Taylors Music Chester County

Bass Clarinet

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Most modern bass clarinets are straight-bodied, with a small upturned silver-colored metal bell and curved metal neck. Early examples varied in shape, some having a doubled body making them look similar to bassoons. The bass clarinet is fairly heavy and is supported either with a neck strap or an adjustable peg attached to its body. While Adolphe Sax imitated its upturned metal bell in his design of the larger saxophones, the two instruments are fundamentally different. Bass clarinet bodies are most often made of grenadilla (African Blackwood) or (more commonly for student-instruments) plastic resin, while saxophones are typically made of metal. (Metal bass clarinets exist,but are rare.) More significantly, all clarinets have a bore that is basically the same diameter along the body. This cylindrical bore differs from the saxophone's conical one and gives the clarinet its characteristic tone, causing it to overblow at the twelfth compared with the saxophone's octave. A majority of modern bass clarinets, like other clarinets in the family, have the Boehm system of keys and fingering. However, bass clarinets are also manufactured in Germany with the Oehler system of keywork, which is most often known as the 'German" system in the US, because it is commonly used in Germany and Austria, as well as Eastern Europe and Turkey; bass clarinets produced with the Oehler system's predecessor, the Albert system, are still in use, particularly in these areas.