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Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby BrassedOn » Mon Aug 20, 2018 12:03 pm

Howdy,

At one time, there was much activity on the topic of travel tubas. And some makers have really worked hard to fill an apparent niche in the market. But the topic has died down a bit. Maybe, everyone who wanted one and had the dollars has already bought one. Or maybe, there is a glut of unmet demand waiting for the next innovation that makes these a purchase that fulfills expectations.

Re-reading some posts, it got me thinking, is the travel tuba a solution in search of a problem? A true niche product or a novelty that caught our attention?

I think we've seen people exclaim great for travel, as designed or with a mute, in a pinch okay for a small ensemble, small and light for someone who needs a smaller instrument...and it goes on. I have to laugh at comparisons to tenor tubas and cimbassos, good for jazzing, etc...sounds like rationalization after the fact. But some honestly say, "Hey, it's just fun!"

What are some of the alternatives? And what are the costs? (in no particular order)

For the one who actually travels and needs to stay in shape:
    * Drive, if you can.
    * Buzz on a mouthpiece, and leave the tubas at home. FREE! And probably good for us!
    * Use your time for listening, score study with recordings. FREE!
    * Buy a real flight case and insure the instrument for reals. $400-$1000
    * Buy a cheapo horn you don't care so much about and check it. $500-$2000 + baggage fees.
    * Make TubeNet friends, and set up a jam session at your destination. AirT&E! FREE!

For the one who just needs a smaller horn:
    * Buy a Piggy or other smallish 3/4 or even 1/2 size model. $1000-$3000
    * Switch to F or Eb. $2K-$5K. I see old 3 valve Fs for cheap from time to time.
    * Consider a switch to Euphonium for band stuff, if you can be spared from the bass role.

For other reasons, I'd ask myself, "What is the actual problem you're trying to solve?" And maybe a travel tuba is the solution, or maybe not.

I suppose if someone is just itching, a travel tuba fits the bill. Yet there are other ways to spend cash.
    * Take a few lessons with your idols. (Though a lesson with Mr. Jacobs might be a higher cost than you're willing to incur.)
    * Buy an instrument that ADDS to your pallet, which you can employ in actual performance: cimbasso, tenor tuba, euph, bass bone...
    * Take up an electronic wind instrument.

All that being said, I've got my eye the new crop of helicons (and growing regrets I sold my 1911 years ago). I still do stand up gigs like Dixieland. So I drool thinking that a helicon might sit better than my sousaphone, more open, a 4th valve option, shiny. **gasp** But am I just in the same spinning dreamworld of new horn "opportunities"?

What's your current thinking on travel tubas or other hot horn topics?
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby circusboy » Mon Aug 20, 2018 12:10 pm

I bought a travel tuba a year ago. My rationale was that I wanted to give my aging back a break, and I'd heard/seen a few of these being played quite well online. The sound seemed pretty full and solid for jazz and small combo playing.

I kept it for the two-week trial and sent it back. It was beyond my capacity to make it sound anything at all like a tuba.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby the elephant » Mon Aug 20, 2018 12:26 pm

I play all the time, every day, for work. I only rarely stay in a hotel when I am working, though. In the event of such a trip I keep my horns *with* me at all times. I have practice mutes (or pillows) if I have to practice in the room.

When I am on the road and NOT working I take a full break from practicing because I NEED a break from work. A travel tuba, for me, is about as useless as lips on a chicken and about a desirable as cholera.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby bloke » Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:02 pm

Rarely – when away from home – I have found a need to spend an hour or so running through some passages with my tuba. I do not travel with a tuba of any sort unless I need to play it for someone. If my travel purpose does not involve playing the tuba for someone, taking any sort of tuba along is out of the question. That having been said, I am not superstitious about practicing, and believe that practicing next week will be just as beneficial as practicing today, and – if I die before next week – there was no need to practice anyway.
On the rare occasion where I have been away from home and needed to privately run through some passages with my tuba, I have always found a place to do it…whether it was in a meeting room or exercise room in a hotel, in a nearby church, or in some room at the place where I am supposed to play my tuba for someone else.
Were I practice-superstitious, I would view a practice tuba as just as much of a traveling nuisance as a full-size tuba, and – due to the playing characteristics of a practice/travel tuba – of very little use.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby vespa50sp » Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:43 pm

