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 EEb contra altos and Fobes mouthpieces
Author: Low_Reed 
Date:   2005-06-26 21:45

Hi, folks,

Well, here it is summertime, and a middle-aged man's thoughts turn to (return to) (continue to obsess upon) EEb contra alto clarinets. I'll be looking hard for a good used Leblanc 350 paperclip in the fall. Prudence suggests that I play before I pay, so I plan to interview the candidates in person. Trouble is, I have never played any clarinet lower that bass down to Eb. A Yamaha YCL221 BC, with Grabner CXBB mouthpiece, has been my constant companion for the last two years - so I'm very comfortable with that setup.

But I want to have some additional context in which to place the 350 paperclips that I audition. So my plan is to borrow a local school contra alto for the summer, and buy a top-of-the-line mouthpiece for it. Then, I'll be able to take a familiar mouthpiece on my search.

I've settled on the Fobes San Francisco as the piece I want for the 350 paperclip. First, I want to make sure *which model* of Fobes SF to buy. My reading of Web archives suggests, I think, that the San Francisco BBb contra bass mouthpiece works well on the both the Leblanc BBb and EEb paperclips, because they have the same bore.

Can some of you let me know if I'm headed in the right direction here?

Unfortunately, the school horns that (may be) available to me do not include a paperclip. There's a Selmer-Bundy 1440 contra alto, and a straight Leblanc 352 contra alto. Do you think the metal 352 might play the closest to the 350 paperclip? Is it reasonable to use a Fobes San Francisco BBb mouthpiece on the 352? (How about on the Selmer 1440, if it comes to that?)

I really want to own and be already comfortable with the best possible (I know, your results may vary...) mouthpiece before I test drive used 350 paperclips. Am I putting together a pipe dream here?


**Music is the river of the world!**
-- inspired by Tom Waits and a world full of music makers

Reply To Message
 Re: EEb contra altos and Fobes mouthpieces
Author: BassetHorn 
Date:   2005-06-26 23:55

Hi Bruce, your plan to obtain a great mouthpiece before finding the right contra makes sense, as long as you are fully aware that contras are not all created equal, hence one mouthpiece doesn't fit them all.

Your assumption that Leblanc's Bb and Eb contrabass clarinets have the same bore and neck pipe sizes is correct. Therefore, any mouthpiece that fits one Leblanc contra will fit all the other Leblancs, straight body or paperclip.

Fobes SF Bb contra mouthpiece will indeed fit all Leblanc contras, including the 350 and 352.

On the other hand, the Selmer/Bundy 1440 has a smaller bore and neck pipe size and does require a different size (smaller) of mouthpiece. I believe Clark also makes one for this horn (his SF Eb contra mouthpiece). Best check with him though.

Having never played a 350, I cannot comment. But I play a 352 and 340 and my impression of Leblanc contras is that they are great ensemble instruments due to their rich powerful sound; they offer strong bass supports in concert bands or large clarinet choirs. If this is what you are using it for, either 350 and 352 will be valuable. I assume 350 will have similar sound characteristics as the 352.

But I find the Selmer/Bundy contras have a softer sweeter sound that make them more suitable for chamber groups or small clarinet choirs. The Selmer 1440 has a singing quality that is very pleasing to hear.

Have fun!

Reply To Message
 Re: EEb contra altos and Fobes mouthpieces
Author: diz 
Date:   2005-06-27 00:52

A singing quality that is ver pleasing to hear? Kind of like those wonderful low basso profundo Russian men?

Without music, the world would be grey, very grey.

Reply To Message
 Re: EEb contra altos and Fobes mouthpieces
Author: mnorswor 
Date:   2005-06-27 04:07

Just call Clark and ask him!! He's very personable and GREAT to talk to. He's a sponsor of this site I believe so look him up!


Reply To Message
 Re: EEb contra altos and Fobes mouthpieces
Author: Veldeb 
Date:   2005-06-27 18:17

Not only is Clark very friendly and welcomes talking with his customers, but his first love is lower clarinets and I'm sure would be happy to help you, make suggestions etc. I have an Eb, Bb and Alto mouthpiece from him and Eb and Bb barrels. I tried several before I settled on the final one. Blake

Reply To Message
 Re: EEb contra altos and Fobes mouthpieces
Author: BassetHorn 
Date:   2005-06-27 18:27

Hi Diz, the Selmer/Bundy Eb contrabass has a wonderful clarion register that is very easy to play, no stuffiness at all. It makes going up there a pleasure.

On the other hand, it takes more effort to do the same with Leblanc 352; it has more stuffiness and tendency to squawk up there. The sound is more edgy and penetrating to hear than the Selmer/Bundy, whose sound is really soft and sweet.

Sorry, hate to be using those adjectives due to lack of technical knowledge : )

Post Edited (2005-06-27 18:28)

Reply To Message
 Re: EEb contra altos and Fobes mouthpieces
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2005-06-27 21:17

The Selmer (and I assume Fobes) Eb and BBb mouthpieces have the same outside diameter and take the same reeds.

However, they do NOT have the same tenon diameter or bore, and one mouthpiece will not fit the other instrument. You'll need separate Eb and BBb mouthpieces.

The metal Leblanc straight and paperclip Eb instruments are identical in construction and playing qualities. The only difference is that the straight model goes down to Eb (or E on the early models) and the paperclip goes down to C (or maybe D on the early models). It has a "contra" character -- thick, round and relatively slow in response.

The Bundy (and Linton, which is a stencil) is modeled on the Selmer Paris rosewood instrument and plays like a big bass clarinet. Compared with the Leblanc, the response is quicker, the high regiser is easier, and the tone is lighter. The Vito is similar.

Each can be played "in the direction of" the other. It's a matter of personal preference and which instrument is available.

Ken Shaw

Reply To Message
 Re: EEb contra altos and Fobes mouthpieces
Author: LeeB 
Date:   2005-06-28 00:52

I just recently acquired a Selmer 1440 off that auction site, and I'm really happy to hear the nice comments about it. I'm looking forward to playing it, but the people I've consulted with tell me that the Selmer D* mouthpiece is the one to get for that instrument (it supposedly really opens up the sound). Unfortunately, Selmer won't have any D*'s to deliver until the middle of August.

BTW, for the original poster, if you're planning to buy a used instrument (especially on auction), now is probably the time to do it. I've heard that the prices rise towards the beginning of the new school year.

Reply To Message
 Re: EEb contra altos and Fobes mouthpieces
Author: Neil 
Date:   2005-06-28 22:49


Is your technique a little on the wild side?
Do you have an ensemble named the Velvet Undertone?
Do you call your instrument Sweet Jane?

just curious,

Reply To Message
 Re: EEb contra altos and Fobes mouthpieces
Author: Low_Reed 
Date:   2005-06-29 03:32

Thanks, everybody, for your information and recommendations. I will pursue the mouthpiece question further with Clark Fobes directly. (And get back to the group with any new perspectives.)

A special thanks to Neil, for catching my moniker and riffing delightfully on it. Your suggestions Transformed my pretty darn good day into a damn near Perfect Day. I especially like the sound of Low_Reed and the Velvet Undertones.

Speaking of sound, my one-man bass clarinet ensemble is called Deep Burble, for a) its onomatopoetic resemblance to a Harley or a muscle car at idle, and b) the song and the band with similar names, which begin to describe my repertoire...

Hallelujah! First we take Manhattan...

**Music is the river of the world!**
-- inspired by Tom Waits and a world full of music makers

Reply To Message
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