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Bell size and sound

Postby DouglasJB » Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:18 pm

For those who have worked on custom horn, have built horns or have messed with altering parts, how does the size of the bell on a horn alter the sound?
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Re: Bell size and sound

Postby russiantuba » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:52 pm

Take a look at the Conn 52J, 56J, and 54J. All bells differ by an inch (or 2?) in length from one another.

Conn 52J has the smallest bell. The sound is very compact and centered, great for quintet and chamber stuff, but some wanted more projection in larger groups. The horn had great response.

The Conn 56J has the largest bell. I felt the sound was washy and lost focus, but it had more of the projected and depth that many would want in a larger horn. I feel if someone was focusing on doing a bunch of band work or a smaller chamber orchestra or even pit work, this horn would be better for this.

The Conn 54J was in the middle, and I believe was the final one built. I liked this one the best. During my DMA, we had studio members with all 3 examples, and I got to play them side by side. The Conn 54J had that center and clarity, with the depth and width of sound, IMO. I felt this horn projected way more than the other two.


Another example to consider is why Miraphone put a larger bell on the 1293 than what is on the 1291. It does make a difference. However, the difference may not be the same on all horns and may not get your desired effect.
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Re: Bell size and sound

Postby bort » Sun Sep 30, 2018 10:10 pm

The effects of a bigger bell will be greater if you also use a bigger bottom bow.
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Re: Bell size and sound

Postby bloke » Sun Sep 30, 2018 11:12 pm

simple answer:

Compare a bass trombone or an English baritone to a euphonium.
What happens to the sound, and what differences to you see in the bells?
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Re: Bell size and sound

Postby Roger Lewis » Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:30 am

I worked with Jens Bjorn Larson on the development of the Thor which had a 17 3/4 inch bell in the original release. It tended to play rather aggressively. A year later at the factory I asked them to put a 19” bell on one for me to try. They did and the difference was that the larger bell took the aggressive tendency out of the sound. You could still make it play the way it did in the first design but the larger bell melllowed it out a bit and added more projection. That is why Miraphone went with a larger bell on the 1293. It was to balance out the sound through all registers.

Just my $0.02.

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Re: Bell size and sound

Postby Donn » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:34 am

DouglasJB wrote:the size of the bell on a horn


Do you mean the bell flare, or the entire bell, the whole large conical last piece on the tuba?
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Re: Bell size and sound

Postby Lee Stofer » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:01 am

Douglas,
In one question you are asking about a number of variables.

The bell flare makes a difference, in that a smaller bell diameter on a given throat will make for quicker response but less radiation of sound, whereas a larger bell flare tallkes a little longer to respond, but is also a larger radiator of sound. This is also affected by a number of aspects of construction, such as metal thickness, metal hardness, the alloy used, and whether the bell rim has a steel wire inside, a bronze wire, or is hollow, and whether or not it is fitted with a nickel-silver outer rim.

The bell throat makes a lot of difference. J.W. York used the same bell flare for it's monster Eb tubas, and all of the contrabass tubas. If you set a York monster Eb tuba, a model 33 4/4 BBb, a model 712 5/4 BBb, a model 91 6/4 BBb and a CSO York CC tuba side-by side, the only difference you'll notice in the bell flares are that the throats of each model are different, and that the rim of the 6/4 BBb was spun out to 22". Otherwise, the flares are all the same. On the monster Eb and 4/4 BBb, the effect is a large bell flare on a very conical, short bell throat that allows one to get a tremendous amount of sound from a relatively compact instrument. The 5/4 York bell has the same bottom bow as the 4/4 York, so the longer bell throat is less conical and the bell flare is proportionately slightly smaller, and having owned one and worked on several of these, as much as I love playing one, they do not respond as easily as the model 33. They sound great and will rattle the chandeliers, but they take more effort to play. The 6/4 York BBb's have an enormous body, bottom bow and bell throat, so a 22" bell flare actually works quite well on these giant tubas. The CSO Yorks are two one-off, custom made instruments that are in fact smaller than the 6/4 BBb's. The most highly-considered of these (#1) has a shorter bell throat, so the bottom bow was most likely made a little larger on the large side to accomodate the bell throat starting at a slightly larger size than that of the other CSO York or the BBb Yorks. And, not widely known amongst players is the fact that bore affects pitch, so the larger the bore of an instrument generally, the shorter it must be made to be in tune. The result with the CSO York #1 is that it is an extremely conical, short, large-bore CC tuba with a bell flare no larger than that of a 4/4 York model 33, which allows this very short, fat CC tuba to have a real immediacy of response, while a 20" bell rim allows for plenty of radiation of sound. In an A-B test at Symphony Hall in Chicago of a Rudolf Meinl 5/4 CC (6/4 tuba) and CSO York #1, it was noted that the York responded slightly quicker, but the sound of the Rudolf Meinl had a slightly longer resonance afterward. The Rudolf Meinl has a slightly larger and longer bell throat, and the same bell rim size as the York at 50cm/20".

One could study for years all of the variables and how they interact.

If you're thinking of tinkering with the bell on your Kanstul model 80 F-tuba, my advice is - DON'T. That is one of the best-responding, most gorgeous-sounding F-tubas ever made, and messing with the bell will not improve it. My $0.02.
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Re: Bell size and sound

Postby DouglasJB » Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:19 pm

No, I'm not messing with my Kanstul, no worries about that, it is an awesome little horn.

Maybe to make it a bit easier to answer for everyone... looking at Eb tubas, with similar bell throats, what are the pros and cons of having a 17 or 19 inch bell? Im just trying to understand why one is preferred over the other and fornwhat reason. I realize I left the question vague.
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Re: Bell size and sound

Postby bloke » Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:50 pm

DouglasJB wrote:No, I'm not messing with my Kanstul, no worries about that, it is an awesome little horn.

Maybe to make it a bit easier to answer for everyone... looking at Eb tubas, with similar bell throats, what are the pros and cons of having a 17 or 19 inch bell? Im just trying to understand why one is preferred over the other and fornwhat reason. I realize I left the question vague.


Typically, the contours of the 15", 17", and 19" bells (found on 3+1 Eb tubas) sport identical contours (particularly if all the same make). The pancake just grows from one size to the next.
I DO NOT NEED but would LOVE TO HAVE a really great condition modern-pitch 3+1 Edgware Street 15" bell Eb tuba.
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Re: Bell size and sound

Postby Heavy_Metal » Sun Oct 07, 2018 9:51 pm

A related discussion. See the linked Rick Denney article:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=87986&start=20
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Re: Bell size and sound

Postby euphomate » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:09 am

bloke wrote:
DouglasJB wrote:No, I'm not messing with my Kanstul, no worries about that, it is an awesome little horn.

Maybe to make it a bit easier to answer for everyone... looking at Eb tubas, with similar bell throats, what are the pros and cons of having a 17 or 19 inch bell? Im just trying to understand why one is preferred over the other and fornwhat reason. I realize I left the question vague.


Typically, the contours of the 15", 17", and 19" bells (found on 3+1 Eb tubas) sport identical contours (particularly if all the same make). The pancake just grows from one size to the next.
I DO NOT NEED but would LOVE TO HAVE a really great condition modern-pitch 3+1 Edgware Street 15" bell Eb tuba.


Does this mean a 15" bell Boosey & Hawkes Imperial compensating Eb? I use one, they were made from leftover British army tanks after WW2, and were dropped by the Royal Air Force as bomb ordinance when they ran out of ammo. Made to last for ever, but take a lot of work to speak, compared to the later Besson Sovereigns.
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