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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey y'all! I'm primarily a baritone sax player and I've been using the Kessler Solist custom bari and it's been great (I highly recommend using it by the way)! I've recently been learning about doubling. I do know that sax players usually double on other woodwinds such as flute or clarinet, and bari players specifically double on bass clarinet (usually in jazz). I'm going to be getting either a tenor sax or bass clarinet tomorrow, and while people say bari players don't double on that, it's just really fun to play. So what's more worth it? Should I get a tenor sax or bass clarinet...or REGULAR clarinet??

Edit: I also play bass guitar because it's true that bassists make a lot more money than sax players do. I'm not sure about what to do, I just want to get as much gigs as I can playing a limited number of instruments.

Another edit: I forgot to mention that I'm a very capable piano player in both classical and jazz settings; I've been playing for around 15 years because it was my first instrument. Also, I bought a professional tenor sax, specifically the Kessler Custom Handmade Brushed Matte model and I'm very happy with it.
 

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Hi and welcome to the forum!
As a versatile bari player, you'd be in demand anyway, so there's no need to have a second instrument for that (we do not talk about a professional pit career, right?).
What kind of gigs are you looking for. Bigband? Perhaps Bassclarinet in rare cases? Rock and Funk? Tenor. Jazz? Whatever you want to schlepp around.
I double a lot, because I love to play a bunch of instruments. If it would be about money, i would sell them asap. There aren't a lot of gigs out there at the moment.
Back to your question: Tenor is the easiest switch. If you are tempted by Bassclarinet I would buy a used soprano clarinet first, it helps a lot.
Or play baritone until you know what you want to do.
 

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If you’re good, you’ll be on demand as a bari player. Not too many around. Somehow I’ve noticed lately that a lot of bari players play in trios (just bari, bass and drums) or quartets (with flugelhorn or trumpet). No piano like in the Mulligan days. Look for Celine Bonacina, Eden Bareket, Tinii Thompsen etc. Taken into account the relative number of alto and tenor players, it’s way less common with those horns. There’s always need for bari player. Listen to the Motown sound, Tower of Power, Latin (salsa, mambo etc.), Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Sade etc., etc.
 

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Is a "regular clarinet" anything like a 'regular saxophone'???
If you have no REAL NEED for a double don't bother getting another instrument.
If you want one for poops and giggles get a used Bb soprano clarinet. (That's a regular clarinet)
 

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My definition of doubling means playing multiple instruments ON THE SAME GIG. So if I'm playing bari in a big band or a pit orchestra, and there is a flute, clarinet or bass clarinet part in my part, then I double on one of those instruments. If I'm a bari player who can also play tenor and happens to get a tenor gig, that's not doubling. I honestly don't consider playing other members of the sax family "doubling" either. Any decent player should be able to play any sax.

So look at your situation and see what the situation calls for. If you've been in the big band for years and have had to lay out or transpose when you see a flute/clarinet part, then double on one of those. If that never happens, but you foresee having opportunities to play tenor on other gigs, get a tenor. If you only play big band, you must already realize that the bari player will never double on another sax. Of the 300+ charts in our book, only one requires to bari to double on alto.

It's a little strange that you've already decided to buy a bass clarinet or tenor sax and are leaving the choice to the random opinions of strangers on the internet. If I were about to drop a couple of grand on a new instrument, it would be something I was actually passionate about playing. No matter what you play, from tenor sax to didgeridoo, if you're passionate about it, you'll find/make opportunities to play it. So I think passion should be main driving factor. Passion makes me a good flute doubler (I really like flute) and a mediocre clarinet doubler (could take it or leave it).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all of the replies! I've decided to buy the Kessler Custom Handmade Brushed Matte tenor sax, and I absolutely love it! The reason why I was considering bass clarinet was because last year in my high school big band, we played the Ellington Nutcracker Suite, and my jazz director expected me to play bass clarinet for the last movement, and I neither had one nor learned how to play it, for that matter lol. Tenor's the best option as learning a Bb sax is the most important thing for me to practice right now. Plus, I just think it's really cool how bari and tenor are separated in 5ths, which makes really great harmonies.
 

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i always thought that Bass Clarinet was such a cool horn to add to a jazz ensemble. Eric Dolphy, Bennie Maupin, John Gilmore. But if you're going to own more than one sax, tenor is great.
 

