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Most people will say that it's a good thing to be able to micro-adjust and will then run the other way when presented with a used tuba with a main slide tuning stick or trigger for sale.
YMMV, but I doubt it...
If one plays for money with others the goal is to be in tune with the group. Living room performances with a tuner are all well and good to check tendencies but you must have the ear and mechanical means to adjust. As to the front valve comment I would prefer to adjust one slide for all notes than float around from crook to crook for each individual slide. Ask any owner of a Marzan and, if you can find one, listen to a recording of the Stauffer era Navy band with the Martins with the master tuners. It might not be for everyone but I personally like them. Ed
The Singing Whale
I like Ed's comment, because it presents "the ear" as "the problem identifier" and not as (readily admitting that - in some way - the remedy must be mechanical - whether it involves instrumental or human mechanics) "the solution"
Couple of questions by a new-comer:
Since any main tuning slide is adjustable, what is the term for a tuning slide that is designed to be adjustable while playing? Is it "kicker", or does kicker refer to a mechanism that actuates the slide?
This seems like such an obvious and good solution to intonation problems. What are the downsides of tuning this way? There must be some reason that so many players prefer to push their individual valve slides in and out rather than use a main tuning slide.
I have been unable to find a photo of a Marzan than clearly indicates the location of the tuning slide. If someone could direct me to one I would appreciate it.
My preference is for a main slide tuning jigger, but I have horns with a 2nd slide jigger and one with a 5th slide jigger. Everyone needs some sort of fine tuning mechanism.
Check out the Marzan photos on this page:
The main slide is at the top left on all of these tubas (where your left hand would go). Excellent system and really easy to use, although I only ever really used for low F and below (since it was a 4-valve tuba).
Most refer to a "stick" as a direct-action (potentially two-way) device, and a "kicker" or "trigger" as a (one-way) spring-loaded mechanism. The advantages of a "kicker/trigger" are that that (usually) 1/ it offers a mechanical advantage (less human movement/more slide movement) and 2/ it automatically returns to its original position when released. A disadvantage can include cost of installation, as a spring-loaded device must work absolutely perfectly (as a spring usually has much less power than a human hand or arm).
The vast majority of the "kicker/trigger" devices only move one way. Two-way "kicker/trigger" devices are quite rare and must work extraordinarily well (hopefully without overly-loose fit of slide tubes) in order to sell-center to the same point every time. Most of the piston 6/4-size tubas (arguably some of the most out-of-tune yet highly popular tubas) have this in common: several sharp pitches and few flat pitches.
The goal (one would think) in acquiring a 6/4-size tuba would be to find one suiting one's taste that has minimal intonation problems, and (specifically) very minimal "flat" pitches problems (usually 3rd partial...CC tuba open G or G/F#) and all other problems being "sharp" problems. With nearly all problems being in one direction and only minimal problems in the other direction, a one-way "kicker/trigger" will solve nearly all problems, and a (more labor-intensive when playing) manual "stick" won't be necessary.
I have owned an instrument that had a main tuning slide kicker. Even now that the horn has sold I have no problem saying that horn didn't NEED it. It played very well in tune without the kicker. I used the kicker on a very select few notes that ran high. This allowed me to play in the center of the horn the whole time. For me, it was a bonus.
A great horn is a great horn. Handy slide adjustability is a tool. If you think about it, valves are just that! (and thus begins the discussion of having 3,4, 5, or 6 valves).
Personally, I wish ALL my horns had an mainslidekicker. Even if a tuba is the best tuned tuba on earth, one still has to tune to the chord which is being played and tune with the musicians playing it (not to mention other idiosyncrasies which affect tuning like temperature, room acoustics, and "style").
The lower the notes, the larger the distance between those notes. The physical demands of tuning a note soley with the lips can come at a high price (accuracy). Being able to adjust the tuba physically (slide movement, alternate valve combi) can make the task of tuning more efficient. Only having to adjust one slide is ,in my opinion, very efficient.
Thanks for this one, Bloke. A main slide kicker seems to be rather taboo amongst tubists.
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