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Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby besson900 » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:13 am

Guys, Chinese tubas are more and more popular but they are produced from couple of years. Have you got some of them like Wessex or Eastman which you bought 2-3 years ago of even earlier?How it's looks like now? Pistons/rotary valves, laquer and materials after playing for a longer time than months they are still good like in German tubas after some years? I'm asking about instruments which you are playing like everyday, which are used to playing not just for looking good in your house
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby the elephant » Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:17 pm

I have a Jinbao 410 imported by Mack Brass. It is lacquered with the gold brass bell.

I will start by saying that this is an excellent tuba in all musical regards. I cannot find fault with the horn as a player.

The slides and valves are the only real moving parts on brass instruments, and they are not great on this tuba. This tuba has seven slides and four of them work poorly due to alignment. One of them was so badly out of alignment I had to take it apart and reassemble it. It turned out to be one of the long, curved brass tubes from the 4th rotor to the back of the horn. It was assembled crooked, and then the slide was assembled to it and was forced to be out of alignment due to this longer tubed having been installed at a slight angle from where it needed to be. The others suffer from the same issue, but not so badly.

When you assemble slides out of alignment this forces the slide crook to flex so the legs can move down the outer tubes and change angle along the way. Severe alignment issues can actually break the solder in one of the joints in this system to allow some part to change angle during slide movement, and this is usually a leg snapping loose from the slide crook. This can leak if it happens. On this horn the 4th was worst, with 2nd being not good, too.

All the slides are heavily sanded (and have striations from the belt sander all over every inner slide leg) to fit, so eventually these may end up leaking as they wear. I purchased new inner slide leg tubing and will eventually replace all the inner slide legs with new and realign all the slide to be as accurate as I can get them.

With all this in mind, I have made it nearly four years now with these slide as is, with only the 4th slide being bad enough for me to tear it apart to fix it. Everything else is annoying, but I have had issues like this with high grade tubas. The difference is that these Chinese horns tended to have all the normal issues you see with Euro horns, but all on one horn and on nearly every example I have played. Like I said, though: mostly an annoyance.

The rotors of these horns have always been a problem. They used to have major issues, in come cases not being able to be disassembled without damaging them. This is no longer the case. My late-2015 410 had very nice rotors when new. They started to get really gummy feeling after two years, so I took them apart and discovered that they assembly lube they use is the issue. It is terrible stuff and really difficult to get out of the horn. However, once this nasty stuff was removed and the horn was re-lubed they work great again.

I am concerned about the rotor bearings and stems as they are puny little things and mine already have wear after only a few years. My idea is that this is a wonderful horn with cheap valves that might not last for much more than ten to twelve years of hard use. They might, but they are far more worn than they should be at this stage in the game — the bearing surfaces should look brand new for several more years, but they already look old to me.

If you carefully and lightly lap the rotors into the casings you can remove a lot of the so-so action. Mine worked perfectly in the arc where they are used, but if you rotated outside of that section of rotation they were awful. I fixed that and now they work very well. Mine also needed some swaging as one casing top bearing was loose when new. (The valve was fine, though.)

I hate the feel of the paddles and levers. They are brass that has been nickel plated, and because of this they flex as you play. I hate "squishy" feeling valves. I have learned to live with them, though.

The buffing was mediocre. It looked good at about five feet away. Up close, and especially inside the bugle wrap, you can see millions of swirl lines all over the horn. Having done a ton of buffing to re-lacquer instruments in a shop for a living, it looks to me like the machine doing the color buffing was the same used for the rough buffing, and no one changed out the buff for the different compounds. It looks exactly like someone used a wheel with red rouge on it but that also has a small bit of Tripoli compound in the fibers.

The lacquer seems to have been applied expertly, but the compound sucks and it is flaking off. First, it is obvious that they did not degrease the brass properly, and second, the quality of the lacquer itself is really low. So you have adhesion issues and faulty lacquer on that whole mess.

