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this might be a super dumb question, but I am just too old and set in my ways to learn clarinet, it seems. but i need to be able to play one in my band, it's becoming very necessary. is there a clarinet out there that has a saxophone fingering system? can't use an EWI, it's trad jazz, and I hate seeing anachronisms in nostalgia bands. thanks for your polite and respectful answers that are friendly and informative and not at all condescending or otherwise rude. Thanks!
 

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None to my knowledge. You may have to get unset in your ways and learn clarinet.
Some fingerings are identical, some are not, but nothing that can't be learned relatively quickly.
The embouchure and making sure the tone holes are completely covered seem to be the most difficult for sax players to adapt to.
 

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Sure, it's called a soprano sax!

Just joking, but not really...if you are looking to play trad jazz, soprano sax is a great option. The range is basically the same (not quite as wide as clarinet) and the tone color is very versatile. It can sound very much like a clarinet. Think Sydney Bechet!

As far as a clarinet with sax fingerings, well, for the most part clarinet fingerings are very similar to sax fingerings because they both are based on the Boehm system. However, unlike sax, the clarinet notes differ when you press the thumb key (called the register key on clarinet, whereas it is an octave key on sax). That is because clarinet overblows at a 12th, whereas sax overblows at an octave. So, no, there is no such thing as a clarinet with saxophone fingerings (at least not all across the board), because , by definition, it would cease to be a clarinet.
 

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One sax-like feature I have on my clarinet is the use of plateau keys. That is, instead of open tone holes I have padded tone holes like a saxophone. The main sax/clarinet confusion comes with the fingering for C. The Albert system mirrors the sax in using the cross fingering of thumb abd second finger for C (upper register) and the the thumb only for C# (upper register - and conditions apply!). But the overblowing by a twelfth make these F and F# in the lower register. As well, the Albert introduces its own problem of forked fingering for F (upper register - Bb lower register). So, unless you get a plateau keyed clarinet with an Albert upper joint and a Boehm lower joint and learn to deal with the extra throat keys, you're jiggered :)

Soprano sax is sounding like your best option.
 

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The embouchure and making sure the tone holes are completely covered seem to be the most difficult for sax players to adapt to.
I find playing across the break challenging, I'm thinking because of the tone holes. I inherited a wooden Normandy plateau clarinet (keys and pads instead of open tone holes) from my older sister and it's in the shop right now being overhauled. When I get it back I'll let you know if it's more "sax-like."

+1 on soprano sax, I covered the clarinet part in Spamalot reed II on one. The klezmer-ish "Won't Succeed on Broadway" was sublime (albeit not culturally accurate).
 

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Sure, it's called a soprano sax!

Just joking, but not really...if you are looking to play trad jazz, soprano sax is a great option. The range is basically the same (not quite as wide as clarinet) and the tone color is very versatile. It can sound very much like a clarinet. Think Sydney Bechet!

As far as a clarinet with sax fingerings, well, for the most part clarinet fingerings are very similar to sax fingerings because they both are based on the Boehm system. However, unlike sax, the clarinet notes differ when you press the thumb key (called the register key on clarinet, whereas it is an octave key on sax). That is because clarinet overblows at a 12th, whereas sax overblows at an octave. So, no, there is no such thing as a clarinet with saxophone fingerings (at least not all across the board), because , by definition, it would cease to be a clarinet.
I already play soprano sax. It really doesn't work in my opinion, the sound is too brash. It's a better lead instrument than support instrument, and I think Bechet is the first one to figure that out. Playing those background melodies they don't blend into the background well with soprano sax, they stand out brightly, and I end up playing around the head not through it. I need that clarinet sound.
 

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I find playing across the break challenging, I'm thinking because of the tone holes. I inherited a wooden Normandy plateau clarinet (keys and pads instead of open tone holes) from my older sister and it's in the shop right now being overhauled. When I get it back I'll let you know if it's more "sax-like."

+1 on soprano sax, I covered the clarinet part in Spamalot reed II on one. The klezmer-ish "Won't Succeed on Broadway" was sublime (albeit not culturally accurate).
Thank you, I would be interested to know.
 

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I have owned four plateau clarinets (closed hole). They make it a little easier to finger for sax players who are not used to precise finger position. But it really doesn’t make it any more sax like. All the note fingerings are basically the same as a standard clarinet. Also, the plateau clarinet is never as loud as a regular clarinet.
 

