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 Bass clarinet register experiment
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2006-05-17 09:24
Attachment:  NeckRegisterTubeEnlarge.jpg (37k)
Attachment:  RegisterTubes.jpg (30k)


In the past I posted about the problem with jumping from low notes (low C to about thumb F) to middle clarion (clarion E to C) on the Buffet low C 1193 model.
When I first asked for advice about this people mostly suggested that the problem is the mouthpiece or reed. I thought that could be the problem until I tried the same mouthpiece and reeds on several Selmer 35s/37s and the problem didn't exist at all.

I contacted bass clarinet specialist and advisor for Buffet on low clarinets Jean Marc Volta and described the problem. He knew exactly what I was talking about! He explained how the size of the register tube affects the playing of those intervals (which I'm guessing are rare in orchestral music? which is probably the reason why Buffet do it this way, but I play them all the time).
The instruments with the bigger register hole are harder to control the intonation (according to both Volta and Morrie Backun, who I also contacted) but don't have the problem I described. Like almost everything, it is mostly about compromises.

I contacted a few people about making a bigger register tube for me. Clive Noakes from England, a hobbyist woodwind instruments restorer and engineer for over 50 years was the most helpful. He was as much interested as me to investigate. He had an idea - he made a bigger shorter tube that would fit (by screwing them) several tubes, each with different size hole. That way I could compare the different size holes as accurately as possible.

I wasn't able to unsolder the register tube from the Buffet neck, so I decided to just drill it out. The hole is exactly 3mm, so I started with a 3.5mm drill (I just drilled it without removing the tube from the neck), and planned to do it 0.5mm at a time until it drops. It didn't remove anything with the 3.5mm, but just made the hole bigger. I decided to try to play before drilling the tube completely out.
I played, and what a difference! Now the notes which were mostly impossible are very easy, pretty much as easy as the Selmers! It feels like a 4mm hole might improve it even more and make it very easy to play those intervals (but of course I'd have to change to a bigger tube to have a 4mm hole). The only downside (as both Volta and Backun have said) is intonation is slightly harder to control on some notes for example high clarion A#, B and C (EDIT: after playing for a long time with this big hole, I can say there is actually no significant change in intonation at all).

For example in the 2005 bass clarinet convention in Rotterdam I heard a piece called Press Release composed by David Lang, which constantly has attacks on low notes and legato to clarion E, and when I tried to play it (just the beginning from memory) it was absolutely impossible to play with the smaller hole! I could not understand how someone could play it, until I tried it on a Selmer.
Or, for example, a piece I'm playing now from the CD Double Trio - Green Dolphy Suite which has a fast swing melody where almost every two notes are a big jump. I simply could not play some parts from it smoothly, but now with the bigger hole I can, fairly easily.

I am making a huge generalization here (maybe the exception is the majority?) but I would say that I could understand why an orchestral bass clarinetist, even one who also plays solo but maybe not very modern pieces, would prefer the smaller hole. Maybe the sound is a tiny bit more focused, and I understand why Buffet make them this way.
I think that definitely most jazz/improvised music players, and maybe some "classical" soloists that play modern music would prefer the bigger hole. Notice I only enlarged by 0.5mm! Harry Sparnaay uses a very big register hole 4.5mm! (according to Volta).

I remember from the bass clarinet convention I heard a couple of soloists who played new Buffets, and I think I could hear the tiny delay when they made those jumps. I could hear they were struggling just slightly more than others in those intervals.

Clive Noakes was helpful and kind beyond believe! I also thank Jean Marc Volta for leading me to this information. Morrie Backun also gave me very good advice so I thank him too. I also thank some people from this forum - Chris Peryagh, Gordon Palmer, and David Spiegelthal.

I attached pictures. The first is the 3.5mm drill in the hole when I enlarged it and the second is all the new tubes, and I will report again after I have time to comapre all of them.

I hope this helps!

Nitai Levi
Jerusalem, Israel

Post Edited (2007-01-28 04:56)

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 Topics Author  Date
 Bass clarinet register experiment  new
clarnibass 2006-05-17 09:24 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
Chris P 2006-05-17 16:37 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
clarnibass 2006-05-18 05:18 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
Chris P 2006-05-18 09:06 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
fuglen 2006-05-18 11:38 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
clarnibass 2006-05-18 09:55 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
Gordon (NZ) 2006-05-18 12:03 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
clarnibass 2006-05-18 15:30 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
Chris P 2006-05-18 22:44 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
bill28099 2006-05-18 22:51 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
Chris P 2006-05-19 12:09 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
Jack Kissinger 2006-05-26 23:31 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
clarnibass 2006-05-27 15:18 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
fuglen 2006-05-27 23:13 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
clarnibass 2006-05-28 04:46 
 Re: Bass clarinet register experiment  new
clarnibass 2006-07-02 20:00 

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