Vol. 5, No. 33

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Contrabass list Tue, 31 Mar 1998 Volume 1 : Number 33

In this issue:

Date: Mon, 30 Mar 1998 15:23:26 -0800
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
Subject: Re: Double register keys & altisimo

At 04:20 PM 3/30/98 -0500, you wrote:

> Thank you. I've been looking for altisimo fingerings for the

> BBb clarinet but haven't been enjoying much success. That

> register is so easy on the bass cl and bass sax that I had

> assumed it would be the same on the BBb contra. Figured my

> problems were due to "missing" keys (side F#/C#, side throat Bb).

> Now I have another key to play with.

> (Of course if someone has already come up with an altisimo

> fingering chart for the LeBlanc BBb paperclip contra, I'd

> love to hear about it...)

I think the main difference between altissimo in the bass and the contrabass is the lack of that LH1 pinhole vent. Those fingerings which on the soprano leave LH1 open typically leave just the pinhole open on the bass (by sliding LH1 down to the pad attached to the primary key). The contra doesn't have the pinhole, and doesn't speak well in the altissimo with LH1 fully open. I've tried opening it just a little bit, but its hard to do reproducibly. Closing RH3 (and thus opening the lower octave key) seems to work better.

As for fingering, try (all with octave key):

C#  xxx  | xxo Eb (i.e., LH123, RH12, Eb key) 
D   oxx  | xoo Eb
D#  xxx  | oxx Eb
E   xxx  | oox Eb
F   xxxG#| oox Eb

Higher than that I haven't gone yet. Maybe tonight....


Date: Mon, 30 Mar 1998 15:25:15 -0800
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
Subject: Re: LeBlanc Vito contra

At 04:20 PM 3/30/98 -0500, you wrote:

> Maybe Jim Lande will chime in here. He relayed warnings to

> me from a mouthpiece maker about LeBlanc contra mouthpieces.

> And that was my experience, too - I was really disappointed

> in my Vito EEb clar and its LeBlanc mpc til I switched to

> one made by Woodwind. Big improvement.

> Maybe that was part of the problem with the school horn.

Interestingly enough, Woodwind is a subsidiary of Leblanc. The mouthpieces do appear to play differently, though. I've tried a Woodwind contra mpc, and found that it has a more open tip than the stock Leblanc mpc.


Date: Mon, 30 Mar 1998 23:59:23 -0500
From: Jim Lande <lande@erols.com>
Subject: Re: list V1 #32

> Maybe Jim Lande will chime in here. He relayed warnings to

> me from a mouthpiece maker about LeBlanc contra mouthpieces.

> And that was my experience, too - I was really disappointed

> in my Vito EEb clar and its LeBlanc mpc til I switched to

> one made by Woodwind. Big improvement.

> Maybe that was part of the problem with the school horn.

Jim here.

I have a Vito EEb which I like a lot, plays easily, never seems to need adjustment. It came with a Selmar C* mouthpiece. I went to a local store to try the new curved LeBlanc that they had in stock (possibly a once in a lifetime event) and I could barely get it to play. I wrote to John Hite of J&D Hite mouthpieces to see if he sold a contabass mouthpiece. (I love his student model soprano Bb mouthpiece.) He makes a bass clarinet mouthpiece but not a contra. It turns out that he has an artical on his web site http://www.jdhite.com/ expressing the opinion that the Leblanc BBb mouthpiece is a disaster.

He recommended that I recork a Selmar C* EEb to use when trying BBb instruments. I did that last fall and ultimately ordered a used Leblanc model 408 (curved down to D) from Charles Fail music. The horn was rebuilt, beautiful and came in a new case. The Selmar EEb mouthpiece wiggles a bit, but works much better (for me) than the original LeBlanc mouthpiece.

Clark W. Fobes, another mouthpiece guy, recently wrote to me:

Send me the old Leblanc BBb mouthpiece. I can put a wonderful

facing on that that you can use Van Doren #3 reeds on. I like

the rubber in the old mouthpieces and the interior. The new

blanks are OK, but are now American made copies. Refacing is

$75 + $4 shipping.

I might do this. (Any opinions?) Anyway, the real reason that I have been laying low is that I have not enjoyed playing the contra bass as much as I hoped. It has a better, bigger tone than the Vito but something is a little out of adjustment. Well, maybe one something when it arrived but two somethings the last time I picked it up. Trouble jumping registers, one note that doesn't quite sound right. I have not had time to take it to a local tech. More troubling, I can't seem to play it by ear -- you know, put on some blues CD and play along. The lowest notes sound muddy when I play really fast. (Come to think of it, if you are playing 16th notes, there might not be too many vibrations per note down at the bottom.) It is hard to figure, I just don't sound right to me. Right now I am feeling a bit discouraged. I may put the horn on the market this summer. Sigh.

