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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby MartyNeilan » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:43 pm

Depends on the generation and background of the band director. Some only know Conn 20J, some Mirafone 186, some King, etc. Whatever they were exposed to earlier on is probably what they push.
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby Donn » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:41 pm

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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby Matt Walters » Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:19 am

If you have two quality horns except that is one piston and one is rotor, in theory the Rotor tuba is better for school program because:
1) Piston valves and casings get used to a person pushing and pulling on the finger button at a certain angle and 4 years later when a new student gets assigned that tuba, the piston valves will stick because they are pushing and pulling at a different angle.
2) Rotor valves hold tighter valve compression over the decades.
3) Kids aren't removing the rotor valves to oil them and then droping them on the concrete floor like what happens to school piston tubas.

Of course all this is a moot point because many schools today get told what cheapest model horn from an "Approved Vendor" they have to buy because some clueless bean counter thinks all "Widgets" are the same.
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby swillafew » Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:30 am

I have whittled my own collection down to two horns, a MW 182 and a MW 2182. Now I have pistons vs. rotors covered, as well as lacquer vs. silver. I think the bore and taper is what makes the sound, but that's just me. I think the biggest difference between them is the bore of valve #5.

What a school needs is a horn that you can drop many times, compromising every surface, but still plays owing to the top action pistons. If this horn is so big it can only reside in a Wenger stand, then it lives an even longer life, paying for the stand.

As for the Miraphone craze, I wanted one too but never had that plan work for me.
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby MaryAnn » Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:03 pm

bloke wrote:] most band directors are still telling their clarinet players to buy Vandoren B45 mouthpieces


Hijacking the thread, sorry, hopefully just temporary. bloke, what IS the mouthpiece those clarinet players should be getting? I got a Fobes debut and am consistently flat on it even with short barrel. Gave up. Good strong sound 1/4 step flat.
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby WC8KCY » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:42 pm

MaryAnn wrote:
bloke wrote:] most band directors are still telling their clarinet players to buy Vandoren B45 mouthpieces


Hijacking the thread, sorry, hopefully just temporary. bloke, what IS the mouthpiece those clarinet players should be getting? I got a Fobes debut and am consistently flat on it even with short barrel. Gave up. Good strong sound 1/4 step flat.

I realize this question was directed at bloke, not me, but I'll chime in...

The Fobes Debut, as with today's Vandoren M13 and also the Selmer HS-Star that was once extremely popular, is a close-tipped mouthpiece that is easy to get a great sound out of...and therein lies the rub. All of these seem to play well even when a player is biting and/or maintaining a sloppy or otherwise incorrect embouchure. While the student sounds great, nobody suspects that they're actually playing with seriously flawed technique that they may never be able to unlearn.

The Ridenour Encore is the one I start students on. It's a little more open than the Fobes Debut/HS-Star/M13--just enough where you can't easily get away with biting and other embouchure nonsense.

Others have had success with the Vandoren 5RV Lyre, for the same reasons--but Ridenour's consistency from mouthpiece to mouthpiece is much tighter than Vandoren. Comparing one Vandoren 5RV Lyre to another 5RV Lyre is akin to comparing Bach 18 tuba mouthpieces--no two are exactly alike and often they're not even close.

I don't know why the B45 specification is so pervasive. This mouthpiece was better suited for the wide/cylindrical-bore clarinets (Selmer Centered Tone, Bundy 1400, et al) of yesteryear. These old instruments needed some working resistance provided by the mouthpiece, and this resistance is now built right into the the polycylindrical bores of today's clarinets. The B45 is just awful on the Yamaha YCL-250/255, Buffet B12, and Backun Alpha that most students begin on today.
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby tclements » Sat Dec 08, 2018 2:43 pm

My experience after teaching in San Jose, CA since the early 1980's, is that rotors experience less valve FAILURES than pistons over time. When I am asked by local educators, I always recommend a 4/4 rotary tuba, and suggest they stick with a more tried and true brand even if it means paying a little more. I always recommend buying from a local dealer (I give them a list of 4-5 from which to choose) as well, as creating a relationship is very helpful should repairs need to get done.
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby TheGoyWonder » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:13 pm

swillafew wrote:I have whittled my own collection down to two horns, a MW 182 and a MW 2182. Now I have pistons vs. rotors covered, as well as lacquer vs. silver. I think the bore and taper is what makes the sound, but that's just me. I think the biggest difference between them is the bore of valve #5.

What a school needs is a horn that you can drop many times, compromising every surface, but still plays owing to the top action pistons. If this horn is so big it can only reside in a Wenger stand, then it lives an even longer life, paying for the stand.

As for the Miraphone craze, I wanted one too but never had that plan work for me.


Stationary tubas in a stand are the way to go for skool. Top action valves are the only kind that won't require awkward reaching around the stand. Even better, add an adjustable height chair so the stand will never even be adjusted. (twice a year you'll have to move them to the stage for concert...pita, but only twice a year)
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby pjv » Sun Dec 09, 2018 6:01 am

now we're really off topic;
K&M sous stands; often used them as a playing stand in long rehearsals. But in general; they suck!

Why? They're not trustworthy to leave the sousaphone in. There's just one flimsy bolt (screw, whatever) to the adjust the angle of the sousaphone in the stand. I own many K&M stands for many instruments; trombones, euphoniums, sousaphones, tubas (playing stands). They ALL, with no exception, have given out at the bolts (except the euph stand which has the irritating legs which are impossible to keep tightened. As well these stands just loose their bolts). 80% gave out within the first week.

