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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi

A friend is looking for an inexpensive bass clarinet (probably a student model) and since I don't have a lot of experience with these models I hope someone will know.

They don't have a lot of money to spend on this, so there are several options. Buy the one he is using now, which is a crappy one that belongs to the conservatory, but this is the worst option since this clarinet is really not good and probably worse than most student clarinets today.

They can buy a new student model, but that is not cheap. That might be a good option though because they are in USA soon. I'm looking on www.wwbw.com and see many options. Does anyone have experience with these models which are Selmer 1430P, Woodwind, Jupiter 673N, Vito 7166, Vito 7168, Yamaha YCL221. All of these are maybe a little expensive but info on them will help with possibly buying one of them used.

The last possibilty is to buy a used one maybe from eBay and repair it. This is a little risky if it turns out the clarinet needs a major repair (for example many stuck screws, body parts broken, etc.) but with the expensive shipping and tax my guess it will be around $400, and for a full repad probably about $400 more. This is about the same price as the Woodwind or Jupiter new bass, but possibly a better instrument? Also, this is assuming they are buying the new one in USA, otherwise there is expensive shipping and tax on it also (they might buy the used one in USA).

Some info for comparison of prices - locally a Yamaha 221 costs about $3,000 (now with the week dollar, and a little strange since their soprano clarinets are cheaper here than in USA). Shipping from USA for a bass is probably about $100 and tax can vary from 15.5% to 36% (impossible to know in advance).

Thank you!
 

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I test played the Jupiter and I liked it a lot. I thought it was a very good buy.
 

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I have a Bundy from sometime around the late 70's (that's an estimate the guy who sold it to me gave me) that's apparently almost exactly like the Selmer 1430. I like it, although I never play it now that I've got UC Santa Cruz's old Selmer Low-C Mazzeo Model.

If you can find an old Noblet, that's what I started on in high school (school-owned). They're good, and I sometimes wish I'd tried to find one of those rather than buy the Bundy. I don't know how old the two at school were, but they could really roar from Low Eb to higher than any bass clarinetist should ever want to go!
 

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I started with an old Buescher (bundy stencil) bass clarinet last year that I got for a cheap price. It had 2 trips to my repair tech and was in good playing condition. Never the less, even with a Grabner LB mouthpiece it seemed to me that I had some limitations with that bass clarinet. I then sprung the $$ for a new Yamaha 221 II bass clarinet. It took less than a minute of playing time to confirm that I had made the right decision. The Yamaha 221 II is an OUTSTANDING instrument...especially for it's price.

Roger
 

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Having bought a bass clarinet on ebay, I would recommend that you do the same. But be prepared to spend around $500 for anything decent.

The most important thing is that the seller has a return agreement, where if you don't like the horn for any reason he/she will take it back and refund your money. I find that it's difficult to generalize about the quality of different brands. Anything made within the the last 20 years or so will probably be a good horn. Anything that comes from a school will probably have myriad problems. Bass clarinets are likely the most mistreated instruments of all.

The eBay bass I bought was advertised as having been overhauled, but when it arrived it needed $200 worth of work. I had bought it for a friend and they didn't complain about that, so it was a moot point. But you see why it's so important to get a return policy with your purchase. If it had been me, I would have sent it back and given them a negative feedback.

As long as you're not trying to play serious symphonic work, a student horn like a Vito or Bundy can sound very good. Just be sure to get a good mouthpiece for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you everyone!

So it seems that all the student models from Jupiter, Bundy, Vito and Yamaha are basically solid instruments that shouldn't break imediately or need constant repairs like some of the cheapest instruments.

Regarding eBay, they won't be able to return it. That is why it is more risky than usual. With the non-refundable shipping and very expensive international return shipping, returning the instrument is not an option.

At this point, because of those risks, I'm going to recommend a new instrument, probably the Yamaha. I really would like to hear more specifics (it seems all who posted here have tried at least one of these models).

I'm interested to know how is the intonation in general. As long as it is not bad it is ok. Most important is the reponse and especially in the second register (from middle B to thumb C, and the throat Bb). These instruments have a single register tube design and I would like to know how easy it is to play that register with it. My only experience with a single register tube bass is with a Vito in terrible condition and it was over ten years ago, so I don't remember.

