Contrabass Digest

To subscribe or unsubscribe, email



Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 17:17:20 -0800
From: Grant Green
Subject: Re: [CB] Rothophones

>'Narrow bore double reed instruments that look like
>emaciated saxes, rather than being folded into the upright
>configuration characteristic of sarrusophones. '
>And a double reed on an ordinary saxophone, under which conditions would
>that work? Presuming such a construction does work.

The problem is that even on the smallest saxophone, the neck is wider
than the widest sarrusophone bocal.  To put a double reed on an
unmodified saxophone, you'd need one wide enough to fit on your
thumb.  The sarrusophones and rothophones all start from fairly
narrow (compared to the sax) bores at the mpc end, and don't expand
to saxophone dimensions at the bell.  As a rule of thumb, the
sarrusophone seems to have a bell diameter equivalent to a saxophone
that plays an octave higher: e.g., bass sarrusophone has a bell the
size of a tenor sax bell, tenor sarrusophone has a bell the size of a
soprano sax bell, etc.  It is much easier to put a single reed mpc on
a sarrusophone than to put a double reed on a sax.

Aside from that, I suppose you could try packing a bassoon reed into
the neck of an alto or tenor sax with putty or clay - just don't tell
your repairman that I suggested it ;-)



Grant Green
Professional Fool ->

Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 17:20:14 -0800
From: Grant Green
Subject: Re: [CB] Proud 'New' Contra-Alto Clarinet Owner

>     One thing I don't like is the lack of a left hand index finger half-hole
>for the altissimo register --- I realize that contra clarinets
>rarely are asked
>to play above the top clarion C, but I've always enjoyed playing any
>and all Bb

Actually, in the music we got last rehearsal, I have an Eb contra
part that goes up to altissimo D, and another up to altissimo C#.
Now, if I could only remember the names of the works...  I've been
using overblown throat G and F# for those notes so far.

>     Again, thanks for everyone for the help along the way, and especially of
>course to Grant for maintaining the Digest.

My pleasure: I'm just happy there are fellow fanatics willing to share :-)


Grant Green
Professional Fool ->

From: "Peter Boris Koval"
Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 00:33:49 -0300
Subject: Re: [CB] Reed contrabasses and Rothophones

> "Saxorusofon" is just another name for rothphone (or rothophone).
> This family of instruments is essentially sarrusophones in the shape
> of saxophones.  Narrow bore double reed instruments that look like
> emaciated saxes, rather than being folded into the upright
> configuration characteristic of sarrusophones.  The Orsi name is
> derived from "sax" + "sarrusophone", and probably adopted to avoid
> using Roth's name (the Italian maker who first came up with them).
> Grant

Hi, Peter Koval here.
Although I have done a fair amount of woodwind research, I have never found
an "original" document that terms these instruments "rothphones" or
"rothophones" (such as a maker's catalogue or an exhibition catalogue or
report). Since recent literature calls them by these names, there must be a
point of origin. I do know that the instruments were patented by the Bottali
brothers in Italy and then France in around 1911/12 (I don't have my
documents with me to give exact dates) and no specific name was used for the
instrument family in the patent document ( it only mentions "a new
instrument, etc.") although a baritone "saxorusophone" or "rothphone" was
illustrated and the family described. Orsi subsequently bought out or
inherited the Bottali brothers' business--it seems unlikely from all this
that the name "saxorusophone" was merely a dodge to avoid calling the
instrument a "rothphone". The Orsi factory in the early 1980s (and probably
still) had prototypes of baritone and bass "rothphones", and was quite keen
to make me one, but the cost was prohibitive in view of the limited use
More research needs to be done in this area, but I am presently stuck in
Brazil, where there are no leads!
Peter Koval


Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 01:10:43 -0800
From: bitwise
Subject: Re: [CB] Proud 'New' Contra-Alto Clarinet Owner

Dave -

Congratulations on your contra-alto.

A removable D extension for bass clarinet made from PVC -
would you care to provide details? I've been contemplating a
similar project as a way of learning the techniques needed to
make a complete contra clarinet. As a further step in that
direction, I have thought of making a C extension for my 1440.
It's always frustrating when covering string bass parts to have
to jump 'up' where concert F1 and E1 are written.

GMB3 mouthpiece plays well when refaced. That has been my
experience as well. I think the one I have must have left the
factory on a bad day. The table wasn't flat front to back, and the
whole mouthpiece looked like it had a lateral twist. But those
things were easily corrected - it still surprises me sometimes with
how easily it now speaks.

Altissimo. How far up are you intending to go? I play to concert
F#4 on the contra, and could undoubtedly go higher - once I learn
the fingerings. No F# vent on the 1440 either, but the 1430 bass
does have one. Go figure.



Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 01:28:52 -0800
From: bitwise
Subject: Re: [CB] Proud 'New' Contra-Alto Clarinet Owner

Grant -

You say you overblow throat G to get altissimo D, and throat F#
to get alt D#. I play alt D using the register key alone; D# using
register key and Ab. Of course, this is a straight plastic contra,
others may differ.


***End of Contrabass Digest***

Next Digest ->
Previous Digest <-