custom artist clarinets

reproduction historical woodwinds


Bohlen-Pierce instruments


repair, restoration and customisation services

ordering information, terms and conditions

Alto clarinet

While we all enjoy alto clarinet jokes, the unjustly maligned black sheep of the clarinet family is a potentially fine instrument that has urgently needed attention from both instrument makers and serious players.  Properly made and well played, it has no playing deficiencies, and has a distinctive voice, more open than the basset horn and more akin to a high pitched bass clarinet, with a wide dynamic and expressive range.

The S. Fox alto clarinet has a range to written low D (concert F), allowing it to play basset horn parts.  A downward-pointing clarinet-style bell provides clearer, more focussed tone in the middle of the range and stronger bottom notes than conventional models.  It has a curved, solid-bodied barrel (instead of a metal neck). 

As with the S. Fox basset horn, the mechanism has plateaux except for open holes for the left and right hand third fingers, an automatic register/throat Bb mechanism, and a low B natural vent.  An articulated C#/G# key is optional.  Bottom D is played by a key for the right thumb, with an additional key for the left hand little finger optional.

A conventional alto clarinet mouthpiece is used.  A floor peg is provided for support.

(under review)