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Leblank Vito Resonite

2685 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  David Spiegelthal
Hello All;

A few years ago I was in a junk shop and saw a Vito Clarinet for $30.00. Never having played clarinet but having $30.00 in my pocket I decided to buy it. It's alway cool to learn new things. I had it worked over by a tech and took some lessons but mostly I just play it by ear for my own enjoyment.

My daughter now wants to join 4th grade band to play clarinet. I really have no idea about whether or not a Vito is a good student clarinet or a piece of junk. I doubt it will sound like a Yamaha in terms of tone but is it considered an easy playing instrument? I'd like for her experience starting band to be a positive one so I don't want her learning on a crummy instument that is unresponsive and difficult to play. I can work up to a better sounding clarinet for her if she really shows interest in this.

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Aside from any other qualities that they may possess, Vito clarinets are an ideal choice for the young female student, since their tone holes are slightly smaller than most other horns of the same general value and quality. One of the main "squeak generators" for young clarinet players is the lack of full coverage of tone holes; the slightest misplacement of slender fingers on the hole can touch off an unpredictable ascent to the higher partials. By having small holes, it's easier for a young child (or a saxophone player not used to having precise fingertip placement) to seal it all up.

Another happy coincidence is that, since they are an economical buy, there are a lot of them available on the aftermarket. Good for someone who wants to try clarinet but is not sure if they will continue. I've bought a Vito for as little as $25.00 US, and it served me well as a "lifeboat" horn until I sold it for the same amount to a sax player wanting to learn but with zero funds to his name.

The Leblanc Corporation was responsible for a lot of "good" in the clarinet world. I've never been a fan of their keywork (which I find awkward), and their older clarinets (pre LL era) did not appeal to me at all. (The modern sopranos are a different matter, although the keywork still feels "wrong".) And, kneecapping a professional level bass clarinet with the patent Ab/Eb "fork" and the horrible no lower joint linkage register key system was just dumb.

However, against that we've got the Vito clarinet for the beginner, excellent intermediate soprano horns in the Normandy and Noblet lines, the metal contra-clarinets, and the responsiveness of the modern professional soprano horns. Until the last twenty years or so, you could custom order your Leblanc pro horn with whatever keywork you desired. They were also the only domestic source for the Ab, which may or may not have been a good thing. And, although I've never seen one, I understand that most of my objections to the old professional bass clarinet have also been corrected.

Of course, now that the industry has reconcentrated itself yet again, we will probably lose much of what Leon and the others have innovated.
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