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Clarinets Anyone played Bass Clarint ?

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The Bass clarinet has been an itch for a while but rarely see them come up for sale (yeah, spotted the Bundy one on Fleabay from a sax player by the looks of the sellers name) and wondered if anyone here played or has played this elusive horn ..
 

Colin the Bear

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I have the same itch lol

The broken ones on ebay look interesting. I suppose with the very old ones we have to beware of the dreaded high pitch. I suppose I've been listening to the mood music on too many of the reruns of "The Saint". I'd love to turn up for a sit in at the local jazz night with one. The locals seem impressed with the baritone so an alto clarinet would amaze them. I'd have to tell them it was a wooden saxophone lol.
 

aldevis

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I play it (and have one).
I have a plastic Vito that is good enough for the odd big band part but not too much fun.
A bari player in one big band loves her JP, but again she only uses it for the odd doubling.
One of the issues is the double register key, that sadly exists only on expensive horns.
In jazz it is supposed to go to low Eb, in classical low C. Sometimes old good wooden instruments to low E can be found cheap and they are fun to play anyway.
 

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something old playabale and cheap sounds like a good start to me , I didn`t realise you could get plastic ones .. I`ve seen Alto clarinets mentioned but they look like basses to me , given that the standard Bb clarinet goes pretty low (lower than a Soprano sax) does the Alto cover a simlar range to a tenor Sax minus the very lows ? .

I can imagine turning up with one passing it off as an 18th century predecessor to the Sax - LOL
 

Plod

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My Daughter used to double clarinet & Contrabass Clarinet, To play sitting down she had to sit on five stacked chairs to reach the mouthpiece, Great sound though.
 

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Contrabass .. Whoah , I bet you don`t see many of those arond .. the Sub-contrabass Sax was weird enough
 

jbtsax

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I have played and taught bass clarinet. It is a fun instrument to play. I always had one or two really smart clarinet students who just couldn't get the really "tight" soprano clarinet embouchure. I would put them on bass clarinet where their "Toulouse" embouchure was perfect.

In bass clarinet tone production, it does not work well unless you keep the downward angle of the mouthpiece similar to the soprano clarinet. Some sax players try to play with the mouthpiece straight into the mouth like a saxophone I guess because the instrument is vertical like a sax. The interesting thing about the bass clarinet is that it plays its low register easily even though there are lots of leaks in the pads. It is the upper register that refuses to speak when there are leaks---just the opposite of the conical shaped saxophone.
 

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Thanks JBT, it`s oddball stuff like this which draws me to things like the bass and the lovely sound it makes of course..

I`ve been listening to contrabass clarinet on YT since my last post and it`s a step too far, sounds like a tuned digeridoo , the Sub-Contra sax is down to clicks and whale noises . I`m sure someone has found a valid use for these instruments but after hearing the YT demos, they seem to have been made "Just to see if they could"
 

kevgermany

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Adolphe Sax sorted the Bass clarinet, and it's a good player. The alto seems to have issues (was not sorted by Adolphe) according to posts I've read on other forums. I like the sound of the bass clarinet, but there seems to be a tendancy for them to be played by 'pseuds' with goatee beards.

However I've never blown a clarinet, fwiw.
 

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Well If I get one, it`ll be played by the traditional bald head, dark glasses black suit rock'n'blues Sax player as far from a goatee as you can get ;-) ......

I was attempting to play along with Acker Bilk on the Clarinet earlier on though ..... a long term slow train to learning the instrument - I may be as good as your average 6yr old by the time I draw my pension :))) . I`ve never given up though.. My biggest issue is playing with the "not an octave lever" pressed as I unseal the thumb hole and it`s back to squeak city - in fact the clarinet is Squeak city a lot of the time anyway but I love the instrument's sound (though preferably when I`m not the one playing it) .
 

