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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby MN_TimTuba » Wed Dec 12, 2018 7:25 pm

Downsizing has been on my mind a bit, since arthritis is beginning to affect my wrists. I love my Holton 345, but the time will come when I can't cart it around or hold her comfortably to perform, especially standing (which I do enjoy). My playing is mostly community bands and church, with an occasional solo tossed in, and there's always the random small group that may pop up, and sometimes I'm the only tuba in the full band. The Holton supports the band wonderfully. I played and performed for nearly a year on a nice King 2341, and liked that horn a lot. A very lot. I would like to work with a 186 before I do my downsizing. I spent 5 years on a very nice Yamaha 621, but had a harder time supporting the band with that one - just not enough cubic inches - although solos and transport were a piece of cake. The King felt like a toy after 20 years with the 345, still had great sound and intonation, and was a breeze to handle. It's possible an Eb would do what I need, but I do prefer front action valves or rotors, so I'd be looking at a 983 or a Norwegian Star, or that Wessex Cavalry model, I suppose. So, those horns are all on my radar as time moves along, and I believe none would be a bad choice at all. For me, anyway.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby Three Valves » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:23 pm

I plan on spending the rest of my life answering this question... :tuba:
Who needs four valves??

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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby pauvog1 » Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:50 pm

Stryk wrote:Mostly community band and church orchestra at this point in my life. There are a couple regional orchestras I have subbed for before, and did have a very active quintet, but do neither much anymore. I'd rather just play for enjoyment.

pauvog1 wrote:What type of playing do you mostly do (quintet, orchestra, community band, etc)?


I'd go with a 4/4 or 5/4 CC or BBb. Plenty versitale for most ensemble work. More options for good intonation than with many 6/4's.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby Stryk » Fri Dec 14, 2018 9:46 am

Played my Alex BBb yesterday - man is that a nice horn.....just in the wrong key for me. I am pretty sure about a couple things about the one horn I would have - 1) It will NOT be Chinese; 2) Unless it is a York copy, it will likely have rotors, not valves; 3) it will probably be German (or have the German sound); 4) It will be pitched in C.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby hup_d_dup » Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:00 am

Stryk wrote: it will likely have rotors, not valves.


Interesting concept.

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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby vespa50sp » Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:11 am

I've been thinking about this as well, I'm contemplating a move to a smaller place and I'm not as strong as I used to be. I picked up an old Conn 12j to fiddle with and was surprised to find how heavy the horn is for being a small one.

Currently on my list is a regular old Miraphone 186 BBb or a Besson 983. And maybe a Tornister to take on trips.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby pauvog1 » Fri Dec 14, 2018 5:56 pm

Stryk wrote:Played my Alex BBb yesterday - man is that a nice horn.....just in the wrong key for me. I am pretty sure about a couple things about the one horn I would have - 1) It will NOT be Chinese; 2) Unless it is a York copy, it will likely have rotors, not valves; 3) it will probably be German (or have the German sound); 4) It will be pitched in C.


So an Alex 173?
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby lost » Fri Dec 14, 2018 6:46 pm

Kanstul 66-S

A 5 valve/rotary eb copy of my eb york monster. Cost a lot of scratch, but holy moley. All the sound of a big tuba in an ergonomic fat stubby 6/4 eb.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby toobagrowl » Fri Dec 14, 2018 9:42 pm

Stryk wrote:Mostly community band and church orchestra at this point in my life. There are a couple regional orchestras I have subbed for before, and did have a very active quintet, but do neither much anymore. I'd rather just play for enjoyment.


Personally, I'd think a good 4/4 contrabass tuba fits best what you need. But then again, there are some on here that think if you "play well" than it shouldn't matter what tuba you use; even if it's a skimpy F or Eb tuba :| Apparently they don't hear the very obvious sonic differences between bass and contrabass tubas, even with all the variations of them. There is a reason the vast majority of bands and players use CC and BBb tubas for medium and large ensembles :idea:


bloke wrote:With the big 19" bells that most comp Eb tubas feature today, I'm not sure that I would sign on to the (paraphrasing) "easy to alter the sound" claim particularly enthusiastically, but - when played well - they do sound "pretty", and (again: my experience) it's a bit of a challenge to make one of those tubas sound "scary" or "ominous" (etc.)

