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Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby Tubaguyry » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:11 am

I've seen a lot of very good comments about a couple of tubas that I am considering driving to play test and possibly buy. I have not yet played or even heard in person either of these horns. I'd like to hear some thoughts on these two horns from those who own or have played them. I'm mostly interested in any NEGATIVE things you have to say about them, as I have already heard a lot of the good things. (However, any observations are welcome.) The two horns are:

̶B̶i̶g̶ ̶M̶o̶u̶t̶h̶ ̶B̶r̶a̶s̶s̶ ̶J̶-̶4̶4̶5̶ ̶F̶ (never mind on this one; I bought it, and it is the most amazing F I've ever played!)

Wisemann 900 5/4 CC

Thanks!
Last edited by Tubaguyry on Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ryan Rhodes
Springfield, MO

Big Mouth Brass J-445LQ F
JinBao 600S F
1919 Holton Eb
1960s Olds Bb sousaphone

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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby kmorgancraw » Sun Mar 19, 2017 3:29 pm

J445 is all great, except intonation is challenging.
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby EMC » Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:39 pm

In the two times ive played the J445 i dont really feel the light colorful sound that i personally like and expect from an F tuba, its definitly a big F tuba, if thats what youre looking for it might be up your ally the low C is very nice on the horn, definitly doesnt have F tuba low register. I didnt get the notion that the intonation was off, but my biggest concern overall, was that the first and second pistons on both these horns that i played were stiff and hesitated to return up even after being oiled. The Wiseman is an absolute wonder of an instrument though, in my opinion for 5-6k it cant be beat when looking for a pt6ish tuba.
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby Tubaguyry » Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:16 pm

kmorgancraw wrote:J445 is all great, except intonation is challenging.


Can you elaborate? That's my biggest concern, since I've never played one of these and that's my biggest gripe on my current F. (Second partial E is un-tunable and requires a RIDICULOUS alternate. And for crying out loud, the 4th partial F -- yes, F, on an F tuba -- has to be played 2-3!) I'd really hate to waste a drive to play test if the intonation on these isn't damn near perfect.

Thanks!
Ryan Rhodes
Springfield, MO

Big Mouth Brass J-445LQ F
JinBao 600S F
1919 Holton Eb
1960s Olds Bb sousaphone

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." - Jimi Hendrix
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby Tubaguyry » Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:21 pm

EMC wrote:In the two times ive played the J445 i dont really feel the light colorful sound that i personally like and expect from an F tuba, its definitly a big F tuba, if thats what youre looking for it might be up your ally the low C is very nice on the horn, definitly doesnt have F tuba low register. I didnt get the notion that the intonation was off, but my biggest concern overall, was that the first and second pistons on both these horns that i played were stiff and hesitated to return up even after being oiled. The Wiseman is an absolute wonder of an instrument though, in my opinion for 5-6k it cant be beat when looking for a pt6ish tuba.


Do you notice the high register being more...for lack of a better word..."difficult" than on a smaller F? If it's just color/timber you're talking about, I can deal with that. But if I will have to fight the upper register as the trade-off to having a great low register, I will have to rethink making the drive to test one of these.

As far as the Wisemann, I have yet to hear anything bad about it. I haven't heard one live, but have heard several recordings of it. To my ear, it is the perfect orchestral horn, since it sounds like my favorite currently-produced orchestral tuba -- the PT6P. My mind keeps telling me, "If it SEEMS too good to be true, it probably is!" So I'm trying to find ANYone who can tell me some bad things about it! :)

Thanks for your input!
Ryan Rhodes
Springfield, MO

Big Mouth Brass J-445LQ F
JinBao 600S F
1919 Holton Eb
1960s Olds Bb sousaphone

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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby PaulMaybery » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:14 am

I've had and used the BMB J445 now for about 3 years. The intonation I found to be quirky, but manageable. On mine the high register from the 5th partial (A) upwards tended to lay flat as did the notes from the 2 partial (F). The 3rd partial (C) was sharp as were the notes fingered from it. This was my major issue with the horn as that range is pretty much the "bread and butter" register. However, I felt the sound of the instrument to be rather remarkable and the low register did pack a punch. I did find the upper register just sang beautifully (rather euphonium-like) and I do have one with the larger bell. On a side bar note, I did just recently try the smaller bell version at the Army Tuba Conference and it did seem a bit more agile. The intonation issues seemed about the same. On the positive side, the valves were extremely fast and smooth. I was not enamored with the direct thumb set up on the 5th valve. I did convert the little rubber bands to more substantial O rings. Also that damn brace for the thumb ring needed to be resoldered 4 times. It is now gone all together. I would have preferred an independent 5th valve.