Oh, the Irony...
BrassedOn wrote:"Do less, better."
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I'm sort of considering one for the right price. When I flew to Tuba Christmas in Chicago it was cheaper to buy a seat for the horn than pay oversized luggage fees and take a risk that it would be damaged. Now that I'm retiring, a travel tuba to put in the overhead bin might be the ticket. Plus I could strap it to the back of my scooter when I go to band camp. Mucho cool factor.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby Tom » Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:45 pm

The 'original' modern travel tuba (and I'm thinking Meinl Weston, to be clear) was made for a very specific person with a very specific need. There are probably less than a dozen people worldwide that have the same professional circumstances, but I suspect that MW figured that they'd tooled the thing up, so they'd might as well offer it to the public for a price and see what happens. They sold some, though I don't think they ever were sold in huge numbers.

Inevitably there were plenty of people that thought they "needed" to own one and other companies that came along and thought they could copy the idea in different and/or less expensive ways. As they became cheaper and more available, my feeling is that they got viewed more as toys and novelty instruments rather than tools to address a specific situation (because those buyers didn't have that situation). And I'll go ahead and say it...most of them were absolutely dreadful instruments.

But, back to what I said about the specific need: they were intended for orchestral tuba players to use while their orchestras were touring and their primary instruments were inaccessible. It was designed to be compact so that the musician themselves could carry it vs. having the instrument packed in a truck and handled by the stagehands.

Bottom line, in my opinion, is that the dozen people that needed them probably already got them, the rest of us seem to have gotten over it.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby BrassedOn » Mon Aug 20, 2018 2:27 pm

vespa50sp wrote:Oh, the Irony...
BrassedOn wrote:"Do less, better."
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I'm sort of considering one for the right price. When I flew to Tuba Christmas in Chicago it was cheaper to buy a seat for the horn than pay oversized luggage fees and take a risk that it would be damaged. Now that I'm retiring, a travel tuba to put in the overhead bin might be the ticket. Plus I could strap it to the back of my scooter when I go to band camp. Mucho cool factor.


Ahh, you read well grasshopper. As someone who studied Euphonium in college, and actually made money on that horn, I'll add my "main" instrument as a further irony. As a eupher, I of course was a doubler to survive. And now no euphoniums! For the rest of my stable, I can at least defend that each of my axes has paid for itself many times over. It took a little longer on the King tuba. The bass bone paid for itself almost over night. I bought the horn from the number one contractor in the area, and two weeks later he called me to play a touring Broadway production for a six week run.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby kathott » Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:14 pm

I purchased a Meinl Weston Trolley F when they first came out - a wonderful design and a well made instrument. It plays in tune and is very even. The supplied mouthpiece is just fine and a Mirafone TU13 also works great. The practice mute is good, and the entire kit can be carried on board most aircraft. I ordered a plug and play 5th valve from Klingspor - superb craftsmanship. I use it for the intended purpose: to have something acceptable to blow on while travelling. It’s not a “cimbasso” or a “bass trombone”, it’s just what it is - a bit of a luxury item with which to stay in shape. That being said, tuba players managed for years on world tours, vacations etc. without this instrument, and making do with old fashioned mouthpiece work.
Last edited by kathott on Fri Oct 19, 2018 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby MaryAnn » Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:45 pm

I strongly considered one while living for years in about 110 sq foot travel trailer. Because it would fit. But I didn't actually buy one, and thought of it mainly as a toy anyway.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby tubalex » Mon Aug 20, 2018 7:19 pm

I used mine quite a lot a few years ago when I was doing different types of work on different instruments in different parts of the country.

As I said in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxnzYPNPZbk they are definitely not concert instruments. That being said, at a particular time in my life/career it was exactly what I needed. I know several pros who take them on family vacations and it makes the travel much easier.

