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 Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: kenabbott 
Date:   2019-10-14 19:02

I’m advising my alma mater on the purchase of a bass clarinet for their wind ensemble. How extensively is the extreme low range needed for the standard wind ensemble pieces? I have 19 clarinets, but I haven’t played the bass in a wind ensemble setting.

Ken Abbott
abbottk@post.harvard.edu

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2019-10-14 19:40

Hi Ken,

I play in two very fine wind ensembles and do a lot of pit work Reed IV and V and I can't remember a time that my Selmer Model 65 Privilege (Low Eb) was not low enough. However, in more contemporary Grade IV and above band compositions I imagine that in the future, the low D, Db, and C will be required. More importantly, what ever bass clarinet you recommend will likely last several decades so it is probably best to go the Low C route.

Although I have always player Selmer woodwinds in the past, both the Buffet and its cousin the Uebel in Low C would be excellent choices.

Best regards,

HRL



Post Edited (2019-10-14 21:55)

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-10-14 19:55

Hank Lehrer wrote:

> Hi Ken,
>
> However, in more contemporary Grade IV and above band
> compositions I imagine that in the future, the low D, Db, and C
> will be required. More importantly, what ever bass clarinet you
> recommend will likely last several decades so it is probably
> best to go the Low C route.

Hank, I don't doubt that you may be right, but I'd love to know why those future band composers will have waited so long to find that those bottom notes are crucial to their music. Low C basses have been around for well over a century, so they aren't some new toy that university composers suddenly have to try out.

To the OP, if there's any chance that the instrument will be used for 20th or 21st century orchestral or even pit work, the low C may be needed to play even existing repertoire.

Karl

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2019-10-14 20:27

Depends on the repetoire, but most wind esembles here in Germany or the neighboring Netherlands employ the low C bass clarinet.
One grand concert band work is The Lord of the Rings Symphony by de Meij. he recently even extended that work with one or two additional movements (adding a choir and whatnot). There's probably many older works that too include the low D/C. Even some grade IV works require the low C. All bands at a competion our orchestra attended had low C basses. So there you have it. Hardly seen a band with only low Eb basses.

Good 'ol Percy Grainger or Gustav Holst didn't write for basses that low. Experts here will know when the lower basses first appeared.

OP, you're certainly aware of the plastic/ ebonite basses, which are quite decent, too.


Best regards
Christian



Post Edited (2019-10-14 20:28)

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-10-14 21:01

I would say that composers and arrangers today assume they have that range and write for the low concert Bb.



Unless you KNOW the piece or pieces you're going to play DON'T have a written low C, you should have a low C bass.




..............Paul Aviles



Post Edited (2019-10-14 21:50)

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Hurstfarm 
Date:   2019-10-14 21:34

Increasingly the wind orchestra repertoire assumes low C basses. The same applies with clarinet quartets. There are extended range notes in the established chamber music repertoire (Janacek’s Mladi being one example). In most cases players with low Eb instruments will simply transpose the occasional note or short passage and few people will notice. However, if the option is there for a low C instrument you should go for it, and future players will thank you for it!

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2019-10-15 18:07

Back in the late 60s, I got to know the composer Karel Husa who was teaching at Ithica University. He had spent a summer as composer in residence at the Eastern Music Festiveal where I was teaching and we got to know each other pretty well. He offered to write a bass clarinet concerto for me but his publisher told him it would never sell. He considered writing it for bass clarinet or tenor sax but it never came to be. One day he called me to confirm that the bass went down to low C because he was writing a piece for wind ensemble and his director of ensembles told him the bass only went down to Eb. He asked me if he can use my name and position to confirm the range. Then he asked me some questions about trill possibilities. At the time I was not able to trill a low D to C on my Selmer model. It made me think so a few years later I had a low D added to my bass on the left side to make it possible. I didn't have to use it for another 30 plus years. I don't know what wind ensemble piece he wrote at the time. My suggestion, get a low C instrument.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2019-10-15 18:07

You also find old arrangements where descending bass lines jump up an octave because the arranger thought a low Eb or lower notes were not available on the bass clarinet. Then you need to decide if you should play these as written (tradition) or “fix” it like the original arranger would have done if they only could see the future.

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

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: davyd 
Date:   2019-10-19 19:39

Range issues aside: How different are the low C instruments in timbre? Does the additional length make a significant difference?

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Chetclar 
Date:   2019-10-19 20:36

The addition length make a huge difference! The resonance of the lower notes is much greater, and the low e flat obviously is smoother sounding because the hole is on the wood, not on the bell. The over all sound quality of a low c instrument in my opinion is exponentially better in all ways than a low e flat bass. I am also a fan of purchasing a professional level low bass—you get what you pay for!

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-10-19 21:53

As an occasional bass player I am a bit confused by the above post.. Once I get up to the "C" just below the staff resonance seems the same to me either way you go. But I also am one of those that MUCH prefers the response of the Selmers (Eb or low C) to the Buffets. Maybe that's a factor as well.



.............Paul Aviles



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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: ebonite 
Date:   2019-10-19 23:02

My selmer bass clarinet was originally a low Eb instrument, but I had it converted to low C after I had been playing it for a few years. The tonehole parameters for the extension were based on an actual low-C instrument, so it is now equivalent acoustically to a factory-built selmer low C. This means that I can compare apples with apples, as I am comparing the same instrument in a low Eb and low C configuration.
I didn't notice any major changes in resonance after the conversion---in fact, it was very resonant throughout the range as a low Eb instrument, as it is now as a low C. The only note that sounded different was low Eb, which was very much improved in sound and intonation after the conversion. Apart from that, there were minor improvements in the intonation of low E/B and F/C.

