Vol. 4, No. 18

An email list for discussion of bass and contrabass instruments of all kinds. To subscribe, send a message with "subscribe" in the subject line to contrabass-request@contrabass.com, or go to the subscription page.

To post, send your message to contrabass-list@contrabass.com.

See the Archive for back issues.

Contrabass-list Mon, 27 Oct 1997 Volume 1 : Number 18

In this issue:

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 13:00:20 -0800
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
Subject: FWD: Doublereed-L (key polishing)

I guess this is "forwards day". Just found the post below, regarding shining up the keywork. The post is from Forrest Music in Berkeley, one of the better-known doublereed instrument suppliers in the US.


Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 12:32:53 -0600 (CST)
From: forresdr@ix.netcom.com (Peter Klatt)
To: doublereed-l@bcc.wuacc.edu
Subject: Tarnish on bassoon metal work - Steve Lessans


Hi Gang,

Steve, we are normally quite reluctant to polish nickel keywork except in the course of an shop overhaul. But recently some of my friends at one of the major instrument makers let me in on a procedure that they use to brighten the keywork of new instruments before shipping them out as well as instruments that have just been handled or play tested a lot.

At first I was pretty skeptical about applying any paste or creme polishes to woodwind instruments, but I was amazed by the results I achieved with this method. If you promise not to gunk metal polish all over your horn including the pads, I can recommend a product called Tarnishield. It is available at Ace Hardware stores and costs about $9.00 for a bottle that will last you a lifetime; it works well on all metallic surfaces I have tested, from stainless steel to silver. But proceed at your own risk.

Apply a small dab of this creme to a cotton rag and spread it so that the cloth absorbs most of it.

Rub the saturated cloth agains the metal keywork in a circular motion. As the metal brightens, the cloth will turn black but it will continue to be effective. The important thing here is to use the polish >>sparingly<< so that you don't get polishing creme into the bearing surfaces of the mechanism or onto the pads. You can experiment on the body bands or the boot cap.

If you are concerned about harming the wood finish beside the body bands, wrap a strip of masking tape over it before starting to polish.

After you get the hang of this procedure, you will find that you can use the saturated cloth effectively even when it feels dry to the touch. At this point you can wrap the rag around an old toothbrush and use it on some of the irregular surfaces, posts and shafts. But it must be dry or you'll have a lot of polish residue in hard to get to places.

Here's to a bright and shiny horn. Hope it plays better too:o)

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 13:40:00 -0800
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
To: klarinet@listserv.cc.va.us,contrabass-list@contrabass.com
Subject: Re: New keys and sub-contra-bass

>Date: Tue, 26 Aug 1997 15:24:21 -0700
>From: H=E5kan Lundberg <hakan@slip.net>
>Subject: New keys and sub-contra-bass

>I am experimenting with a new type of "key-design" and have to ask if
>there is anybody who is interested. It will take a couple of years
>before it is fully constructed, and then I intend to patent the idea. It
>will be a totaly new whay of mechanism. The fingering can remain the
>same if one would like to, but one could by this mechanism apply what
>ever fingering system there is to musical instruments. If you play the
>flute but would like to switch to clarinet one could with this mechanism
>easily do this and apply the flute fingerings to the clarinet.

>Everything that is possible w. todays mechanisms and much more will be
>possible - always easy trills etc. The main "problem" is the esthetical
>apperance of this system, but I have to work that out later. This idea
>would work best with bass-woodwinds.

As a patent attorney and contrabass fanatic, I have to say I'm intrigued. Part of me wants to ask for all the details of your keywork mechanism, and part of me wants to advise you to keep it completely secret until you've filed your patent application. You may want to do a patent search before you spend too much time on the invention: one frequently finds that its already been done.

>I also have a wild idea about starting to make
>octo-contra-bass-clarinets (it's on the drawingboard) of wood - S shaped
>design. I am at least going to make one for myself (but it will ofcourse
>take a couple of years to finish. I guess I could start and make more if
>there would be an interest. I would guess an instrument in Rosewood,
>Imbuya, Cherry, or Maple and silver would be about $35000-$40000 and up
>and take 3-5 year to make (If I don't get a lot of response of people
>who would like to have sub-contras - then I could for sure do it full
>time). I have to say that this instrument will only have a range to low
>E or Eb - lower notes will not be possibly to hear Eb being 19.445Hz and
>E 20.602Hz (if tuned A 440Hz). There is in fact music written for this
>instrument, and deep organ music could be played with a more "alive"

>Håkan Lundberg

This is a thought I've toyed with myself. I was (am?) considering starting with PVC tubing, which, if it is available in the right inside diameter, should be easier to work than hardwood. Haven't decided if I should do metal rods and posts (traditional design), or something like servo-operated keys (which is then just a wiring problem).

One thought about the range: the BBBb octocontrabass and EEEb octocontra-alto were both made with range to low (written) C. Since the composer who wrote for those horns had the opportunity to play Leblanc's prototypes, he may have scored for the whole range. It would be a shame to build a new octocontrabass/alto, only to find that it didn't have the range for the only works composed for it!

Grant Green

End of contrabass-list V1 #18

Next Digest ->

Back to Index <-