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Bb Bass Clarinet

The Bass Clarinet is one of the larger, deeper members of the clarinet family. It is keyed in Bb, an octave below the Bb soprano clarinet. Early versions of the bass clarinet were made beginning in the mid 18th century. Around 1836, Adolph Sax, inventor of the saxophone, innovated a design for the instrument that has carried into modern day. After Sax’s developments, the bass clarinet became more popular and more widely utilized.

They key system, fingerings and construction are the same as the Bb clarinet, though the bass has extra keys that can be confusing at first. Despite its low pitch, bass clarinet music is written on the treble clef. It has the greatest pitch and dynamic ranges of any other woodwind instrument, and it is used in a wide variety of ways.

Bass clarinets have a broad range that spans nearly 4 octaves. Most bass clarinets begin at the E-flat below the treble clef staff and can go up to the F or G an octave above the staff.

The bass clarinet is frequently played in orchestras, wind ensembles, concert bands, marching bands, and jazz groups. It provides bass tonalities in the absence of a double bass, and can easily cover lyrical, melodic lines. Bass clarinet blends beautifully with other winds to create lush, evocative harmonies. Typically, parts written for this instrument will be more simple and textural, compared to the soprano clarinet lines.

Here are a couple of the most recognizable bass clarinet solos.

Many middle or high school bands will include a bass clarinet. A student instrument will normally go down to written E or Eb below middle C. Professional bass clarinets have extended mechanisms, enabling the player to reach written C an octave below middle C. This increased range has profound ramifications, both in the player’s capabilities and the cost of the instrument.

If you are serious about learning to play bass clarinet, you need an instrument that goes down to Low C. We do offer extended financing as well to help you invest in the development and advancement of your playing.