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Thanks for all of the replies! I've decided to buy the Kessler Custom Handmade Brushed Matte tenor sax, and I absolutely love it! The reason why I was considering bass clarinet was because last year in my high school big band, we played the Ellington Nutcracker Suite, and my jazz director expected me to play bass clarinet for the last movement, and I neither had one nor learned how to play it, for that matter lol. Tenor's the best option as learning a Bb sax is the most important thing for me to practice right now. Plus, I just think it's really cool how bari and tenor are separated in 5ths, which makes really great harmonies.
I don’t recall seeing what your playing context is. If big band, then the natural double is bass clarinet. Our bari player also doubles on alto flute for those tunes that have a flute choir effect for color.

Bari and tenor are not so natural pairs to me. I played bari when I needed to earn a spot in a couple of big bands about 25 years ago, but as soon as I could move to a tenor chair, I did (and sold my bari soon after). They are very different concepts to me - especially if playing in a big band where they are written with different expectations and responsibilities. That’s my $00.02 after playing in big bands for 20+ years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I don’t recall seeing what your playing context is. If big band, then the natural double is bass clarinet. Our bari player also doubles on alto flute for those tunes that have a flute choir effect for color.

Bari and tenor are not so natural pairs to me. I played bari when I needed to earn a spot in a couple of big bands about 25 years ago, but as soon as I could move to a tenor chair, I did (and sold my bari soon after). They are very different concepts to me - especially if playing in a big band where they are written with different expectations and responsibilities. That’s my $00.02 after playing in big bands for 20+ years.
I do see your point. Bass clarinet definitely is the natural double in big band. But there were actually a couple reasons why I got a tenor. First off, I will be using it in concert band because the bari parts are extremely boring...like who wants to play just the "oom-pah" tuba part? I'm definitely not an alto player (and just don't like it in general) so yeah. Second, and I'll put 2 reasons in one, tenor sax allows me to learn a lot more melodic material, and also to just get used to a Bb saxophone (I'm actually used to concert pitch and the only way I was able to learn Eb pitch was imagining the sheet music as concert bass clef but with some accidentals). And as I said earlier, playing tenor would give me more gig opportunities. See, what I'm mostly confused about is that bari players are in high demand since they aren't too common but yet there's not much repertoire for bari (specifically solos, that kind of thing). I seriously wish more bari solos existed...alto and tenor especially get all the glory.

Also, bari and tenor may not be "natural" pairs, but honestly, it's kind of cool and unique to see the unnatural being done.
 

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I do see your point. Bass clarinet definitely is the natural double in big band. But there were actually a couple reasons why I got a tenor. First off, I will be using it in concert band because the bari parts are extremely boring...like who wants to play just the "oom-pah" tuba part? I'm definitely not an alto player (and just don't like it in general) so yeah. Second, and I'll put 2 reasons in one, tenor sax allows me to learn a lot more melodic material, and also to just get used to a Bb saxophone (I'm actually used to concert pitch and the only way I was able to learn Eb pitch was imagining the sheet music as concert bass clef but with some accidentals). And as I said earlier, playing tenor would give me more gig opportunities. See, what I'm mostly confused about is that bari players are in high demand since they aren't too common but yet there's not much repertoire for bari (specifically solos, that kind of thing). I seriously wish more bari solos existed...alto and tenor especially get all the glory.

Also, bari and tenor may not be "natural" pairs, but honestly, it's kind of cool and unique to see the unnatural being done.
OK, now we are starting to tease out some pertinent info: Concert band. What year are you in school? Will you be playing in a community concert band?

When I was in junior high school and high school, my friends and I had garage bands, and we wrote charts to cover tunes by Chicago; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Ramatam, and Cold Blood. When I was in college, it was more popular to play in reggae or ska bands. Saxes are certainly more appropriate in those contexts. I have never found concert bands interesting for any sax parts - there I would prefer to play clarinet (not bass clarinet), or flute. In marching bands, I played percussion - something that made my sense of time tight. Life skills. Excuse the ramble...

Bottom line: Create some musical situations for yourself. Enjoy the path.
 

