Best Extension type?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by KSB - Ken Smith, Jun 20, 2005.

  1. Mechanical Extension

  2. Chromatic Extension (4 seperate latches)

  3. Fingered Extension with a sliding Latch (and 'E' Latch)

  4. Fingered Extension ('E' Latch only)

  5. Low 'B' Ext. of some sort (please explain in your post)

    0 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Which type Extension do you think gives you the most Flexibility, most Practical, and best Re-sale Value on an Orchestral Bass.

    I have a 5-string conversion in the works and will have it done b4 I can get an Extension on one of my other Basses but I would like to set one up with an Ext. for the times I only want a 4-string in my hands. I also want to make it so the Bass has the most appeal to an Orchestral player for the best re-sale value.

    Your thoughts, experience and votes please. I hear that the Philly Orch. has about 50/50 Latched and Mechanical Extensions in the section.
  2. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    For me, mechanical extensions are tragically loud, even in the hands of the most skilled professionals and only having the E-gate makes it an awful pain if you only need an e-flat or d (It is horrible trying to play accurately on extensions and should be avoided, but it must be done sometimes). The problem with the sliding gate is that if you want it closed on a different note in the middle of a piece it is likely to be out of tune, as you can't really tune during a piece.

    So, after playing all four types extensively, my bass is in Bill Merchant's shop having a four-gate extension put on as we speak.
  3. Peter Ferretti

    Peter Ferretti Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2005
    When I was searching for a bass, I tried out several 5 strings, mainly because I wanted that low range for orchestral playing. I decided against it, due to the wider neck, but still wanted the extended range.

    It was then that I tried out a ton of basses with extensions. I thought that the mechanical ones were bull because the resricted my playing in the lower register, and theres always the scare of the extention not working.

    The fingerd extention with only an E Gate is hard to jump down to the low notes, so to speak. I thought it works well once you get the hang of it.

    My preferance was the fingerd extention with gates on the E,Eb,D,Db. It really has to be your cup of tea for it to work though.

    Ken, it makes sence to have a Fiver and an 4 with an extention, but if I could only have one I would go with the 4 with an extention, and the extention would be the one described above.

    Peter Ferretti
  4. Bud Rink

    Bud Rink

    May 5, 2000
    NYC, USA
    I voted fingered, one E-latch because that's what I'm getting installed on my bass. :D It just seems to me multiple latches is more hardware to eventually start rattling. But I have no direct experience to that substantiate that claim either. :p

    But if I'm not mistaken, the last time I saw the NYPhil, both Eugene Levinson's and John Deak's orchestral axes had mechanical extensions.
  5. Hampton


    Mar 1, 2005
    I've got an English machine on one instrument and a Stenholm on the other. The Stenholm is the common 'reverse fingering' type but the English machine has the E under the 4th finger and the C# under the first. The English machine is quieter and smoother to operate so I tend to favor it.

    You don't want to do what I've done, that is, two machines that finger in reverse of each other. Trust me.
  6. Good luck with that. It's SO nice to have it gated chromatically. I can't tell you how much better it is. And actually, the only one that rattles is the E. And if I don't put the Eb gate down, the whole extension rattles a little.

    A lot of the older players have the mechnical extensions. In some sense, they're better for orchestra playing. I prefer being able to play music on my extenion, rather than pushing buttons.
  7. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    If I were to have an extension put on my instrument, it would have the E latch and nothing else.

    When you see someone like Eugene Levinson using machines, it could be because they were on the bass when he purchased it and he didn't want to mess with it. It doesn't necessarily make him an advocate of button-pushing.
  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    In 1971 or so I had a Mechanical Extension. I used it a little on some recordings on the Glenn Miller re-issues and a B'way Cast Album. It worked fine. A year or so later I was in a car accident and the Neck was broken off. The Ext. was damaged as well. The restorer, Peter Eibert made a single 'E' latched fingered extension. I sold that bass a few years later after getting my Italian bass and never used or needed another Extension for the type of work I was doing. It was purely for my own enjoyment, if I could get away with it!

    Recently I had a Fingered Ext/E latch put on a Morelli bass that Arnold Schnitzer made along with the restoration. I did Beethovans 5th and boy was that a bit of work on a 42 3/8" SL playing those moving parts in the 5th. I decided that I would rather have a 5er which I had tried during Christmas at two concerts I did with the Orchestras I am in.