My life has had some seismic shifts since I made that video; I'm no longer essentially maintaining two careers/lives in two cities 1500+ miles apart. At present I would like to have one of these but I would really only use it a couple of weekends every year, so I sold mine and bought a cheap-o spare C tuba to keep at home, in order to save my back the hassle of carrying a C, F and euphonium back and forth from home to work daily.

They are definitely not particularly useful to everyone all the time, but back in the day my travel tuba made the myriad elements of my life/career a whole lot easier to juggle.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby opus37 » Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:27 am

I bought the original Wessex Bubbie and then sold it and purchased a Bubbie 5. I play Eb tuba (and baritone when necessary). I find myself playing the Bubbie when I practice most of the time. It does have a bit more resistance so I feel it helps my lung strength (like wearing weights on your ankles when you run). I use it for quintet practice when travel is difficult (aka lots of snow and cold). I have used it for band practice too. I originally purchased it for travel in the car (less space needs). I never really traveled that much. I have found it one of the few horns worth keeping for me. I do use it, but not as I originally thought.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby BrassedOn » Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:27 pm

Wow, interesting range of experiences. Sounds like use as intended for travel makes it worthwhile. But others still find it handy, 'round town, and in a pinch.

So what does all this foretell for the Kanstul Flying Tuba, 904? https://www.kanstul.com/instruments/tubas/9045c-c-34-flying-tuba
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby opus37 » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:03 pm

BrassedOn wrote:Wow, interesting range of experiences. Sounds like use as intended for travel makes it worthwhile. But others still find it handy, 'round town, and in a pinch.

So what does all this foretell for the Kanstul Flying Tuba, 904? https://www.kanstul.com/instruments/tubas/9045c-c-34-flying-tuba


I think the flying tuba concept is different than the "travel tubas" previously discussed. Those tubas are more like a 1/2 or 1/3 size. The flying tuba is 3/4 size. A lot of older guys are going to a 3/4 size horn because of weight and handling issues. The flying tuba would fit in that market as well as someone who needs a more compact size horn for portability. The Miraphone Star Light that Oystein Baadsvik plays (a one of a kind version specifically made for him) is a similar concept to the flying tuba. He travels the world with his horn (it has been lost and then found a few times). It and all of his clothes fit in 2 suitcases. For someone like him, who is on the road and needs their performance horn with them, this is the thing. There is a fellow on this net who works and plays on a cruise line. He would be an example of someone who might want a flying tuba. The previously discussed "travel tubas" would not be large enough to play with an orchestra or band of any size without amplification.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby Veloise » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:06 am

I took a bunch of photos Tuesday:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... e34c39d35d" target="_blank
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby bloke » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:07 am

I haven't seen any in the $1 bins at the flea markets...yet...
...and they aren't substantial enough to chock trailer wheels, are they?
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby MartyNeilan » Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:28 pm

BrassedOn wrote:
    * Take a few lessons with your idols. (Though a lesson with Mr. Jacobs might be a higher cost than you're willing to incur.)


Read the books.
Listen to the CD's
Listen to the MP3 masterclass files under the Tips section.

or, just take a lesson from one of his students :wink:
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby KiltieTuba » Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:04 pm

Original “travel tuba” is the Cerveny tornister used by the Swiss.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby dwerden » Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:56 pm

I would bet on market saturation. Not for all time or anything like that. But how many different brands of travel tuba does the world need? It is a different situation compared to a "normal" tuba. I'm guessing players will be a LOT more particular about their main horn that a product they are buying for convenient carrying, so the market for full-size horns can support a larger number of brands.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby pecktime » Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:22 pm

I wish for more new tubas with removable bells.

I’d love a decent 4/4 CC tuba (like a mw3450) with two bells- front facing and upwards.

Easier to travel with and very flexible in use.
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Re: Has the great "travel tuba storm" finally passed?

Postby bloke » Sat Oct 20, 2018 8:21 am

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