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 Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: bradfordlloyd 
Date:   2018-12-04 16:02

Just an amateur here, but thought I'd share my experience...(not a paid endorser and I have no relationship with the Kesslers other than I bought the horn from them)

I had been looking for a low C bass, and couldn't find one for a price I was willing to pay. After hearing Michael Lowenstern's review of the new Kessler, I decided to order one.

It arrived just yesterday and WOW. It's a terrific instrument. It truly exceeded my expectations in terms of quality (especially keywork, which I was worried would be soft -- but it isn't!), playability (tone, intonation, and it plays right out of the box), and finish (beautiful instrument, nicely thought through and assembled). I'll need to spend some time practicing use of the right thumb keys, but other than that, I'm thrilled.

Mostly, I'm excited that a Chinese-made (and then US-finished) horn could deliver so much quality for the money. It gives me great hope that we will see more and more instruments coming out of China that will be affordable and desirable. Great work Kesslers!

Give this instrument a try! (BTW, I was nervous about ordering it before playing it...but it was a risk very much worth taking)

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-12-05 00:18

Have they sorted out that crap LH low D linkage that doesn't even work?

Chris.

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2018-12-05 05:13

Chris...as usual you are so remarkably subtle

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2018-12-05 09:21

>> and then US-finished <<

Do you know what is done to them in the US? Just curious what does "finished" mean.

>> especially keywork, which I was worried would be soft -- but it isn't! <<

The days of people constantly saying cheap instruments have soft keys should be over and maybe not even exist in the first place. At least two companies making some of the top pro models have keys significantly softer than most Chinese instruments, and no one is accusing them of having soft keys. Some of the hardest keys I've seen were on Chinese instruments. I've also seen Chinese instruments from the 90s or even before with stiffer keys than those high end models. Whether the keys are soft or hard is not an issue in the way most people refer to it.

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2018-12-05 18:20

The LH Low D on my 1st gen Kessler is pretty useless. But the RH thumb low D works very nice.

I think I saw a photo indicating a different LH design on the 2nd gen.

MojoMP.com
Mojo Mouthpiece Work LLC
MojoMouthpieceWork@yahoo.com

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2018-12-05 18:58

The new Kessler looks exactly like the generic low C bass clarinet that I bought 5 years ago, right down to the LH low D key and the "Noblet style" trill keys. From what I remember that instrument played very well with great intonation, but the LH low D key was useless unless you also held down the low Eb key. I was able to make it a little better with some teflon tubing, so maybe they did something like that on the Kessler.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2018-12-06 13:27

If the linkage piece for the LH low D lever pin had a hole instead of a slot, it would work much better.

Chris.

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: bradfordlloyd 
Date:   2018-12-07 01:25

I don't know what the old "crap LH low D linkage that doesn't even work" was like, but I have had no trouble with LH low D or RH low D with the 2nd generation horn.

And I agree with the comments on keywork -- I hear many folks complain that keywork is soft when it's just fine. No issues with the keywork on the Kessler horn (some said it was soft on the first generation...but I can't speak to that)



Post Edited (2018-12-29 23:08)

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: Max S-D 
Date:   2019-12-06 05:17

I just had a chance to try out the 2nd generation Kessler Low C bass clarinet at their Charleston Blvd location yesterday, coincidentally exactly a year after this thread was first posted.

I typically play an older Selmer 33, and while I didn't have it with me for comparison (in town for work), I do play it almost every day and would like to think I am familiar enough with its tendencies to refer back to it from memory.

The Kessler instrument I was able to play is their floor demo model that has seen a lot of action and could probably use a bit of adjustment, but I think it was in good enough shape to draw some conclusions from. I brought my own mouthpiece and reeds in anticipation of trying the instrument out.

To be blunt, I was absolutely floored by what you get for the money.

The tone in the lower register is clear and powerful. I think the lowest C might be a bit more focused (and definitely more in tune) than my Selmer, which can get a bit "blatty" if I'm not careful. At a mezzoforte or above, I thought the horn sounded comparable to the Selmer, but I did feel myself having to be very particular about consciously voicing the notes at a softer volume to get them to sound pretty in a way that I don't worry about on my own instrument. Probably something I could learn to work around.

The clarion was quite good. The dreaded long B was only a little sharp. Well within a "workable" range. All bass clarinets I've played have a sharp long B to some extent and this was probably better than most. Shockingly, though, the long B was delightfully clear in tone. On just about every student bass clarinet I've played, the transition from the throat A to the long B is a bit jarring, with a bright (sometimes raspy) A and a stuffy B. Playing a scale across the break revealed a very satisfying evenness from note to note that felt very polished. This is probably the way that the instrument felt most like a professional bass clarinet and really stood out from all the student bass clarinets of various ages that I've played (a couple examples each of Noblet, Yamaha, Bundy/Selmer USA, Vito).

