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Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby ashhealey » Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:18 am

Which one of these horns is more bang for your buck? The two horns I'm looking at are priced at the same amount and are at the same location to pick up. The Alexander is only a 4 valve that o would maybe add a 5th as time went on. The Kalison already has a fifth valve on it.

What are people's thoughts between these two horns?
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby emcallaway » Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:25 am

If they're at the same location then it sounds like you should probably play both and buy the that you like better.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby pauvog1 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:32 am

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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby bort » Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:45 am

It depends. There is a lot of variation in both of these.

Either could be great or have really dumpy intonation.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby Shostytuben » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:42 am

The Alex 163 if not a dog will really teach you how to play the tuba.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby Peach » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:12 am

Shostytuben wrote:The Alex 163 if not a dog will really teach you how to play the tuba.


What do you mean by that?
Surely it might teach one to play that Alexander tuba, not so much 'the tuba'?
Not sure what you mean...
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby ren » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:17 am

Goals are important, the goal of owning either of these tubas is completely lost on me unless its nostalgia.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby J Stowe » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:39 am

The Alex at Dillon’s has been played professionally by myself and Craig Knox.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby Casca Grossa » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:07 pm

J Stowe wrote:The Alex at Dillon’s has been played professionally by myself and Craig Knox.


To the OP...if you are looking at the Alex and it is in fact the one at Dillon's and it did belong to Craig, buy it!!! I knew Craig from my days in the SF Bay area and played that horn several times. Came close to buying it but some sort of financial disaster happened in my life each time I saved the cash for it. It is a great horn. Great all around horn.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby Mark Horne » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:18 pm

I own a modern Alex 163 5V (2011) and a Kalison Daryl Smith. I haven't played an older 4-valve Alex but I do understand that their intonation was not as good as the newer 163's. The Kalison probably has the most similar sound to an Alex of any piston tuba that I have played - an overall dark character that can be quite loud when needed. The quality of the piston valves is as good as any tuba I've ever played (including my Gronitz). I find that the Alexander is more open in the very low range, which I attribute to its larger bore of 0.808"

It would be a tough call for me - I really prefer to have 5 valves and rarely have a concert where I don't need all five. I think the Kalison tends to be under-rated. I think that overall the Kalison would more useful as an only horn compared to a 4 valve Alex.

By the way - both the Alex and the Daryl Smith fit into the same cronkhite gig bag - one that was designed to fit a Miraphone 186.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby Tom » Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:51 am

Apples and oranges...

The reason, in my opinion, to play an Alexander is because you can't get that sound from anything else.

That isn't to say that you can't find a good tuba sound in other makes and models, just that there is a unique sound to Alexander tubas that is not found elsewhere. It isn't about nostalgia or being a macho tuba jock or anything else to me, it's because they have a sound character that nothing else has and because I wanted to play a rotary tuba.

Discussions of Alexander tubas always come back to intonation. Some of them really are terrible and were just built that way, others have no real intonation issues at all (imho). My personal opinion is that the tubas themselves aren't as universally bad in the intonation department as they're made out to be, but that the "slots" are so wide and Alexander tubas are so resonant that it will sound "good" wherever the player puts the pitch - high, low, or somewhere in between. Some would say "wow...that sounds like a lot of work to deal with that all the time." It is. There is no denying that. You have to play the Alexander, and it doesn't do much to help you out or make the job easy. You have to decide how much work you're willing to do for the Alexander sound. If you want it (and not everyone does, which is okay), then nothing else will do. If "close" is acceptable, there are plenty of other tubas available that are just fine. For that matter if you hate the Alexander sound, well... :roll:

If you decide to go with the Alexander, spend some time with it before you have a fifth valve added. You may find yourself doing just fine with four valves. Go ahead and accuse me of waxing nostalgic here, but the great Alexander players of the past virtually all played on four valve models and didn't seem to have any difficulty doing so to the point they added 5th valves. You may discover that finding an efficient way to manipulate the 4th slide (and to a slightly lesser extent, the 2nd valve slide) makes Alexanders quite playable. A few professional Alexander players seemed to think that the 2nd valve slide was the key and they devised kicker/pull systems of various sorts. Personally I am not a fan of main slide tuning rods, but plenty of Alexanders have been outfitted with them over the years and some players like them.

