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 alto clarinet
Author: Gene 
Date:   2020-02-27 07:13

Wondering where I could find pictures of the 3 different octave key mechanisim designs for alto clarinet.

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2020-02-27 08:24

Manual, single and double? Is there any particular reason you need this information?

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Gene 
Date:   2020-02-27 08:38

Trying to see what mine is and if I can make it better.

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2020-02-27 14:53

I would appreciate it too if someone could say what differences these make and which instruments they are found on. I'm looking for an alto (in Europe).





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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2020-02-27 16:43

It would be easier if you could just post a picture of your instrument or just tell us the brand as most are one type or another. Your instrument is most likely a single vent mechanism as 90% of altos are.

The differences are:

Manual:
Two separate independent levers right next to each other. This means that unlike on Bb clarinet you will have to move your thumb between the two. You would know if you had this.

Automatic single vent:
One register vent and one vent for Bb. The Bb vent opens when you take your thumb off of the F key or depress the A key.

Automatic double vent:
Two separate register vents for an improved clarion. The instrument will switch between the vents when you lift your right hand 3rd finger. If you hold the register key and toggle the RH3 touchpiece you will see the register mechanism move. If your instrument doesn’t have a long rod going up the back it is not this type.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: MichaelW 2017
Date:   2020-02-27 22:13
Attachment:  Selmer Alto.jpg (414k)

Déposé Henri Selmer Paris France, Q633 (1955)

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2020-02-27 23:18

That is a single register vent system. There is one thing you can do to make it better but it can only help so much. If you have a tech enlarge the register vent to around 3mm it will improve response in the clarion. Some altos already have 3+mm vents so it won’t fix all instruments.

Other than that there isn’t much you can do. I once had a Selmer but sold it and bought a 1950 Buffet with a double register vent mechanism and I am very happy with how it plays. Some older Selmers also have the double vent mechanism, look for one with a key on the neck. Just be thankful it’s not a contrabass clarinet, I’ve played a contrabass with a single vent and it was dreadful...

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: r small 
Date:   2020-02-28 01:47

I'm currently trying out the Buffet Prestige alto. It has the single vent placed above the Bb key. This system works pretty well. The clarion is a little resistant, about like a soprano clarinet, but the sound is pretty good.

update March3: at first the clarion register seemed to play pretty well. But by the second day I started to realize that it didn't play as well as the clarion on bass clarinets that I have played. And after spending some time slurring from various notes in the chalumeau to various nots in the clarion I become more and more dissatisfied with the response. By the end of the second day I was pretty disillusioned and decided to send the instrument back. It's a good idea to spend at least a couple of days trying out an instrument. In this case two days was all I needed. For more details see my post below.



Post Edited (2020-03-03 20:27)

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: ebonite 
Date:   2020-02-28 03:37

There is some useful information about various speaker mechanisms here:

http://www.lynsgarden.co.uk/Rosecroft/Clarinets.html

(click on "adjusting speaker mechanisms" on the left)



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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Gene 
Date:   2020-02-28 09:56

So my old plastic B&H has the same octave key as that Selmer series 9.Sometimes it fails to activate properly kinda like a sticky g#key on a sax

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2020-02-28 16:31

Gene wrote:

> So my old plastic B&H has the same octave key as that Selmer
> series 9.Sometimes it fails to activate properly kinda like a
> sticky g#key on a sax

I believe that’s because your B&H is actually a Selmer Bundy in disguise. As for the sticky pad I’ve started to use cork pads on the register mechanism of all my clarinets for this very reason. Even my contrabass has a giant 16mm cork pad on the Bb key. Take your instrument to someone familiar with oboes and they should be able to replace the pad with cork and stop the sticking for good.

-JDbassplayer

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Gene 
Date:   2020-03-01 00:39

It already has cork pads up there

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2020-03-02 06:38

Gene wrote:

> It already has cork pads up there

Interesting, my only other idea is that it would be a spring tension issue.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: r small 
Date:   2020-03-03 18:27

Deleted.



Post Edited (2020-03-03 19:01)

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: r small 
Date:   2020-03-03 18:57

Last week I received a Buffet Prestige alto on trial. I had high hopes for this instrument and really wanted to like it. But as it turned out it was a major disappointment. I knew before I ordered it that it was a single vent design. That should have been a deal breaker right there but I had read several reviews that claimed the Prestige didn't need a double vent mechanism, that it had a fine and responsive clarion register with just the single vent. This turned out to be inaccurate. Though I wouldn't say the clarion register was bad it was not what I would call free-blowing and responsive. All of the double vent bass clarinets I have played had a better clarion than the Prestige alto. I would characterize it as resistant. In any event it was not enjoyable to play and was pretty disappointing.

