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Electric Clarinet

Discussion in 'The Clarinet Family: General Discussion' started by Steve Bowman, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. Hello,

    This is my first post here. I'm taking up and learning to play the clarinet many decades after I played in high school. I just bought a used Noblet and I'm loving it. Playing Mozart again!

    My question is what pickup should I get to amplify my clarinet. My plan it to play electric clarinet--to put the clarinet sound through effects, delays, loopers, and merge it with the sounds I make with my keyboard synthesizers.

    From the research I've done, I want an internal pickup, like the one I see sold by PiezoBarrel, so I don't get feedback and I get the best possible clarinet tone as my source sound.

    I'm open to any suggestions about how to go about this? One question already: if I go with a pickup that is drilled into the barrel, do I need to get a Noblet barrel, or can I use just any generic barrel? (I intend to keep playing classical music too, separate from the electronics.)

    I'm also curious to know if anybody else is experimenting with electric clarinet.


    Gandalfe likes this.
  2. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Hey, Steve. Nice to see you here!

    Looks like the pickup you'd be looking at is the "Sol."

    Mic'ing a clarinet is a topic that has no real bottom. Everyone will have a different opinion. There are some decent suggestions at http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=337468&t=301518.

    Helen, one of our admins and a sax content expert, uses electronic effects with her sax, so you might want to check out http://www.woodwindforum.com/testforum/index.php?threads/saxophone-through-electric-guitar-amp.24066 for some tips.

    FWIW, saxophones have had pickups on (or "through") the neck for years. The clarinet barrel is essentially the clarinet's "neck," so I don't see any problem with a clarinet pickup in the barrel, from a design perspective and as a person who's never used a pickup on a clarinet or sax. However, it does mean that you have to drill a hole in your neck or barrel. Clarinet? That's relatively inexpensive, because 3rd party barrels could be used -- or buy another Noblet of the same model on eBay for parts. Sax? A new neck can be pretty expensive, unless you're talking student or intermediate model.
    TrueTone likes this.
  3. TrueTone

    TrueTone Clarinet, Sax, Oboe, History

    I've also seen some clarinets with pickups in the barrels. (last I recall seeing was a Full Boehm Buffet RC on ebay from a seller in Bulgaria)
    As Pete said, you could probably get an extra barrel to put the pickup in.
  4. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    TrueTone likes this.
  5. Thank you, everybody, for your replies. I think I'll give the Sol a try.

    I already have experience with electronic effects and pedals because I play space music on synths. In one of the linked threads people are discussing the different pedal effects--Boss vs DigiTech vs Liine. That's an old thread. For new people seeing this, all the technology around audio performance is advancing very rapidly, and what they can do is mind blowing. In terms of pedals and foot-controlled effects, all the leaders create good sound so what's left is the huge selection of features to choose from. Now some can even be managed from an iPad or iPhone. It just depends on what you're trying to do. When I get my pickup, I'll experiment and report back here. I intend to see how far I can push the boundaries of electric clarinet.

    An example of what the latest audio processing technology can do: loop and repeat an audio signal (a phrase on the clarinet, say), and play it back at a slower tempo without changing the pitch, or conversely at a lower pitch without changing the tempo. Think of the possibilities, especially with live looping.

    Anybody else doing anything exciting with electronic effects?

  6. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Yes, I know. I'm a long-time fan of Andrew Bird. He uses all these in his performances -- even way back in 2009.
  7. I looked at these Andrew Bird vids. Actually what he's doing is pretty straight-up looping as accompaniment. He's good. (But it's not a clarinet.)

    My inspiration for using a classical instrument to loop and build sonic landscapes is Shannon Hayden, classical cellist. She's a master musician, and applies all her skill to her solo act with a big foot board of looper and effects. I've seen her perform live three times, and she's amazing.

    I've yet to find somebody who goes to this extent with the clarinet (or sax).
  8. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Well, you did say ANYBODY :p.

    Andrew Bird has hundreds of charts. The effects he uses can be just the simple looping, but he's also done the stuff with the "loop and play down an octave," etc. He used to only wear socks during performances, so as better to hit the various foot pedals ... until he hurt himself.
  9. An image I am trying to get out of my head
  10. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Red Hot Chili Peppers?

    OK: "He used to only wear socks on his feet during performances."

    Chris J likes this.
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