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Discussion Starter #1
I traded my Buffet 1183 last year for the new Selmer bass to Eb. Around the same time I developed a serious hand problem which stopped me getting to know it. Getting back in the saddle and playing it I am just struck by the superb quality of sound and response across the whole range.. It plays like I've heard the bass for a long time, something I couldn't really get out of Buffets and I've had three,the original Prestige to Eb, 1193 and 1183. Buffet make a superb instrument but, and I've heard or read this from several sources including Clark Fobes, Michael Lowenstein, Henri Bok etc, the Selmer bass is the one.
I'm also deeply impressed with Walt Grabners bass pieces which equal the Selmer in quality.
It just again demonstrates to me despite some wonderful vintage and new instruments out there if you hear Selmer you have to play Selmer despite the sometimes frustrating QC .
 

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Michael Ward said:
It just again demonstrates to me despite some wonderful vintage and new instruments out there if you hear Selmer you have to play Selmer despite the sometimes frustrating QC .
Uhhhh..OK.

I am right now on a gig where I am playing third reed and am using my 50+ year old Buffet keyed to low e flat bass clarinet and a morgan D mouthpiece. Right next to me is a fellow playing reed 4 on a newish mod 37 Selmer Low C with a Grabner piece.

The Selmer is nice and I have "heard Selmer" going on three weeks now and remain contented with my Buffet. With the Morgan D, I can whipser and play pretty, but can also get a little bite and keep us with the brass on all but the most ridiculously loud playing.

Steve

Steve
 

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Just starting to play bass clarinet last year, I was amazed at the number of players, usually former Bb soprano players but still many who played the bass clarinet in high school who had troubles with the clarion range of the bass clarinet.

At that time I was playing a nice Leblanc Paris bass clarinet that I finally was able to get the full range of the instrument to speak by purchasing a Walter Grabner 'LB' bass clarinet mouthpiece. But it remained a very difficult instrument to play.

But there were a number of parts that called for a low C so with a little bit of nervousness I purchased a Selmer Paris Modelle 67 Privilege from Kessler's Music. First I heard from Chuck how stunning the instrument was and how well it played when he was setting it up. Then everyone who played it was no longer happy with their instruments. Then I heard a tech was purchasing one because when he worked on this one he was convinced, it was the best in class.

It's gawd awfull expensive, but once you get past that, it will be one of the best instruments you will ever buy. The instrument just sings the full range. Now if I can get the fingerings to be as natural as the sax fingerings are for me. I got mine used from the Selmer rep who used it in NAMM. (Thanks Chuck and Dave!) If you can't afford one, you might not want to test drive one.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Steve sorry if I wasn't clear. I didn't mean if you hear someone else playing a Selmer it makes you want to play one. I meant if you "hear" Selmer as your personal tonal concept . Having said all that John Surman is my long time favourite player and he plays a Noblet so maybe I am talking ........
 

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Mark me down on the other side of the board for this one. And, I'm the guy who bleeds little wreath-enclosed S's when wounded, so attached to Selmer clarinets am I.

I tried one fresh from the factory when the regional Selmer representative came through last summer, and I was (to put it mildly) underwhelmed. It was to low Eb, but the "punch" that I've grown to expect from the shorter "no extension" horns just was not there.

The engineering on the horn also did not impress. For some of the side keys, they've gone to Boehm-esque axle keys. Conversely (and, to me, perversely), one or two of the long keys on the lower joint have been changed to a design that is half-"clapper", half axle. All in all, the horn was much heavier than any other low Eb that I played in a long time.

Lucky for me that the things don't wear out; my current one is starting on its thirty sixth year without a problem to date...
 

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I've tried a few Selmer Privileges (two low C, one low Eb) and I agree that they are great insruments. I prefer my Buffet, but without the register tube modification that I made on my Buffet the Selmer is better by far (it fixes the main problem that imo gives Selemr the advantage).

I prefer the sound of the Buffet but the Selmer would sound good enough for me too. The main thing I don't like about the Selmer is the keys. They improved a lot since the last model, but the left side pinky keys and the right hand stak keys are very uncomfortable to me.
 

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The privilege makes some large improvements over its predecessor in linkages for the low note keys. They actually put some thought into the effects of the metal flexing this time.

