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Equipment Advise

Postby andrew the tuba player » Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:08 pm

Hi guys. I have a nice Conn 52j that I really like. But since I have decided to not go the music major route, the only ensemble I will playing in is a British Brass Band. I can transpose but I'd rather focus on the music than the transpositon. That and this group is very particular about instrumentation as they want to be authentic.

I have been considering selling or trading the 52j for a 4 or 5/4 BBb to be able to support the group and be in the right key. The one I have been looking into is the Wessex Excelsior. I haven't been able to find a lot of info on it other than the promotional which looks good. I was wanting to see if anyone who has played or owed one could let me know how well they play and hold up over time. Also if it's comparable to the 52j in terms of quality. Other suggestions are welcome as well. I don't really have any cash to put with it so it would have to be a straight trade or about the same value as the 52j.

Thanks.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby Mark Finley » Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:17 pm

Quality wise, it may be better than a 52J. I've seen too many problems with Kings and Conns from that era to give the UMI factory high marks, but of you've been happy with yours, great!
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby hup_d_dup » Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:44 am

There is an advantage to having players in each section having matching instruments. But this advantage cannot be heard unless the players are already playing at a very high level indeed.

Phil Smith started a British brass band at U of Georgia only three years ago and it is already placing well in national competitions. They are not using matching instruments and Phil says that it doesn't bother him in the least. Mr. Smith grew up in brass band culture and has been involved with brass bands for decades.

By the way, many of the top British brass bands have matching instruments because they were provided by the band.

Andrew, I know you are not determining the policy for the band your are referring to, but it does sound like they may have expectations that are unreasonable. Before you rush to get an instrument that you may not need, perhaps you can play with the band for a while and see how well you can make the horn you have fit in with the group.

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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby andrew the tuba player » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:14 am

I have given thoght to that. A lot of the instruments are provided including our 1st chair BBb.I just feel that a BBb would be more useful to me as this group is the only one I'll be playing with. The only other group that I'd be able to get into right now would be our community band if I ever get on the right work schedule and they dont care what you play. As much as I love the Conn it seems that CC just isn't what need.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby bloke » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:39 am

Older 3+1-comp. "Besson" tubas (Edgware St. factory - London) are vastly underrated. As long as the valves aren't leaky (as these are aging, and many base their opinions on having tested worn instruments, and/or having encountered small shank receivers - which can be swapped out), the sound is really nice, the projection is really great, and the tuning is really good. The only pitch that seems to be a slight problem is Eb in the staff (sharp). Depress the 4th valve, and it's fixed.

Further, these are "the tubas" which are appropriate for those ensembles, and they are fully-chromatic.

There's a whole bunch of anti-top-action bias out there these days, though...

The 3-comp. versions are just as good, weigh less, and offer an IN-TUNE range to low E.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby Mark » Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:39 am

andrew the tuba player wrote:I have a nice Conn 52j that I really like. But since I have decided to not go the music major route, the only ensemble I will playing in is a British Brass Band. I can transpose but I'd rather focus on the music than the transpositon.


Whether the tuba is CC or BBb you will still have to transpose.

Some of the best US-based brass bands I have seen use CC tubas. And, they don't match.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby andrew the tuba player » Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:54 am

Older 3+1-comp. "Besson" tubas


Would you be referring to the ones that are tall and shaped similarly to the yamaha YBBs?
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby andrew the tuba player » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:24 pm

Whether the tuba is CC or BBb you will still have to transpose.


While this is true, Bb treble clef would be much easier on a BBb than on a CC. I played last season on it and I can do it but I would be much better on a BBb. And I'm not the one who cares if the horns match or not. That's always been a part of this group. They want to be very traditional down to all of the horns are also silver. The only reason I got the spot was because the last player left suddenly and i was suggested. I would really rather not loose the spot as I've wanted to get into this group for quite a while.
Last edited by andrew the tuba player on Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby bloke » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:25 pm

andrew the tuba player wrote:
Older 3+1-comp. "Besson" tubas


Would you be referring to the ones that are tall and shaped similarly to the yamaha YBBs?


yep...The instruments of which the YBB-321 is a so-so (and non-comp) copy.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby andrew the tuba player » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:34 pm

I always thought that the YBB was based off of them. I would like to find one to play test. I started out on a YBB321 which while it wasnt spectacular, it wasnt horrible either so i figure that the besson being a much better horn all around plus being compensated would be a good player.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby hup_d_dup » Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:50 pm

bloke wrote:There's a whole bunch of anti-top-action bias out there these days, though...


Yes, but I haven't seen that in bands with the British instrumentation . . . they seem to love top-action.

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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby Mark Finley » Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:54 pm

I like bloke's idea of the 3V compensating horn
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby andrew the tuba player » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:26 pm

I Iike the idea of the Bessons but i think I'd prefer it as a 4 valve as it will be my new work horse horn. How does the Wessex stack up to them? The biggest reason I'm interested in it is because Wessex seems to be making great horns and if that one is good then it's in a nice setup. That and it's new so I wouldn't have to worry about valve rebuilds and such for a long time.