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this might be a super dumb question, but I am just too old and set in my ways to learn clarinet, it seems. but i need to be able to play one in my band, it's becoming very necessary. is there a clarinet out there that has a saxophone fingering system? can't use an EWI, it's trad jazz, and I hate seeing anachronisms in nostalgia bands. thanks for your polite and respectful answers that are friendly and informative and not at all condescending or otherwise rude. Thanks!
As for most questions this too has been asked before.

Depends on what you call “ sax fingerings”

of course any clarinet, in order to qualify for being a clarinet, cannot have an octave jump (because it is cylindric) so the fingering of the low octave will sound a 12th higher rather than an octave higher.

Several people claim they have “ sax fingered clarinets” but they may mean something different than it would be a clarinet that plays in all registers the same notes with the same saxophone positions.


I have found once a clarinet with right palm fingerings similar to a saxophone, the Abbott MFG.

Of course there are differences with a saxophone (in as much as it is a clarinet therefore a 12th higher in higher register) involving some fingerings.




this is an Orsi bass clarinet with “ saxophone” system





 

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Your best bet is to try to stay as much as possible in the clarinet's middle (clarion) register. From D2 up to B3, the clarinet's fingerings are essentially the same as the saxophone's. (No bis key, but you can stick with the side Bb or the 1-1 & 1-2 fingerings). Going up to C3 should be easy to handle. Same thing for going down to C#2, C2, and B2 -- you'll have to learn some cross-fingerings, but you won't have to play over the break or worry about the throat tones. So, this approach will give you a little more than a full octave to play with, and you won't even have to think about the problem of 12ths. It won't make you a good clarinetist, but it could be workable.
 

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I already play soprano sax. It really doesn't work in my opinion, the sound is too brash. It's a better lead instrument than support instrument, and I think Bechet is the first one to figure that out. Playing those background melodies they don't blend into the background well with soprano sax, they stand out brightly, and I end up playing around the head not through it. I need that clarinet sound.
Valid point! Just wondering, what kind of horn/mouthpiece do you use (for soprano sax)? Your setup (especially mouthpiece) can make a huge difference in the resulting tonal color of your instrument. Soprano sax is so versatile and can really span the gamut from a buzzy oboe like tone to mellow clarinet tone, as well as just sounding like a high saxophone. I think few players today tend toward the clarinet-ish tone, and it is due in large part to their choice of mouthpiece. I've always been complimented on how well my soprano sound blends with the Dixieland/trad band I play with, and I think it is due in large part to my setup...vintage 1927 King Saxello w/original large chamber mpc. Just some food for thought...
 

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Sax Bum: I've played soprano saxophone as my main instrument in trad bands for over 60 years, after hearing as a youngster the superb George Probert play sop sax with the Firehouse Five plus Two. If you haven't done so already, please look up their many recordings where Probert plays soprano sax.

It is true that soprano sax is a bit heavy when compared to clarinet, but style can compensate for that issue. There have been many trad bands over the years that had a soprano sax in the clarinet role, to a positive effect.

Many years ago, I heard a local SoCal band with an Albert clarinet player whose clarinet tone and style motivated me to learn clarinet - thinking that if I could get ONE note to sound like his horn I'd be happy. I probably did not reach that goal, but I did take up clarinet and was able to do a credible job with it on certain trad-tunes (e.g., PERDIDO STREET BLUES and BURGUNDY STREET BLUES).

I tried both Albert and Boehm systems and settled on Boehm (I'm one to not buy into the myth that those systems sound different - I know, I know - please don't try to convince me otherwise). Of the two systems and their competing fingering differences, I found Boehm the easiest to adapt to. I still have both systems in my closet, along with a German-System Yamaha clarinet which fingers like an Albert but has slightly different tone-hole placement on the lower right-hand joint.

I've also had a plateau Boehm clarinet which I donated to a local high school. And, I borrowed a plateau clarinet in the UK when visiting relatives and did a performance with it. I prefer open tone holes.

I think your question has been answered, though. Except for the examples posted by milandro, I doubt that you will come across anything like that. Those curved-silver-bell soprano clarinets are similar to the one played by the local guy I mentioned above. It is still an Albert clarinet with or without that silver bell (like the bell Alphonse Picou used on his clarinet). So, if you are needing to get into clarinet, do so - it is fun and it will open a new, challenging world for you. It did for me. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter #13
As for most questions this too has been asked before.

Depends on what you call “ sax fingerings”

of course any clarinet, in order to qualify for being a clarinet, cannot have an octave jump (because it is cylindric) so the fingering of the low octave will sound a 12th higher rather than an octave higher.

Several people claim they have “ sax fingered clarinets” but they may mean something different than it would be a clarinet that plays in all registers the same notes with the same saxophone positions.


