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 Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2012-04-13 01:30

Ted Ridenour (Tom's son) was kind enough to send me, free of obligation, the latest version of the Ridenour "Lyrique" low-C bass clarinet to try out. In return I promised to give it a thorough review and provide him with my impressions. I thought it was rather daring of the Ridenours to allow me to speak my mind about their new baby with neither censorship nor strings attached, as I am a certified Skeptic Curmudgeon, but clearly these are fearless people, and quite confident in their product. So, here's what I wrote:

Design and construction:
• The instrument is nice and heavy and very solidly built, and the finish and workmanship are excellent in those areas visible to the public eye, though a little bit rough in those hidden areas that only a technician is likely to see.
• Minor design nit: The relationship of the bell key to its operating lever on the lower joint is not quite perfect, so the bell must be rotated about 15 degrees to the left to keep the operating arm from slipping off when low-C is played.
• Matters of preference: I’d prefer the neck angle to be a bit steeper (more vertical) and with maybe a tighter overall S-bend, to get the instrument body closer to the player. I found the instrument trying to move away from me while I was playing, so that I had to use a neck strap even when seated and using the floor peg. Also, the three thumb keys for the low-D, C# and C require a lot of travel, and personally I would accept a greater force requirement on these keys in trade for less travel, but no doubt there are other players who prefer or need a lighter touch and are willing to accept the longer ‘throw’ of the touchpieces in return.
• Regarding the three thumb touchpieces for the lowest notes, they are nicely shaped and rounded, a huge improvement over the original model of 5+(?) years ago, which had standard Chinese-design rectangular touchpieces with painfully sharp edges.
• The alternate (left-hand) low D spatula in not just a nice feature, it is a necessity on this instrument because the arcs of travel and relative positions of the low D and low C# spatulas make it nearly impossible to slide from low D to low C# with the thumb (the thumb has to be lifted completely off the first key to reach the second one). I personally prefer the German-style configuration (also used by Amati) of four ‘thumb buttons’ arranged in a little square for the low Eb, D, C# and C, as any one of those notes can fairly easily and smoothly be gotten to from any other of them – but again this is a matter of taste.

Intonation and tone quality:
• The sound is very good in all registers, though it felt just a little bit thinner and less focused than I’d like. This perception is more in the ear of the player than the audience, though, based on my having recorded the Ridenour back-to-back in a number of musical passages against my personal bass clarinets (using the same reed and mouthpiece); on the recordings the sound of the Ridenour bass is nearly indistinguishable from that of my #1 Boehm-system bass (a 1930s-vintage Kohlert with a homemade low-C extension).
• Only one note on the instrument sounded fuzzy to me, that being the ‘normal’ throat F# played with the l.h. index finger; whereas the alternate fingering using the two lower r.h. side trill keys was clear as a bell. Both fingerings were in tune. The often-problematic ‘pinch’ throat Bb was nice and clear, and spot-on in pitch.
• Intonation: The lower chalumeau and extended-range notes were a bit variable in pitch (details to follow), but from chalumeau F all the way into the altissimo the instrument was dead on with just two minor deviations in the lower clarion. Here are the pitch results I got (averaged over a few trials, and at an overall pitch level of A-440):
Low C: +25 cents
Low C#: -10 cents
Low D: +20 cents
Low Eb: -10 cents
Low E: +10 cents
Low F through throat Bb: +/- 5 cents
‘Long’ clarion B and C: +10 cents
Clarion C# through altissimo high G: +/- 5 cents


Summary:
Keeping in mind that I haven’t played any of the “big-4” bass clarinets (Selmer-Paris, Buffet, Yamaha, Leblanc) in a couple of years, I have to rely on memory as to how they felt and played. Based on my recollection, the new Ridenour bass clarinet is very reminiscent of my favorite Big-4 bass clarinet, the Selmer 67. The Ridenour even resembles the Selmer in key cup design and such, whereas the early Arioso low-C bass (of which I bought one of the very first production units) was really just a hard-rubber knockoff of the Yamaha design – one which I didn’t like that much.

