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releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby tubazach07 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:46 pm

Good evening everyone,

As most of you know I was looking at getting a meinlweston tuono but before dropping the cash on one I wanted to make sure I was getting the most out of my Miraphone 1292 and Martin Mammoth mechanically that I could. I mentioned in my last post that I was going to take my Miraphone 1292 and Martin and have the braces checked for stress. What this entails is my repairman/good friend heating up each brace on the tuba with a propane torch and if the braces pops and moves it means you have released the tension in the brace caused by poor assembly, previous dent work, unknown trama to the tuba etc. The releasing of the stress in the brace allows the brass to resonate like it was originally designed. First up was the

Miraphone 1292
Problems: stuffy low range/ bad low range response/ tight feeling. I have had this tuba for over 8 years and I would try to fight those problems with a large mouthpiece or continued practice of the low range.

test results: After applying heat to 3 braces attached to the tuning slide the braces moved a considerable amount along with every brace on the tuba including the lead pipe which moved the most. Whoever assembled the 1292s/1291s ect soldered each brace under stress. I have a video of the braces popping and moving and I will try to figure a way to attach it tomorrow.

Aftermath: After heating up all the braces including the lead pipe my tuba plays like a different tuba in a very good way. The tuba resonates throughout the whole range. low range is easy and responds quickly,intonation is a lot better, more core to the sound and notes slot easier. I am soo happy with the results that I will be keeping my Miraphone 1292. I know this sounds too good to be true but I will gladly let anyone compare my 1292 to theirs. The 1292s are great tubas but were just not assembled correctly and before you put your self in a lot of debt looking for a new tuba I highly suggest you have your braces heated up. It will make a world of a difference.

Martin Mammoth
Problems: despite full chemical clean, valve alignment and dent removal the pedal F, F#, E were really flat. I was prepared to have the 1st and 3rd valve slides cut today. Notes on the Martin were hard to lip into tune which is very uncommon on these tubas.

test result: We decided to heat up the lead pipe first as it seemed to have had some repair done in the past. After applying heat the leapipe moved a considerable amount hinting that the lead pipe was either hit or was forced into place and soldiered. We also checked a brace behind the tuba and found that it too was under stress and shifted.

Aftermath: Any intonation issues that I previously had were gone. The tuba played very well in tune throughout the register, the notes were easier to slot, and the response of the tuba is faster than most tubas I have played.

In conclusion not many average repair techs know of this technique. I know that Lee stofer is aware and I am sure others repair techs on this site are aware as well. I hope before you decide to get rid of your tuba for something else that you have the braces tested. For some reason many new tubas that have been produced and continue to be produced are coming up with stressed braces right out the box. I hope this helps and to any Miraphone 129x owners out there you have a great tuba you just don't know it yet.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby bloke » Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:28 pm

They're your instruments to do things to as you see fit.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby arpthark » Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:31 pm

Can anyone knowledgable in the field chime in about what auditory science is going on that might cause the results that Zach outlined above?

Or is it just brass voodoo? And I am not meaning that in a disparaging way at all.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby bort » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:30 pm

bloke wrote:They're your instruments to do things to as you see fit.


...so you think this is a bad idea?
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby tubazach07 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:52 pm

I appreciate everyone's input and I can understand the sketptism. I didn't believe it at first either. I am in no way offened and encourage questions and opinions. Like I said, I will be more than happy to let anyone play my 1292 up against theirs.

The reason I don't release the name of the repairman who does this work is due to privacy reasons. He is a member of this forum who not only has 30 plus years of tuba repair and building but has also designed and built the prototypes of some of the famous tubas that are used today. I will leave it to him to comment if he wishes.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby Aglenntuba » Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:55 am

Didn't really notice a huge sound difference like that in my case... but I had my repairman do this on a Chinese horn I used to own. The first valve was binding very badly due to the tension on the braces around it. Heating the braces helped some, but any time one popped another one would get worse and cause a slide to freeze... this is a VERY popular instrument from a VERY reputable dealer, but when I told him this, he said my repairman was full of ****, and all I did was void my warranty. I could definitely see it working on something that was actually assembled well for the most part though. Mine just needed to be fully taken apart and reassembled without being under tension. Unfortunate situation, and I'm almost convinced it was a one off because nobody else has ever had trouble with them that I've seen.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby nworbekim » Mon Aug 01, 2016 6:25 am

My experience was similar on the King 2341 i use now. i'm recently retired, and learning to live on somewhat less than i'm used to, but i decided it was time to upgrade and pulled the trigger on a great looking "FACTORY DEMO" from an eBay dealer.

the valves didn't suit me at all, so i talked to the dealer and wasn't pleased, not that he wouldn't do anything about it, but he didn't seem to really know what to do other than try this or that...

i contacted a tech that a trumpeter in one of my bands recommended and described the symptoms. he began listing things that caused the valves to bind. i sent it up and he eased the tension on several braces and leadpipe, added a couple of braces, and problem solved.

it didn't change the sound that MY ears can tell, but the playing is vastly improved.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby lost » Mon Aug 01, 2016 7:16 am

Cool story. Couple thoughts.....

