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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,
I am a bass guitarist and double bass player, but for a while now I have been really longing to get hold of and learn the bass clarinet. It has got to the point where the need is really quite insatiable and listening to Eric Dolphy play the beast is not enough.

As it is I have read quite a lot on the net and researched various brands quite thoroughly but my practical experience is yet to occur. My budget is pretty low and I'm looking to spend no more than $700 on my first horn, but I'm confident that if that money is well placed I can get something more than satisfactory.

If anyone has any pearls of wisdom on the first bass clarinet I should have a look at let me know and I shall be extremely grateful!

Jamie
 

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Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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"Pearl of wisdom" no.1: Don't be tempted by something very cheap that is made of wood. It will almost certainly be knackered.
 

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i was quite fortunate! when i got my bass clarinet,i have a conn" which is down to low E! a short bass!, but its got enough to entertain for sure!these basses are excellent but you dont often see them around,bundys are worth looking at and the price maybe a lot better!, but you may need to have some work done on them also,i agree that, be careful when buying a bass clarinet, you want to spend a fair price as it s hard to get cheap bargains!..
 

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Discussion Starter #4
"Pearl of wisdom" no.1: Don't be tempted by something very cheap that is made of wood. It will almost certainly be knackered.
So basses made of plastic are better? Or is it as simple as old wood is not worth the risk?

If anyone can enlighten me, what materials are generally regarded as the best?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
i was quite fortunate! when i got my bass clarinet,i have a conn" which is down to low E! a short bass!, but its got enough to entertain for sure!these basses are excellent but you dont often see them around,bundys are worth looking at and the price maybe a lot better!, but you may need to have some work done on them also,i agree that, be careful when buying a bass clarinet, you want to spend a fair price as it s hard to get cheap bargains!..
There's one in the for sale section now that I have just inquired about, thanks for the synchronised advice (I hope it wasn't a shameless plug :p )
 

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No as a rule! wood will give you a more mature sound!, thats what you pay for , there are pros" and cons", wood can split/have cracks" but thats ok, as they can be fixed.
You normally hear the quality of sound from a wooden clarinet!, adjustments are something to watch out for as basses" do get out of alignment sometimes, they are quite critical of that.
The renowned makes buffet,selmer,leblanc, all have there cheaper student models and these are usually very good!, but you still need to be sure so if possible get an expirienced!?..head to look one over you are interested in getting one!
 

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There's one in the for sale section now that I have just inquired about, thanks for the synchronised advice (I hope it wasn't a shameless plug :p )
Find out a bit more about it!...if you notice in the thread i stated my 482N model there!, honestly you wont be dissapointed at 450$??, there is shipping, and import tax!, then you may have to spend some cash to get it right!, i gave 600£ for mine and spent 150£ to get it tip top!,but its a cracking horn!,, and being short basses! you can have bags of fun!..the pics look pretty good to me!.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Aww the guy says it's sold! Oh well, best to take my time and get some collective advice before I take the plunge anyway. I see you live quite near by the way, are you involved with much music up your way?
 

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Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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What do people think of this? The only thing which makes me worry is how cheap it is!
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI....90929&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT#ht_14415wt_970
That could be ok but it does look a bit rough and it may need quite a bit of work to get it playing well. I definitely wouldn't jump for it without taking further advice from someone who really knows about these things. Plenty like that come up in the States. If you import, do remember the import duties/VAT and get a quote for shipping (which seems to have gone very high). Bass clarinet cases are BIG (especially if the body is one piece). At least the photos are good. You really need one of the techs or bass clarinet experts to comment. It might be a good idea to PM one of the Moderators to move this thread to the clarinet section of the forum - you'll probably get more comments from people who are in the know about bass clarinets there. At the moment this is in "Beginners, General Discussion". It needs to be in "Clarinet".