The current bass clarinet is an enormous improvement over the original model. I can’t speak for full-time professional symphony bass clarinets or soloists as I’m neither by any stretch of the imagination, but I would guess that the vast majority of bass clarinetists at any level of proficiency would be very happy with the new Ridenour instrument. If I were not already over-equipped with good bass clarinets, I’d be tempted to whip out my credit card and take one home.



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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2012-04-13 03:12

Hi DS,

I got a chance to play the Low Ridenour bass last week for just a few minutes. I had not problem with playing a full 4 octave range (OK the highest b and c brought dogs to the door). Crossing the break was no real issue; I played pretty much all over the instrument with ease but I play BC pretty regularly.

The voice of this instrument was excellent although I used my regular MP; the person who owns the instrument had a much more vibrant tone with a Grabner MP (I'm not sure what lay) and about a #3 fibercane reed (not sure what brand).

A few years ago, I tried a Ridenour Low Eb instrument and sent it back. Bad ergonomics and no real advantage over the bass I was playing. This new instrument is much better.

HRL

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2012-04-13 04:12


FWIW, I've been very happy with mine with the exception of some adjustment set screws that have been frozen since I got the instrument.

The only thing I can add is that, in comparison with a pro Yamaha model I played along side of the Ridenour, the Ridenour had a more-resonant timbre that was more consistent up the scale than the Yamaha. (Can't remember the model.) Grabner LB mouthpiece with 3.5 reed and the metal Optimum lig.

Worth every penny for a part-time bass cl. player like me who couldn't and wouldn't invest in a $10K horn.

B.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: DougR 
Date:   2012-04-15 14:18

Dave, thanks for the lengthy review. As someone who always wanted a low-c bass (pant, pant) I appreciate hearing about a low-c horn that may actually be affordable and ALSO usable at a pro level (or am I over-interpreting your review)? The fact that you are indeed one of the Board's great curmudgeons also adds some interest, obviously.

...although it may not be enough to liberate me from the fond fantasy of exiting the Selmer factory in Paris with a brand-new Privilege strapped to my back...

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: Clarimeister 
Date:   2012-04-16 08:44

My question is can you get away with playing the Shostakovich Violin Concerto Scherzo excerpt with those thumb keys for the extended range at a very fast tempo. In an audition, precision is everything. I'd like to hear if it's ok with doing that.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2012-04-16 14:53

I played that piece on my old Kohlert with its homemade low-C extension and awkward thumb keys, and survived. But then again, it was a concert, not an audition. I've always done fine in concerts but doubt I would pass any audition anywhere! Among other things I did attempt that particular excerpt on the Ridenour, and was not able to pull it off -- but I hadn't gotten used to the left-hand alternate low D so wasn't able to use it efficiently.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: gsurosey 
Date:   2012-04-22 20:01

How much will one of these set you back, and where can they be found? It's making its way to my mental wish list.

EDIT: I see it now on Tom's site.

----------
Rachel

Bb/A: Buffet R13
Eb/Bass: Bundy

Post Edited (2012-04-22 20:03)

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: David Hart 
Date:   2012-07-30 13:55

I'm based in the UK, and am keen on playing a low C bass (and, from what I hear, probably want one with automatic double register key as well).

I could quite feasibly get to Gear4Music's warehouse to try out their 'deluxe bass clarinet' which goes to low C and sells for about half the price of the Ridenour one reviewed here, though I'm not sure what style of register key it has.

Ridenour being based in the States, I would not be able to try theirs out unless there are local stockists - so can anyone here tell me whether they think I should save up the extra and take a chance on the Ridenour - is the difference in price justified by the difference in quality?

Cheers.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: srattle 
Date:   2012-07-30 14:55

David Hart:

I don't know anything about the bass clarinet at gear4music, but I would advise staying away from a Low C bass clarinet selling for 900 pounds. . .
It is made of ABS plastic, and more than likely has not great mechanics. Again, I'm not familiar with this clarinet, but it sounds suspicious.

The instruments that Mr. Ridenour sells are from hard rubber (them same general material as most professional mouthpieces) and are sold as professional instruments.

For a bass clarinet, the $3000 or whatever that Tom's cost is very inexpensive.
It is possible to try his clarinets in Europe, you just have to be willing to lose the shipping and/or tax for the trial.