The case you got back then is basically useless junk. I would have set mine on fire in the backyard, but the foam releases highly toxic fumes when burnt. My cats like to play in it, though. ;-)

Overall, for the price I paid I am extremely happy with what I got. I thought this would be a demo horn for little kids to play under my supervision. However, I has become one of my main work horns. I play most of my freelance work on it, and I play it in the orchestra when the rep calls for that sound.

It plays like a Miraphone 186 but sounds more like a Meinl-Weston 32. It is an excellent tuba and my trombone-playing colleagues all like having it in the section.

The only fault is that below low A it disappears in the orchestra's sound if the dynamics are above mezzoforte. You have to work really hard in such situations. The intonation is damned near perfect on mine, by the way.
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby bloke » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:05 pm

There are so many factories in China fabricating musical instruments of brass (particularly, saxophones) - with varying levels of attention to detail) - that it would make one's head spin...so speaking of "Chinese tubas" is somewhat akin to speaking of "tubas in general".
I just don't play well enough to be able to allow myself to be physically distracted by an instrument.
If a particular instrument (whether fabricated in a boutique western European shop, or in some zillion-instruments-a-year Asian factory complex) requires too many intonation adjustments and/or is mechanically distracting, my playing is going to suffer.
It's a bit like someone tapping me on the shoulder while trying to perform.

First, there's time...then, there's intonation...then volume level...then attack/release...then phrasing/music...then "what the guy up there with that little white stick wants"...then "adjusting to micro-issues on-the-fly in performances"...
...in no particular order, and all at once. I just don't want my instrument to be commanding any of my attention when dealing with all of those things and more...
...and - just as a parenthetical comment - many are not aware of the formidable percentage of Yamaha brass instruments that are fabricated in China, and many are under the impression that Yamaha is the "gold standard" regarding "consistency in production instruments".
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby cktuba » Mon Dec 03, 2018 3:26 pm

I have owned a Wisemann 900 for about 4 years. I did have to replace the leadpipe, the original was yellow brass and suceptible to red rot. It is now sporting a new B&S lead pipe. I have had no other issues of any significance. I am pretty sure the Wisemann 900 will outlast me.
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby russiantuba » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:46 pm

My university bought 2 euphoniums and a tuba from one of the Chinese companies that specialize in low brass. Seeing how many school programs purchase horns and these are their “professional models”, I am a bit worried for the lesser price models. My predecessor elected to buy them.

Our CC clone doesn’t get much use. All my students have elected to play BBb. Our two euphoniums have had some play from non majors, and now a couple of majors who don’t have horns of their own yet elect to play them because they like their sound and ease of playing over our old Besson Soverigns and a Willson 2975 we also own.

An accident happened to one of the valves of the Chinese euphonium, where there is a puncture. I had two independent shops mention the valves need replated after 6 years of moderate use. The one contracted through the university said the valves could hold out another couple of years, but with the punctures, I have elected to buy new valves. I have been waiting for months to get the parts due to inventory relocation issues.

Essentially, you are getting instruments to get you buy for a few years at a good price. It’s nice to have the option to be able to afford personal instruments for those financially strapped. In my experiences, the longevity and use in schools is not as ideal.
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby UncleBeer » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:29 am

russiantuba wrote: In my experiences, the longevity and use in schools is not as ideal.


Not even the most expensive boutique brass instruments can withstand "punctured valves". If students are destroying instruments, that argues for buying cheaper instruments more often.
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby russiantuba » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:47 am

UncleBeer wrote:
russiantuba wrote: In my experiences, the longevity and use in schools is not as ideal.


Not even the most expensive boutique brass instruments can withstand "punctured valves". If students are destroying instruments, that argues for buying cheaper instruments more often.


The horn is repairable. Again, I am not blaming the company for the puncture. However, the reason we are replacing the valves instead of repairing them is that the valve plating is poor and only has a couple years left at most.