Full disclosure: I have two Alexander 163 tubas, one in CC and one in BBb. Obviously I am a fan. :wink:

As for Kalison, I haven't played one in quite a few years, but played many of them back in the heyday of the Tuba Exchange. I never bought one, but I was always impressed with their pistons just as Mark Horne mentioned. Probably pointless to say so now, in 2018, but there was one of their smallish-6/4 piston CC tubas on the show circuit roughly 20 years ago that was really, really good. If you can find one like that, then you'd be set.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby MikeMason » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:52 am

Would you compare/ contrast the 163 b flat and c? Somewhere on my bucket list is exploring the Alexander experience. Consensus seems to be the b flat has less intonation issues while retaining the sound. I’m not afraid of b flat.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby pjv » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:17 am

for what it's worth,
I have literally no intonation challenges on my BBb 163 Alex except;
-5th partial D&C# ride low. They can be played open & 2nd, but are just mindlessly easy using the 6th p fingering 12&23.
-4 valves is OK if you like pushing and pulling (either a slide or on the note itself). I've never been happy on any 4v BBb tuba playing like this.
If you can play a G major scale from 2nd P to 8th P and back (yes, I'm assuming you won't be playing your high G in the 7th P), 16th notes at tempo 120, immaculately executed and in tune with 4 valve then you'll probably do just fine.

I can't/won't without a 5th valve.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby cktuba » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:37 am

Anybody have any thoughts on how the Alex clone (Yamaha YCB-861) played in comparison? I loved my Kalison DS... and now that you mention it I guess it did kind of sound like a piston version of an Alex 163 (with fantastic intonation). Of course 861s are (probably) just as rare on the used market.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby Tom » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:27 pm

Personally I like the BBb Alexander 163 better than my CC.

The intonation on the BBb that I have is comparable to the popular rotary BBb tubas of today. It's not perfect, but very decent. Not quite point-and-shoot, but not way off either. I actually think my CC is very good in the intonation department, perhaps even better than the BBb, but the sound from the the BBb is incredible. THAT is the Alexander sound, if there is one.

The instruments themselves sport some differences though as the CC is from 1983 (it was a Giardinelli tuba) and the BBb is a 1960s tuba. The leadpipe and receiver (just a sleeve) on the BBb is the "jumbo" sized one you hear about, while the CC has a smaller pipe and receiver (but still larger than modern Euro shank). The CC is still from the pre-modernization era and has the old style 4th valve wrap, etc. The bell on the BBb was made with the older triangle gusset, while the CC was not. They play similarly overall, but if I could only keep one, I'd probably keep the BBb since the intonation is good enough and the "Alexander sound" is even more pronounced. Both of mine are four-valve instruments.

I have not played any of the clones other than some of the B&S stencils that are strikingly similar (Schneider, etc.). I have not tried any of the Chinese copies nor have I ever played a Yamaha 861 (evidently rare). I don't see a lot of Alexander BBb 163 tubas come up for sale, but when they do, their prices seem comparable to used 186s in similar condition. I think they are a pretty good value.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby bloke » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:55 pm

TubeNet Freak Jury wrote:I own/have owned a DS, and it's good.
I own/have owned an Alexander, and it's good.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby Tom » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:57 pm

bloke wrote:
TubeNet Freak Jury wrote:I own/have owned a DS, and it's good.
I own/have owned an Alexander, and it's good.


Pretty much... :wink:
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby J Stowe » Wed Jul 11, 2018 6:48 pm

I’ll just add once more that I’ve played the Alex professionally with frequent compliments from my colleagues and listeners.
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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby mctuba1 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:07 am

I have owned both tubas and there is no comparison between them. If you can play the open G at the bottom of the staff without fighting it then get it.

Here is the last Alex i will ever own and its also the most in tune alex i have ever played, no lipping and not alternates needed and frankly i dont touch the tuning slides either. Now i will say i have done a lot of work to it, notice the B&S designed 5th and leadpipe.

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Re: Alexander 163 Vs Kalison Daryl Smith

Postby Northernlb » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:13 am

I would choose the Kalison, if it is one of the good ones. There is some variation in how these were made since they were hand made in Italy. If you get one of the great ones like I have it will be a great tuba forever and will serve you very well. Also the addition of the five valves, the construction of the instrument, and easy slide reach make this a very well designed tuba.

I use the Kalison all of the time for playing and always get compliments on my sound, tuning, and intonation. I am surprised they have been forgotten, but I believe that is because there were not many made and they do not come up for sale that often anymore.
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