Of course, all of this depends on how serious you are about playing the instrument. If it's just for a laugh, then probably the cheap plastic one would make sense. But if you want to perform on it, then I would stay away from the gear4music variant.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2012-07-30 15:28

They all start off in some nameless factory in China; but to what specifications they are built (or design they are copied from), and where they go when they leave the factory, and what is done to them by the eventual seller ----- those factors can vary widely. Caveat maxima emptor!

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: David Hart 
Date:   2012-07-30 21:13

Thanks SRattle and David Spiegelthal for your advice.
I presume that that you are talking about the G4M's as being from a nameless Chinese factory, and not the Ridenours? If so, then I guess I will start trying to save up the extra for the Ridenour.
For what it's worth, I'm not a great expert by any means - more of a percussionist - but will definitely want to be recording with it, and might just end up using it live in a band, amongst other clutter that I play, if I'm lucky.

Cheers.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2012-07-30 21:27

The Ridenour instruments also start in a Chinese factory, and I'm sure the Ridenours know the name of that factory, even if we don't. The difference with Ridenour instruments, as far as I can tell, is that the seller is a clarinet expert and has a personal hand in the design, specification, and final setup of the end product. Whereas, most of the generic Chinese-made instruments flooding the market nowadays seem to be the same basic instrument (essentially hard-rubber copies of the Yamaha design, maybe modified a bit) manufactured with the brand name of whomever pays them to stencil the instruments, or possibly even distributed 'blank' with no branding whatsoever, and stenciled after-the-fact by the distributor/retailer.

I'm not in the instrument retail business, so this is just my semi-educated guess from observations of the instruments that are being sold online. I may be wrong and I'd be happy to be corrected by anyone who actually knows what is going on.

David Hart, you write that you're not too experienced in bass clarinet, so I think it will be difficult for you to assess different instruments; perhaps you could take a few lessons from a professional bass clarinetist, and/or have such a person help you try out instruments when that time comes.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: David Hart 
Date:   2012-07-30 21:33

Yeah, I had lessons on the 'regular' B flat clarinet back in school for a couple of years, and that was a while ago now, so I should probably try to look someone up. Not sure how many there are in the Dundee area, though.

Thanks again for all the info.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: Wes 
Date:   2012-07-30 22:12

Hi Dave S!

There is a Kohlert bass clarinet now residing in St. Louis that I've worked on for various reasons that also has a low C extension. The wood extension was added by the legendary late Glen Johnston in Hollywood and the keys were made and installed years later by Nick Spirito of Long Beach, CA. The wood in that instrument is the finest and hardest possible and the sound is completely resonant, perhaps better than any others I've heard. The tuning needed some work but it is quite good now. One thing I revised was the register key mechanism so that it is reliable and I also extended the low keys a little for a short fingered player. No wonder you like yours!

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: The_Clarinetist 
Date:   2012-08-29 18:48

Hi David,

even though you might not be that experienced with bass clarinets it is still worth a try to go and test that g4m deluxe bass. I mean you should at least be able to get a feeling of the key mechanism and overall quality.

As a matter of fact I am interested in acquiring one of those. I know they offer it with a 14 day money back guarantee but I live in Sweden and would have to pay extra shipment hin and forth if I would find it lacking in any aspect.

I did make an enquire to g4m about this instrument and they said it had been updated a few times since it was introduced in 2007. I think I prefer its set up with 6 keys for the right hand little finger instead of just 5 as on the yamahas. And unlike most chinese bass clarinets it is silver plated and I would rather have a plastic bass rather than a wooden one considering the crack risk and heaviness that wood entails.

Compared to double the price of ridenour's bass you have nothing to loose testing g4m's bass, and I would be extremely happy to read your review of it here :)

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: 47tim 
Date:   2014-06-29 22:55

Hello, I was just wondering, is this bass made of wood? If not, what material is it?

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: Tom Ridenour 
Date:   2014-06-30 01:09

The Lyrique 925C is made from hard rubber.

Ted Ridenour

Ridenour Clarinet Products, www.ridenourclarinetproducts.com, sales@ridenourclarinetproducts.com

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: windplr 
Date:   2014-06-30 06:19

I recently asked about the material used in the Ridenour bass, and the reply from Ted was that the bass uses the same natural hard rubber that is used on their soprano clarinets. He also said that each bc goes through the same prep, adjustments and tuning by Tom as the sopranos before being shipped to the customer.

