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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby bloke » Tue May 08, 2018 9:47 am

I feel really certain that people have REALLY grown weary of me posting the same crap over-and-over, but...

Since I picked up my first Eb instrument (a stencil sousaphone for $25, in 1978), I'ved always used Eb instruments for playing in jazz bands (unless it's a NOLA-style "street" brass band, which needs to be VERY loud...which is when I use my Bb sousaphone).

Eb tubas/sousaphones (as others here have stated over-and-over) offer the approximate sound of contrabass tubas/sousaphones, combined with the facility of bass tubas. The one that (having played in small jazz bands for over four decades) I'm currently playing is a late-1950's-made English-made 3+1 compensating, which combines "easy to play in-tune" with "fully chromatic". Very luckily (though I'm always looking...so perhaps that is from where I derive my "luck"), I found a rare one outfitted with a recording bell (actually, these rarely-found instruments were built quite differently from the regular fixed-bell model - with a formidable list of manufactured differences...including a much-shorter-bend upper bow - not just "cut for a recording bell"), but I have also fashioned an upright bell for it.

Again, I really try to avoid staring at lead sheets when playing in bands, and prefer to learn the chord changes (repeating myself: NUMBER SYSTEM, so the "key" or "length of tuba" doesn't matter), and (repeating myself yet more) mess around when idle (driving/watching bad movies with spouse, etc.) play hundreds of songs on "air tuba" in remote keys, so that "the length of tuba" isn't a factor.

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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby Ltrain » Tue May 08, 2018 10:19 am

Bill Troiano wrote:BTW - in my first response on this thread, I did mention that the 36K CC sousaphone that I sold to a tuba gentleman in Florida, might be for sale. I contacted him yesterday and he is selling it. I told him he should post it on Tubenet, but he hasn't yet. It was a white fiberglass, 3 valve sousaphone when I owned it. He painted it black with a gold bell. The picture isn't very clear, but you get the idea. He's asking $1400.00 for it. Feel free to email me if you would like his contact info.


Bill - this is Ryan H. by the way. We've connected on FB quite a few times about this horn. Thank you again for your insight and especially for sharing this news about the sale. I love the paint job, although my BBb version turned out quite nice as well (props to Bloke for the color guidance) ;)

If: 1. Wessex wasn't pushing out a 4-valve CC instrument for not a lot of money AND 2. my "fiberbrass" 36K wasn't such a joy to play (it's in-tune, loud, and pops out a great Eb false tone)... I would be all over this!!! As in – your friend in Florida would already have my money.

However... I know at least 2 potential buyers for that horn. Bill, can you PM me specifics in getting a hold of the seller?

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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby gionvil » Tue May 08, 2018 3:30 pm

I understand BrooklynBass very well as I have the same problems, not because I am playing any traditional jazz, but for the marching religious services I play with various municipal bands ( that is still a well alive tradition in my country). I can't march with my heavier CC horns, so the one I use for the purpose is an old beaten 3 valves Bb. It doesn't bother me so much to switch, mostly because the parts of the funeral and religious marches are not so full of notes or never in any "weird" key. Probably I don't realize it but I don't read them so much anymore, they are kind of memorized and my brain seems to adjust fingering depending on the horn I am holding. In fact once I tried it was more difficult for me to play those same parts on a CC instrument even if I play it as my main horn.
That said a CC helicon or any lighter CC instrument would be probably a good change for me, I see that Wessex is developing also a compensated CC kind of cavalry tuba that can be worth of interest for marching or standing gigs.
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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby Doc » Tue May 08, 2018 8:02 pm

bloke wrote:I feel really certain that people have REALLY grown weary of me posting the same crap over-and-over, but...


The truth is the truth, redundant or not. 13!

bloke wrote: Since I picked up my first Eb instrument (a stencil sousaphone for $25, in 1978), I'ved always used Eb instruments for playing in jazz bands (unless it's a NOLA-style "street" brass band, which needs to be VERY loud...which is when I use my Bb sousaphone).


Use what the job requires and makes you play your best. EEb can certainly be the “right choice.”

bloke wrote:Eb tubas/sousaphones (as others here have stated over-and-over) offer the approximate sound of contrabass tubas/sousaphones, combined with the facility of bass tubas. The one that (having played in small jazz bands for over four decades) I'm currently playing is a late-1950's-made English-made 3+1 compensating, which combines "easy to play in-tune" with "fully chromatic". Very luckily (though I'm always looking...so perhaps that is from where I derive my "luck"), I found a rare one outfitted with a recording bell (actually, these rarely-found instruments were built quite differently from the regular fixed-bell model - with a formidable list of manufactured differences...including a much-shorter-bend upper bow - not just "cut for a recording bell"), but I have also fashioned an upright bell for it.


