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Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby BBruce107 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:47 pm

Hi all,

This question has intrigued me for a while and I am curious to hear what you all think on this. I am a tuba performance major and I have been playing bass trombone as a double for seven years but recently have thought about if it would be more practical to double on cimbasso rather than bass trombone. From what I know about cimbasso (which is quite limited) it can play the same music as a bass trombone but it would use a tuba sized mouthpiece which from an outside observation makes more sense than using a different sized mouthpiece and bore. On the other hand with my personal experience on bass trombone the bore does not bother me as much as it did. I am going into my last year of undergrad and already own both a contrabass tuba and bass tuba and I am curious if I were to sell my bass trombone and invest in a cimbasso if I would be able to still continue to play the ensembles where I play bass trombone just on the cimbasso or would it be smarter to just keep with the bass trombone? I do eventually plan on investing in a cimbasso later on but as I look into grad school it seems that the gigs will be mostly (if not all of them) tuba oriented. Thank you in advance!
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby Steginkt » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:50 pm

Keep the bass trombone.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby Bob Kolada » Wed Sep 06, 2017 1:42 am

Bass trombone and cimbasso are about as interchangeable as bass and contrabass trombone.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby hup_d_dup » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:35 am

Check this Chris Olka video review of a Dillon cimbasso.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEa4VqsXBug

In this video Chris addresses many interesting aspects of cimbasso performance, including the suitability of playing big band bass trombone parts on cimbasso.

By the way, although Chris does not mention it in the video, he was double major (tuba/trombone) in school but now plays only tuba and cimbasso.

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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby the elephant » Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:22 am

Different sounds, different purposes, not interchangeable.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby Casca Grossa » Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:27 am

Cimbasso is basically valve trombonish shaped f tuba object. If you are comfortable with bass trombone, keep it because it is a very practical double. Nothing wrong with the cimbasso as an addition to your stable. It is usually used for opera works but a few people have found some interesting uses for it. It could turn into extra income if you find some innovative uses for it.

Check this out if you want to see someone who plays bass trombone, cimbasso, and tuba in incredibly creative ways...
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3TfvE ... p-Okx0Llhw" target="_blank

Then there is this Bloke...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD6tp9eomdM" target="_blank

Both fine examples of cimbasso creativity.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby PaulMaybery » Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:37 am

I use both but would not consider the cimbasso a practical trade off for the BT. Frequenly the bass trombone is the 3rd voice of the trombone section (not the bottom voice) where there is already the tuba on the 4th or bottom voice. To stick a cimbasso in the mix on that 3rd part would not make real sense as the cimbasso really was intended for the bottom part. On the other hand, to take the cimbasso and use it on the 4th part, instead of the tuba, is a good option and one that I do quite often in pops orchestras in particular. One more, "on the other hand:" To use the bass trombone as a substitute for the cimbasso (and ok, the tuba) is not so much a problem. Many times the great opera orchestras in America, before the days of the accessability of the cimbasso, would add an additional bass trombone to use used on that part in the Italian repertory. I WOULD NOT GIVE UP THE BASS TROMBONE.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby bloke » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:13 am

The high range of an F cimbasso is no more reliable (and equal to) that of an F tuba.

Bass trombone music is - more often that non-bass-trombonists understand - fairly routinely written three (and four) ledger lines above the staff. OK... That's a "reliable" range for a really extraordinary (very fine indeed) F tubaist/cimbasso player, but by no means universally reliable for "those who spent the required $2500 to buy a Jinbao cimbasso" (and - just fwiw - a really nice bass trombone - typically: purchased by a really great bass trombonist - costs double that amount). Further, even F tubaists/cimbasso owners who can handle that range will produce a sound up there (via "what a cimbasso will do") that is "hooty". As an additional minor argument against substituting an F cimbasso for a Bb/F bass trombone, the "school of playing" (tuba vs. trombone) just doesn't quite match. Highly-schooled and high-achieving trombone players (well, sorry, but...) ~tend~ :roll: to possess more subtleties in their playing than highly-schooled and highly-achieving tubaists, just as the same quality level of cello players do vs. highly-skilled euphonium players. :| (though uncomfortable to us: ~generally~ true)

Further, far more bass trombonists tend to be masters-of their instruments, rather than doublers-on their instruments.

