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Thread: Bass clarinet with double range key

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    Default Bass clarinet with double range key

    Hi, I practicing some bass clarinet but i have some problems changing the registers keys specially when moving between D - F . as i understand one key works for B to Eb an the other from E and higher. it must be like that or i can play some notes without changing the key... please give me some advice about how to practice that (the bass is a selmer paris deposé to low e, any kind of albert or vintage Oehler system.. )

    Thanks!!
    Be happy making some good music!
    My band.

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    Sounds like you have a bass with two manual register keys. These models are pretty rare these days. Most modern basses with the double vent system have a single register key with the vents changing automatically. Might be tough to find someone on here who has even seen a two register key bass (I've never seen one). I think you're changing register keys at the right point (Eb-E). After that it's probably just a matter of practice. Or fork over big bucks for a modern system bass.

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    Since they accomplish exactly the same function, an automatic double vent system won't necessarily PLAY better than a vintage manual double register key system such as 'ojmbaz' seems to have. By the way, Randy, I have a really nice F. Arthur Uebel Oehler-system bass clarinet which has two manual register keys, the second of which can (but doesn't need to be!) used from clarion G and above. Because of the very small bore of these German-system instruments (.775", about midway between Boehm alto and bass clarinets), the second vent is hardly needed --- all it does really is slightly improve the pitch and response up towards high clarion C for sustained notes; in quicker passages the whole thing can be done on the 'lower' register key. One does get used to it in time!
    Dave Spiegelthal

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    Dave--I've heard (or read somewhere) that the double key basses actually play better than the single key models in terms of response and tone, especially in the dicey mid-clarion range. But I would think that the single key system would be easier to play in terms of technique and fingering. I believe Leblanc still makes a double key model.

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    Quote Originally Posted by RS View Post
    Dave--I've heard (or read somewhere) that the double key basses actually play better than the single key models in terms of response and tone, especially in the dicey mid-clarion range.
    Only if they also have a different design of the bore, tone holes, register holes, etc. Do they? If those things are the same then a manual vs. automatic regsiter mechanism would make no difference to tone or response.

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    Here is an excerpt from the book "Woodwind Instruments and Their History" by Anthony Baines: "The chief fingering difference from the ordinary clarinet [he's referring to the bass] lies in the common use of two speaker keys. Both are actuated by the left thumb and the upper one is used from e''b upwards. With automatic mechanism these keys can be made to change over with a single touch for the thumb, so making the bass clarinet an easy doubling instrument for a dance-band saxophonist. But it interferes with the production and intonation of certain notes in the high register, and so most orchestral bass-clarinettists retain the two independent keys..." I don't know. Maybe this guy's out to lunch. But this was my source for the comments I made above.

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    From this quote, it's not possible to know exactly what he means.

    Maybe he is comparing a manual double register where there are actually two register holes, and an automatic system where one of the holes is just the tone hole for throat Bb, although it doesn't seem like that is what he means.

    Maybe he is talking about different models regardless of the manual vs. automatic register key system. It isn't clear if they actually had the exact same model with an automatic system that they had with a manual system.

    But if the models are exactly the same, it makes no difference at all to intonation, tone, response, etc. if the hole is opened by a human hand or by a mechanical mechanism. When the register key is open, they are completely identical.

    The only theoretical difference could be that because of the manual mechanism, each register key could have a key height determined seperately from the other. However from experience, this is absolutely not a problem at all on clarinets with an automatic register key system.

    When is the book from? Right now all high level and/or professional bass clarinetists I know, both orchestral and not, play a clarinet with an automatic register key system. I guess maybe some play a manual system, but probably a very small minority. Some models can have a problem with response of some notes in the second (or sometimes third) register but it has nothing to do with whether they are manual or automatic. For an example and an experiment I did you can see this thread: http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthr...+bass+clarinet

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    The book's first copyright is from 1967 so more than 40 years old. Maybe most orchestral players at that time used the manual system. I don't know. It's definitely not the case today. And it does seem illogical that there would be a difference in response simply because a vent is opened manually rather than automatically. It would be interesting to compare two double vent basses, one with two manual register keys and one with a single automatic register key, and that are otherwise are identical. As far as I know Leblanc still makes both model types. My only experience with bass is with Selmer single register key (automatic) models.

