Contrabass Digest

To subscribe or unsubscribe, email



Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 17:49:12 -0700
From: Grant Green
Subject: Re: [CB] 64' PVC contra clarinet completed

At 01:45 PM 6/10/2002 -0500, you wrote:
>The second project I made as my final project for my "Physics of music"
>class.  It was a similar PVC instrument like they use in the Blue Man
>Group.  I suggest either going to see them or buying their CD
>"Audio."  Really cool stuff.  I wanted to create a two octave, chromatic
>scale, but that proved to be too much.

The Blue Man Group website has pictures and sound clips for a number of these instruments - see



Grant Green          
Sarrusophones & other Contrabass Winds


Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 23:57:22 -0400
From: Farfl
Subject: [CB] Spare Parts?  A part of the Contrabass community, again.

Dear Fellow Listers;

In what seems like another lifetime, I had a bass saxophone , a contrabass sarrusophone , and a contra alto clarinet at my disposal.   My financial situation at one point dictated that I should sell the bass saxophone (it once belonged to a jazz great, and its sale helped us a great deal).  Then ("the") James Carter was interested in buying the contrabass sarrusophone.  I was spending more time with my mallet instruments, and since he played light years better than I, I sold the sarrusophone to the man who could give it a good home and a regular workout.  Around that time I travelled to San Francisco and had some clarinet lessons with the wonderfully warm and talented Ben Goldberg .  Guess what.  He became enamoured of my contra alto clarinet.  And boy, could he make that instrument sing. Who was I to stand in the way of true love?  You can hear Ben playing the instrument on "Twelve Minor", a highly-recommended CD.  Since then I've been only lurking on this list, not really feeling a part of things, as my 4.5 octave marimba doesn't count for much in the Contrabass world.  
All this time, the only instrument that I've really missed has been the contra alto.So tonight,  I typed my birth date into the "bid" window of the Neilsmusic auction on eBay , just before I left work.  A few hours later I checked my e-mail and found out that I had won, and for a figure that would indicate the birth date of a much younger man than I...
I know the instrument is missing a case, mouthpiece and bell.  I'm toying with the idea of perhaps having a wooden bell made for it by Steve Fox - after all, he's famous for creating wooden bells for bass clarinets.
Anyone have any comments about this idea?  My other idea is to have a brass repairman ( Ron Partch ?) make a bell from an old brass instrument.  And yes, I've also sent an e-mail to the repair department at LeBlanc asking how much a replacement bell would cost, but so far I haven't received a reply.
Does anyone have an extra bell or mouthpiece or case or floor peg for a LeBlanc contra alto that they want to sell??  ;)
Best Regards,


From: "Gregg B"
Subject: [CB] 4 Hz tube
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 00:12:53 -0500


>I gather that you're making this beastie do the clarinet
>trick of vibrating like a stopped pipe, at double the length of the >actual

Yup!!    ^_^

>How are you measuring that you got 4 Hz out of it?

Well, first of all, I already knew that with 64' of tubing, I would get approximately 4 Hz.  However, with the total length that all the elbows add, the frequency is probably more like 3.5 Hz or so.  It actually does sound a little bit slower than 4 Hz.

>I'm curious about that because organ pipes, for instance, are only
> >nominally 32 ft., 64 ft. or whatever to produce the indicated >pitches.
>The extra-long sub-bass ones can need to be "off" by several >feet to tune
>properly, because the diameter of the pipe and the >structure of the
>footing, mouth, stopper if any, etc., affect the >frequency at which the
>tone actually vibrates.

Well, here's how I understand all that:  the footing and mouth DO affect the frequency, but not by much.  To me, if you have two tubes that are exactly the same diameter, but one is exactly twice the length of the other, they will be exactly one octave apart.  However, in order to keep everything proportional so that the harmonic content remains the same, the larger pipe is made with a proportionally larger diameter.  This does affect the pitch; it naturally lowers it a little.  So, in order to compensate, the length of
the larger one must be lessened slightly.  However, I don't think it's a difference of FEET, even for 32' pipes.  I would think it would be more along the lines of inches.  But I'm not a total expert on this.

I have some info that might be of interest to you.  According to my Science of Music book by Sir James Jeans, there is a phenomenon in open-ended flue pipes called "open end correction."  It says that the open end of a Principal pipe is simplistically thought of as being a loop, or antinode, of the sound wave.  In other words, the very top would be where air is displaced at a maximum in vibration, whereas the air at the middle of the pipe doesn't vibrate at all because that point is a node of the wave. 
However, in reality, the true loop of the wave is NOT at the very top of the open end, but rather, slightly BEYOND the open end.  Evidently, this open end correction is more exaggerated for larger pipes, because the percentage of open end correction is based mainly on the diameter.  Since larger pipes have a larger diameter, the open end correction is more, also.  However, it
seems to me that this would still all remain in proportion.

