History of the Holton 345

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Jose the tuba player
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Jose the tuba player »

Heres a picture of my former Highschool Director's Holton 355
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8f8FFs ... VRd2M/edit" target="_blank
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by The Big Ben »

Click on the Advanced Search button on the menu row and put in Holton 345 restore and you will see documentation about a number Holton 345s which were restored/modified. Among the horns described are a factory CC, a BBb cut to CC and a BBb which was almost remanufactured during restoration.
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by pjdicris »

I believe Fletch used a 345 CC as his main contrabass horn when he needed some extra "umph".
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Bandmaster »

lost wrote:This is what I found in other threads/internet sources:
  • The dates of production were 1951 to 1975
  • Arnold Jacobs played on and owned a few
  • it's a 6/4 clone of the CSO York
  • Scarce by estimates (only 8 to 10 made a year on order)
  • Fewer made in CC, and many BBb's cut down?
  • The models were 340, 345, 350 and 355 (more detail please)
  • some people have a love/hate relationship with their playability/construction

Please add info/comments/pics or correct my information. It is most appreciated! I'll update my list. Thanks! :tuba:

P.S. I've included an anonymous poll to see how many there are from board members
There are several experts here on the Holtons, like Dan Oberloh, so I'll hope they chime in. Dan keeps a database of Holton 345 serial numbers and tracks where he thinks they are located. I own a BBb Holton 345 made in 1966 so I'll type out what I have learned. Hopefully I don't get it wrong...

About your list above, from what I know the Brass quintet of the CSO had worked out a sponsorship deal with the Holton Instrument Company, so the company provided instruments for each player for promotion use. Holton manufactured fine examples of trumpets, trombones and french horns, but nothing that Arnold Jacobs felt was satisfactory for tuba. So he asked them to make a copy of his 6/4 York CC for him to use. They had tooling available from a big 6/4 tuba they had made in the early 1900's, so they went to work on it. Jacobs liked it, so he made arrangements for some of his students to order copies as well, since nobody else made big 6/4 grand orchestral tubas at that time. I believe Holton started making the BBb versions to try to take advantage of the high school market and that's why there are so many more BBb versions than the CC. My Holton was rescued from a high school in Utah by Steve Call of BYU.

Yes, they only put the tubas together when they got enough orders to make it worth their while to take a tech off the assembly line to work on them. I had heard somewhere that the magic number was 8 to 10 orders. But it might have mattered more "who" was ordering them. I am sure the CC versions were fast tracked.

It could be that after Warren Deck was successful winning the NY Phil job in 1979 with a Holton and Arnold's legend continued to grow that players decided they needed a big grand orchestra horn to compete. Hirsbrunner was making the HB-50 by the late 70's but it was very expensive. Since there were so few CC Holton's available, technicians like Bob Rusk stared cutting BBb's down to create more horns in CC.

The model 340 was a three valve version of the BBb 345. The 350 and 355 models were 3 and 4 valve versions in BBb with removable bells that came with front facing bells. Very similar to the older Holton model 105 bell front 6/4 tuba.

Because they were assembled only when enough orders were made, usually a different tech assembled the horns each time. This tended to cause lots of inconsistencies in the quality of the construction. Since the techs never had a chance to become proficient at assembling the 345, some horns turned out great, some just OK and some were turkeys. And some played well even though they had build problems. For instance, Dan Oberloh found while restoring my Holton that the bottom bow was an inch too short on the small end. They had just shoved the parts together and soldered it up. Opps! Dan had to add an inch of brass to the small end and then everything lined up just right. Mine played really nice before it was restored, so go figure. But concerning playability, all BIG horns take more effort to play in tune, its just the nature of the beast. It is the SOUND that is the finale reward!
Last edited by Bandmaster on Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by TubaSteve »

I answered "Yes", but in fact I do not own a 345, mine is a 350, so perhaps you could edit your poll or cancel my vote. My BB-350 is currently at Lee Stofer's in Iowa. I am hoping to get back before the summer concert season is over. Lee is cuttung down a Holton upright bell and adding a tennon to it so I will be getting both the upright and recording bell for this horn. Needless to say, I am getting very excited an anxious to get it back. My horn was in such poor shape, that I never had the chance to give it a real test, but what I was able to play with it sounded promising. I am hopeful that it will be a player. I had an extra 350 body that I sold to another tubenet member that was planing to use it for a project horn. The last I contacted him, he had yet to finish the project. If it is as successful as my latest Reynolds project, I will be dancing in the streets!

