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 Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-07-27 01:31

Hi,

I'm trying to put together a bass clarinet on a shoestring budget, and I've bought the middle section with all the keys very cheaply from ebay. I am just now short of the bell, the neck and the mouthpiece.

I've been thinking about all of those videos I've watched where French horn players mess around with trying to play garden hoses, and I just wondered if anyone has every tried to home-make these extra pieces for a bass clarinet?

I mean, for example, making the neck out of a bit of flexible pipe, or making the horn from fired clay or similar. I think it might be fun, and since they seem to cost £100+ it might also save me a bit of money.

I know I need to buy an actual mouthpiece, but I figure if I save money on the other bits, then I might have more left for a good mouthpiece.

If this is a bonkers idea, that's okay to say so.

Thanks!

Sunny

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2018-07-27 03:57

I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that you have either a Bundy or a Vito bass

The problem with the neck is, even if you can make something that even resembles a bass clarient neck, the intonation of the instrument is going to be a problem. The length and diameter are critical to how the instrument plays so you need to be very careful with the materials you choose. 1" PEX pipe is the closest material I've found in size to a bass clarinet neck. A 1" boat drain tube fits my Bundy neck socket so that's a good place to start. They cost about 10 USD online. 1" copper fittings roughly fit pex pipe so I would use those with some epoxy. A bass clarinet mouthpiece fits in a 1 1/4 copper fitting that's been sanded out around 1mm so I would use that for the receiver.

As for the bell, you can make a bell from pvc pipe. A 90 degree schedule 80 extra think wall "sweep" (can be found in the electric section in your local Home Depot) fits the bottom of a bass clarient tenon. If you cut a 2" section of this, using some more pieces of 1 1/4 pvc pipe and fittings along with a funnel you can make a bell. The hardest part is drilling the hole just right (or just use a 3 way fitting. Also you loose low Eb this way. I made a low D extension for my Bundy bass using PVC pipe and some saxophone keys.

If this all sounds complicated, that's because it is... While trying to make your own clarinets accessories can be a very fun project, you're probably going to end up spending more on materials to experiment with than a cheap neck and bell would cost. I would reccomend getting the right neck and bell first so you at least have a playing bass clarinet. Then you can experiment with homemade accessories.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-07-27 09:36
Attachment:  bass.jpg (60k)

Wow! I was not expecting that kind of answer. How wonderful! The instrument is a Selmer (photo attached). I do see what you mean about getting the right parts though. I'll start saving. Thanks!

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2018-07-28 04:06

Sunny,

Looking at the picture, please note that the bell will need to have a low Eb tone hole and the associated key plus a linkage to the portion of the mechanism on the keyed section. And then there is the effect of things like the flare and the dimensions a bell and how those factors influence the pitch and timbre of the low long notes in the clarion as well as the chalumeau registers. Perhaps more important will be the neck. Trying to fabricate a neck of the right dimensions will be critical.

IMHO It is hard for me to see how building these two parts of a bass clarinet will have a satisfactory outcome resulting in a playable instrument; I realize you did not mention that you planned to play it in any kind of ensemble but that may secretly be your goal. But if you happen to be an engineer, you may have the skills and knowledge to pull this off.

My street sense tells me that your best bet will be to find a Bundy/Selmer standard bell and neck assembly. This approach would certainly be less frustrating

Good luck,

HRL



Post Edited (2018-07-28 05:24)

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-07-28 12:58

Thanks that's really useful to know. I had no idea about that. I'll look out for the right parts then.

I'm not heading for an ensemble of any kind. I'm trying to treat a breathing pattern disorder, by using the instrument as my breathing exercise. I've been using a B flat clarinet up to now, but I realised that the lowest notes of the clarinet were by far the most effective for my purpose and started to wonder if a deeper instrument would be even better.

The person in my local shop let me try a bass clarinet, and it was just about the best thing I've ever experienced, just making a sound with it, irrespective of whether it was a musical sound or not. I find it very relaxing and that is a good thing as I'm quite highly strung. Anyway, the price of an actual instrument is way beyond my means, but I thought if I could scratch together some second hand parts to buy a working set up then that would be very nice.

So far I have the middle bit, and I will now look out for the parts that you suggest. I'm lucky to live close to a big woodwind instrument shop, so maybe they can help.

Thanks for your advice. It is really helpful.

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2018-07-28 16:33

Sunny,

Ah, now I see. That information puts a totally different spin on the project. If you use the suggestions from JDbass above, you can convert what you have to a breath support device to fit your needs. There would be no need to make this a musical project at all and the intonation issues that I was concerned about are now immaterial.