To help mediated the intonation issues, I had a double action trigger built for the main tuning slide. Photos of that are in an earlier post.
The nob on the top is right next to the 1st valve slide. Incidentally, the 1st slide really needs to be shortened for top space G (1st valve)
The thumb ring is now attached to the piston for the MTS trigger and is very solid. I also attached two elastic O rings to the 5th valve. One at 9 o'clock, the other at noon. His helps bring the rotar back home each time, without the elastic needing to be too stiff.

While I felt that the cross bar on the back of the horn was a good idea, I did find that my hand slipped from side to side. I did attach what horn players call a duck paddle to hold the wrist in position, plus I also wrapped the crossbar in baseball bat leather wrap.

The construction/engineering of the 1st valve slide left it unsupported and thus vulnerable. It kept getting torqued and then would cause the 1st valve to bind. So.. I had a brace built to attach it to the upper bow. Another smaller brace between the 1st and 2nd valve slides completed the job.

One more item to grouse about is the overall pitch of the tuba, but I suppose I should not complain. But all the BMBs that I have tried are cut pretty sharp. And while I did study with Jacobs I find that I do play on the high side of the note. What is good about that higher pitch is, that with the tuning slide trigger I can manage to break even with those flat partials as there is enough room to pull in the MTS.

Well, there is my take in a nutshell. On the whole, I think it is a fabulous tuba, just not without issues.

I found the lead pipe to be way to low for me,but it does sit nicely on my right thigh. Except, it slides all over and does require a friction material on the bottom bow to keep it in place on my leg. I would have preferred it to sit on the chair, but it is not a deal breaker.

As far as the quality of sound, I have not found a bad sounding note on the horn. They are all resonant and clear sounding.

I have to admit that I am toying with letting it go up for adoption. As good as it is, I have found a tuba that I like even better, albeit a rotary F. It is much better in the intonation department, and ergonomically much more comfortable to hold. At this point I'm struggling with the valves being sluggish compared to the pistons on the BMB which are lightning fast. If a lapping job will quicken those rotars, then I think I have a keeper. The rotars are smooth and quiet and with a new design on the miniballs they do not swivel like earlier versions.

IMHO, i believe we have some great choices for affordable F tubas out there and the BMB is one of them. But, if you are demanding of your tubas, you will likely need to make certain modification from what came from the factory.
Wessex 5/4 CC "Wyvern"
Wessex 4/4 F "Berg"
BMB F
BMB CC BAT (check out Baltimore Brass)
Wessex Cimbasso F
Mack Euphonium
Mack Bass Trombone
Conn 5V Double Bell Euphonium (casually for sale to an interested party)
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby EMC » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:39 am

Tubaguyry wrote:
EMC wrote:In the two times ive played the J445 i dont really feel the light colorful sound that i personally like and expect from an F tuba, its definitly a big F tuba, if thats what youre looking for it might be up your ally the low C is very nice on the horn, definitly doesnt have F tuba low register. I didnt get the notion that the intonation was off, but my biggest concern overall, was that the first and second pistons on both these horns that i played were stiff and hesitated to return up even after being oiled. The Wiseman is an absolute wonder of an instrument though, in my opinion for 5-6k it cant be beat when looking for a pt6ish tuba.


Do you notice the high register being more...for lack of a better word..."difficult" than on a smaller F? If it's just color/timber you're talking about, I can deal with that. But if I will have to fight the upper register as the trade-off to having a great low register, I will have to rethink making the drive to test one of these.

As far as the Wisemann, I have yet to hear anything bad about it. I haven't heard one live, but have heard several recordings of it. To my ear, it is the perfect orchestral horn, since it sounds like my favorite currently-produced orchestral tuba -- the PT6P. My mind keeps telling me, "If it SEEMS too good to be true, it probably is!" So I'm trying to find ANYone who can tell me some bad things about it! :)

Thanks for your input!




