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A little about my background as a player. I started playing in 1974 on a big old Conn Recording Bass and have played on Miraphones, Meinl Westons, Kings, Olds & Sons, Reynolds and Yamahas in both BBb and CC through college and also as a military musician. I am now playing as part of a local community band and practice and perform at altitudes from 6,800’ to 8,400’ with an occasional brass choir gig over 10,100’.
I purchased this horn new from Jim Laab’s Music. It arrived via truck with no damage in about 7 days. I purchased this model as I was seeking a horn in the large 4 quarter to small 5 quarter range that would have a good solid dark quality to create the foundation under a wind symphony without sucking the life out of me at 8,400 feet.
My first impression when I pulled the horn from its case, was that it is very heavy, feeling much like the Olds & Sons horns and Reynolds from the 1950’s and 60’s.The horn weighs in around 24 pounds. Most of this weight is centered in the bottom of the horn making it comfortable and easy to balance in your lap.
The horn looks to be a copy of the Hirsbrunner 192.
But is actually a JinBao JBBB-210 stencil.
I purchased the nickle version. The lead pipe is mounted up away from the bell allowing it to vibrate more freely. The rotary valves are equipped with double ball linkages that are easy to lubricate and move smoothly and quietly.
The slides are nickel on both the interior and exterior of the tubes with the bends made of brass. On every other tuba I have played only one side was nickel or both were brass. All three valve tuning slides can be reached easily through the horn with the first valve slide closest to the front of the horn. The third valve slide located in the middle and the forth in the rear behind the upper large bend. The slides operated smoothly and easily right out of the box.
The wrap of the third and fourth tubes limited the flow of spit to the one water key located below the bottom of the valve block. No more spit spins in the middle of a performance
I’ve measured the bore of the second valve slide at about .690” with a manual micrometer but it plays more open than a Yamaha 321 with a bore of .731” . The stats say it is a 19.5 MM or .767" bore.
When I first starting playing this instrument, I used the large mouthpiece that came with the horn. I found it to be hard to tune or control playing extremely flat. I then switched to a Yamaha Roger Bobo symphonic replica and pitch improved. Once I switched to my Marcinkiewicz 3W the horn started playing very well.
(An update as of 3/2012... I've had the horn for 14 months now and have switched to a stainless steel Sellsmenberger Symphony mouthpiece with the Fair Dinkum #2 medium round rim and delrin cup extender.)
In rehearsal playing in a 67 to 69 degree rehearsal hall at 8,400' with the Marcinkiewicz 3W and verified by a tuner, I was able to tune with the slides pulled as follows;
Open -Tuning Bb – Tuning Slide pulled 1/2”.
Second valve – A – slide pulled 1/8”.
First Valve – Ab - slide pulled 3/4”
Third Valve – Low D – slide pulled 1 1/2”
Fourth Valve – Low C – slide pulled 2”.
Tone quality is is darker and richer than the Yamaha 321, and King CC that I once played,
I’ve read some reports that this horn has had a problem with the main tuning slide being too short. This may be from large horn players using the mouthpieces that work well with their five quarter or six quarter horns and using a larger horn air volume when they have played this tuba. I believe this tuba being more of a four quarter size is being blown flat by the larger horn players approach to this horn.
(Update as of 4/2012- As I have searched to find a really good match to this I horn, I found that when I used mouthpieces with a rim size larger than about 33mm the horn would play flat.)
Playing tonight in rehearsal I found the horn easily slid down into the E natural, E Flat and D petal tones, I also noticed I didn’t need to do the extra air push to get the notes to speak when transitioning from open position into notes using the third or fourth valves. There was no stuffiness in the lower notes that I experienced even when playing with the smaller mouthpiece. I am able to get the fundamental BBb to speak easily and am able to move down into the AA, the AAb, and the GG if I breath deep enough. Too many of these at 8,400 feet and you discover a new revolving floor.
This horn is shorter than most only 36 inches tall. The position of the 17 3/4 inch bell is directly over the players head. This makes your volume seem louder than what you are used to but gives a better feedback as to your true tone.
I've found it to be far better a horn than I expected and spent under 2K including shipping to get it new.
Last edited by Gilligan on Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:40 pm, edited 6 times in total.
Where in the world are you playing at 8400 feet?
Patrick (who plays at 10 feet)
Miraphone 1291 5V BBb
Conn 18J Eb
Gilligan has posted this same post several times now.
Must really be a schill...
I've played at elevations higher than that. Ain't nuthin'.
The wind is as the air, only pushier.
I'm part of the Woodland Park Community Band. We rehearse just down the north slope from Pikes Peak and can almost see where you are standing in that picture from our band stand in town.
I posted this review one other time in the middle of another discussion and decided to move it to its own thread to make it easier to find in a search.