What I have not yet asked, but would be interested to know, is how much of the overall design of the bass is specified by Tom. I ask, because after reading RCP literature and watching several of their videos, it is obvious to me that his soprano clarinets are 100% Tom's designs (a good thing). From my research so far, I have not been able to discern whether or not the RCP bass falls into this category.

-Chris

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: Tom Ridenour 
Date:   2014-06-30 08:40

All of our instruments are made to Toms's specs and then hand finished/adjusted by him in our shop here in Texas.

Ted R.

http://ridenourclarinetproducts.com/aristotle.html

While I'm happy to answer these questions the above article is relevant to this topic.

Ridenour Clarinet Products, www.ridenourclarinetproducts.com, sales@ridenourclarinetproducts.com

Post Edited (2014-06-30 08:52)

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: sax panther 
Date:   2014-06-30 11:08

Hi David

If you have the chance to test a G4M bass clarinet (with no obligation to buy) then go for it, there's nothing to lose. If you like the one (or one of the ones) you try, see if you can buy it there and then - if they make you order a different one, it might not be so good! I've tried a bari sax and a tenor sax from them. The bari was ok after a bit of adjusting, but the tenor was unplayably sharp from upper octave A and higher. Only thing I could think of was that the octave pip had been placed slightly too high on the neck. Could probably have been solved with an aftermarket neck. Keywork felt nice though. Also tried one of their cajons, which was awful (althought it came with a nice case!)

With a company with quality control as patchy as G4M, I think you'd need to factor in buying the instrument, then another couple of hundred quid getting it properly set up by a decent tech. With the Ridenour one, although I don't have any experience with this company myself, I do know that each instrument receives a proper set up before it's sent out.

Mike

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: David Hart 
Date:   2014-06-30 23:35

Well, this thread has awoken after a long slumber. I haven't taken any steps since I asked my initial question, but I was inspired to see what was now available.
Turns out there is a John Packer brand low C bass clarinet, the JP222, and a second hand one came up on their website for £1000, but they said there was already someone interested who will presumably have snapped it up by the time I can make it down to Taunton, Somerset (which is both a long way from where I live in Scotland and not on the way to anywhere else I'm likely to be visiting in the near future). New it sells for £2466 on their website, though there is also an ex-demo one listed for £2096. I suppose I could concoct an excuse to visit Bristol, and then it wouldn't be much further to make a visit there.

On the Gear4Music website, the 'Deluxe' bass clarinet to low C has disappeared, apart from one ex-demo one at a reduced price of £852, and I get the impression it has been discontinued in favour of their new 'Rosedale' version, with a price tag of £1500. I emailed them and the guy said the Rosedale is far superior, but £852 is still a lot less than £1500. Gear4Music is in York, which *is* on the way to places I might normally visit, so I'm going to try to get down there later this month and try out both the Rosedale and the one remaining Deluxe, if someone hasn't already taken it.

I'd be happy to share my notes on their relative merits, and indeed also on the John Packer one if I manage to make that trip, if someone here would be kind enough to give me a run-down of the specific things I should be looking out for when I check out a bass clarinet.

Sadly, good deal though the Ridenours seem to be, there's just no realistic prospect of me getting to Texas to try one out - if I had that sort of money to splash on transatlantic travel, I'd have the sort of money to save up for a professional brand bass clarinet anyway :-)

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: blazian 
Date:   2014-07-02 08:19

I'm planning on visiting Mr. Ridenour sometime before school starts again for me so I can have my clarinet tweaked. I am in the market for a bass clarinet...

- Martin

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: MRSax 
Date:   2018-03-05 18:39

Hi I would stay away from the G4M bass clarinet, I know a couple of schools that have bought them, the rods and keys bend far too easily. Consequently if you get it working,it will only be a very short time before it's not working again.

Having been an owner of a Selmer low C in the past, they are fantastic clarinets. I sold mine because I went for several years not using it, biggest mistake I've ever made, bearing in mind their value now.

However in recent years I've had a need for a bass again, and finally settled on a Yamaha 221 series 11 and its blow very easily and in tune. I have heard comments that they blow sharp, but provided you've got the good sense to pull the neck out far enough they blow perfectly in tune. It's the only student Bass that comes close to a Selmer, and perfectly adequate for my needs now.