Often (and I probably should not, because I like Paul), I tend to "pick at" Paul's posts just a wee bit (never: completely, and mostly: agreeing), but here I'm completely agreeing and offering points to reinforce my agreement with his post.

As a post-script, I also agree with Paul's "3rd part" point. If there is a band piece or an orchestral piece with four trombone parts, OK...if there's actually a cimbasso available (and someone highly qualified to play it), then that's fine, but otherwise "two tenors and a bass" on the three trombone parts - always. On pops medleys (orch. pops concerts), I will sometimes *switch between tuba and cimbasso (mid-piece) because c. 60% of the "tuba part" may be reinforcement of the double basses, and c. 40% of the "tuba part", actually, serves as the 4th trombone part (ref: "big band" scoring) - with these defacto-and-intermediate 4th trombone parts not really functioning as the "bass of the orchestra" (again: with the double basses constantly holding on to that assignment), but only as the "bass of the trombone section".
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*which is why - discussed in another thread somewhere - my own cimbasso stand is a LOOSE-fitting (yet secure) stand, vs. some sort of snap-in-place type of stand.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby Donn » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:01 am

bloke wrote:Further, far more bass trombonists tend to be masters-of their instruments, rather than doublers-on their instruments.


That's a point in favor the cimbasso, right?

It seems to me that plenty of tuba players have been picking up the cimbasso as a double. You all would perhaps have been more positive about the proposition if BBruce107 hadn't framed it the way he did.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby bloke » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:38 am

Donn wrote:
bloke wrote:Further, far more bass trombonists tend to be masters-of their instruments, rather than doublers-on their instruments.


That's a point in favor the cimbasso, right?

It seems to me that plenty of tuba players have been picking up the cimbasso as a double. You all would perhaps have been more positive about the proposition if BBruce107 hadn't framed it the way he did.


Seven years (assuming efficiently applied) is a serious investment in a skill-set, which I would encourage to preserve (rather than abandon).
"Bass trombone double" is a far more valuable skill than "cimbasso double" (which, almost, isn't really a double. Rather, it's more of "a very skinny Chinese tuba that I bought, because I was intrigued, and because it was only c. $2500").
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby BBruce107 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 1:29 pm

I must not have phrased the proposition properly. Most of my bass trombone performances are big band settings. I do not claim to be a great bass trombone player but with how long I have played it exclusively as a double the question of possibly switching to cimbasso for that setting came to mind. I am much more comfortable as a tuba player than bass trombone and my logic was primarily to see what opinions would surface when posed with the question. Once I am in grad school I plan to focus on tuba playing which in most cases are impractical in big bands however the range could be attained with a cimbasso which seemed like a logical switch.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby bloke » Wed Sep 06, 2017 1:54 pm

blunt-but-respectful and helpful-meaning answer:

"cimbasso" really is not much of a "double". It's really just "another F tuba". The learning curve is shallow. If you choose to put the bass trombone away, that's your business, but you're really not "replacing" that double with another one.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby Donn » Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:11 pm

BBruce107 wrote:Once I am in grad school I plan to focus on tuba playing which in most cases are impractical in big bands however the range could be attained with a cimbasso which seemed like a logical switch.


