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Discussion Starter #1
We have 7 bass clarinets in marching band this season. I'm trying to figure out what reeds I should use. I currently use for concert band, Vandoren green Java tenor sax 3 ½ reeds. That is what my teacher recommends. My mouthpiece is a Selmer C* with a Rovner ligature. My marching bass is a plastic Vito. All of this is provided by the school except for the reeds.

Last year for marching band I played on blue box Vandoren bass clarinet 3 reeds. I had a plastic 3 Legere tenor sax reed which worked fine except it felt hard sometimes. I bought a box of java #3 reeds and I'm thinking of marching with them. Does it really matter how soft the reed is? The highest note in the music is an :line5:. What kind of reed would work the best, cane or synthetic? And strength?
 

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Reed strength is definately a factor in sound. Stronger reeds require more air and could end up hurting you in a marching band environment. Usually it is on the player to know what they're comfortable with. As for the reed material, it depends what you want from the reed. If you want a reed that will last a long time and play consistently every use, synthetic may be for you. Personally I prefer cane but many players get great sounds from other types too. Reeds are way too personal a thing to let others dictate what you choose. It is all about being comfortable and producing your best sound. Take some suggestions from other posts and try them out. I'm currently using the same Vandoren Java #3's on tenor sax. On bass clarinet I use Lavoz (3.5) but I really only get to play it at school and for fun.
 

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Usually reed players in marching band use the same brand/cut that are 1/2 strength softer than those used for concert season.
They are soft enough to not poop your face out too quickly and still hard enough that they won't clam up when pushed.
The best reed to use is one that you are comfortable with. If you like cane... Use it. If you prefer synthetics.. use one.

I'm surprised that you didn't get this reed thing figured out last year during marching band. Most kids can tell after the first field rehearsal if they need to back off on reed strength.
And a question... Why is your teacher recommending tenor sax reeds for bass clari?
 

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I'm trying hard to imagine why any marching band needs--or wants--7 bass clarinets. But I digress....

I've used Fibracell tenor reeds for pit doubling and the odd jazz gig, and if I were to play bass clarinet in a marching band (which is predicated on me going insane), I'd probably start there. Maybe a medium-hard, and get the tenor sax cut on those...I've tried their bass clarinet reeds, and I wasn't impressed. It'll be buzzy, but you'll get the volume you need.
 

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Use the strength reed that works best for you, cane or synthetic. A 3 1/2 reed on a Selmer C* (.180 opening) is pretty hard. There's no reason a 3 reed wouldn't be OK. Use your air to produce sound, not overcome the resistance of a hard reed. I'm at a loss as to why your director recommends you use tenor reeds. They don't have the same profile as a bass clar reed and generally don't work as well. For me, Legere's run pretty hard. I use a 2 1/2 when I play outdoors or double.
 

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Fibracells work great on bass cl. You can push them hard and attack notes hard without the annoying chirping and squeaking. Should be perfect for marching band. Having said that I agree with everything bari_sax_diva said.
 

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As a long-time bass clarinetist and former (one season only) college marching band member, I would suggest tenor sax reeds --- attached to a tenor sax. A much more practical and useful instrument to march with than the bass clarinet. I agree with bari_sax_diva and RS that marching with a bass clarinet is at best a waste of effort, and at worst total lunacy.
 

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At least a bass clarinet is lighter than a bari sax.:)

I agree---any woodwind in a modern marching band (which is really a 'football' band) is relatively useless unless you're playing in the stands.
 

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Don't you misunderestimate the benefits of such a gig! Participating (and surviving) is everything!
 

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I think it's unfair to always pick on tenor saxes. :)
 

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I wouldn't wanna march bass clarinet either, but any woodwind in any marching band is useless. Even the saxes. They're just a little less useless than others.* I march clarinet, and I wish I had picked up tuba. But anyway, back to the main topic of the thread. (which was about reeds, not giving her our thoughts on what we think she should do.) I haven't tried a bass legere, but I played one on Bb and after a month or so it gave out. I didn't like my Fibracell bass reed, it made me sound like a bass kazoo. Tenor reeds I think give you a bit of an edgier sound, but they're harder to work with. For me, the best reed on bass clarinet is a cane bass clarinet reed. With a good mouthpiece of course.



*We woodwinds dominate brass in the concert setting.
 

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Get a Bari sax fibracell and cut 5/16 off the heel end. Best sounding durable reed for bass clarinet out there.
 

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I didn't like my Fibracell bass reed, it made me sound like a bass kazoo. Tenor reeds I think give you a bit of an edgier sound, but they're harder to work with. For me, the best reed on bass clarinet is a cane bass clarinet reed. With a good mouthpiece of course.
I'd agree with Kontra if this were a concert setting and good tone made any difference at all. Since it's a marching band and we're talking about an instrument that's almost completely pointless in a marching band, I'd still go for loud and buzzy.

Also, I would HIGHLY recommend you leave your good mouthpieces at home and march with the cheapest adequate mouthpiece you can find. Stadium bleachers are absolute hell on large woodwinds, and their mouthpieces get chipped/broken with depressing regularity.
 

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Also, I would HIGHLY recommend you leave your good mouthpieces at home and march with the cheapest adequate mouthpiece you can find. Stadium bleachers are absolute hell on large woodwinds, and their mouthpieces get chipped/broken with depressing regularity.
I use steel mouthpiece for marching band. It not only doesn't break, but also will dent most metal surfaces that it comes in contact with such as an alto sax. I don't know if they make these for bass clarinet though.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I think my teacher recommends the tenor reeds because they give me a stronger sound or maybe because of the cut of java. I feel like they're easier to play. I'll probably either use the 3's or find a synthetic reed like Legere which I used last season.

I'll have to ask my teacher what mouthpiece I should play on when I march. I just don't want to have to spend too much on it.

As I knew people were going to suggest it, I cannot switch to tenor saxophone for marching season. It's too late for that. One of the basses switched to tenor last season, but he's back on bass. Also, I'm planning on being section leader my senior year. Our band including guard is over 170 students with the majority being flutes and clarinets. The woodwinds can be heard. My section leader last year told me that no one can hear our section. I know I'm getting defensive, but I dislike people telling me to switch instruments when band camp is starting next month.
 

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Seriously, use a baritone sax reed. It is a better match to the bass clarinet than a tenor sax reed - once you cut a bit off the end of the reed. Tenor sax reeds don't have enough meat to them to handle the low notes a bass clarinet produces. The cut of the baritone is a much better match - this from a guy who own 2 tenor saxes and 2 bass clarinets and has tenor sax reeds coming out his ears (and a few boxes of bass clarinet reeds too) Bari sax reeds are what you want.
 

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Believe me Contragirl, I come from a band where if you're not a sax player or a low brass you're not "respected" (high school... sheesh.) My director stood by the fact that the bass clarinet was useless in any situation until I picked it up freshmen year. He says I changed his perspective on the instrument. While I still don't think marching one is necessary at all, I can understand you wanting too as did I my freshmen year. I'm just saying don't be discouraged when someone tells you to switch. Although, I don't think anyone here is saying switch completely, but that tenor sax or even flute are great doubles. I understand now is too late, but maybe for future reference.

Carl H, I'm going to get a bari sax reed and experiment with your idea. It sounds great.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I have some bari reeds lying around. Do I need a reed cutter or will scissors work? I'm planning on playing tenor sax or baritone in marching band for college instead of soprano clarinet.
Thanks for the help everyone. :)
 
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