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Hello,

I'm in the market for a professional bass clarinet. I'm willing to spend around $7000 Amero (I mean USD). I'm looking at the Selmer 'Privilege' Bass Clarinets and have had a Low C (model 67) on backorder for several months. I was wandering if the same issues between baritones (low A vs. Bb) exist in bass clarinets too. I switched to a Low Bb Bari last year and have noticed a remarkable difference in sound quality. (put me down for the Low Bb side of the arguement)

I intend on using the horn in the small groups I work with. I do not do much orchestral or pit band work. I'm curious how the improvisers out there feel about the Low Eb vs. Low C Bass Clarinets.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. If this issue has already been extensively covered elsewhere please respond with a link as I could not find the answers I was looking for.

Thank you,
Jsharp
 

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personally, i love the low C on the Buffet Prestige bass i have. I miss those 3 lower notes whenever i play any other bass clarinet.

the low C also allows you to go lower than a low A bari sax and have the same range as a bassoon.

just make sure you have a good mouthpiece to go with whatever horn you choose, mouthpieces are very important especially on bass clarinets
 

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I play the low C Buffet bass clarinet. If you try both the Selmer and Buffet you might feel the Selmer more free blowing unless you modify the register tube on the Buffet like I and others did. Some didn't do this modification and I guess they don't notice the problem or it doesn't bother them. The slight (very slight) compromise is the altisimo, which you will probably find easier on the Buffet than the Selmer when both in original condition.

Re low C vs. low Eb - I really like the low C. I use at least some and usually all of the lowest notes every time I play. Sometimes I 'd prefer to have a low Eb too just because the low C bass is heavier, but I would never change to have only low Eb. It is not like a low Bb vs. low A bari because the difference there is only one note.

Edit: I forgot to mention I play mostly improvised music, or modern composed music with a lot of improvisation in it, some more standard jazz, and some written music. After reading Bootman's post below, I also have to add that I've played many models of low C and low Eb bass clarinets, including a lot of Selmers and Buffets, and many of each model, and I don't think the low Eb bass has better projection than the low C.
 

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I have a low Eb Selmer which is an incredible Bass to play, it projects very nicely in loud ensembles and has some real bite to the sound. It is also one of the most flexible Basses out there in terms of playability and is ideal for small ensemble and jazz playing. A Low Bb Bari has bigger projection and more raw power than a low A Bari.

In terms of low C versus low Eb on a Bass clarinet, I would choose a low C if I had to over the Eb because it would be more useful in the more legitimate ensembles. For jazz playing only, I would go for the low Eb because the extra projection will help you get over the double Bass and the left hand of the piano.

I may be interested in parting with my Low Eb Selmer, drop me a line if you are interested in this horn.
 

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I like both...

I have a vintage Leblanc 400 series and a new Leblanc 430. I like both and my "power" mouthpiece works well on both of them. The only real difference IMHO is that low E and Eb on an extended horn don't "talk" like they do on a short instrument. I'd say this...make sure you get a horn that is not bottom heavy. Sometimes Buffets tend to be bottom heavy and make them hard to hold when standing up. IME a Selmer or Leblanc doesn't a bell that's too heavy which makes them easy to hold and makes it so that the "long" notes don't honk at you. Best of luck!
 

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I had a Student Yamaha YBC with a Plastic Body, I played a Selmer Mouthpiece on it with a Vandoren Tenor Saxophone Reed, (I liked them better than the Bass Clarinet Reeds), and it sounds just like a professional model would, or any professional Bass Clarinet would, but a lot cheaper. I loved the tone. I played a solo last year in concert band for Bass Clarinet, and I doubled on tenor afterwards. It reminds me of the Yamaha Baritone Saxes, The Professional model looks better, and has a high "F#" key, but the student model is the same body just without the engraving, and the high "F#" key, and they are amazing players.
 

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My Buffet has a low C - and though it is heavy, I would not switch to an Eb in stead - just love the low too much.

I second that mouthpiece is really important. Walter Grabner makes some very nice ones.
 

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I have a local classical bass clarinet friend who plays a Buffet 1193 as his primary BC and has a Yamaha 221 II as a back up (and for outdoor gigs). In my opinion he sounds perfectly fine on BOTH. Of course, there are tonal differences between a Buffet and Yamaha. Never the less, my friend sounds so good on the Yamaha 221 II that it encouraged me to get one.

