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Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby bloke » Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:12 pm

Jonathan invited me to play this instrument before the Army Conference, and I accepted his gracious invitation.

I've never had the opportunity to play one of these before, other than Rick Denney's Hirsbrunner (Does a Rudy 5/4 count, or not...??). I'm not sure that Rick's is typical (OK...to be fair, how do I know that Jonathan's is "typical"?, or if any of these are "typical"...??), and - when I played Rick's at a past conference - the elephant room was very noisy. I was able to play Jonathan's when some-or-another of the superstars-of-tubadom was/were doing a recital/clinic, so there were only a couple of other elephants in the room.

I would rate this playing experience almost as dissimilar to King-or-186 as was one's first "German" F-tuba experience. I was ready (not shocked) for the differences, and was in the "adapt" mode, mentally. Unlike the "6/4 York"-style sousaphone-shaped-like-concert tubas, (guess what?) it doesn't play like a sousaphone.

I might describe it this way: It does-the-work/carries-the-water for the player, and emits a large/clear (not diffuse) type of sound. It might be frustrating to tuba players who like to be muscle-men, because muscling this tuba accomplishes little-if-nothing.
You blow into (not "through") it, it makes a big sound.
You blow into it less, it makes less of a sound.
Again, there is no "hold my beer" mode with this instrument. I like this feature, and (again) I could see it (at least, at first) being frustrating to some.

Chuck Nickles' told me that their reference instrument (Czech-made...??) really offered curious intonation, and a good bit of experimentation was involved in their (likely...??) final design. I used no electronic tuner, but I found the intonation characteristics to be very similar to the Meinl-Weston rotary "bariton" (which many Americans label "tenor tuba") that I recently acquired and have been restoring and souping up. Thinking of the two instruments, I wouldn't be surprised to find that their bugle tapers are very similar: one being a 9-foot version, and the other being an 18-foot version.

I always like playing a 2nd partial low Eb, rather than a "false" tone. Chuck showed me a picture of another one with a 5th valve (plenty-plenty-plenty of room for one, as well as a 6th). I suggested keeping things simple by offering ONLY a 4-valve version and offering a parts-complete 5th valve add-on "kit" (for consumers to have installed locally), but they indicated that there will likely be a 5-valve version.

I suspect (??) that some American players would likely need to change their concepts and attitudes in order to embrace an instrument such as this. I'm not suggesting, btw, that changing some of those concepts and attitudes (regardless of the instrument) would be detrimental. Again, I will refer back to typical first-time-out "German" F tuba experiences. It's a different instrument with merits, that requires a different approach.

Since the majority of the posts, here, seem to dwell on mechanical or so-called ergonomic issues, the build quality on this un-lacquered (prototype?) instrument seemed very nice. I just don't tend to notice things-ergonomic with tubas, so I can't offer any comments along those lines. The word, "feedback", is also used here. With the bell opening "way up there" somewhere, the "feedback" is less with this instrument (with tubas that are 32" tall to 37" tall typically offering more "feedback"). In a way, it's similar to the lessened "feedback" with a recording bass, but - since the Kaiser bell does point in the customary direction (i.e. "upright"), there is still more "feedback" offered than with a bell-front recording bass.

I can see Jonathan selling a healthy number of these in continental Europe. Many Americans seem to notice how UK tuba players are set in their ways, and how continental tuba players are set in their ways, but it's also apparent to me that (particularly since around 1980 or so, with the the explosion of the sousaphone-taper shortened-to-C tuba phenomenon) that Americans are similarly set in their ways. Like other instruments that embrace extremes, I would categorize this as a specialty instrument. It's interesting to have instruments offered that are particularly good at carrying out specific groups of musical tasks.
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby Three Valves » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:29 pm

That was a BAT alright!!
Who needs four valves??

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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby Doc » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:27 am

I’m excited to try the new kaiser next week. I’m afraid I’m going to really like it.

According to your description, it sounds like it plays like the typical kaiser - responds easily to direct input, does the work for you (man handling is counterproductive; can’t try to “play big” with it), has rich, dense, “core” sound, big yet clear (not pillowy).

I certainly love the York/BAT type of sound for some applications, but I’ve always loved the direct, clear, yet rich sound those long-belled tubas produce. I love my kaiser tuba, and it’s a shame more players in the US don’t embrace them. The new trend that is gaining traction is a BAT BBb, and that’s great, but the kaiser’s sound is unique and, from a purely sonic perspective, it is most certainly appropriate/warranted on many works. Yet many can’t get away from the York/BAT sound. I’m glad we have the freedom to choose, but I personally find it a shame more players don’t choose a kaiser type of BBb.

