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Playing tips for F tuba

Postby BBruce107 » Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:51 am

Hi all, I am currently trying to work on my bass tuba playing. I have found that my tone quality gets very thin from G on the bottom line of the staff and lower. I will mention it is a Jinbao tuba so I do expect the sound to not be comparable to a melton, miraphone, etc. Is there any particular way to overcome the thin sound and make it sound easier and fuller. For reference I use a pt72 mouthpiece and it is a rotary valve tuba. Thanks in advance!
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby kmorgancraw » Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:31 pm

I of course haven't heard you play, so I'm not certain exactly what "thin" means. You can't play at high volume, airy, pinched? Which Jinbao F are you playing on?
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby BBruce107 » Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:24 pm

Hi, it is the 3/4 Schiller with five valves. The sound is very uncentered and not as full as it is from the Ab just above the G and higher. I normally do not have the issue on bass tubas but recently I switched to an all rotary setup and it has been an issue.
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby FatCat » Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:48 pm

When I first played on a rotary F Tuba, the tone was very fluffy below the G. For me, I just found that the more I played on the problematic instrument, the better I sounded. Try doing a bunch of Bordogni, Kopprasch, Blazhevich, Grigoriev and Arban exercises that make use of the problem register. Try the slower ones first and then work your way up to the tougher ones.
Last edited by FatCat on Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby kmorgancraw » Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:05 pm

This one: ?

http://www.schillerinstruments.com/tuba ... -f-tuba-34" target="_blank

I haven't played one of those. I have to say though that it is absolutely not "normal" to have problems with all notes lower than G at the bottom of the staff, not at all. If this range doesn't present an issue on contrabass tuba and this issue has always existed on this tuba, you should have the horn itself checked out. Has it ever been serviced? Make sure the valves are aligned (visually, not just with the marks on the back of the valves as these are off sometimes) and there are no large debris inside the tuba. Is this a new tuba? It is often a good idea to have a new Chinese tuba completely gone through before you start using it, no matter what company you buy it from.
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby BBruce107 » Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:18 pm

It is that exact horn! I am planning on having an alignment done on the horn. the fourth valve is a little off but the others look fine. However I trust that a shop could help improve the alignment and fix any issue that may not be present at this time. It is fairly new (bought it in November) and it was the same back then. I figured it was just a quirk at the time.
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby FatCat » Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:34 pm

kmorgancraw wrote: I have to say though that it is absolutely not "normal" to have problems with all notes lower than G at the bottom of the staff, not at all.


I guess I was wrong then :lol:

I've just been told that it's normal for notes lower than the G to get a little "fluffy" on rotary valve F Tubas.
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby DouglasJB » Wed Jul 05, 2017 6:22 pm

When I approached F tuba like I did my CC, my mid low range was very fluffy and uncentered. Bass tubas are different, expecially rotary F tubas, they need to be approached as such. Something the really helps me is lip slurs and octave slurs, making sure my sound is even between the registers.
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby the elephant » Wed Jul 05, 2017 6:32 pm

Lower than C, not G. The low C, B and Bb tend to be a crapshoot on many older rotary F designs, one of which this Jinbao is a copy. However, from the top down to about one ledger like D everything ought to have an open, singing sound on such a horn. Some of these horns have a low register that will not focus at all, ever, for anyone. Most are a problem that can be figured out, and some are very easy to adjust to. It is like low G on many C tubas (same note in the harmonic series of each horn, same fingerings) and simply needs the player to adjust his jaw and exhalation some.

OP (BBruce, OP stands for original poster if you are not familiar with the term) - This very well could be valve alignment, it could be sloppy solder work, internally, but it would have to be one mother of a goober to affect all that register on the horn in such a manner. It could be some sort of leak that does not affect stuff above that note, but generally I have found unsoldered joints to affect more notes as you go higher and the nodes become closer together and could cluster around that one joint, so that is probably not the issue, either.

My guess is it is how you are blowing into the horn, your lower teeth, et cetera.

To find where things need to be on this horn (or to beat your head against a wall in trying to determine whether it is you or the horn) I would warm up on your big horn — CC, BBb whatever you have — FIRST every time you set up to practice on this tuba. This will get you set to work on the small one.

When you play the F, stop screwing around with high stuff. If you cannot already play up there the F won't do it for you. You need to be able to play that high on the big horn first. The F will make slotting these notes or picking them out of space much easier IF YOU ARE ALREADY ABLE TO HIT THEM SQUARELY, CENTERED.

Instead, learn this tuba thoroughly. Play etudes on the CC that you would normally play. Then put swap horns and play the exact, same etudes. Back to back. Play scales all the time, through the full range of the horn, but mostly in the low register. Get the wonderful Snedecor book and play them all on the F.