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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Alex C »

Bandmaster wrote:
Because they were assembled only when enough orders were made, usually a different tech assembled the horns each time. This tended to cause lots of inconsistencies in the quality of the construction. Since the techs never had a chance to become proficient at assembling the 345, some horns turned out great, some just OK and some were turkeys.
Good post, Bandmaster. There didn't seem to be a hard and fast rule about how many tubas had to be on order to start making them. I was told by Ted Kexel that they made them when a hole in the schedule lined up with an order. They were making two when I picked my horn out.

You are absolutely correct about the problems with assembly. When I went to pick mine out, the two horns looked quite different side-by-side. One tuba was at least two inches shorter than the other. Both were CC's.
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Jose the tuba player »

lost wrote:
Jose the tuba player wrote:Heres a picture of my former Highschool Director's Holton 355
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8f8FFs ... VRd2M/edit" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
KICK *** HORN , even if its unwieldy beast and the cases weigh a ton as well :!:

Awesome picture! Can you describe how it played?
haven't played it in one year but All i can really say is its the best and most freeblowing horn i have ever played.
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Bandmaster »

I found some interesting photos that apply to this conversation:

Image
CSO Brass Quintet in 1957 (note Arnold holding a 5v CC Holton 345)

Image

Image
Arnold Jacobs Holton Ad

Image
Arnold Jacobs playing a CC Holton 345

Image
An image I put together a few years ago showing various CC Holton 345's
(Three original CC's and three that were cut down from BBb's. Can you tell which is which?)

Image
An image I put together a few years ago showing various BBb Holton 345's
(That's mine on the lower left before Dan Oberloh got his hands on it.)
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by hbcrandy »

In Bandmaster's great historical sketch of the Holton tuba, it says that Arnold Jacobs ordered a 5 valved version of the Holton. I have seen, over the years, several Holtons with a fifth valve that look as if tehy were done by the factory. I assume, then, that the fifth valve was a factory option?
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Bandmaster »

hbcrandy wrote:In Bandmaster's great historical sketch of the Holton tuba, it says that Arnold Jacobs ordered a 5 valved version of the Holton. I have seen, over the years, several Holtons with a fifth valve that look as if tehy were done by the factory. I assume, then, that the fifth valve was a factory option?
I made that assumption... Jacob's CC York had a fifth valve, so I assumed that when he had Holton make a copy they would included the fifth valve. The 1957 photo above shows a 5 valve CC Holton 345. But I guess the fifth valve could have been added later by somebody else. I honestly don't know, since my BBb doesn't have a fifth valve I didn't investigate that aspect of the history fully. But I am sure somebody on this forum does know! Hopefully they will chime in and set the record straight.
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by The Big Ben »

Put the following combination in the Advanced Search button and there will be 111
results about various aspects on the topic of Holton 345 tubas and 5th valves:

holton 345 CC 5th valve
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Bandmaster »

On Rick Denney's page, if you scroll down to the section about his Holton 345, you'll see a couple paragraphs on the history of the 345.

http://www.rickdenney.com/tuba_collection.htm


There is one old posting in the old TuneNet discussing history.

http://www.chisham.com/tips/bbs/jun2003 ... 37759.html
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Donn »

bloke wrote:My contention is that the Holton was an attempt to get all of the brass principals (in the closest major orchestra to the Holton factory) to play (or, at least own) Holton instruments. The Holton 345 is the fifty-years-ago "Chinese" copy of the CSO York.
The first sentence fits with Rick Denney's story, the second sentence doesn't really.