Also the ergonomics of the horn were not good. The slightly curved neck put the mouthpiece at an uncomfortable angle for me (I would have liked a more pronounced curve so that the mouthpiece set in the mouth as on an alto sax), and required an uncomfortable reach for the right hand to play the lower joint keys. So the hands, particularly the right hand did not fall naturally and comfortably on the keys. The hand would actually start to hurt after about ten minutes of playing. A neck with more curve probably would solve this issue by bringing the lower joint up a little, but where do you get an after market alto clarinet neck?

In any event, needless to say, I sent the horn back to the dealer. Buffet sells these horns at about $13,000 which I estimate is about twice what they're worth. The Buffet Prestige alto might make a serviceable intermediate horn but I would not consider it a top flight professional horn. Add a double vent for acoustics and a more curved neck for ergonomics and we'll talk.



Post Edited (2020-03-03 19:06)

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Kalashnikirby 
Date:   2020-03-03 20:40

Some good posts on here. Just to add my 2 cents:
- I’ve never been able to check out the Prestige alto. But that sounds really awful, no doubt a decent, modern instrument should have a double register mechanism.
- Leblanc or Noblet altos... kinda „meh“ to be honest. During a current project, where we’ve got 2 altos for an arrangement of Wagner’s „Wotans Abschied und Feuerzauber“ (from Walküre), my new colleague, who was really competent, had one of these. Though the overall tuning better than on my 50s Selmer, it’s not really good either and the sound is too „fat“ for my liking.
The most advanced (albeit also not changed since decades) Alto these days would still be the recent Selmer design.
-Seriously, don’t accept a non-adjustable neck, really makes life harder than it has to be. Given that tuning is always difficult with this instrument, you’ll be glad to precisely adjust your neck to find a good comprise. Since the alto is so often about blending, this should be mandatory, I suppose.

Best regards
Christian

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2020-03-03 20:56

If you get a chance try the new Yamaha, if it had a floor peg and a left hand Ab/Eb it would be perfect.

-JDbassplayer

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: r small 
Date:   2020-03-03 21:47

If the Yamaha ever gets around to adding the LH Eb key and a floor peg I'll give it a look. I find it strange that Yamaha would go through the trouble and expense of making an alto with the double vent mechanism and leave off the Eb key and floor peg. But these should be easy additions to make. Hello--Yamaha! Let's get on the stick here.

Also I should mention that there were some things I liked about the Prestige: The chalumeau was very good. Plenty of volume and easy response. Like playing a tenor sax. And overall the intonation was pretty good. But the mediocre clarion? And for $13,000? Buffet needs to do better.



Post Edited (2020-03-03 21:58)

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Ebclarinet1 
Date:   2020-03-06 09:33

How strange. I LOVE my Prestige and the octaves play so easily and I can go to a high C and play in tune. Another friend bought a new one last year and she loves it too. Moreover, I've been complimented by others saying "best alto I've ever heard".

I have played Selmers and LeBlancs. No comparison. I always hated neck straps so the floor peg is perfect.

I hope that you didn't get a klunker. The two I've seen and played are both amazing.

Eefer guy

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: r small 
Date:   2020-03-06 18:43

Eefer guy--What struck me about the clarion register on the Prestige alto was that the response was not as good as on bass clarinets that I have owned. I used to own a model 35 (low Eb) and a model 37 (low C) and both played better in the clarion register than the Prestige alto. And both had the automatic double register vent system. I believe the Prestige would have played better if it had the double vent system. It was not bad necessarily, just a little more resistant than I would like. And for the price (about $13,000) it should of had the double vent system. I think the Prestige alto would be a good horn for about half the price but I would not pay $13,000 for any alto or bass without the double vent system.

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Ebclarinet1 
Date:   2020-03-08 00:06

I did have my tech play with the octave mechanism and it was definitely better than the "out of the box" feel. Not sure what he did but it was much better. The Bb sometimes sticks when I start playing although my tech fixed that too. The sound I find is VERY appealing too.

I agree the price is high but after playing Selmers and LeBlancs, I found this a huge improvement. You do see the odd one offered for sale. One was ~$4K, which is MORE THAN REASONABLE.

Eefer guy

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: r small 
Date:   2020-03-08 08:08

I also had a problem with the ergonomics of the Buffet. The neck had only a slight curve to it which meant that there was a longish reach to the lower joint. And I have pretty long arms. The resulting reach made it a little uncomfortable for my right hand. I think a more pronounced curve to the neck would alleviate this problem by making it possible to raise the horn up a little higher on the peg or neck strap bringing the right hand up higher as well. I believe the neck should be angled in such a way as to allow the mouthpiece to set in the mouth as on an alto sax.