Do this fundamental work and soon you will have that horn figured out, even if it is the horn causing the issues and not you. This will help your F playing on *all* F tubas (or Eb). Tuba is a low horn. Learn to play the hell out of it in the low register. Work on the high stuff, too. But no one wants to hear a tuba play high except other tuba players. It just is not impressive to anyone because, at best, it is simply middle register for human voices. It has zero effect on the Middle School Trumpet Player gene. It just sounds sort of woo-wooish to non-tubists. People expect to hear rocking low stuff, though.

I would like to know what mouthpieces you have tried on this horn, and how they affected these notes, focus-wise.

As for the etudes I use when working specifically on F (and not on excerpts or daily drills to solidify my upper range) I like Bordogni, Snedecor, Wes Jacobs' Low Etudes book (that is the same six etudes repeated down a half step over and over) and lots of flexibility (like doing toning exercises when weight training) and long tones (with a tuner and metronome, like doing strength exercises with weights).

Please do not approach this instrument as a "high tuba" because it is not. A bass tuba is a completely different horn from a contrabass, with different jobs and expectations in the orchestra. Treat it like you are learning to play French horn or even saxophone — approach it from the position of few preconceived expectations and "clutter" brought over from your big horn. The sounds are completely different, being halfway between a BBb or CC tuba and a euphonium. The "touch" needed to pull off the lightness of a bass tuba puts it in a different class from the contrabass horns. Different musical roles. Don't forget that. Warm up on your home base horn first, then switch and think of it in terms of the contrasts rather than the similarities. You do not need any help with the similarities. So focus on the differences and make it a different horn from your big tuba. Or else you have wasted a ton of money on a really short, pluggy BBb tuba with a lame low register. Your approach will either help you focus and learn your problem range (or help you determine whether it is a faulty horn) or it will not fix any bass tuba problems because you play it like a "tuba" with no consideration for those contrasts.

Best of luck, man.

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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby MikeMason » Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:12 pm

Looks suspiciously like a berg
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby Casca Grossa » Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:58 pm

MikeMason wrote:Looks suspiciously like a berg


I posted about this horn when it first appeared on the Laabs sight. I thought the same. They actually have a few horns that look like copies of Wessex horns.
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby kmorgancraw » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:18 pm

Casca Grossa wrote:
MikeMason wrote:Looks suspiciously like a berg


I posted about this horn when it first appeared on the Laabs sight. I thought the same. They actually have a few horns that look like copies of Wessex horns.


The Berg pretty obviously was influenced by this horn. The fifth valve and circuit are in a different place, but that outwardly appears to be it.
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby swillafew » Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:27 pm

Try some 2 octaves scales starting on the C below the staff, ascending. This is a good starting point to get some air moving. Play those low Cs until they sound and feel as big as you can make them. You can learn to go down another octave from there if you are patient.
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby BBruce107 » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:46 am

I took the horn in yesterday and found that not only was the fourth valve out of line but the fifth was slightly off in the open position. I am having that alignment taken care of now and hopefully this will fix the issue. Thank you all for the input it is greatly appreciated!
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby bloke » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:43 am

I don't know what a PT-72 is, and I have never played an F tuba like yours.

general F tuba playing tips...??

1/ "less"
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby Bob Sadler » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:47 am

Thanks for the detailed post, Elephant. I've started on bass tuba (Eb) this summer after 20 years of CC only and your advice is much appreciated.
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby BBruce107 » Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:08 am

bloke wrote:I don't know what a PT-72 is, and I have never played an F tuba like yours.

general F tuba playing tips...??

1/ "less"


Mostly general playing advice is much appreciated! It is an older number of Perantucci mouthpieces. Thanks Bloke!!
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Re: Playing tips for F tuba

Postby Wes Krygsman » Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:04 am

something that helped me immensely is doing a scale exercise my teacher called "do-re-do" referring to the solfege syllables. Assuming you don't know solfege, I'll use note names first, then scale degree numbers to explain.

Starting on C in the Staff, play an ascending C scale and add a C in between each note

C D C E C F C G C A C B C (high)C C
in scale degrees that's 1 2 1 3 1 4 1 5 1 6 1 7 1 8 1

I did this exercise in every key descending down into and beyond that range both slurred and with different articulations and dynamics.

Also, reverse it and try it backwards and try every key ascending to help with higher pitches.

Reversed it would be
8 1 8 2 8 3 8 4 8 5 8 6 8 7 8
and another fun variation if the regular reversal is too weird at first
1 8 2 8 3 8 4 8 5 8 6 8 7 8

Let me know if you don't understand any part of this and I'll try to make it clearer. Writing this exercise out has crossed my mind, but there are versions of it in arbans and kopprasch.
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