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Major Intonation Issues

Postby k123ason » Sat Sep 02, 2017 12:53 pm

I just got a new tuba. It is a Mack TU210S BBb which I got for $2300. It has an AMAZING sound for the price, but I am having a huge problem with the intonation. After pulling all of my tuning slides out to maximum length, my open F is still sharp. The rest of the notes are sharp as well, but it's mostly on the open F.

Also, I understand, it's because of the cheap price, and I understand "you get what you pay for", But this issue is FAR too major to let go. I have went to many people for help, I took it into a local music store, I have asked some teachers, but I still haven't yet talked to a tuba professor. I have been told many things such as: "Give your instrument a bath", "Use a bigger mouthpiece", "Throw it away, it's a piece of crap".

At this point, some suggestions or advice would be helpful. Thanks!
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby bisontuba » Sat Sep 02, 2017 1:09 pm

I know Tom has longer tuning slides for that model...maybe contact him....
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby Uncle Markie » Sat Sep 02, 2017 1:21 pm

Contact Tom - it probably needs a longer tuning slide. Plus it's new and under warranty.
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby ghmerrill » Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:36 pm

How many other tubas have you played?

Is it possible that this isn't a tuba problem, but a player problem? In recent years I've sat beside experienced tuba players, often playing good Miraphone horns, who needed to have their tuning slides pulled out all the way in order to tune to 440. It wasn't the tuning slide or the instrument that was the problem. I've also sat beside experienced players using the same model instruments whose tuning slides were pulled out only about 1/2"-3/4".

How's your embouchure?

Just a thought.

(By the way ... NONE of the three Chinese-made instruments I own have ANY tuning or intonation problems. In that respect, they're all great.)
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby barry grrr-ero » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:13 pm

Don't play with your embouchure. Obviously, you've played other tubas where this wasn't a problem. Get the longer tuning slides, or get somebody good to make them for you. The only issue with your mouthpiece is whether the shank is sticking too far into the receiver.

It's probably not a 'piece of crap'; you didn't do anything wrong - just get more length on there.
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby royjohn » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:31 am

I don't think it's possible for posters here to know whether this might be an embouchure problem or whether it is a tuba design/equipment problem. I assume Tom is currently sending out tubas which address any tuning issues which this model formerly had.

It would make sense to get someone else knowledgeable to play the horn and see whether they also have intonation problems on it. If they don't the OP will know where the problem lies. If they do, it's time to call Tom and caucus about what should be done. Another tuning slide might fix the problem or perhaps the tuba should be returned. Tom has a policy of accepting returns and even paying the return shipping and he says that he's only had about seven returns while selling over two thousand horns. He stands behind his product, so just make a simple test to see what's what and then see if it needs new parts or needs to be returned. QED. No drama.

It doesn't make sense to cast doubt on this very fine dealer when the solution is so simple. Just take it to a teacher or tech who can tell you what's going on.
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby groth » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:32 am

There are a lot of threads discussing these particular horns (from Mack, Schiller and other distributors) as being very sharp over the past couple years, so it's undoubtedly not the player. They need a longer tuning slide.
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby pauvog1 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:38 am

From Tom's website:

For those who have purchased this model from me or from other dealers, if you would like to have a fully assembled main tuning slide, feel free to contact me as I do have them in stock. This main slide is a direct replacement that needs no assembly or technician to refit as it is a direct replacement.

http://www.mackbrass.com/MACK-TU200_BBb_4_4_Tuba.php

Maybe, give him a call or email and see if this may be the issue.
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby ghmerrill » Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:11 am

I was unaware of this:

Tom says ...
Although I had no issues with the standard factory length, the shorter main tuning slide had the potential for causing issues for those that play on the sharp side. The new, improved longer main tuning slide corrects the problem for those who play sharp by allowing them to bring the pitch down to A=440 very easily now.


Very interesting, and certainly one way to fix the problem. Otherwise, I'm not sure at this point what's "obviously" or "undoubtedly" the case since I'm not really good at diagnosing things like this via text. However, it is pretty straightforward to figure it out on the spot and with little effort.
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby swillafew » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:34 am

It takes awhile to learn a new horn. I have had 3 over the years. The second one, I played and thought it was really well in tune. I checked my pitch, I was uniformly sharp on my entire range. After I collected myself, I began the process of correcting this. It was all me, wanting to think I was making a beautiful sound and imagining that I was hearing it.

