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british brass band tuba choice

Postby eeflattuba » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:32 pm

If you play in a british brass band here in north America what tuba do you use to cover the bb flat or ee flat parts? Does tradition matter, as it is done in England where a matching set of compensating instruments are used?When I go to my brass band rehearsal here in Canada I will either take my besson 981 or Yamaha neo bb flat. I have found that the bb flat compensating tubas some of the most in tune tubas I have ever played. I realize that that they can be an egronomic nightmare to play,but in the hands of the right person, they can provide a solid foundation to any ensemble.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby bloke » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:35 pm

I have found that the older English BBb tubas - assuming valves that are not worn - play more nicely in tune than some of the newer ones.

This is just a comment on the side. I do have my own opinions about Eb tubas, but my use of them… OK: "professionally" ( and, so far, I have never had the opportunity to play in a British style brass band)... is so specific, that I'm hesitant to offer any opinions on them here.
I would wonder, though, whether the old 15 inch bell Eb versions might be better suited for the brass band purpose, since they do sound more different from the big BBb ones than do the 19 inch bell Eb versions.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby GC » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:37 pm

Tubas being as expensive as they are, in the US brass band world it's typical to simply play what you've got. Some bands are able to afford a matched set of compensating BBb and Eb tubas, or they have players who happen to own them, but more often not.

Under NABBA rules, any tuba part can be played by any tuba in any key. NABBA bands or not, F tubas playing Eb parts are common, CC tubas playing BBb parts, likewise. Contrabass tubas covering Eb parts aren't unusual. Non-compensating tubas are more common than compensating. A group of compensating tubas may be the ideal situation, but I've heard bands with BBb, CC, Eb, and F tubas (one of each) or 2 CC and 2 F tubas that sound absolutely wonderful.

Personally, I think a section of older comp Bessons gives the ideal sound. I've never owned a compensating tuba, but I'm currently working toward getting one.
Last edited by GC on Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Voisi1ev » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:33 am

New to the brass band scene. Playing my 52J right now. I like my horn, but I don't think it fits the Bb Bass role very well. I've talked to my sectionmates enough, but I'm really digging the Brass Band scene and in the next year or two will probably look for a nice big Bb horn that plays perfectly in-tune with a nice string bass-like sound and easy speaking low register. Lets get a factory in China on that so I don't need to spend as much $$.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby Voisi1ev » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:36 am

But really, I'm looking forward to NABBA to try some horns and see whats up.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby Ken Herrick » Sun Feb 04, 2018 2:40 am

When I arrived in Australia in 71, I joined a "British" brass band in Sydney (Willoughby Municipal). At that time the bands here were run under the British rules and Besson/Boosey and Hawkes instruments were the "rule" in all sections with only a few exceptions - American instruments were pretty rare. I used my old King monster BBb rotary and people really liked the sound. In fact at the first state conrest where I played it the judges commented on the tuba sound and it was cited as a reason for recommending that the band be promoted from "B" grade to "A" grade. Still, it was the exception to the rule.

About 1980 a wider mix of intruments was to be found with the Sovereign line becoming dominant in bands which could afford the upgrade. Wilson Euphoniums started to appear and American made trombones were coming into vogue. (It had not been long since many bands had given up the old G bass trombones.

I had next to no contact with the brass band movement for several years and when I attended a national Championship contest in Brisbane around '99 or 2000 I was amazed to find the the rule regarding instrumentation had been relaxed and it was no longer a requirement that tubas be either EEb or BBb as it had been in years gone by. Bands from all over, including from New Zealand, had a real mix of all pitches and makes from around the world. ( I believe that french horns are still not accepted in contests.) The "sound" of the bands had evolved from the old rather thin, heavy vibrato style to something closer to a quasi American brass sound. It would be rare now to find a band using all B&H Imperial instruments in all sections as was the norm 45 or more years ago.

As for what Bloke says about the smaller 15 inch bell Booseys - my personal feeling is that the variation in tone colour is greater. Having played both the old and new I, frankly, prefer the old 15inch bell models, the one drawback being that tuning has also tended to go higher and it can be a bit difficult unless the tuba has had a "Fletcher cut". Ergonomics on the last New BBb I played were horrible. During my 6 years in the Army here I used either the King - or more often an older Boosey EEb as I decided the Army could pay for maintaining their own instrument since they wouldn't pay to repair mine. Also, the Eefer was a LOT easier to schlep around on the parade ground!!!
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby eeflattuba » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:13 pm

I watched the james Madison university brass band last night on youtube and they had five tubas,they sounded fantastic. There was a real mixture of horn types and I am sure there were no compensating tubas being used.Where I live we have had the opportunity to have many fantastic players from England visit us at the beginning of august to to do a intensive brass band course for a week.One of these is a well known tuba soloist.When he was playing with one of the top brass bands in England he told us that that the first ee flat player had a horn with a 17 inch bell and the second ee flat player had a horn with a 19 inch bell. The same situation for the bb flat tubas.He said it made a HUGE difference in sound quality.It is also my understanding that one of the top british brass bands in the united states, the fountain city brass band, recently bought a matching set of compensating tubas before there overseas trip.I get the fact that tubas are expensive, and for many of us we can only afford one,maybe two instruments.I have owned tubas of every key in my playing life but the ones I keep coming back to and own currently are of the compensating variety in ee flat an bb flat.My besson 981 is my go to horn.I have used it for brass quintet, ten piece brass ensemble, wind band,symphony orchestra, and last but not least, brass band.Going back between bass and treble clef is a breeze.My bb neo is perhaps the best large contrabass tuba I have ever owned. Massive sound and great pitch.Tubas configured in 3 plus1 fashion are not everbodys cup of tea but they sure work for me.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby Leland » Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:21 pm

If I can get involved in a brass band, I'll use my 4p/1r BBb.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby Dan Schultz » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:28 pm

I use my Rudy 5/4 BBb in brass band. We have a 'mix'.