From what I can tell from pictures all of the big 3 maker's altos have about the same amount of curve on the necks. I checked around to see if there were any after market necks available with more curve but I didn't see anything. Alto clarinet has such an ideal range but I believe the neck and ergonomics issue is one reason why it hasn't become a popular instrument. And I don't see this changing. Clarinet makers seem to be a stodgy bunch, slow to change and try something new.



Post Edited (2020-03-08 10:13)

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Gene 
Date:   2020-03-10 04:56

Yeah I agree JDbass , funny thing is venting goes outa wack when I;m not playing it ,If I adjust it the set screw it works fine you can actually hear the differnce while im playing high g and middle bflat back and forth with one hand till both speak clearly .Then after playing I'll put it away for a day and the nextime its not venting and needs adjusting but nothing I can't solve



Post Edited (2020-03-11 03:45)

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2020-11-15 15:20

Bringing this thread up again, concerning after-market necks :

I finally got a used G.LeBlanc alto clarinet purchased from a restoration hobbyest in our region (I had lined up a BC Prestige but the virus crisis prevented me from testing the instrument so I had to drop that, appatently just as well). So far this is proving to be a lovely instrument tone-wise but the neck is obviously the weak point. Given my stature and hands, it makes for hard work for the right hand pinky keys and it is generally a bit sharp. Got me thinking about getting an adjustable neck, maybe with a different curve.

You know how you think your mobile phone is listening to you when you get those ads on your feed about the exact things just discussed at home in private with your better half? Weeeell, an aftermarket alto clarinet neck maker has just popped up on the infernal auction site, with several different models on display ! Anyone ever dealt with 'J D Woodwinds'? It hardly seems like a risk-prone niche market but I've seen things that sincerely try to solve problems but don't really work as well as hoped. At the prices quoted (professional mp range), one hopes for a good result.

Also, I'd appreciate suggestions on mps for the alto. It came with a Yamaha 4C which works, but what else is out there? Thanks !





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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: NOLA Ken 
Date:   2020-11-15 19:52

Regarding your mouthpiece question: I also have a Leblanc alto (the model with the swan neck). I have gone through seven or eight mouthpieces. My suggestion is that you swallow hard and pony up for Clark Fobes' 10K alto mouthpiece. If that is too rich for you you might try his Nova. (I have not tried the Nova but based on my experience with his top of the line model I would trust that it is much better than most on the market. And I like his Nova bass clarinet mouthpiece.) I think he is offering trials. I have an earlier Walter Grabner alto mouthpiece that I also like very much, but Grabner is not making that model any longer and I have no experience with his new HiTech model. Nothing else I have tried, including the Yamaha 4C, has been nearly as satisfying as these two mouthpieces. Going to the mountain might save you a lot of frustration trying out lesser mpcs unless you just like spending money and trying out different equipment.

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Hurstfarm 
Date:   2020-11-15 20:50

Regarding mouthpieces, I recently tried a Fobes 10k, a Grabner, a Hite and a Vandoren BD5, for potential use on a Selmer alto and Leblanc basset horn. For me, the BD5 was the surprise winner for both instruments, at less than half the price of the Fobes and the Grabner.

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: jdbassplayer 
Date:   2020-11-16 00:12
Attachment:  7DBBED3B-156F-4790-96AA-80FF30019A20.jpeg (343k)

The necks on “that auction site” are actually mine! I started making them because I found the necks on most altos to be inferior with regards to response and the angle of the mouthpiece. My Leblanc neck in particular is a huge upgrade from the stock swan neck which I find quite stuffy. Please feel free to send me an email if you want to talk about them.

As for mouthpieces, I did not like the Fobes at all despite using a 10K on Bb. My favorite stock mouthpiece is probably the Hite paired with a Vandoren 3 reed.

-Jdbassplayer

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2020-11-16 00:53
Attachment:  P2020053.JPG (692k)

I added a LH Ab/Eb lever and floor spike to my Yamaha alto as well as removed the lyre box and sling ring - even if most altos don't have that, they can always be added. See attachment.

Yamahas have a double speaker mechanism so the lower vent is open from throat Bb to upper Eb, then the upper vent is open from E upwards just as you'd have on pro level basses.

Chris.

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2020-11-16 13:17

Thank you all very much for the help and suggestions regarding my 'new' vintage alto.

Super to know that your are here JDbassplayer ! That's all the recommendation I need. I was so surprised and glad to see that an after-market neck was even contemplated, it was my first thought after getting this instrument. I definitely think the adjustable neck is a necessary investement for this lovely instrument and will contact you by mail to work out the specs.