Playing sharp is about the last thing a tuba player needs, so by all means be patient. If you train your chops to make a sound and need to fix it, retraining takes more than a day or two. The horn in my story was never the issue.
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby bloke » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:11 am

If "everything is sharp" and "roughly the same amount"...
wouldn't that just be a "major intonation issue" (singular) ?
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby Dan Tuba » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:31 am

Isn't the OP asking about a Mack 210? The "longer slide" Tom was offering was for the Mack 200, not the 210. I've owned both of these tubas. The original 200 that Tom offered had a short tuning slide, however, the 210 was and still is equipped with a rather long tuning slide. From my experience with the 210, I would estimate that the tuba is pitched at A443. The slide that comes with the tuba is long enough to bring the pitch down in "normal" environmental conditions. Mouthpiece selection is something worth exploring on the 210. We have "thoroughly" discussed "GAP" in this forum. When I used an "American" shank mouthpiece, the sound was great, however, I noticed that I could "easily" place the pitch of any given note(especially the lower register) 15 - 20 cents in either direction on the tuner without changing the "sound" or "color." This could perhaps be a useful "quality," however, if your not carefully placing the pitch where it's supposed to be, you are going to be "off." I found that by using a "larger/European" shank mouthpiece such as a Melton 24AW, PT50/PT24 that there was an overall reduced margin for error.
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby bloke » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:51 am

I tend to play instruments (tuning slides in the same positions) at slightly lower pitch levels that do many players.

Of course, I possess a #WorldClassSound. Image
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby the elephant » Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:51 am

bloke wrote:I possess a #WorldClassSound. Image


Ah, that term takes me back to the halcyon days of KingBaritoneGod...
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby MaryAnn » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:15 pm

That poor kid (world class sound)....does anyone know where he ended up, what he ended up doing? He really got chewed up over that statement, which from his point of view was probably totally innocent, just something a typical teenager would say.
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby bloke » Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:12 pm

MaryAnn wrote:That poor kid (world class sound)....does anyone know where he ended up, what he ended up doing? He really got chewed up over that statement, which from his point of view was probably totally innocent, just something a typical teenager would say.


exactly. :|

Through no fault of his own, he just happened to be lucky enough to sound just like me. :mrgreen:
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby ghmerrill » Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:27 pm

bloke wrote:If "everything is sharp" and "roughly the same amount"...
wouldn't that just be a "major intonation issue" (singular) ?


Definitely -- at least for everyone else. For several years I played with a trumpet player (in community band and in a quintet a couple of times) who consistently plays 30 cents sharp (by repeated checks with a tuner), independent of what he does with his tuning slide. He could NOT play the horn in tune. Others didn't have that problem with the horn. Of course, one problem is that he can't hear the difference.

I've stopped playing with him. Life's too short.

(I said "tuning slide" rather than "tuning slides" because he -- like a number of trumpet/baritone players I encounter in community bands -- didn't seem to think that the valve slides were useful for anything except catching condensation. I think this must be reinforced from middle school onwards.)
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby nworbekim » Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:17 pm

is the new instrument larger than the old one?
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby lost » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:55 am

To help a bit...can someone address if a longer tuning slide exists for the 210? Also k123...you might want to let another tuba player try it to see if they experience the problem and report back here.
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Re: Major Intonation Issues

Postby royjohn » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:28 am

lost wrote
you might want to let another tuba player try it to see if they experience the problem and report back here.


This was suggested earlier in this thread and the OP has yet to report back...I still find it hard to believe that Mack Brass would be shipping such a popular model, of which they have to have sold dozens, if not hundreds, if it were so sharp. Since such pitch tendencies are design issues, it isn't likely that one of these would all of a sudden pop up playing so sharp.

It's odd to me that the open F, which I think is usually flat, is supposedly sharp on this horn. I'm wondering if his previous horn ( a school Yamaha 321) was flat on that F and generally flatter than the 210 and now he's sharp because of learned tendencies from playing the former tuba. Remember that this is a high school player talking, so there could be experience issues at play. It's a simple matter to get a tuba teacher or band director or even cohorts who play fairly well to see what they experience. A lot simpler than shipping a new tuba back to the supplier...
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