Author Topic: Alto clarinet: the reason for it's lack of favor, or perspective gone awry?  (Read 4733 times)

Offline Airflyte

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 762
  • CONNoisseur of Vintage Ebonite
    • View Profile
Re: Alto clarinet: the reason for it's lack of favor, or perspective gone awry?
« Reply #30 on: December 06, 2017, 08:52:03 AM »
I'm really starting to wonder if the alto is making a comeback.

A Bundy (in nice shape) just sold on ebay for $340.  No joke.

Just a matter of timing perhaps?
"The Clarinet - in a class of its own"

Visit Phil Pedler's Clarinet Pages NEW website!
https://sites.google.com/clarinetpages.net/clarinetpages

Offline andybeals

  • Proud alto clarinetist
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 299
  • Hi, my name is Andy and I have a Clarinet Problem
    • View Profile
Re: Alto clarinet: the reason for it's lack of favor, or perspective gone awry?
« Reply #31 on: December 08, 2017, 07:01:51 AM »
Having watched for a while, I'd have to say "seasonal fluctuations".  They go up, they go down.  Not a month or two ago, a badly water-damaged Noblet alto went for north of $350, an absolutely crazy price. 
The Clarinet Pages is where we answer the question: "Am I not a Clarinet and a Woodwind?"

Offline DaveLeBlanc

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2911
  • Clarinet-ing since 2012
    • View Profile
    • Watson Musical
Re: Alto clarinet: the reason for it's lack of favor, or perspective gone awry?
« Reply #32 on: December 08, 2017, 09:48:04 AM »
Years ago when I was first starting out, I put up a Bundy alto that was out of adjustment for auction. It sold for $36 with free shipping.
After that, I never did an auction again...
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline Airflyte

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 762
  • CONNoisseur of Vintage Ebonite
    • View Profile
Re: Alto clarinet: the reason for it's lack of favor, or perspective gone awry?
« Reply #33 on: December 08, 2017, 10:31:30 AM »
eBay is a strange place Dave. I'm starting to like the Reverb site for instrument "browsing".
"The Clarinet - in a class of its own"

Visit Phil Pedler's Clarinet Pages NEW website!
https://sites.google.com/clarinetpages.net/clarinetpages

Offline windydankoff

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 242
  • Put a BLACK HOLE in YOUR galaxy!
    • View Profile
    • My solar website ... Find MUSIC tab on top
Re: Alto clarinet: the reason for it's lack of favor, or perspective gone awry?
« Reply #34 on: December 08, 2017, 05:01:38 PM »
I don't subscribe to the theory of starting extra-low to attract attention. I start at the lowest price I'll be satisfied with. I think it demonstrates my respect for the item, as well.
Windy / BLACK HOLE Clarinets
C & G CLARINETS refined to concert standards
Thanks to The Clarinet Pages

Offline Lisa

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 282
    • View Profile
Re: Alto clarinet: the reason for it's lack of favor, or perspective gone awry?
« Reply #35 on: December 08, 2017, 09:19:45 PM »
Having watched for a while, I'd have to say "seasonal fluctuations".  They go up, they go down.  Not a month or two ago, a badly water-damaged Noblet alto went for north of $350, an absolutely crazy price.
Andy, i saw that too!  i was like, Whaaaaat?  i have an ipad mini, and even on a small screen, the damage was obvious.  the people bidding on that must of been using flip phones to view it, to think it had any chance of being playable.
altos do seem to be hot now.  I hope it's making a comeback, it's got a neat range.
Lisa  Upper Michigan

Everything will B(b)-Fine, at The Clarinet Pages

https://www.flickr.com/photos/148152785@N03/albums  My musical instrument pics, and others!

Offline windydankoff

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 242
  • Put a BLACK HOLE in YOUR galaxy!
    • View Profile
    • My solar website ... Find MUSIC tab on top
Re: Alto clarinet: the reason for it's lack of favor, or perspective gone awry?
« Reply #36 on: December 27, 2017, 12:21:55 PM »
The Alto does have a wonderful range. It has much of the guts of a bass, but not so extreme, and the clarion sounds much nicer than (typically) that of a bass. I would love it more if not for the often-awkward Eb. But it's good for jazz. I've had rockin' good times playing low rhythmic backup parts in songs like Killer Joe. And in the clarion, it doesn't shout "I'm a clarinet" like a soprano does.

