Untitled Document
Advertisement Click to advertise with us!

Alto notes jump a 6th

Whenever this happens, the first place I start my looking into the problem is the trill keys on the upper joint. Particularly in the case of the B and C keys, they are exposed to damage much more than anything else up there, as a slight blow can move them off of the normal alignment, even though they are set in that bracket that most horns have.

Leblanc trill keys are also "different" in that they are set up as "jump keys" where one key vaults over the key cup of the one below. I have always found Leblanc trill keys to be more prone to this leakage issue, although all of my experience with them dates back to a six month period where I used a Leblanc bass.

In any event, take the cheap approach of checking the sealing of the keys before you start in with more drastic measures.
second that motion ...

as mentioned and you mentioned, take it back to the repair person to look at. So many oddity things could be wrong ... like 2 leaks .. that it affects things in a strange way. Best to make sure it is the instrument as you have stated other ones work fine.

Otherwise, just go buy some hose and wrap up the entire alto :)
But why is it jumping a 6th, and only on the one note? Methinks there's a small leak.

It is jumping a 6th from B to G#, and C to A because those notes are the next overtone in the harmonic series. This can be caused by the shape of the player's windway or by a leak in the vicinity of a pressure antinode of the note B or C. In my understanding of acoustics, a register hole too large would not override the 3rd harmonic and produce the 5th---especially on only two notes played using the register key, but I may be wrong about that.

My reasoning is that if there were a "permanent" leak in the clarinet those notes would "over blow" to the higher partials all the time. However the OP indicates that it happens only intermittently and the example he gave was going across the break. This is what leads me to suspect that a bumped key in the area of the side and sliver Eb/Bb is the cause. Switching back and forth between 3 different alto clarinets also adds to the chance of being unfamiliar with the feel of the key placements on any of them.

You can try this yourself on your clarinet by holding a 3rd space C and opening the side Eb. It over blows to a high A and will stay there when you close the side Eb. You can "bump" the side Eb and produce the same effect.

The other possibility is that on one or more of the alto clarinets the side Eb/Bb key is very wobbly on its hinge tube producing side to side motion which causes the key to close in an area other than its pad seat and leak sometimes, and to close on the seat and be airtight.

This is not uncommon on used clarinets and can give players (and techs) fits trying to find the leak which is "there and then its gone" over and over again.
John, everything you say is possible but re this:
My reasoning is that if there were a "permanent" leak in the clarinet those notes would "over blow" to the higher partials all the time. However the OP indicates that it happens only intermittently and the example he gave was going across the break.
It's entirely possible that a "permanent" leak would cause a problem every time simply by the player playing over it it sometimes. I sometime tried to purposely create some leaks in specific places on my clarinets to see what happens and some leaks in some areas I could feel but overcome, though I did feel I was trying harder and sometimes they overcame me...

Depending on what model Leblanc it is, it could be very similar to the Vito so if they have a similar problem it could be something to do with the design. I can't really suggest though unless I can try the instrument and feel it, check for leaks, etc.

In the first post you said the Buescher was "better", not that it didn't have the problem at all. In your second post you said it didn't have a problem at all. Even if it was the latter it is still possible that's it's the player (sorry not to get into the explanation of why).

Issues with the register tubes are also possible but not necessarily possible to improve without worse compromises, though it might be. I'd want to try the instrument before deciding anything.

Hope you find the problem.
I might add that a permanent leak somewhere usually causes the instrument to be unresponsive and stuffy, which the OP did not mention.

..."stuffy" is one of those terms that differs in its definition from person to person. I have a Selmer (Paris) Series 10S horn that plays well enough, yet is (in my judgement) "stuffy" when compared to my other Selmer clarinets. Naturally, this has concerned me to the point that I and my (now-dead) repairman went hunting for just such a leak.

A hour or so later, I was pretty sure that my fears of a leak were "unfounded". Now, i use the term "resistant" when describing the horn, and others seem to agree.

Perhaps I was born in the wrong decade. From the two that I have tested, I get the feeling that I was more a Radio Improved kinda guy.
That is an interesting observation. My understanding of those terms is that "resistance" can be overcome by blowing more pressurized air which results in a clear and robust tone if one works hard enough. An instrument with leaks that sounds stuffy when played with more pressurized air just makes a louder stuffy sound.

What is interesting is that some leaks in a woodwind can give the player the same feel of resistance as a non leaking instrument that is naturally more resistant because of the bore size, etc.
Well I took it to the repair tech and he carefully checked it for leaks and other issues. He really didn't find anything significant. He's a good tech but mainly a bassoon player which is a disadvantage when troubleshooting a clarinet problem; especially a problem that may be with that particular design. He said he has moved vent holes on occassion to improve problems (not really this one) but it's a costly process.

I think it's just the nature of some alto clarinets. I've had other alto players tell me that too. I've found that having the tip of the reed not far enough towards the tip of the mouthpiece makes it worse. Loosening my embrochure on those particular problem notes helps too.

I've resigned myself to the fact that I just need to be very careful when I sound those notes and maybe even modify the notated phrasing when I play certain intervals.

Has anyone here played an alto clarinet?
a stuffy clarinet can be stuffy for one person and not the next.

This is wholly dependent upon the player and their technical background.
They may be a great player too just unable to vary their style to another persons style to understand certain issues.

For instance, just take the throat A key.
that could sound stuffy for one person and not the next. Just look at air flow of one person to the next. The one player with higher air flow will find the A stuffy and the lower airflow person won't.

The height of the A key can have an effect. Even the type of pad and size of it related to the tonehole can have an effect.

And this can relate to any of the padded keys on the clarinet even with the clarinet providing a perfect seal on all pads.
Top Bottom