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 Difference between different Bass Clarinet brands
Author: mtom 
Date:   2017-03-04 03:21

Hi, I am a highschool Bass Clarinetist (and contrabass clarinet!). I have been playing Bass Clarinet for about 7 years now. I am using some crappy Jupiter horn that was made in Taiwan. I use a Vandoren B50 mouthpiece, Vandoren V12 2.5 reeds, and a Bois Classique ligature. My solo, that I am performing for an all-state festival (Allegro Moderato from the Arpeggione Sonata, by Schubert), is heavy on middle b's and throat tones. Whenever I play a B, or any note lower that a high g (not altissimo), the sound is stuffy and sounds forced. To get a halfway decent sound, I have to blow a lung and a kidney out. Anything higher than a G or lower than the B sounds fantastic, free and open, but its that darned lower clarion register that gives me a hard time. I wasn't able to find any leaks or misaligned pads. Would getting a better instrument help with this issue? If it would help, could anybody name some good brands that sound nice with my setup?

(P.S.: I don't think it could be my ligature. My previous stock noname ligature sounded a lot worse, and I tried a more expensive ligature my friend had, and the sound quality was the same)


Post Edited (2017-03-04 03:35)

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 Re: Difference between different Bass Clarinet brands
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2017-03-04 03:52


How did you check for leaks and misaligned pads? It sounds to me like you need to have a good tech look over your instrument. IMHO you may have a register key issue.


Post Edited (2017-03-04 03:53)

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 Re: Difference between different Bass Clarinet brands
Author: RKing 
Date:   2017-03-04 04:15

I had a similar thing happen on a soprano clarinet. Between Bb and G sounded stuffy, like the fingers of my right hand weren't off the holes enough.

It turned out there was a set screw that had vibrated and was preventing the F/C key (and pad) on the right side of the horn from opening completely. The tech adjusted the screw, used a bit of thread locker to hold it, and the clarinet sounded great again.

I suggest you let a tech check it over.

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 Re: Difference between different Bass Clarinet brands
Author: ClarinettyBetty 
Date:   2017-03-04 04:37

Yes, let a tech look at it.

As a band director, I noticed that the woodwind instrument that broke/came out of alignment the most was the bass clarinet, whether new or old, expensive or not. They're as touchy as oboes!

Eb: 1972 Buffet BC20
Bb: Selmer Paris Presence
A: Selmer Paris Presence
Bass: 1977 LeBlanc


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 Re: Difference between different Bass Clarinet brands
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-03-04 16:04

The main problem with bass clarinets is the length of the keys relative to the gauge of the metal used to make the keywork - they still use the same gauge sheet metal and rods as used for making Eb, Bb and A clarinet keywork, but the extra length of the keys only makes them more prone to flexing and bending.

But if the metal is all twice the thickness, that will make them near on impossible to make let alone play. The weight of an instrument with such heavy gauge keywork will be ridiculous.

Former oboe finisher
Howarth of London
1998 - 2010

The opinions I express are my own.

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 Re: Difference between different Bass Clarinet brands
Author: tictactux 2017
Date:   2017-03-04 16:49

and besides, the Jupiter is not a crappy instrument per se. I'm fond of mine.


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 Re: Difference between different Bass Clarinet brands
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2017-03-05 03:34

I have something to add to my original post.

If mtom, the OP, is playing a Jupiter bass and it has a two-piece body, I'd like to suggest that the bridge key is out of adjustment. The reason for that would be careless assembly. So, playing from clarion G down to the long B would likely not play very well.


PS I do not think a Jupiter is a "crappy" instrument at all.

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 Re: Difference between different Bass Clarinet brands
Author: mtom 
Date:   2017-03-05 04:02

Hi all, and thanks for the tips. I'm going to see my tech soon. By calling it a crappy instrument I meant it just is old and the mechanics of it are aging. It isn't a two-part, well, it is, but they are held together with a screw and a band, and I put it in my case in one part.

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 Re: Difference between different Bass Clarinet brands
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2017-03-05 09:56

The bridge mechanism could be out of adjustment on a one piece instrument too. One of the top pads on the lower section (right hand stack) not closing is the most common reason for notes under G in the lower clarion to have problems. If F# is already problematic then the top pad is probably the one, which could happen from the bridge being out of adjustment or other reasons.

A Jupiter, even an older one, is probably not made in Taiwan and not crappy.
First thing you can try is move your fingers "up a pad", pressing the top pad of the lower section with your first finger and the other keys with the "wrong" fingers. This way you can play the notes (at least down to D) with pressure directly closing the top pad. Press very firmly (i.e. making sure the top pad is closing) and see if this solves or at least helps the problem.
If it doesn't, it could still be one of those pads not closing, since a leak isn't always overcome by pressing with more force.

Of course the problem could be something else, this is just the most likely cause that is pretty easy to check.

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 Re: Difference between different Bass Clarinet brands
Author: mtom 
Date:   2017-03-07 23:29

Hi all, I had it looked at, and you were right: the clarion f and f# were not pushing enough on the bridge over the middle of the horn. It was fixed up and it plays perfectly!

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