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 HP b flat clarinet
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-09-08 19:41

I'm planning to go and try out with a very beginner level orchestra next week, really as a helper for my son who is also trying out on French horn (aged 8).

A man in our woodwind shop told me that my clarinet is not in tune and cannot be tuned so I will not be able to play in an orchestra with it and I just wondered if I might ask about that?

I've just been reading up about clarinet lengths and I think that mine might be an HP B flat clarinet. It is 22.5 inches in length not including the mouthpiece and I read about it here.

http://www.gtc-music1.com/forum/index.php?topic=5197.0

I just wondered if you know whether that is right? I don't want to show up to an orchestra and play wildly out of tune, but I also don't really want to change my clarinet as it is a family heirloom having been bought my grandmother for my Mum in the 1950s. When I play C on the clarinet it comes out half a semi-tone above B flat. If I pull the barrel out to tune it, the barrel fall off, just before the instrument plays an actual B flat.

The clarinet is labelled E. J. Albert, Bruxelles and it looks like this:
http://theitinerantbotanist.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-rebuilt-clarinet.html

I would guess it is related to these:
http://www.clarinetsdirect.biz/EJAlberts-Fletcher.html
But it doesn't have silver keywork.

I wondered if anybody might know what the right thing is to do? Do you think I need a different instrument or a longer barrel maybe?

Thanks!

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2018-09-08 20:01

Definitely sounds like a HP clarinet. Unfortunately there really is nothing you can do short of reboring the instrument. I would start looking for a new instrument at this point.

There are some bands that use original high pitch instruments, and some musicians who use HP Bb instruments to play in the key of B natural. The instrument is definitely not worthless and you should hold onto it. Nothing wrong with owning more than one clarinet!

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-09-08 20:12

If it is High Pitch (which is around 452Hz), then nothing can be done to make it play down to 440Hz over its entire range.

It's built to HP and adding a longer barrel will have more of an effect on the tuning of the throat notes as you've effectively lengthened the top end of the instrument, but the rest of the clarinet will still be out of tune and the entire scale will be off as all the toneholes and joint lengths haven't been changed.

Your only option is to get a clarinet that's built to LP or 440Hz if you plan on playing in an ensemble that tunes to 440Hz.

Another option is to find a group that plays at High Pitch as there are tons of old HP brass and woodwind instruments in antique shops that can be bought for a good price as they can't be used alongside LP instruments. So a group made up of players of these old instruments that would otherwise be turned into ornaments could get another lease of life.

None of the HP woodwind instruments can be made to play down to 440Hz unless they have considerable surgery done which will be prohibitively expensive and probably end up costing as much to have done than it would be to go out and buy a used pro model built to 440Hz.

Converting a clarinet from HP to LP in its most brutal manner involves cutting the joints into several pieces and splicing in spacers to lengthen the joints to space some of the toneholes further apart and refinishing the bore, then lengthening the keywork as it'll no longer fit between the pillars, fitting new main action rod screws and then tuning and voicing work which is altering the toneholes.

It'll be a much easier thing to do on brass instruments by lengthening the main tuning slide and other slides all by the required/relative amount as they're effectively played by altering the entire length of the instrument as the whole length of the bore is used on brass instruments (ones with valves and slides that is) as opposed to woodwinds having a series of toneholes that are opened and closed for each note which are all in a set location.

Chris.

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-09-08 20:51

I just had a bash again at following the tuning instructions in my very high brow clarinet book. I ended up pulling the mouthpiece out by 4mm and and now all of the notes are just 1/10th of a semi-tone sharp. Do you think that that might be close enough, or am I missing something critical?

I've found a clarinet teacher to teach me, but I haven't had my first lesson yet. Hopefully when I get to him he can help me to figure things out.

Thanks for the comments so far. I get what you say. I'm just wondering if I have covered everything before giving up on the instrument.

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2018-09-08 21:31

i think that you're going to be working very hard to blend and some notes will stick out like a sore thumb. Remember that to blend on the chords requires adjustment of the note up or down and if you're already the wrong direction things will be hard.

How will you know if you're off? Listen, listen, listen.

I'd bite the bullet and get an inexpensive but solid clarinet. I started on a Vito 7414 that was much better than I was paired with a plastic Hite mouthpiece and an inverted Bonade ligature. Very little fighting involved with a simple setup like that.

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-09-08 21:35

I just remembered that at a concert I went to recently the French horns were a little apart in pitch from each other and I could hear the interference patterns really loudly. I suppose that is the risk if I am playing the same notes as another clarinet and I am a little bit out of tune, is it?

Oh dear.

