Contrabass Clarinet Reeds

I rent the curved, metal LeBlanc contrabass clarinet from our local college. I play in the college and community band.†I’ve learned a lot from your website, but I’m wondering if you have any advice for reeds for the contrabass.†

My director has been supplying me with Rico 2 1/2†and I believe this is a reed for contralto, contrabass clarinet and bass sax.†I’m not sure it really fits my mouthpiece exactly right.†Do you think I would have a better fit with the Vandoren that is specifically made for contrabass?†

The Vandorens don’t come in half sizes, so I’m thinking of trying a 2. I also haven’t found a reedguard to fit that wide of a reed, so I just keep it in the cardboard slip.¬†How bad is that?†

I also have trouble making the break into the upper register.†I just read your suggestion to someone about closing the F# key just prior to the others, but haven’t tried that yet.

Any other suggestions or peculiarities to the contrabass?


Get a small piece of glass or a small (a hand mirror from your purse usually has a frame which will help keep the reed affixed) mirror. Affix the reed to the glass with a rubber band or two. Make sure to dry the reed prior to placing it on the glass. Better than cardboard, although I have used that many times.

I would try the Van Doren, keeping in mind that this reed can produce both the best and the worst of any sound imaginable….
the American reeds are junky but much more consistent. Rico has not much heart and the cane is not great but is used by everyone. But with Contrabass, who really knows?

The break is more like a huge abyss on that clarinet. Make sure the thing is in perfect adjustment (try going down from the “b”). They seldom are.

Do not change your mouth when crossing, just maintain support.( f# first in any case, simply a good idea, then when you speeed up the motion, it will always close first, and your seal is assured.) Play easily into the mouthpiece. What kind of mouthpiece did they give you?

Best of luck with that beast.

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