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Bass Clarinet Resistant Just Above the Break

I play on an old Selmer Low C bass clarinet that my school owns. The instrument plays pretty well in all ranges except for just above the break. The range from B to the D just above the break is really resistant and hard to play in, especially with regards to dynamic control and tone quality. However, the moment I switch to notes below the break (throat Bb and lower) or higher than the D (E on the top of staff to higher notes) the instrument plays beautifully. I can't figure out why this is. Everything seems to seal and open properly. Has anyone else ever encountered this problem before or has a clue as to how to fix it? Thanks!
Your problem is probably a leak in one of the large pads. Bass Claris are generally very intolerant of even slight leaks, and the upper register is far less forgiving of leaks than the lower register. An instrument which plays well in the lower register may well have severe problems above the break if a slight leak is present.


Staff member
Another possibility. Don't know how long you have been playing, but as a relative newbie to BC, I was having the same problem, especially on notes played using the left hand pinkie. No problems when playing those notes with the right hand pinkie keys. I realized as I stretched my hand to reach with my left little finger, my index finger was sliding to the side and uncovering the vent hole. Oops! Not only was it stuffy, but often an ugly squawk as well.


College Student who likes wind instruments & music
As my stand partner in concert band this semester had a similar problem on the school's Buffet 1193, your problem might be the upper register vent isn't sealing-we actually had to resort to putting a rubber band over the key to get her bass's register pip to seal as the mechanism for switching that key wasn't working basically at all.
That is, assuming you don't find either Tony's or Saxhound's suggestions of the problem to be the source in this case, which they very well may be.
If it's Tony's suggestion of the source of the problem, I'd think it's probably the Eb/Ab pad or the D/G pad that's leaking.

If it's a school owned bass it's really likely in need of some repair work anyway, so you should have someone check it out in case there's an additional problem at play-the bass I borrowed from my high school when I was there had a heck of a lot of leaks when I first got to bring it home, but I didn't think it was as bad as it was. (although I had no problems getting it to play altissimo before that week was over, so maybe I just have an easy time playing a leaky bass...)
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