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 Aftermarket Bell
Author: jonathan.wallaceadams 
Date:   2018-03-03 17:26

Hello all,

My over-the-break B doesn't speak well. I've heard that a good bell can revitalize your clarion register. What are the benefits of having these bells?
I'm interested in getting one. Before you say it (and this won't stop you, I know,) I cant go around trying every bell in the world even though I'd like to. Any recommendations on what brands and models to try? I have a Buffet Tradition.

JW

Just an aspiring student.
Buffet Tradition
Mpc.: Hawkins "G", Barrel: Moba, Reeds: Reserve 3.5+

Post Edited (2018-03-03 17:26)

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2018-03-03 17:49

Before you invest in a bell, try pulling your stock bell out by about 2mm. This creates a sort of "voicing groove" and can help improve clarion B significantly. If this doesn't work I would reccomend you look into a Fobes or a Behn bell, personally I don't find that Backun bells offer much improvement for the price.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: Ed Palanker 2017
Date:   2018-03-03 17:51

It's impossible to tell you which bell will make a difference on your clarinet and mouthpiece. i use the Backun of both my Buffet clarinets and my Selmer as well but I tried many. If it's possible for you to go to one of the clarinet conventions someplace that have some makers on display that may be your best hope to find the right fit. I probably tried a dozen before buying one. Tone, feel and INTONATION. Some makers may send you several for a trail by giving a credit card as security. Good look.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-03-03 18:30

Don't overlook that the lowest two pads on the clarinet may be out of sync. Press the left hand "B" and touch the right hand "C" on and off and see if there is a change. Then test "C" to "B". If neither makes a difference then a different bell may help.

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-03-03 19:04

What do mean by "doesn't speak well?" If you mean that it doesn't always play - doesn't respond immediately - I don't think that a bell will improve it. That's more likely to be a leak or poor adjustment that doesn't close the B and C pads equally. Or it may be poor finger coverage, especially if it happens as you go up from the throat register to the B. Try playing D5 very softly and lightly pressing either (R or L) B key without pressing C with your other pinky. If B doesn't speak, I'd look carefully (or have a tech look) for a leak, especially from either of the two pads that go down for B and C. I imagine MOBAs have an adjusting screw to correctly adjust the B and C keys (on older clarinets you have to bend or build up the crow's foot under the RH B and C# keys).

If you mean the note doesn't resonate well, how does the long B sound with the original MOBA barrel instead of the Behn you're using? Reeds can also affect the sound of B4 (long B). If your reeds aren't fully resonant (too hard, unbalanced) the effect on B4 may be dullness even beyond the rest of the scale. Do you have a private teacher? What does he or she say about your B4? When the teacher plays your clarinet with his/her reed and mouthpiece, does the problem, whatever it is, persist?

If the problem is response, I'd say (to repeat) to look for leaks. If the problem is lack of resonance, I'd be skeptical that a 3rd party bell would work better on a MOBA than the original bell would. I'm surprised that the Behn barrel improves anything - not that Brad Behn doesn't make excellent barrels, but that the MOBA is a new enough design by a skilled enough designer that the whole system should work at its best with its original parts.

Karl



Post Edited (2018-03-04 03:15)

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: ClarinetRobt 
Date:   2018-03-03 19:11

I agree with jdbassplayer, I’ve found a lot of the Backun bells pretty clarinet jewelry with little actual improvement.
I had better luck with Behn’s rod rubber bell. I have the one with extra vent hole to aid in quicker response and lower the intonation on B4/C5. Really the whole RH clarion notes were better by 2-5 cents in lowering the pitch.
I like Brad’s “less is more” approach to design and playability.