HRL



Post Edited (2018-07-28 17:15)

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-07-28 21:40

Dear Hank,

Thanks, yes I see what you mean. I'll have a look around for bits then. I live in the UK where everything is measured in centimetres rather than inches, but if I take the instrument to the DIY shop then maybe we can find bits that fit. It will certainly be interesting to try.

Thanks for your encouragement to just do what works. I really appreciate it.

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-07-29 17:02

I've found a Selmer mouthpiece on ebay and bought it, and have a bid on a Selmer neck.

And then I found this:

wisemanlondon.com/product/bok-wiseman-carbon-fibre-bass-clarinet-bell-for-selmer-bass-clarinet/

Oh my Giddy Aunt.

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: KenJarczyk 
Date:   2018-07-29 17:41

Just a thought.

Your “Selmer” Bass is the rebranded “Bundy.” I doubt any Selmer Paris bass parts will fit properly.

Ken Jarczyk
Woodwinds Specialist
Eb, C, Bb, A & Bass Clarinets
Soprano, Alto, Tenor & Baritone Saxophones
Flute, Alto Flute, Piccolo

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-07-29 18:04

Oh! That's a bit different then. Does that mean that I should be looking for Bundy parts?

Thanks!

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-07-29 18:07

The neck that I've bid on says "Selmer Bundy", so maybe that is okay.

I suppose mouthpieces must have a standard width, so I'm hoping that is okay too.



Post Edited (2018-07-29 18:42)

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2018-07-29 18:28

Sunny,

Ken's advice about the instrument being a Bundy is correct.

HRL

PS on a different note, check the Clarinet Bulletin Board rules about posting links to eBay. Here is a quote from the Rules section: "No auction (eBay or otherwise) links, references, comments, or questions about currently selling items. NO EXCEPTIONS!"



Post Edited (2018-07-29 18:31)

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-07-29 18:35

Thanks Hank, and sorry about posting the links. I didn't know about that and I'll be sure not to do it again. I suppose thing to do is maybe just to upload the photo in future.

I'm used to forums, but I'm trained on Mumsnet, which has rather different rules. There we just have to delete the http:// and then we're good to go. I'll make sure not to post ebay links.

Edit: I have found the rules and read them now. Thanks for pointing them out.

Thanks :-)



Post Edited (2018-07-29 18:41)

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2018-07-29 18:57

Sunny,

Yes, those darn rules...

Maybe just asking the question about the neck and the mouthpiece without the link might suffice. My guess is that any readers will assume where an item is listed and find it on their own.

HRL



Post Edited (2018-07-29 21:16)

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-07-30 20:44
Attachment:  mouthpiece.jpg (300k)

I have got a mouthpiece now. (Image attached). It's an "E" lay. I gather that "C" is better, but this one was cheap and new so I went with that. I figure I can't get a mouthpiece in a plumbing supply shop. :-)

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2018-07-30 21:21

Sunny,

You are right that you probably "can't get a mouthpiece in a plumbing supply shop." Good one.

The E is more open than the C* but it is a great mouthpiece. It should work just fine for you purposes; just use a softer reed (maybe start with a #2).

You will need a ligature but check out this YouTube video by Dr. Michael Loewenstern https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ghMCiV8hTg He is a hoot.


HRL

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-07-30 21:40

Hi Hank,

I'm so glad you think that mouthpiece is okay. Phew!

I love that video about the ligatures. I really think I should go with the shoelace option just to be in keeping with the budget approach of my project. Or possibly half a dozen hair bands, which might be easier to loop round. :-) I've been learning to play my B flat clarinet from watching Dr. Michael Loewenstern's videos and the clarinetmentor videos. I really like them.

I'm planning to use the softest reed I can lay my hands on, as I am only on a 1 1/2 on my B flat clarinet, and 2 is beyond me. I need to visit the shop and find out what exists really. I'm glad you think that's okay.

I feel as though I'm getting somewhere now, though the bits are all still in the post. :-)

Thanks!

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2018-07-30 23:09

The Selmer E is very good, a lot of excellent players use non-C Selmer mouthpieces (like E, G, H). As suggested maybe try the softest reed you can and then move up if you need to.

There's a good chance a Selmer Bundy neck would fit your bass.

A bell isn't critical for your purpose, other than making it more comfortable to hold. You just won't have a few notes.

