Both the bass clarinet and the bassoon belong to the esteemed low woodwind family. Due to this, they usually play in similar roles and parts in orchestras and bands as they captivate the audience and entice them with the soothing sounds of the low winds.
When I was in junior school, I learnt how to play the clarinet focusing on the bass clarinets. This presented opportunities for me to play in the school band and national orchestra tournaments. I will discuss the differences between the bass clarinet and the bassoon hoping to make you have a better perspective and make the right choice when buying them. I will focus on specific models of the two that I am cognizant and have interacted with at a personal level. They are Jupiter JBC 1000N bass clarinet and Yinfente Maple wood Bassoon.
What are the differences between Bass Clarinets and Bassoons?
|Instrument model||Bass Clarinet (Jupiter JBC 1000N)||Bassoon (Yinfente Maple Wood)|
|Dimensions (in inches)||28.75 X 15.75 X 8.75 inches||32.5 X 11.75 X 11.75 inches|
|Material type||Wood, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene||Wood|
|Key material||Silver||Nickel Silver|
|Instrument key||B flat||C|
|Availability||Check price||Check price|
Bass Clarinets Vs Bassoons- How do they compare?
Despite both the bass clarinet and bassoon belonging in the same woodwind family, their tones sounds different. The bass clarinet when played produces a mellow-dark and round sound that is in low tones resembling a male’s bass voice. The Jupiter JBC 1000N bass clarinet’s key feature is pitched in the B flat with its fingering resembling the soprano B flat. Furthermore, the bass clarinet produces a full octave that is below soprano B flat.
The Yinfente Maple Wood bassoon produces a distinct nasal type sound that is accompanied by a pleasing vibrato sound. This makes it to sound rich and warming and having a quality in the low notes and the nasal sounds. They appeal to the human emotions due to the warm vibrato sound it produces. The sound produced goes down below the bass clef pitch.
While both possess attractive sound qualities, the Yinfente maple wood bassoon is best for players who want to play in the concert pitch as the bassoon has a wide tone range featuring both high and low pitches.
Both the bass clarinets and the bassoon have impressive body structures. The Jupiter JBC 1000N has a well-constructed solid structure that is made with a key material of silver that range down on its body to the Eb tone holes. Furthermore, it also has a careful crafted mouthpiece, floor peg and ligature. Therefore, it has a 2-piece body structure with inline trill keys and a floor peg that is adjustable featuring also undercut tone holes.
The Yinfente Maple Wood bassoon on the other hand has wood structures running throughout its whole body. It has carefully crafted mouth piece and tonal keys that are carefully placed on the body of the bassoon that enables the player to play it with all ten fingers including the thumb. Its bore is conical with tone holes which are drilled at a specific angle to the axis of the bore.
If you are a beginner in these instruments, the bass clarinet will be a preferable choice as the bassoon requires you to use all your fingers in playing it. As a beginner clarinetist you can first learn how to place your fingers on the key.
Keys and Clefs
When it comes to the keys and clefs, both play distinct keys and clef that are contrasting to each other. The bass clarinet plays the B flat key that is in a treble clef. The bass clarinets are harder to play than an A clarinet as the keys will give you a rough idea of this. The structure of the Jupiter JBC 1000N has silver features and the keys are one of them. It is polished and shiny but it can easily attract dust and moisture making it to rust.
The bassoon plays the key C and is usually in a bass clef. The Yinfente Maple Wood bassoon has keys that are made of nickel silver. The coating of nickel prevents it from forming rust on it and destroying the keys.
The Bassoon’s nickel plated silver keys such as that in the Yinfente Maple Wood, makes it more durable and prevents it from easily being damaged hence making it a preferable choice when you want to purchase one out of the two.
Bass clarinets depend highly on the reeds to produce the octave tones. The ratings of bass clarinet’s reed ratings usually range from a strength of 1.5 and up to 4.0. The reed rating is usually categorized depending on the difficulty level and the instrument’s skill level. Therefore, the higher the reed strength, the more advanced in skill that the instrument requires.
The bassoon reeds are usually about 5.5cm long and are wrapped in thread. The Yinfente Maple Wood has reads that are made out of the Arundo donax cane.
With reference to reeds, the bass clarinets reeds are the best choice as they are classified according to their strengths, which makes it easier to choose the best reed for you according to your skill level.
Bass Clarinets and Bassoons’ overview
Bass clarinets are highly versatile musical instruments, that produces an incredible B flat sounds, that is surprisingly soft. They will not disappoint you especially if you are looking forward to playing them in orchestras and bands. Most models of the bass clarinet are made with utmost care and durability aspect that will serve you for a very long period of time. It also helps that the bass clarinets are manufactured for beginner clarinetists to professional clarinetists. This will help you as a beginner to choose the perfect fit for you in your skill level.
- Can be played by both beginner and professional clarinetists.
- The body structure and materials used in making them makes it durable and lasts for a long period of time.
- It is easy to assemble as the bass clarinet usually has five pieces comprising of mouthpiece, upper joint, lower joint, a bell and the neck.
- There is a wide variety and genres of music that you can play the bass clarinet in. the most common being in orchestra music and jazz.
- It is easier for clarinetists who have developed the skill in other clarinets such as the A clarinet and other woodwind instruments.
- It produces a pleasant sound in low B flat tones.
- It is generally expensive with professional bass clarinets ranging from $10,000 to $20,000.
- It may prove to be difficult to play at times due to its huge mouthpiece.
- The reeds used in playing bass clarinets are expensive.
If you are skilled in oboe, a bassoon will be a perfect fit for you. This is because a bassoon’s sound and the fingering positions resemble that of an oboe. A bassoon possesses the bass instrument and the principal tenor of the woodwind family. It is difficult to play compared to the bass clarinet as the traditional placement of the finger holes proves to be a challenge for beginner players. It was developed in the 17th century with a purpose of being played in orchestras and the then royal balls. When performing, the bassoon produces a distinct nasal sound that has been highly associated with it.
- Produces a distinct soothing sound that has a mesmerizing effect.
- It has a distinctive tone color.
- The wood used to make them usually maple wood, are durable and strong making its use efficient and effective for long periods of time.
- The keys are usually made of nickel silver which prevents the keys from easily damaging after continuous use of the instrument.
- It has insurance covers that are favorable to you as a buyer.
- The reeds used are difficult to make and maintain them as it uses threads.
- It is a very expensive instrument.
Verdict: So, which one is better? Bass Clarinet or Bassoon?
Both the bass clarinet and the bassoon are majestic instruments that will favor people differently depending on their musical needs and the skill level they possess. In terms of the overall winner, the bass clarinets are better than bassoons as they are easier to play and especially favorable to beginner players. Its versatility, flexibility and affordability gives you a platform to make the right choice when buying them. Its applications are also wide compared to the bassoon.
Which has a lower tone?
The bass clarinet’s tonal range is wider than the bassoon’s, it can play bassoon’s voices and as high as a soprano clarinet.
Can a bass clarinet and a bassoon be played together?
Yes, the difference in their tonal ranges makes this possible. You can choose either to compose or play a song having both the bass clarinet and bassoon sounds playing simultaneously in it, or play them separately but in the same song.