Chilli

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I had a chance to buy an "old good wooden [bass clarinet] to low E" at a good price about a year ago. Haven't found any use to it yet (haven't told my bandleader I had one) and haven't mastered all the numerous tricky fingerings but I must say it's a rather fun instrument. The low notes are pretty "easy" to get right and that's rather gratifying.
I play it once every six months (next session scheduled next month) but have no trouble playing the one tune I decide to play... I mainly play bari so the range is pretty much the same, especially since I don't go that far up on clarinet. I can only guess that with a bit of practicing, I could become rather efficient with it. The embouchure is completely different, as said above, and I find myself spitting all over the place through the corner of my mouth. Wonder if a slightly more open mouthpiece would do any good in that regard.
As fo the fingerings and register key, I tend to think in Eb in the low register and Bb in clarion (or maybe the opposite?)
All in all, I'm pretty happy to have one, even though it doesn't see the light very often. I really should spent some time in the shed with it, it's probably worth it.
 

altissimo

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alto_clarinet
"The range of the alto clarinet is from the concert G or G♭ in the second octave below middle C (i.e. bottom line of the bass clef) to the middle of the second octave above middle C, with the exact upper end of the range depending on the skill of the player"
Alto clarinets are pretty much obsolete, except for military band use and have been superseded by the basset horn -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basset_horn which is written in F rather than Eb, but has a few extra low notes that the alto clarinet doesn't have.
How on earth marching band musicians make themselves heard on the alto clarinet, I've no idea. Mine is quite quiet, with a mellow sweet tone, a sod to play, but excellent for improving the embouchure.
For anyone intent on getting into low clarinets, try one or two out before you buy - they're not easy..
I don't know what those Gear4music alto and bass clarinets are like, £700 ish is a bit much for my budget. I quite fancy one of their £99 Eb clarinets though..
A decent mouthpiece helps a lot. Vandoren are no longer as cheap as they were when I got one for my alto, but it made life a lot easier. Charles Bay makes great mouthpieces, but I don't want to look at the price.
I use alto sax reeds on the alto clarinet, they're easier to play, although purists would tell me they ruin your tone...
I got my 1949 Leblanc alto clarinet from this gentleman - http://www.lynsgarden.co.uk/Rosecroft/Clarinets.html
he no longer restores and sells instruments, but his website has some useful info
 

aldevis

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I`m sure someone has found a valid use for these instruments but after hearing the YT demos, they seem to have been made "Just to see if they could"

Spot on.
http://www.clarinetperfection.com/clsnLeblancInfo.htm
check the part about Houvenaghel

I am planning to try a subcontra saxophone they have at sax.co.uk
Kind of £21k. You need a lot of gigs on the subcontra to cover its cost.
 

kevgermany

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I am planning to try a subcontra saxophone they have at sax.co.uk
Kind of £21k. You need a lot of gigs on the subcontra to cover its cost.

And the truck to transport it...
 

Tenor Viol

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Adolphe Sax sorted the Bass clarinet, and it's a good player. The alto seems to have issues (was not sorted by Adolphe) according to posts I've read on other forums. I like the sound of the bass clarinet, but there seems to be a tendancy for them to be played by 'pseuds' with goatee beards.

However I've never blown a clarinet, fwiw.

There's a prominent little bass clarinet and contrabassoon 'riff' with teh double basses at the end of the initial section of the first movement of Mahler symphony #6, which was always a good test of a hi-fi in vinyl days. Try this at about 1m55s in.

And I don't even wear a black polo necked shirt....
 

Jules

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I got a 1960s Kolhert (Eb) from David Speilgelthal of Sax on the Web... he's a bit of a guru for the things. I love mine- equipped it with a Vandoren B45 (wide-ish, to get a feel a bit closer to my tenor). Thoroughly enjoyable piece of kit, make a great sound...
 

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That`s the kind of thing I`ll look out for Jules, I use a B45 on Bb "standard" clarinet as I find the 5RV and other narrow gap pieces are limiting and choke up (and yet still squeak) .
 

aldevis

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equipped it with a Vandoren B45

That`s the kind of thing I`ll look out for Jules, I use a B45 on Bb "standard" clarinet as I find the 5RV and other narrow gap pieces are limiting and choke up (and yet still squeak) .

Whoever guesses what make mouthpiece I use on Bcl, wins a used tenor sax reed of mine (shipping and handling paid by the winner).

edit: I forgot to add that I use tenor sax reeds on the Bcl.
 

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