Untitled Document
     
Advertisement Click to advertise with us!
     

I've Gone & Done It...

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
#1
Yesterday I took the plunge. After relearning the clarinet for a musical I'm currently in, I decided that I shouldn't forget it again. (Last time I played was in the 80s in university.) I always sucked at Bb soprano clarinet, but really excelled at bass clarinet, so yesterday when I was at my tech's shop, I asked him if he had any in stock. Low and behold, he happened to have 3 vintage babies that he got a number of months ago.

One was a Selmer Bundy, and 2 were Jubilee-branded horns from Germany.

Jubilee was a brand we see a lot here in Western Canada. The horns were usually made by JK (I have 2 Tonekings from 1957 that carry the name.) My tech goes along with my thinking that these Jubilee bass clarinets were likely made by Richard Keilwerth. (Julius outsourced his clarinet production to his brother.) Both are intermediate models, sadly the wooden one has had some cracks repaired, and has a crack that runs down to the tone holes. The other though, is made of a type of hard rubber--it has some of that discoloration we see in HR sax mouthpieces. Unlike the wooden one, it is a one-piece body.

Of the 3 he had in stock, David figured that this HR one is the best one, and that he can get it playing very nicely for me. He is going to do a full overhaul on it, switch the bells (the other Jubilee has a peg), give me a new neck to replace the damaged one currently with the horn (he happens to have a number of necks which are pristine, and identical).

The price I'm getting is crazy-good, so I really couldn't say no. I will have to get it a new case though (David didn't have anything that wasn't junky), and the MP is a Selmer HS*, so eventually I'll want to get something different as I develop my chops again. But all in all, I am quite excited about this.

I will never be a fabulous bass clarinet player. I was very good, but I will never put the time into it that I put into sax. It is just something that I will enjoy doubling on. As a bari player, this will just make sense going forward.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#2
The HS* isn't a bad mouthpiece, tho. Well, if you don't like it, I'm sure someone would pay to take it off your hands.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
#3
The MP is in great condition. No chips or teeth marks to speak of. It looks like it was hardly used.

As far as RK clarinets goes, from what I can gather, "real" clarinet players don't seem to love them a great deal. If clarinet was my primary instrument, I would likely be fussier, but given what I will be doing, it will be fine. As for it not being wood, I am very fine with that as well.

Being a sax player and not having ever had to worry about the instrument's material, I would be quite stressed about a wooden instrument of any kind. I'd always be worried if the air was too dry. If the room was too hot. If I had dried it out in time... Blah, blah, blah...

Quite frankly, would wood have a warmer tone? Sure, but I would have to spend a lot of time to really develop my sound to the point where that would be a serious issue, and honestly, I don't see that happening.

It's a double. Nothing more. Nothing less. A true clarinetist will tell me that I sound like a sax player playing clarinet anyway, regardless what make/model/body composite I play. :D
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#5
The MP is in great condition. No chips or teeth marks to speak of. It looks like it was hardly used.

As far as RK clarinets goes, from what I can gather, "real" clarinet players don't seem to love them a great deal. If clarinet was my primary instrument, I would likely be fussier, but given what I will be doing, it will be fine. As for it not being wood, I am very fine with that as well.

Being a sax player and not having ever had to worry about the instrument's material, I would be quite stressed about a wooden instrument of any kind. I'd always be worried if the air was too dry. If the room was too hot. If I had dried it out in time... Blah, blah, blah...

Quite frankly, would wood have a warmer tone? Sure, but I would have to spend a lot of time to really develop my sound to the point where that would be a serious issue, and honestly, I don't see that happening.

It's a double. Nothing more. Nothing less. A true clarinetist will tell me that I sound like a sax player playing clarinet anyway, regardless what make/model/body composite I play. :D
For what it's worth, there are a lot of folks that do like hard rubber clarinets and I seem to remember reading about some intro pro horns that had barrels and/or bells made out of HR. And if RK clarinets were "terrible" I doubt they would have survived WWII. Besides, reducing that stress level is worth it. Tho I'd rather have one of these beauties and not even worry about chips!

I mentioned before that I started playing Bb clarinet, moved to bass clarinet, then moved to baritone sax. I've never had someone tell me that I didn't sound like a sax player, but I can tell, sometimes, who isn't a full-time clarinet player. Bb clarinet, at least. I haven't heard enough bass clarinet players, I guess. The difference, to my ear, is that the tone is a little sloppy. Not exactly "airy." Sloppy. Possibly the sax is a bit more forgiving of people's embouchures.

I also found playing altissimo (above 8va :TrebleClef::Space3:) was pretty easy for me on bass and contrabass clarinet, even easier than on Bb soprano. Not that I'd often need to go that high.