One the other hand, I have two rather old tuba (storage/playing) Walberg & Auge stands that are still going strong (and I often re-adjust the positioning depending on my needs).

OK, maybe I shouldn't expect our modern society to produce a bolts like they used to. Obviously K&M came to the same conclusion since the don't offer the sous stand on the tripod anymore (it's been replaced by slapping their butterfly construction onto a triangular guitar stand.)

If instrument stand companies (K&M, Hercules) would just replace their flimsy parts with the tried and true constructions like seen on many percussion stands (gears and pin wholes instead of bolts that strip and slip sooner or later) they might just corner the market.
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby gwwilk » Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:49 am

Way back in the late 1950's my high school band director furnished the tuba section with these. They worked wonderfully in the band room not only during practice but also to securely store our sousaphones.

I agree that the American sousaphones of this era were phenomenal, pistons and all. I played mine (a school instrument) after my sophomore HS year for a week in the NE high school All-State orchestra, much to the initial dismay of the conductor. After a few days rehearsals, he stopped the rehearsal specifically to point out that despite his trepidation the sousaphone worked wonderfully in my hands as an orchestral instrument. In fact one of the factors that led me to give up playing in college was the difficulty I had, given the limited practice time at my disposal, in successfully steering the 'real' tuba I was handed to use in our brass ensemble. It wasn't pretty!

Four years later in medical school my classmate, Charles (Chuck) Brantigan, organized a brass group and he recruited me to play a 4V piston tuba that he had acquired because of significant bell damage/wrinkling. It was then that I learned how to manage a 'real' tuba, but not its intonation quirks below the staff. Because I was practicing alone with no tuner in the 1960's I came to accept these quirks as 'in tune' much to the dismay of the group. :o

Chuck and his wife went on to found the Denver Brass after he established a vascular surgery practice there. Some might recognize her as the hostess of the 2005 ITEC in Denver. BTW, Chuck was a trumpet player. He tried to give me the tuba after we graduated, but I had no room to haul it to my next stop which was in Atlanta, so I left it with him. Much to my surprise he started playing it himself and now he and his wife play tuba (a different one of course) with the Denver Brass.

As you can see from my avatar, I'm all rotors now and can't play a piston instrument because the valves will stick due to my habit of pressing laterally on the valves.
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby bort » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:30 pm

Rambling...

Years ago I bought my nearly-new Miraphone 1291 from someone here (wow, like 13 or 14 years ago?!) It came with an Alteiri bag.

First time I put it back in the bag, the drawstring got caught on the 1st valve stem. Of course, I was being careful and slow, and noticed before anything bad ever happened.

I thought, "drawstring, what a terrible idea!"

The I saw the past from Alteiri to cover the valve section, and thought "what a hassle."

Then I saw the cap for the bell (another drawstring), and thought "I'll never use this again"

I ended up using that bag for several years, and never liked it. I didn't have any issues or damage, but I'm sure a less careful person could have easily bent some piston stems.

Not much better with rotary tubas, but different enough to not bend things.

Wait, is this the Alteiri thread or the piston one?

(Side note -- my current Gotz bag for the PT7 is a snug fit, but not problematic for the valves. I like the way Cronkhite bags fit with piston tubas... but there are things about the Cronks that I don't like, too.

Point is, be careful and you'll be fine. School tubas are likely to see a lot of wear and damage no matter what. There's a reason why those old American made tank-metal tubas last so long.
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby scottw » Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:43 pm

[quote="gwwilk"]Way back in the late 1950's my high school band director furnished the tuba section with these. They worked wonderfully in the band room not only during practice but also to securely store our sousaphones.

+1!!! :D I used them from 8th grade through HS--sousaphones are all we had/needed and they stored and played [inside] on those Wenger stands. Built like tanks, never tipped over and the weight was not on the shoulder of the player.
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby Voisi1ev » Sun Dec 09, 2018 4:12 pm

bloke wrote:
bloke "...and yes, ~routinely~ knocked over...and it's pointless to post any 'not at my school' rebuttals. I know what I have dealt with for four decades, and its far too much experience - from schools with students at all sorts of income and cultural backgrounds - to refer to it as 'anecdotal'."



NOT AT MY SCHOOL!! My kiddos just set the horn valve side down, leave their MPs on when putting horns in cases so they get stuck, run into door jams with bells, never empty their spit, drop MPs on horns causing dents, shove their music in their case on their horns, and wear out sousaphone necks/screws quicker than need be. Other than that they are perfect!
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby Levaix » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:39 am

My high school had a couple 186's, a newer rotary VMI (not sure of the model) a couple ancient King piston models in storage, and... a beat up Holton 345. I took the opportunity to play the Holton as much as possible after being tipped off by Mickey Moore at ISYM, but I was the only one who did so at the school. Most of our time players were recruited from other sections, and they were usually more interested in how shiny a horn was.

On a personal level, I have my Sonora now due to recommendation rather than valve preference. It was much easier to get this level of quality for the price I could afford with this specific tuba, and a similar quality piston tuba would have cost significantly more. In all honesty I'm not at all sure anymore which I prefer; it would probably come down more to which specific models caught my attention.
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Re: Rotors and pistons ...again!

Postby umlaut_kraut » Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:32 pm

Jupiter, it would seem...

I borrowed one just like that for a concert a few years ago and it was quite o.k. except for the thumb ring which was way too small for me.
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