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I do see your point. Bass clarinet definitely is the natural double in big band. But there were actually a couple reasons why I got a tenor. First off, I will be using it in concert band because the bari parts are extremely boring...like who wants to play just the "oom-pah" tuba part? I'm definitely not an alto player (and just don't like it in general) so yeah. Second, and I'll put 2 reasons in one, tenor sax allows me to learn a lot more melodic material, and also to just get used to a Bb saxophone (I'm actually used to concert pitch and the only way I was able to learn Eb pitch was imagining the sheet music as concert bass clef but with some accidentals). And as I said earlier, playing tenor would give me more gig opportunities. See, what I'm mostly confused about is that bari players are in high demand since they aren't too common but yet there's not much repertoire for bari (specifically solos, that kind of thing). I seriously wish more bari solos existed...alto and tenor especially get all the glory.

Also, bari and tenor may not be "natural" pairs, but honestly, it's kind of cool and unique to see the unnatural being done.
I don't think there's anything "unnatural" about doubling tenor/bari there are loads of us out here doing just that. It may not be typical in concert or big bands but in working bands doing a lot of covers and popular horn band charts it's very much normal and for covering certain bands like Steely Dan it's often necessary.

Tenor will make the most sense from what you're describing. Clarinet, bass clarinet, and flute would all require a great deal more time to get up-to-speed on to level that you'd be able to gig effectively. A lot of the horn band charts like Steely Dan, BS&T, Doobies, EW&F, etc. have sax 1 alto/tenor and sax 2 tenor/bari so that's a good pairing if you have designs on playing in those types of groups. Tenor can also come in very handy if you are playing bass in rock bands and occasionally are asked to play a sax part or solo. I know a few guys including some members here who double sax and bass or sax and keys and do really well.

I don't know that bari players are in such high demand. They really aren't here in Colorado. It's an expensive horn to buy, maintain, and have good reeds for not to mention it's a pain to schlep around so most pros seem to prefer alto/tenor and then soprano if they're going to add another voice. If you're talking about adding horns to a rock/pop/R&B etc. type band, bari is at best the 3rd voice that gets included after trumpet and tenor/alto and often 4th after bone like the Chicago horn charts. With most gigs paying so little (even before the virus crisis) bands are always making calculations about additional horns and back up singers because everyone on the gig has to get paid. If you can actually play bass at a high level and double tenor/bari you should have no trouble finding working bands to play with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I don't think there's anything "unnatural" about doubling tenor/bari there are loads of us out here doing just that. It may not be typical in concert or big bands but in working bands doing a lot of covers and popular horn band charts it's very much normal and for covering certain bands like Steely Dan it's often necessary.

Tenor will make the most sense from what you're describing. Clarinet, bass clarinet, and flute would all require a great deal more time to get up-to-speed on to level that you'd be able to gig effectively. A lot of the horn band charts like Steely Dan, BS&T, Doobies, EW&F, etc. have sax 1 alto/tenor and sax 2 tenor/bari so that's a good pairing if you have designs on playing in those types of groups. Tenor can also come in very handy if you are playing bass in rock bands and occasionally are asked to play a sax part or solo. I know a few guys including some members here who double sax and bass or sax and keys and do really well.

I don't know that bari players are in such high demand. They really aren't here in Colorado. It's an expensive horn to buy, maintain, and have good reeds for not to mention it's a pain to schlep around so most pros seem to prefer alto/tenor and then soprano if they're going to add another voice. If you're talking about adding horns to a rock/pop/R&B etc. type band, bari is at best the 3rd voice that gets included after trumpet and tenor/alto and often 4th after bone like the Chicago horn charts. With most gigs paying so little (even before the virus crisis) bands are always making calculations about additional horns and back up singers because everyone on the gig has to get paid. If you can actually play bass at a high level and double tenor/bari you should have no trouble finding working bands to play with.
Thanks for your input man! I now think tenor was the right choice to make. Truth is, I don't really like the bass clarinet that much, but the only reason I was thinking of buying one was to double in big band. I'm planning to be a music major and study jazz and commercial music in college, and obviously play in as many ensembles as I can. I guess the only thing I was scared of is getting cut from the college jazz band for not knowing how to play bass clarinet lol. But I do like the opportunities for tenor and bass you described! I think a really cool idea I could do is make bari sax features in pop or rock genres. I also like playing funk music, and hell, even bass sax especially would make an EXTREMELY phat low end. I'm currently writing my own songs right now with a bunch of instrumental parts, and yeah: sax, bass, and keyboards make the perfect trio.
 

