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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The low Eb bass clarinet seems to be preferred over the low C by a large majority of jazz and improvising musicians. I read one musician who commented that the low C is a totally different instrument from the low Eb.

Is this due to some acoustic advantage of the low Eb? Bigger sound? Greater resonance? More projection? Better blend with other instruments?

A less "constricted" feeling because of the shorter tube length?

If one is not playing classical or chamber music, is the low Eb the preferred choice?
 

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Low C basses are practically impossible to stand with, unless you use a peg. A low Eb is a better blowing horn, but that’s not usually how the instrument is utilized.
 

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I agree with Merlin that it's probably mostly due to size and ergonomics. Most jazz players of bass clarinet are either doublers, or play mostly improvised music, or both. When playing improvised music, the slightly reduced range isn't really a problem, and doublers have likely gotten used to the (less expensive and more readily available) low Eb instruments that they acquired early in their careers.

That said, several of the most prominent jazz bass clarinetists, including Eric Dolphy, Bennie Maupin, Myron Walden, Marcus Miller and Marcus Strickland, use(d) low C instruments.
 

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The low C is about a foot longer than the low Eb horn and obviously, it's more cumbersome to play standing up. It isn't too bad standing with a low C though, as long as your stance is right of center with your left leg slightly forward; it takes some getting used to. It's a far cry better than this I would imagine.

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The low C is about a foot longer than the low Eb horn and obviously, it's less cumbersome to play standing up. It isn't too bad standing with a low C though, as long as your stance is right of center with your left leg slightly forward; it takes some getting used to. It's a far cry better than this I would imagine.

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I suppose when you get fed up trying to play the thing you can always get some practice in on your Caber Toss.
 

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Miking a shorter Eb is easier - might be a reason too. But I guess most Eb players would switch to the low c if they could flip instruments for free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Not sure about that. Some seem to feel that the low Eb is more expressive, even those that can afford it.

This seems to go beyond personal preference, and I am wondering if the low Eb is more acoustically "correct" than the low C, or has a more interesting sound in terms of the overtones?
 

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I've never played an equivalent low Eb horn to my Selmer, but I suspect that the lighter weight and easier miking are major factors.

The only people I've ever played with who were louder then me were playing low C instruments and I don't think that has anything to do with it. I think they'd be louder than me on any functional bass clarinet.

The one advantage of can think of to some of the cheaper low Eb horns is a better throat Bb because the tone hole only exists for that one note. That has nothing to do with the low Eb though, add everything to do with the single register vent mechanism. My Bundy has an absolute massive throat Bb.
 

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Not sure about that. Some seem to feel that the low Eb is more expressive, even those that can afford it.

This seems to go beyond personal preference [...]
Based on what? Can you name any well-known jazz bass clarinetists playing on modern (i.e., current-production) low-Eb horns?

I know of a number of players (including Bob Mintzer and Chris Potter) who play on low Eb horns, and for whom cost is probably not an object. But these players tend to play on old Selmers that they've owned for decades. This would suggest that comfort, familiarity, and perhaps differences between older and newer instruments, are the main factors.

If there's a difference between the response of low Eb and low C horns, than that should be evident on current-production horns of the same make and design (e.g., like Selmer's models 67 and 65).
 

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Not sure about that. Some seem to feel that the low Eb is more expressive, even those that can afford it.

This seems to go beyond personal preference, and I am wondering if the low Eb is more acoustically "correct" than the low C, or has a more interesting sound in terms of the overtones?
I'd say that has more to do with the skill of the musician playing either the low Eb or low C horn, especially if they're professional instruments. It's not like comparing a modern basset horn to an alto clarinet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
"If there's a difference between the response of low Eb and low C horns, than that should be evident on current-production horns of the same make and design (e.g., like Selmer's models 67 and 65)."

That's the thing: there is absolutely a difference both in design and response. These players that probably get free instruments, would be playing low C, right?

It seems that those jazz players and improvisers that specialize in the bass clarinet and aren't doubling, play Eb. Check out Jason Stein or Rudi Mahall.

For modern classical music, I can understand the desire for a low C as composers write for the lower notes.
 

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Brian Landrus, Michel Portal, Luis Sclavis play current Selmer model 65 to Low Eb.
Have you reached out to any of them to find out why they selected the Model 65 over the Model 67?

(Also, FWIW, this picture, among others, shows Landrus with a Low C instrument, so maybe he doesn't play the Model 65 exclusively?)
 

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"If there's a difference between the response of low Eb and low C horns, than that should be evident on current-production horns of the same make and design (e.g., like Selmer's models 67 and 65)."

That's the thing: there is absolutely a difference both in design and response. These players that probably get free instruments, would be playing low C, right?
Is this statement based on your own personal experience? If so, then perhaps you should be answering this question rather than asking it.

I, personally, haven't been able to compare low C and low Eb instruments of remotely similar design or vintage. I also suspect that, since this is a saxophone forum, most of the responses that you get will be from the perspective of doublers.

Have you checked the answers to similar questions on the Clarinet BBoard?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks for your perspective. Not trying to start an argument!

The Clarinet BBoard is strongly focused on the classical tradition... folks seem more open minded on this board.

You are correct that Landrus plays a 67 as well, but from what I can hear on his latest recordings, plays a 65.

My own personal experience is with the Selmer Low C, plus listening intently to the aforementioned players and noticing their preferences. I have never been able to play-test the 65 and 67 side by side, although played a student low Eb prior to getting the Selmer, which is why I started the thread.

My best guess it that between the two, the acoustics are indeed different, in the same way that the acoustics, in general, between an alto and tenor vary slightly. (I have played both extensively). It seems that the shorter horn, in both cases, is more "inherently" nimble, although this is certainly not an absolute as we know.
 

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It probably also has to do with the fact that, when you're soloing, you just aren't going to be in the lowest part of the low register very much. It's not going to project and you'll usually be occupying space already occupied by the bass. Since players in small combos are almost always playing with bassists and are generally living in the middle and upper registers a lot of the time, it might not make sense to carry around the extra notes and make the instrument harder to mic when you won't be using them much.
 
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