No problem, personally I didnt find have any problems playing in the high register, it just wasnt very enjoyable h to me as someone who is used to the german rotary F tubas, just seemed kinda thin and white. As for the wiseman, i think probably some of the negative id have to say is that the models ive played is that the slides were hard to move even as new as it was, and im not trying to say its a perfect instrument, im saying that for the price its at least Comparable to the ever popular pt6 which i myself am not a fan of. Hopefully someone who actually owns one can pitch in thier opinion.
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby kmorgancraw » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:46 am

Tubaguyry wrote:
kmorgancraw wrote:J445 is all great, except intonation is challenging.


Can you elaborate? That's my biggest concern, since I've never played one of these and that's my biggest gripe on my current F. (Second partial E is un-tunable and requires a RIDICULOUS alternate. And for crying out loud, the 4th partial F -- yes, F, on an F tuba -- has to be played 2-3!) I'd really hate to waste a drive to play test if the intonation on these isn't damn near perfect.

Thanks!


Its been awhile, I don't remember everything that was quirky. I do remember wanting to cut the first valve slide for some flat notes below the staff, D and Eb I believe. But there were several notes throughout the range that were not "point and shoot" at all.
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby Tubaguyry » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:05 pm

kmorgancraw wrote:
Tubaguyry wrote:
kmorgancraw wrote:J445 is all great, except intonation is challenging.


Can you elaborate? That's my biggest concern, since I've never played one of these and that's my biggest gripe on my current F. (Second partial E is un-tunable and requires a RIDICULOUS alternate. And for crying out loud, the 4th partial F -- yes, F, on an F tuba -- has to be played 2-3!) I'd really hate to waste a drive to play test if the intonation on these isn't damn near perfect.

Thanks!


Its been awhile, I don't remember everything that was quirky. I do remember wanting to cut the first valve slide for some flat notes below the staff, D and Eb I believe. But there were several notes throughout the range that were not "point and shoot" at all.


Damn. That's a bummer! My main three requirements for a new F tuba are: 1. Intonation such that I don't have to have a bunch of alternate fingerings like I do with my current horn 2. Piston valves 3. Not require me to take out a second mortgage. Obviously, I need to get horns in my hands to really make the call. But I'd like to narrow things down so I don't have to waste a bunch of trips driving all over the country, since there's no longer any place within 500 miles of me (Springfield, MO) that has a bunch of F tubas in one place that I can test.

Well, two out of three ain't bad, I guess. But the intonation problem is my biggest concern. Crap! :?
Ryan Rhodes
Springfield, MO

Big Mouth Brass J-445LQ F
JinBao 600S F
1919 Holton Eb
1960s Olds Bb sousaphone

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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby arpthark » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:56 pm

Having spent time on the BMB F and the JinBao F, the BMB would be a welcome improvement as far as intonation goes. Do you have the six valve model?
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby Tubaguyry » Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:10 pm

arpthark wrote:Having spent time on the BMB F and the JinBao F, the BMB would be a welcome improvement as far as intonation goes. Do you have the six valve model?


I do. Mine was manufactured sometime before 2011, also. I think I heard that they improved some of the intonation issues on the newer models, but I may be wrong. Honestly, there's nothing on it I can't easily lip, with a few exceptions: E below the staff, 4th line F, and C above the staff. I can almost deal with the E and the C...but I simply can't get over having to use 2-3 to play an F on an F tuba!!! Also, I despise rotary valves. And not just the clunky ones on the JinBao. I had a brand new Miraphone 188 at one time, and I despised the rotary valves on it, too!
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Big Mouth Brass J-445LQ F
JinBao 600S F
1919 Holton Eb
1960s Olds Bb sousaphone

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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby chronolith » Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:36 pm

I have been performing on the 445 (large bell version) for a couple of years now.

All F tubas are a bit of a tradeoff so it will depend on what you are doing with it for it to be right horn for you.