Let me also point out that our marching horns are convertible tubas from the 1970s that have literally travelled the world (Japan and England in the last 4 years), have several dents and. Such, but no valve issues (Meinl Weston makes good valves). Same for the marching baritones we have, but they are a bit newer. Same people play them.

I was a little nervous when I found out we had Chinese clones on taking my position, but finding out parts are readily available eased my concerns. Now that I have an issue, waiting months and poor communication makes me regret ever recommending them.
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby Worth » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:00 am

cktuba wrote:I have owned a Wisemann 900 for about 4 years. I did have to replace the leadpipe, the original was yellow brass and suceptible to red rot. It is now sporting a new B&S lead pipe. I have had no other issues of any significance. I am pretty sure the Wisemann 900 will outlast me.


Same. I priced this lead pipe through B&S Germany at like $300 or so if I remember right, but haven't yet pulled the trigger as I don't know the skills of the local techs well enough. In the meantime, I maintain it "palliatively" with valve oil down the lead pipe and keeping the interior, and my mouth, as clean as possible. I'm sure it will outlast me as well if I don't drop it down the stairs somewhere (other thread) LOL
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby bloke » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:40 am

Most Chinese pistons are not plated.
I mostly see this material used as the outer tubes of Chinese piston bodies:
- stainless steel
- raw nickel silver

The raw nickel silver pistons are found on extraordinarily cheap Chinese instruments...just as they were/(are?) found in the past on the cheapest Czech instruments.

I'm suspecting this:

The "worn plating" may not be plating at all, but - rather - may (??) be deposits ON the surface of stainless steel pistons of brass valve casing tarnish, and just need to be cleaned off. Older Yamaha instruments (monel-type pistons bodies) and not-so-old Jupiter instruments (not seen with brand-new Jupiter instruments...so far) were/are notorious for this. There should be an attempt to clean off the pistons before judging that [1] they are plated (perhaps not?) and [2] they are worn (perhaps not?).

Finally, if (??) they are the very cheapest grade of Chinese instruments...and the pistons' outer body tubes are raw/unplated nickel silver...yeah, they are tarnished. IF they are this, plating them with nickel would alleviate this issue, BUT they would need to be "plated by to the same dimension(s) as indicated and trued". Otherwise, they won't fit back into the instruments after they are plated.
All of this having been said, if they are tarnished - but the tarnish is nice and smooth from use, and the pistons do not stick - they can (simply) be played, but oiled daily.
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby Mike C855B » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:21 am

Something else to consider regarding the long term with Chinese-sourced instruments - companies there come and go, a lot more than we're used to with European and US instrument makers. Parts will be an issue sooner rather than later.

I have another hobby (horrors!) where production for nearly all brands shifted to China in the '90s. Roughly every five years there has been a shakeup, where factories shutter without notice. Designer/importers are left scrambling to find new producers, repeating the production debug cycle every time. The resulting gap in retail availability usually lasts 1-2 years, with another year or so to fix product issues experienced by users.

I don't know if this has been the case with quality brass production yet since it is a relatively new thing, but this type of instability is nonetheless something to be aware given the history in other niche manufacturing there.
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby bloke » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:34 am

That having been said...

...as all of these are judged to be instruments that "hold up" and are "worthy of being repaired or restored"...

...Where are parts for Olds, Reynolds, (the overwhelming majority of) Conn, Martin, and Holton parts...or "old-style" King, AND where are the rotor bodies for "Iron Curtain" (Soviet) era B&S and Meinl Weston instruments, AND where are the pistons for the two-or-three-generations-back Kurath/Willson instruments ?
When I order braces, water keys, main slides, etc., etc...for many Taiwan-made (considered by many: "major brand") instruments, I find that the main slide bores have changed, the brace spans have changed, the water key geometry has changed, etc., etc., etc...

:idea: :arrow: The answer is that unavailable parts are harvested, improvised, or fabricated, when such instruments are deemed to be worth saving.