Oh. I also liked using the peg. Provided the clamp can stay tightened :).
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
#6
Well I finally got around to taking some pics of my bass clarinet yesterday afternoon. My tech ended up giving me 2 necks for it: the original, as well as one of the Kohlert (?) necks he inherited when he took over the existing shop space he has now. There were about 7 or so in a box, so we picked out the one that looked pretty much pristine. However, the one thing we noticed, is that there was a difference in the socket openings, and the Selmer M/P--read likely most modern M/P's--wouldn't fit onto the original neck. Given that I preferred the unmarked, likely original MP, David checked it over, and cleaned it up a bit from its original ugly repair job.

I didn't photograph the made in Germany stamping on the instrument, but it's on the body. I'd be curious Steve, if you had seen one like this before, and/or played one. I've Googled RK Keilwerth bass clarinets, but haven't come up with any pics, so have nothing to compare it to, so at this point it's just an educated guess that that's who the manufacturer was--based on who made JK's regular clarinets.

Left-Side.jpg Right-Side.jpg Rear-View.jpg Bell-Right-Side.jpg Bell-Left-Side.jpg Bell-Front.jpg Necks-Left-Side.jpg Necks-Right-Side.jpg Original-Neck.jpg Kohlert-Neck-for-Selmer-MP.jpg
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#7
Well, RK doesn't have any bass clarinets in their most current catalog. I didn't do an incredibly thorough check, but I didn't see any mention of RK basses, either. "Jubilee" was a Dorfler & Jurka stencil name, IIRC. I wonder if they made clarinets.

You could always e-mail them at info@keilwerth.de. That might be interesting.

Anyhow, I know that Oehler system clarinets are supposed to be used with "German" mouthpieces and those are bigger. Maybe that can be extended to, "German-made clarinets like bigger mouthpieces."
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
#8
Well, RK doesn't have any bass clarinets in their most current catalog. I didn't do an incredibly thorough check, but I didn't see any mention of RK basses, either. "Jubilee" was a Dorfler & Jurka stencil name, IIRC. I wonder if they made clarinets.
Actually, Jubilee was a stencil that was sold extensively here in Western Canada. My Toneking alto and tenor--both from 1957--are both stencilled Jubilee. Most Jubilee saxes from the 50s and 60s were made by JK.

Oh, and D&J did NOT make clarinets. Like Pierret, they were a sax only maker.

According to my tech, based on the design features of this clarinet, he figured it was circa late 50s to early 60s. Therefore it would make sense that RK was the manufacturer of this horn. I've found references to vintage RK bass clarinets online, but no pics.

You could always e-mail them at info@keilwerth.de. That might be interesting.
I can try that. I have to get the serial # off the instrument, I keep forgetting to do that. Saxes are so much more obvious.

Anyhow, I know that Oehler system clarinets are supposed to be used with "German" mouthpieces and those are bigger. Maybe that can be extended to, "German-made clarinets like bigger mouthpieces."
Mmm... Interesting theory. I would be curious to compare it to other Kohlert models of roughly that same era as my clarinet. The neck I got from David, which accepts the Selmer M/P is from a Kohlert, but of course we don't know exactly what year it--or the rest in the box--were from. Maybe they were newer than my horn?

One thing you gotta say about me, I do manage to find some of the more obscure horns out there: saxes and now a bass clarinet. Not to mention that Kohlert alto clarinet I have :oops::oops::oops: .... But I digress... :wink:
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#9
Well, I can almost justify the Kohlert because they widely distributed their horns and had a bunch of stencils, so they'd need to pay closer attention to what people in other countries used. RK kinda strikes me as more the little shop that sells to the immediate area or something like, "We do one thing extremely well: Oehler-system Bb soprano clarinets. You want Boehm system? Well, OK. But we're going to use the same bore as the Oehler system ones."

My experience with Germanic clarinets is essentially confined to the comment about the bigger mouthpiece needed. I'd also assume that there were A=435hz instruments made during WWII.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
#11
nice and shiny isn't it ?
a 1 piece bass ... gonna do some research though I don't know much about basses, especially one's not made in France.
Yup, those Germans sure know how to keep those finishes sticking to metal don't they? I suspect that the finish is actually German nickel silver--the same that we see on saxophones of the same era. If you compare it to the Hammerschmidt Klingsor in nickel silver tenor I have, it looks the same, rather than the conventional nickel plate we're more familiar with.

The 2 piece wooden Jubilee--made by the same company--unfortunately had been allowed to dry out over years of neglect. You could have used the wood for kindling it was nearly that dry. It's too bad really, b/c I'm sure that in its day it too was a nice bass. Sadly the cracks into the tone holes were huge, and given this one was also sitting there, it wasn't worth a second glance--other than as a parts horn for this baby. (Bell, peg, & strap ring.)
 