BTW, I played mine with my high school students yesterday in band. Stood on the gas in a few spots(not muscling it, just adding more fuel). There is no sharp ugly blatting when you get on it, but there is a nice clear edge that really defines the note.

The German tradition has remained tradition for many good reasons, the sound being the most obvious. Thanks to Jonathan and Chuck for taking the B&F holy grail of German Kaiser sound and refining and reproducing it today. I’m betting European sales are good. I hope they are here, too.

Doc “who plays CC also, but doesn’t ask to chop/ruin perfectly good BBb tubas”
All that, plus $8.00, will get you a venti at Starbucks.
Or in my case, a large can of Folgers.
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby bloke » Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:23 am

<sidebar>
Bill mentioned other styles of very large Bb tubas, which "opened the door" to discussing them.
I enjoyed playing this new instrument very much, and its merits are absolutely there.
Most likely based on my own experiences and biases, my two personal favorite
really large currently-offered Bb tubas - so far - remain the Melton 195/5P (a larger-than-5450-C Bb with a sound character similar to a 5450),
and the Miraphone 98 "Seigfried" (a rotary-valves amazing-intonation/response "crossover" between the "blossom" 6/4 tubas
and the "Kaiser" 6/4's...a model which, seemingly...??, is mostly ignored).
</sidebar>
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby bort » Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:54 am

I'm sure the $20k pricetag on the Siegfried isnt helping its popularity. Not that it isnt worth it... but when your budget is $20k, that covers about 99% of all tubas. So the Siegfried had better be THE tuba for you.
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby bloke » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:15 am

bort wrote:I'm sure the $20k pricetag on the Siegfried isnt helping its popularity. Not that it isnt worth it... but when your budget is $20k, that covers about 99% of all tubas. So the Siegfried had better be THE tuba for you.


$20K = an "OK" bassoon or fiddle...or fiddle bow...

...and there are other instruments offered by those same sidebar-mentioned manufacturers at similar price levels that I would never consider for my own use.

I understand that the majority of tuba players do not "need" $20K tubas...but the majority of tuba players also do not "need" any tubas.
How many humans "need" these (all USED, btw)...
:arrow: https://www.stormyhillharley.com/search/inventory/brand/Harley-Davidson%C2%AE/type/Cruiser~~V-Twin/class/Touring/availability/In%20Stock
(...with "the buying of them" just being the BEGINNINGS of their costs.)

bloke "Availing oneself of really fine equipment encourages pleasure. Pleasure is a strong motivator with humans."
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby Three Valves » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:16 pm

Why don’t tuba players get “sponsored” the way violin and cello players do?? Those guys don’t own their 500k axes!!
Who needs four valves??

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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby bloke » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:44 pm

Three Valves wrote:Why don’t tuba players get “sponsored” the way violin and cello players do?? Those guys don’t own their 500k axes!!


When you're paid $2/note + pension, all anyone notices about your playing is when you play in a rest - or when you make an elephant-sound, and all anyone notices about your tuba is whether it's shiny or brown, you don't need no friggin' sponsor.
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby Mark Finley » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:54 pm

My chair is sponsored. Didn't effect me one way or the other when it happened, but at least I'm sponsored and other chairs in the orchestra are unsponsored. (principal chairs)
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby toobagrowl » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:22 pm

Not all Kaisers are the same. I have an old Kaiser BBb (prolly not as nice as Doc's) that has a very large .850" valve bore, a 20" bell with a very fat throat and about 41 or 42" tall. It has seen better days, but plays very well when the rotors are oiled and I use the right mpc. Kinda sounds like a Yorkbrunner; not as "direct" as some Kaisers, but still denser and more direct than the 6/4 York-a-phones. Other Kaisers are even "puffier" in sound than mine.
Just saying that due to their large typical 5/4+ ish size, they still have a lot of body to the sound and are not 'lazertone direct' :!:
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby Doc » Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:54 pm

toobagrowl wrote:Just saying that due to their large typical 5/4+ ish size, they still have a lot of body to the sound and are not 'lazertone direct' :!:


Are they direct? Sure, but no laser beams zapping people’s heads off. Mine has a wide, rich sound, but without the buoyancy of a BAT. The right mouthpiece helps (most big kaisers prefer deep bowls). I tried several that worked, but I didn’t care for the rounded rims they featured. I turned a Sellmansberger Solo with extender ring and Profundo rim with a #2 backbore into a very fine kaiser mouthpiece. Rich sound with daisy-cutter capabilities.
All that, plus $8.00, will get you a venti at Starbucks.
Or in my case, a large can of Folgers.
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby bloke » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:06 pm

Doc wrote:
toobagrowl wrote:Just saying that due to their large typical 5/4+ ish size, they still have a lot of body to the sound and are not 'lazertone direct' :!:


Are they direct? Sure, but no laser beams zapping people’s heads off. Mine has a wide, rich sound, but without the buoyancy of a BAT. The right mouthpiece helps (most big kaisers prefer deep bowls). I tried several that worked, but I didn’t care for the rounded rims they featured. I turned a Sellmansberger Solo with extender ring and Profundo rim with a #2 backbore into a very fine kaiser mouthpiece. Rich sound with daisy-cutter capabilities.


