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Large Bore Clarinets

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
FWIW, it really doesn't matter the size of the bore: if it doesn't sound good, has poor intonation, poor keywork and/or poor construction (quality), it's a bad horn.

For a player that tries something then moves on it can hold true. But many players find particular horns that have a very good reputation and then have a repair tech bring it back up to spec.

My Buffet A is a prime example.

A piece of junk as it wasn't even playable when I first got it .. barely sound at all, thus poor and stuffy intonation and stuck keywork thus a bad horn ??

After a top to bottom overhaul it now sounds great with great intonation and silky smooth keywork.
 

Gandalfe

Striving to play the changes in a melodic way.
Staff member
Administrator
I'm beginning to find that most differences in professional instruments would only make a significant sound improvement for professionals. And I suspect ~99% of the audience won't know the difference between two quality instruments of the same manufacture quality and tweaked status as played by a pro.

Having a big bore clarinet doesn't make a hobbyist sound better; practice does. I know this is old hat for most of us on the forum but for the new reader, paying extra for a big bore in case it might get you closer to the sound you are looking for totally ignores how much the player brings to the table.
 
But many players find particular horns that have a very good reputation and then have a repair tech bring it back up to spec.
At least here this doesn't happen often at all. People expect when buying a pro used model at least that it is reasonably playable to play test it. The only situation players would buy a clarinet in this awful condition is if it's almost absurdly good deal (i.e. very cheap) which doesn't happen often at all either.
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
At least here this doesn't happen often at all. People expect when buying a pro used model at least that it is reasonably playable to play test it. The only situation players would buy a clarinet in this awful condition is if it's almost absurdly good deal (i.e. very cheap) which doesn't happen often at all either.

and we have eBay ......
which, no matter what we want to believe, alot of people use here in the US
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
my conn 424 has a bigger sound than my leblancs and my selmers. with a vandy 5jb it will blow the wall down.
Yes, you can really blow Conn 424/444s with that large 5jb.

About 10 yrs ago after this thread was born, I was subbing in a college band. They put the 5 other college clarinets as first chair part and gave me the 2nd and 3rd parts to fill in. I would swap between the 2 parts as I played. I sat in front of the Trombones. To create balance of 1v5 clarinets I used my Selmer CT and a 5JB mpc. I was able to balance really well.

There were parts though where I played the snot out of it and was told to be quieter as I was outblowing the trombones behind me which were blowing my ears out.

Go figure.

I knew I couldn't do that on my R13 or Leblanc LL without my eyeballs popping out and my sound getting out of whack in my perspective.
But a Conn, Eton, early Buescher, even earlier pre-1955 Buffets would have been good in that situation. I think I actually switched to my 1952ish Buffet after a few practices.
 
My normal clarinet is a Selmer 10G.
During Covid I purchased a Selmer series 9 and started playing around with it....
On the 9 my tone is more/less the same (maybe a little brighter) however, the throat tones G,Ab,A are way sharp compared to my 10G.
Maybe my 10G's throat tones are low and I am used to compensating.....?
One thing is for sure: the other clarinet players in the orchestra that I play with seem to like my tone...and I don't want to mess with something that seems to work for me so I'm 10G'ing.

When Sept hits and I am out of my summer-gig routine I'll catch up with my series 9 again and really determine its tendencies compared to my 10G..
 
Getting back to my Selmer series 9.....
When I went through music school (late 70's) my clarinet teacher used a series 9... I remember that the three top right-hand tone holes had a layer of "blue electrical tape" around the inside of each tone hole..... I recall asking him why and he said that it improved the intonation......
I just may have to experiment!
 

Steve

Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
Getting back to my Selmer series 9.....
When I went through music school (late 70's) my clarinet teacher used a series 9... I remember that the three top right-hand tone holes had a layer of "blue electrical tape" around the inside of each tone hole..... I recall asking him why and he said that it improved the intonation......
I just may have to experiment!
Your teacher used the method called "crescents" to adjust the center point of the tonehole, and thus the intonation (it also decreases the diameter).
But one must also look at the surrounding open toneholes, as with a clarinet the height of other open toneholes can greatly affect intonation whether being too open or too low.
 
My normal clarinet is a Selmer 10G.
During Covid I purchased a Selmer series 9 and started playing around with it....
On the 9 my tone is more/less the same (maybe a little brighter) however, the throat tones G,Ab,A are way sharp compared to my 10G.
Maybe my 10G's throat tones are low and I am used to compensating.....?
One thing is for sure: the other clarinet players in the orchestra that I play with seem to like my tone...and I don't want to mess with something that seems to work for me so I'm 10G'ing.

When Sept hits and I am out of my summer-gig routine I'll catch up with my series 9 again and really determine its tendencies compared to my 10G..
I play only large bore clarinets because I like the free-blowing nature (more than the small tonality difference).
The throat tones come in tune if you relax your jaw and open your air passage...try this and you will see the tuning flexibility...practice long tones in the throat tone region with a metronome and you will quickly find the hang of it.
 
The English school of clarinet playing is centered around large bore clarinets. So when you listen to your favorites by the London Philharmonic, you are listening to large bore clarinets. Also English soloists, the likes of Emma Johnson (who is recommended in her album of the works of Malcolm Arnold), will display this sound nicely.

But what are we talking about when we're talking about large bore?

< "You call that a knoife? THIS is a knoife!" >

A small bore French clarinet would be somewhere around 14.6mm
The Buffet R13 is 14.75mm
The Selmer Series 9 is 14.8mm
The Selmer Centered Tone is around 15.00mm. This is what most Americans would consider "large bore"

The English clarinets (Made by Howarth, Hanson, Peter Eaton...) have a bore of around 15.3mm. The English bore is so big that you can't even play them with a standard clarinet mouthpiece. To put that in perspective, there is less of a difference from an R13 to a Centered Tone than there is from a Centered Tone to an English classical clarinet.

Compare the likes of Emma Johnson to someone like John Manasse... will give you a pretty good idea of the difference between small bore and EXTRA large bore sound.

I don't have a dog in this fight though... I prefer the German sound at the end of the day. :D
 
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