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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I have been reading lots of very positive reviews of saxes by Gear4Music, a British company selling instruments made in China/Taiwan. People are saying that they are right up there with the best student saxes they've played, and they are incredibly cheap (nickel alto for £174, light gold tenor for £209, etc). Being in the market for a tenor sax at the moment, I have just ordered one on the strength of all these rave reviews (they also have a 14 day no quibble money back guarantee), and I noticed that they are now selling a "Deluxe Bass Clarinet" (to low C by the look of the pics on their website - www.gear4music.com) for £549!! It is made of ABS resin but has silver-plated keywork.

When my cashflow improves after the summer I may just go ahead and order one, as the 14 day return offer makes it worth trying it out, but I would love to know if anyone has already tried one.

I can't tell from the picture what the right thumb key arrangement is, but the pads for the lowest three semitones look like they're on the back of the body rather than continuing down the same side as the low E & Eb as on most other low C basses that I have seen. Also, it's not clear whether the body is one piece or has the usual joint between the two hands as on most wooden ones, and I don't think there is any long Ab/Eb key for LH IV.

If this instrument is any good for occasional doubling use, in tune, easy-blowing etc, then it's the cheapest way of getting hold of a low C bass that I've ever seen and seems like quite a breakthrough to me.

Looking forward to hearing about others' experiences/opinions on this.

John.
 

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Bootman said:
Beware of anything cheap where big long rods and extraneous keywork is concerned because the usual spots where shortcuts abound are in the keywork.
That could well be true, but in this case it may not apply. I haven't tried a Gear4Music bass clarinet, but I have tried their altos, and I don't think cutting corners is the reason for the cheapness. The alto is well built and very good so one would hope that Gear4music will continue to build on that reputation. I also doubt they'd risk a 14 day no quibble return if they were selling bad instruments.

But, again, I haven't tried one. I'm interested in getting a bass clarinet myself so will watch this thread to see if someone can comment on one of these.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have studied the photo of the Bass Clarinet on the Gear4Music website again, and I think that perhaps it does have a long Ab/Eb key for LH IV after all. I wish they would supply a 360˚ image like they do for the saxes so that I could see what the mechanism is like round the back. I also think on further inspection that it has a two piece body after all, but I wonder if it has the automatic vent system that long basses tend to have. I've emailed them to ask these questions, but no reply as yet.

I'll keep the group informed if I get more info.

Cheers,

John.
 

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From the pretty vauge phto it seems like it has a left pinky Ab/Eb key, 2-piece body, low C (with C, C# & D for the right thumb), double register auto-mech. I could be wrong about any of these, just how it looks in the photo.
 

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Which horn is that again?

Hmm. That picture is suspect. I found a picture of the EM Winston CN791 horn on the net here (http://www.musictreasures.com/catalog_full/Instruments/CN791.JPG, from http://www.musictreasures.com/Instruments/Orchestral-Band/Woodwinds/27863.html)
that's *exactly* the same -- including the reflection on the bell.

And, even better, that picture is the same as the Amati Low C bass from Amati's website:
http://www.amati.cz/english/production/instruments/Files/acl/acl_692g.htm from
http://www.amati.cz/english/production/instruments/Clarinets.htm

That's the evidence. I'll leave the interpretation to you...

Cheers,

Stacy
 

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StacyFriedman said:
Hmm. That picture is suspect. I found a picture of the EM Winston CN791 horn on the net (...) that's *exactly* the same -- including the reflection on the bell.
And, even better, that picture is the same as the Amati Low C bass from Amati's website (...)
That's the evidence. I'll leave the interpretation to you...
One interpretation would be that Amati makes a lot of instruments for other vendors, including Boosey & Hawkes, Forté, King, Keilwerth and many more. (not that there is anything wrong with that)

Amati's ACL 692 (wood) costs some 3500$...I doubt they'd be able to push it out at ~1200$ as plastic under a different name. Thus, the other interpretation is that someone simply borrowed the image...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Very interesting.
Could it be that all these companies are selling a low C plastic bass clarinet by the same Chinese manufacturer?
Anyway, I've now gone ahead and ordered one from Gear4Music. The 14 day money-back guarantee helps me feel more confident about it. I'll be sure to post my experiences of the new instrument when it arrives (it'll be here towards the end of November).
Cheers for now.
John
 

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Johnmcd said:
Could it be that all these companies are selling a low C plastic bass clarinet by the same Chinese manufacturer?
AFAIK Amati does not sell any plastic basses. (all 2xx being student models, 3xx intermediates, 5xx/6xx pro models)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Disappointing news about the Gear4Music Bass Clarinet.