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: donald 
Date:   2019-10-20 03:56

I have a Buffet low E flat bass (from 1935 but with almost exactly the same register mechanism as my friends modern RC bass) and I love playing it, but always find myself regretting that it doesn't have low C. Especially as the orchestra I play with (Auckland Chamber Orchestra) does lots of modern works, so I'm always having to borrow a colleagues low C bass.
ebonite - who did the conversion for you?
dn

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: ebonite 
Date:   2019-10-20 17:06
Attachment:  new_selmer2.jpg (101k)
Attachment:  new_selmer3.jpg (334k)
Attachment:  new_selmer4.jpg (335k)

Hi Donald,
The conversion was done by Peter Worrell, an instrument maker here in the UK.
I'm attaching photos (hope the attachments work!)
Patrick

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2019-10-21 16:06

Ebonite,

That's a pretty impressive piece of work. It makes me think that turning my backup Model 30 bass clarinet into a low C instrument might b possible.

HRL

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: donald 
Date:   2019-10-22 09:48

Yes, looks great - are the extra notes just operated by the thumb keys, or has an extra D key etc been added? I'm quite interested in getting this kind of work done on my old Buffet, but would have a hard time convincing my wife that it's necessary ;-)

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: ebonite 
Date:   2019-10-22 11:24

Hi Donald,

donald wrote:

> Yes, looks great - are the extra notes just operated by the
> thumb keys, or has an extra D key etc been added? I'm quite
> interested in getting this kind of work done on my old Buffet,
> but would have a hard time convincing my wife that it's
> necessary ;-)

Yes, it is a very good job, and it works well as a piece of engineering.

I didn't want any extra pinky keys, so I asked for all the low notes to be operated by the thumb. With practice, it's quite easy to get around the low notes, as the keys have quite a light touch, and they only require a short travel. I recently played a contemporary orchestral piece where almost the whole of the first page was written using notes Eb and below. However, I could imagine situations where an extra D key would be useful (e.g. low C - low D trill)

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2019-10-22 23:45

That does look like a really lovely piece of craftsmanship. I think Peter W did a similar conversion on a low Eb Selmer some years ago for Tony Lamb ENO.

I have a low C B&H Imperial bass clarinet where most of the lowest notes are also on thumb keys only. I like the sound but the ergonomics of those thumb keys is rather poor.



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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: ebonite 
Date:   2019-10-23 19:31

Caroline Smale wrote:

>
> I have a low C B&H Imperial bass clarinet where most of the
> lowest notes are also on thumb keys only. I like the sound
> but the ergonomics of those thumb keys is rather poor.
>

The B&H bass with the removable extension is quite a rare beast!

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: EbClarinet 
Date:   2019-10-24 04:46

In Prelude In F-Minor, a low C is required for a good bit. Shostokovitch (sp) has that. Modern composers do write for that low C. Trilling or tremolo down there, I wouldn't see a need for that but modern composers would.

I played a low C bass 4 5 years in college. Playing those lower notes w/o squeaking is a big challenge 2. When I played those lower notes, it took a lot out of me because they rattled my mouth and mouth piece. I could play down there 2 long because of this.

So does the Eb Contralto have low C? Does the BBb Contrabass have low C?

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/mbtldsongministry/

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Mojo 
Date:   2019-10-24 17:13

Only the Leblanc Paperclip has a low C on the contra alto. Several contra basses have low Cs on them.

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

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: ericr 
Date:   2019-10-27 04:17

Beautiful craftsmanship. Is the extension permanently affixed, of can you just basically take it off and leave it home when not needed?

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: ebonite 
Date:   2019-10-27 13:21


ericr wrote:

> Beautiful craftsmanship. Is the extension permanently affixed,
> of can you just basically take it off and leave it home when
> not needed?

The extension joint is permanently glued on with epoxy. Removable ones can also be made, but they are more complex, requiring four bridge keys linking the lower joint with the extension.

Interestingly, the Boosey & Hawkes Imperial bass clarinet, which Caroline mentioned above, was available with a factory-made removable low-C extension, so it could be used either as a low-Eb or a low-C instrument.

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2019-10-27 13:35

Leblanc (temporarily??) did the same and so my 430S had an extension that actually sat on a tenon with cork and was mounted using a ring and tiny screws. As such, it came loose over time and I glued it with epoxy - no issues since then. No way I'd ever try (again) a non-permanent Low C extension, though

Best regards
Christian

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: Grabnerwg 
Date:   2019-10-29 16:31

If you are serious at all about playing bass clarinet, buy a low "C" model. Even relatively easy band scores now contain the lowest three notes, as are books for Broadway shows, and an increasing number of orchestral parts.

You are at a competitive disadvantage playing a low Eb model. I consider it an obsolete instrument.

Walter Grabner
November is Free Barrel Month at ClarinetXpress!
Also special Buffet R13 promotion!

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 Re: Low C vs Low Eb Bass Clarinets
Author: HANGARDUDE 
Date:   2019-11-09 04:40

I agree with what everybody suggested above: Get a Low C bass if you are a serious about it. More and more repertoire call for the extended notes. In my 8 years playing bass clarinet, 80% of the repertoire I've come across goes down to at least a Low D or Db. You'll never know when you need them!
This is especially true in newer repertoire(contemporary solo and chamber works). For example, I was part of a 40-piece ad-hoc bass clarinet ensemble which performed at Clarinettist 2018(A homage concert to the late Harry Sparnaay and Guido Six), and all of us had Low C basses which proved to be essential as the piece we were playing frequently called for the extended notes!
And in case you need to sell your Low C bass one day, it shouldn't be a problem doing so as Low C basses, especially quality ones, are very well sought after in the 2nd hand market.

Josh


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