Roger, in what way do you think the Yamaha 221 is better than the Bundy?

Dirty, in what way the Bundy is not as good as the pro model you are using, and how would you comapre the Bundy with the Noblet?

Randall, have you tried other bass clarinets to make a comparison?

In your replies please ignore the sound of the instrument. By that I mean the usual subjective descriptions like "dark/bright", "fat", and other things I've seen in English. This is for a 13 years old kid and I I think he doesn't play above thumb C right now. I also assume that a good player would sound good on any of them, regarding the sound alone. What is important, for example, is if there are especially stuffy notes, response (i.e. free blowing/resistant, and in what registers), solid mechanically. Sorry but I'm especially obssesive about the issue of response of the second register, and I made experiements about this but unfortunately only on the professional models so I have no idea how it is with the student models.

Thank you again!

Nitai
 

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Clarni,
the Bundy actually play very well for what they are. They can roar and feel very similar to the bigger Selmer heavy weight models. The Noblets can also play very nicely too. Also check out some Conn's, Pedlers and Kolherts too.
 

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jaysne said:
As long as you're not trying to play serious symphonic work, a student horn like a Vito or Bundy can sound very good. Just be sure to get a good mouthpiece for it.
Definitely. A comfy mouthpiece is key.
For some weird reason, I won a Bundy Bass on That Auction Site yesterday. Needs some work tho', but I normally have to "go over" my acquisitions anyway. Always the tinkerer... :)
 

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jaysne said:
Anything that comes from a school will probably have myriad problems.
Not necessarily true. Most schools have repair contracts. The 'School Owned' instruments go in yearly for service. Granted they may look like crap, but in my experience thay play very well.

I have played on OLD Bundys, newer Yamahas, and a couple of Vitos. I prefer the Bundy.

If the Bass is for a kid you can't beat the sturdy build of the Bundy. They're war horses.
 

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Clarnibass,

I'd think that a new or more recent Bundy would have some improvements over the 70's Bundy stencil I had. If that's the case, I'm not in a position to compare a newer Bundy to the new Yamaha 221 II. But, to answer your question.....

For me, the Yamaha 221 II has a superior quality of tone to an old Bundy. When I first got the 221 II I felt that I had gone to heaven. It's sound is pure joy. Really, there's no comparison. Besides that, the 221 has an overall more solid feeling. It has not needed any adjustments since it's initial check over after I purchased it. There is also a much greater ease in playing in the higher range. It's a breeze to be all over the bass clarinet and not worry about whether certain notes will be a problem or not. Finally, I really like the 2-part body of the 221 II. It's case is about the size of an alto sax case. It makes hauling all of my horns to gigs much easier. In all honesty, I cannot think of anything that bothers me about my 221 II.

The old Bundy stencial I had was rugged. However, I had to take it to my repair tech twice for adjustments. Since getting my 221 II it has not been back to the repair tech. For me that says something.

Roger
 

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Roger Aldridge said:
I'd think that a new or more recent Bundy would have some improvements over the 70's Bundy stencil I had. If that's the case, I'm not in a position to compare a newer Bundy to the new Yamaha 221 II. But, to answer your question.....

Roger
If you can find a really old WOODEN Bundy, they're a Selmer Paris stamped Bundy. Hard to come by since I don't think they made many. I've got a friend with one (working in a repair shop has it's advantages, not that I can complain: I got my Mark VI the same way.)
 

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The Bundy I play is old, but after a visual inspection of a few modern Selmer 1430's, they're basically the same, but the newer ones have better neck angles.

The plastic Bundy simply can't stack up to the wooden Selmer in any area. The tone is less full and somewhat harsher, the response in the upper register is sluggish in comparison, and the intonation is not as dead on.

That said, I got the Bundy for $600, and the Selmer would cost several thousand.

The Bundy might not be quite as good as the Noblet for tone, response or, in my experience, build quality (the Bundy is built tough; the Noblet is built like a tank!), but the Noblet didn't have a tuning mechanism. It simply connected to the instrument at the top of the upper joint with a cork tenon that couldn't be pulled out more than a couple mm for stability's sake. The Bundy has a well-designed metal neck tenon that screws into the top of the upper joint.

