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 bass clarinet tweeking
Author: SuffolkSaxhams 
Date:   2017-11-02 14:42

Hello, I've got a buffet prestige bass clarinet, E flat model, and finding the clarion D E and F increasingly difficult to voice without squeaking terribly. The G upwards is fine as are the lower C and B It's now almost impossible to sound the note without first sounding the lower one and pressing the octave key. Even that doesn't always work.
I've got the pads as well leveled, regulated and balanced as I can but the problem persists.
Any comments or suggestions would be most welcome.
Thank you in anticipation
John, Suffolk, UK

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: Steven Ocone 
Date:   2017-11-02 17:35

Leaks on bass clarinets can be very difficult to find.

Steven Ocone


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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: Toolaholic 
Date:   2017-11-02 17:43

Put a bigger register vent in body. Clarinetbass modified his. https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?149003-Breaking-in-wooden-bass-clarinet http://test.woodwind.org/oboe/BBoard/read.html?f=20&i=839&t=839



Post Edited (2017-11-02 17:47)

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2017-11-03 01:38

You need to find an experience repair person with bass clarinets. Unfortunately the one I've used for years is no longer available. He would have found the problem.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2017-11-03 09:13

Just a correction to Toolaholic's post, I modified the neck register vent, not the body vent. Also the problem you describe is different. It includes problematic notes coming from both vents and the issue I changed my vent had nothing to do with squeaking.

Can you be more specific? All notes from low clarion C# to clarion F# are problematic? Is it a sudden change i.e. C is fine, C# not, G is fine, F# not? Or is it gradual i.e. C# and F# have a slight problem? How do the problematic notes (C# to F#) vary between them? Some worse than others?

You say you leveled the pad, etc. but how did you check for leaks?
Just like a leak at the top would cause problems at the upper clarion first, it sounds like the most likely problem in this case is a leak around the F# key (first pad on the lower section). It is possible that in the exact right size it will affect those notes but not some other lower clarion notes (depends on the exact size and location).

If it is a leak there, it could be from a misadjusted bridge, misadjustment in the right hand stack keys, or the key itself. It definitely affects the clarion much more than the low register.

Try this: Play one of the problem notes, but instead of fingering normally, use one finger (first finger or thumb) to press firmly on the F# key (first pad on the lower section, which you don't normally press with a finger). Is it better?

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: SuffolkSaxhams 
Date:   2017-11-03 13:27

Good morning, kind of you to reply.
The C and C sharp are fine _ the problem is with the D, the D sharp, the E, the F and the F sharp. The G upwards is fine. If I play the C and move up legato is also plays fine. Likewise, playing G and moving down legato to the C is fine. The problem is in starting the notes mentioned in the clarion register. I would say the problem has come on over time as I've noticed an increasing difficulty with these notes.
My leak testing consists of sealing the the body and blowing/sucking, a light test and using cigarette papers as feelers around the pad. I've also had the pads off to check that the wood is not damaged. I've just tried pressing directly on the F sharp pad as you suggest but no improvement.
Be glad to hear your comments off you've time but I also think it might be time to visit the workshop.
John

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2017-11-03 15:09

Just to make sure:
B, C and C# are completely fine, no problem at all.
G and above are fine, no problem.
then suddenly (i.e. it's not gradual) all notes from D to F# have the problem, pretty much the same? Or is it gradually worse in some way (up or down)?

A register key or mechanism problem is unlikely in this case, since it affects notes using both vents, but also no issue with some notes using both vents.

Try this: Rotate the sections (middle tenon) so the bridge and register are off, disengaging those linkages. Then play F# while, with your right hand (or have another person), firmly press G#, F# and E - these are the lowest key on the upper section (which is not pressed with a finger), the top key on the lower section (also not pressed with a finger), and the middle finger key in the right hand stack, respectively. Also press the C/G key (third finger left hand) harder than usual.

If it's not clear I can try to post a photo.

Is the problem still there?

This test only checks for a problem caused by the adjustment, not with any pad by itself in case it can't be forced to seal.

You can also try putting a plastic bag (maybe a couple of layers) over each pad and repeat the test, to see if that makes any difference.

Although unlikely double check that there is a tiny gap between the neck register key and the arm coming from the upper section which operates it.

