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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm playing in a wind-only concert band and really need to get more loudness out of the alto-clarinet. I've tried taking in heaps of mouthpiece; and loosening the screw nearest the tip on the ligature. What else I could do? I am using a Hite mouthpiece, wondering whether a Fobes or Grabner would be worth a try. Not overly fussed about producing a specifically clarinetty sound as I often play the bossoon part. My understanding is that just blowing harder is not really the answer: one needs to get the reed to vibrate over a wider arc to produce bigger sound waves.
Thanks
 

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Switch to bass clarinet.

Seriously, trying to get more volume out of an alto clarinet is like trying to get more speed out of an old VW bug.....it's just not gonna happen
 

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Harder reed is your easiest and cheapest option for getting more potential volume from your current setup.

Other options include different mouthpiece, different instrument and some form of amplification.

Or hit the shed, put in the hours playing to maximize your current setup. Includes lessons, long tones and trying out different mpc/reed combinations.
 

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Do all the pads seal?
Most Alto Clarinets I see normally need pads desperately as they haven't been played in a long time.
 

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Put a Runyon Quantum on it with a #3 Fibracell reed. :). Seriously, I never heard a low clarinet player ask about more volume, but I have wondered about it myself. You know, there are people who work on clarinet mouthpieces. You want a race alto clarinet, you can get it. Open the mouthpiece up a little and put a baffle in it - it'll curl the bassoonist's hair. I wonder if this has actually been done before?
 

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I've been playing alto clarinet for 10 years and the hardest thing for me was getting the clarion register to sing. You really need to have the proper larynx position to get some volume. Overtone exercises have helped with that.

As for mouthpieces; the Grabner I have now was definitely an improvement over the Vandoren I had before. I can't speak for the others...

I had my clarinet overhauled last year and my tech raised the key heights, that also helped.

My advice would be to start with the overtone exercises and make sure you have a proper clarinet embouchure. Find a good teacher if possible.
 

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There are lots of variables. Does the instrument feel stuffy? You should be able to get considerable noise out of any of the more popular brands if in good repair. It may have leaks. If you have a student mouthpiece, they're typically designed to be easy to blow in the low register, not necessarily to project or produce a good sound in the clarion. Upgrading to Fobes, Grabner, etc. might help. Rather than a harder reed, try a softer one, preferably good quality, but even an orange box Rico will let you know if you're on the right path.
 

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Sorry, I didn't notice your mention of the Hite mouthpiece. It should be OK if it's not damaged. My guess is your reed's too hard, or the horn has leaks.
There are lots of variables. Does the instrument feel stuffy? You should be able to get considerable noise out of any of the more popular brands if in good repair. It may have leaks. If you have a student mouthpiece, they're typically designed to be easy to blow in the low register, not necessarily to project or produce a good sound in the clarion. Upgrading to Fobes, Grabner, etc. might help. Rather than a harder reed, try a softer one, preferably good quality, but even an orange box Rico will let you know if you're on the right path.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks: I already had the instrument checked for leaks with an air pressure machine. I also tried opening up an old mouthpiece, which produced a fuller sound albeit needing more air of course. I've also fiddled with different reeds - a tenor sax reed sounds fuller too. However I think I'm close to the limits of the instrument in terms of volume unless one could change bore, vent sizes etc.
When listening to a wind concert band I am always struck by the lack of volume from the clarinet section compared to the rest. Seems odd that no-one has ever tried to fix this?
 

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I don't think it's so much the lack of sheer volume as it is the lack of brilliance in the sound, along with the parts it's usually assigned to play in band (e.g., doubling a brass instrument or sax). A clarinet section in a concert band certainly has the power to be heard if the conductor allows it to be. My wife and I played in a summer band in Sonora, California for a couple of seasons. We were usually the only clarinetists in a band with five trumpeters. We had no problem balancing, but it's worth noting the conductor was a clarinetist, and made sure we were heard. It doesn't help that some contemporary composers (this means you, Robert W Smith!) saddle clarinets with awful, repetitive, unrewarding music, while assigning all the glory to the brass and percussion sections.
 

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Thanks: I already had the instrument checked for leaks with an air pressure machine. I also tried opening up an old mouthpiece, which produced a fuller sound albeit needing more air of course. I've also fiddled with different reeds - a tenor sax reed sounds fuller too. However I think I'm close to the limits of the instrument in terms of volume unless one could change bore, vent sizes etc.
When listening to a wind concert band I am always struck by the lack of volume from the clarinet section compared to the rest. Seems odd that no-one has ever tried to fix this?
One of the reasons why Adolphe Sax introduced the saxophone was precisely because of the unbalance between the brass and the reeds sections in the military marching bands.

The saxophone was his answer to this. He created a reed instrument which could be as loud as a trumpet.

This is a clarinet, lack of volume is inherent in its design. You want more volume? Get yourself a PA and a microphone.

I am afraid that you’ve hit the wall of the maximum sound level that you instrument is capable of giving you or anyone else.
 

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It's possible to get some decent volume on alto clarinet, it's just a lot more work.
 

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but we don’t know whether or not OP has already gone to the top of the possible volume and he seems to have been doing anything possible already to increase volume but there is only so much that one can do.
 

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Did you reface the mouthpiece yourself? That's ballsy! I think the only solution that may work would be a open mouthpiece with a baffle/spoiler, but don't expect miracles, it's still a clarinet
 

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As a kid, I got to sit in with the National Army Concert Band (I was playing trumpet).
You could hear the Clarinets just fine even from the trumpet section.
Was the most amazingly well balanced sound I had ever heard sitting in the middle of those guys.

As for volume. The Clarinet players in that band were really good at manipulating their TONE to become loud when needed and not just blowing harder.
Very similar to the way an Organist opens up the higher stops.
 

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bari plastic reed is the key. i used to out blow the low brass with one on my bass clarinet. would work on alto too.
 

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Tenor sax reeds work well for volume too. Recently I tried a rico plasticoat reed and that really wakes up the alto clarinet. You will see from this video that I am plenty loud.....you may not be interested in this approach to alto clarinet however! :)
 

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Eek! Is there anything actually written on the sheet music?
 
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