The upper clarion was good, but I couldn't push it to as much of a forte/fortissimo range as I can on my Selmer. Probably not a problem if you aren't playing more advanced solo repertoire, but I would guess that a lot of people interested in this instrument will be playing that stuff. Based on the fact that most bass clarinets are not strong there, I suspect that this is just a difficult range to build for. It's certainly the hardest range for me to push hard as a player, regardless of the instrument.

Altissimo was a little different from my Selmer, but I've also got a set of altissimo fingerings that only seem to work on my Selmer and only for me. I'll leave that for others to review. Getting notes to pop in those higher partials wasn't any problem.

Intonation wasn't perfect, but definitely within a manageable range. Lord knows my Selmer's intonation isn't perfect.

Keywork is good, but not great, in my opinion. The register key is a teardrop shape like on a Bb clarinet instead of the more contoured, saxophone-like one on my Selmer. I think that would be a big improvement, but obviously not a dealbreaker.

I agree with the people above that said the LH pinky low D key is useless. It's just way, way too heavy compared to every other key on the instrument. If that's how it's got to work, I think it would have been better to just leave it off and save the weight and complication. There's no way I'd use that in a fast passage.

The thumb key layout is simple and easy to work with. I could see myself learning to get from note to note pretty comfortably there.

The C#/G# is not articulated, which I've gotten used to but could learn to live without.

The double register mechanism seems to work well. I will defer to repair techs on how mechanically sound it is, but in playing the instrument, it wasn't holding me back.

Overall, though, I thought the horn sounded fantastic. It has the definite feeling about it of an instrument where money has been spent where it matters and saved in other places. It's utilitarian and you know they aren't charging you extra for things that aren't going to make the instrument play better. There are some roughly-finished surfaces in places where you aren't likely to look (undersides of keys, mostly) and the overall cosmetic appearance definitely won't stack up to a Buffet or Selmer.

But that's what gets me about the instrument. I'm comparing a $2,300 bass clarinet to the finest bass clarinets in the world and it's really not coming off badly at all. I think this instrument might be in a class of one. Or maybe two, since I haven't played the Ridenour.

While I do prefer my Selmer, I could easily take the Kessler to any bass clarinet gig, rehearsal or recording session I've ever played and nobody would notice anything wrong.

Given that this horn goes for about a third of what I've spent on my Selmer buying it (used) and getting it to where I want it, I'd say that's pretty impressive!

Beyond that, I had a chance to chat with Adam Kessler for a bit about these horns (they can't even have them made fast enough to keep them in stock) and the AK ligatures that he makes in his garage (his garage is not like yours, I would guess). He was great to talk to and was pretty cool about me showing up and playing their bass clarinet in a room for an hour knowing full well that I wasn't going to be buying one.

I'd recommend this horn without hesitation to anyone looking for a Low C bass clarinet who doesn't have a Selmer or Buffet in the budget. Even if you do, it would be worth checking this one out. This would be a great instrument for students or doublers. I don't see it holding you back at all.

Given the many years I was on a plastic, one-piece Bundy, I wish I had had a horn like this!

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: GBK 
Date:   2019-12-06 08:24

Michael Lowenstern did an excellent video review of the Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet on Oct. 2018:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oogvwQGIGZc

...GBK

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: Max S-D 
Date:   2019-12-07 08:35

Adam Kessler was joking that they should build a "Michael Lowenstern Wing" of the shop after that review.

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: bennysuts 
Date:   2019-12-08 01:45

Kessler, and the other sellers of that bass, are making a killing in those horns. You can buy one straight from the factory for less than half of what they charge, with your own name on it to boot.

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2019-12-08 03:07

Bennysuts,

I'd be interested in knowing a little more background on your comment that you "can buy one straight from the factory for less than half..."

HRL

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: bennysuts 
Date:   2019-12-08 04:40

It's pretty straightforward, you can buy one yourself for a little over US$1k plus post.........
I approached the maker directly and enquired about a price for one of their bass clarinets



Post Edited (2019-12-08 04:44)

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: DougR 
Date:   2019-12-08 04:54

I'll just add here, with all due props to Kessler Music for doing their damnedest to cater to beginning/intermediate players via the finest quality instruments possible, that O. DiBella Music in New Jersey also has a line of low-c basses, probably the same basic instrument as the Kessler model but with tweaks from an importer who's also an engineer. The instruments all pass thru the hands of DiBella's master repair guy, Dan Sagi, which means they are adjusted superbly. The guy I study with (a NY studio/pit pro) got to hear Dan play the DiBella bass against a Selmer Privilege, and said tone and tuning-wise at least the instruments were indistinguishable. I asked Dan about Michael Lowenstern's criticism of oriental-made basses, that the key materials were so soft the horns constantly went out of whack, and Dan said they've re-engineered the key materials so that the horns stay in adjustment. (He has a number of these instruments out on rentals to schools--and said they hold adjustment just fine.)

