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High notes trouble

Hey guys

First post here. Anyway I am a beginner and have picked up the bass clarinet about a month ago. I have got a school-hire instrument so its not that good. For a part of a band piece, I have to play a mid C (if you know what I am talking about). I've got the fingering correct and just can't make a sound out of it. I have spent some time on youtube but have not found an ideal video. If you guys have any referrals or tips, please be sure to reply

First, try to find a more experienced player who can check out the instrument to make sure it is leak free enough to play all the notes you need. You could also get it checked out and adjusted at a repair shop.


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I second Mojo's advice. A bass clarinet is the opposite of a saxophone. On a sax, leaks make the low notes difficult to play. On the bass clarinet leaks make the high register difficult to play. It is not clear to me which "C" you are referring to. If it is the 3rd space C with the register key, a common way to approach that note is to slur down to a full sounding low F and then add the register key. You can also blow the pitch of that C with an "air whistle" and use that shape inside the mouth (voicing) when you play the C.


Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
I'd put money on a bet that it's the horn. When I worked on my grandson's "school bass clarinet" it was so bad I took it in. 5 pads and much adjustment later, it still spoke poorly. When my grandson played my bass clarinet, every note spoke for him (a bari sax player).

When I first started doubling on the bass clarinet, I took mine in to have it repaired. Even after that, it didn't sound good in the clarion range, let alone the altissimo. On a whim I purchased a Walter Grabner mouthpiece (pricey btw) and suddenly the instrument played *much* better. But I still had so much trouble getting the clarion range notes to sound reliably. So I bit the bullet and got a Selmer Privilege pro horn that was slightly used by the NAMM team. Oh joy, oh happiness, every note spoke for me, a doubler, from the low C (second C below the staff) to the high F (first F above the staff).

I had been told by some online experts that I just needed to spend more time on my used professional Leblanc Paris bass. Maybe so, but with the new Selmer I was playing where I wanted to be immediately. Ten years later and I'm still lovin' my Selmer Privilege. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you have to buy a $10,000 instrument for a student. I'm just saying playing a garden variety bass clarinet can be challenging. And playing a school maintained instrument, even more painful.