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Tenor Sax or Bass Clarinet ?

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Stayl View Drop Down
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    Posted: 01 Jun 2014 at 2:30am
Tenor Sax or Bass Clarinet ? I want to pick up one of these instrument in few weeks or months.
 I played guitar for 6 years so I already have a good music level, but I'm hesitating with these two instruments, what do you advise ?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote js Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jun 2014 at 5:55am
I've done a certain amount of playing and teaching with the saxophone and clarinet family.
The easiest is alto saxophone, some recommend starting out on that. Bass clarinet is not that hard and is a very fun instrument to play, its range is incredible. The hardest thing on any clarinet is getting a good tone, it takes a while.
Tenor sax takes a lot of air. I've played alto sax for a while and was surprised at the big difference when I tried the tenor.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Stayl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jun 2014 at 8:02am
Thank you for the answer, nice to have advises from a player, but I feel like you cannot innovate anymore with the Sax too much things has been done with it... What do you think ? I feel that the Bass Clarinet is more original and you can do more musical experimentation with it, since it's not used much...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote js Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jun 2014 at 8:59am
Sure, the bass clarinet puts you in a more unique group and its a fun instrument, but it can be expensive too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Stayl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jun 2014 at 9:18am
Oh yeah for the price, how much is an average tenor sax and how much is an average bass clari ? I've heard about Bundy Bass Clari, they are student models not very expensive, and most people I saw are pretty satisfied with it for a beginner Bass Clari. 

For the sax what you would recommand ?

Thanks for the answers ! Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote js Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jun 2014 at 9:31am
I don't know enough about prices and brands to make a recommendation, but I did look into purchasing a bass clarinet once and was discouraged by the price.
Your Bundy student model sounds like a good way to go though.
I can't remember if tenors are more expensive than bass clarinets, I know they are more expensive than altos.
The flute and the alto sax are the ones that cost less.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cannonball With Hat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jun 2014 at 8:46pm
Bass clarinet.
Hit it on Five.

Saxophone Scatterbrain Blitzberg

Stab them in the ears.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shrdlu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2014 at 7:28am
Hi! I have been playing saxophones and clarinets for over 50 years. Maybe I can help.

There is no comparison between a tenor saxophone and a bass clarinet. They sound very different.

I do not agree that the possibilities with the saxophone are now exhausted. The possibilities are unlimited.

It really comes down to what sounds you want to produce, and what types of music you want to play. What do you hear in your head?

A saxophone is much more versatile than a bass clarinet. It is also a lot louder. If you have a microphone, then this doesn't matter, but if you don't, then the drummer is likely to drown a bass clarinet out, especially in the middle register (that is, from middle B to the C just over an octave higher), which loses volume.

A saxophone is much easier to play than a bass clarinet. If you have never played a saxophone, I recommend that you start on an alto. Then, you can switch to a tenor. Contrary to what someone said, a tenor doesn't require a massive amount of air, and millions of people play one with no trouble. I started on an alto and now play tenor and soprano. I recommend a gold Otto Link Tonemaster mouthpiece - that is what both John Coltrane and Coleman Hawkins used.

The bass clarinet is a tricky instrument to play really well, with an even tone throughout the whole range, mainly because the middle register sounds rather thin. It really needs two "register keys" for that middle register, where the notes easily squeak if you push them. The best ones, such as the Selmer, cost about the same as a car! You can pick up an ebonite Selmer Bundy for a few hundred dollars (be careful to get one that doesn't need much in the way of repairs). I have a (low E flat) Selmer Bundy and it's not bad at all. That model only has one register key, which makes the middle register hard to play without squeaking. The low register is easy to play on all bass clarinets. An orchestral player once lent me a top-of-the-line Selmer, with the extension down to low C. That was easier to play than my Bundy, but it was lacking in volume in that middle register.

Really, I don't think that a bass clarinet will carry you very far. It is a specialist's instrument, and it is a special tone color. It is not going to fit with a lot of jazz performances. You should definitely start on the regular clarinet (sometimes called the soprano clarinet) before playing a bass. Get used to all the fingerings on the regular one.

As in the picture, Eric Dolphy was a real vituoso on the bass clarinet (as well as on everything else that he played), but he was a very rare musician and, realistically, you are unlikely to attain his mastery on the clarinet.

It's up to you, but I would go for a tenor saxophone. The Selmer Mark VI is the best one, but the Yamahas are very good, too - I have blown both a Yamaha alto and a Yamaha tenor, and I couldn't fault them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shrdlu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Nov 2018 at 3:15pm
An update.

I got a Rico mouthpiece for my (Bundy) bass clarinet. It was reasonable, but not all that good.

About a year ago, I got a Vandoren B45 mouthpiece and some Vandoren reeds. That combination made playing a lot easier! I have always used Rico (brown box) reeds, for alto, tenor and soprano saxophones and soprano clarinet, and they have been fine. But the bass clarinet is a very fussy instrument and the new mouthpiece and reeds have made a big difference. The Vandoren reeds are the original blue box ones.

I still don't recommend the bass clarinet as one's main horn. The main Selmer one would make a difference, but they are the price of a new car, so they are way beyond my reach.
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