I have found once a clarinet with right palm fingerings similar to a saxophone, the Abbott MFG.

Of course there are differences with a saxophone (in as much as it is a clarinet therefore a 12th higher in higher register) involving some fingerings.




this is an Orsi bass clarinet with “ saxophone” system


Hey that's cool lookin! Looks like a skinny bari sax!!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Valid point! Just wondering, what kind of horn/mouthpiece do you use (for soprano sax)? Your setup (especially mouthpiece) can make a huge difference in the resulting tonal color of your instrument. Soprano sax is so versatile and can really span the gamut from a buzzy oboe like tone to mellow clarinet tone, as well as just sounding like a high saxophone. I think few players today tend toward the clarinet-ish tone, and it is due in large part to their choice of mouthpiece. I've always been complimented on how well my soprano sound blends with the Dixieland/trad band I play with, and I think it is due in large part to my setup...vintage 1927 King Saxello w/original large chamber mpc. Just some food for thought...
Well that's a rare bird, huh? I hope you didn't take out a second mortgage to pay for it. I play a cheap sop with a Yamaha 6c mouthpiece. Works for my needs and it's not a bright mouthpiece at all. But I'm sure there's some others out there I should try. I was thinking the same thing.
 

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No shortcuts. You can do it.
There’s nothing worse than hearing a soprano sax in a Trad band. I remember a local guy playing soprano in a dinner theatre production of ain’t misbehavin’. Horrible.
 

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Sax Bum: I've played soprano saxophone as my main instrument in trad bands for over 60 years, after hearing as a youngster the superb George Probert play sop sax with the Firehouse Five plus Two. If you haven't done so already, please look up their many recordings where Probert plays soprano sax.

It is true that soprano sax is a bit heavy when compared to clarinet, but style can compensate for that issue. There have been many trad bands over the years that had a soprano sax in the clarinet role, to a positive effect.

Many years ago, I heard a local SoCal band with an Albert clarinet player whose clarinet tone and style motivated me to learn clarinet - thinking that if I could get ONE note to sound like his horn I'd be happy. I probably did not reach that goal, but I did take up clarinet and was able to do a credible job with it on certain trad-tunes (e.g., PERDIDO STREET BLUES and BURGUNDY STREET BLUES).

I tried both Albert and Boehm systems and settled on Boehm (I'm one to not buy into the myth that those systems sound different - I know, I know - please don't try to convince me otherwise). Of the two systems and their competing fingering differences, I found Boehm the easiest to adapt to. I still have both systems in my closet, along with a German-System Yamaha clarinet which fingers like an Albert but has slightly different tone-hole placement on the lower right-hand joint.

I've also had a plateau Boehm clarinet which I donated to a local high school. And, I borrowed a plateau clarinet in the UK when visiting relatives and did a performance with it. I prefer open tone holes.

I think your question has been answered, though. Except for the examples posted by milandro, I doubt that you will come across anything like that. Those curved-silver-bell soprano clarinets are similar to the one played by the local guy I mentioned above. It is still an Albert clarinet with or without that silver bell (like the bell Alphonse Picou used on his clarinet). So, if you are needing to get into clarinet, do so - it is fun and it will open a new, challenging world for you. It did for me. DAVE
Yeah and I would get after that with lessons and maybe some novice bands to motivate me, just don't have the time to start over right now. Maybe when we get big enough to hire a manager I will, LOL. We're getting into complex arrangements so It's not enough just to know some heads and improvise, I need to be able to read on clarinet too which is a whole other monster. I am skeptical that you can ever get a sound approximating that woody clarinet tone. Even Bechet played lead on sop with clarinet playing the support lines. BTW: Looking for arrangements from the King Oliver era. Have only been able to find revivalist stuff for the most part so far. If you know anyone with a good collection that might share it I'd appreciate a hookup.
 

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No shortcuts. You can do it.
There’s nothing worse than hearing a soprano sax in a Trad band. I remember a local guy playing soprano in a dinner theatre production of ain’t misbehavin’. Horrible.
I have to agree. I don't think even Bechet was pulling it off, and played stylistically very different than a clarinet. In his later work he played the lead and hired a clarinetist for top harmony/background lines. If I could afford a 4-piece horn section I'd play the tenor parts and hire a clarinet player.
 

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Sax Bum: I've played soprano saxophone as my main instrument in trad bands for over 60 years, after hearing as a youngster the superb George Probert play sop sax with the Firehouse Five plus Two. If you haven't done so already, please look up their many recordings where Probert plays soprano sax.

