The bulk of the musical talk
I more or less grew up on Besson tubas, so I've never felt that compensating tubas were all that stuffy. I guess that's a bit like those who say they can work around a 'wonky' low C on an F tuba. For me, the only low note that felt and sounded stuffy on a 3 +1 compensating Eb is - of course! - low E natural (all four valves depressed). My front action 983 had a rock solid low F. I only sold that tuba because my right hand couldn't deal with the long pistons any longer. However, the 3 + 1 style is less challenging in that regard since the fourth valve is in left hand.
Shorter version: if the 3 + 1 style compensating Eb interests you, I wouldn't worry about stuffy low notes unless you need to belt out loud low E naturals all day long.
p.s. I've used compensating eefers at Oktoberfests where I had to play lots of low F's, and never had any trouble doing that. We were on mikes, so using a larger tuba wasn't necessary. The old Bessons have a sweet sound that few F tubas can duplicate, but F tubas - naturally enough - offer a bit more agility. I know that much from just trying them out.
This is totally right. There is a performance of the Vaughan-Wiliams: Dona Nobis Pacem in a few weeks, and for the first few rehearsals with orchestra was using my 15" bell Besson Eb. Those times helped me find a respect for that tuba I didn't previous have. There was no problem with power, and the low G's rattled nicely. Colleagues in the brass section loved the 'punchy', dense color, and I loved the quickness of response in all ranges. But the m.d. preferred the big horn, so it's the Alex for the show.
The low range on a GOOD comp-Eb with WELL-ALIGNED pistons that are NOT leaky offers a decent (good) low range. If you try to blow into a comp Eb or rotary F tuba (or bass trombone, or valve trombone, or oboe, etc...) the same way you blow into a sousaphone, you probably won't like the results. They are all different instruments.
The low E is going to be particularly "stuffy" on a comp-Eb because the compensating system completely "runs out of gas" at that point; the low E is horribly sharp. Much of the experienced "stuffiness" is (in reality, simply) "not enough tubing".
Here's my personal solution:
- The compensating side (slides on the back) on a comp-Eb tuba features a .728" bore.
- The FRONT side slides on a comp-BBb tuba are .728" bore.
- I've taken the FRONT #2 slide from a junked-out same-brand BBb (either no-comp, 3-comp, or 4-comp) and used it as the COMP #3 slide (back side) on my comp-Eb.
- It's MUCH longer. Instead of low F and low E (on the comp-Eb) both being sharp, the substitute slide makes the low Gb (let's face it: needed less often) somewhat flat, the low F (more valuable of the three pitches) right in tune, and the low E only slightly flat. I define this as "improvement".
Here is m solution: I play a 5v FA Eb (all valves right hand) tuba where I easily can manipulate the 4th slide trigger with my left hand.
Pulling the right amount between 0 and 8 cm brings every valve combination in the contra octave into tune, right down to the pedals.
Bb (4) - A (235)- Ab (45) - G (234) - Gb (345- F (2345)- E (12345) and (pedal) Eb all fine in tune. Off course, resistance increases down to E and decreases on shift to pedal Eb, going from maximal tubing length to minimal length, but that is expected.
And I don't loose a perfectly in-tune E with 235 (or 24 plus 3cm pull), or F (4 no pull).
Meinl-Weston 2141 Eb 5v FA tuba
Wessex Danube Eb 5v rotary tuba
Hirsbrunner Bb 3v compensated euph
Wessex Dolce Bb 3+1v compensated euph
Alto/tenor/bass trombones in various sizes/plugs
Bloke, that's brilliant. I'll remember that if I ever go back to a compensating eefer. I had a throw rod for the main slide, so I would push all the way out for those bottom notes. As a result, the F was pretty good and the E still somewhat sharp. I played with the third valve slide pulled out a good distance.
I second (or third) getting a smaller than 19 inch bell Eb tuba. If you buy an old Besson one budget for a valve rebuild and put rubber dampers and Yamaha springs in it. Also experiment with alternate fingering in the upper register. The PT84 mouthpiece works well Bessons and fits older Bessons if you order the XS shank. Wessex have a solo model and Yamaha had one as well. Bloke had a Willson one too at some point. Don't get a non compensated 4 valve Eb.
