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Discussion Starter #1
Do good players change their reed during the concert or is it always performed with 1 reed? Being relatively new to bass cl, I find that the high clarion plays best shortly after the beginning of the performance, but after a while (an hour), I have trouble with the high clarion and then the altissimo registers (yes, single reg. vent) and think that if I put on a fresh(er) reed, I may get back those notes. I haven't noticed any discussion of this, wondered what good practice is. I'm still working out what reed I like the best, and as of now I seem to do best with VD #3, but have only tried VD and plain Rico, so it could be all me.
Thanks.
 

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I wouldnt call myself good, but im decent, and i know my way around bass clarinet fairly well. but dont take my advice as law.

whats probably happening is

a. the reed dryer at the begining, making it slightly harder, making your high notes easier. if you can try moving up half a step on your reeds

b. another reason is your embochure may be fatigueing, causeing you to bite, ect, which would also give you trouble.

c. you can just rotate reeds during your longer practices/ perfomances, i dont see an issue with that, as long as you switch during a rest or break and not when you are suppost to be playing
 

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The wetter the reed, the more flexible, as is noted above. Plastic reeds are supposed to avoid this, but I've not found them to be a good solution.

When I double (alto, baritone, bass clarinet and clarinet), I make it part of the drill to pick up every horn once in a while and slobber on same's reed. This keeps them saturated enough to avoid the drying out problem, but it's not the sort of thing you would want to do if you can avoid it.

As for problems with the altisimo, the "single vent" basses can reach up into that territory, but there is a lot more in the embochure with a single vent versus a double vent one. What I found worked back in my cheap bass clarinet days was continual practice of scales and interval studies through the upper range of the horn.

Same old problem (can't do something on a musical instrument), same old solution (more practice)...
 

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Work on setting your reed very quickly. I definitely change reeds during long rests. If a reed's not working, there's no reason to continue to use it if you have something that will work better.

This is, however, fairly dependent on you ensuring that you have three of four good reeds easily accessible, marked so you know the difference.

My teacher brings a film canister of water with him in his case, so that whenever he goes anywhere, he can have three or four reeds ready to go. I'm going to try this, since it seems like a great plan.
 

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You can still get film cannisters?:shock:
 

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dirty said:
Work on setting your reed very quickly. I definitely change reeds during long rests. If a reed's not working, there's no reason to continue to use it if you have something that will work better.

This is, however, fairly dependent on you ensuring that you have three of four good reeds easily accessible, marked so you know the difference.

My teacher brings a film canister of water with him in his case, so that whenever he goes anywhere, he can have three or four reeds ready to go. I'm going to try this, since it seems like a great plan.
I keep the 35mm film canister in my case too. They're perfect for reed wetting. Before a performance, I always wet all my playable reeds so they're ready to go in a reed case in the event of an emergency. In my 16 yrs of playing though, I've only had to switch reeds in the middle of a performance maybe twice. Even if my reed loses resilience mid performance, which happens quite often, there's usually not enough time to swap another out and get it centered on the mpc.
 

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dstack79 said:
I keep the 35mm film canister in my case too. They're perfect for reed wetting. Before a performance, I always wet all my playable reeds so they're ready to go in a reed case in the event of an emergency. In my 16 yrs of playing though, I've only had to switch reeds in the middle of a performance maybe twice. Even if my reed loses resilience mid performance, which happens quite often, there's usually not enough time to swap another out and get it centered on the mpc.
I find that orchestral clarinet parts tend to have long enough rests that I can switch out reeds during a concert. Band music, however, isn't very accommodating in this regard. Fortunately, my conductor loves to talk to audiences, so I can switch in between songs. I'm pretty picky about reeds on clarinet, so I change them a lot.
 

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It's also a good practice to learn to play a not-so-great reed. Sometimes a reed will go when you least expect it - and at a time that does not accomodate a reed change. I have played with some people that chase reeds through a whole concert and NEVER find a good one.

Better to prepare your reeds, warm up well, and be able to play a bad one.
 

