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Bass Clarinet

For some reason, I think I'm about to buy a bass.

Found a wooden noblet thing. Owner says no cracks. However, it looks remarkably like a school system horn. Nice thing about school system horns as far as I can tell, is that they tend to have little key wear for their age.


I've bargained him down to $350 max and he thinks he can find a peg.

I've been looking for a bass keeper since I don't have one, and overhaul costs should be around $100 and 40 hours of my time (course I have four or five other projects...no, make that six).


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I think it might need an oil bath. Maybe. That's a pretty good price, tho, even if you need pads, corks and felts. I bet you'll need some spring work.
Re the cases, I have here now both a Selmer 67 case and a Buffet 1193 case, so if anyone want me to measure something I can. BTW I checked the Selmer in the buffet case before when someone asked and it doesn't fit, so if any bass clarinet doesn't fit the new Selmer case it might fit a Buffet case (though I guess it's not that likely).

I have it, and it's in pretty bad shape. All springs are rusty, a few screws are stuck, and I didn't notice this before, but it's missing the neck tenon ring thing

anyone know where to find a substitute?

lots of oxidation, and I'm actually enthused about grinding down the key plating to match the neck. The bell doesn't have nearly the same wear and I think it's not original.

was very pressed for time. ugh.

i'll post more pics later...
Don't know what the deal is, but suddenly today I picked up my bcl (after having been eschewing it for soprano for some months--until I could get it into a tech), but I wanted to blow St. Thomas on it, and...voila, there it is completely smooth in two octaves. I feel I might be able to work out the altissimo after all, even before getting it into a tech.

Not bad at all for a horn dug out from a pawn shop for $400! And it sounds goooooood.. :smile:

Thought I'd put a little glue on that loose bell-holder today too. Here's photo for Terry -- hopefully it's clear enough for the "series 9" to show..
What is it about that bracket?...just a bit of vulnerable "protrusion"?

I have a couple of questions. I think I may have hit upon a reed/ligature combination that really works for me -- that dark rovenor, and a Rico select jazz 3S TS reed (although, I intend to try a 3M tomorrow). My mpc is a little bit up -- probably the factory offering with this instrument -- and am wondering if the ~$40 Clark Forbes piece (available at MF) might be roughly equivalent.

I'm a very poor, very poor musician (world's smallest violin smiley icon here)
Yes, for sure--SOTSDO provides exceptional imfo.

hmm...just noticed my gaff. A thousand groveling prostrations. I go too often without my readers..

And I hope my manner of inquire is not insensitively without requisite forum decorum. Thank you and I do appreciate the time and effort for any replies.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I have a couple of questions. I think I may have hit upon a reed/ligature combination that really works for me -- that dark rovenor, and a Rico select jazz 3S TS reed (although, I intend to try a 3M tomorrow). My mpc is a little bit up -- probably the factory offering with this instrument -- and am wondering if the ~$40 Clark Forbes piece (available at MF) might be roughly equivalent.
I was under the impression that the pro Selmer clarinets shipped with pro Selmer mouthpieces, at least the C85 equivalent (which I rather like).

Or are you talking tenor sax? If so, I'd encourage you to open a different thread.
Well, with confidence in this reed I practiced a little just now and can get up to a 4th oct G (thumb key) -- at least that's what I think it is. I presume this is up in altissimo, since I'm not using a chart for comparision. Don't know where to go from there yet, but this is enough for me now! Haven't practiced any octave or wide interval jumps up there yet--just scalar movement. But it's quite smooth playing up to that note.

The big problem I'm having is getting above B (alt) reliably. Making the break from A to B is no problem, but I'm having quite a bit of diifficulty gaining command above that B.

But today, for the first time, I have command to a thumb key in clarion (... A?). Now it feels comfortable...like a sax, in that range. What fun!
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Old King Log
Staff member
The altissimo notes do speak well once you learn how to "voice" them with your embouchure and all. And, I've found that they speak easier on a "register key on body" horn than they do with the linked register key.

Back in my high school days (almost fifty years ago - sigh), I was the nine day wonder, as I could jump about in the upper register on the bass with phenominal ease. My "audition piece" were the first and third movements of Mozart's bassoon concerto, and in the cadenza in the first movement, I was doing intervals, octave jumps and the like - it literally blew people away.

The trick of course was that I was a bass clarinet player (on an A bass clarinet no less, transposing the Bb music at sight) from the start, and had spent considerable time on soprano as well, and that I played an instrument that was "bash free". (The music director of the district literally bought a bass that was mine alone.) If you have the technique (all of those hours spent running scales and etudes written for the soprano clarinet as well as on the bass) and the working equipment, there's no limit to what you can achieve.