Image courtesy of a bandmaster post from 8 years ago:
Image

The Nirschl looks pretty close to me, the Holton not so much.

Not that any of these York or whatever lineage tubas was a cheap facsimile with a made-up moniker stamped on it.
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Daniel C. Oberloh »

I completely agree with Joe's post here. From what I have observed, Holton 345 BBb tubas are at the top of my list for being the most "crap-tastic" in build quality to leave any factory. But, if properly constructed are one of the best and funnest designs to be found in a 6/4 tuba.

And just a side note; The pics Dave posted of the six CC 345s, Only one of the six is an original CC. the others are cut and/or "franken-horns".


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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Bandmaster »

Daniel C. Oberloh wrote:And just a side note; The pics Dave posted of the six CC 345s, Only one of the six is an original CC. the others are cut and/or "franken-horns".
I thought maybe 3 were original CC's, but I was SURE that 2 were original CC's. The silver one in the center of each row. I know the bottom one Dan restored in his shop along with mine. The one in the top row I read about in somebody's web posting that he had once owned it and that it has since been disassembled for somebody else's pet project. Oh well... what do I know? :oops:

Taking a second look at the six BBb's in the image I posted, one is definitely a cut down model. The one on the lower right doesn't look right.

I am no expert, I only have first hand experience with just one Holton, the one I own. Dan has intimate knowledge of the many Holton's that have gone through his shop over the years. He literally know them inside and out. :wink:
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Holton 345 memory

Post by Alex Kidston »

Other Canadian tuba players will be able to add to this, but when I was in the Ceremonial Guard Band, Ottawa, one of the tuba players from the Central Band of the Canadian Forces, Ted Cosstick, had an iconic Holton - my memory says that it was a 345 factory CC 6/4 but I have no way of knowing if that was in fact the case, other than that it WAS a Holton. Needless to say, that instrument inspired my interest in American large tuba design which I've never lost. If anyone has any idea what Ted is up to these days, I'd be interested to know!
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Alex C »

hbcrandy wrote:In Bandmaster's great historical sketch of the Holton tuba, it says that Arnold Jacobs ordered a 5 valved version of the Holton. I have seen, over the years, several Holtons with a fifth valve that look as if tehy were done by the factory. I assume, then, that the fifth valve was a factory option?
The Holton had a supply of top-opening fifth valves that they offered with the 345. When they ran out, they didn't re-order. They were gone by 1970 so it is safe to assume that they ran out in the 60's but that is about as close to a specific date you can get unless Holton will let some erstwhile researcher go through the records.

I don't see the Holton 345 as a "Chinese copy" of the York either. It was a "copy" of the York but there was no other CC, 6/4, piston valve horn for sale of that size being made anywhere, so it was not a price point kind of horn. Jake's students wanted that style tuba, as did others.

It was very adventurous for Holton to even offer a CC tuba, very few were being offered for sale by American manufacturers.

Holton sold quite a few 345 BBb's to school and university bands, the only alternative in that size was the Conn 24-J.
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Alex C »

bloke wrote:"Chinese copy" refers to the fact that many Chinese tubas today, in reality, are assembled with more care than many ever-revered Holton 345 tubas were assembled during their era.
I absolutely agree with that.
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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by Rick Denney »

Daniel C. Oberloh wrote:I completely agree with Joe's post here. From what I have observed, Holton 345 BBb tubas are at the top of my list for being the most "crap-tastic" in build quality to leave any factory. But, if properly constructed are one of the best and funnest designs to be found in a 6/4 tuba.

And just a side note; The pics Dave posted of the six CC 345s, Only one of the six is an original CC. the others are cut and/or "franken-horns".
You confirmed what I suspected--I thought I recalled the history of more than three of those horns and knew they had been cut.

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Re: History of the Holton 345

Post by sveinhenry »

Here is a picture of mine Holon 105-4 (The predecessor)
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Frank Holton 105-4
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