I've been extremely happy with my 221. I've found it to be a rugged, well-built instrument and it has a surprisingly good quality of sound. After my repair tech gave the 221 a warranty check-over and adjustments shortly after I purchased the BC it has not needed another trip to the repair shop.

A key thing, in my opinion, is the mouthpiece. My BC playing went up several notches when I started using a Walter Grabner LB mouthpiece. It's nothing short of fantastic. It's especially remarkable in the high range. With the LB mouthpiece my Yamaha has such a beautiful sound that it feels to me like I'm playing on a more expensive instrument.

Finally, before I settled on the Yamaha 221 II I went through a mental process to decide if a more expensive BC was justified. It seemed to me that spending big bucks on a 1193 or a comparable BC would make sense if I was doing hard-core classical work. However, I'm mostly playing in big bands, small jazz groups, and recently went back to our local concert band to focus on flute. In this context, it seemed to me a Yamaha 221 II would meet my needs.

It would be cool if Yamaha produced a low C version of the 221. If my BC had the 3 additional notes I'm sure that I would use them. However, it doesn't bother me that I have an Eb BC. I'm quite happy with the rest of the 221's range.

I guess it comes down to the things that are most important to us as bass clarinet players. In my case, by getting a Yamaha 221 II instead of a more expensive BC I was then able to purchase a new DiMedici alto flute several months ago. Now, I'm having a total blast with both the bass clarinet and alto flute.

Roger
 

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I've heard the the absence of a low C doesn't really matter too much even for legit playing, like in pit bands.

Even on bari I know there's one local bari player who has never had a low A but played for two years with Basie as well as playing with the Seattle Symphony. When someone asks him if he has a low A he just says yes :D
 

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I had this dilemma a while ago. I had owned an old style Buffet Prestige to low Eb for a long time until it was damaged. I was persuaded to buy a new Buffet low C 1193 that was a fantastic instrument but I really missed the comfort of playing standing and the projection and overall feel of the smaller horn. I got a 1183 Buffet ..again a very nice horn but uncomfortable to play standing because of the neck angle and balance. Then Selmer brought out the Privilege and I got a low Eb one and I was finally happy..the balance, response , feel and sound are so much better for me than the Buffet instruments. I can get the sound I hear which was a compromise for me on the Buffets.
I also played a low A V1 bari until I switched years ago after reading an interview with Pepper Adams. Two minutes on the low Bb Mark V1 convinced me of it's superiority.
I would say if you don't need the low C get an Eb Selmer. Most bass clarinetists need the low C and if money was no object I'd love another low C but as well as not instead of.
 

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I like a clarinet without the low Eb, simply because I haven't gotten used to it, and it is more like soprano clarinet; but that is probably just a lame reason. I'm only an improvisor, and that is what is more comfortable to me. I've got an old Kohlert bass keyed to a low E, and I like it better than my Leblanc keyed to low Eb.
 

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As a PS.....

Another reason why I like a low EB with a 2-piece body is it's a lot easier to haul when I'm bringing all of my doubles to a gig. The case for my Yamaha 221 II is about the size of an alto sax case...and the 221 is lighter than my Buescher tenor. This might not be important to some players. But, it's another factor that went into my decision process.

Roger
 

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If you don't play much (any) orchestral or chamber music, then a low Eb horn will probably be fine, although low C horns are (IMO) more fun.

However, most orchestral and chamber parts that require a low C just don't sound right when you take them up the octave (again, IMO).

If you won't ever use those low notes, though, low Eb horns are much less expensive.
 

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Isn't there something to be said for having a horn with a removable low C extension, which can be played either way? I realize there are some compromises involved, like the cost of having one built/modified, the extra hanging keywork when it is not attached, pitch compromises on the bell key, etc. but it seems to me like if that's an option, it would be a good one for a lot of people that find themselves in very different playing situations all of the time. I'm looking into having it done and am waiting to hear back from some people about it...
 

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Razzy said:
Isn't there something to be said for having a horn with a removable low C extension, which can be played either way? I realize there are some compromises involved, like the cost of having one built/modified, the extra hanging keywork when it is not attached, pitch compromises on the bell key, etc. but it seems to me like if that's an option, it would be a good one for a lot of people that find themselves in very different playing situations all of the time. I'm looking into having it done and am waiting to hear back from some people about it...
The only reason I could really see to do that instead of just buying a low C clarinet would be if you had already found the (low E/Eb) bass clarinet of your dreams and didn't want to replace it. Otherwise, low C bass clarinets are, in my opinion, only marginally more of a b**** to play with a neck strap than low Eb ones.
 