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Now with these informations in the first post, it would be a lot easier to give advice:

"My first instrument is bari sax and I'd like to study jazz. I want to add another instrument to be more versatile. My thoughts are bass clarinet or tenor. I don't like bass clarinet that much, but I fear that I could not play bari in the college bands without doubling on it. My other thought was to double on tenor sax. I play funk, rock and jazz. What do you think?"
 

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I've been playing baritone in big bands since high school; a range of amateur and professional groups. Exactly once have I encountered a bass clarinet double. I'm not saying they aren't out there, but I've played a pretty wide range of repertoire and it's not that common.

I suspect that in pit work the part with baritone will often have bass clarinet, but I don't do any pit or theatre work.

In big bands I"ve mostly doubled flute but it's my first instrument and bandleaders have often called on me to take a solo on flute, or improvise a background, because they know I can play flute, I have occasionally seen it in charts but not constantly.

For small group work whether jazz or rock, tenor is probably the most common saxophone. Unfortunately, every city has tenor players galore. You can make a place for baritone in a rock group if it's not a by-the-recording kind of group. I did that in one band; but most of my rock and roll playing has been on tenor.
 

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I've known a handful of music majors who played bari in big band who did not play bass clarinet. It was never a problem for them. But the tenor in a university big band is going to be a hard spot to earn. You have to be a very good all-round player and a very good improviser.

Back to my original point on doubling, simply playing another member of the sax family isn't really doubling, in my opinion. That's just being a well rounded sax player. To truly double, you need to learn flute and/or clarinet or even more woodwinds if you want to do pit work. The music education majors I knew back in the 80's had to learn at least the rudiments of nearly all band instruments. I don't know what the requirements are these days for a commercial music major.

Turf3 and I both have bass saxes. Even though it's fun to play, it really has no place in modern music. It's heyday ended in the 1930's. Also consider that it only goes 4 semitones below a low A bari and is far more rare and expensive than the average bass clarinet. Unless you want to play in a dixieland jazz band, it's pretty impractical. Plus, in dixieland, you'd be playing those oom-pah parts you hate so much.

Before you choose a major, think carefully about your career goals. A jazz major will likely end up teaching. If you want to be a pop or studio musician, I'm not sure a music degree is even a requirement. You just have to be a good player, hard worker and lucky. If you end up in a successful band, you'll spend most of your career on the road, living in hotels. I'm not trying to dissuade you, rather just lay out the realities. Although I was a very good musician in high school and college and considered playing professionally, I chose a different path due to the odds of success in a very crowded field and the lifestyle of living out of a suitcase. I still play and enjoy it, but it's not how I make my living.
 

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I've seen loads of big band charts with clarinet, flute, and bass clarinet doubles for bari. My experience has been it depends upon the director and whether they have players across the whole section comfortable with playing the doubles. A lot of the charts, if they have doubles written at all, have doubles written for several of the sax voices and it seems to me there must be different arrangements available of some charts that include the doubles or not. I've also on rare occasion seen charts that have two parts written so you have a " if clarinet available play X if not play Y" type of thing. If directors don't believe they have enough players that can handle the doubles they just don't buy or hand those charts out.

If you're going to be a music major in college and are looking to get a leg up I'd start practicing piano/keyboards as you'll likely take several classes where that will be necessary or at least very helpful. Depending on the program or track you choose you may be asked to play some of the other woodwinds as well. I'd leave bass clarinet well enough alone for now. Decent baritone saxophones and bass clarinets are relatively expensive instruments and very few colleges would expect a student to show up on campus owning both. If you really have a hankering and the $$$ available you'd be better off picking up a decent $500-$1000 Bb clarinet and a solid playing student or intermediate level flute.

Typically I wouldn't advise picking up so many instruments at once but with this school year looking like it's going to be such a cluster for most young people you're better off spending your free-time messing around with some other instruments and at least getting familiar with them than goofing off with video games, Tik-Tok, and Netflix. My nieces and nephews have been telling me that when the schools teach in remote or online learning mode because of the virus they rarely have more than a couple hours of work a day and with almost all of the extracurricular activities having been cancelled they have tons of free-time. In some ways this COVID crisis is really disrupting and frustrating but it can also be a gift if you're in the right position to take advantage of it so use your time wisely.
 