- My Rudy BBb, an Alex BBb, and a Zeiss 'master model' BBb playing the BBb part.
- A Willson 5V CC, a Conn 3 piston EEb, and a St. Pete EEb on the Eb part.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby TheGoyWonder » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:33 pm

The NABBA hall is very (overly) reverberant from having a shell and having a big pit under the stage. So when weighing options there's not really a need for anything too large.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby hup_d_dup » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:54 pm

I play Eb in two (British-style) brass bands. The instrument I play is a Besson 983. I play that instrument because I like it, but as far as playing it in a brass band, frankly I think the selection is incidental. Most brass bands work diligently to get a blended sound, but the biggest variation, by far, is the differing characteristics of the players themselves. Any player on any instrument can, and should, work to make the sound fit in better with the ensemble, but the place to start is the player, not the instrument.

You will never see mismatched horns in bands like Black Dyke or Eikanger. But they are playing at such a high level that the differences in the instruments truly can make a difference in the section's overall sound.

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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby peter birch » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:45 am

hup_d_dup wrote:I play Eb in two (British-style) brass bands. The instrument I play is a Besson 983. I play that instrument because I like it, but as far as playing it in a brass band, frankly I think the selection is incidental. Most brass bands work diligently to get a blended sound, but the biggest variation, by far, is the differing characteristics of the players themselves. Any player on any instrument can, and should, work to make the sound fit in better with the ensemble, but the place to start is the player, not the instrument.

You will never see mismatched horns in bands like Black Dyke or Eikanger. But they are playing at such a high level that the differences in the instruments truly can make a difference in the section's overall sound.

Hup


at that level of banding it may well be more due to sponsorship or endorsements rather than musical considerations. I wonder how far you can go with matching instruments-buying them from the same shop, made on the same day by the same maker from the same batch of sheet metal? the variables are endless, so I agree, it all comes down to the players, and what goes on in and between their ears
Last edited by peter birch on Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby adsteve » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:13 pm

I personally used a CC and F for the BB-flat and E-flat parts, respectively. My band competed at NABBA and a few conferences throughout the year. While we weren't amazing, we were still competitive. I never had much trouble blending and was never told I needed to use the appropriate Besson tuba. As others said, I think if you were in Grimethorpe or something, you'd probably want matching horns. Not sure how much it matters for most American bands though.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby MaryAnn » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:23 pm

At first I played my F tuba on the Eb part, then switched to my CC after I got one, which I played on that part for many years. Then a break for a few years, and when I returned a year ago I used my NStar on the Eb part, which is the first time I have ever been asked to play more quietly because I was drowning out the cornets (when from my POV I was playing mf.) (That is an ad for the NStar, not for my playing.) I never attempted the BBb part because I don't have the lung capacity for the very low sustained notes. We have a British style band (alto / tenor horns) with conical brass. But a pretty American sound....I don't think anyone can play with that vibrato that is standard in the actual British bands I have heard.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby JCalkin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:00 pm

I only have one year experience playing with a British Style Band (Tallgrass Brass Band, went to NABBA last year, stoked to go back this year), and our section used CC and Eb tubas:

-Besson 983 Eb on Eb Bass 1
-Yamaha YEB 321 Eb on Eb Bass 1
-Rudy Meinl 5/4 CC on Bb Bass 1
-Willson 3050 CC on Bb Bass 2

This year the Yammy player will sub out for a Miraphone F player, and it'll work just fine.

My "mental gymnastics" learning to read treble clef Bb tuba on a CC were interesting, but I arrived at "read it like I'm playing bass clef concert pitch using F tuba fingerings," which is convoluted and almost certainly harder than it has to be, but I made it work OK.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby Voisi1ev » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:09 pm

JCalkin wrote:.

My "mental gymnastics" learning to read treble clef Bb tuba on a CC were interesting, but I arrived at "read it like I'm playing bass clef concert pitch using F tuba fingerings," which is convoluted and almost certainly harder than it has to be, but I made it work OK.


I learned over the summer last year. I just straight up went at it like another set of fingerings to learn, I heard about the F trick, but haven't touched an F tuba in years. Although now I can't play treble clef parts in C without moderate brain damage.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby Three Valves » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:19 pm

Got my first taste of live BBB at the tuba conference.

What I liked best??

No bloody woodwind screeching!!

:tuba:
Who needs four valves??

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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby Voisi1ev » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:46 pm

Three Valves wrote:Got my first taste of live BBB at the tuba conference.

What I liked best??

No bloody woodwind screeching!!

:tuba:


No doubt. I teach in a smaller school and have all my beginning band kids mixed. It has crossed my mind that having a brass band instead of regular wind band would be a lot easier to teach. Maybe I should move to England?
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby Jess Haney » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:29 pm

Our band uses a matched set of Willsons. We have 3400s on the Eb bass and 3100s on the Bb bass part. They have a great sound and match great. But I will attest that the matching set makes intonation and blend sounds much more easier. We had a 983 in the mix and we were doing sectional work for blending in the lighter tone for the Besson to our dark Willson set. I think when you get competitive it does add an edge in the playing. Most bands don't go down that sophisticated but our band is working towards matched sets across all the sections.
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Re: british brass band tuba choice

Postby AndyCat » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:47 am

I find it ironic that this thread is so active, while in the UK we have people actively asking 'why not?' or pushing for big 5~6/4 left facers.

I guess the grass is always greener, and there's always a magic bullet.

We have:
1 x Yamaha Maestro EEb
1 x Besson 982 EEb
2 x Yamaha Neo

I'm sure other combos would be just fine too.
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