This makes for much greater reliability, especially for larger interval changes using only one lever to close several pads.

A shame the lever locations don't suit you Nitai. I'm not experienced enough at bass to know whether they suit me or not. :)

It's a change to have something nice to say about Selmer mechanism. :)
 

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Gandalfe said:
Just starting to play bass clarinet last year, I was amazed at the number of players, usually former Bb soprano players but still many who played the bass clarinet in high school who had troubles with the clarion range of the bass clarinet.

At that time I was playing a nice Leblanc Paris bass clarinet that I finally was able to get the full range of the instrument to speak by purchasing a Walter Grabner 'LB' bass clarinet mouthpiece. But it remained a very difficult instrument to play.
I have found that any bass clarinet without the dual register key mechanism with one register key on the neck and one the body makes clarion register stuff challenging. Most Leblancs i have seen are single register key models.

Also, as previously mentioned on other threads on this group, Leblanc may make some pretty well-respected b flat clarinets, but are seriously behind the curve when it comes to thier updating thier "harmony clarinets".

Selmers are things of beauty, both visually and sonically. My 50+ year old Buffet is kind of mean looking and ranges only to e flat, but it flat out sings.

Stephen Freeman of the New York Philharmonic plays one almost exactly of the same vintage! Check it out:

http://nyphil.org/meet/orchestra/index.cfm?page=profile&personNum=107

Steve
 

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Single register key basses are simply non-starters. Unplayable in my book. Even the double register key horns I've played (and I used to own both a Selmer Low C and Selmer Low Eb) have a major weakness. And that's the area of the horn where the octave keys change (at top space Eb-E). The notes just above the changeover, particularly F and F#, can be stuffy and resistant. Staccato tongueing on these notes can be a dicey proposition. I have heard of a bass with a triple register key mechanism that supposedly clears up these stuffy notes but I don't know the make. But I think it's safe to say that you'd be looking at some serious bucks for such a horn. I would like to try the Privilege to see if it has fixed this problem. If it has I would be sorely tempted to buy one.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I don't know much about the engineering side ( but if Gordon likes it I'm impressed and reassured ). This bass is the first one I've owned that feels like a keeper. I did try to buy a Selmer bass when I got my first Prestige Buffet pre the current model but low Eb Selmers were very hard to get. I think Selmer were going through one of their periodic crises and it took Howarth a year to get one which wasn't a good example.
Really complete instrument in my book this new one.
 

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I still use an old R serial number low Eb selmer bass, love the thing and how it speaks nicely in all registers. It is very loud and with a modified Pillinger to 105 on it, this horn sings. I haven't tried the new privelege yet nor the Buffet mainly because I didn't feel the need too but you lot talking about it makes me think it may be time to go and have a look...........
 

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RS said:
..... I have heard of a bass with a triple register key mechanism that supposedly clears up these stuffy notes but I don't know the make. But I think it's safe to say that you'd be looking at some serious bucks for such a horn....
Could that be the new Stephen Fox bass.

"...Mechanical innovations include a triple register/throat Bb mechanism, producing both a clear Bb and accurate twelfths (eliminating the universal problem of the sharp middle B)...."

Interesting though that ease in the clarion register was not mentioned.

See http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=244370&t=244370
 

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I'm familiar with Stephen Foxe's work. He does some interesting things such as making low C extensions for bass and soprano clarinet. He also makes tarogatos (sort of a wooden soprano sax). I think for most of his instruments and extensions there's quite a long wait. I had toyed with the idea of having my Leblanc LL bassetized (low C extension added) but never got around to it. His bass might be worth looking into. The bass with the triple register key mechanism that I had heard about was a German make I believe. Possibly a Wurlitzer? I'll have to do some research.
 

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Yes, the Wurlitzer has a a triple register mechanism if I remember right. I saw and heard the Wurlitzer bass clarinet and it sounded very good. Don't know if that's the bass clarinet I would choose to play though. The Fox bass clarinet seems to be designed with the same ideas as a German bass clarinet (bore, etc.) so I'm guessing it would be a bit similar...? Maybe not though.

The advantage of the triple register is possibly intonation (though I don't notice intonation problem with double register - the middle B on mine is in tune and not sharp) but also the ease of playing clarion/altisimo. The clarion needs a bigger register hole, but this makes the altisimo harder (a vise versa). This depends on how the register vents work. If one is only for throat Bb then it doesn't help with those problems, and the Bb on double register bass clarinets is fine.