Overall, I think this is an excellent time to be in the market for an inexpensive low-c bass!

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: bradfordlloyd 
Date:   2019-12-16 21:08

I've been playing mine for just over a year now and I've continued to be impressed. It's just a darn good instrument -- and especially for the price!~

There are, however, two issues I've had that are worth noting: (1) the screw in the mount that holds the peg basically broke and had to be replaced (with an easily available Yamaha screw of the same type, (2) the neck broke into two pieces due to insufficient welds/solders to hold it together. As a temporary solution, some crazy glue and duct tape held it together, and a replacement could be found easily on that auction site for less than $100.

It was annoying, and probably wouldn't happen on a $10,000 instrument...so while China has made great progress in making instruments, there's still some room to go!

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2019-12-16 22:49
Attachment:  IMG_8089.PNG (43k)

>It was annoying, and probably wouldn't happen on a $10,000 instrument...

My Selmer Privilege begs to differ!

-JDbassplayer

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: Max S-D 
Date:   2019-12-17 04:13

Re: the comments about this being the same Chinese instrument as you can buy "anywhere", where are you seeing these? Occasionally I see people make oblique references to these mysterious manufacturers that will sell you a bass clarinet direct, but nobody has shown me where they hang out.

While I was at Kessler, Adam freely admitted that the original (first generation) Kessler bass was the exact same instrument as the Ridenour. This generation apparently had a number of improvements to the keywork to make it a bit sturdier and more playable. The way he described it, they pretty openly imitated the Yamaha keywork. I never played the first generation, but I think the people saying this is "the same instrument as X" might be working with outdated information, unless Adam was lying to me (which seems unlikely) or the factory was lying to them (possible). It sounded like the factory was really taking their feedback in each iteration of the instrument.

Regardless, it's exciting to have ANY options available in this price range.

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2019-12-17 05:37

>While I was at Kessler, Adam freely admitted that the original
> (first generation) Kessler bass was the exact same instrument
> as the Ridenour. This generation apparently had a number of
> improvements to the keywork to make it a bit sturdier and more
> playable. The way he described it, they pretty openly imitated
> the Yamaha keywork. I never played the first generation, but I
> think the people saying this is "the same instrument as X"
> might be working with outdated information, unless Adam was
> lying to me (which seems unlikely) or the factory was lying to
> them (possible). It sounded like the factory was really taking
> their feedback in each iteration of the instrument.

The "second generation" of the Kessler is ironically the same as the first generation of the Ridenour (Arioso). If you want to purchase directly from the factory just go on "that auction site" and buy a bass from China. While the fit and finish of the second gen Kessler may be better, the design is identical to the instrument I purchased in 2013:

http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=460176&t=397459

Given my recent experience with Chinese clarinets (just purchased a Boehm G clarinet) I imagine the fit and finish will be much better than in 2013.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: bennysuts 
Date:   2019-12-17 13:39

My comments relate not to purchasing one of these from that auction site, but rather from the maker directly. Based on social media posts it was not difficult to find the company that produces basses for Kessler’s and other well known stores. When I approached them about a bass they came out straight away and asked if I wanted the one they sold to Kessler.

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2019-12-17 16:00

Say what you will about the chinese Instruments, there must be some sort of ongoing development with these instruments.

Quite recently, I saw that the ones labeled "Yinfinte" now have these plates on both joints to prevent any rotation of the instrument, much like a Ridenour.
Chances are these will pop up at Kessler eventually and they'll call it 3rd Gen

On a site note, I'd have almost kept a wooden cheapo Eb from G4M, but 1-2 issues kept me from doing so; the potential for this one to be a wonderful instrument is there. In particular, while not ergonomically perfect, they keywork quality was pretty good.
Whether or not Kessler removed this from their online site because of similiar issues or not, I'm pretty sure these are also identical instruments and you can find plenty of them on ali or ebay.
The only question is, when does a company go the extra mile and have an actual brand name, intense R&D and better qualtiy management? People would easily pay more, maybe even double for that.

Best regards
Christian

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 Re: Kessler Custom Low C Bass Clarinet - 2nd Generation
Author: tdufka 
Date:   2019-12-17 23:46

In support of Christian's question about going the extra mile on R & D and QC: Why not indeed? Wood instruments will only become more expensive as the preferred wood becomes more scarce.

I have never understood why the Chinese manufacturers chose to copy the Yamaha in the first place?

Why not copy the Selmer or Buffet designs with more reasonable keywork for the lowest notes?

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