Anyway, I thought you would find that interesting.

Thanks for commenting on my project!!


Chat with friends online, try MSN Messenger:


From: "Gregg B"
Subject: [CB] 8' Panflutes???
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 00:18:55 -0500

I don't know why I haven't asked y'all before, but everytime I'm in San Antonio, TX, at a particular mall that has an outdoor dining area, I listen with curiosity to an ethnic group that includes a panflute player who plays a panflute that sports some 4' tubes in it.  The whole instrument is miked, and when he hits those 8' tones, it sure is a rich sonic experience!!  I can only imagine how much air it takes to get those tubes to oscillate.  However, I've never gotten the chance to ask the guy where he got this instrument and for how much $.  Does anyone on the list know about deep panflute sets, what the lowest tubes are that are made, and how much these things cost???



MSN Photos is the easiest way to share and print your photos:


Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 10:23:12 -0700
From: Grant Green
Subject: Re: [CB] 64' PVC contra clarinet completed

At 11:56 PM 6/7/2002 -0500, you wrote:
>The first 4' segment alone approximates bass clarinet tone, and the tone
>is very full.  Adding the 2nd segment produces the lowest concert B of a
>contrabass clarinet, and I actually think it sounds BETTER than a
>contrabass clarinet!!  Producing tone below this involves a little trick
>that I discovered, because the contra mouthpiece was not designed to
>produce tones below this.  Ideally, the mouthpiece, reed, and tube
>diameter should increase as the length does, but this IS just an
>experiment!!  The trick is that I have to put my tongue on the reed, like
>saxophonists do for sub-tone.  No, it doesn't tickle!  You would think
>that this techinique would muffle the tone, but it doesn't at all, as long
>as I keep the tongue pressure relatively loose so that the reed can still
>vibrate freely.  If I don't use this techinique for 3 segments on, the
>reed refuses to vibrate the fundamental pitch.  Anyway, 4 segments sounds
>very Contra-Bombarde-like, and is very impressive, in my opinion.  Below
>this, the volume begins to diminish as I add more and more tubes, because
>the mouthpiece-and-reed setup was not designed with enough amplitude
>potential for these low frequencies to be heard very well.  In other
>words, the reed really needs to vibrate back and forth at a greater
>distance of displacement in order to have a truly successful tone.

It is also possible that what you're experiencing is the natural roll-off of sensitivity with descending frequency: your ear just isn't as sensitive to a pitch at 20 Hz as it is at 40 Hz , declining to zero sensitivity at some point.  At 4 Hz , you're really talking about rhythm - consider sixteenth notes at mm 60...

To slow the reed down, you can add mass to the tip and/or reduce the stiffness of the reed.  Perhaps try sanding down the heart of the reed to decrease the stiffness, and thicken the tip with something non-toxic.  Wax?  I think your breaking the reed effectively reduces the springiness, while the subtone technique is really mainly adding mass to the reed (the tongue).  The amplitude of the reed's vibration doesn't affect its frequency - just how much air you can put into the horn.  The reed acts more like a pressure-controlled valve or gate.

Have you considered a flute or fipple headjoint?



Grant Green          
Sarrusophones & other Contrabass Winds


Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 10:51:38 -0700
From: David Richoux
Subject: Re: [CB] 8' Panflutes???

Gregg B wrote:
> However, I've never gotten the chance to ask the guy where he got this
> instrument and for how much $.  Does anyone on the list know about deep
> panflute sets, what the lowest tubes are that are made, and how much these
> things cost???
> Thanks!

here is one place I found on the net:

I looked at Lark in the Morning's site and only saw small Zamponas listed.

Maybe this is another candidate for PVC manufacture?

Dave Richoux

Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 11:15:50 -0700
From: Grant Green
Subject: Re: [CB] Contrabass Lark

At 10:51 AM 6/11/2002 -0700, you wrote:
>I looked at Lark in the Morning's site and only saw small Zamponas listed.

Speaking of LitM, I noticed they have a contrabass balalaika for sale (under close-outs):
"Romanian Balalaika, ContraBass (was BAA008) - COSMETIC. small dents and blemishes on finish. plays perfectly.Must be SHIPPED BY FREIGHT Original Price $795.00. Closeout Price $700.00 SEC1015 "

(see )


Grant Green          
Sarrusophones & other Contrabass Winds

***End of Contrabass Digest***

Next Digest ->
Previous Digest <-