The Lyrique was not available when I bought the Yamaha, but I would definitely try one now, the reviews are impressive.



Post Edited (2018-03-05 18:57)

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2018-03-06 05:27

I also play a Yamaha and agree with your assessment. Mine came to me secondhand and was in poor adjustment, so I repadded it as an opportunity to set it up properly.

The requirement to pull the neck out a full centimeter upsets my sense of right and wrong, but it does work and there seems to be enough neck length. I wish the tenon clamp was a little less 'squishy', but again...it works. Seeing as how the clamp appears to be inset into the upper joint injection molding, I'm hesitant to do anything.

Has anyone tried an aftermarket neck on one of these?

I have been tempted to buy a Ridenour...I don't need a low C and the Low Eb is a great bargain...I would rather have hard rubber than ABS as weight helps with the stability of a bass clarinet. Texas is just a little too far to go visit.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: Steven Ocone 2017
Date:   2018-03-06 18:00

I prefer the student Yamaha over the Ridenour.

Steven Ocone
Ann & Steve's Music

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: nellsonic 
Date:   2018-03-07 00:56

Steven Ocone wrote:

> I prefer the student Yamaha over the Ridenour.
>

Why is that, and are you comparing the recent Ridenours or the older ones?There's been improvements over time, from what I understand.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: GenEric 
Date:   2018-03-07 01:01

The ridenours are a completely different horn. I also prefer the student yamaha because they play very similarly to the more common pro level horns. Although the Ridenours play better in general, I prefer the resistance and feel of the yamaha.



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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: bronzor 
Date:   2018-03-07 21:10

I'm looking for a relatively cheap bass clarinet that will take me through college, and the Ridenour seems like the perfect choice. Should I buy this clarinet as someone who recently switched or should I opt for a student horn? Also, is the body one piece or two?



Post Edited (2018-03-07 21:23)

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2018-03-07 21:58

bronzor wrote:

> I'm looking for a relatively cheap bass clarinet that will take
> me through college, and the Ridenour seems like the perfect
> choice. Should I buy this clarinet as someone who recently
> switched or should I opt for a student horn? Also, is the body
> one piece or two?
>

>
> Post Edited (2018-03-07 21:23)

First contact your university to see if they have low C bass clarinets they loan out to students.

If they don't, I would definitely consider the Ridenour low C bass clarinet. If you are serious about playing bass clarinet a low C is a must have. You should also look at the Kessler low C which is a very similar instrument but costs much less.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2018-03-07 22:25

Bronzor,

The Ridenour basses are all two piece now although the Low Eb bass case is meant to be used with the upper and lower section assembled. When I had my Ridenour 925e, I used a Bam Low Eb case as the one with the instrument was not great.

I'm not sure what you mean by a student instrument. Is there another inexpensive Low C bass available rather then the Kessler or the Ridenour? I do not know of one.

HRL



Post Edited (2018-03-07 23:27)

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: nellsonic 
Date:   2018-03-08 09:23

jdbassplayer wrote:

> You should also look at the Kessler low C
> which is a very similar instrument but costs much less.

I very recently tested both the Ridenour and Kessler low C instruments. The Kessler is about $750 less expensive and is similar in many ways.

Two things made me choose the Ridenour without hesitation:

1) The Kessler went out of adjustment twice during the 45 minutes or so I played on it. The Kessler tech (one of the Kessler sons) put it back in regulation each time, but that was worrisome. (The Kessler people were absolutely great to work with btw. I felt bad not buying anything when I was there.)

2) I could get the Kessler to play in tune, but it was work. The Ridenour's intonation was generally excellent. Fighting for pitch is not how I want to spend my bass clarinet time and energy.

I'm hoping the Ridenour becomes my back-up bass eventually, but until I can afford the pro Selmer or Buffet I'd like it's my entry into the bass clarinet world.

I did like the clarion tone I was able to get on the Kessler slightly better. I can say that for it.



Post Edited (2018-03-08 17:02)

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: tucker 2017
Date:   2018-03-08 17:26

Nellsonic, when you are in the market for another bass, check out Uebel Emperior. I couldn't be happier with mine.

