult to repair. Leblanc also had bunches of other "improvements" in keywork design that, when they were in proper adjustment, worked great. Out of adjustment sometimes = unplayable, even if it was a doo-dad that did nothing more than hold a key open. This is also why I found it interesting that the few contra players here that have had the experience of playing a straight horn and "paperclip" say that the paperclip's a better horn.


Old King Log
Staff member
Another vote for...

Well, I've played both, on numerous occasions, and I vote for the paperclip design, hands down. Aside from the portability issues (them straight horns is l-o-n-g, particularly if all you have to haul them around is a standard sedan body car), the shorter rods on the paperclip seem to make for less maladjustment.

Another factor is that the "short" design of the paperclip make for an easier horn to move around on the stage or in the pit - less chance there of a rod on the "lower joint" to get whapped on a chair edge and knocked askew...

The main problem with any of these is that they are all (with the occasional rare exception) institution-owned instruments. Not only are the people that use them not "invested" in the horns and thus not genuinely caring about what happens to them, but they are also (generally speaking) of the younger generation that has more important things to think about instead of how they drop a horn into a case.
The more parts, the more things that can break or otherwise malfunction.
Everything else being equal, yes. But everything else is not necessarily equal at all and the design of a mechanism and the quality of how it's made can make a big difference too i.e. a very simple lousy mechanism might have problems much more easily than a very complex but well designed and built mechanism. I don't have experience with any contra, but judging from how it is built, the Eppelsheim looks like the mechanism is, although incredibly complex, much more solid than a much simpler contra.
well I finally got rid of my extra paperclip. I traded it for a Bb straight metal leblanc.
SOTSDO has made a lot of great arguments for the paperclip and they are all true but the straight model (I feel) works best as an acoustic bass fiddle replacement.
I have several groups that I use the contra with in the role of a bass fiddle.
I use the paperclip for rehearsals but lug the plastic straight one to gigs.
Besides looking more like a bass fiddle my fellow musicians all prefer the sound of the straight contra also.

I just found what appears to be a new plastic CBC from China that comes apart and fits in a reasonable case! It's called VENTO
maybe we should start a new thread on this one?
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Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Hey Pete
We have some good contra discussion going on here.
Can you just move the thread to the contra section and maybe change the title?
I'll try to get to that tomorrow. I've been meaning to split it off for awhile ....