I went for Vito altos because I like non-wood, and there was some agreement somewhere, maybe at sax-on-the-web, that Vito is better than Bundy. I haven't had opportunity to compare, but I do appreciate the high quality keywork. I bought 2 broken ones, hoping to fix one. Now I have 2 players. But that's a good way to be sure to get a good one. If they both get running, there's a basis for comparison to pick the best one or to try an improvement, and then have a control in the experiment.
Windy / BLACK HOLE Clarinets
C & G CLARINETS refined to concert standards
Thanks to The Clarinet Pages

Offline windydankoff

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 242
  • Put a BLACK HOLE in YOUR galaxy!
    • View Profile
    • My solar website ... Find MUSIC tab on top
I'm replying to myself over a year later to congratulate myself (tooting my own horn) because yesterday I made my performance debut on alto clarinet, playing a honkin' bass line on That Old Black Magic. I even included the low-Eb as a grace note. It was rollicking fun and I got good compliments. I use a vintage Vito FRANCE hard rubber MP with a Fibracell alto sax reed.
Windy / BLACK HOLE Clarinets
C & G CLARINETS refined to concert standards
Thanks to The Clarinet Pages

Offline Airflyte

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 762
  • CONNoisseur of Vintage Ebonite
    • View Profile
Very good Windy. Keepin' it real on the alto!
"The Clarinet - in a class of its own"

Visit Phil Pedler's Clarinet Pages NEW website!
https://sites.google.com/clarinetpages.net/clarinetpages

Offline DaveLeBlanc

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2911
  • Clarinet-ing since 2012
    • View Profile
    • Watson Musical
I'm replying to myself over a year later to congratulate myself (tooting my own horn) because yesterday I made my performance debut on alto clarinet, playing a honkin' bass line on That Old Black Magic. I even included the low-Eb as a grace note. It was rollicking fun and I got good compliments. I use a vintage Vito FRANCE hard rubber MP with a Fibracell alto sax reed.

Hooray for Fibracell!
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline LarryS

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 353
  • I'm getting there...
    • View Profile
    • My Music Tree
Does the alto fit in between basset and soprano clarinets? Does it have the range of a soprano but with lower notes?
You don't stop playing when you get old, you get old when you stop playing.
Clarinet Pages are go!

Offline DaveLeBlanc

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2911
  • Clarinet-ing since 2012
    • View Profile
    • Watson Musical
Does the alto fit in between basset and soprano clarinets? Does it have the range of a soprano but with lower notes?
Alto would be between soprano and bass.

Basset is pitched in A, and goes down to low-C.

The alto is pitched in Eb, and goes down to low-Eb. The exact range of notes is equal to that of a soprano clarinet, with an extra Eb on top of the low E that standard soprano clarinets have.

So, the majority of notes that an alto plays can be reached by a low-C basset clarinet.

Then there's the basset horn, which is pitched in F and goes down to low-C.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline BLMonopole

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 311
    • View Profile
Sadly, alto clarinet has had some very bad PR over the years.  It generally plays unimportant parts (echoing bass clarinet or 3rd clarinet), and therefore has been relegated to weaker players, and poorly maintained instruments.  I can name dozens of band directors I've come into contact with who believe its a terrible instrument impossible to play in tune (meanwhile, the F Horn section is massively out of tune and no one is getting rid of them!).  Over time, composers just stopped writing for them. 

Properly maintained and played instruments are the key.  I bought and restored a Selmer Paris Series 9 alto many years back and have enjoyed it immensely.  It plays as well in tune as any of my other instruments and has a unique voice.  It's truly a shame that this voice has been marginalized for no real reason. 

Offline andybeals

  • Proud alto clarinetist
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 299
  • Hi, my name is Andy and I have a Clarinet Problem
    • View Profile
Speaking of the alto, I recently watched this video by Bret Newton: "Who's Afraid of the Alto Clarinet"

Quote
This is a live recording from the 2019 Clarinet Colloquium at Texas A&M University at Commerce where Matthew Banks and I try to dispel some of the myths and rumors about the Alto Clarinet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxsSJcty4MM

30 minutes.
The Clarinet Pages is where we answer the question: "Am I not a Clarinet and a Woodwind?"

Offline Airflyte

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 762
  • CONNoisseur of Vintage Ebonite
    • View Profile
Oh, that guy. He grew a beard.
Anyway, with China (yeah, I know) producing clarinets in G with boehm system keywork, that may be a nice alternative too neglected and abused altos. It's pitched 2 steps higher though. Just sayin'
"The Clarinet - in a class of its own"

Visit Phil Pedler's Clarinet Pages NEW website!
https://sites.google.com/clarinetpages.net/clarinetpages