Sunday, July 08, 2012

Student Bass clarinet suggestions?

A question from YouTube:

Hello, this past year I have been playing bass clarinet seriously and I am thinking about buying one... I wonder if you have tried the Bass Clarinets made by Tom Ridenour. Right now I am renting a Buffet Prestige from the school but it would be just too expensive for me to buy one of those. Do you have any suggestion for me?

Here was my reply:

Not a fan of the student-model bass clarinets actually. (I'm sorry!) I've tried Jupiter, and a bunch of others, and I haven't found one that has decent keywork. On Bb clarinets that's not as big of a problem, because 1) the keys are smaller and 2) you cover half of the holes with your fingers anyway. But on bass clarinets the length of the keys, and the length of the rods makes it such that bad keywork (low-quality alloys) will just mean that your bass clarinet is ALWAYS out of adjustment.

That all said, I am going to ClarFest this year, and I plan to make a quick video of each student instrument and post it on YouTube with my comments. (well, if that's possible, and if it's possible to hear me over the noise of everyone playing!)

I hope to be surprised by one of these student instruments. It's just SO hard to make something that's affordable (even if it's plastic) that has decent metal in the keys.

Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

Is there an easy way to determine the model of a bass clarinet? Unlike many other instruments, in my experience, most clarinets do not have more than the Make and serial number on them.

Further, how can an inexperienced player tell the difference between a student-level horn and a more professional one?


earspasm said...

Fortunately, most bass clarinets actually change from model to model. In some cases, the change is significant.

It wouldn't be hard to do a bit of research on the instrument by talking to the seller, looking around online and seeing what similar instruments are going for.

Student model horns are usually plastic. Pro horns are wood, but there are levels of quality surrounding pro horns as well. If you have the opportunity to play it, bring a tuner -- see how well it plays in tune. See how even the sound is from register to register -- and from note to note. If one note is really stuffy and the next is not, you will likely have problems playing evenly.

Just a few thought-starters.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply! Is there a way that I can contact you with a few other questions? I cannot find an email address for you on this blog.