~Robert L Schwebel
Mthpc: Behn Vintage, Lig: Ishimori, Reed: Aria 4, Legere Euro Signature 3.75, Horns: Uebel Superior, Ridenour Lyrique

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: Ed Palanker 2017
Date:   2018-03-03 22:56

Everyone has their opinions because diffeent equipment works differently for every player and every clarinet-mouthpiece combination. As I said, i use the Backuns, love them, they are perfect for me but that doesn't mean the same for someone else. Just try whatever you can and don't take anyones word for what is best or not.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: donald 
Date:   2018-03-04 00:35

Hi there, you describe yourself as an "aspiring student", and it looks like you mean the "just" to let us know that you're a humble young man who understands you're still making your way down the learning path...
I'd recommend not spending money on an aftermarket bell until you are feeling like an advanced player to be honest. There are pros and cons of the various bells available- but we still end up making compromises, battling the basic foibles of clarinet design, and having to learn what WE can do (rather than our instrument) to improve the result.
OF COURSE (as several people above suggest) check that the instrument is in tip top condition. A leaking pad (even leaking a tiny amount) anywhere on the instrument can have an influence on this note. One thing to check that seems obvious, but I find this on students clarinets all the time, is to check that the right hand rings are closing easily...
The adjustment at the bridge key (connecting upper and lower joints) may be just slightly out of sync- so that you have to push the right hand rings down with a tiny bit of extra pressure to close the top pad (of the lower joint). This can mean that when playing slowly it work fine- you always have the time to just press a little harder- but when playing fast passages there can be a slight delay in the pad closing.
- check for this- when you push down the right hand rings, do you feel the ring under the left hand 2nd finger moving? If YES (even just a tiny amount), then fix it even if it seems like the clarinet is sealing.
Bells? I've owned or borrowed several Backun and played a handful of others. I've put Yamaha bells on Buffet, Tosca bells on a Festival clarinet etc. Once I found a pair of Plastic Boosey and Hawkes Regent bells and tried them on my festival. Oddly, despite being a mass produced plastic product they played differently from each other... I used one of them for my teaching to 3 or 4 days to see how it went- B was greatly improved as a result of the bell, but there were other issues and TA DAH I was happy to return to my stock Buffet bell.
It should come as no surprise that I rejected a plastic Boosey and Hawkes bell, but here the point- it IMPROVED my B, but in the end we judge a bell on more than just one note.
I've been playing clarinet for 38 years and had lessons from some awesome players, had some great success and also bombed more than once, been told by colleagues that I'm an amazing musician and by others that I'm not good enough (though, they still call me when they need someone to sightread a ballet). I won't say that I'm "just a student", but I'm STILL LEARNING.
A couple of years ago I decided to stick with the stock bell and my favourite barrel, and just work on MY PLAYING. And made more progress in 2 years than over the last decade.
As Mr Palanker says, however, "results may vary"
dn

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2018-03-04 03:23

Equipment isn't necessarily the solution in this case.

If you are playing a Buffet Tradition clarinet, I expect it is fairly new since that instrument has only been available for a couple of years. Perhaps this instrument would benefit from some key regulation, or perhaps some finger exercises crossing the break is all that is needed.

If your reeds are a bit too heavy, finger connection and fluency crossing the break can be affected. I always suggest playing reeds which are as light as possible while providing a supported sound which is in tune in all registers and dynamics, and provides secure response under all applications.

This isn't an easy task, so finding a set of litmus tests can be helpful.

Brahms 3 (mvt. 1) solo. Can you play this in one breath? If not then your setup maybe too hard. It isn't an easy ask, but it is something to strive for. Also I want this solo to have even and matched resonances (note the first three notes G, A, B). A good reed should help here.

Brahms 3 (mvt. 2) for fluid and even tonal depth crossing the break, access to warm nuanced and subtle dynamic variation with pure and even sound throughout.

Mendelssohn scherzo. This is a highly reed contingent solo which requires control, impeccable response, and stability for a good and reliable experience. (Crossing the break here quite a bit, so this is also a good check for your reed).

And on to the instrument's proper regulation. The comments above were great.