The single register vent on the Bundy is a disadvantage, but certainly one that can be overcome with correct voicing. I had to learn how to get notes from Low Eb to altissimo G to speak clearly and in tune on the Bundy, and I got, if I may say so myself, pretty good at it. When I got to the Selmer, which has the double register vent, it was easy, simply because I already knew how to voice the notes.

The plastic, one-piece body Bundy/Selmer is, in my opinion, a great horn to learn on. It has a good sound, is reliable mechanically, and is fairly easy to get in tune. If this student ends up being pretty serious about the bass clarinet, it is a good enough instrument to last right up to the time that he needs to upgrade to a nice, wooden, Low-C instrument. I still use mine as my backup, and even though I prefer the Selmer, there's something comfy and familiar about my trusty old Bundy that makes me smile when I pull it out.
 

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ahhh i hate the single register vents, at least on my vito.

yeah, the notes will come out, but minus all the power i can obtain with a double vented horn.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks very much. I got suggestions from other places too, and it seems the student Yamaha 221 is better than pretty much any other student instrument. Another option is a used Leblanc/Noblet probably from eBay which is a bit risky, but might be less expensive including repair.

Thanks again!
 

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I've had excellent results with purchase of used horns through eBay, but it still is a crapshoot as to what you will end up with, no question there. If you are not willing to take that chance, then all of the Conns and Kohlers and other "older" horns will be off the table from the start. So too will be the "professional instruments," which will be priced out of your reach.

If I was faced with the problem of acquiring a bass clarinet right here and now (says the guy who owns four of them at this moment in time), I would spring for a new Selmer USA over most anything else. It will arrive in excellent condition, and once regulate will serve quite well.

THe Rideneors that I have fiddled around with are simply not made well enough for normal uses, no matter what sort of tone might be gotten out of one. Vitos and Vito derived horns have the "sharp" problem, and they are just not as well designed as the Bundy instruments.

They will all be synthetic bodies, but plastic will serve more than well enough for anything but the most demanding of users. And, the Selmer/Bundy peg was a lot better than the Leblanc or Yamaha versions of same.
 

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Anything that comes from a school will probably have myriad problems.
Not necessarily true. Most schools have repair contracts. The 'School Owned' instruments go in yearly for service. Granted they may look like crap, but in my experience thay play very well.
Well, if my high school had a repair contract on their bass clarinets, they sure didn't use it!
 

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jaysne said:
Anything that comes from a school will probably have myriad problems.

Well, if my high school had a repair contract on their bass clarinets, they sure didn't use it!
The issue is usually not the school's repair contract. It's just that most schools take the last two or three chairs of the clarinet section and put them on bass clarinet. This way, you end up with two or three people who don't give a $#*% about music or musical instruments abusing and misusing bass clarinets, which are super sensitive to mechanical problems. No school could possibly hope to keep up with people like that. I've seen it at every school music program I've seen. They put an emphasis on playing well and sounding good (with varying degrees of success) and forget about teaching students to care for their expensive instruments.
 

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dirty, amen to that!!!

i am a bass clarinet player that takes care of his horns!
and on clarinet i would be closer to the top 3-4 chairs, not the bottom.

i guess that makes me the minority.

i feel sorry for the 2 new buffet basses my school just purchased... some idiot is probably going to march them.
 

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Clarinetdude108 said:
i feel sorry for the 2 new buffet basses my school just purchased... some idiot is probably going to march them.
AAARGH!!

That makes me want to cry.
 

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I feel VERY sorry for you guys.

The BD's at the school that my daughters attend send ALL school woodwinds in twice a year for check ups. Christmas vacation and the end of the year. Anything that isn't concidered 'normal wear' gets billed to the parents of the child that particular horn is assigned to.

The parents are required to sign a contract stating that they are responsible for all damage (accidental or intentional) BEFORE the instrument is issued to the student. I had to sign one for a bari sax that my oldest used in HS Jazz band.

BTW That bari came back from the shop 4 years in a row with an invoice stating that no adjustments or repairs were needed.

Dirty,
I've seen kids sitting in first chair that abuse an neglect their instruments far worse than the kid sitting in last chair. Being able to play well doesn't mean you know how to take care of an instrument.
 
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