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Hello, SOTW! I'm a junior in high school, and I play bass clarinet in my school's symphonic band. I've been playing since 7th grade. I'm just now actually getting a low C, (Lyrique 925c coming in this month hopefully), so I would say I am more on the advanced end of the playing spectrum. I asked my director (long time sax player, mainly plays soprano), if I could try out stage band next semester, and he said yes, but, since Bass Clarinet is not a standard jazz instrument (in this band atleast), I need to learn another instrument. I have decided on tenor, since it is the closest to bass clarinet (not including bari sax, we already have a full bari section). On bass clarinet, the selection of reeds for that instrument is somewhat minuscule. I've played Vandoren traditionals, v12's and v21's, but I have stuck with a 3 strength v12, since they provide the best tone quality on my instrument and mouthpiece (which is a yamaha B50). Looking at the comparatively massive selection of reeds for tenor is somewhat overwhelming, and I am unsure of what I should choose. Since sax reeds are out of my realm, I was wondering if there were any people who double BC and tenor, and how they chose reeds to start with. Alternatively, if anyone could provide insight about which reed strength would be "ideal" to start with, since to my knowledge tenor is more free blowing than a standard, junky, student bass clarinet.
 

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Hi! If I remember correctly, the tenor sax and bass clarinet reeds are similar in size, so the first thing I would try is a BC reed. I would also go for a somewhat weaker reed 2,5, maybe. As for brands, I have only ever played old orange-boxed Rico and synthetic reeds on saxophone, if you have the opportunity to by one reed instead of a box, you could try different ones. A side note: be prepared that in the first couple of months switching back and forth between the sax and clarinet mouthpieces may be difficult. Good luck!
 

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You might start with some Rico orange box reeds, 2 1/2 or 3, until you start getting what your director considers a good sound, then maybe La Voz Medium or equivalent, then if you like you can try some of the more exotic reeds, but don't raise your hopes that they will substantially improve any aspect of your playing.
I started on tenor sax at the age of 10, played bass clarinet since college, professionally for a while, and I play on Vandoren Blue Box or D"Addario Reserve 3 on bass, and Vandoren 3 on tenor. Medium opening, pro quality but non-exotic mouthpieces. While bass and tenor reeds are basically the same length and width, the profiles are different. I'\ve heard of players using the two interchangeably, but that never worked for me.
Good luck!
 

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Hello, SOTW! I'm a junior in high school, and I play bass clarinet in my school's symphonic band. I've been playing since 7th grade. I'm just now actually getting a low C, (Lyrique 925c coming in this month hopefully), so I would say I am more on the advanced end of the playing spectrum. I asked my director (long time sax player, mainly plays soprano), if I could try out stage band next semester, and he said yes, but, since Bass Clarinet is not a standard jazz instrument (in this band atleast), I need to learn another instrument. I have decided on tenor, since it is the closest to bass clarinet (not including bari sax, we already have a full bari section). On bass clarinet, the selection of reeds for that instrument is somewhat minuscule. I've played Vandoren traditionals, v12's and v21's, but I have stuck with a 3 strength v12, since they provide the best tone quality on my instrument and mouthpiece (which is a yamaha B50). Looking at the comparatively massive selection of reeds for tenor is somewhat overwhelming, and I am unsure of what I should choose. Since sax reeds are out of my realm, I was wondering if there were any people who double BC and tenor, and how they chose reeds to start with. Alternatively, if anyone could provide insight about which reed strength would be "ideal" to start with, since to my knowledge tenor is more free blowing than a standard, junky, student bass clarinet.
I would start with the standard tenor sax student setup.

- Saxophone: any that's in good operating condition
- Mouthpiece: I'd choose from Selmer S-80 C*, Selmer S-90 C*, Yamaha 4C
- Reeds: I'd start with #2 Vandoren blue box

This is the Toyota Camry of tenor sax setups, but it will be excellent for developing standard tenor sax embouchure and airstream.

Do NOT assume that your clarinet embouchure will carry over. Try to take a "beginner's mind" approach instead.
 

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While the two instruments are different and require a different embouchure I've found that switching between them comes very easily — and I think moving from BC to tenor is easier than moving the other way. The voicing one does on the bass appropriate to the different registers is very helpful for learning to play overtones and altissimo on the tenor. I use synthetic reeds and was very happy to discover that I can use Legere Studio Cut #3 tenor reeds on both instruments.
 

