Reeds for Contra Alto Clarinet

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  1. #1

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    Default Reeds for Contra Alto Clarinet

    I'm playing on the school's Vito contra alto clarinet and had reed trouble when I started. I finally found reeds that worked very well, 2.5 Rico orange box for bari sax. It was by far the best that this clarinet has ever played. It sounded and felt much like the bass clarinet I used to play than a mutant beast that I constantly have to wrestle with. I bought another box, but it came with the newer plastic reed packing. Every single one of them sounded awfully stuffy and felt very constricted, but none of the problems existed on bari sax. I bought some Vandoren blue box #3 and it felt a lot better, but not as that first box of Ricos. I now have only one of the original rico reed left. Anything recommendations? Why would the first pack play very well and the 2nd pack play god awful? Is it because the first one had tissue packing and the 2nd one have plastic cases for the reeds?

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    bpimentel's Avatar
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    Reeds for those big clarinets are a nightmare. And expensive. I finally switched over to Legere reeds for the contrabass clarinets, and I'm much happier. I always know how the reed will play. I still prefer cane for anything smaller, though.

    Good luck,
    Bret

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    Pete N's Avatar
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    I've switched to Legere too. I had been using La Voz baritone reeds, but it was quite unpredictable and not really "clarinetty" enough.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member SaxPlayer1004's Avatar
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    just use bari sax reeds. same thing, much like bass clarinet and tenor sax reeds. same thing just cost more for the clarinet ones.

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    Musician and Composer saxchado's Avatar
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    I use Legere as well. They cost the same, no matter what size instrument you are playing (I'm pretty sure, anyway) It'll last you quite a while, and like bpimentel said, you always know how it's going to play.
    Beware of sticky keys. --Chad

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    saxplayer1004, I'm currently using Bari reeds and those are utterly unpredictable.
    Which Legere should I get? ones for bari or contra?
    How fragile are they? (easily chipped?)
    I am a clutz and have damaged many reeds (thankfully not instruments) thoughout the years.

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    Get the one for contra, of course.

    They can be broken but are certainly tougher than cane reeds. Be more concerned about hurting yourself on it than about breaking it!

    Best,
    Bret

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    Distinguished SOTW Member SaxPlayer1004's Avatar
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    i use rico royals on my schools selmer 1440 contra alto. no problems with stuffiness. van dorens are much more inconsistent than ricos, and i the orange box ricos that i have played, i havent had much luck with. it might be the strength. if the reeds werent knew then u might have too hard of reeds. vandoren 3's are like rico 3.5's. so it could be a strength problem. the legeres are fairly durable. get yourself a good reed case to keep the reeds in good condition.

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    I read another post that it is recommended to try at least half a strength softer on legere reeds when compared to cane. Also how do you store these stuff? It said on their website not to apply pressure when storing it, which every reed case does.

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    I play a lot of contra-alto clarinet (a Buescher --- same as Bundy) and prefer Marca, Glotin, Rigotti 'Gold' and V`ndoren cane reeds (generally in the bari sax size as they are more widely available than in contra clarinet sizes). Haven't tried a Legere synthetic on contra, though I use them as backup/doubling reeds on soprano clarinet and tenor sax. I have heard a number of people play Legeres on bass clarinet and personally I don't care for their sound on the lower instruments --- but the Legeres are certainly handy to have around!

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    There's a lot of confusion about contrabass clarinet reeds. Here's the problem. Here's how it works:

    (for clarity I will refer to the Eb contra as a contra alto.)

    A modern contra-alto clarinet mouthpiece takes a reed of approximately the same size and shape as a baritone saxophone. The selmer C*'s and various stock mouthpieces that come standard with contra-alto clarinets are this size. A bari reed works perfectly fine on these.

    MOST contra-bass mouthpieces are larger inside but have the same size facing, and use bass-sized reeds as well.

    At one point, there was a slightly wider contra-bass clarinet mouthpiece. It took a slightly larger reed then a bass sax. The only mouthpiece of this size I know of is the stock mouthpiece with older leblanc paperclips.

    Modern contra-bass clarinet reeds are made by three companies that i know of.- rico, marca, and vandoren. The rico and marca varieties are slightly larger then a baritone sax reed and will fine on any modern mouthpiece, but are not nescesarrily better then bari reeds (depends on the player, horn, etc). The vandorens are bigger still, and are designed to fit the old leblanc contrabass mouthpieces.

    Many players use vandoren reeds on modern mouthpieces. They work. Using a reed that is wider then the facing tends to make your tone warmer, but much more spread, and tend to get that buzzy, bratty low clarinet sound. You can spot someone using vandys because their ligature won't fit far enough down on the mouthpiece.