Hi everyone,

I have been in contact with a very helpful member of the team at Gear4Music, since I ordered a Tenor Sax which I had to send back because the case was slightly damaged and the low note pads were not seating properly. He has been very efficient in arranging for the sax to be taken back (at their cost!) and today I'm expecting a brand new one to arrive.

Anyway, while in communication with him, I asked him about the bass clarinet that I have on order, pointing out that the photos they were using were identical to both the Amati and EM Winston instruments. I also mentioned that it was specifically a low C bass that I am expecting, and could he find out if that was definitely what I was going to get.

He has just got back to me this morning saying that he had to go to the top to find out about it, but basically it boils down to the fact that they used that photo to illustrate an old instrument that they used to sell (he didn't know where they had got the picture) and that they are now using a new company to produce a different bass clarinet, but unfortunately it is only a short model to low Eb.

I wrote back recommending that he get them to change the photo on the website and state clearly the range of the instrument in the description. I also suggested that they reconsider producing a low C bass because I think there is a gap in the market for long basses in their price range.

V. disappointing. Oh well, the search continues for a low C bass that I can afford.

John.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I must report another new development in this case.

I've had another message from my contact at Gear4Music, and he's offering to get me a low C bass clarinet from one of their companies that is also making wooden ones. He assures me that they would make sure it would be of the same quality as their other instruments, but it will take up to 5 months and will cost about £200 more, so the total price will be £749 including VAT.

I must say I feel like I am being treated honourably by the company despite their carelessness in advertising this instrument, so I wouldn't necessarily agree with you Pete, when you say that you "thought it was a reputable company". I think it still is, whilst also agreeing with you that it isn't very good practice to misrepresent a product like that (I had really got my hopes up for a low C bass for £549).

I still think £749 is a pretty good price for a long Bass Clarinet and also that the person there with whom I've been communicating has been working very hard to try and make this right for me. I am impressed with that.

I've told him that I am interested in his proposition and would like to take up his offer of this new instrument for the higher price, even though I will have to wait until February or so.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to see what this replacement tenor sax will be like (it's scheduled for delivery by ParcelForce today sometime).

Cheers for now everyone.

John.
 

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Push comes to shove, you are not likely to see any substantial investment in low C range bass clarinet production because of one simple fact: there is little or no demand for such an instrument in the music community as a whole.

I'm not saying that the extension is worthless, mind you; if for no other reason it allows bassoon parts to be transposed at pitch. There are some classical works that call for it (and many more that call for the original extension to the horn's range, the low Eb). Although I've managed to steer clear of concert band music for nigh on thirty years now, I also am given to understand that the extended range show up here and there in music written in the last twenty to thirty years.

But, for the greatest part the range of the bass clarinet remains set at the low Eb originally added to allow for the transposition of A bass clarinet parts. Most of the orchestration books that I have thumbed through in the last ten years (and certainly the modern histories of the clarinet) will make mention of the extension, but they usually qualify it with words like "it's not common".

Until the literature is normally found with the range extended to low C, there's just not going to be a substantial demand for such a horn. Pro quality horns, perhaps yes. But, the vast majority of players are not going to be exposed to a need for the lower tones, and thus are better served by saving their money.

I use my horn pretty extensively for the transposition of both bassoon parts, and of the occasional baritone sax line (where all of the other saxes are on flute or clarinet). In the one case, it is usually out of necessity, while in the other it just sounds better. (Most "pop" stuff is written with the expectation that tenor and alto will have a clarinet, while at the same time assuming that no baritone player in his right mind would also hump a bass clarinet around.)

Other than those uses, the occasional descent that will help thicken up an otherwise weak woodwind harmony, and the very occasional use in certain works by Russian composers, the extension goes unused.