My earlier comment in the thread was meaning that you should look for good quality, well-adjusted resonite instruments rather than an old wooden "junker". Good wooden instruments are of course great but they are also extremely expensive.

On the general issue of getting a reasonable instrument for your budget and your interest in bass clarinet: I sold my bass clarinet here on SOTW a few weeks ago for £300. It was a Bundy (resonite) just needing a bit of regulation. I think you should be able to get something ok in the £350-£550 range. You might be in luck if you put a "Wanted" thread up here at SOTW. Most people on SOTW know what their stuff is worth and few look for big profits. Be prepared to spend some money on lessons too. Eric Dolphy makes the bass clarinet sound effortless. It really isn't. It's a much more difficult instrument to get a grip on (even at a basic level) than alto or tenor sax. (All IMHO) Good luck!
 

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I'll probably get flack for this, but I've run into some resonite Bundy basses (same as the later Selmer USA) that play awfully well for the money they cost. It sure helps if you have a friend who can test-drive instruments you're thinking about buying, but I don't think I'd reject any of those out of hand. Normandy basses are also very decent players. As are Vito or Yamaha (those will probably also be plastic/hard rubber). Good luck in your search!
 

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Aww the guy says it's sold! Oh well, best to take my time and get some collective advice before I take the plunge anyway. I see you live quite near by the way, are you involved with much music up your way?
never mind! its best to take your time,and find out a little more the conn" would of been a good bass!,but others doo come up and you will get further advice on here!.
The music scene is steady,at the time being, but the recession is still a factor, i get by gig wise, but as always you look out for more work!
 

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That could be ok but it does look a bit rough and it may need quite a bit of work to get it playing well. I definitely wouldn't jump for it without taking further advice from someone who really knows about these things. Plenty like that come up in the States. If you import, do remember the import duties/VAT and get a quote for shipping (which seems to have gone very high). Bass clarinet cases are BIG (especially if the body is one piece). At least the photos are good. You really need one of the techs or bass clarinet experts to comment. It might be a good idea to PM one of the Moderators to move this thread to the clarinet section of the forum - you'll probably get more comments from people who are in the know about bass clarinets there. At the moment this is in "Beginners, General Discussion". It needs to be in "Clarinet".

My earlier comment in the thread was meaning that you should look for good quality, well-adjusted resonite instruments rather than an old wooden "junker". Good wooden instruments are of course great but they are also extremely expensive.

On the general issue of getting a reasonable instrument for your budget and your interest in bass clarinet: I sold my bass clarinet here on SOTW a few weeks ago for £300. It was a Bundy (resonite) just needing a bit of regulation. I think you should be able to get something ok in the £350-£550 range. You might be in luck if you put a "Wanted" thread up here at SOTW. Most people on SOTW know what their stuff is worth and few look for big profits. Be prepared to spend some money on lessons too. Eric Dolphy makes the bass clarinet sound effortless. It really isn't. It's a much more difficult instrument to get a grip on (even at a basic level) than alto or tenor sax. (All IMHO) Good luck!
I have imported a bass guitar and a few other bits and bobs from the states and I know the drill, even after that extra expense it seems that I can save a hell of a lot of money though - although at the risk of ending up with a really naff instrument. But yeah, shipping a bass guitar in a hardcase must have been twice the size and I think I payed around £90 - It's a lot of money but worth it. It just so happens that that bass was the best deal i ever made too, £800 for a $2000 retail real good quality instrument.

Also, I'm fully prepared to get some lessons sorted out, and don't worry, I'm not expecting to take the bass out of the mailbox and instantly recite God Bless The Child as a warm up... (i'm gonna have to listen to that now). Thanks for those words of advice, they are fairly invaluable at the stage I'm at! I'll get on contacting a mod - It's a shame I missed your horn too. Things seem to go fast on this here forum!