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2018-09-08 21:40

SunnyDaze wrote:

> I just remembered that at a concert I went to recently the
> French horns were a little apart in pitch from each other and I
> could hear the interference patterns really loudly. I suppose
> that is the risk if I am playing the same notes as another
> clarinet and I am a little bit out of tune, is it?
>
> Oh dear.

Yes.

If you try to play in a modern ensemble with a HP clarinet, even with everything pulled out as much as you can, people will notice. I'm afraid its time to put your instrument out to pasture...

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2018-09-08 21:43

Sunny,

This is the same kind of issue that you experienced with the project to get the bass clarinet playing. All the advice you got above is rock-solid; if the clarinet is a HP instrument there is virtually no hope that you can get in tune as will be required for the orchestra.

But help me understand something. As I recall, you got into the bass project as an assist in overcoming a health/breathing issue, right? With what you had planned, that "hybrid" instrument would have worked. However, if you are planning to do any playing beyond the privacy of your own home, you will most certainly need standard equipment rather than trying to "make do" with a family heirloom.

The mouthpiece you got for your bass was a top quality Selmer product. Good purchase which will give good service. Keep that strategy in mind if you plan any other musical adventures; spending to get the right equipment is usually never wrong.

Good luck. I do believe the the lessons and possible group membership are worthy as well as reachable goals. But you must have the proper tools! Or as my old department head used to say "don't go into battle with a dull sword!"

Best,

HRL

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-09-08 21:45

Oh dear. This leaves three options:

1) Convince family to let me sell heirloom clarinet.

2) Hope that my son totally freaks out at the loudness of the orchestra and refuses ever to go back.

3) Take fiddle and get shocking RSI wrist injury, which is what always happens when I play the fiddle, right after the swift evacuation of everyone with working ears within a mile radius.

That's going to be a tricky one.

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2018-09-08 21:50

If you are really that desperate for an instrument I can give you a Bb if you would be willing to pay for shipping (you're in the UK right?). Send me an email if you're interested.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-09-08 21:53

Thanks Hank, yes I see what you mean.

I did originally mean just to play at home but I'm now running to keep up with my son who is very musical and apparently now plays the French horn quite competently. This is a new development that kicked off when I took him to the woodwind shop to have my clarinet looked at, back around the time of my first post here.

We rented one for three months and now he'd bashing out tunes and raring to sign up to an orchestra. He's very sound sensitive though, and I have absolutely no idea whether he will last ten minutes in an orchestra room, which makes it really hard to know whether to spend serious money on a clarinet for me. Last time I took him to an orchestra concert he only lasted half an hour, before fleeing the scene.

The bass clarinet is hilarious by the way, and I love it. I'm gradually repairing it, one key at a time and I have six working notes now. It's a little bit like a really stylish foghorn.

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-09-08 21:55

Jdbassplayer that would really be extremely kind of you if that was okay. I've been looking at ebay and I see some second hand instruments on there but I just don't really know where to start. I'd be very glad to play shipping, and really grateful for your generosity. I'll send an email. Thanks!

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2018-09-08 21:59

Sunny,

So, my recall is still OK at my age. I'd take jdbass on the offer of a Bb; you can't beat the price. If it doesn't come with a MP, I have many extra ones along with ligatures and caps that would be just fine for you. Just pay the postage.

As far as your son's condition, I can't be of much help medically.

HRL

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-09-08 22:06

Thanks, that's really kind of you Hank. You do have a cracking good memory.

My son is well understood fortunately. :-)

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-09-08 22:44

In case you would like a laugh, here is a video of me playing the bass clarinet (the notes that work so far).

It's not a musical experience but it's fantastic weightlifting exercise for the diaphragm.

https://youtu.be/Qwg7qsfz7LU

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 Re: HP b flat clarinet
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2018-09-17 22:13

Dear Hank and JDBass,

Your very kind gifts of clarinet and mouthpieces arrive today and I have just assembled them and had a play.

Thanks so much for these. You are quite right, they are tack sharp for tuning and actually just amazingly easier to play than my own clarinet. I think the pads on mine must be leaky because it screeches a lot and this one is just completely well behaved and is about as easy to play as a recorder. I had no idea.

Thanks so much for sending these. They will set me on a much better road for joining this orchestra.

I went last night btw and it went quite well. I couldn't get a sound out of my clarinet at all for ages until I realised that the reed had split and then I changed the reed and it was a lot better after that. It's very different playing when I can't hear myself easily. My task this week will be learning to get going in a loud room, which should be a lot of fun.

Most importantly my son had a brilliant time and I was able to sit right next to him as the clarinet section were right next to the horn section, so we got off on a great footing there and he played with great gusto and fantastic rhythm. :-)

Thanks again for your kind help. :-)

Sunny

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