The one "non-pro" bass clarinet that I have seen in my lifetime was a Ridenour one, this some two years ago. We were in Dallas, evacuated from Hurricane Rita, when I stumbled across an example at the H & H warehouse store and pro shop.

I did not have access to my mouthpieces and reeds, but I did do a thorough mechanical and ergometric "test drive" of the horn. It was an excellent example of the old maxim "You get what you pay for." Fit and finish were horrible, several of the lower joint keys were binding at all times, and the overall appearance of the horn was well below Selmer USAs that I have tried out in the past.

The bore and tone may have been heavenly (remember, no mouthpiece or reeds available), but I would not trade all the smooth dark tone in Austria for having to put up with that keywork. And, I've played on many different makes and models of bass over the forty four years that I've been associated with the instrument.

Someone mentioned elsewhere that Ridenour had withdrawn an earlier instrument due to quality issues. If it was the one that I was exposed to, I can certainly see why...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Gear4Music Low C Bass Clarinet

SOTSDO said:
there is little or no demand for such an instrument in the music community as a whole.
Yeah, but having low D, C# & C is fun! And for only an extra £200 a small price to pay for those times when it does come up and you need it.

BTW, another development on my order with Gear4Music: my contact has written again to let me know that it looks like I will get my special order low C Bass by mid December along with the expected next delivery of low Eb models, rather than February 14th as he told me the other day.

They've now put both bass clarinets on their website, with the previous, low Eb one now reduced in price to £499! The low C one is down at £749.

I've been continually impressed by their efforts to keep me as a customer. I think that goes a long way.

Cheers for now all.

John.
 

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Update

Hi everyone.

I was going to let you all know when I got the instrument and give you my feedback on it.

It arrived just before Christmas, and straight off I must sadly report that it is a no-goer. It looks beautiful and does actually sound good, but unfortunately the keywork is far too flimsy, especially in all those highly vulnerable long levers for the LH little finger and RH 1st finger. When it arrived a lot of those keys were bent, and were far too easy to bend back to where they should have been (although it would have taken a lot of work to get the whole clarinet set up and regulated properly). It looks like a copy of the Yamaha YCL-622 but they haven't copied the sturdiness of the keywork.

It's a great shame because I was so encouraged by the solid keywork on their tenor sax (of course this instrument is probably manufactured by a different company in China) but a low C bass needs a better grade of metal than this. Also, the case that it came in was largely responsible, I believe, for the bent keys: the long vulnerable keys were on the outer sides of the case so that if you picked up the case by the handle on the end as opposed to the usual handle on the side, the LH little finger keys were on the bottom, with the whole weight of the long joint on them - mad, considering that they're primarily aiming this instrument at school kids playing it in band, school orchestra etc. Even as a responsible adult professional player I think it would be impossible to keep this instrument in a stable, reliable playing condition, so I can barely imagine how playable it would remain being bashed about by schoolkids!

So anyway, I've sent it back now for a refund and I've learnt my lesson. I don't think it's possible to get hold of a good, sturdy, working bass clarinet (especially a low C one) for less than about £2,500.

Ho hum, the saving up continues.

John.
 

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too bad I was thinking of ordering one.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Some news for American readers

Hi all,

I just found out by stumbling upon the 'Arioso' Bass Clarinet (to low C) that the Gear4Music Bass that I started this thread on is almost certainly the same instrument as this one, designed by Tom Ridenour and made in China. The pictures on that site look exactly like the G4M Bass that I returned for refund last week.

Here is a thread about it on this forum:

http://www.saxontheweb.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=14161

My advice is steer clear.

Best wishes,

John.
 

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yes, this is not unusual on SOTW or anywhere else for that matter, you are asking about a British company on a forum with predominantly an American presence and about a bass clarinet on a predominantly saxophone forum.........slim chances

Google is a better chance for you to find what you are looking for

http://test.woodwind.org/oboe/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=369298&t=369298
http://www.abrsm.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=53088&pid=1197528&st=0&#entry1197528
http://pvyncke.blogspot.nl/2012/03/gear4music-eb-clarinet-to-be-delivered.html
 
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