    I saw the Philly Orch awhile back and they used only 4 Basses that night, all with Mech. Exts. I could almost hear the noise from the machines each time they set the Stop to play a single note doing it all in unison b4 and after the lower note.
    Then, I saw Hal Robinson (Philly Prin.) in a Chamber concert doing the Trout with a Gated/chromatic latched Ext. He told me he prefers that to the noisier Mech Exts and the full Philly Orch is about half each type.

    I have had all but the Gated and slide type ext. I think after talking to Hal I am leaning towards the gated/latched type but I am still interested to hear all the views, pros and cons.

    Also, for Playing Symphony works rather than Commercial type studio or Jazz work, the requirements are quite different. I have done both so I feel comfortable mentioning that.
  9. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    This doesn't really hold up to logic. If a player wanted to remove a machine from their bass they could do so without removing the entire extension. If a player of such stature really disliked the machine, I'm sure that they wouldn't play it.
  10. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    Maybe he doesn't see it.
  11. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I know there are a few options for playing faster moving passages on the lower notes other than using a 5-string Bass. They being a Mech. Ext or fingered ext.

    My question is this. Can you play moving Passages on a gated/chromatic Ext. as easy (not that it is easy at all) as you can if it was a plain E-stop fingered Ext?.. Can you leave all 4 gates open and finger the passages in the Beeth. 5th without the keys/gates getting in the way?

    PS: This is the one I am considering putting on the Bass;
  12. a. meyer

    a. meyer

    Dec 10, 2004
    portland, oregon
    I can't but I'm working on it; I've seen people play on fingered extensions as easily as they play on the fingerboard. Sitting down helps. It's just a matter of practice.
  13. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    Absolutely. Personally I think that it is much easier to play the faster passages on a fingered extension. It feels much more natural to me, although I'm sure that people acclimate quickly to the machine too. I personally have no trouble getting around the gates.

    But regardless, things like Shosty 5 are not going to be easy passages on the extension no matter what type you use. A lot of that stuff is just straight up hard, no matter what.
  14. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I did the Beeth. 5th with a straight fingered E latch Ext. already as well as Shost 12th. Not such a problem but it was on one of my Mid-Qual Basses which is up for sale now. I might do the Martini and/or the Mystery Bass with Gated Exts. I was just curious how it is to finger WITH the Latches on the side.

    For faster stuff, I will have a 5er... No Lows?.. It's the Gilkes or Martini or w/e. It's all about having fun with the music for me. I don't really need a symphony job but enjoy the heck out of playing in an Orch. in my 2nd musical life.
  15. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    I mean if you love gadgets then get the fingered with gates. It opens up many more possibilities with harmonics and tuning.
    I really don't understand why anyone still would buy a machine except for the shinyness or the fact of replacing an old one.
    Intonation, intonation, intonation.
    we have one machine player in our section, one fingered no gates and 5 stringers for the rest. It poses problems all the time.
    the extension guys can't play a low B and the 5stringers just sound like all muffeled. IMHO.
    Go with what you like.
    Frankly i wold love to have the gates but really manage to live woithout them all the same.
  16. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York

    I keep hearing this low-B talk. Where in the repetoire can one find a low b? I have never seen one, and I have studied probably all of the standard rep.
  17. DonQuartz


    Dec 18, 2004
    Respighi's "Pines of Rome" and Berg's "Wozzeck" are two that spring to mind. Plus if you have a low B, you find many places to use it. Good conductors love it! By the way, my vote is most definitely with Mario Lamarre's beautiful gate style extensions that can go to a B.
  18. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    For 'Pines of Rome' which was the first piece we played a few years ago when I joined the Orchestra, de-tuning the Low 'C' Ext. String would not be out of the question. That would be the easiest I think. On the other hand, having a 5-string Bass, you can switch between B and C tuning depending on what you need.

    The 5er I borrowed last year belonged to a player in the Met and it was tuned to a 'C'! I realized that this would help you avoid shifting to 1st position for the Eb. Unless there IS a 'B' in the music, I find tuning the 'B' String up to 'C' a good idea technically.
  19. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    welllllll, any piece written after 1980 by a european composer mostly for starters. You see the extension on the european continent is sort of lokked upon as a "fake" fix.

    Zarathustra, and o fcourse whenever the conductor wants.
    The idea is just cause the 5 string is in fourths so why not use it.
    You know like when you got your firrst extension and you used it all the time....
  20. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York

    I have Zarathustra on my stand right now and, memory and a quick glance thru have turned up no b. Where is this?