AS an update..
I've changed to a PT-44 mouthpiece finding the sound is more easy to control. The 3W seemed to give a little feedback on attacks that caused a wobble in my pitch as my notes first sounded.
My wife and I honeymooned in Manitou Springs over 30 years ago and for many years this area has been a favorite vacation destination for us. We finally spent a few days in Woodland Park a couple of years ago when my youngest nephew got married at the golf course there. As the view of Pike's Peak is now blocked from the Silver Sadlle Motel by the newer Stupid 8 Motel, we will no longer be staying in Manitou. We have decided we like that little campground with the cabins at the north end of Woodland much better. And breakfast at the Bear Claw can't be beat. By the way, it was after my nephew's wedding that my wife and I drove up Pike's Peak and I had her shoot the photo.
The wind is as the air, only pushier.
Gilligan--just so you know it weighs 25 lbs--and it puts out alot of condensation (I have to keep a towel with me to mop up the small lake after a rehearsal/performance). Its a great axe and I love it--you should post a pic of it so we can see what it looks like in the nickel finish.
Schiller BBb "Schillbrunner" aka "JFK"
1953 Conn 20J Artist Bell Front BBb Recording Bass
Lone Star Symphonic Band
Gulf Coast Concert Band
To everyone who posted info in this thread, THANK you from Oregon! I'm (hopefully) about to purchase this exact horn, and this review and the other provided info are priceless.
Walla Walla Valley Band
How does it do in the "cash register" 2nd through 6th partials: is the horn in tune with itself, and how flat are the 5th partials?
"Bessophone" w/ 2-piece Imperial Blokepiece,
Lexan 32.6 modified helleberg rim & modified .080 extender
Selmer Signet 'glass souzy
Fanned fret electric and bass guitars
BTW, since it's been annoying me I'll just say the OP's claim that the sharpness jmerring and I experienced was due to our size is just dumb. I'm 5' 11" and 190. Jim is taller and thinner. And before getting this we were both playing 186s, IIRC. There was a problem that has reportedly been fixed. Which means the manufacturer is listening. So good for them. That means we can probably expect further improvements in their products.
Edited to fix the craziness that ensues from posting from an iPhone.
I appoligize if my comment was offensive. No offense was intended And yes I believe they have fixed the problem as I am finding I am getting my best tone quality and response with the larger mouthpieces. I am now using a Wicks 1 and a Sellsmenburger Symphony Stainless. The both mouthpieces have about the same tone quality and they respond clearer in the lower octaves then my Parantucci 44. The stainless seems to respond just a little quicker than the other two. When I made the mouthpiece change I did have to push in my slides about a quarter inch all around the horn. As to the oem mouthpiece that came with the horn I'd recommend using it as a fishing weight.
I understand the sediment against the Chinese horns. They are the world’s worst technology robbers. I was watching a CNBC special this evening and the Chinese officials were even admitting to it. They offer American companies access to the Chinese markets as long as they build and employ Chinese workers. And all of our jobs, technologies and the income tax base goes running off with them. You can thank Congress and NAFTA for that. A paycheck will bounce through our economy nine to ten times before it is absorbed by taxes. Lose one job to China and nine others disappear too.
I wish Mienl Weston, Conn, Besson, Parentucci, Hirschbrunner and the other makers would figure out how to make good tubas more affordable. Frankly I would rather have a King, Conn or Kanstul but who has the extra $4,000, $6,000 or $8,000? Not the average guy trying to put two or three kids through school and keep his mortgage afloat. They have to start making horns at a price that makes them affordable or they won't survive.
As to the tuning in the 2nd to 6th partials I haven't noticed any big issues but I've adjusted for other horns for so long I may just being missing some things due to muscle/ear memory compensating for what maybe horn faults. E and F at the top of the staff require a little more concentration to get the attack right. But that could be the larger mouthpieces. G at the bottom of the staff plays clear with 1st&2nd. No need to use 3rd. C in the staff is better with 1st than 1st&3rd. From low C on down I start using the 4th valve combinations.
Yes I don't sleep. Just can't practice right now and still live with the family.
Last edited by Gilligan on Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:03 am, edited 2 times in total.
Tempest Musical Instruments (tempestmusicalinstruments.com) also sells this tuba under the moniker Prague model.
That link is to a video showing Lee Hipp from the San Antonio Symphony playing the JBBB-210 as the Tempest Prague for a sales bit on the tempest website.
They do not call it the JBBB-210, but I'm almost positive it's the same horn. If you look at it closely, you'll see that the first and second slides, as well as the fourth valve slide, are identical to the 210.
There's actually two different videos with two different players. After seeing these videos I'm convinced that it's the tuba for me... only not from Tempest as they want 3 grand for it.
Walla Walla Valley Band
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