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Right. Consider also that you just won't need it sometimes and it would be nice to have the option. I haven't played enough of each type to really make a good estimation as to a generalized difference in response, but it does seem to make sense to me that an Eb horn would tend to project a little more and respond a little faster in the lowest notes. Obviously baritone saxes have an entirely different bore and tone quality but this has been the case in my experience with those instruments too, as with low C vs. low B flutes: faster/punchier response down there with the shorter tubing. I guess this applies more to jazz soloists than anything.

I have noticed that C bass clarinets seem to have an added richness to the notes Eb and above on account of the added tubing.
 

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I would be wary of purchasing a Selmer Bass Clarinet right now. There have been a couple of well chronicaled accounts here on SOTW about 6000 dollar plus Selmer Bass Clarinets cracking issues and Selmer's relatively slow and less than customer friendly resolution of these issues.

In addition to the stories here, I know oftwo bass clarinetists locally that have had Selmer Basses crack within the last two years. These are seasoned players who are well aquainted with care and maintenece of a bass clarinet, and despite all of their careful precautions, still ended up with a pinned upper joint in one case and a replaced upper joint in another.

Steve
 

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Razzy said:
Right. Consider also that you just won't need it sometimes and it would be nice to have the option. I haven't played enough of each type to really make a good estimation as to a generalized difference in response, but it does seem to make sense to me that an Eb horn would tend to project a little more and respond a little faster in the lowest notes. Obviously baritone saxes have an entirely different bore and tone quality but this has been the case in my experience with those instruments too, as with low C vs. low B flutes: faster/punchier response down there with the shorter tubing. I guess this applies more to jazz soloists than anything.

I have noticed that C bass clarinets seem to have an added richness to the notes Eb and above on account of the added tubing.
I had a bass clarinet teacher (Cornelius Boots - www.myspace.com/edmundwelles) who used to talk about the inverse square law (the perceived volume decreases exponentially in a negative relationship to the distance from the sound - a sound that is twice as far away is four times as quiet to a listener, a sound that is three times as far away is 9 times as quiet, etc.) in relation to the bass clarinet. He said that a lot of players start to back off on their air support as they get higher up the instrument, since the notes closer to our heads (in the left hand) seem like they are getting harsh and loud, when, in fact, to a listener, they're the same volume. Maybe this is related to what goes on with low C vs low Eb bass clarinets. On a low Eb bass, the low Eb speaks from the bell, which is directed somewhat more upwards towards the player. On a low C bass, the low Eb is another note on the tube, which extends down a minor third below it. The low C doesn't sound as loud to the player because it is, by necessity, located physically lower on the instrument than the Eb.

These are just some thoughts on the subject and definitely need not be treated as truth. I've never played low Eb and low C basses of comparable quality. To me, the low C bass projects better, has better tone, better response and a better feel than the low Eb basses I've played, but we're comparing a Selmer model 33 (actually a Mazzeo model, which is slightly pre-33, I think?) to a plastic Bundy Eb horn from the 60's or 70's and some sweet old low Eb Noblets that my high school owned.
 

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Good thoughts, dirty. That could indeed be entirely responsible for my experiences. In any case it looks like I may be having an extension built, I will get back to you as I find out more and if it actually happens, as I know this is a topic of interest to many bass clarinetists.

A mostly unrelated anecdote: Cornelius Boots studied clarinet in high school with Frank Mazzeo, who was my saxophone teacher for four years (and not related to Rosario Mazzeo of the clarinet brand mention). He's the band director at one of the finest music programs on the east coast, and I just saw their marching band compete last night to fulfill part of my music ed degree... small world, eh?
 

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Razzy said:
A mostly unrelated anecdote: Cornelius Boots studied clarinet in high school with Frank Mazzeo, who was my saxophone teacher for four years (and not related to Rosario Mazzeo of the clarinet brand mention). He's the band director at one of the finest music programs on the east coast, and I just saw their marching band compete last night to fulfill part of my music ed degree... small world, eh?
Seriously? That's fantastic. Cornelius is an awesome guy who has created a career for himself teaching and performing as a bass clarinetist playing his own music and leading his own groups. Very cool person, too.
 
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