EEb is a smart, logical choice for those reasons. I’ve become too old and lazy to want to start playing EEb on reading gigs, however, if I had more jazz/dixie work, or work only requiring charts for the tunes I don’t already know, EEb would be perfect.

bloke wrote:Again, I really try to avoid staring at lead sheets when playing in bands, and prefer to learn the chord changes (repeating myself: NUMBER SYSTEM, so the "key" or "length of tuba" doesn't matter), and (repeating myself yet more) mess around when idle (driving/watching bad movies with spouse, etc.) play hundreds of songs on "air tuba" in remote keys, so that "the length of tuba" isn't a factor.


If you are at a reading gig, then...ok... I’m not bringing EEb either for my previously-stated reasons, but charts? CHARTS? I love number chart gigs (I play lots of gigs and studio sessions on upright bass ising number charts)! You can play any song in any key. The one chord (1)is always the root note, regardless of key. It’s a very easy way to play. Just check the key of the song, find that key/scale on your EEb, then play the changes by pushing the appropriate buttons. If you can do the same thing on BBb, there is no issue with doing it on CC, EEb, or F tuba. Or a DDb tuba. Unless the job requires it (read-the-ink kind of job), you don’t need to memorize notes and fingerings. Just push the right buttons for the key the song is in. If you can memorize a notated part, but you can’t think of a bass line on your own, your ear training is incomplete. There should not be a disconnect in the brain between playing by note, by rote, by chart, or completely by ear.

I had a CC in high school of my own, but also played the school’s BBb sousaphone. Instead of memorizing which buttons to push, I memorized the bass parts. I didn’t have any trouble going back and forth because I knew how the part sounded. Same experience in college, but added F tuba to the mix. Over the years, I have had various combinations of CC, BBb, and F tubas. Going back-and-forth between them is not that difficult once you decide that it’s not that difficult.

bloke wrote:bloke "I'm too damn redundant." :|


If a player knows the bass part as music (not which buttons to mash), and he has a basic understanding of intervals, he can play any bass part in any key. If he knows the part as music, and he knows what the buttons do on his instrument, the band could call The Thunderer in Gb, and the player should be able to play it. If a player can’t do it because his mental approach involves key signatures and memorized button-mashing, it is certainly a challenge. Me pontificating about how music should transcend learned fingerings and printed notes would likely only add to the challenge.

Doc (piling onto redundancy)
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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby Doc » Tue May 08, 2018 8:15 pm

I certainly don’t mean to diminish the OP’s predicament. And deciding what horns are best for your given situation is a thought process that can be difficult, and that is not wasted on me. The OP stated he keeps getting better and better on B-flat, so there is merit to my previous statements about when one decides to do it, they can, and kudos to you for making it work!

From another angle…

For all of us, music is a source of fulfillment and enjoyment, but for many of us it’s also a source of income. I look at many of my horn choices as business decisions for my current situations. They always manage to pay for themselves, so I don’t have a problem looking at it that way. Maybe, since money is involved, you should consider it from what serves your business needs the best. At the very least, you have to weigh out how much money plays into the equation. What does your main playing job require? And how much money do you have/not have to do what is required? And also ask yourself if there is any certain situation, horn combination, etc. that you just could not live with? Somewhere in between those two points may lie your answer.

Just a thought…
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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby bloke » Tue May 08, 2018 9:19 pm

Doc wrote:Instead of memorizing which buttons to push, I memorized the bass parts. I didn’t have any trouble going back and forth because I knew how the part sounded.


yup.

When I was in my early 20's, there was a superb (not necessarily lightning-fast fingers, but always "correct", and "just right") jazz pianist (probably 70 years old. He was the father of an internationally-famous rock-and-roller, and the old guy either worked-at or (I'm pretty sure...) owned a lighting store.

We would bump into each other on jobs (me: a green horn / he: superbly seasoned). I thought I was really great, because I could hear all the changes, and could play them on bass or tuba. Most every other piano player in town (some who weren't as good as was he, and a couple who were) were just fine with me.