I don't possess the world's most amazing memory, but something about "Bobo" seemed to remind me that his view (at least, sometime in the past) of the sonic quality of 19" compensating Eb tubas (i.e. they kinda sound about the same no matter what...sorta like euphoniums) lines up with my own observations.


+1. I've heard recordings from across-the-pond orchestras use those tubas, and while a nice "big sound for Eb", those tubas' sound don't get me excited due to the lack of sound color and lack of depth/thickness in the low register. They sound good in some quintets and brass bands though....
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby MartyNeilan » Sat Dec 15, 2018 8:31 pm

toobagrowl wrote:
Stryk wrote:Mostly community band and church orchestra at this point in my life. There are a couple regional orchestras I have subbed for before, and did have a very active quintet, but do neither much anymore. I'd rather just play for enjoyment.


Personally, I'd think a good 4/4 contrabass tuba fits best what you need. But then again, there are some on here that think if you "play well" than it shouldn't matter what tuba you use; even if it's a skimpy F or Eb tuba :| Apparently they don't hear the very obvious sonic differences between bass and contrabass tubas, even with all the variations of them. There is a reason the vast majority of bands and players use CC and BBb tubas for medium and large ensembles :idea:


bloke wrote:With the big 19" bells that most comp Eb tubas feature today, I'm not sure that I would sign on to the (paraphrasing) "easy to alter the sound" claim particularly enthusiastically, but - when played well - they do sound "pretty", and (again: my experience) it's a bit of a challenge to make one of those tubas sound "scary" or "ominous" (etc.)

I don't possess the world's most amazing memory, but something about "Bobo" seemed to remind me that his view (at least, sometime in the past) of the sonic quality of 19" compensating Eb tubas (i.e. they kinda sound about the same no matter what...sorta like euphoniums) lines up with my own observations.


+1. I've heard recordings from across-the-pond orchestras use those tubas, and while a nice "big sound for Eb", those tubas' sound don't get me excited due to the lack of sound color and lack of depth/thickness in the low register. They sound good in some quintets and brass bands though....

The Wessex "solo" EEb is the same tuba as the regular full sized model, but has a 16 3/4" bell instead. I think that gives a lot more color and clarity to the sound, and if anything enhances projection.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby bloke » Sat Dec 15, 2018 10:35 pm

The pre-John Fletcher B&H comp. E-flat featured a 15" bell, and - in my opinion - was the optimal bell diameter to offer adequate sound color contrast to cover an "E-flat bass" part in a brass band.

That having been said, Terry expresses interest in limiting his "one tuba" choice to a C-length instrument with rotors, so any discussion in this direction in this thread is moot.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby tofu » Sun Dec 16, 2018 2:46 am

Well it is all a personal choice at the end of the day. People going to one horn do so for a variety of reasons and sometimes multiple reasons. Downsizing, getting older, physical limitations etc. The size & play level of the groups you play in will factor into the decision as will your own abilities.

If you are looking for a horn that is CC / rotary / German / easy to hold / easy to lift / easy to haul - then a horn to consider is a Mirafone 185. High range is easy and it just sings up there - the low range is superb - can play big and small - can solo and sound like an F tuba - can be very lyrical or you can make it growl. Records well and projects like there's no tomorrow.

They aren't common - the vintage ones made in the "60's were the best IMHO. Miraphone still makes them (I think they are a special order) but I think Horn Guys has them. If you play in a section they are a snap to play. As the only guy in a 90 piece group --> you will work (but I'd rather do that if I'm in my 80's then haul big balky 5/4 or 6/4). And the pedigree of players who have played them (and held on to them) over the years says a lot about them - people like Tommy Johnson / Roger Bobo / Jim Self / Joe Murphy / Everett Gilmore (BBb) and many more.

If I had to go to one horn - it would be my 185. It's already my throw it in the trunk do everything horn.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby swillafew » Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:06 pm

If you expect to get older, getting a smaller horn makes too much sense. I have already punched this button and have a Melton 182, and I expect it to extend my playing for years. In the meantime the "big" horn is a Meinl Weston 2182, and it made an appearance as a BBb in the local brass band. Everybody was happy.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby MartyNeilan » Mon Dec 17, 2018 10:42 pm

It will be interested to see what ultimately happens with this. I am pursuing the same thing, but perhaps leaning towards the larger side.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby Stryk » Tue Dec 18, 2018 11:38 am

MartyNeilan wrote:It will be interested to see what ultimately happens with this. I am pursuing the same thing, but perhaps leaning towards the larger side.