Of all the F tubas I have owned or played more than once it by far has the best and most reliably manageable low range. Some minor slide pulling but less than most tubas. At first I thought the mid register A and Bb in the staff tended to be sharp (which is not uncommon in F tubas) but really it's just the horn letting you know you need to support your air better. A couple of alternate fingerings in high register but nothing outside of the norm. G (top of the staff) and C above tend to hit in tune better with 1+3 for me.

I had my horn customized by Dana Hofer to vent the valves, shorten the first slide (more high register options/less alternate fingerings) and remove the bar on the 3rd slide. You may want to consider doing that just because the bar hits the inside of the bag first and it will eventually snap, bend, or damage the slide and maybe impact the valve casing down the road. I can work 1st, 3rd, and 4th slides on the horn by approaching it from the left side rather than through and over the T bar.

I use the horn for small ensembles, studio recording, and appropriate orchestra stuff. I do NOT use it for solo lit. It is IMHO just not that horn. There are plenty of options that are better for solo rep. Loads actually. But as a result, the BMB F is kinda unique. There aren't really a lot of options in the F/CC crossover area that are good go-to options for variable ensemble work. The 445 covers a much larger range of applications than almost any other F tuba, which (again IMHO) are much more narrow in purpose.

The BMB F pairs very well with a BAT in the stable. Covers a lot of possibilities. If you are considering a Wisemann or another horn that can cover your needs up to and including quintet and small ensemble, then a more standard F (and the quirks that come with them) is probably a better choice if you need an F.

As always, YMMV, play all the horns for yourself, and ask your teacher.
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby bloke » Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:41 pm

The Wisemann 900's biggest "negative" is that the pricing (bumping up just underneath the "used" pricing for the real-deal) might (though, heck, I'm only a spectator, and don't know much) discourage retailers from importing them and buyers from buying them. Other than that, I prefer most of them to many examples of the model they reference.

anything else mentioned here: The most notable issues seem obvious to me, and not difficult to remedy..but I'm not one who needs to deal with them.
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby michael_glenn » Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:51 pm

I can't say anything about the wisemann. However, I can give some insights on the BMB. First off, the fifth valve is dependent---not a fan of this whatsoever. Intonation seemed to be challenging. Also, response felt funny to me when using the fourth valve. 1-3 felt better in terms of response, but obviously requires pulling to make it in tune. Unless you were getting a crazy deal on it, I would opt for the PT-15 copy instead. Yes I know they are rotary horns. But hey.... they are good horns and won't destroy your bank account too much.
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby chronolith » Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:15 pm

michael_glenn wrote:First off, the fifth valve is dependent---not a fan of this whatsoever.


Hi Micheal. What is it about the dependent valve you don't like? Is it the mechanics of it? The fact that it is not in the main bugle? Just curious...
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby Tubaguyry » Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:28 pm

chronolith wrote:
michael_glenn wrote:First off, the fifth valve is dependent---not a fan of this whatsoever.


Hi Micheal. What is it about the dependent valve you don't like? Is it the mechanics of it? The fact that it is not in the main bugle? Just curious...


Yeah, I was wondering about that, too. The only time I would use 5 without 4 would be if I was having to use a really off-the-wall alternate, in which case I would not be interested in the horn, anyway.
Ryan Rhodes
Springfield, MO

Big Mouth Brass J-445LQ F
JinBao 600S F
1919 Holton Eb
1960s Olds Bb sousaphone

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." - Jimi Hendrix
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby arpthark » Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:46 pm

235 = low B natural, F# right below staff (sometimes).

Sometimes using a clever alternate with the fifth valve allows an easier trill.
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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby Tubaguyry » Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:53 pm

chronolith wrote:If you are considering a Wisemann or another horn that can cover your needs up to and including quintet and small ensemble, then a more standard F (and the quirks that come with them) is probably a better choice if you need an F.


Thanks for your input! Will you suggest what you might consider some more suitable F horns for solo work only, keeping in mind that they must have pistons, and must have intonation that doesn't require a lot of alternate fingerings? Additionally, price is definitely a consideration, and I will almost certainly need to buy used!

