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Switching from CC to BBb

Postby bort » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:39 pm

I know, THAT again... but this time, in reverse. Are there any particular issues with switching from CC to BBb? It has been almost 20 years since I've regularly played BBb, so BBb fingerings and tendencies are not at all what I'm used to. But, since the style of tuba that I prefer has more options in BBb than CC, I am now considering it. Learning the fingerings isn't my concern, it's negotiating and learning the new tendencies, especially in the low range.

For example, I would look forward to low Eb being a much easier note on BBb than CC... but would not look forward to pedal CC on a BBb tuba. I'm sure it's just "different," but CC fingerings just click with me very well (why start your open series with 2 flats?!)

Thanks! :tuba:
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby tbonesullivan » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:01 pm

I would think there shouldn't be major issues, other than re-learning fingerings, and deciding which slides to pull and where. I mean, every instrument will have its own quirks, so it's always a learning experience.

At least for trombonists such as myself, partials not "lining up" exactly isn't exactly an issue. This is something I will need to deal with once I actually get a tuba/euphonium.
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby Casca Grossa » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:47 pm

Being a former military musician, I switched back and forth on a regular basis. I had been out of BBb world for about 5 years when I got my gig. Fingerings were a snap but the only thing I didn't like was that "tubbier" feel of the BBb. I don't think you will have any issues beyond practicing enough to get the clarity you want in the sound. You probably will enjoy having to pull slides a lot less.
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby Stryk » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:00 pm

Been there, done that. I played CC exclusively for 35 years, then got my hands on an Alex BBb. I still get tripped up with fingerings at times, but everything else seems easier. There really aren't many "tendencies" like on a CC. Second space C is usually in tune on a BBb, unlike the corresponding mid line D on a CC horn. Like someone else said - every horn is different, but I have found that in general, BBb horns are much easier to play in tune. The Alex BBb gives me by far the best sound of any horn I have ever played, but some BBb horns are "tubby", as Casca said. I really don't notice anything different in the low register except the fingerings. For me it is a better sound in that register than the CC is.
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby Tom » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:07 pm

I am in the process of ultimately switching back to BBb. Probably. I haven't really played BBb tuba in 15 years, so similar to your situation.

I actually have two of the very same model of tuba (Alexander 163), one in CC and another in BBb. The BBb tuba has some tremendous condition issues (it was abused by a careless previous owner) that make it difficult to play on regularly and to truly compare to the CC that I have, but generally speaking I've found that I like the sound and the feel of the BBb Alexander 163 better than my CC. Pitch on my CC Alexander is actually very good (but I've also owned it for 11 years) and the BBb is just as good. The plan is to eventually have the necessary rebuilding and restoration work done on the BBb 163 and then make the final determination on which one I want to keep but even before that happens, I've actually come to prefer the BBb tuba.

The fingerings aren't really an issue for me. I've found that it's like riding a bike in that you never really forget how to do it. I do sometimes default to a CC fingering in a tricky passage or on an accidental, but a few weeks of regular practice can fix that and get me back to being 100% comfortable on BBb tuba. Learning the tendencies on a BBb is no different than learning them on your CC. Each tuba is a little different but you'll figure out how to make it work with time.

I have just been more and more drawn to the BBb tuba sound over the last few years and think that I could be perfectly happy owning/playing on a nice BBb tuba rather than a CC tuba at this stage in my life. I don't regret learning CC tuba and have owned some interesting and very nice tubas over the years, but to me there is something different sounding about BBb tubas that I like that CC tubas don't have. There are some exceptional BBb tubas out there and some are great values compared to the kind of CC tuba that the same money can buy.
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby Dubby » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:31 am

I wasn't away from BBb as long as you, but going from euphonium and trombone plus BBb to CC back to BBb and now on Eb in the span of college has been doable. Maybe not ideal, and I do play quite a bit even as a non-major, but I've found it to be helpful to just play with my ears.

I'm not anywhere near as experienced as most other members here, so if I can make it work anyone can.
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby PaulMaybery » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:54 am

Having been a BBb player initially, well, it is sort of my first "tuba" language. But these days it is rather rusty. About 6 years ago I built a Frankenstein York BBb for use with a local concert band. I thought it would be fun to revisit my past. Fingerings were the easiest part. The challenge was getting accustomed to the intervals being somewhat further appart on the BBb than the CC. For some, you might call that the "Slotting factor." The F or Eb tuba, is so much more different, that confusion did not seem to be that much of an issue. After a while, a few months, and some public performances under my belt, and it all came back and I was surprised at how well it did at that. Somewhere, someone, at sometime, once said that everything in our lives is stored in our memories. Well at least with regards to playing tubas in different keys, I do believe that might be the case. If you have the time, I say "go for it."
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby doublebuzzing » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:53 am

You raised an interesting point. How exactly do you BBb players play pedal C?
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby oedipoes » Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:54 am

doublebuzzing wrote:You raised an interesting point. How exactly do you BBb players play pedal C?


4-valve non compensating: False tone 1st valve or 1+2+3+4

4-valve compensating: 1+3+4

5-valve non compensating: 3+4+5
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby KiltieTuba » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:56 pm

BBb MASTER RACE
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby KiltieTuba » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:57 pm

oedipoes wrote:
doublebuzzing wrote:You raised an interesting point. How exactly do you BBb players play pedal C?


4-valve non compensating: False tone 1st valve or 1+2+3+4

4-valve compensating: 1+3+4

5-valve non compensating: 3+4+5



Or you can play it open (lip down), 1+2, and 3 alone.
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby oedipoes » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:02 pm

I used 1+2 for C# before my 5th valve, but you're right, all combinations can be lipped up or down a lot in this register ...
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby Lee Stofer » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:04 pm

I tend to use privileged tones a lot for extended low playing, and almost always I use 1-2 combination for the pedal C on BBb, and for D on a CC. With the right horn, mouthpiece and practice, they can become quite good and pretty easy.
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby bloke » Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:05 pm

Why "switch" ?

"Good tubas" are cheaper than "good-a-whole-lot-of-other-things".

Just play "tuba"... They are commonly found in four lengths, and a whole bunch of shapes/sizes.
Play 'em all.

...or (OK) which PARTICULAR (European-made-with-rotary-valves) Bb tuba are you eyeing ?
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby bort » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:08 am

bloke wrote:Why "switch" ?

"Good tubas" are cheaper than "good-a-whole-lot-of-other-things".

Just play "tuba"... They are commonly found in four lengths, and a whole bunch of shapes/sizes.
Play 'em all.

...or (OK) which PARTICULAR (European-made-with-rotary-valves) Bb tuba are you eyeing ?


Well, for rotary tubas, there are just more and different options with BBb. Nothing certain, but considering either the B&S GR-55, 51, or an Alex 163. Fafner is too big, but that would be pretty damn fun (same for Rudy 5/4). Saving the Siegfried for you, Joe!
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Re: Switching from CC to BBb

Postby bloke » Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:36 am

It's difficult for me to imagine "forgetting" Bb tuba fingerings, as they were so ingrained for six years of grade school + sousaphonics in kolij.

Admittedly, my only Bb right now is a hybrid 36K fiberglass body/bell with a 1920's 40K 4-valve valveset...which I use for VERY loud outdoor gigs (fewer and fewer, seemingly...)

If "tuba-playing" were a larger percentage of my income (these days, "tuba playing" often only up into the $1X,XXX range...with the busiest years barely bumping the $2X,XXX range, and no, I do not teach), I might own a REALLY nice Bb...and yeah, I view the two "grand champions" (VERY different from each other) to be the Siegfried and the (piston/5-valve...why not?) Fafner.

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