Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A lot of you have experience playing shows and musicals. I am needing to purchase a bass clarinet (stepping up from my Selmer Bundy). I am primarily a sax player, so it is a double. I will only be playing shows and music theater - probably no orchestral/wind band playing. I can't afford a top-of-the-line low C bass. So, my delimma...will I really need the low D-C for this kind of playing? If so, I can get a low C, chinese made, bass or for about the same money, a Yamaha (student - to low Eb). If I get a low C Yamaha, I will be in debt for a while, but I would consider it if I would be sorry, later, that I don't have it. Thanks!

Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
43,583 Posts
From the archives , this is a past conversation which may help you make up your mind

The only advantage of a low Eb is that it's more comfortable to play standing and a bit lighter if you need to carry it a lot. At for me those two things weren't as important as the advantages of the low C.

I think a lot is a matter of state of mind (assuming you can afford the low C if you want it). You can get stuck in a "norm" and think that using notes to low C is rare and you'll hardly if ever need them and just get a low Eb bass clarinet. Or you can think more forward and consider more options and what is possible to do with them and in that case you might want to get a low Eb or a low C bass clarinet.

I bought a low C bass clarinet long before I was doing what I'm doing now, but now I know it was the right choice. I have the option to choose what to do with it and I use notes to low C very often. For improvised music it simply allows me to use more ideas that I couldn't otherwise and might not even have if I didn't have the low C model. For written music composers can write to low C and they do, it's rare that I don't use at least low D, Db or C in a concert.

Actually I'm playing a piece now that the first few mintues (about six) is only the low C note!
As a person who has and plays both, my response to your query:

1. Yes, the low C is quite handy;
2. The Eb is smaller, so I suppose it is somewhat more comfortable (but then again, an alto sax is more comfortable than a tenor but that is only a marginal reason to prefer it).

Your question ignored what I think is the most salient issue- is a low C worth the extra $? (If you have unlimited funds, and money is not a factor, then I apologize in advance).

The quick response is that for the exact same horn, low Eb v low C you will have to spend more money (maybe a lot more) for a new horn. If you get a used horn, there are lots of Eb horns floating around, but low C's are much rarer and, again, more expensive.

That being said, if all you can afford is a low Eb horn, you can probably play are large percentage of music fine with the low Eb horn, and make due when you see the low D-C, just like a bari player has to with a Bb horn. However, if can get the low C, IMHO it sounds better, those lowest notes really resonate, and when you do see charts written for those notes, (jazz band, orch. pit, sound tracks, etc.) you will really hit it. Further, if you are improvising, those notes really add to your palate of choices.

However, if your choice is between one horn that sounds better vs. the other horn that has more notes, my vote is to go for the better sound, and to start saving up for the upgrade in the future.

Either way, enjoy.
Thanks guys, I think Im gonna stick with my low Eb and save up for a low C in the future.
I know this is old but I'll respond. I play my Yamaha 622II in orchestra. I play soprano clarinet in community band. I was ask to play bass clarinet on some piieces with community band. Never played above a middle B and no notes below low Eb. I could of got by easily with my single register vent plastic Yamaha 221 II. In orchestra I play a lot of low Ds and the occasional low C plus play as high as E above the staff. Using my pro low C Yamaha at band , which was fun, reminded me of taking a Ferrari to get groceries.
In contrast with Nitai, I have played many concerts without needing the extended range - however, he and I generally play different styles of music. If you can afford the extra cost and complexity of a low-C instrument, I would recommend going that route, because even if you don't use the extra notes very often, they are really handy when needed, and there's no acoustical downside to having the extended range. In fact, as MM pointed out, intonation of extended range instruments does tend to be a bit better (especially regarding the low E and its upper 12th, the 'long' clarion B) because of the continuation of the bore diameter below that tonehole, rather than starting the transition into the bell flare as on a low-Eb instrument.
The Yamaha bass clarinet (model 622) has a major design problem. I just have another one here now.

The low D key only has a linkage to the low Eb key, creating a huge compromise in the way the low keys can be adjusted. You have to choose between not being able to play low D, Db or C by only pressing their respective keys, and having a very spongy feel when adding a key when coming from a close by higher note. The keys also seem more flexible (whether because of material and/or shape) which makes this worse.

On the one I have here now the hinges are all tight with no play, no mechanical issues.
If it is adjusted to be able to play low D by pressing just the D key (even with slightly more force than I would like), then when playing low Eb and adding the D key to play D, the D key pad would stop at least 1mm, probably about 1.5mm, from the tone hole. Then you need to add more force to close it.
If the D key is adjusted to have the least amount of sponginess still barely acceptable when adding it to Eb, then even with a lot of force, the D won't play when pressing just the D key.

This is one of the reasons the owner was eventually fed up with it and replaced it with a new Selmer.

Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
ALTO: Medusa- 82zii, TENOR: Medusa, BARI: b901, SOP: sc991
8,123 Posts
It might depend on the level of the production. If you are working in a union band with a professional theater production, I would say low C is called for. On the other hand, if it is a school production or smaller theater just use your horn and make do playing the lowest notes of an octave when necessary. Sometimes the lowest notes will be doubled by another woodwind or brass instrument in which case hardly anyone would notice if you鈥檙e not playing a low notes as written.

Perhaps you have a friend who owns a low C bass that you could borrow.

581 Posts
Getasax has what I believe to be the same low C bass clarinet as the Kessler. They are advertised as being in stock and a tad less expensive than the Kessler too. The $2,000.00 price point puts these instruments in the same ballpark as some Low Eb Selmer that I have seen in very nicely overhauled condition.
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.