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OP: To follow up, since you are already an experienced bass clarinet player, you will probably progress past the beginner's setup I mentioned, more quickly than someone who's a total beginner on the single-reeds. I'd still start there. A general purpose MP like I've mentioned will serve you well for classical and small group work the rest of your life, and after a few months of serious tenor sax practice you'll figure out what works best for you as to reeds. (I still have, and occasionally use, the first tenor sax and alto sax mouthpieces I ever owned: both are Selmer C* Soloist. A good general purpose piece like that is good forever.)
 

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You will want to get a reed choice that is soft enough to get the low notes to speak at soft volumes. But hard enough that when you play loud the high notes (palm keys) do not close off on you. It’s is a balancing act that depends on the needs of the player/music and your developing embouchure. So it may be a moving target for a while.

On bass clarinet, soft low notes can still come out if their are leaks in the instrument. On sax, leaks will only allow you to play loud honky sounding low notes. So getting leaks fixed is highly recommended even if it is a school sax.
 

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Thanks for all the responses, I asked my director and he recommended just a 3 strength vandoren blue box, so I got one of those, and one of the vandoren ZZ, just to try something else out, to feel and hear the difference.
 

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Make sure you use a sax embouchure, not a clarinet embouchure.
 

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Personally, I don't care much for Yamaha mouthpieces. I put them in the kit category, or low cost for school programs that are somewhat passable.

My current mouthpiece is Fobes Nova and coupled with Legere Signature #3 it works very well for me. You can also use Tenor reeds on Bass Clarinet, and I tried the Legere Signature for Tenor as they get to higher strength numbers.
In my opinion the Legere Signature are outstanding for the bass clarinet, but it is important to try as many options as possible because each player is different.
On cane reeds, i used Vandoren for years and never liked them, but they were the only option at the time. i tried the latest V12 and V21 recently and still preferred the Legere.
Daddario Reserve for bass clarinet are actually rather nice.

If the Nova is too expensive, there is also the Debut model that is supposed to be similar but I haven't tried it.
I rotate the Nova with a Pomarico and Selmer, all are great and leaps and bounds better than Yamaha which is not really a mouthpiece maker.

If you are plunking down 3 grand for a low C, make a budget for a good quality mouthpiece.
You can try a few and return if you work with the main retailers. Also, if there is a model you like, try a few samples of the same model as there is a great deal of variation, especially with Vandoren.
 

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I went this direction in high school (clarinet/bass clarinet to tenor sax) and the key for me was to really learn to think of the sax embouchure and voicing as something different from the clarinets. Mouthpiece angle can make a difference (sax is closer to perpendicular to the chin, where the clarinet and bass clarinet tend to come in at more of an angle), but you can form a good clarinet embouchure (especially bass clarinet) with a pretty flat mouthpiece angle (see: Mike Lowenstern). The key is to stay loose (you know how to do this if you play bass clarinet) and to get the right amount of arch at the back of the tongue.

For me, the amount of arch that gives a bass clarinet tone focus and power tends to make a saxophone tone unstable in the mid and upper registers and pretty hard to get speaking in the lower register. The right tongue position is going to feel very flat compared to what you would use on the bass clarinet. That's "flat" in terms of arch in the tongue, not pitch.

The saxophone is a lot less forgiving of a weak airstream and a closed throat than the clarinet and bass clarinet are. Your airstream has to be equally developed to get a good sound on all three, but it's a lot more possible to get away with a weak tone that doesn't have any power but sounds ok, especially if you cover it up with hard reeds and a lot of biting. A lot of people never get past this stage and never learn to play a bass clarinet louder than a mezzopiano without the tone going to hell. Saxophones are less forgiving of that, in my experience. A weak airstream is just going to give a thin, wavering tone. So breathe deeply, keep your air supported and don't be afraid of how much louder the sax is! The clarinets will benefit from that same airstream control and power.

I don't think of it as doubling anymore. I'm a clarinetist and I'm a saxophonist. I think you really need to take that approach to get good at any instrument you want to learn, and becoming a saxophonist definitely made me a better clarinetist.
 
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