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 problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: tdufka 
Date:   2019-11-10 09:41

I am trying to sort out two notes on a new Selmer Privilege low C bass. The instrument has a gorgeous bottom octave, the throat tones and notes across the break (B, C, C#) are fine. However the D4 and D#4 (lower clarion) are quite stuffy and diminished in volume relative to the notes immediately above and below. (C#4 & E4)

I understand that different registers of the instrument vary in tonal color, but on this instrument there is an abrupt change in voice at these notes.

I had an experienced repair person go through the instrument very recently and requested that he take a look at the D#4. He reported that he was unable to get the D# to speak any better, and now the D is muffled as well.

It looks like the D# key could be adjusted to open more fully, but there may be unintended consequences to this, such as changes in intonation.

Is it the case that these are problem notes in general or could this be an idiosyncrasy of this particular clarinet? I am coming from a saxophone background and am unsure how to approach this.

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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: ebonite 
Date:   2019-11-10 14:26

This is just a guess, but...
At least on my selmer bass clarinet, the 2nd finger of the left hand (L2) closes two pads, one immediately under L2, and another under L3. The two pads have to be set up to come down together over their tone holes. If there is a slight mis-alignment, I guess it's possible that you could get a stuffy D4 or D#4 because one of these two pads might be very slightly open. Lower notes might be better because when you press L3, it also adds a bit of extra pressure that would help to close these two pads.

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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2019-11-10 15:55

LH3 should lower but shouldn't fully close LH2 and the E/B vent key (under the LH2 fingerplate) as that can prevent the LH3 pad from closing (same thing applies to tenor saxes).

LH2 should fully close the E/B vent immediately underneath the LH2 fingerplate just as the LH2 ring key on soprano clarinets closes the E/B vent key it controls and LH3 is completely independent being a plain tonehole on the majority of clarinets.

It's regulated by bending the LH2 fingerplate and checking both pads close together - some people do stupid things like sticking bits of cork onto the felt and that only makes the action sluggish, defeats the object of using felt and above all it looks amateurish.

Chris.

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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: tdufka 
Date:   2019-11-11 08:05

After ebonite and Chris P's posts, I tried exerting a bit more pressure on the L2 and L3 keys while playing the D4 and D#4 and they were indeed improved and voiced more similarly with the adjacent notes!

This instrument seems to be set up as described: closing L3 closes a single tone hole, but also lowers, while not fully closing, the E/B vent under L2, and the key underneath and to the side of L3. If only pressing on L3 there remains a gap of roughly 2mm between L3 and these two keys. Does this seem like an excessive gap to mitigate interference with L3?

It seems as if L2 is closing the two pads equally, but something changes when I put more pressure on L2 and L3 together, which suggests that a better seal occurs.

Might one of these pads be out of level with the tone hole?

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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2019-11-11 10:02

Either that or the keys are loose on their pivots which will compromise reliability. Check how much wiggle the keys have - it could be a number of things from overbroached key barrels, overbroached pillars where the rod screws pass through or ill-fitting point screws depending on how the keys are mounted.

Years ago I hired an old Malerne cor anglais and the top joint main action pillars were either excessively worn out or were overbroached, so I couldn't use the side G# key on that as it took the rest of the LH main action with it causing the pads to leak. And with cork pads, that was a disaster.

I use a leak light to check bass clarinet pads as they have a relatively thin wall to the bore size and tonehole depth and diameter ratio (compared to soprano clarinets which have relatively long toneholes) which makes using a leak light possible, so check things with a leak light using just enough finger pressure to close the pads against their toneholes as opposed to forcing them closed.

Opening and lowering keys slowly will show you where the pads make contact with their toneholes - you don't want them hitting the back too early as that will make the action feel spongy.

Either go for an even seat where the pads make full contact with their toneholes or only very slightly heavier at the fronts for a more solid and reliable feel. But if the keywork is a sloppy fit, excessive finger pressure can cause the pads to leak at the backs when the keywork flexes. It could be opening a real can of worms, so prepare yourself for that.

Chris.

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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: donald 
Date:   2019-11-11 11:51

I'm a bit confused, I thought the OP was concerned about D and D# in the "lower clarion", why then are the left hand keys being discussed? Any leak there would equally influence the C#, C and B that are apparently ok?????

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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: ebonite 
Date:   2019-11-11 14:09

donald wrote:

> I'm a bit confused, I thought the OP was concerned about D and
> D# in the "lower clarion", why then are the left hand keys
> being discussed? Any leak there would equally influence the C#,
> C and B that are apparently ok?????

Well spotted... I was assuming that the OP meant [D4] because "D4" was mentioned....



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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: donald 
Date:   2019-11-11 14:54

The problem originally mentioned sounded to me as though the register exchange mechanism was not properly closing the key on the neck- if that key is even just fractionally open when the lower/other vent is in use it makes the notes very stuffy.
I recently borrowed a very fine Selmer bass that had this problem, intermittently, and the erronious opening of the neck key was so slight as to be only detectable by getting someone to push on the key while those notes were being played.
That said- I don't know why this would occur for D# and D, but not the C# C and B immediately below them.
So it may not be that at all.
dn

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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: tdufka 
Date:   2019-11-12 00:41

Yes I meant the lower clarion: D4 and D#4 as they sound, not as written in French notation.

Increasing the pressure on the L2 and L3 keys has made an improvement in the the C#, C and B as well, so it looks like another trip to the shop is on the horizon.

I will also check that neck register key as suggested, since it was previously out of adjustment.

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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2019-11-12 08:57

>> I'm a bit confused, I thought the OP was concerned about D and D# in the "lower clarion", why then are the left hand keys being discussed? Any leak there would equally influence the C#, C and B that are apparently ok????? <<

Not necessarily. Similarly to how a leak at the very top has a gradual effect from the upper clarion, depending on its exact size and location.

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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: donald 
Date:   2019-11-14 11:05

tdufka,
Please let us know how this turns out!
dn

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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: tdufka 
Date:   2019-11-15 04:27

donald,

Will do! Still waiting for my repair person to respond...

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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: tdufka 
Date:   2019-12-11 08:01

After visiting my tech, the solution was an adjustment of the register key, which was not closing fully. Visually it seemed to be closed, but was juuuust a bit open.

The C#/G# was also adjusted to better seal.

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 Re: problem notes on bass clarinet?
Author: donald 
Date:   2019-12-11 10:57

Ah interesting. I was right it seems! Glad it got sorted out, hope you can enjoy that bass a bit more now.

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