Bass Clarinet Questions/Mouthpieces

Subject: Here’s a new question for you regarding Bass Clarinet Mouthpieces

I have begun a new tangential endeavor in my clarinet
sound to our woodwind ensemble (the other ensemble
members play flute and oboe) I have purchased a
Ridenour Bass Clarinet. Overall it looks fabulous and
I suspect it should sound pretty good too, but I sense
the mouthpiece I have been using is not doing it
justice in realizing the full capabilities and
potential of the instrument.

Here is what I am experiencing:

In the Clarion register I am experiencing occasional
squawks in and around the F, F# and G notes. I
haven’t experienced this predicament with any of the
Soprano clarinets I have played since I don’t know
when! I don’t believe there is pad leakage since the
person I bought it from is a NAPBIRT technician. So
far I have only tried one mouthpiece and one reed
type, a Vandoren 2 ½ . (I recall being advised to use
a slightly lower reed stiffness when playing the Bass
Clarinet.) Also, in the Chalumeau register the lower
notes from low B flat to F sound kind of stuffy and
airy. (Surprisingly, the mid throat tones of G, A,
and B flat sound just fine with my current setup!)

This has started me off on a search for a better Bass
Clarinet mouthpiece. I have several that I own and
will begin trials of different mouthpiece and reed
combinations. But this has also got me thinking
maybe, just like with my B flat Soprano experience, there should be much better custom-type Bass Clarinet
mouthpieces out there which could take the sound to
another level beyond what can be achieved with the
stock mouthpieces (i.e. Yamaha 4A, Bundy 3, Selmer C,
etc.) I currently own.

My round-about question is what are the best Bass
Clarinet mouthpieces that you have heard of out there?
(I searched your web site for this information and
found a recent post referencing the Selmer Bass
Clarinet mouthpieces, which is what I will try out
next.) Are the desired characteristics the same as
those found in the Soprano Clarinets? Who makes a
reasonably priced (around $100) hand-finished Bass
Clarinet mouthpiece which will do the following: give
the desired stability to avoid squawks in the Clarion
register, provide a full deep dark desired tone, get
the best overall performance out of a bass clarinet.
(I have found a few already, Fobes, Grabner, Morgan
and Hawkins but they are all over $200!) I am also
thinking about trying out TR and Ben Redwine’s
offerings as well.

One other point. I have been using the stock Ridenour
Bass Clarinet mouthpiece which came with the
instrument and up until now, I have been rather
disappointed in this offering from TR. I suspect he
just put his name on it and this is not the same
quality mouthpiece he sells from his web site. I am
going to make an inquiry to him in due time.
If you have any problems with the Bass or the Bass mouthpiece, get in touch
directly with TR.He designed them both, you know him. He will give you
straight answers.
As far as playing the Bass Clarinet is concerned, this is an instrument that I have performed on extensively and for professional engagements, including such works as Pierrot Lunaire, and the Hindemith 6-tet, as well as a Concerto for Clarinet and Bass Clarinet and Orchestra.
The Selmer C mouthpiece is just fine for the Bass clarinet> I own one
somewhere and used it for every Bass clarinet performance, regardless of the instrument.(the Bundy Bass Clarinet made of plastic and in one piece was my favorite because I felt it was indestructable)
There is no mouthpiece answer for playing this instrument or any other
This is just misinformation no matter who is selling what.
I have written more than several articles concerned with Bass Clarinet, (just put those words in the “search” bar).
One does not use a slightly softer reed with the bass, one uses a much softer reed.
For instance in my own case, I found it was usually a number 2 or even 1 1/2. Actually, I used to use Tenor Saxophone reeds, virtually the same as Bass clarinet reeds, despite what you may hear.
The reed must play easily with almost a whisper. The throat notes are the easiest to produce, so should the low register.Staccato may be more difficult, but is a soluble problem.
Crossing the break easily is difficult, and must be done easily and
continuing up there are various problems which you will run into, however with time and using a reed with not too much resistance, you should have good results. In the altissimo one uses all harmonic fingerings on the bass, which behaves completely differently than does the ordinary Bb.
But, by all means, contact the man himself who designed the clarinet.
If the mouthpiece included doesn’t play for you, I would say that it may be you, and not the mouthpiece.
While I play different mouthpieces on occasion, there is no solution to the problem of technique on any clarinet with some kind of special mouthpiece.
Whatever you feel with a change is mostly the change. In a bit, the change will distract and then disturb.
Good luck.


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