Do you mean, you could continue with your big band gigs, playing the bass trombone parts on cimbasso, because you're no longer going to have time to keep up your bass trombone chops?
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby BBruce107 » Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:52 pm

Do you mean, you could continue with your big band gigs, playing the bass trombone parts on cimbasso, because you're no longer going to have time to keep up your bass trombone chops?[/quote]

That is my reasoning in this case yes. As Bloke also previously stated it is like another F tuba which I am very comfortable with so the design and sound of a cimbasso being more relatable to an over sized bass trombone makes a reasonable assumption that it could be used in a big band setting without a major switch of mouthpiece size from tuba.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby bloke » Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:02 pm

"Playing different mouthpieces" doesn't do any damage.
Private teachers (ex: horn, when their "prodigy" :roll: students play mellophone on a trumpet rim) who "freak out" when finding out that their students "double" (just as my classic guitar teacher - a million years ago - "freaked out" when he found out I was also playing electric bass) are full of it.

Oboists must also deal with much larger English horn reeds, and - sometimes - in-between oboe d'amore reeds.
Saxophonists must deal with four (or five) mouthpiece sizes.
Woodwind players who play with touring Broadway shows must play seven or eight instruments (flute/piccolo/clarinet/oboe/bassoon/bass clarinet/bari sax is not unheard of).
One of the greatest jazz trumpet players I ever heard was also a great trombonist and switched back-and-forth midstream.
I double on euphonium (yeah, admittedly much easier than your bass trombone double).
The mind is the only thing that really has to adjust.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby Z-Tuba Dude » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:04 pm

Depending on which big bands you play with, a cimbasso may, or may not, be a welcome visitor.

A professional group might be more reluctant to accept such an "oddity".

I have experienced both attitudes.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby barry grrr-ero » Fri Sep 08, 2017 1:38 am

I'm currently using a G&P cimbasso in a community college jazz band, splitting the 4th book with a trombonist who doesn't own a bass trombone. Let me tell you, it's a steep learning curve. I can honk out great 'blatty' low notes, but the horn is rather 'dark' or covered sounding in the middle and upper mid ranges. It's also a tad slow to speak. I'm playing along with the fourth trombonist in order to work on my F fingerings (completely new to me), but will probably just play the low 'whack-a-mole' notes in concert. With the piston valves, I can execute the fast 'licks' in the upper mid range better than most trombonists. It just comes out sounding 'covered', is all. Frankly, only a really good bass trombonist could compete in the cellar range. My understanding is that the G&P is more tuba-like than most other cimbassi.

I'm asking Doug Elliott to come up with a m.p. that will give me a brighter and faster speaking tone. The receiver takes something close to a Euroshank. I'd like to have a m.p. that has the normal width of a cimbasso/contrabass-trombone piece, but a bit shallower (perhaps). Doug could easily slap one together, but he has to fabricate the shank from scratch. I've also sent an e-mail to G&P to see if they make a smaller neck/receiver piece. My guess is they don't, but there's no harm in asking.

If this horn doesn't work out for what I want to do with it, I'll sell it off. I was planning on doing this for just 2 or 3 years anyway, unless it becomes a huge hit (not likely). I can tell you this much: it makes for an INCREDIBLE CONVERSATION PIECE. I've had numerous people come up to take pix of it. I have a feeling one of these could really kick butt in a loud rock band.

In case you're interested, the two m.p.'s I'm using are, 1). a Miraphone "R. Winston Morris" F tuba m.p. (relatively wide and shallow, but also sits in just a tad too far in the receiver), and 2). a JK (Kleier) "exclusive" m.p. that - I presume - came with the horn. It's narrower, but also a tad deep. I'd like to have something close to that Kleier piece but shallower. Bloke? . . .
Last edited by barry grrr-ero on Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cimbasso vs Bass Trombone

Postby barry grrr-ero » Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:44 pm

Well what do you know, I'm now getting to solo on a version of "Makin' Whoopee" that was used by the Basie band. The tessitura is pretty low - the part says bass trombone or tuba, but it lays perfectly on the cimbasso. Since F fingerings are still new to me, I really need to wood shed this thing and make it sound nice. Wish me luck.

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