#12
I love the bass clarinette. I have a metal bass and matching alto. They were originally owned by the University of Illinois. The bass is pretty beat up but it plays well. the alto, looks like it is brand new! The problem with it is I loaned it to a friend of mine and he doesn't want to give it back. He went to some clarinet workshop a few years ago and he said every single player there wanted to play it. I guess I should call him but if he is still really using it, I will let him keep it longer. I never really thought bass clarinets were cool until I heard Eric Dolphy playing with John Coltrane on "Spiritual". That recording changed my life. I don't know what kind of music you play but I do think any small group needs as much tonal variation as possible. I know just changing one sound or instrument can really change the "color" of a band. I know most small groups have a certain "sameness" to their sound. Many purist disagree with me but even when playing straight ahead jazz I like groups to try to change their sounds , especially with modern keyboards, I think more groups should use sounds besides piano and Rhodes. Also, jazz groups tend to use small drum sets, personally I think using different percussion on different tunes can really make a difference. Also, I like guitarists to use subtle effects even on traditional music. Jazz guitarists tend to be the most conservative of all jazz players, even though they have a huge number of resources available to them. They are afraid they will be call rock players or the "F" word, Fusion.
 

TrueTone

Clarinet, Sax, Oboe, History
#13
I love the bass clarinette. I have a metal bass and matching alto. They were originally owned by the University of Illinois. The bass is pretty beat up but it plays well. the alto, looks like it is brand new! The problem with it is I loaned it to a friend of mine and he doesn't want to give it back. He went to some clarinet workshop a few years ago and he said every single player there wanted to play it. I guess I should call him but if he is still really using it, I will let him keep it longer. I never really thought bass clarinets were cool until I heard Eric Dolphy playing with John Coltrane on "Spiritual". That recording changed my life. I don't know what kind of music you play but I do think any small group needs as much tonal variation as possible. I know just changing one sound or instrument can really change the "color" of a band. I know most small groups have a certain "sameness" to their sound. Many purist disagree with me but even when playing straight ahead jazz I like groups to try to change their sounds , especially with modern keyboards, I think more groups should use sounds besides piano and Rhodes. Also, jazz groups tend to use small drum sets, personally I think using different percussion on different tunes can really make a difference. Also, I like guitarists to use subtle effects even on traditional music. Jazz guitarists tend to be the most conservative of all jazz players, even though they have a huge number of resources available to them. They are afraid they will be call rock players or the "F" word, Fusion.
Those must be pretty rare. Any pics? I'd be interested in seeing them, as I've only seen very few metal Altos and Basses.
 
#14
We are recovering from a bad storm and flood today. But I'll get the bass out and get some pics. I'll call my friend, Dr. Knox and tell him I either need my horn back or some pictures of it, in case he is still using it. There was an alto like mine on Ebay just last week. The starting bid was $1000.00 but it didn't get any. I've had several regular steel clarinets over the years. I like them. I don't currently have one in playable condition. But I would like one to go with my bass and alto. They are Monnigs>
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
#15
Just an update on this RK-made Jubilee bass. After doing some juggling of my schedule, I was able to free up my Thursday nights enough to start rehearsing with a somewhat local (to me anyway) community band. I figured this was a good place for me to get my bass clarinet chops back up to where they were 30 years ago, and to get used to playing this quirky mid century German bass.

This bass has a beautiful tone. Even though I don't have my embouchure anywhere near where it once was, this bc's tone is very evident. The tone is sonorous in the lower end of chalumeau register--where a bass should be. The Bb4 of the chalumeau is the only note that gives me any grief. In its standard fingering it is very airy, and not all the pleasing to my ear. However, when using the alternate trill fingering the tone is clean and pure.

The clarion register speaks easy enough, but I do have some intonation issues on the B4, C5, and C#5. The notes tend to play sharp, and I have to still get used to lipping them down a tad.

In general I describe playing this Richard Keilwerth-made bc like driving a Panzer tank. It is nowhere near as easy to play as the university's Selmer. My German-made RK is not nearly as ergo-friendly. (The left pinkie keys especially are not for those with small hands.) It takes a ton of air, and the resistance on this baby is absolutely crazy. My Martin Committee III bari takes less air than this bass clarinet. That said, I am a bass sax player after all, so moving and supporting air is not a problem. ;) Therefore I found my bc has tons of volume, and I had no problem keeping up tone and volume-wise with the band's bari sax player when we played together. I was able to cut through the sound to be heard. Yes, this bass has that potential!

Based on this 2 hours of playing my bc with others for the first time, I am definitely happy with my choice of horns. I am very happy that my tech had it in his back room. I 'm extremely happy that he figured out that it would be a good player, and that he did such an excellent job fixing it up for me. As it turns out, it really is one kick-ass bass clarinet.
 
Top