Contrabass Digest

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list                           Thu, 25 Jun 1998           Volume 1 : Number 12

In this issue:


Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 08:13:01 -0700
From: "S.K. Pasisozis" <>
Subject: Re: list V1 #10

I certainly did NOT know that the coefficient of expansion with plastic is
higher than wood. I had thought it was MORE stable and would be LESS
susceptible to expansion in temperature.

Shows how much--or how little--I know about big (b)ass horns! I've learned
something. Thanks!

Also, to satisfy my bottomless curiosity: Years ago, Leblanc made an
octocontraalto and octocontrabass clarinet. Were these just prototypes made
to prove they could do it, or were they ever commercially available.

Also, on this thread, I was told that the bore of Leblanc's metal
contrabass is narrower (proportionately) than their own contraalto and
other companies' contrabass; presumably this gives it an edgier metallic
tone. Could increasing the diameter of the bore mellow it out?

While I was an oboe major, I've found playing harmony clarinets just more fun.

Jack Isaacks


Date: Wed, 24 Jun 1998 16:29:05 -0500
From: Chip Owen <>
Subject: Re: list V1 #10 - Contras in plastic

Actually, it would be much more practical to make any size contra clarinet in
plastic than a contrabassoon.  The reasons are more in the practical and
economic fields than in the acoustic area.

Plastic is a very expensive material, despite the common perception that plastic
is cheap junk.  The cost of a block of polypropylene is approximately ten times
the cost of a block of sugar maple of the same dimension.  Plastic is not cheap!

With the low volume of contrabassoons (I make a lot of them at about 30 per
year) any plastic bodied contrabassoons would have to be fully machined from
stock.  That would be very impractical and expensive.  And wood is much easier
to work with.  However, for a contra clarinet the production volume is
considerably greater, the body much smaller in diameter and the straight (rather
than conical) body and bore would be practical to extrude to size.

There are other considerations as well, including weight and flexibility, to be
considered in making contrabassoons and contra clarinets of plastic.  Again,
these would be easier for the clarinets because of the differences between
grenadilla and maple.  A plastic could be chosen for the clarinets that would be
stiff enough without being excessively heavy.  That plastic would be too heavy
for a contrabassoon.  A forklift truck would be a practical option for a
contrabassoon made of that plastic!

If Leblanc wanted to make a plastic paperclip contra clarinet, they could and

Chip Owen
Columbia City, IN


End of list V1 #12

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