The following is a description that Paul Coats wrote for creating a Low A extension for a low Bb bari.
I have been using one since about 1999. It works great, and on my Selmer, it has perfect intonation.
Making a Low A for your Low Bb Bari
By Paul Coats
There it is—you knew you would run into it sooner or later: low A. And your old Bari Sax only goes to low Bb. Do you play it an octave up? Do you ask the director to give you another note to play? Whatcha gonna do?
Go to the lumber yard or hardware store and ask them to cut a piece of 4″ PVC sewer pipe (4″ I.D., 4 7/16″ O.D.) to a length of 6″. You also need some foam weather strip material and gold or silver spray paint (to match your sax).
Spray the pipe inside and out with the matching paint. When it’s dry, put a few bands of foam weather strip around one end. Insert this into the bell of the bari. Finger low Bb, and you will produce a low A! Compare the pitch to the second space A, or to a low C on the piano. Pretty close, huh?
It is seldom you will need to play both the low Bb and low A in the same passage. You will usually have time to insert it a few bars before, and can remove it after—just as a trumpet player uses a mute.
Go on, laugh all you want, but it works!!! A low A extension made to these measurements will fit and work properly on Conn, Bundy, Selmer USA, Buescher, and most other low Bb baris.
So, who’s laughing now?
This is what the finished low A extension would look like.
When the extension sits in your horn, it would look like this:
I have used this low A extension in bands for years, and although I have a low A baritone as a back-up horn, I hardly ever need to use it. This low A extension works fine for me. Placing it in the bell, and taking it out again, really is no different than a brass player having to use a mute. With a just a little bit of practice, you’ll find you get the hang of it in no time.
This is how the weather stripping seals the pipe in place. By the way, I made my low A extension over 10 years ago, and this is still the original weather strip. It hasn’t started to leak, and it’s still sticking to the plastic tube just fine!
I received an email from Kevin in England who also had a low Bb bari, but he had to adapt Paul’s directions a little bit. This is what he had to say:
My Experience Making a Low A for my Low Bb Bari
By Kevin Murray
My sax is an elderly (1920s?) Adolph Sax / Selmer stencil – to low Bb: see pic on right.
Paul Coats has previously provided instructions on this topic, but my experience was a little different, so it may be worth recording for others sake – but essentially I followed his instuctions cautiously.
It is essential not to cut too short a length of pipe – in the UK, 4″ plastic soilpipe is the best – cut to about 7.5″ to begin and then test it.
Bind one end with self-adhesive draughtproofer – from any Do It Yourself store – wrap it around a few times to give a comfortable padded ring: this is important – it allows some leeway on the final length of the pipe. When this is all done, try the pipe in the bari’s bell: if it is flat – i.e. too long- try gently pushing it a little further into the bari bell – it may be sufficient to correct: this is why the padded sealing ring is important, if the sound remains flat, trim 0.25 ” at a time off the pipe.
You can estimate the correct length by playing down a C major scale (below low C to low A) – as in the .wav file below.
Moondance on a Low Bb Bari With a Low A Extension
The silver spray paint job is the final touch. Then when you need a low A, it is available as in the .wav intro to “Moondance” – the accompaniment from the dog is purely optional! (Does anyone else’s dog like to sing along to the bari?)
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