With low-end Chinese instruments, they (particularly: "used") are inexpensive enough to "junk out" and become harvest instruments (just as with hopelessly worn/damaged/missing-parts old Olds, Reynolds, Conn, Martin, and Holton USA-made instruments, and not-as-commonly-found in North America junked out Soviet era "East German" and "West German" instruments).
I bought one of those horrid early Chinese F tubas (new condition) for a low enough price to use as a "parts" instrument, just as one example. I believe (??) I've probably broken even, at this point, on that purchase...and - more importantly - I've been able to help people out by keeping their craptastic low-end Chinese instruments working...and - unquestionably - there are high-end Chinese instruments as well. European instrument manufacturer artistes-shills will, from time-to-time, be seen stating that "all Chinese-made instruments are crap", and - from time-to-time - the purveyors of the lower-grade Chinese-made instruments will be seen stating that "all Chinese-made instruments are just fine".

Back to commenting on the previous comment, the "You won't be able to get parts for them" argument has evaporated, as that statement has become (or will become) "true to all", and American repair shops (at least, some) will be stepping up to the plate (just as Cuban automobile repair people) and fabricating more and more instrument parts on the fly. :|

bloke "Mrs. bloke, as a related set of examples, has quite a collection of hopelessly cracked/pinned/banded full-system oboes (some of which were probably never popular makes), from which she harvests keys, and alters them to fit viable instruments."
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby Mike C855B » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:43 pm

No dispute, just pointing out direct experience that the life cycle of Chinese manufacturers in niche-product manufacturing is short.

There is a lot more incentive to repair with harvested parts when the baseline product is thousands of dollars, versus less than a tenth of that in pastime hobby products.
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby bloke » Tue Dec 04, 2018 2:10 pm

Mike C855B wrote:No dispute, just pointing out direct experience that the life cycle of Chinese manufacturers in niche-product manufacturing is short.

There is a lot more incentive to repair with harvested parts when the baseline product is thousands of dollars, versus less than a tenth of that in pastime hobby products.


We just replaced a missing low Bb/left-hand B/Eb key (left pinky) key cluster on a Fox 333 oboe, and they have changed things so often that their policy (for many years) has been that they sell no keys without someone sending the (entire) instrument in to them - with them making a key and installing it themselves. This - needless to say - is a nuisance, and Mrs. bloke decided to bow to this procedure (rather than adapting on of the many similar clusters which could have been harvested) due to being extremely busy, and - the trouble and considerable cost of the Fox procedure, in this particular case - bought her back some time that she needed for other projects. I don't view this (similar to the Taiwan instruments, yet domestic) as a particularly ideal situation either...particularly as (once the key was fabricated and fitted at the factory) it was shipped out to the wrong recipient.
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby Mike C855B » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:03 pm

Oh, I certainly understand that scenario. If you ever had the chance to visit the Fox factory, you get a rather eye-opening lesson in hand fitment. Definitely not mass production, there's a small army of jewelers modifying parts and doing hand-machining on every instrument's keyworks. I think that's the case with mid- and high-end woodwinds, anyway - lots of handwork. But the point I was trying to make is there is still a Fox factory to go to X years later even if they don't keep a stash of deprecated parts for 3rd-party repair.

Of course, this comes to the frustration which face all of us with high-end instruments - no two are alike, while most are good, some are truly "better". It's bad enough with brass. While there is some standardization in the manufacturing process, you will still realize differences between samples of "the same model". It's a whole order of magnitude worse especially with double-reeds - I had to audition six before deciding on the one we took home, and the differences were, truthfully, mind-blowing. An acquaintance whose business is all oboes all the time experienced the same thing - consistently inconsistent, multiple "identical" horns with only one he determined to be acceptable.