Of course, ask me questions about jazz chords and music theory, and I'd fail the test. That's what happens when your music instruction was limited to high school band and the school of hard knocks.

Last time that I tried it, I was still pretty good at transposing a Bb part on the A clarinet. Some old ingrained habits die hard.
Yes, I'm finding that--embouchure is tricky esp above B altissimo..

I listen to a lot of Eric Dolphy, who does a lot of those octave calsthenics.

I was going to mention before my posting time limit cut me off...that, with this reed (I must have been using something different, previously) there's no problem with that 2nd regsiter C -- where previously I was having difficulty depressing firmly enough with that 3rd finger. Suddenly, no problem and the horn speaks well -- albeit, with air coming through the top vent. I'm like a ts Rico jazz select charlatan now..

I'm always impressed what a reed will do on a bcl!


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I've always found altissimo easier on bass and contrabass clarinets than on Bb soprano. For me, at least.

Back to the mouthpieces, according to wwbw.com, if you're talking $40-ish for a Fobes, you're talking the Debut (basic) line. I'd say that if you do have a Selmer C85 or better, you're not going to be "upgrading" buying a Fobes. (I'm not saying the Fobes isn't a good 'piece, it's just not a pro model. The C85 and up is.)

Opinion: if you have only little $, it might be a good idea to check with your dealer of choice and see if you can order two or so 'pieces and send back the one(s) you don't like for a refund. That Yamaha 4C, which is the same price as the Fobes, might be even nicer: they were very good Vandoren copies (in plastic), last I played one on Bb soprano.
Thanks Pete. That's what I inferred from your earlier rmessage.

Would love to try a 4C if it's as you say. The ones for sax are quite narrowly opened...must be the bcl model is different.

I'm new to sop and bass both -- as of April or May (and for that matter, only really been playing the sax snce last year...my school days--I only blew what was on the page) -- and I haven't even tried altissimo on sop yet. But I must say--my little Artley plays super smoothly through the top of that second register...wonder if it'll be that good in altissimo...

I'm having so much fun today--being inspired by my bass--that I even dug out the saxes. Amazing how practice on cls will enhance those...


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I don't remember much altissimo I had to play in my clarinet career. I'd say not really higher than 8va :TrebleClef::Line4:. Then again, I was "filler" guy: you need me to play a 1st clarinet part for a couple days? No problem. Trumpet II? No worries.

A large percentage of the bass clarinet parts I played were either (string) bass or converted bassoon parts. That being said, I like the tone quality of the bass clarinet more than just about any horn I've played.
Maybe I've been listening to too much Eric Dolphy and other outre players...seems like the range seems necessary for expression.

Horns for me are really interesting--suddenly at age 50. It's almost like singing--except, well, better...since the horn has a better voice than do I. I mean, for the first time in my life to have a couple of really good sounding instruments. I'm with you Pete--I like that earthy tone. I play most gigs with a doublebass, so I'm into that tone. But, I like all the woodwinds--even my pedestrian Artley soprano.

So, I'm putting on jazz records (mostly blues and standards) and playing along--working on my rudiments this way. I've got all the printed tuition materials for many instruments including oud, but I can't resist playing and learning by ear. WTH, it's more fun this way anyway. I like to jam. I won't be getting any formal work, but I like to play in a variety of bands.


Old King Log
Staff member
And then there is this...

...the Bass Clarinet (only) part from Once Upon A Mattress. Done as a school project by Mary Rogers (her composition teacher used to play for me), one of her boners was a tune called the "Spanish Panic". An uptempo "cute" dance number, the tune features the bass clarinet playing an octave above the clarinet part.

You want high Ds? The thing had them in spades, often as part of a rushed eighth note arpeggio, I believe (but don't quote me as an authority on this) that it topped out at high F at one point during the mayhem, with liberal provisions of Es scattered about as well.

Aside from the natural perils of playing something like this on the bass, at the time I had a maladjusted register key system that made octave jumps a less than pleasant experience. Finally, I just played the part an octave down from the written notes on the regular clarinet (having to bring it along for just that one tune).

Then, not content with suffering through this once, another theater did it the very next season. That time, things were in better adjustment, but I was still tempted to play it on the soprano.

According to her teacher, she wasn't the best student that he ever had. Her family name (Rogers) was what carried her through.