I should have remembered what you told me. At first, I tried one of my larger mouthpieces (after playing for about two seconds, obviously the wrong choice), and went back to get something smaller (Jonathan will confirm). I brought back an "Imperial". I should have brought back what you just listed above.
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby Doc » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:14 am

You’ll be prepared next time. 8)
All that, plus $8.00, will get you a venti at Starbucks.
Or in my case, a large can of Folgers.
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby Wyvern » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:27 am

The Wessex Kaiser will be supplied with the type of funnel mouthpiece that is popular with German players to use with large Kaiser tubas. It is completely different to the 6/4 York tuba mouthpiece.

The unlacquered Kaiser we exhibited at DC is now with Mike Roylance to potentially use for Bruckner 9 performances with the Boston Symphony this next week. The Kaiser at TMEA will be a beautiful silver-plated example which has at last been found at Paris airport - and made its way over the Atlantic (together with new 3/4 BBb tuba).
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby Chris Mayer » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:07 pm

How does the Wessex compare to the Melton 197 or the original B&F ? Or in a bit more wider comparison with the likes of Alexander 164, Rudolf Meinl 5/4, Miraphone Hagen etc. ?

Would these other tubas even have a chance, as the Wessex, besides commercial advantages, is not only „based“ on legacy models but also an improved version and produced within an ever improving design, production and quality factory environment ? Why play the other oldfashioned and expensive stuff ?

As finally commercially and technically superior, remaining key challenge would only be to convince German tuba players to play chinese in their humba, symphonic or ensemble groups. (can be done, „made in germany“ has also finally worked out, maybe not as the British had initially intended...).

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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby bloke » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:14 pm

Chris Mayer wrote:...the Melton 197 or the original B&F ? Or in a bit more wider comparison with the likes of Alexander 164, Rudolf Meinl 5/4, Miraphone Hagen etc. ?


' curious...
Being in Germany, how many of these have you had a chance to evaluate?

me...?? I've never had a chance to play someone's 197, but have played examples of the others. When I've listened to compressed recordings of fine European players using 197 tubas in ensembles and by themselves, I liked what I heard.
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby Wyvern » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:25 pm

Chris Mayer wrote:How does the Wessex compare to the Melton 197 or the original B&F ? Or in a bit more wider comparison with the likes of Alexander 164, Rudolf Meinl 5/4, Miraphone Hagen etc. ?

Would these other tubas even have a chance, as the Wessex, besides commercial advantages, is not only „based“ on legacy models but also an improved version and produced within an ever improving design, production and quality factory environment ? Why play the other oldfashioned and expensive stuff ?

As finally commercially and technically superior, remaining key challenge would only be to convince German tuba players to play chinese in their humba, symphonic or ensemble groups. (can be done, „made in germany“ has also finally worked out, maybe not as the British had initially intended...).

Chris

Feedback received is the new Kaiser compares very favourable, but visit the Wessex booth at Frankfurt Musikmesse and judge for yourself. We are located next to Miraphone in the hall
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby Liberty Mo » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:01 pm

Wyvern wrote:The Wessex Kaiser will be supplied with the type of funnel mouthpiece that is popular with German players to use with large Kaiser tubas. It is completely different to the 6/4 York tuba mouthpiece.

The unlacquered Kaiser we exhibited at DC is now with Mike Roylance to potentially use for Bruckner 9 performances with the Boston Symphony this next week. The Kaiser at TMEA will be a beautiful silver-plated example which has at last been found at Paris airport - and made its way over the Atlantic (together with new 3/4 BBb tuba).


Just curious as to what other tubas Wessex will have at TMEA?
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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby UncleBeer » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:28 pm

Liberty Mo wrote:Just curious as to what other tubas Wessex will have at TMEA?


Kaiser
Chicago
Chicago "Presence"
Wyvern
Dragon
Viverna
Oregon (3/4 4 valve BBb)
Berg
Gnagey
Contra
French tuba
Imp (3/4 3 valve BBb)

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Re: Jonathan's Kaiser BBb

Postby Mark Finley » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:33 pm

UncleBeer wrote:
Liberty Mo wrote:Just curious as to what other tubas Wessex will have at TMEA?


Oregon (3/4 4 valve BBb)


ok, I'll bite. what's the significance of the name?
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