I'll probably get flack for this, but I've run into some resonite Bundy basses (same as the later Selmer USA) that play awfully well for the money they cost. It sure helps if you have a friend who can test-drive instruments you're thinking about buying, but I don't think I'd reject any of those out of hand. Normandy basses are also very decent players. As are Vito or Yamaha (those will probably also be plastic/hard rubber). Good luck in your search!
Selmer Bundy stuff seems to be a very good choice for my position judging from other forums and some of the above advice, anyway I would be in no position to flack you down as I am a complete novice after all! Although I have read a bit about Vito and that's put me off them quite significantly. Although maybe someone else here can offer a different opinion? Cheers.
 

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Another possibility might be a new Bauhaus Walstein (chinese made) bass clarinet. Their saxes get good reviews and the bass clarinets are available in the uk. People seem to be quite excited about them here on SOTW - possibly a cheapish but good horn. I do have a BW alto and tenor and they are very decent horns so I guess you could say I have some interest in saying the make is ok. They are a bit above your $700 budget but at least you are getting a horn that should need no work at all and there aren't the extra post/import costs.
http://www.woodwindandbrass.co.uk/acatalog/buffetcrampon_jupiter_bass_clarinets.html
 

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I'll probably get flack for this, but I've run into some resonite Bundy basses (same as the later Selmer USA) that play awfully well for the money they cost.
No you're quite right in my experience. Hard to beat a Bundy in good repair, price and sound wise.
 

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Bundys have soft keys, but are pretty well in tune and free-blowing, even in the clarion. Malerne (and its many stencils), some Kohlerts, and Evette are good, too. The trouble with those one-piece horns is if you tend to play sharp, there's no middle joint to pull out, and you end up with flat throat tones when you get the tuning note where it needs to be. Noblet is a great bargain if you can find one in your price range. Early Yamahas and their twin, Vito, to my ear, have a better sound than Bundy, but the clarion is stuffy. Jupiter's good, undercut toneholes, etc, and cheaper than the wonderful 221 II Yamahas. I'm of the school that the material the horn is made of isn't as important as the care taken to build the instrument. Wood isn't necessarily better, and there are some terrible wood instruments floating around. When I retired from public school music teaching in 2007, mainland Chinese instruments were still the pot metal-keyed scourge, but that's changed?
 

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When I retired from public school music teaching in 2007, mainland Chinese instruments were still the pot metal-keyed scourge, but that's changed?
I think things are changing fast. Certainly I have noticed that with saxes. Of course, some are will continue to detest all Chinese stuff on principle. As for whether there is a good chinese made bass clarinet out there I'm not sure.

Has anyone on here played that BW I referred to? Certainly people have been mentioning it and making cooing noises. I'm not quite sure if anyone has played it yet (??)
 

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Wood clarinets will have a warmer, softer, and fuller sound than plastic. But at your stage you're not going to be able to notice that, so plastic will be fine. Wood costs much, much more than plastic. RootyToot's point was that a wood bass being sold for cheap is going to be too good to be true.

What I would do if I were you is go to the local high school band director and ask him or her for advice. Part of a band director's job is to get good student instruments, so they should be able to advise you about what to look for. My personal recommendation for you would be a used plastic Bundy or Vito--a few years ago I bought one off of ebay for $400. If in a good state of repair, they can play beautifully. But you're not going to get a new instrument for under $1500.

Make sure that if you buy through the mail (e.g., ebay), you have a return policy. Since it is so big, the bass clarinet's key work is subject to easy damage. There are a lot of awful basses out there. Just one leaky pad and you won't be able to play anything. Suffice to say that if you buy a used one through the mail, you will absolutely need to find a clarinet player to test it out to make sure it's in good playing condition. Even people who say "Plays great, no problems" may either be lying or not know what they're talking about. That happened with my ebay horn--I had to put $100 extra in repairs into it after it arrived.

And yes, be prepared to add weekly lesson fees to this project. Bass clarinet is a very quirky instrument that can be difficult to play even for an experienced clarinetist.
 
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