A good bell can help center your sound when crossing the break, it can help subtle intonation issues, and it can help lighten your instrument as well. But the bell which came with your Tradition instrument is indeed a good start, and I wouldn't recommend getting a new bell until you have sorted the above options first. Furthermore, bells are very influential in the playing experience, but not required like a good mouthpiece, reed, and barrel (length) in order to function in ensemble. So make sure your level is sufficient to warrant such an addition. Yes there are many options when it comes to bells, and this is where attendance at an ICA conference can be wonderful. It gives the opportunity to try everything before you buy.

When aftermarket bells became the rage back around the year 2000, I resisted. I tried a few and found them to be different but not necessarily better. It took me about 15 years to finally find something which was better than my stock Buffet bell, and I actually had to make it for my concept of the optimum playing experience. It wasn't something I planned to make for the marketplace, but rather as an experiment. I always felt that by reducing the ID of my equipment's bore dimensions, improvements became evident. By reducing the barrel's bore size, by selecting golden-era Buffet R13 clarinets which happened to have small bores, and eventually by making bells with smaller bore dimensions, my sound focused better, and my comfort increased as well. I call it "autofocus." So I decided to go for it.

Brad Behn
http://www.clarinetmouthpiece.com

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-03-04 05:03

> Buffet Tradition
> Mpc.: Hawkins "G", Barrel: Behn EVO & Backun MOBA, Reeds: Behn ARIA 4s

Sorry, Jonathan. I misread your equipment catalog at the bottom of your post. As Brad says in his reply, you're playing a Buffet Tradition. The MOBA is a barrel, so I think you're saying you've tried both Brad Behn's EVO and Bacun's MOBA barrels with your Tradition.

In any case, I'm not really sure why you're using an aftermarket barrel, either. It would be useful if you would describe more fully what is wrong with your B4. Does it not speak (your description: "does not speak well") immediately or only with extra finger pressure? Or does it speak (respond) but doesn't sound good?

If your words are taken literally, this is a mechanical problem - either (a) the B/E and C/F keys are out of adjustment, (b) there's a leak somewhere above those pads, (c) your fingers aren't covering cleanly when you first move to B or (d) when going up over the break you're pinching to reed off. Choices (a) and (b) can be diagnosed and fixed by a competent repairman, (c) and (d) are technique issues that you can work on. None will be solved by a replacement bell.

If it's a matter of your not liking the sound with the original bell, but the response is clean, then a replacement bell may improve things. But since you're an "aspiring student" who, presumably, has a teacher, your teacher should be able to help you sort this out far better than we can without being able to hear the problem.

Karl

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2018-03-04 17:36

I forgot to mention a great trick to add resonance on your long B is to add the A-key.

I use it as often as possible.

There is one drawback to the tonal improvement however. It does raise the pitch a touch. So it should be properly voiced to not be sharp.

The Brahms solo I mentioned in my above comments is a great place to use this technique. It matches resonances in the scale from G, A, to B and on, making the timbre more consistent and evenly matched.

This fingering for B (adding the A-key) wasn't introduced to me in my studies. Marcellus never mentioned it, however I owe Steve Barta, another Marcellus student thanks for showing it to me years ago. He learned it from Harold Wright.

Brad Behn
http://www.clarinetmouthpiece.com

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-03-04 18:35

A bit off topic but...
In short, this resonance B fingering is the throat Bb plus all the fingers down. If you really want to dazzle your clarinet playing friends, the A-B trill can be played with your right index finger. They will try it and fail not knowing that the A key has to be open.

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2018-03-04 21:51

Ken Lagace's suggested resonance fingering for long B can also be used to make a long upward glissando across the break, as in Rhapsody in Blue.

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-03-05 04:44

Hmmm... curious, how? I played it back in the 70's with Peter Nero playing and conducting. I sure could have used some shortcuts!