HE, though, took me to task. He pointed out to me that I wasn't at all sensitive to the proper INVERSIONS of chords which went with certain melody notes most of the time (you know: the "Bach-style chorale harmonization" stuff that we were being taught :shock: ). He really rode me on it, and told me that if I couldn't figure it out for myself, to listen to HIS bass lines and learn...and he also emphasized the importance of being able to do that on the fly, rather than friggin' memorizing the bass lines to hundreds or thousands of songs. He also pointed out to me that it could STILL be done when playing four-to-the-bar, and not only when playing two-to-the-bar, if the player is on their toes and constantly thinking ahead. I was REALLY lucky to have been able to work with him for a few years at random jobs. (There were hardly any such things as "jazz bands" in Memphis - except for perhaps one or two - during that era. Mostly, it was just "some guys who were called to a gig".) I'm certainly no "legend" :lol: (and I regard him as a "quiet legend"), but - having been exposed to his on-stage teaching - I'm sure a lot better than I would have otherwise been.
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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby Ltrain » Mon May 14, 2018 11:06 am

Reflection... I appreciate the adages about mastering multiple keys through practice, number system, etc. But since I'm strictly a weekend warrior who reads prearranged basslines 90% of the time (not to mention living in a tiny NYC apartment where horn ownership must be efficient), I really should hunker down on one contrabass key. It's not just the fingerings, it's the feel. I spent a lot of time catching up on CC last week, then overshot a lot of Cs, Ds, and Ebs on the sousa with its wider slotting.

I'm going to take it slow and play the heck out of my BBb sousa this summer. There are also a couple of *potential* opportunities to spend some time on/acquire a nice BBb horn. One being a 2341 with MAW valves :shock:

I also need to check out some Ebs. Next time Dillon gets an Eastman Eb in, I may scope it out. I would love to play a Wessex Gnagey if I can find one around NYC (cough, cough, Jonathan).

Hopefully, the CC helicon will come out in enough time to still be a variable in my decision. If production gets delayed, this (formerly easy) sale will be lost on me as I'll probably be fully reverted to BBb again! :tuba:

PS – I'm the OP. I changed my handle because I'm considered a bass player anymore (at least not electric). Full-on tuba. Sorry in advance for any confusion!
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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby tubaphillips » Mon May 14, 2018 2:05 pm

I guess I'll put in my 2 cents since me and OP talked about this at length

First a little about me and what I do:
Classical Music Performance Degree from Purchase College. I spent years and years on CC and F. Spent the last 6 years playing full time in NYC(no day job).

When I first started gigging in college I found that my sousaphone was making me the lions share of my money. When I got to NYC I found myself playing a lot in brass bands. I made a serious push to use CC and stopped using sousa on my regular sousa gigs when I felt I could do so without losing my position. I was tired of lugging 2 horns around when I easily could do the job with 1, so I chose to use my best sounding horn. Fast forward, I get called to tour with Lucky Chops. I haven't played my sousa in months, but thats what they want so that's what they're getting. I decide to go full time on BBb and start spending my practice sessions exclusively on BBb. The more I play BBb and talk about it with my tuba playing peers it makes less sense to me to play CC and F. If you're on the road and your horn gets smashed finding a 3 valve BBb is lightyears easier than finding a 5 valve CC. BBb horns are more plentiful so on the used market you can get a lot more bang for your buck. The way I see it is if you're gonna play CC and F you're trying to be a classical tuba player. The big problem is that with a few rare outliers most people graduating will not get a job like that ever and if I'm gonna be really honest I think a lot of people choose this path because they think it's the only way that they can make a full time living as a tuba player outside of teaching. The beautiful reality is that while orchestral jobs are getting more and more rare, the brass band scene is exploding and finding it's way into the pop territory. There's such a huge demand in NYC for sousaphone players that trombone players are buying them up left and right and pretending like they can play them to get work. IMHO teachers should be more forward thinking and realistic with their students career paths as orchestras close and "improvised music" rises
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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby Doc » Mon May 14, 2018 2:43 pm

tubaphillips wrote: IMHO teachers should be more forward thinking and realistic with their students career paths as orchestras close and "improvised music" rises


Amen! I was fortunate to not have been coerced into CC/F culture by my teachers. I did that on my own, but I never did it to the exclusion of BBb. And back then, I didn't know anyone who owned an EEb or that any decent ones existed outside the UK. But the CC/F-must-be-on-an-orchestral-track is a very narrow path. I'm thankful I was gigging when I was young - I had other-than-college/classical-training-experience that helped keep my mind open. Although my teachers (and some professors) thought that this "other experience" was good. Lots of belief in being a well-rounded musician. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the norm.

