Buying a clarinet can be a daunting task because the instrument tends to be expensive and it can be difficult to know what the best option is. There are a few brands that will consistently come up in the best brands though, with Leblanc and Selmer being among them.
When purchasing a clarinet, it is important to know which options are the best and are within your budget. But knowing specific models to look for can be tricky without getting prior advice. Both Leblanc and Selmer make excellent quality clarinets, but the specific choice you make depends mainly on your skill – both companies make their clarinets to fit different skill levels.
This is why we decided to write this review on both, as we wanted to make a comparison between them to see which fits your overall requirements better as a player. We will use the most popular models from each manufacturer to stand in as examples of what the manufacturer can do and give you a starting point to choose the clarinet you want.
What are the differences between Leblanc and Selmer clarinets?
|Clarinet brand||Leblanc (Leblanc Vito V7214WC Student model)||Selmer (Selmer USA 1400B Student Bb Clarinet)|
|Dimensions (in inches)||16 x 9 x 5 inches||14 x 12 x 6 inches|
|Instrument key||B flat||B Flat, A|
|Materials||ABS Resin, Granadilla wood||Granadilla wood, Plastic, ABS Resin|
|Availability||Check price||Check price|
Leblanc vs. Selmer clarinets – How do they compare?
Selmer clarinets are mainly made from plastic or ABS resin, so this means they are mostly marketed to students and beginners. The materials are durable and lightweight, but they are still high-quality instruments as the screws and springs are comprised of stainless steel, while the keys are made from silver and coated with nickel for durability.
Leblanc clarinets, on the other hand, tend to be marketed towards intermediate and professional players, even though some of their models are not considered fully professional types. They are usually made from ABS Resin or wood, which also makes them more expensive. Therefore, if you plan to get any Leblanc clarinet, you need to ensure that you or the player you are purchasing it for is serious about the instrument and passionate about playing it both in and outside a classroom.
The winner is Leblanc because of its higher quality material that allows it to accommodate a player’s needs for a longer time as they progress in their playing abilities.
When it comes to a Selmer clarinet, the general trend is their ‘brighter’ sound quality, while the Leblanc clarinets tend to have a ‘darker’ sound. This will largely depend on the reeds and mouthpieces that you use when playing the instrument, however.
Selmer mouthpieces are brighter than most mouthpieces from other clarinet brands, with their most popular mouthpiece being the HS which has a distinct bright sound. By contrast, Leblanc clarinets are famous for their full tones, with many people loving the rounded dark output and the projection abilities they tend to have. This also extends to their student clarinets as well.
Despite the subjectivity in your tone preference, the winner is Leblanc. This is because its deeper and richer tones allow for more flexibility in terms of what you can play, even when you are handling a more difficult musical passage.
Selmer clarinets are fondly referred to as ‘jazz horns’, as their tone holes are undercut into the body. This makes them unique from other clarinets and gives them excellent intonation flexibility, with many Selmer players bending pitches easily in contrast to other clarinet brands.
Leblanc clarinets are slightly different since their tone holes are cut into the body’s surface. As we outlined before, this characteristic leads to their famous dark tone, especially when in combination with their large bores and smooth keywork. They will not offer the same level of flexibility you would get from a Selmer, however.
Although both clarinet brands will have their strengths and weaknesses in terms of tone, we find that Selmer clarinets are best here if you want flexibility in the playing style you choose for the instrument.
Both clarinet brands produce very high-quality items, although Leblanc has changed their focus since its acquisition in 2004. Leblanc now makes clarinets for beginners and students, so their keys are made from nickel, a durable yet sturdy metal that can withstand abuse from younger players. Selmer clarinets use silver in most of their high-end models, which is softer but less durable against abuse but is more suited for a high-skill player.
Clarinets with nickel-plated keys like Leblanc are better options due to their durability and ability to suit wider ranges of skill levels, so that makes it the winner in this case.
Leblanc vs. Selmer clarinets – Are they redundant?
From its inception in 1750 in France to its status today as a subsidiary of Conn-Selmer since 2004, Leblanc is famous as one of the best clarinet makers. Their clarinets have several standout traits ranging from their intonation, consistency, and the rich tones that do not require players to push the keys hard to make them work.
They make clarinets to suit all player abilities while helping players to maintain a solid playing style. They also use a Boehm key system, which makes them easy to play even for older beginners due to the easier fingering arrangement.
- Very consistent build, as they use scientific principles in the building and design of the instrument
- They have excellent intonation
- Great key design that works very well for keeping your hands in a natural position
- Distinct rich and full tone
- Their professional-level models are hard to find, as they do not focus on them anymore
These clarinets are well known for their high-quality sound output, ease of use, and their timeless, elegant looks. When purchasing a Selmer clarinet, it is important to consider the bore size of the specific model you want, because this will determine the sound output and how well it adapts to the songs you play.
The most unique feature of Selmer clarinets is their French key system, which requires you to choose one that you can tune easily to fit the requirements of what you are playing. In terms of the mouthpiece, you will not have many issues because Selmer models have universal adaptability for different mouthpieces despite the materials they consist of.
- The instrument has a unique bright sound
- Very good construction quality that can keep up with player demands
- Offers plenty of flexibility in its tonal qualities
- It has an adjustable thumb rest, allowing for improved playing
- Quite costly compared to most clarinets
Verdict: So, which one is better? Leblanc or Selmer clarinets?
It is a tough battle between these two brands, as they have numerous similarities compared to their differences. After comparing them, however, the Leblanc comes out as the winner due to the trademark quality in its design and construction, its unique rich tone, and the durability it offers thanks to its key design and bore structure.
What material is used to make the pads in Selmer clarinets?
All Selmer clarinet pads are made from leather, which enhances the instrument’s functionality when playing it, as well as improve its pressure-withstanding abilities.
Can I purchase new Leblanc professional clarinets?
Unfortunately, not, as the company stopped making professional options. You can only buy used professional models, such as the Opus II, the Concerto II, and the Sonata.