And I agree, Ridenour for a less expensive option. My first purchase was a 925e which I kept for outdoor concerts.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2018-03-08 18:17

Nellsonic, what mouthpiece(s) did you try these instruments with?

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: nellsonic 
Date:   2018-03-09 01:47

dorjepismo wrote:

> Nellsonic, what mouthpiece(s) did you try these instruments
> with?

Vandoren B50, Ridenour's "intermediate" model, and a Fobes Debut. I really like the Ridenour mouthpiece over the others. It produced the best results for me on both instruments. While I'm not that experienced on bass clarinet, I was able to play the whole range to C6 with a decent sound and mostly good articulation on all of them. My new Ridenour is being sent with both the 'interrmediate' and 'pro' mouthpieces to try. Should be here any day!

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2018-03-09 01:54

Thanks! Please let us know how yours compares with the one you tried. Need something for chamber stuff with strings, but it isn't 8 or 13 K worth of need.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: dibble 
Date:   2018-03-12 07:39

Does anyone know of a good repairman who would overhaul these bass clarinets? I asked a very prominent repairman recently if he would do an overhaul on mine and he said he won't work on them because the materials used to make them are poor and they are difficult to repair. Many other repairman have told me the same thing. Does anyone know of a repairman who would work on it? I don't want to send it to Tom Ridenour though. Thanks!

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-03-12 14:45

As well as dealing with the mechanics, it's a question of economics - can you justify paying out near on the same price you paid for one of these basses to have it rebuilt in an attempt to make it better?

I've currently got two alto flutes with me - my own one which is a Jupiter and another one which is Chinese. Now the keywork on the Chinese one is very strong in that it has very substantial pad cup arms, key arms and linkages, but what lets it down big time is the fit and finish and also the flexing in the unsupported long rods. The reason why it's in is the players are having trouble with it packing up during playing.

This is down to the flexing in the LH2 mechanism - on normal (C) flutes players will tend to squeeze the keys harder if they feel things aren't seating well, but on this alto, squeezing harder causes the LH2 key rod to flex and the pads to lift off at the backs.

So I've since serviced it and also glued a thick cork pad to the underside of the LH2 fingerplate as a stopper to limit the amount of flex in the long rod once the cork pad touches the body (there's less than 0.5mm of a gap when held closed under normal finger pressure).

My Jupiter alto has similarly mounted keywork, but the keywork is much sturdier and better fitted and finished, so the LH2 keywork doesn't flex anywhere near as much and the pads don't lift off at the backs.

With bass clarinets and their long lengths of keywork, flexing is always an issue in any bass clarinet of any make - it's just a fact of life. Only with the softer alloys and poor key fitting in Chinese basses, this is only going to be exacerbated and there's nothing that can be done with it, so that's what you'll be up against. While the natural torsion in keys has to be worked with and gets greater on progressively larger instruments, when it's excessive it's just going to make the action feel mushy and lack positivity. Short of remaking the keys with much stronger alloys, there's not much else that can be done and that's out of the question on a bass that costs around 1/5 the price of a pro level bass.

With anything Chinese, you buy once but pay twice. At least. I know most instruments are never perfect from the moment they left the factory without needing some setting up, at best they require a few minor tweaks and at worst they require a complete overhaul. But this is a worst case scenario and requires far more than a complete overhaul.

Chris.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: Steven Ocone 2017
Date:   2018-03-12 16:06

I agree with Chris. Granted, I have not seen too many of these beasts. On one that was brought to me new I put over $200 into it and could have easily put double that amount just to fix major deficiencies. I had to grind way portions of several keys to increase the pad height to an (minimum) acceptable level. Whenever an instrument requires extreme measures like this there is the chance a key could break or a post could become loose (come to think of it the instrument came with many loose posts). The instrument in question was purchased in 2016.

Steven Ocone
Ann & Steve's Music

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: dibble 
Date:   2018-03-12 16:23

Mine came with many loose posts as well.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2018-03-12 19:30

Were the posts loose in that you could twist them around when the keys were not attached, or loose vertically such that the keys would go out of adjustment?

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: Steven Ocone 2017
Date:   2018-03-13 01:49

I seem to remember that they could rotate past the point where they would be aligned. Depending on the key this is not always an immediate problem, but could lead to vertical looseness over time.

