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Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby lost » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:37 pm

While free blowing is often used as a positive for tubas, I found myself in the uncomfortable position of taking a summer off from a community band (and practicing), fixed some of my tuba's issues, and now have an incredibly free blowing horn.... that amplifies all my playing imperfections.

Maybe the lesson is don't keep playing on a horn with imperfections?

Am I overanalyzing? Should I just shut up and practice? :mrgreen:
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby Mark Finley » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:54 pm

I know some people that don't like Thayer valves on a bass trombone because it takes away a good deal of resistance that they are used to
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby bort » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:03 pm

I once played a big Cerveny that had virtually no resistance. I could sustain a note for about 4 seconds. It also resonated so much, I thought it would crumble and shake itself apart in my hands.

"no thanks". :)
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby bloke » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:30 pm

blame the russians...
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby circusboy » Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:02 pm

Can't that be addressed by using a mouthpiece with a tighter backbore?
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby lost » Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:32 pm

Maybe I need to trade up my trusty helleberg? Any board suggestions?
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby GC » Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:43 pm

It can help, but may not be enough by itself. I owned a Cerveny 601 CC that was like putting a vacuum cleaner to to my lips. It was impossible for me to play it anything other than loudly, and I found a buyer for it after a year. The Dillon G3 that came with it had little resistance, so I tried a half dozen other mouthpieces with smaller throats and bores. They helped, but weren't enough.

Some people with good lip control can handle and like free-blowing horns. Some of us need a bit of resistance for good control and tone. For some of us a mouthpiece may be enough to tame a monster; for others of us, no.

Then again, the guy I sold the Cerveny to was able to control it beautifully . . .
Last edited by GC on Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby Donn » Fri Oct 06, 2017 4:42 pm

lost wrote:Maybe I need to trade up my trusty helleberg? Any board suggestions?


Keep it, would be one board suggestion. The standard Conn 120 Helleberg isn't supposed to have a large throat, anyway, and the odds are that the fairly minuscule variations between throat diameters in normal tuba mouthpieces aren't on their own a very good indication of how they're going to play. The Conn 7B Helleberg has a distinctly larger throat, but I've never heard anyone suggest it takes more air to play; old Conn mouthpieces got even larger in the throat as they got smaller and shallower. The ever popular Bach 18 is supposed to have a much bigger throat, as big a throat as the 24AW, according to the manufacturer, and it seems no one knows or cares if that's even true.

I'm not saying the mouthpiece doesn't matter, it probably does, only that you can't spec the mouthpiece this way.
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby TheGoyWonder » Fri Oct 06, 2017 6:06 pm

the shallower mouthpiece can do a little, but only so much before it feels like it's just throttling everything back.

It seems like leadpipes with a lot of soldering to the bell can have more resistance, and a good kind of resistance, than totally floating leadpipes. that could be the simplest way to bring things back the other way.
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby Michael Bush » Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:57 pm

I have no suggestions about how to solve the resistance problem, but I am very curious about what fixing of issues on which of your tubas led to the question... Possibly in another thread?
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby lost » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:34 pm

It was my silver conn 25j. The lead pipe was mashed in when I bought it and it played fine so I played it a year. I finally had a break to get it unmashed. I realized it had more resistance with it mashed in, so now I'm adjusting. Thanks for the help and suggestions everyone.
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby TheGoyWonder » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:54 am

I've been wondering what a 25J would be like with a tighter leadpipe, longer solder joint to bell, an inch or so longer (eliminating bit), and smaller receiver such as a King.

As is, yes it's like playing a shopvac. It'll take more and more air, until you suddenly achieve dreaded Conn Roar.
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby pjv » Sun Oct 08, 2017 1:26 pm

More air
More practice
Smaller mpc could help
Using a bit as well could help
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby GC » Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:46 pm

I never had a problem playing my 25J softly, but the leadpipe had been replaced before I bought the horn. Replacement might solve your problem (or not). I miss that horn, but not the weight; as I got older and punier, hauling that beast up and down several flights of steps to a rehearsal hall became too much.
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby Roger Lewis » Sun Oct 15, 2017 5:39 pm

The manufacturers were building horns to take resistance out. That's the whole reason for the "big piston" Meinl Weston. Take resistance out. In reality they needed to build resistance IN. Have you played a Thor? Resistance was built into the horn. Same with the Miraphone 1293. The build theory was wrong. Resistance helps the embouchure do the job. The lack of resistance makes the embouchure do all the work. The fine muscles and nerves of the embouchure will not take that stress for very long without major fatigue. The resistance helps.

Just my $0.02.
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby Rivercity Tuba » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:44 pm

Roger Lewis wrote:The manufacturers were building horns to take resistance out. That's the whole reason for the "big piston" Meinl Weston. Take resistance out. In reality they needed to build resistance IN. Have you played a Thor? Resistance was built into the horn. Same with the Miraphone 1293. The build theory was wrong. Resistance helps the embouchure do the job. The lack of resistance makes the embouchure do all the work. The fine muscles and nerves of the embouchure will not take that stress for very long without major fatigue. The resistance helps.

Just my $0.02.
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What he said! Can even cause permanent damage.
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby bloke » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:57 pm

I'm going to get lectured for saying this (along with "people have different opinions of the definition of that"...blah-blah-blah...), but really well-balanced tubas (as far as "resistance" is concerned...and that are really easy to play in tune, as well) are what bloke uses to sound AS IF bloke has been practicing.

bloke "also agreeing with Roger's post"
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby GC » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:12 pm

Roger Lewis wrote:The manufacturers were building horns to take resistance out. That's the whole reason for the "big piston" Meinl Weston. Take resistance out. In reality they needed to build resistance IN. Have you played a Thor? Resistance was built into the horn. Same with the Miraphone 1293. The build theory was wrong. Resistance helps the embouchure do the job. The lack of resistance makes the embouchure do all the work. The fine muscles and nerves of the embouchure will not take that stress for very long without major fatigue. The resistance helps.

Now, if we can just get ALL the manufacturers to pay attention . . .
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby Donn » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:29 pm

Yes - manufacturers, listen up! The resistance should be "just right"! I don't want to hear any more excuses!
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Re: Can a tuba be too free blowing?

Postby GC » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:32 pm

They could, of course, find all the consultants they need here . . . :wink:
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