Re the ligature, a shoelace is good. If you are tired of wrapping it every time, and you have some epoxy, you can put plastic wrap around the mouthpiece with reed, wrap the shoelace and cover it completely with epoxy. You then have a ligature you can slide on and off. Some people prefer to leave the area of the shoelace that is over the reed without glue. You can smear a thin layer of grease on the plastic to make sure the epoxy doesn't glue to it.

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-07-31 01:29

That sounds brilliant, thanks. I did wonder if the bell was strictly necessary.

I like the epoxy ligature idea. I'm quite tempted to make one for my B flat clarinet too.

Thanks!

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-08-02 18:43

Hi,

I just wondered, do you think that Yamaha bass clarinet neck would fit onto my Bundy bass clarinet body? I'm just wondering because my local shop has one in stock.

Thanks!

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-08-03 01:38

I have just bitten the bullet and ordered it, so I will find out. I will report back in case it's useful to anyone else. :-)

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-08-09 17:57

Hi,

I've got all of the bits of my instrument now and have hit a really unexpected stumbling block. I wondered if I could what I should do?

The yamaha neck that I have bought fits the Bundy body. But the Selmer mouthpiece is too wide to fit into the Yamaha neck socket. I just wondered if you might know what is going on there? It seems to me as though that, of all things, would be the part that is standardized. Both are brand new.

The Bundy body is going really well. I've stripped off and polished all the keys. All of the pivot axles are polished up and ready to go. The new pads are coming in the post tomorrow, so we're going to be boiling the glue to stick them on tomorrow. Yay!

Thanks for thinking about it.

:-)

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-08-09 20:30

Actually, I just went and looked again, and I realised that it is just the cork that is a bit thick. In fact, if I give it a good shove, the mouthpiece goes in just fine, so I think we are in luck. :-)

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: sax panther 
Date:   2018-08-10 12:06

this is an interesting thread...I've got a bundy which works well, but has a vito bell instead of the original so the low Eb doesn't work, and there's nowhere to put the spike so I have to have it on a sling or rest it on a guitar stool.

Can't find anyone selling a bundy bell anywhere (the only bells I can find for sale are the really expensive Backun and Buffet icon ones) so maybe 3d printing is an option I should be exploring

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: donald 
Date:   2018-08-10 15:13

I needed a new neck for my 1933 Buffet Bass, and didn't want to get one of the Chinese ones on Xbay or to pay $1,000, so "put the word out" and waited. About a year after I first asked around (including an ad on this bb) someone contacted me to get me in contact with a player in Australia selling exactly the neck I was looking for. If you are after a Bundy/Selmer bell, there is a good chance one will come up if you are just patient (and have as many people as possible looking out for you). dn

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-08-10 19:38

"The new pads are coming in the post tomorrow, so we're going to be boiling the glue to stick them on tomorrow"

Chris.

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-08-10 19:47

"The new pads are coming in the post tomorrow, so we're going to be boiling the glue to stick them on tomorrow."

"Boiling the glue"? What kind of glue are you using?

I've never heard of "boiling the glue" in all my time as a woodwind repairer - that's what string repairers do with hide glue, but hide glue has no place in woodwind repair. And it stinks of wet dogs.

For pads you should be using shellac (in stick or flake form) and tenon corks, key corks and felts are stuck on with contact adhesive.

Chris.

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-08-10 21:06

Ooops! Sorry. I'm a violin player normally, and my viola has a wonky neck that periodically just breaks right off. I use hide glue to glue it back on, and the clarinet repair book that I read made me think I was meant to do the same. I must have misunderstood. It's done now. Double oops. Hide glue definitely comes back off though. I think that's partly why string players use it.

Anyway, in better news, the keys are all polished and new pads on and everything back in place.

The neck and mouthpiece are assembled and make exactly the sort of cheerful ringing horn noise that I was hoping for, with little vibration against my teeth. When I fix the neck to the body, the honking goes kind of woolly and more like a foghorn, which I don't think is quite right. The mouthpiece also then vibrates so violently that it nearly takes my top from teeth right out. The neck is loose in the body and there is no bell, so I'm not sure which is the problem.

I tried sticking the spout of my stainless steel watering can up the bottom of the instrument in lieu of a bell, and it made the sound louder but not better.

I am continuing to ponder.

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 Re: Building a bass clarinet on a shoe string
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-08-18 22:35

I've got the top few keys of my bass clarinet working now. I put some padding in around to fill the space in the place where the neck meets the body, and it is now quite solidly attached.

When I play it and press the top few keys I get different notes now. (Yay!). When I get down as far as the thumb key and press that, suddenly the whole instrument blocks up and then I can't blow through it at all any more. That's odd isn't it? I'm keeping at it.

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