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2018-03-05 06:07

Most of the gliss comes from the tongue moving higher in the oral cavity, and you just lead the pitch along a bit by gradually pulling the fingers back. Lots of players don't start the gliss till they are over the break, maybe on the clarion D, but some of the older players started it much earlier. You can start it in the throat register and finger the Bb to B just as you suggested. Once you are over the break and on the B the rest should be smooth sailing. Glen Johnston was one of the early Rhapsody and Blue opening solo players (probably giving the premier in California) and I believe he played it starting the gliss before the break and right through using your suggested fingering for Bb. He said he figured out how to do this listening to (and watching) Barney Bigard in the Ellington Band.

Listen to Al Gallodoro in the 1945 Warner Brothers moive RHAPSODY IN BLUE (1945) DEBUT

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Rhapsody+in+Blue+(1945)+Rhapsody+in+Blue+Debut. [First Hit on Top of Page]

This has got to be one of the best versions recorded, for the 1920ish Great Gatsby aura in the sound. Gallodoro is corny, hot, jazzy, impudent, snarky, and sophisticated all at the same time to say nothing of how hard his interpretation is to play and how well he pulls it off. He was always ahead of the curve, doing double tonguing, for instance, long before it became popular and in an early performance of Leonard Bernstein's Prelude, Fugue, and Riff, Gallodoro not only plays the clarinet solo without losing a beat or a drop of sweat, he plays the lead alto sax part as well!

Wow, we really hijacked this thread about after market bells! My apologies to the original poster.



Post Edited (2018-03-05 21:48)

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: Wes 
Date:   2018-03-05 10:58

Ben Kanter told me that he was once called to New York from Boston to play the Rhapsody in Blue piece. He said he performed it for 27 nights in a row in concert with George Gershwin at the piano. He was not the first clarinet player of it, who was said to not be a serious classical player and who kept the sections of his clarinet and other instruments in a carpet bag-like case. Ben played the first register of the cadenza as a chromatic scale and the high register as a glissando.

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: Slowoldman 
Date:   2018-03-05 16:13

I went through very similar issues when I came back to clarinet playing after a 34-year layoff. I was absolutely convinced that there was a problem with the lower joint or the bell.


I drove my technician crazy looking for pad leaks, and tried a few bells (fortunately, I did not buy). Long story short, it was a combination of better air support and more responsive reeds for me. I also learned to use the A-key as others have described, which helps a lot.


So I would say try a lower reed strength, and a few different styles of reeds; and have your teacher reassess your air support when you try to cross the break, rather than going through a bunch of equipment.

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: jonathan.wallaceadams 
Date:   2018-03-05 19:03

Very recently, I sent my instrument to a technician and we found no leaks in the lower joint. The "response" I was referring to its relative ease of playing and the vibrancy of its tone in comparison to the notes around it. The effort I experience playing B is strange as every other note on my horn (except for select altissimo, but that's another issue) is fairly free-blowing when my long B is sluggish.

I use aftermarket barrels because they give me different colors to my sound and different responses that can either let me loose or keep me in check.
for example, my Behn barrel (which I love) is free blowing and focused, letting the lows resonate and the highs whisper with ease. This gives me a brighter palette for me to work with.
My Moba, however, is something I use whenever I might not have complete security in my sound or reed on a certain day. It stabilized my altissimo and "darkens my air".
I change barrels in certain conditions, just like I change my reeds. My stock barrel gave me a sound and an unbalanced feel which wasn't to my liking.

I'll experiment with the suggestion that Jdbassplayer gave which was to pull out my stock bell and Brad's suggestion with the new fingering. I'm excited to try them out!

I'm sorry for my ignorance on the topic and my lack of response over the last few days. I want to know what I can do to get the best ease of playing possible. I know that most problems take time for me to work out on my own through carefully thought out practice, and flexibility, but I wanted to learn what aftermarket bells do to your playing and if they could ease my problem.

Thank you for your time and responses.

Just an aspiring student.
Buffet Tradition
Mpc.: Hawkins "G", Barrel: Moba, Reeds: Reserve 3.5+

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2018-03-05 20:24

Hi Jonathan,

Your thorough and methodical approach, curious intellect and willingness to reach out for help is indicative of your passion for the clarinet and will help take you as far as possible. Well done my friend!