As for the mps, being in France it is not common to find mps other than Vandoren (at least where I am) and the shipping and customs from outside the EU can be a real deal killer. I will have to hunt around and see what is possible. I recently was able to get my favorite ligature (Luyben) in record time from a luthier in Spain, so a good search often pays off. I may have to do this in baby steps as getting 3 or 4 on approval might not be possible. If I've learned anything with my vintage Bb instruments, it's that the right mp is the difference between a completely unplayable instrument and a playable instrument with the right sound. And I think the neck is the priority purchase at this point. Sadly I'm all dressed up with nowhere to go right now, being as we are in lockdown here in France :( so there is no big rush.

Again, thank you all for your contributions. This board is a great resource !





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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Hurstfarm 
Date:   2020-11-16 14:57

Howarths in London carry a good range of alto mouthpieces which despite Brexit should be reasonably accessible to you without transatlantic customs duties. They offer an approval scheme in the UK. Not sure whether that would extend to France because of longer transit times, but may be worth asking.

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2020-11-16 19:55

Thank you Hurstfarm, they do have the widest selection I've found so I'll be dealing with them probably.





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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2020-11-16 21:51

I would not be recommending the Pomarico crystal as they play very sharp.

Chris.

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Hugues Fardao 
Date:   2020-12-03 17:49

Hello, I'm from France and just registered here today to talk about Alto clarinets.

I picked up a Bundy resonite Alto clarinet in january 2018, just trying because I wanted lower notes than on my regular Bb clarinet, and I fell in love with the Alto, so I decided to choose a professional one (in fact my first pro horn), and found a second hand Selmer Paris a few months ago (september 2020).

According to the serial number, my Selmer was built in 1988 or 1989, so it's a "modern" horn. Seems that Alto clarinets did not really evolved since 50 years or so, and I'm sure my Selmer is the same instrument than recent Selmer ones.

Absolutly love it. Small bore (17 mm.), sweet sound, very good chalumeau (and that's what I'm looking for), clear and solid clarion, with difficulty on high B and C when started right on these notes, but no problems when they are part of a scale from low clarion to high register. And the high register is not hard to play.

I play on a good Selmer C* mouthpiece, standard and medium open (I don't like closed mouthpieces). About strap vs. peg, I usualy hate neck straps but I have a BG S02M shoulder strap, a leather epaulette lined with sponge, and wear it on the neck : the large epaulette is more on my shoulders and the base of my neck than on my neck only, and I feel very comfortable.

I wish I could test a Buffet Crampon Prestige Alto and a Yamaha too... I play-tested a Leblanc, good intonation, good sound, but I did'nt like the ergonomy, and the way I blow in it. I do prefer Selmer keywork and response. For me, old french Leblanc and modern Selmer Alto clarinets are good instruments.

My Selmer seems to me I "talk" with it, sending feelings and thoughts it sends back to me and the audience.

https://www.facebook.com/clarinettesolo/

Post Edited (2020-12-03 17:53)

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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Djudy 
Date:   2020-12-03 20:00

Thanks for sharing your experience Hughes, I can really relate to it. When I first picked up my alto I felt like I'd 'come home' musically . I love playing it and it has lead me to widen my jazz repertoire. Glad to hear the Selmer is a good instrument; I'd love to try one. How did you find it, a shop of private sale? Altos are scarce as hen's teeth in France, despite the fact that most are made here!





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 Re: alto clarinet
Author: Hugues Fardao 
Date:   2020-12-03 22:41

It was in a shop, I live in Caen (Normandy) where we have several music shops and repairmen for all kind of instruments.

(edit) :

The fact is that Altos are not so known, a chance for me because I waited months before I could buy this horn... but nobody seems to play Alto clarinet where I live. A chance for me.

But : there are basset horn players, we have a great Classical Music Conservatory, and one of the clarinet teacher (and first solo clarinet player in the Conservatory of Caen orchestra) used to play a Leblanc basset horn, in a band called "Les flamants noirs" with two other basset horn players.

So, in Caen and around Caen, Bb clarinet (for classical and jazz), bass clarinet, and even basset horn are actualy played, but I didn't see Alto clarinet here until I played my Free Jazz solo concerts on Alto myself.

I sometimes play on streets, some people say they guess it's a clarinet and ask for details, I explain Adolphe Sax story about the Bass clarinet improvement and why I have this bell on my clarinet.

Alto is way cool : not as heavy and bulky as the bass, lower notes than the Bb soprano, no thumb keys to learn how to play like a basset horn...

https://www.facebook.com/clarinettesolo/

Post Edited (2020-12-03 23:18)

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