Also, thanks to all who have so far responded. I'm sure some of you get tired of answering what seem to be the same type of questions over and over. I'm not someone who is going to just pick a horn that someone mentions in a post and buy it sight unseen. I just never had the opportunity to play many F tubas back when I was in school, and definitely haven't since I left school. I'm just trying to get a plan for focusing my efforts on the best candidate so that I don't waste a lot of time and money going all over the place to play-test horns. So thank you for the input so far! :)
Ryan Rhodes
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Big Mouth Brass J-445LQ F
JinBao 600S F
1919 Holton Eb
1960s Olds Bb sousaphone

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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby Ferguson » Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:57 pm

I've imported a number of the Wisemann C900 tubas. They are good players. I'd take one to a gig if I did such things. Like (nearly all) other China tubas, the Wisemann are obviously not made at the standard of European craftsmanship. You can see some working marks and unevenness on the bows, and our repair tech says he sees the normal sloppiness on the inside of the joints that you do find from most makers, Euro or otherwise. The silver finish seems to be decent, but one shipment had some damaged plating from an unknown solvent or lubricant that was on the horns at time of shipping. I can't imagine the optional gold trim is very thick or will last long. The piston action seems very good, though a good cleaning is in order, and Yamaha or other springs will improve it. I too have concerns about the price, which is about 50% of a Euro tuba. But they sell, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Some smaller instruments we (Horn Guys) import from China maker Jinbao sell for closer to 10% of the similar Euro instrument prices. But those are of lower quality than the Wisemann, and I also understand that the Chinese don't want to be working in sweatshops. They want to sell decent high-priced goods, and they're getting there. These are also really big tubas in really big cases, and they do not ship across the pond cheaply. Martin Wilk was planning to design a set of MAW pistons for the Wisemann, but I don't know if that has come to fruition yet.

Other China tubas I see around here include the Packer CC which seems to my eye to be a bit better in workmanship than the Wisemann. It's also heavier than it needs to be. But it's very Hirsbrunner-like, which I appreciate, as I like Hirsbrunners. (Just a reminder that yes, Hirsbrunner is still in business.) We also see the Eastman, which is hands down the best looking of the China bunch as far as fit and finish. The Eastman is smaller than most bazooka players seem to want, so I can't seem give one of these away and I'm tired of looking at it. Too bad, as they are a good deal from your local dealer. Eastman and Packer are both easier to get parts and warranty for their instruments, as they have US import offices. Mack Brass offers good service for their stenciled Wisemanns.

I haven't played on the BMB tubas, but I have held them and I don't care for the 5th rotor linkage at all. It's not ergonomic for me and the rubber band is cheap-ass. That annoys me and I wouldn't take one to a gig. Other than that, one very good local player uses and recommends them. I suspect Richard's service is personal and very good.

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Re: Opinions sought on a couple of horns

Postby chronolith » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:16 pm

Regarding Wisemann: I owned a PT6 for quite a few years. If you really like the PT6 then the Wisemann is a good option providing you can find one in good shape and have access to a good repair facility for upkeep and tweaking. If you don't like the PT6, look elsewhere.

My biggest problem with the BMB linkage is the throw. There is no lever like you are used to. You are literally turning the valve in the casing with your thumb. The linkage on it is way more adjustable than a standard fifth rotor though. You can move the post wherever you want it, and you can adjust the tension on it with a simple rubber band(s). I use several which means if one breaks, I keep going. While it should be extremely rare that a linkage goes out on while you are playing, the BMB offers a quick recovery whereas a failed linkage on a standard horn means you are basically screwed. From a certain POV it is pretty ingenious.

As for recommendations of piston horns with good intonation for a good price - I'm not going near that one :-). There is an old saying: Fast - Cheap - Reliable... Pick any two.

Recently I saw some nice MWs up here used (2182 and 45SLP I think). Might still be quirky but good instruments and with a good used price. If you are VERY lucky you can find a used Petrushka for a good price. I am not lucky so far. If you have the cash this is probably the horn you are thinking about in terms of wants and needs. Others may disagree but only you can tell for sure. Plan on doing the rounds at conferences. Save up the extra cash if that is what it will take to get the right horn. Don't rush into buying anything, and don't buy anything unless it is the right horn.

In my opinion, the only people who need an F tuba are the people who can already play all the F tuba stuff on their CC/BBb.
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