Steven Ocone
Ann & Steve's Music

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: dibble 
Date:   2018-03-13 02:07

Sorry, I did not mean loose posts...I meant loose rods. There is play between the rod and the posts. There were more than a few of them.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2018-03-13 03:21

dibble wrote:

> Sorry, I did not mean loose posts...I meant loose rods. There
> is play between the rod and the posts. There were more than a
> few of them.

Ideally there SHOULD be some play in the rods. I recently had to fix a new Buffet Greenline bass clarinet where several keys on the lower joint were stuck due to the fact that there was not enough tolerance in the keywork. On a hard rubber instrument, such as the bass clarinets you can buy from China, there needs to be a lot of tolerance considering that the coefficient of thermal expansion is greater for hard rubber than it is for wood.

I'm not saying Chinese low C bass clarinets are perfect, but they do offer a cheap option for someone who can't afford a Buffet or Selmer. If I hadn't had such luck finding a super cheap Selmer I would still have a Ridenour bass clarinet. A $3000 bass clarinet that needs $500 worth of adjustments is still way cheaper than a $10,000 bass clarinet.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: dibble 
Date:   2018-03-13 03:56

On my Ridenour bass, when the rod moves back and forth, the pad connected to the rod lands higher or lower on the tone hole than its original position, with the crease in the pad not fitting exactly on the circumference of the tone hole, causing a leak. I don't think a rod "should" be this way....maybe you mean a hair's width of play which is not what I'm talking about.

I just had a Bb clarinet overhauled by the repairman I previously referred to and he swedged the rods very snugly so the pads' position on the tone holes are always the same.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-03-13 14:51

With any composite instrument, key fit/lateral play between pillars has to be factored in to ensure they'll still play under cold conditions when the joints shrink but the metal doesn't. This is made even worse on larger plastic instruments with longer key rods, so lateral play will be excessive. The makers don't know where their instruments are going to end up - they could be sold in Oman or Ottawa so will need to work in both places, so it's a difficult thing to please everyone and have the one instrument to function under all conditions.

Chris.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: dibble 
Date:   2018-03-13 15:55

That makes sense Chris P but why then, on my bass, one rod will have play the thickness of a dime, and the one next to it, which is comparable in length, will be fit tightly?

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-03-13 16:28

That's just down to sloppy finishing as there's no consistency.

On plastic bodied instruments the amount of lateral play between pillars should ideally be relative to the lengths of the key rods or barrels. With main action keys mounted on rods, this is a near impossible thing to compensate for as there are several keys sharing the same rod. But there are developments in keys mounted on individual rods or between points were one end of the rod or point can move laterally in the pillar without the key binding up. But that's expensive to do.

As quality control is minimal on the majority of Chinese owned factories (as opposed to Chinese plants owned by outside companies), these things get overlooked as long as it will meet the minimum standard to be boxed up and shipped out of the factory.

Chris.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: dibble 
Date:   2018-03-14 05:43

Thanks for you input Chris P.

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 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2018-03-14 08:16

So, if, say, a couple of the long rods have way too much play, and four of the adjustment screws either won't turn or are too lose to hold a setting, is that something Tom will make right, or is it the luck of the draw, and you'll need to pay someone to fix them? Understanding that if the action on the low notes is mushy, that's just the nature of the beast given the quality of the alloy used in the keys.

Reply To Message
 
 Re: Review: Ridenour low-C bass clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2018-03-14 21:13

dorjepismo wrote:

> So, if, say, a couple of the long rods have way too much play,
> and four of the adjustment screws either won't turn or are too
> lose to hold a setting, is that something Tom will make right,
> or is it the luck of the draw, and you'll need to pay someone
> to fix them? Understanding that if the action on the low notes
> is mushy, that's just the nature of the beast given the quality
> of the alloy used in the keys.

Tom claims all of his instruments come with free after-purchase customization provided the buyer pays shipping. He generally stands behind his products so it seems likely that he would fix any issue made known to him. When I purchased an A clarinet from him that I was not completely happy with (Older model, too resistant for my liking, ended up getting a basset clarinet instead) he allowed me to return it no questions asked.

-Jdbassplayer

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