For years, I’ve said that students shouldn’t get a vintage horn. There’s just too much that can go wrong with vintage. However, when you’re ready to graduate to a better instrument, you’ll see that the cheapest horn on the market marketed as “pro” is a Taiwanese-made Cannonball for around $1500 and “intermediate” horns aren’t much cheaper. I was pretty sure I could take $1000 or so and get a really good vintage pro horn, throw $400 at it to get it close to good mechanical shape and end up with a horn any pro would love to have. The below horns are the results of my experiment.
The Leblanc family of pro saxophones, from the Le Rationnel to the Leblanc System. I’m also testing some new gallery software, so enjoy the show!
G. Leblanc Le Rationnel, Semi-Rationnel and Leblanc System Saxophones
I initially saw a small picture of this specific horn on <a href="http://sax.nl" target="_blank">www.sax.nl</a>. Years later, I found out someone had bought it and posted some great pics.[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_leblanc-semi-rationnel_srb_prototype.jpg]4500Leblanc Semi-Rationnel (SRB) Eb Alto Prototype, s/n 34 (1939). Click here for the full gallery.
A few years back, Leblanc decided to sell their private collection. This horn was part of that collection and was shown at a World's Fair/Exhibition in 1939.[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_leblanc-semi-rationnel_srb.jpg]4190Leblanc Semi-Rationnel (SRB) Eb Alto, s/n 9 (1931). Click here for the full gallery.
If you've gotten this far in this slide show, you've noticed that a) Leblanc serial numbers are moderately confusing and b) some prototypes came after the production models. In the former case, I believe Leblanc used a series of serial numbers for each model. In the latter case, their SRB prototype and Leblanc System prototype were probably put out there for the public to make a choice as to which was better.[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_leblancsystemprototype.jpg]4320Leblanc System Eb Alto Prototype, s/n ? (1939). Click here for the full gallery.
The Leblanc System horns -- generally incorrectly identified as "Rationale" or "Semi-Rationale" horns -- were the most enduring horns made by Leblanc. They were probably introduced right after WWII and I remember seeing advertisements for them up until the 1980s.[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_leblanc_system.jpg]4590Leblanc System Bb Tenor, s/n 542 (ca. 1950). Click here for the full gallery.
The mechanics on the Leblanc System saxophones were so complex that Leblanc had a specific repair manual for them. Some models had additional keywork, just to add to the fun.[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_vito-leblanc-system-model-35.jpg]4460Vito Leblanc System Model 35 Eb Alto, s/n ? (ca. 1970). Click here for the full gallery.
A lot of folks don't realize that Vitos stamped "Made in France" were actually just the full professional model made for a different market and not a student model. That "Made in France" stamp makes a big difference.[img src=http://www.thesax.info/photoblog/wp-content/flagallery/leblanc/thumbs/thumbs_vito-leblanc-system-model-135-johnny-hodges.jpg]3830Vito Leblanc System Model 135 "Johnny Hodges" Eb Alto, s/n 2551A (ca. 1967). Click here for the full gallery.
This is one of the few Vitos I've seen in person. The engraving really is that pretty. This is the least common: it was made for all of three years and Leblanc probably made only about 2500 Leblanc System horns total. Johnny Hodges really did play this model.
PC/Mac Navigation Help:
Click the “FS” button for BIG images (heartily recommended).
Click the “SL” link for an automatic slide show.
Click the “Info” button for info on the pic, a link to the full gallery and my witty banter.
Click the left/right arrows or thumbnails to navigate through the pics.
Click the “thumbs up” button if you liked the pic or my commentary — or both :).
Apple iDevice: click on the “Leblanc Saxophones” title, then click on a pic.
You might have to do it a couple times.