Above: Leblanc "paperclip" extended Bb contrabass clarinet (range to low written C, sounding Bb), and an Orsi Eb contrabass sax. Note the difference in the cylindrical bore of the clarinet, as opposed to the expanding conical bore of the saxophone. An instrument with a cylindrical bore sounds lower in proportion to its length than a conical one, so the sax has to be larger to go as low as the clarinet.
It seems hard to believe from looking at it, but this particular contra clarinet actually can go a third lower than the sax (Concert Bb vs. concert Db), thanks to several extra keys. It also has more finesse in soft passages. But the sax wins hands down for presence, power of sound, and seismic potential!



Above is a borrowed Bb contrabass clarinet to low D (sounding C),
and my Eb contralto clarinet to low C (sounding Eb a third above.)

mp3 demo of contralto clarinet 0.8MB



Pictured here in comparison to a Bb contrabass clarinet is the one-of-a-kind
octocontrabass clarinet by Leblanc. It is the lowest reed intrument ever made.
Sadly, it is currently in private hands and is not being played.




All material Jay Easton 2001-2006 unless otherwise noted