Jim Lande

Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 00:31:28 -0500
From: ROBERT HOWE <arehow@vgernet.net>
Subject: Re: Contrabass clarinets

My quick $0.02 on the topic of the Vito contrabass--be cautious about buying a lower level horn. Long experience teaches me that the finer instrument is always the better bargain. When you get into bass and contrabass sizes, IMO, you are more poorly served with a cheaper model than is the case with a Bb clarinet or a flute; this is even more true with an Eb piccolo clarinet. My son's school's new $800 Vito bass clarinet was unplayable above e'; a 20 year old LeBlanc for which I paid $2000 (and later sold for $2750), played like a charm; my new Buffet bass (close to $4K) almost plays by itself. Same player and repairman. The LeBlanc paperclip Bb contrabass clarinet I bought from Grant is superb, as is my Selmer Eb contrabass; plastic or "school" models of each that I have played are, shall we say, hokey-pokey at best. You get what you pay for.

Robert Howe

Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 11:20:47 +0000
From: Francis.Firth@uce.ac.uk
Subject: Altissimo Notes on Contrabass Clarinet


I am sure that Terje Lerstad has written an article about altissimo notes on the contrabass clarinet in BBb. Whether this is for the Leblanc instrument I don't know

Here is the record from the Carl Uncover database.


Altissimo Register Fingerings for the Contrabass Clarinet


Lerstad, Terje

Journal Info

The Clarinet

MAY 01 1991 v 18 n 3

I hope that this is of some help



Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 09:46:21 -0800
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
Subject: Contrabassoon Duet

Hi, just forwarding something of general interest - or what passes as "general" interest on this list ;-)

>Hello, fellow contrabassoonists!

>I'd like to let you know about a piece I recently performed in the Bonk
>Festival of New Music. It is a Duo for 2 contrabassoons entitled BLARGH,
>by David Rogers.

>I performed it twice with Cornelia Biggers during this week-long festival
>in Tampa, FL and it was broadcast on the radio the following week. We also
>attracted some press coverage as part of the festival.
>Some statistics... Both parts are equal in difficulty. The range is from
>low B to high A-flat, so it is somewhat challenging with the upper range.
>The rhythmic content is not difficult at all, however, the parts are
>phase-shifted, so the ensemble playing is very challenging. This piece is
>very worthwhile to play if you are fortunate enough to have 2 instruments
>with players! For programming considerations, the duration is about 5
>minutes. For more information about this piece, please feel free to
>contact me, or the composer. I'm not sure about the purchase price, but
>the composer can certainly tell you more about ordering it from him.

>Composer: David Rogers drogers2@arts.usf.edu

>Happy contrabassooning!

>Ann Caldwell Adair

>University of South Florida
>School of Music
>Tampa, FL

Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 11:46:13 -0800
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
Subject: Conn Sarrusophones

I emailed Conn (actually now UMI, http://www.unitedmusical.com/) to inquire if there were any plans to rerelease the sarrusophone, now that the contrabass sax is coming back into circulation. The reply was:

>Sorry. We have no plans to reintroduce the 16V sarrusophone. Demand would
>not warrant it.

>Dan Shideler
>Media Manager

No response yet to my inquiry as to how much demand would be required. Perhaps they'd be surprised at the potential demand for NEW contrabass sarrusophones....


Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 11:51:43 -0800
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
Subject: Giant Tubas...

While surfing around, I looked at the Leblanc web site . If you go to the Spring 1998 issue of the Leblanc Bell, and look at the entry for "NAMM Report", they have a picture of the exhibit for Holton (celebrating Holton's 100th anniversary). In the back, there appears to be an enormous tuba, but I can't tell if it is just a display mockup, or a playable instrument. It looks new, but they don't seem to list any BBBb octocontrabass tubas in their product listings....


Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 15:19:15 -0500
From: Bob Thomas <thomas@usit.net>
Subject: Re: Altissimo Notes on Contrabass Clarinet

Man, did I ever come to the right place. Thanks for the fingerings and the article reference. I'm off to the Univ library to dig it up. (It never occured to me that someone might have already done the work - I should know better.)

Guess I'll search the Klarinet archives too.

thx much,


And on top of all that, I've learned to spell "altissimo" <8]

End of list V1 #33

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