So back over a year ago, Leblanc (division of Conn-Selmer) teased the music world with prototypes of their newest upcoming clarinet models, the “Bliss” models designed by Morrie Backun. These prototypes were fantastic playing instruments, though not finalized product.
Well, the wait (and it has been too long if you ask me) is finally over. Leblanc has finally started to ship their newest clarinets and the clarinet market is in for a surprise! These clarinets are going to take over as the dominant instrument based on their playability.
LB320: Composite Body & Barrel
LB310: Composite Body with Wood Barrel
LB210: Wood Body & Barrel
The “composite” used is NOT an ABS plastic but rather a “new proprietary material with better acoustic profiling and strength”. In fact, Leblanc is so confident about the strength of the material that they have doubled the warranty from 5 years to a 10 year warranty.
There are many features of this clarinet that are unique to the Leblanc/Backun family of clarinets. Items such as a reinforced low E bar, multiple adjustment screws and the “voicing groove” inside the bell make the Bliss models the most advanced and technically impressive clarinet in their price range.
This is personally one of my favorite design features on the Bliss models. Prior to these models release, the voicing groove was a feature that could only be found on Backun’s bells ($600+) and the Leblanc Symphonie model clarinet ($3300+).
Basically, this groove creates a small back pressure at the exiting of the body limiting the amount of air that can exit the bell of the clarinet. This gives the air column in the body a higher rate of compression to the air column forcing more air out of the open tone holes thus giving the player a better tone and response, especially across the break of the clarinet.
This Voicing Groove is on all 3 models of the Bliss (the photo is from the all wood LB210 model).
Improved Tone Hole Feel
The Bliss is also undercutting AND overcutting tonehole chimneys. The overcutting improves the feel of the clarinet making it easier for the fingers to “find” the hole. Honestly, when I read about this feature, I said “so what”. Now that we have actually had it in our hands, wow, it makes it feel quite nice.
This was one of the more impressive things that we noticed. The keys on the Bliss are just incredibly strong! Leblanc says that this is due to a high chrome content in the nickel-silver alloy. Whatever it is, these are the strongest keys we have ever seen on a modern clarinet.
Cool Black Keys
OK, so this one is just cosmetic and to be honest, the original prototypes that I saw for the black nickel plated keys looked terrible. Well, they have come a LONG way. The standard key finish on all Bliss models will be the black nickel plated keys. Think of it as a black chrome. They look great and Leblanc is giving a 10 year warranty on the key plating.
Silver plated or Nickel plated keys are available on special order. However, stick with the black nickel, it looks GREAT!!!
There are a lot of other things that I could go on and on about with these clarinets, but in the end the only thing that matters is how they play. The only way for you to know is to play one. But if this is any indication for you, the Bliss and Backun clarinets are the entire reason why we are no longer buying from Buffet. Yeah, that’s not a typo. These are really THAT good. (update for late 2009 – due to certain market influences, we have started handling Buffet again in certain select models. We still recommend the Bliss to most customers).
I really recommend to most people the middle Bliss model, the LB310 (composite body with wood barrel). That wood barrel makes a noticeable improvement to the tone of the clarinet really bringing it 95% of the way to the tone of the all wood model.
Especially for students, doubler’s or as a backup to an all wood clarinet, the LB310 is the best value of the line.
To see more pictures of ALL the Bliss models, visit our company website here: http://kesslermusic.com/SelmerLeblanc/backun/bliss.htm
If you have any questions, I personally answer most of the phone calls that come in over our Toll Free number.