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 A/Bb conversion?
Author: Nick Angiolillo 
Date:   2003-04-01 22:16

Today I was wondering if it were possible to convert between A and Bb clarinets using the same joints except a longer or shorter barrel.

It seems like such a simple solution, that it can't possibly work!

Can someone tell me why converting between the Bb and A instrument isn't something as simple as making the instrument longer?

EDIT: Sorry about the double post! I don't know how it happened. Is there a way to delete one of them?

Post Edited (2003-04-01 23:17)

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 Re: A/Bb conversion?
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2003-04-01 22:39

Well, Nick, as far as I know, it doesn't work. The reason, I understand, is because the distance between tone holes differs between the two, as well as (maybe?) bore size.

What many old-timers from less-affluent countries did was to play one clarinet, a Full Boehm (in Bb with a range to written low Eb). This was more common in Italy, I'm led to believe. That way they'd have the full range of an A clarinet but not the added expense of an additional horn.

These clarinets show up occasionally and I managed to get a used one from WW&BW last summer. Mine's a Selmer Series 10 from 1975 or so. They're mostly used now in Bulgarian wedding music.


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 Re: A/Bb conversion?
Author: Mark Charette 
Date:   2003-04-01 22:43

In fact, a long time back, there was something called a "corps de rechange" for clarinets to change keys. It replaced the upper joint with one of a different length (the upper hole spacing is more critial for intonation than the lower joints). Flutes still have these "corps de rechange".

The tuning using these "corps de rechange" is not very good since there have to be even more compromises. The tone hole spacing for two scales, even one only a half step apart, are different enough to require a different sized bore/tonehole spacing ratio to be reasonably correct.

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 Re: A/Bb conversion?
Author: diz 
Date:   2003-04-01 23:15

Fascinating - Mark, as always - you're a deep abyss of use(less/full) information.

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 Re: A/Bb conversion?
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2003-04-01 23:46

Forgot about those, Mark, since they are so far back and my undergrad clarinet teacher would never let us play on his massive collection of repros and original old horns!

Thanks for the additional info, Mark!


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