I'm wondering if there's a placebo effect involved here, unintentional of course.

I was led to believe after reading some threads that sometimes stress is a good thing since it stops bell ringing and other vibrations in sound you may not want.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby nworbekim » Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:28 am

lost wrote:Cool story. Couple thoughts.....

I'm wondering if there's a placebo effect involved here, unintentional of course.

I was led to believe after reading some threads that sometimes stress is a good thing since it stops bell ringing and other vibrations in sound you may not want.


Perhaps some placebo, the valves would push fine, but would bind on the up. I cleaned with soap and water, used tooth paste, lamp oil, and tried all kinds of oils. I even talked the dealer into sending a new (supposedly) first valve... It was actually worse.

Using my wife's sewing machine oil or 3&1 i could play it some. But eventually a sludge would build up that would increase the problem.

The valves work now. I'm happy.

While I had it there, I had vents drilled and playing is so smooth... Right now I'm in a lazy phase, but usually, i can't get enough of playing this horn. I have to make myself stop a lot of times cause other things have to get done on the farm.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby tubazach07 » Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:56 am

lost wrote:Cool story. Couple thoughts.....

I'm wondering if there's a placebo effect involved here, unintentional of course.

I was led to believe after reading some threads that sometimes stress is a good thing since it stops bell ringing and other vibrations in sound you may not want.


Lost, thank you for your question. I sat next to the repairman the whole time the Iwork was done in order to give instant feedback. Before any work was done I warmed up in the workshop to make sure I wasn't being influenced by a acoustically different room. After the work was done and I was satisfied with result I put the tuba down and walked a way for a couple hours. I wanted make sure my excitmemt wasnt getting the better of me. After comming back the tuba played and felt better than it ever has. Any intonation issues I had with the Martin were fixed by heating up the leadpipe. I used a tuner the whole time for conparrison.

I will play the tubas again today and all this week in rehearsal. I wish I brought a recording device to show everyone. The biggest change for the 1292 was the feel and slotting of notes. It has never played this easy the 8 years I have played this tuba. The 1292 is my main tuba that I do all my gigs on so needles to say I know the tuba very well. I hope I answered your question and please keep the questions comming.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby Dan Schultz » Mon Aug 01, 2016 10:23 am

Taking a little extra care when assembling a horn to make sure there are no stresses IS NOT voodoo. I routinely knock down horns all the way for overhaul. Many mistakes are made at the factory and by repairmen during the life/death of a horn.

A horn should NEVER be put together by exerting pressure so the braces will fit but I see this almost every day.

Taking the stresses out of a horn can easily make the difference between a good horn and a great horn.

What someone said earlier about some of the imports is VERY true. I can see the parts of these horns being forced into a jig and soldered together without giving much thought to stresses.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby bort » Mon Aug 01, 2016 10:49 am

Is it fair to say that tubas can build stress over time? Things like dents, wear and tear, etc? So, is it possible that this 1292 started out as a great tuba, got used every day for 8 years and (naturally) started to get worn down... and just needed some work to bring it back?

Either way, I'm happy for you, Zach!
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby tubazach07 » Mon Aug 01, 2016 11:49 am

bort wrote:Is it fair to say that tubas can build stress over time? Things like dents, wear and tear, etc? So, is it possible that this 1292 started out as a great tuba, got used every day for 8 years and (naturally) started to get worn down... and just needed some work to bring it back?

Either way, I'm happy for you, Zach!


Thanks Bort! You ask some very good questions. Yes through dents and repairs a tuba can definitely aquire stress in braces if the dent occurred any where near or on the tube/slide that a the brace is connected to and if the repair tech did not do a good job resoildering the brace/ checking for stress after taking dents out like the village tinker mentioned in his post.