It is true that soprano sax is a bit heavy when compared to clarinet, but style can compensate for that issue. There have been many trad bands over the years that had a soprano sax in the clarinet role, to a positive effect.

Many years ago, I heard a local SoCal band with an Albert clarinet player whose clarinet tone and style motivated me to learn clarinet - thinking that if I could get ONE note to sound like his horn I'd be happy. I probably did not reach that goal, but I did take up clarinet and was able to do a credible job with it on certain trad-tunes (e.g., PERDIDO STREET BLUES and BURGUNDY STREET BLUES).

I tried both Albert and Boehm systems and settled on Boehm (I'm one to not buy into the myth that those systems sound different - I know, I know - please don't try to convince me otherwise). Of the two systems and their competing fingering differences, I found Boehm the easiest to adapt to. I still have both systems in my closet, along with a German-System Yamaha clarinet which fingers like an Albert but has slightly different tone-hole placement on the lower right-hand joint.

I've also had a plateau Boehm clarinet which I donated to a local high school. And, I borrowed a plateau clarinet in the UK when visiting relatives and did a performance with it. I prefer open tone holes.

I think your question has been answered, though. Except for the examples posted by milandro, I doubt that you will come across anything like that. Those curved-silver-bell soprano clarinets are similar to the one played by the local guy I mentioned above. It is still an Albert clarinet with or without that silver bell (like the bell Alphonse Picou used on his clarinet). So, if you are needing to get into clarinet, do so - it is fun and it will open a new, challenging world for you. It did for me. DAVE
I'd like to know what setup Probert was using, definitely has a blunted tone. Might be using a mute? He's very good and I'd like to get a sound more like that on sop, but IMHO it still doesn't have that magical blending effect of the woody clarinet tone. On this album I'm listening to he is playing more around the trumpet melody than through it. Playing fills, essentially instead of that backdrop of continuous lines you hear clarinet players usually do.
 

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Probert favored Conn sopranos and every time I saw him or played with him, he had an old beat-up looking Conn. I have two of his sopranos, a Conn NWII and a five-digit MKVI. The one I got from his estate (a gift from his widow) was much better in appearance than his gigging horn.

I don't know what kind of a mouthpiece he used even though we were friends and I played in bands with him before he passed away (Dec 2014). Those little tid-bits were not of much interest to him and his friends. I'm thinking I shoulda asked, but it is too late now. I know the guy who has his gigging Conn. We played in the same band at a memorial jam session in George's back yard after he passed away.

George sure was not muted - he was a very strong player. He also played and did some recordings on clarinet (and a 'nino for one tune). I never thought about his role in the Firehouse Five plus Two, other than when he took over the high-reed chair in the FH5+2, the band took on another dimension of energy and crowd-pleasing. The previous clarinetist in that band was Clarke Mallory (exclusively clarinet) and while I enjoyed his playing in the band, I didn't miss it when George took over. George also played with Kid Ory (recording with both bands) and Bob Scobey before joining the FH5+2.

Bechet was a wonderful clarinetist - played Albert - and maybe was among the top New Orleans clarinetists ever, up with Dodds, Simeon, and Jimmy Noone. His playing was another example of me not caring whether he played clarinet or soprano - he sounded similar on both instruments. There was just no mistaking his tone and style on either horn.

And yet, I know what you mean about the sound of a clarinet in a trad band. My problem with it is that so many clarinetists come off in a swing style - Goodman/Shaw/Fountain stuff. Now, those guys were exceptional players, but I prefer the rougher, more earthy playing of George Lewis, Johnny Dodds, Darnell Howard, Jimmy Noone, and Bechet. All a matter of opinion, really.

I'm sure there are charts around for the things done by Joe Oliver. There was a French trad band called Charquet & Co. that was very popular a few years ago and they played a lot of Oliver things - mostly from his days after the Creole Jazz Band. I suspect their leader (or someone close to them) transcribed the whole arrangement from recordings. Charquet executed them well. They did a great version of DEEP HENDERSON - very close to the original Oliver recording (and there are several versions of that tune recorded in the 1920's by various bands). I wouldn't know where to find that stuff, though. DAVE
 

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I think that the Orsi pictured by Milandro was also sold as a Linton in the U.S. I have seen a couple come up on Ebay, but everytime the mouthpiece was either missing or altered. It seems that the reed is bigger than on a regular contrabass clarinet and Linton owners have come up with modifications that make purchasing one risky. And then there is the reportedly soft keywork that doesn't stay in regulation. My solution was to go with a Leblanc contrabass and just be a crappy clarinet player.

Mark
 
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