I think if I didn't have to carry it around, I would opt for a Nirschl York or YamaYork. However, I do still play regularly - usually 3-5 times a week, so the carrying weight is an issue. The horn I play the most is my Amati. It is light and plays well, but is not what you would call a dream horn. I have a wonderful 184, but find it hard to even balance a 25 piece church orchestra. Anyhow - I enjoy finding out what others are thinking and have done about this dilemma. It will work itself out in time.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby Donn » Tue Dec 18, 2018 12:24 pm

Stryk wrote:The horn I play the most is my Amati. It is light and plays well, but is not what you would call a dream horn.


There might be something bigger in the Cerveny+Amati catalogue that would fill the bill, like some variation on the 601 - much more trouble than the Amati, if it's one of those little 15lb piston cuties, but lighter than average for its size. Not a "dream horn" exactly - but reality has its advantages.

Too bad plastic tubas don't come in C.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby Bob Kolada » Tue Dec 18, 2018 1:25 pm

bloke wrote:The pre-John Fletcher B&H comp. E-flat featured a 15" bell, and - in my opinion - was the optimal bell diameter to offer adequate sound color contrast to cover an "E-flat bass" part in a brass band.



Do those generally play in tune with a modern size mouthpiece or do they need a cut? I've been eyeing the one for sale here for a while...
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby bloke » Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:09 pm

Bob Kolada wrote:
bloke wrote:The pre-John Fletcher B&H comp. E-flat featured a 15" bell, and - in my opinion - was the optimal bell diameter to offer adequate sound color contrast to cover an "E-flat bass" part in a brass band.



Do those generally play in tune with a modern size mouthpiece or do they need a cut? I've been eyeing the one for sale here for a while...


' pretty sure the 19" bell is the factor that caused the need for shortening those instruments, and not "people using normal-sized mouthpieces".

The old stock "Besson" small-shank mouthpieces (back when a few were still floating around, and though I view them as "stinkers") aren't super-small.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby iiipopes » Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:13 pm

I own it. My BBb Bessophone.
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Re: Only one, but which one?

Postby wagnertuba262 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 10:07 pm

bloke wrote:
Bob Kolada wrote:
bloke wrote:The pre-John Fletcher B&H comp. E-flat featured a 15" bell, and - in my opinion - was the optimal bell diameter to offer adequate sound color contrast to cover an "E-flat bass" part in a brass band.



Do those generally play in tune with a modern size mouthpiece or do they need a cut? I've been eyeing the one for sale here for a while...


' pretty sure the 19" bell is the factor that caused the need for shortening those instruments, and not "people using normal-sized mouthpieces".

The old stock "Besson" small-shank mouthpieces (back when a few were still floating around, and though I view them as "stinkers") aren't super-small.


I seldom post here, but read once in a while. Lots of threads about the 3+1 e-flat peaked my interest. I agree with the opinion on the 15" bell vs 19".
I own a Besson e-flat (1970's) with a 15" bell and the small receiver. I have had it for about 29-years so I have had a chance to find quirks. Good all around horn, but best in BQ. The best mouthpiece that works for me is a Wick 4 or 5 (small shank). Wick 4 and 5 mouthpieces solved pitch issues I had with flat pitches above the staff, especially the D. The Wick also adds color and allows the horn to 'almost' cut like a f-tuba. I tried a Wick 3, but didn't work for me; didn't like the sound and pitch became an issue up top. The Wick 4 and 5 work very well for me on this horn. Tuba works very well in band with a B-flat partner. I am not a fan of the 19" bell. The Yamaha with a 17" bell is OK, but for me the Besson 15" bell tuba I have is the best Brit 3+1 I have ever played.

Previous owner that I bought this horn from found this tuba to maybe be too pretty, monochromatic or not much color, but did think it was the best tuba for the Hindemith Sonate, used it on some orchestra recordings, and I think I remember reading he thought the Besson e-flat 15" is an excellent BQ tuba. So despite the "pretty" short comings he still had some positive opinions for this horn. Not sure what mouthpiece he used, likely not a Wick 4, but I am sure he sounded better than me any day of the week on what ever he used. However, I believe the Wick 4 or 5 does give it more color.

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