I’m accustomed to the idea that tubular bells have a range of C4 to F or G5. I noticed that my VSL bells have either a full octave below that, or else go down to E3. My simple question is, how common are such instruments?
Mhm, same as Adler & Piston. I’ve seen sets with a smaller range, but not with a bigger range.
There are a few sets of Chimes with extended range out there, but they are extremely rare. The C - F range is ubiquitous and maybe half of all instruments have the high G.
You normally rent out the extra tubes you need and adapt them to the rack (which doesn’t always work…). Some tubes are even lower than the VSL range and stand by themselves, but they are really hard to encounter.
Just for kicks, here is a 2 octave set of chimes by Bergerault that extends down to the low F. Note that it comes with a platform to stand on because the low tubes are so long. It also comes with a pretty hefty price tag!
Reminds me of an amateur production of Cavalleria rusticana we did once: I found a couple of lengths of scaffolding and rigged them up