I see lots of posts in which students ask about certain types of tubas, and many advise them to speak with their teacher or the teacher where they will be attending school. I understand this, since the teacher knows/will get to know the student, and that knowledge plus experience will help the student make a smart choice. The problem with this advice is that some teachers (at least by reputation) can be pretty strict about which instruments to purchase.

I still like Roger Lewis' advice:
"Choose the one that reaches out and 'shakes' hands with you."

Ltrain wrote:Reflection... I appreciate the adages about mastering multiple keys through practice, number system, etc. But since I'm strictly a weekend warrior who reads prearranged basslines 90% of the time (not to mention living in a tiny NYC apartment where horn ownership must be efficient), I really should hunker down on one contrabass key. It's not just the fingerings, it's the feel. I spent a lot of time catching up on CC last week, then overshot a lot of Cs, Ds, and Ebs on the sousa with its wider slotting.


Understood. Wasn't trying to preach, btw. :mrgreen: Lots of factors go into our individual choices, and they are often different for all of us. In any case, the it can be a tough decision process.

Ltrain wrote:I'm going to take it slow and play the heck out of my BBb sousa this summer. There are also a couple of *potential* opportunities to spend some time on/acquire a nice BBb horn. One being a 2341 with MAW valves :shock:


I hope you will report back with a review on that one!

Ltrain wrote:I also need to check out some Ebs. Next time Dillon gets an Eastman Eb in, I may scope it out. I would love to play a Wessex Gnagey if I can find one around NYC (cough, cough, Jonathan).


I haven't seen the Eastman yet, but the Wessex Gnagey was very impressive. Sure hope you can try one.

Ltrain wrote:Hopefully, the CC helicon will come out in enough time to still be a variable in my decision. If production gets delayed, this (formerly easy) sale will be lost on me as I'll probably be fully reverted to BBb again! :tuba:


I've seen/heard the video of Carl playing the working prototype. He would sound great on a hose-a-phone, but DANG... :shock: :shock: :shock: :tuba:
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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby bloke » Mon May 14, 2018 7:46 pm

My previous posts, here, were way too introspective.
All I'm encouraging is the development of enough additional intervalic familiarity to be able to approach the tuba like any other "folk" instrument (as, in reality, all instruments are "folk" instruments), allowing for - regardless of the length of the tuba - just (figuratively) "sliding the capo up or down"...
That's all. :oops:
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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby JaxBen_20J » Tue May 15, 2018 3:32 pm

This thread has been an interesting read because it's brought to mind some of my own issues on this topic that I experienced in college over fifteen years ago.

For three years during the fall, I would be playing a CC Kalison in the concert ensembles but BBb 20Js during marching. That first week back to school each fall was always rough on my brain/finger communication, but my hindsight makes me think the challenge made me a better all around player during that time.

Even as a weekend warrior, it might be worth your time to keep both keys in your repertoire. From my own experience, it was tough for a few days if I hadn't been playing BBb all summer (or vice versa), but it quickly becomes second nature to play both keys with minimal issues switching from one to the other if your situation requires it.

My $0.02 only, of course - if you really feel more comfortable on BBb and you're not getting any real comfort with CC, then make the move if that's what you want to do. Don't let anyone tell you you're wrong either way :)
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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby marccromme » Tue May 15, 2018 5:10 pm

I am a bit confused: option one is playing Bb + Cc, option 2 is playing Bb + Eb - why would the Eb version be easier for you to finger than the Cc version ? The only thing you need to practice with the Cc version is a transposition of one tone. That is easily done.

Whenever you practice any tune, you just play it thereafter one step up. Or down. Every day, just for 5 min. After a month you'll do it without thinking. Don't think over it, just start with easy tunes and do it. Your brain figures out the math by itself. Easy with a bit of persistence.
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Re: New developments and the BBb vs CC debate (help needed)

Postby Donn » Tue May 15, 2018 6:50 pm

I think people's minds do not all work the same (brilliant theory here, take note!) For me, the difference between one (whole) step up and one fourth up is, the first is a little easier to mess up. I don't do arithmetic while I'm playing, anything like that will jam up the works. I can read and hear intervals, at least a little, and two distinctly different possibilities makes the easiest choice.

But I'm not here to advise anyone to mess around with more keys of tuba than they want. Anyone who would do that because of advice on Tubenet doesn't deserve to have paying gigs.
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