I need to find some horns to play test. It may be hard though as there aren't a lot of music shops around me.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby ken k » Sat Aug 05, 2017 1:14 am

The BBb equivalent to your 52 would be the King 2341 or any of the Chinese copies. These are generally very decent instruments with good tone and intonation.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby Jess Haney » Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:17 pm

Hey Andrew,

I have been in brass bands for 14 years and I can give you some insight if you wish. It really boils down to personal preference but BBb is much easier and works better on the fingers. I can also give you some horns to try. If you are stuck to a budget Wessex and the Schiller Elite line of Bbs as well Sterling offer some great horns for the value. The Excelsior has a very long lead-pipe and is difficult to control in some registers and was mouthpiece specific. It is much more comfortable than the large comps but I found it hard to control effectively.The bulls-eye was very small. If you are looking into the compensated BBbs the Schiller Bb Elite compensated tuba was a great horn that I played at Jim Laabs music last year. The Schiller Elite miraphone 191 rotary copy was also an astonishing horn playing very close to the copy its designed from. Both under $3500. The JP Sterling is the same horn as the Schiller Bb comp but with some modifications in brass alloy and lead-pipe. The New Wessex 1291 copy as well as the 6/4 Bb are great contenders as the sound was big, full and pronounced. More-so with the 1291. The 6/4 may be too big to have clarity for very technical passages in grade 5 and 6 music. Used miraphone 1291s and 191s come around from time to time and can be had for $4000-$6000 depending on seller and condition. these are very popular with the bulk of tubas at NABBA being 5/4 BBbs and CCs. There are others to be had for higher price brackets but those horns I mentioned previously are a good place to start.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby tubalux » Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:39 pm

I started out playing non-compensating Fs and Cs through uni... then switched to compensating Bbs & Ebs Besson Sovereign / Yamaha Neo, and THEN I got myself a Conn 25J.

For me it's pretty much the perfect Brass Band BBb. And they're cheap 2nd hand. And if you're in the USA it seems (from posts in the for sale section) that there's another one for sale every month.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby bloke » Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:19 pm

andrew the tuba player wrote:I Iike the idea of the Bessons but i think I'd prefer it as a 4 valve as it will be my new work horse horn. How does the Wessex stack up to them? The biggest reason I'm interested in it is because Wessex seems to be making great horns and if that one is good then it's in a nice setup. That and it's new so I wouldn't have to worry about valve rebuilds and such for a long time.

I need to find some horns to play test. It may be hard though as there aren't a lot of music shops around me.


I personally find the old Besson BBb comp's to have not (yet) been surpassed by Yamaha, B&S "Besson", or anyone else.
That having been said, if you mind is wandering towards Chinese instruments, why not consider one that is really built well?
disclaimer: I sell these.
http://www.jpmusicalinstruments.com/JP378-Sterling-BBb-Tuba.html
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby TheGoyWonder » Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:54 pm

YBB-321 would be a good choice, it's cheap and the right aesthetic. Bland, but deep and the Eb basses will be providing color (and then some). only problem is a 1st valve note that is flat (middle Ab) I'm sure something could be rigged up to correct that.
The real-deal Besson BBb has more potential but they much less likely than Yamaha to have tight valves.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby bloke » Sun Aug 06, 2017 5:37 pm

TheGoyWonder wrote:YBB-321 would be a good choice, it's cheap and the right aesthetic. Bland, but deep and the Eb basses will be providing color (and then some). only problem is a 1st valve note that is flat (middle Ab) I'm sure something could be rigged up to correct that.
The real-deal Besson BBb has more potential but they much less likely than Yamaha to have tight valves.


If you see an ORIGINAL FINISH Besson for sale that is NOT all beat-up and NOT "overhauled", that instrument, most likely, has good valves.

It's just like cars: When someone takes car of the paint job, the seats, and the carpet, it is LIKELY that they also care for the mechanical aspects.
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Re: Equipment Advise

Postby andrew the tuba player » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:01 pm

I'm not sure how they would feel about rotary valves. It would make the search a lot easier if that were an option. I will email them and find out.

I've been keeping am eye out for the bessons as I've heard alot of good things here and elsewhere. How hard are they to come by in silver?

As far as the price point I wohld have to line it up with what my 52j is worth. Its in great shape so it shohld be worth a bit. I'd like to find a trade and for go the sell and buy bit but if i can't that's what I'll do.

That being said the 52j is my work horse so I'd need to fimd something that can keep up with it. I've owned a 25j and now own a 20j and even though thwy are great horns I'm not sure that 2 big Conns would be the way to go. Likewise i "grew up" on a Ybb 321 and it was a decent horn but not up to par with the 52j.
Thanks for all the advise thus far.
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