I believe the 1292 has always been this way. I bought this tuba as a freshman in college and I still had a alot to learn. Comming from a Meinlweston 37 this tuba was huge to me. The 129x were Miraphone's first shot at a American style tuba so it doesn't surprise me that the tech may had forced certain braces. I do know that the 1292 that came in before mine for the same issues only neaded the braces on the main tunning slide and lead pipe heated up to fix his problems. Maybe the guy who put my tuba together was new or having a bad day. I have done alot of traveling with my tuba, had it shipped in house hold goods across the world, played on ships, etc. I am sure all the traveling and playing contributed in one way or another to the stress. I would like to note that 1934 Martin only needed one brace and lead pipe heated up despite being made in 1934. I think that shows the quality of tuba building back then.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby arpthark » Mon Aug 01, 2016 2:45 pm

How would stress on the braces affect the sound or intonation, though? Is it just a resonance thing? Node/antinodes?

By voodoo I meant more of, "We don't know why, but it works." I didn't mean it to be a bad thing. It would make sense that not having any stress on the braces should be a good thing, I agree. But why?
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby bloke » Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:31 pm

Imagine how much better a YCB-826S would play.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby Donn » Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:43 pm

Along with the search for a plausible theory we might look for the broadest possible range of factors. For example ... when melting the solder to disconnect braces, is it possible that a nearby solder joint melts a little, enough to seal when it didn't before? Could the heat break up gunk deposits inside that leadpipe?

Then there's the perceptual issues with play-evaluating a tuba. My big tuba has much better resonance in some parts of the range than others - but I'm fairly sure that in front of the bell, the difference is not so great. That resonance is important, but not because people hear it, it's important because it contributes to my sense of the pitch and tone and everything - and sure, I'd say those not-so-resonant notes don't center or slot, but maybe that's why, because I don't get the same feedback.

Or maybe it's really what we're thinking - when the resonance is whacked like that, the tuba is whacked, and that's why those pitches on my tuba run sharp and unfocused. But even so, you don't really have a guideline for the solution until you understand the phenomenon, right? Is every resonance an improvement, the more freely everything resonates the better? I'm not saying it couldn't be, but it sure isn't obvious -- the result we're looking for is a wave form that passes through the tuba, basically perpendicular to the body resonance. As it passes through all that tubing, all vibrating in various ways as a soldered-together brass junkyard sculpture, there's no telling which vibrations reinforce and which cancel, it seems to me.

Maybe it's best approached as a throw of the dice. If you're unhappy with what you have, then you might try it in case it makes a difference.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby iiipopes » Mon Aug 01, 2016 4:02 pm

Now, let's go the other way. Taking as a starting point that it is possible a stressed brace would impede an anti-node causing a couple of notes to go flat, as reported on the OP's Martin, how about finding an antinode and doing it on purpose to stiffen the mechanical impedance of the bugle at that point to bring down something sharp, like the 6th partials on a typical euph or King tuba?
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby bloke » Mon Aug 01, 2016 5:09 pm

Wouldn't this contribute to climate change...??

What about those smelt that I smelt?
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby tubazach07 » Mon Aug 01, 2016 5:56 pm

iiipopes and Don thank you for your questions that have taken this topic to another level. I can only speculate on what the exact scientific data is regarding the stressing and unstressing of braces. I hope someone on here can fully explain.

I will loose my navy tuba job either next year or the year after due to higher tenure and manning cuts.
(Funny part is the navy is undermanned and in serious need of tuba players yet we keep kicking the ones we have out)

The reason why I decided to try heating braces was after playing the tuono I couldnt believe how easy the low range was and that something wasn't right with the 1292. I didn't want to have to sell my tubas and take 7 grand from my savings to buy a tuba that I felt played the way I wanted. If I were to buy a tuba, now would be the time to do it since I have a job now. However, as a father I was having a hell of a time trying justify taking money away from our savings that could get my family through some of the hard times we will face as I tansiton to civilian life. I have every intention of auditing and improving while I attend college for another major.

Is the modified 1292 better than the tuono, the thor, or bear? No.
Am I now able to win a major symphony job and out play all the professional orchestral tuba players? No.
Will I be able to fix climate change by heating up braces. No
Is the tuba playing in a manner that allows me to not fight the low range and produce the sound that I want.
Yes, and for that, it is worth it. If I ever sell the tuba I will fully disclose to anyone who wants to buy it what repairs/modifications that have been done. Btw keep the discussion going! I am very happy to see all input and questions this topic has brought.
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Re: releasing stressed braces and the advantageous outcomes

Postby bort » Mon Aug 01, 2016 6:00 pm

bloke wrote:Wouldn't this contribute to climate change...??

What about those smelt that I smelt?


Joe, I'm worried about you. Is that heap of school horns making you a little loco?
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