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Yeah, if you're thinking music major, I'd say piano first through fifteenth, then Bb clarinet and flute.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I've seen loads of big band charts with clarinet, flute, and bass clarinet doubles for bari. My experience has been it depends upon the director and whether they have players across the whole section comfortable with playing the doubles. A lot of the charts, if they have doubles written at all, have doubles written for several of the sax voices and it seems to me there must be different arrangements available of some charts that include the doubles or not. I've also on rare occasion seen charts that have two parts written so you have a " if clarinet available play X if not play Y" type of thing. If directors don't believe they have enough players that can handle the doubles they just don't buy or hand those charts out.

If you're going to be a music major in college and are looking to get a leg up I'd start practicing piano/keyboards as you'll likely take several classes where that will be necessary or at least very helpful. Depending on the program or track you choose you may be asked to play some of the other woodwinds as well. I'd leave bass clarinet well enough alone for now. Decent baritone saxophones and bass clarinets are relatively expensive instruments and very few colleges would expect a student to show up on campus owning both. If you really have a hankering and the $$$ available you'd be better off picking up a decent $500-$1000 Bb clarinet and a solid playing student or intermediate level flute.

Typically I wouldn't advise picking up so many instruments at once but with this school year looking like it's going to be such a cluster for most young people you're better off spending your free-time messing around with some other instruments and at least getting familiar with them than goofing off with video games, Tik-Tok, and Netflix. My nieces and nephews have been telling me that when the schools teach in remote or online learning mode because of the virus they rarely have more than a couple hours of work a day and with almost all of the extracurricular activities having been cancelled they have tons of free-time. In some ways this COVID crisis is really disrupting and frustrating but it can also be a gift if you're in the right position to take advantage of it so use your time wisely.
Thanks for the reply! I completely forgot to say this, but piano was my first instrument and I've been playing it since I was 2 years old. I've learned both classical and jazz piano and I've grown very efficient at both, so I think I'll be fine. I think I will take your advice on buying a regular soprano clarinet later and maybe a flute. However, I only plan on learning the fundamentals of those instruments so I'm able to play whatever I'm given. And yeah, I honestly think this virus crisis actually gives benefits to musicians...definitely more time to practice 40 hours a day ;).
 

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One advantage of bass clarinet is that it covers the entire range of both tenor and baritone saxes - with extra at the bottom end. Also using the same fingerings on the lowest register on both baritone sax and bass clarinet produces the same notes, so you can easily transpose some Eb parts from baritone sax to bass clarinet. However clarinets are inherently more difficult to learn - the best doublers generally started with clarinet and added sax later.
John Surman has long doubled baritone sax and bass clarinet (trebled if you include soprano) and tenor saxophonist; Courtney Pine has also turned to bass clarinet and as for Peter Brötzmann ..........
 

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Hey y'all! I'm primarily a baritone sax player and I've been using the Kessler Solist custom bari and it's been great (I highly recommend using it by the way)! I've recently been learning about doubling. I do know that sax players usually double on other woodwinds such as flute or clarinet, and bari players specifically double on bass clarinet (usually in jazz). I'm going to be getting either a tenor sax or bass clarinet tomorrow, and while people say bari players don't double on that, it's just really fun to play. So what's more worth it? Should I get a tenor sax or bass clarinet...or REGULAR clarinet??

Edit: I also play bass guitar because it's true that bassists make a lot more money than sax players do. I'm not sure about what to do, I just want to get as much gigs as I can playing a limited number of instruments.

Another edit: I forgot to mention that I'm a very capable piano player in both classical and jazz settings; I've been playing for around 15 years because it was my first instrument. Also, I bought a professional tenor sax, specifically the Kessler Custom Handmade Brushed Matte model and I'm very happy with it.
I doubled on Tenor, Alto, Bari, soprano, C-Melody, and the Yamaha W-11 wind synth. It added up to a reasonably successful career. The worst mistake you can ever make is to listen to what "people say." When mouths open up, very little worthwhile ever comes out.
 
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