Conversely, I bought my tuba (and euph) "blind" - ordered each, and what I received played quite fine, or at least were something I could easily adjust to, no preconceptions coloring the assessment. In retrospect I have to wonder if a similar audition opportunity would have yielded different results.
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby bloke » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:47 pm

We were an active Fox dealer beginning decades ago.
As to high-end fitment...well, that's what we do...
There's about .0005" spacing (including around pistons) with most wind instruments that defines *"neither too loose nor too tight"... which is why – with tubas (due to their size, and extraordinary quantities of real estate in fitment areas...and regardless of their country of manufacture) - this fitment standard is often not met in factories.
I can understand them not sending pre-made barely-over-length key assemblies to combo stores and big-box outlets, but…
(...and it would be a bit less distressing, were they to - once completed - return instruments to those who actually own them.) :oops: :P
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*which explains why some euphoniums with factory-installed main tuning slide triggers play differently from same-model instruments without triggers. :shock:
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby Three Valves » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:29 pm

Two years played twice a week for about two hours.

Some lacquer failure from left hand grip.

Had to loctite a stop screw.

So far so good!!
Who needs four valves??

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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby tofu » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:03 am

Isn't it possible that within say a 10 year time frame that 3D printing will become so good / cheap / easy that a manufacturer/seller will be able to either at a parts distributor level or even on repair shop level be able to create the new part instantly on an on demand basis for many parts of their brass instruments. Eliminating the long delay or non-existent parts that they don't have either the desire to stock/keep current in inventory/or significant demand to make a run of parts cost feasible. Eleven years ago there was no iPhone/smart phone and now look at what you can do - so I don't think it would be a reach that 3D technology & cost & ease of use could make a quantum leap in a decade to the point where most of the major brass instrument manufacturers could have the wherewithal to do this for their instruments going forward.
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby mctuba1 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:52 am

russiantuba wrote:
UncleBeer wrote:
russiantuba wrote: In my experiences, the longevity and use in schools is not as ideal.


Not even the most expensive boutique brass instruments can withstand "punctured valves". If students are destroying instruments, that argues for buying cheaper instruments more often.


The horn is repairable. Again, I am not blaming the company for the puncture. However, the reason we are replacing the valves instead of repairing them is that the valve plating is poor and only has a couple years left at most.

Let me also point out that our marching horns are convertible tubas from the 1970s that have literally travelled the world (Japan and England in the last 4 years), have several dents and. Such, but no valve issues (Meinl Weston makes good valves). Same for the marching baritones we have, but they are a bit newer. Same people play them.

I was a little nervous when I found out we had Chinese clones on taking my position, but finding out parts are readily available eased my concerns. Now that I have an issue, waiting months and poor communication makes me regret ever recommending them.



I am not aware of any plating on these valves so this maybe just a misinterpretation. As to replacing the valves, i stock them so give me a call. Whomever you bought them from probably just hasnt ordered them as they should only take a few weeks to get as they are easy to order.
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby besson900 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:18 pm

I asked about it because one of my friend is considering York copy from Wessex or Eastman and he's afraid that he will have to change it after few years but that is a lot of money (10k $ or Euro). In my class we had one guy which had 6 valve F tuba made by "Tim Henderson"( i cant find informations about this company or guy, probably is not exist now) and the valves were noisy as hell and "miniballs" after 2 years of every day playing for about 6-7h were to throw away. We dont have any expierence about cheep(comparing to other brands) instruments which are popular now so thats why i asked You :)

(BTW - how many posts i have to post to have 3 valves here under my name on forum? :?: :?: :tuba: )
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Re: Chinese tubas after few years of playing

Postby MartyNeilan » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:33 pm

besson900 wrote:the valves were noisy as hell and "miniballs" after 2 years of every day playing for about 6-7h were to throw away.

That works out to about 14 years of use at a more modest hour per day, so I wouldn't say it is too bad. Any metal will wear if not lubricated (and how many people lube their linkage?)
A couple of drops of something like Hetman's linkage and bearing oil #14 or ball joint oil #15, or even some sewing machine oil will work wonders towards quietness and longevity.
How long would your (insert car brand here) last with absolutely no oil in it?
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