    The real problem comes when you try to use smaller reeds on the big leblanc mouthpiece. It looks ok, but there is a small gap where no reed touches the mouthpiece at the upper corners of the reed. You can produce sound, but it is very quiet and takes massive amounts of air. Many players give up on Bb contra because of this (at my school, we have a perfectly regulated paperclip contrabass in the storage room that we are not using because the contra player tried using ricos on it and convinced the band director that the horn was trash. now we have a new rosewood selmer contra-alto and no one is allowed to tough the contrabass at all. ever.)

    I'm not sure what size the legere reeds are. They're probably bass-sax sized. Anyone know for sure?

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    My Legere BBb contra reed is exactly as wide as a Vandoren contra reed, but a little longer. When I ordered the Legere (from the manufacturer), they asked if I wanted one for BBb or EEb, so I assume they make two different ones.

    Incidentally, I use one of those old Leblanc stock mouthpieces.

    Bret

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    On my contra alto, it takes the Rico contrabass/bass sax reeds. Bari sax reeds work a bit, but only the ricos give me a good sound. (Imagine that, a good sound on a Rico.)

    It might be just mine, though. Since I have a Leblanc contra-alto. The Vandoren contrabass reeds don't work at all.

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    It's amazing how stubborn people can be about reeds. The contra-alto player at my school is playing an new rosewood selmer with vandorens. The tone she produces is painful to listen to. But she stubbornly insists that "vandorens are the best reeds. you should always use vandorens." What can you do?

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    Distinguished SOTW Member SaxPlayer1004's Avatar
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    pick up a rico and blow her away. i had an old beat up conn bari with my yamaha 5c mouthpiece and rico reeds last year at an honors band clinic. everyone was looking at me funny with this old crappy looking beat up horn. guy sitting next to me playing a metal berg vandoren reeds and a new ybs 62. blew him clear out of the water. cocky bari player too, shut him up pretty quick. its all about what you can do with what you have. now i have a new artist bari but still love that old conn. who cares if she insists, just outplay her.

  18. #16
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Forum Contributor 2007 Morry's Avatar
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    Default Keilwerth Clarinet

    Months ago, I saw a clarinet on ebay that was made by Keilwerth. It had key pearls on it, instead of open tone hole rings. I assume it was intended primarily for saxophonists who ocassionally doubled on clarinet.

    Anyone seen one of these? Better yet, anyone have one of these?
    JK SX90R Gold Lacquer over Nickel Alto
    JK SX90R Clear Lacquer Tenor
    Yamaha YBS-52 Bari

    Current band:
    www.horndogsband.com
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  19. #17

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    It's a plateau-key clarinet. Very few play well. They were mainly made for saxaphone doublers who couldn't get used to covering the tone holes and for people with tiny fingers.

    Ricos for larger instruments don't get the credit they deserve sometimes.

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    Default Re: Keilwerth Clarinet

    Quote Originally Posted by Morry
    Months ago, I saw a clarinet on ebay that was made by Keilwerth. It had key pearls on it, instead of open tone hole rings. I assume it was intended primarily for saxophonists who ocassionally doubled on clarinet.

    Anyone seen one of these? Better yet, anyone have one of these?
    Evidently Vito is currently making one.
    http://www.wwbw.com/Vito-7214-Platea...t-i51056.music

  21. #19
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Forum Contributor 2007 Morry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Keilwerth Clarinet

    Quote Originally Posted by HC
    Quote Originally Posted by Morry
    Months ago, I saw a clarinet on ebay that was made by Keilwerth. It had key pearls on it, instead of open tone hole rings. I assume it was intended primarily for saxophonists who ocassionally doubled on clarinet.

    Anyone seen one of these? Better yet, anyone have one of these?
    Evidently Vito is currently making one.
    http://www.wwbw.com/Vito-7214-Platea...t-i51056.music
    It appears there was a Noblet Model 50, but that appears to have been discontinued. I enjoyed fiddling around with the clarinet, had no real problem with the embouchure, but my fat fingers never got the hang of the open tone hole rings.
    JK SX90R Gold Lacquer over Nickel Alto
    JK SX90R Clear Lacquer Tenor
    Yamaha YBS-52 Bari

    Current band:
    www.horndogsband.com
    www.facebook.com/horndogsband

  22. #20

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    Morry, just food for thought, but have you ever considering trying Bass Clarinet? I did a one year stint in school band on it. It feels sax-like in many ways. (other than the fingerings, ofcoarse )

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