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    Quote Originally Posted by RS View Post
    The book's first copyright is from 1967 so more than 40 years old. Maybe most orchestral players at that time used the manual system.
    I guess things changed a lot since then. The autoamtic mechanism on new bass clarinets is considerably better than the old type, which could be part of the reason they preferred the manual system. Some older mechanisms are pretty awful.

    Quote Originally Posted by RS View Post
    And it does seem illogical that there would be a difference in response simply because a vent is opened manually rather than automatically.
    Not just illogical but completely impossible (as long as the key opens the same and everything else is the same).

    Quote Originally Posted by RS View Post
    It would be interesting to compare two double vent basses, one with two manual register keys and one with a single automatic register key, and that are otherwise are identical.
    Actually there is a big problem with this. If there was a difference it would prove only that there is actually a difference between the instruments, regardless of the register key system, which would cancel the whole point of the comparison. I compared so many bass clarinets of the same model (the top models from Buffet, Selmer, Yahama), and I found differences between the exact same model. So this is not a good comprison.

    A real experiment would be to take a bass clarinet with automatic register key system and compare it with itself when the register keys are opened manually instead of automatically. I just did this now on my bass clarinet and there was no difference (big surprise.... ).

    Quote Originally Posted by RS View Post
    As far as I know Leblanc still makes both model types.
    Hmm.... I am not sure Leblanc still makes bass clarinets...? They don't list anything but the Vito on their website, and they only had soprano clarinets at their stand in Musikmesse (all other major clarinet companies showed their bass clarinets). I think a lot changed there since they stopped making clarinets in France.

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    As if learning to play bass clarinet [well] wasn't hard enough....
    "Nothing is worse for a musician than getting an opportunity you aren't prepared for." - Quincy Jones

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    Then apparently Leblanc has drastically cut back their lineup. I have some Leblanc catalogues from the mid '90s and they had a pretty extensive lineup then, including basses, contrabasses, altos, bassetts, etc. Even a tiny Ab sopranino. Saddest for me was when they dropped the venerable double L (LL) model. This was the platform for the extra mechanism models like the full Boehm. I have a 3/4 Boehm LL (full Boehm keywork except for low Eb) that is my favorite clarinet. And it never leaves the house. If something happened to it I wouldn't be able to replace it.

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    I had the same concerns about my Series 9 instruments. While I am not too worried about my A clarinet any longer, but I did go to the bother of picking up both a Series 10S horn and a Series 9 (both in Bb, both "full Boehm") horn on eBay, and then having them rebuilt to "like new" standards. My Bb from the early 1960's hasn't cracked since that time, but you never know.

    Regarding the issues above, some confusion may arise from the terms being used in the book. "Keys" in the strictest sense from the point of view of some "old school" clarinet persons would refer to the cups and pads that close the tone holes. (I believe that the German folks still use it in this sense.) The term that I've seen used for what we generally call the "keys" is/are the "touchpieces". You say tomato, I say to-mah-toe, and so on.

    Assuming that the original poster is talking about a bass clarinet with the "Bundy" style "single" octave key, the one with the upper vent on the top of the upper joint, then that is something we normally call the "single" register vent. The one with the vent on the neck, generally considered to be the mark of a professional instrument, appears to be the one that the original poster is calling the "double" register vent.

    The third option, which most likely is what the quoted excerpt is referring to, is the old (pre-1920's) double register key system, where the two different holes are not opened by linkages controlled by a single touchpiece, but rather where the two different holes are opened by two different touchpieces. These horns are relatively rare these days, but there are still a few around. I have a couple, and I see them on eBay occasionally as well.

    (Originally, saxes were also provided with two octave key touchpieces. Once again, they still work, but are considered as not as convenient. Twenty million woodwind players can't be wrong here.)

    It does take a bit of dexterity to correctly make the switch from the low register key to the high one, but practice makes perfect.
    Terry L. Stibal

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    Thanks for answers, my bass has two manual register keys, my concerning was about dexterity. it's very hard to play changing exactly between D# and E and more because the German or Albert fingering. I was thinking maybe there is a "short cut" for some passages.

    As I understand it is a selmer "depose" from later 20s or 30s (i didn't find good information or pics on internet about it, ) it is very nice sounding bass and in great condition. very rare but the fingering is hard

    I can share some pics if any is interested. it looks like the son that a tenor sax could have with a clarinet
    Be happy making some good music!
    My band.

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    Default Re: Bass clarinet with double range key

    Yes, I'd be interested in seeing some pics. Especially of the register keys.

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