Contrabass Digest

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Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 23:35:31 -0800
From: "Kernan Jang"
Subject: [CB] Hi, new to list

Hello contrassers,
    I'm not exactly a contrabass maniac. I'm a flute and piccolo player. I'd
play low flutes if I had access to any though.
    I march piccolo in the Cal Band. (the Pacesetter of College Marching
Bands, the Pride of California, the University of California Marching Band!)
Our history book written for our centennial tells of a Cal Band marching
bass saxes (as well as the baritone). Now we only go down to tenor. It's
very sad that all the bass comes from the brass.
    The director let me try out the old contralto clarinet, as no one is
playing it. The girl who played it last year said she used bari sax reeds.
So it was neat, except that the director had told me it was a contrabass,
and I was expecting a Bb.
    So over the 3 day weekend I remembered the paperclip contrabass clarinet
sitting in the case on the floor under the desk. The old music teacher was
nice enough to let me borrow it to play around with. And it worked. It's so
    I gathered from recent digests and the compendium that one uses bass sax
reeds on a Bb contra. This seems to make sense with the bari sax reeds on
the Eb contralto. This works a lot better than trying to use bari sax reeds,
right? Do stores carry bass sax reeds?
This contra has automatic double register keys and extends to low C. I seem
to remember the archive or compendium saying that this is fairly modern.
It's a LeBlanc. It's a red lined case with those weird swively latches, in
case that helps any LeBlanc players guess at the decade. Oh, it's from the
60's or earlier, as there was an invoice for reeds dated 1970. It's kind of
sad to think of it going that long without being played, especially with
such small music budgets, and considering that my high school has better
instruments than the UC. I'm sure the community college has much better
instruments too. (We don't have any oboes, and only 2 piccolos, one of which
is Db, and the other we can't afford to keep in working order for long.)
    I'm going to ask if I can double the tenor sax part at a basketball game
this weekend. If I can I can get it brought over from home with somebody and
I would have to find a reed. I'm off to look up and see if goes 2 octaves
below a tenor with the extension to C. I really don't know where saxes fit
in. I just think it's unfair that they can play in like 5 octaves or
something but only use 2 and a half or something.
I hope my wonderings and rantings weren't too much for the traffic of this
go bears,
Kernan Jang

Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 02:44:50 -0800
From: bitwise
Subject: [CB] Pedal Clarinet on ebay

Grant and group:

There is a pedal clarinet (deeply folded BBb contrabass) on ebay.
While the Italian seller has set a reserve of $5800 (and value of
$15,000, based on his purchase price and the current exchange
rate), the current bid is $1500.

This is a seriously nice-looking horn; rosewood body with
gold-plated metal. However, it only goes to low E and is not
Boehm system. Nonetheless, it's worth a visit just for the pics.
Look for item 1410803965. Closes 2-24.

There is also a Buescher contra-alto for anyone who may be
interested. I don't recall the item number; search for 'contra alto'
and you will find it.

Grant, I also found an 'alto' with a bass-style neck. I thought it
might be a basset horn, but there is no extension. Hmm...



Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 11:17:17 -0400
From: Topper
Subject: Re: [CB] Beware: Leblanc-VITO & Warranty..also Woodwind &Brasswind

At 09:20 -0500 2/20/01, John Webster wrote:
>Your post is interesting and I wish it had been earlier.  My "on
>order" vito Contra-bass showed up unexpectedly shortly after my
>1/11/01 post. The instrument seems OK for my  (amateur - occasional
>- personal ) use with community bands.  The ligeratue was too large
>for the mouthpiece and after some discussion WWBW send me Rovner as
>replacement. The tone in the lowest notes is somewhat thin and
>Bassoon like.

The thin sound is likely the result of not having enough mouthpiece
in your mouth but may be pad(s) not seating proper or something as
simple as an adjustment screw. Embouchure and breath is key though
and I'm sure you will get that in time. I get very deep clear fat
bendable tones until I build up enough moisture in the pads from
playing, they than fail to seat properly. I find the higher notes get
very thin and a bit off tune but this seems due to regulation and
moreover the way the tone holes were calculated, however this could
probably be remedied by a custom mpc and/or reed. There is just so
much an embouchure seems to do but as any wind there is always
improvement given a sound analytical approach.  I was not complaining
about this or was I bothered about the poor design for the register
mechanism and that there are only two register vents... one is
actually the Left Thumb Bb (also the wrong size and place). The
problem is that they have not seemed to work well with what they
themselves have designed and I don't have the time to make keys
because they overcut  both the solid and hollow rod in various spots
creating some serious play I should not even have to make shims.

Thank you all on both the Klarinet and Contrabass lists for your
thoughtful responses both on and off the list. I received word from
Woodwind and Brass Wind that they wish to resolve this matter
positively. Unfortunately Leblanc has said that the dealer is
responsible for any repairs for their limited warranty. Leblanc sent
the instrument back to me repairing only the lower joint bell tenon
and barely adjusting the register and A-key  mechanisms while leaving
them with tension which can be harmful to the left hand first finger.
It is more than a matter of simple spring regulation and balancing
the tension.

I have contacted an attorney with all the details of this matter who
has advised me for the time being to continue to resolve this matter
directly with the vendor and manufacturer.

I am informed that in this instance both the vendor and the
manufacturer may be held responsible in New Jersey under the law.

I am also informed that because of the circumstances the instrument
must be replaced or repaired during a lapse of time that does not
interfere with my scheduled work contracts where I list this
instrument as being used, and I must be compensated for any costs
incurred for a rental instrument while this one is being repaired if
not replaced. A full refund is an option I am allotted under the law,
however both the vendor and the manufacturer can still be held liable
for damages.

I be compensated for lost income should I be without an instrument
and have documentation which supports that the instrument (or not
having the instrument) contributed to same.

Leblanc's limited warranty along with the Woodwind and Brasswind's
legal responsibilities in this case are extensive in New Jersey. If
contrabass clarinets were common and easily available this would not
be the case.

>After I have a chance to work out my embouchure problems I will have
>our repaire man tke a good look at it.
>On a slightly different note - there was earlier discussion on
>seating for contra playing.  Our kitchen stool (approximatly bar
>stool height) was a little to short, so I have been using the sling.
>However, my wife found an "ironing stool" in the Lillian Vernon
>catalog  ( one of the many mail order catalogs we get)  I was about
>$40 is very solid, is adjustable in height,  way beyond what is
>needed.   John

I am willing to put up with the poor design of this instrument as the
paperclip is more ergonomic than the straight model VITO or Leblanc.
The position of the keys and angle of the mpc of the straight models
are uncomfortable.. My neck is bent such that for optimum results I
have to keep my instrument between my legs with the bell bow slightly
behind my heels. The strap hook is a good thing.  So if I had use  a
stool it would not have a front center support. I've drawn up a
removable telescoping adjustable peg accessory that can be custom cut
to player size for  plus/minus optimum height @ 1/3 way up and down
and fitted to the existing bell peg. This should help also in
conjunction to an adjustable stool for seated position but I like the
clarinet to go somewhat back through the  center of my body where it
is most comfortable for me and I can get a better tone. The neck
angle is ok but could have been bent upward a few degrees more.

***End of Contrabass Digest***

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