Indeed long B and low E are acoustically troubled notes on most every clarinet I have experienced. Low E tends to spread and lack core, and long B perhaps less so, yet it certainly lacks resonance compared to the C a step above.

Solving the troubled resonance issues of long B, I love the implementation of the suggested fingering (play long B and open the A key as well) whenever possible. It isn't a technically friendly fingering, certainly not commonly used in faster passages, but in lyrical or slow passages it can be VERY useful.

Just last Saturday night, in the OKC Phil's concert, we performed Rachmaninov's Paganini Variations and a couple of pages in there is a slow solo (low B, E, G, B). It lands on the long B. And so I used the A-key fingering to great satisfaction. It adds the missing core and places it right in the sweet spot.

So for example, that was the only place I had an exposed moment, where I used that fingering for the entire evening's program. Furthermore, I used it about half a dozen other moments in louder tutti sections to add core and projection as well. It isn't a fingering I often use, but a fingering I use on a daily basis, where appropriate.

Note, if out of practice or with just a slightly misplaced LH index finger, the danger is that I could squeak!!! Yikes. So care, practice and implementation in tutti sections is advised prior to the use in an exposed section. BUT in time you will fee more and more fluent with it...

When one has mastered this fingering it would be used in the Bolero solo effectively. That takes time, care, and great hand position. All good stuff.

The earlier we learn to use this fingering the more fluent we become. And so during your student years is a great time to start messing around with it.

Thanks for your comments about my barrel. I am delighted that you love it. And yes your curiosity about gear and the effects, merits or lack there of in your playing experience is a worthy endeavor. This bulletin board can be a good place to seek help and learn from the experiences of other clarinetists from all levels and walks within the profession. As you read more from the various regulars on the board you will learn who's advice is congruent with your level, your concepts as a player, and your style of communication.

I urge all to exercise caution and to embrace what makes sense. perhaps my advice about the A-key is something you will prefer not to implement for example. And that is okay. Trust your instincts, and continue to seek the help of good council. Keep up the good work!

Brad Behn
http://www.clarinetmouthpiece.com

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: jonathan.wallaceadams 
Date:   2018-03-05 23:20

Brad, thank you for your kind words. Right now, I'm in the process of whittling away at the Baermann studies. I'll implement your fingering as I improve the fluidity of my technique.

After a few hours of work, the pulled-out bell has greatly improved the 'feel' of my long-B. Thank you Jdbassplayer.

Thank you to everybody for your replies.

Just an aspiring student.
Buffet Tradition
Mpc.: Hawkins "G", Barrel: Moba, Reeds: Reserve 3.5+

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: donald 
Date:   2018-03-08 13:23

Great that the pulled-out-bell trick worked for you. I have my B flat bell out about 4mm to lower the pitch of middle line B, but find it also frees up the response.
Also- I find that with the bell pulled out the notes above B, C D and E are more even in tone quality. It definitely takes some of the stuffiness out of the D- which is usually a resistant note...
Glad you're enjoying the Behn barrel too, I love my 65mm Behn, but never used the 66.
dn

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: donald 
Date:   2018-03-09 08:52

btw both Dr Marie Ross and I have sawed the bell ring off our Buffet bells (for the purpose of improving middle line B), and find this to be an improvement. Mike Lomax also did this- you can see this on his website (in pictures illustrating the cases he has for sale). I don't know how this would influence the resale value if I was to sell my B flat clarinet, and any improvement is subtle (and impossible to prove)- but neither of us regret doing it....
dn



Post Edited (2018-03-09 08:52)

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2018-03-09 19:48

Buffet wants $310 for its ringless gold Icon bell. So maybe removing the ring increases the market value?



Post Edited (2018-03-09 19:49)

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 Re: Aftermarket Bell
Author: donald 
Date:   2018-03-10 05:45

:-)

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