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BflatNH,

There can be any number of variables at work. You say that you're relatively new to the bass clarinet. Are you studying with a clarinet teacher? If not, finding a good teacher in your area who is also a bass clarinetist could be a big help in sorting everything out. After all, the bass clarinet is a different animal from the Bb soprano clarinet.

In my case switching to a Grabner LB mouthpiece made a night-and-day difference for me on bass clarinet. Passages that I struggled with in the higher end of the instrument suddenly became a walk in the park with the LB mouthpiece.

This may be opening a can of worms....but, some bass clarinet players have found that they get better results with a double-lip embouchure. I switched to a double-lip around 5-6 months ago -- first on bass clarinet and then later on soprano clarinet -- and am extremely happy with it. It seems to me that response (especially in the high range) is better and my sound is much more resonant. That said, there any many clarinetists who look upon a double-lip embouchure in horror.

Good luck!

Roger
 

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my double lip on alto/tenor and sop clarinet sounds 'bout the same (per instrument, not across the instruments).

i normally check my lower lip position in relation to the mpc curve for the optimum location (and thus tone for me).
 

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Since Roger said it, I'll repeat at the risk of sounding shrill. The Walter Grabner mouthpiece made a rookie like me able to play from low C to D4 very reliably. The bass clarinet more than any instrument I've played is mouthpiece dependent. Every bass clarinet player who has tried my WC mouthpiece has been impressed. Most can't afford it. And few play as many different instruments as I do so it's not as much an issue.

I slap a plasticover reed on my doubles. In my case that's the clarinet and bass clarinet. My sound doesn't change significantly and I don't have to worry about getting the reed wet... ever. As mediocre as I play on clarinet, I need every edge I can get. So your results may vary from mine.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Heard you

Thanks guys! The first thing I bought after the horn was the LB mpc. I recently took a lesson (non-bass pro) to confirm the basics, e.g. embochure, breathing, posture, etc. and was complemented on the range (to C7, two above the staff as long as the reed plays) - not bad for a plastic Normandy that cost less than Walter's mpc. When I feel that I won't be wasting their time, I'd like to find a willing pro (Boston & north - suggestions?) for some lessons. I've already used some of your suggestions - I've resisted clamping down and was able to extend my reed (once I found one that worked) during a recent gig. Although I wasn't able to get them ready for the gig,. I've gone up 1/2 on the reed strength, which has promise too. I want to play well any bass (or sopr) at hand, play the reed and not let the reed play me, etc. I appreciate all of your insights which have helped me play better than I could have imagined. I am now also beginning to practice reading the bass clef C parts (cello, bassoon) to increase my utility and fun - I may be invited to do some chamber!
 

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different mpcs do make a difference. Granbers mpcs are high quality.
i can here tonal difference in a large variety of mpcs .. depending upon what you are after ther's alot out there to choose from.

I have 2 1930s Chedevilles and they really give a good ring to my clarinets - those are prob the best sounding (to me) mpcs i have. I normally play a Vandoren 4 reed with them
 

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BflatNH,

Bravo!!!!

Best of luck to you, Roger
 

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Well.....

Gandalfe said:
Since Roger said it, I'll repeat at the risk of sounding shrill. The Walter Grabner mouthpiece made a rookie like me able to play from low C to D4 very reliably. The bass clarinet more than any instrument I've played is mouthpiece dependent. Every bass clarinet player who has tried my WC mouthpiece has been impressed. Most can't afford it. And few play as many different instruments as I do so it's not as much an issue.

I find that the Bass Clarinet is somewhat mouthpiece dependent and they all will sound a little different, but if you're new I think you need to learn to control what you have. I played on a Yamaha 4C for 4 years before I moved on to the regimen I keep now (Fobes Basso Nova, Selmer D, Vintage Selmer D, Yamaha 6C, Brilhart Ebolin, Yamaha 1204A). Because I spent SOOOOOOOO much time learning to control that 4C I can play all of those mouthpieces with the same reed. So, I'd say that once you really learn to control the "funky junk" then the horn becomes reed and ligature dependent. That route worked for me, not sure if it will for you, but I highly recommend it!
 
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