To whom it may concern:
Hopefully, I have an easy problem to solve. I already know how to play a baritone saxaphone (or any sax for that matter) and I’ve been playing it intermittently since I was a child. However, I wanted to learn how to play a bass clarinet so I was going to teach myself. My problem is that I can’t hardly get a sound out of it! I tried playing one after following the directions in a lesson book and a lot of the time it squeeks. If I do get a good note (like a G) I have to blow very hard to get it. I just know I’m doing something wrong because I see liitle kids playing them with reasonable ease. I’m a healthy guy and can supply a lot of air but I just know that I’m doing something wrong if I have to blow as hard as I am just to get one whispery sounding note. I shouldn’t have to blow any harder than the bari sax to get good sound should I? I don’t know much about reeds and mouthpieces for clarinets. I have a selmar-bundy one piece clarinet that is in pretty good shape with new pads on it. Can you help me?
Hello: Thank you for your note. I know exactly what you are going through, and part of it has to do with the way, or perhaps the freedom with which you can play the Baritone Saxophone.
First, let me suggest that you read the several pieces I have written concerning the Bass Clarinet. They may be able to help in some ways. Just go to the search bar and enter Bass Clarinet and you will receive the clips.
Now, as to you your immediate problem, it has to be the fact that the Bass takes a different kind of support and certainly a different kind of reed resistance.
This instrument,taking for granted that the mouthpiece and instrument are properly adjusted , takes a very soft reed,one with little resistance, and you cannot bite on this instrument; it takes much less of a grasp of the lips and also a good amount of firm support of the air. As I recall the Baritone is much easier to make sound than is the Bass Clarinet, which is a trickier instrument from which to achieve a nice clear and clean sound.
Of course, I cannot see you play, or hear you, but I am quite familiar with this particular problem. In fact you will several pieces on the same problem on my site.
I hope that this helps. Gentle support might be the correct phrase. Good luck.