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: SuffolkSaxhams 
Date:   2017-11-03 17:37

thanks again for your reply.

Yes, the lower B, C and C sharp are fine. I would say that the G above is slightly problematic in the same way as the lower notes but the A and B above are fine.

I would say that the clarion D is easier to sound than the E, F or F sharp. As before the note sometimes sounds if I play the lower one and slur up with the register key and always sounds if I slur up chromatically (with register key on) from the C to the C and down again.

I think I've understood your test and I would say it improves matters somewhat. However, it's still very difficult to get the higher note to sound straight off without first playing the lower note and slurring up.

I've also tried the plastic bag test and no difference. There is the tiny gap you mention at the neck register key.

As ever, I'm also wondering if it's my technique rather than the clarinet ( I play soprano 2/3 hours a day and bass 2/3 hours a week). I'm also playing Bass less than I used to. If I slur upward, as described, the notes come out clear and true - not airy or muffled at all.

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: SuffolkSaxhams 
Date:   2017-11-04 01:13

hello clarnibass
just an update - I decided to take it over to the tech workshop and she thought the linkages were fine although the register pad on the neck was sprung too weak. She's pretty sure there's a leak somewhere - probably more than one, she said - but couldn't find it there and then. I've left it with her for a thorough search. So, thank you so much for your comments - I will update again when I hear the outcome of the tech's work.

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2017-11-04 09:31

Yes, with the instrument you can find many things that are impossible based on a description. From what you said the best guess is a C#/G# key leak which can't be overcome by pressing it harder (which if I understand you tried). It's still just a guess. Anyway would be interesting to know what the problem turns out to be.

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2017-11-04 09:40

Sounds funny, or a better word strange, how does the mouthpiece fit? It should be pretty tight. If not the whole issue could be this simple. Unusual for sure, but I've seen this happen, causing the whole horn to act weird. Do as Eddie Palanker says. Find a great repairman.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




Post Edited (2017-11-04 11:02)

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: SuffolkSaxhams 
Date:   2017-11-04 19:59

Hello Bob, good point I think. The mouthpiece fits very snug but I've often wondered about the tuning slides on the neck. Metal to metal right next to the highest air pressure - does this fail sometimes and is there any recommended method of preventing or remedying this?

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2017-11-05 05:59

Could be...One tiny leak in any of these areas, mainly in the upper register, throws off everything. Added if the leak you are referring to doesn't happen all of the time. A sealed bass clarinet is a dream to play. One tiny leak can often wish for playing a different instrument. Same with saxophones. So few good techs in Los Angeles. Plus they are overbooked and overrated. Sometimes the horns play worse after an expensive service. This is so frustrating. Keep after it and you may have to ship your horn off to a different location. Avoid UPS. Send Fed-EX. UPS from experience is often hard of boxes. But other times they are fine. Maybe they are all the same. I don't know. Just wrap the horn really well in the case if you send it off. Use a lot of foam and bubble wrap.

Maybe someone can give you some good leads to the very best repairmen, if the horn still doesn't perform. I've been in your shoes with saxophones.


Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist 2015




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 Re: bass clarinet tweaking
Author: SuffolkSaxhams 
Date:   2017-11-05 18:17

Thanks Bob, that's really encouraging when you say a sealed bass is a dream to play. I'm pretty competent with the soprano these days and happy with my sound but have always struggled with the bass. Never really sure if it's me or the horn that's the problem!

I'll see what my usual tech makes of it. I'm in Cambridge, UK so if there's any suggestions of a great tech in the UK, London is easy to get to from here, I'd be glad to hear it.

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: Toolaholic 
Date:   2017-11-05 20:08

How bout Stephen Howard. He’s somewhere in England. http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/

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 Re: bass clarinet tweaking
Author: Dibbs 
Date:   2017-11-06 16:07

In Cambridge - Daniel Bangham at Woodwind and Reed.

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 Re: bass clarinet tweeking
Author: SuffolkSaxhams 
Date:   2017-11-11 13:53

Thanks for all your comments. Just got the bass back from the tech. 3 leaks, the side E flat, the right hand F sharp and the right hand D/G keys.. All quite small leaks but between them a disaster. The tech's husband/assistant even cleaned the whole thing beautifully and now it's a joy to play.
Thanks again
John

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