And now it’s Bb clarinets…

Blow me down if the same friend didn’t turn up the next night with a clarinet that’d started getting temperamental during rehearsals.  So, out came the tools…

Couldn’t pin down the problem, the recently repadded clarinet ( Boosey & Hawkes Regent, third from front) just gets an occasional touch of the ‘collywobbles’ at very arbitrary finger positions – sometimes even with all fingers off,  and I’ve checked all the throat and high-trill keys/pads, they’re just fine.

So, after extended test-playing, with my 30 year old Vandoren 5JB (superb mouthpiece), I could no longer fault it (except by forcing the embouchure), so I assumed that I’d just played it into submission, post repad (not by me).  Just to be safe I also lent a Conn (badged Henkin, second from front) on which I’d literally just re-corked the joints.  Conn student clarinets aren’t really rated that highly (this Henkin has also appeared as the Artley clarinet), but this was so slick and bright sounding in comparison with the older B&H Regent (strangely enough, I’d learnt on one of those B&H’s) that I just had to get out a second Henkin (at the back) for comparison – “yes” they’re good !  Please don’t ask why I have two Henkins, because I’ve three…

Naturally, my old C clarinet just had to push into poll position, on the front of the card-table.  Don’t worry old man, you’re safe, no-one’s going to depose you…  I may just have to take a picture of my Eb/C/Bb/A/alto clarinets in a similar fashion, just for posterity.  So anyway, I’ve just spent nearly a day test-playing Bb clarinets (hot on the heels of playing a couple of Bb tenor saxophones).  I now await the arrival of a Bb Soprano sax, in need of some tlc, just to tempt and tease me some more 🙂   Don’t you guys know that I’m a C Man ?  Leave it out !

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6 Responses to And now it’s Bb clarinets…

  1. Mal-2 says:

    I have the same leak light!

    Have you checked for cracks, particularly in the barrel? That was the cause of the “wobblies” for me once. When the crack filled with moisture, it played fine. When it drained, it went wobbly again. Which reminds me, I need to figure out why the bass clarinet has the wobblies, I want to do some recording this week.

  2. alan says:

    Sadly my leak light has a big chunky ‘cap’ on the end which makes it way too wide for clarinet.  It’s on my list of jobs to ease it off and replace it with a bit of skinny heat shrink – its 240v so I’d hate to short anything out on a metal body.  Don’t quite know if it works the same as with the old-fashioned christmas tree lights, a string of low voltage lamps in series (e.g. 12x20v or 20x12v), don’t want to potentially ruin it finding out…

    The B&H Regent clarinet is one of the reinforced plastic ones (like Bundy’s resonite),  no obvious cracks.  British winters are notoriously cold and damp (bit like the summers…) so this time of year is usually a ‘crack free zone’ unless the central heating is cranked right up – even a well cracked old wooden fife I have is nicely playable at the moment.  A lot of the older ‘compound’ B&H horns, and similar, were used in military bands, often operating in climates where wood bodies were disadvantaged.

    Clarinet seems 😕 to be behaving itself at the moment – I said that very quietly, touching wood, and with everything crossed…

  3. Mal-2 says:

    Oh, yeah, now that you mention the voltage, my leak light is designed for 110V. I think they’re individual lights in parallel or maybe in pairs on the 220V system, so they can just cut it “wherever” and it still works. You could probably remove the endcap and cover over any exposed wire with hot glue, which would only add bulk to the point, not diameter. The endcap is just an expedient, anything that insulates the metal will do.

    If worse comes to worse, when the wobblies come back you can start swapping in joints from a clarinet you know is working. The intonation may get all weird and 1-and-1 Eb/Bb may not work, but you should be able to pinpoint which segment is to blame. This is not an option for me and my Noblet bass clarinet. First, it has a one piece body, and second, I don’t have any spares anyhow.

  4. lewis Pelham says:

    eBay, for about £16, a leak light with a transformer built into the plug, which takes the voltage down to 9 volts. About 0.5″ diameter throughout it’s length.
    It’s only drawback is that it is unsuitable for use on Christmas trees.

  5. Mal-2 says:

    The cleaning brush on the table reminded me that I have located a source of C-mel pad savers — HW Products will make them on request, at the same price as a tenor pad saver.

    They will want to know the measurement to the bottom of the D# tone hole (23″ for me), and they will fit it with an alto end plug which might actually be a tiny bit LARGE for some C-mels. I believe they have much of their diameter in bumps that are easily shaved with a blade or sandpaper if the need arises, though I haven’t bought a new pad saver in years (until now, and they’re not delivered yet).

  6. Mal-2 says:

    HW has done away with the “bumpy” force-fit neck plug — now they’re all a bit undersized. This is fine with a whole padsaver to keep the endplug from wandering away. No modifications were necessary at all.

    My alto is a different matter, as it is a Jupiter JAS-767 which has the high F# hole halfway on the collar (and a notch in the neck tenon to match). It is quite obvious it was not initially designed with a high F# in mind, and they didn’t feel like totally redesigning it to accommodate one so they just hacked one in there. It works, but it does make the body maybe 1 cm or so shorter than other high-F# horns. Thus a stock padsaver “bottoms out”, and I have to bend the end a little to prevent this from happening, as well as twist it upon inserting so that bend goes the right way.

    I took my retired alto padsaver which had lost its bottom wire-cover, and ripped the neck plug off it too. Now it makes a perfect straight soprano padsaver, although it has to be inserted from the bottom. Sure it’s a bit ratty, but so is the soprano itself. I’ve only had it for a year and a half (and I got it new) and the silver is bubbling up. It hasn’t started peeling off but it’s only a matter of time.

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