The piston 5 valve Eb tubas are awesome. Super easy low range and much easier to jump between registers. But they are harder to find second hand. Also harder to play than 3+1 Eb if join a brass band.
I would only consider F if you are going to play solos or orchestral parts
I have a Miraphone 1293 CC, a Connn 3J CC, and a Besson 983 E flat all in silver. I play all of them regularly and love them all - just in different ways. the easiest to play is probably the 1293. Phil
Re the above:
I have owned/played 3+1 Eb, 5 valve Eb and 5 valve F.
In brass band music, particularly the higher level pieces, the parts are so technical that 3+1 makes the fast technical passages that much easier to play.
Regarding F tuba I found that, compared to Eb, the well known bass tuba orchestral excerpts (eg Symphonie Fantastique) and solos (Vaughn Williams, Penderecki Capriccio), to name but a few, seemed easier on F.
I believe that in listening to a great Eb player, say like John Fletcher in all of those PJBE recordings and his recording of the VW will demonstrate, rather convincingly, that the Eb Besson with the large bell works just fine. I used one for about 10 years when I served as Divisional Music Director for The Salvation Army. Mine had a larger lead pipe and thus tended to sound a bit darker than John's, but it got around remarkably well and with a gorgeous buttery sound. I did play it mostly in treble clef, and while I did use it in several orchestra performances and standard quintet gigs, I never quite felt that I mastered the fingerings. So I eventually went back to my tubas of 40 years, the good ol' F and CC. Sometimes I think had I first learned the Eb tuba, life may have been a bit better as I believe that accoustically it is perhaps the most perfect of all the keys for a tuba. But like most Americans, I began on BBb, switched to CC in grad school and then the F when I eventually became a professional free lancer. Funny, even after having put the BBb down around 40 years ago, when I do pick it up, it instinctively feels the most natural in my hands. But I have lost the touch on it so, I'm not going back. I never found the compensation system "stuffy". Yes there seemed to be a bit more resistance to a Besson, but much of that I attribute to the heavier gauge of the metal. Besson makes a non compensation series of low brasses, and we had several in the SA. Other than not being compensating, they still had that characteristic Besson feel to them. I rather enjoyed that resistant timber. For me it tended to improve the focus of the notes and made it more dificult to distort the sound when playing in extremely loud passages.
Wessex 5/4 CC "Wyvern"
Wessex 4/4 F "Berg"
BMB CC BAT (sad to give up for adoption - check out Baltimore Brass)
Wessex Cimbasso F
Mack Bass Trombone
Conn 5V Double Bell Euphonium
3 days ago I played the Blazhevich No. 5 as an audition piece, on a Besson compensating Eb. On this horn, the study goes down to a 4 valve low E.
I had the option to play this audition on a Bb, and admittedly, my significantly larger Bb has a greater presence on the low E. But I chose to perform on the Eb for other reasons, and because the low E on the smaller horn is still a respectively solid note.
I'm wondering if anyone can give me an apples to apples comparison of two similarly-priced and spec'd offerings from Wessex: Berg (F) vs Danube (Eb)
Let's say "a friend of mine" was considering owning his first bass tuba and $3K was his hard budget (because his wife would undoubtedly make him fund this purchase by selling some of his more "aspirational" boutique electric bass gear). Goals/rational for this purchase include literature (VW, etc) and having a smaller horn to schlep across NYC for small ensemble meet-ups where the bigger horn can get a little unwieldy.
This friend also plays CC tuba and dabbled in F in college (forever ago), making the F seem like the more logical choice considering how mixing different fingerings tend to break his brain. But I—I mean he—is known to throw logic to the wind and has the crazy notion that Eb tubas are cool, mystical, versatile, and capable of channeling a certain Norwegian spirit animal.
All things considered, which of these two Wessex(s?) does the tubenet hive mind favor?
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