Gordon, it is not only the levers of the new Selmer, the entire mechanism of the right hand keys (which is on the right side of the keys) touches my hand with the angle that is comfortable to hold the instrument.
 

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" If one is only for throat Bb then it doesn't help with those problems..."

If one hole is dedicated to Bb, then fewer compromises need to be made for the other two. Right?
 

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Yup. This is not the first time that multiple register openings have been used. The Selmer firm used to make a soprano that had a second opening (for the altissimo range) up on the barrel, and Yamaha baritones have had three register key holes for at least thirty years now.

There will be those who will argue against complexity, claiming that what we have is good enough. They are obviously not oboe players...

I have heard good things about German bass clarinets, but the likelihood of finding one over here is slim to none. The only offers that I have seen have been (for all intents and purposes) custom made horns, and I'm not that desperate to experience one at this point (semi-retirement years) of my life. Still, it would be nice.

One wonders what student players of the bass clarinet use over in Germany. In all of my Deutchischer-challenged years of watching the eBay site, I've never seen a mention of a German (Oehler) system bass clarinet. Do any of the German makers have the equivalent of a Bundy horn (Georg von Bundy, perhaps)?
 

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Gordon (NZ) said:
"If one hole is dedicated to Bb, then fewer compromises need to be made for the other two. Right?
Not necessarily. On my bass clarinet with only double register, there is absolutely no problem of response and intonation with the range from middle B to D# (all notes that use the first register hole). The only thing that is possibly compromised is the throat Bb that uses the same hole, but I think it sounds very good too and I don't feel a problem with it either. The top register hole would also be the same now because the the third hole would only be for the Bb, so will improve nothing for those notes too.

IMO the only real improvement would be the same as now, but with a third register hole for the altisimo (C# and up) which would be at the same position as the current top register hole, but smaller size. Then maybe the middle register hole (which is the top one now) could be a bit lower. This is maybe impossible to built because the fingerings for altisimo and clarion notes are the same (I think on automatic triple register, if this exists, the third register starts at the top of the clarion and into altisimo).

Another solution which some bass clarinets have is a third register hole that is operated with a second register key. I don't think the register holes/notes are the same as I described above (i.e. seperate one for altisimo). Even if it was, it wouldn't allow a change in the other register holes since when playing very fast it would probably be too difficult to switch register keys (i.e. you'd probably have to use the middle hole for altisimo too sometimes anyway).
 

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Playing a bass with a double set of register keys is not all that hard once you get the hang of it. I played (for many years) Albert system Buffet horns with dual register keys, and found that the transitions between them became second nature as time went on.

(I even have one in the horn room at home right now, awaiting the inclination to get it fixed up and returned to playing condition. The neck angle on it is straight from Hell, however...)

For that matter, some of us are already playing with a pair of register keys, albeit ones that are not co-located. For all instances below an eighth note, I tend to use the side trill key 3 (counting from the bottom) to vent the middle of the staff Bb. Only when there is an awkward transition to a note above B natural in the staff do I default to the traditional register key.

Finally, all of us already play a bass clarinet with (in effect) three register key holes. That half-hole stuff that you do with your first finger isn't just for show; it allows the altissimo register to vent and prevail over the clarinet one.

Sax took the bass clarinet a long way during his "invention" of the modern one in the mid-1800's. Among his improvements were the two register hole system that is for the most part common today (although his used two register keys). But, there is always room for improvement.
 

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I believe that LeBlanc still makes a bass with two manual register keys. I have a catalogue several years old that shows it anyway. But LeBlanc has revamped their line-up in recent years dropping some long time models such as the venerable LL. So the double thumb-key bass might be gone too.
 

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The last time I looked (a year ago) there was very little outside of the "standard" instruments in the Leblanc catalog. They used to carry all of the extra mechanism clarinets in "all flavors", but now have dropped back to the auxiliary Eb lever (on standard horns) and the Pete Fountain model (with some of the stuff but not with all of it).

Leblanc used to be the Heckel of America, but since the great shakeout they have turned into another Yamaha, excepting only the Hovenagel contras and that horrid little Ab thing. Times change...
 
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