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Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:55 pm
by TD517
This is a debate I've been having with myself for some time. I have a VERY old "Sonora" B+S copy Bb 4-valve horn that is playable but has issues. Namely:
-Leadpipe needs replaced (prior patch near the shank, has major dents, and could probably be realigned as per next issue)
-The body has been compressed throughout, to the point the 2nd slide is unable to pulled.
-Major dents throughout outer bows.
-The nickle finish has been eaten away to a dull, rough state. (Not a issue)
-It needs a chem clean, the rotors were cleaned about a year ago to make it playable.

Compression on the rotors seem great as far as I can tell. The partials -may- be a bit wonky, either because I am a Euph player or because of imperfections in the instrument.

Bottom line, for the same price would I get a better instrument having the Sonora entirely overhauled (completely realigned, the whole 9 yards), or buying a new/used horn? I did not get an estimate on the overhaul, but I'm assuming between $800-1600 without plating (based on prior dealings with the tech).

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:34 pm
by Ken Crawford
You won't be able to buy a better tuba for $1600. But in the end you'll have a tuba that might be worth $1600. So really the question is: Do you want a better tuba than a $1600 tuba?

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:39 pm
by toobagrowl
The old B&S 101/'Sonora' was one of the best 4/4 4rv BBb tubas made :!: The Chinese copies of that horn vary and tend to be good, but none match the original. You may be able to buy a used good Chinese B&S clone AND do a decent econo-overhaul on your real-deal B&S 'Sonora' for $1600 :idea:
There was a clone for sale not too long ago near your area in the classifieds -- the seller was only asking $800 for the tuba & case.

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:14 pm
by TD517
Ken - Of course! ...but as a doubler who is still working up his chops, I'm trying to be realistic with my budget. I lucked into this one on the cheap, and so I'm trying to weigh out how far this one might take me.

I know the B&S horns have been well spoken of on the forum, which is why I'm considering the overhaul. Perhaps the better question is What is a new horn that is comparable to the B&S ones?

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:56 pm
by bloke
Two full-on pictures, please...

obverse/reverse...entire instrument...overcast outdoor lighting...good focus...
suggestion: Take them from around ten feet away and zoom until entire instrument is closely-framed...' much less distortion

1XX KB is plenty large (likely, as it should define a workable size) for this forum.
Host them at imgur-dot-com

Right-click the hosted pictures, copy the url's, paste them here, and surround the pictures' url's with these [img]picture's_url[/img]

:arrow: Even if someone is at bad at advice-giving as am I, we all like to look at pictures of others' tubas. :wink:

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:11 pm
by TD517
Enjoy.

https://imgur.com/gallery/Nx0tmSL

Picture#3-Lead pipe patch, tried to show 2nd slide angled into the body.
Picture#4-The light square is where I pulled a piece of tape off and the original finish is still intact. It's even raised slightly, making me think the rest of the finish has been striped.

EDIT- Added link to the album on imgur, rather than the massive pictures stretching the page. Always shrink images prior to uploading, D'OH

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:43 pm
by Heavy_Metal
I'll second fixing the Sonora. Nothing there that can't be fixed, and you'll have a very good tuba when it's done.

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:21 pm
by Casca Grossa
I say fix it. As long as the valves have good compression, you should be able to get this back into playig shape no problem.

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 11:00 am
by The Big Ben
Next trip is to the tech to see if he will indeed fix it like you want it at a price you want to pay.

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 11:31 am
by bloke
Personally, I like those instruments more than the Jinbao copies of them (though the Jinbao copies are light years better than they were when I first saw them in the 1980's).

As a no-brainer (if I wished to own a tuba of this size/configuration) I would repair the B&S-made instrument but (well...) I wouldn't charge myself anything to do it. :|

Ask Tom McGrady if he might order you a replacement mouthpipe for a Jinbao model 200...or ask B&S (and good luck with that). If that thumb-sized dent in the lower #4 circuit tubing is epic, you might also ask Tom for that part.

ImageImage

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:18 pm
by TD517
....I never even considered the possibility of ordering parts for it. Definitely would try the clone route first, I've read other recent endeavors attempting to get parts from B+S :roll: I'd resigned to the fate of having to have a new lead pipe manually bent to fit, so Bloke may have just saved me $$$ :mrgreen:

The 4th tube looks worse in the picture than in person. It's probably about 1/4 or 1/3 of the diameter at the worst spots.

It's reassuring to hear such the votes for fixing it. The downside is, that means all the quirks and missed notes are truly my fault :lol:

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 6:43 pm
by toobagrowl
^ After looking at your Sonora pics, you might be being a little hard on yourself. That leadpipe/mouthpipe looks toast to me, it is pretty much 'crushed'. I'm pretty sure it is messing with the playability.
Like bloke said, get in contact with Tom @ Mack Brass to replace that old leadpipe. Show him this thread and he may be willing to sell you a Mack 200 BBb leadpipe to fit your Sonora.

Good luck :!:

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2019 9:32 am
by Tom Gregory
I was recently faced with this decision concerning my GDR PT10. It got smashed up and I was considering: a) a new bell, b) fix existing horn, c) new tuba all together. Ultimately, I decided on a complete tear down because I really like the horn-even damaged. I reached out to Bob Tucci and will say if I had gone with option “a” Bob could not have made it easier. As for buying a new tuba, they’re expensive and don’t do for me what my existing equipment does.
Ask yourself how much you like the positives v. hate the negatives. Your answer lies in the numbers.
JMO, YMMV

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:09 am
by Donn
TD517 wrote:I'd resigned to the fate of having to have a new lead pipe manually bent to fit, so Bloke may have just saved me $$$


I've never bought a leadpipe, do they come ready to solder on? I had a notion somehow that they come out of the box straight.

I agree about the outcome - an uncrushed leadpipe is bound to make a very noticeable improvement.

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2019 11:31 am
by bloke
TD517 wrote:original post


The GDR-made 4/4 BBb tubas of that configuration (particularly when one is chosen after playing two or three of them) are remarkably nice instruments.

To my ears, they sound like Alexander instruments, and - now, having played Jonathan's "Kaiser" - are simply a smaller version of the same concept.

Were I a tuba "collector" (a person who holds on to tubas just because they are "very good", even if they don't make me any money for a year or two), I'd have one...and I'd have a PARTICULAR one that I sold to a school several years ago.

They offer the classic "Miraphone 186/188" intonation (very in tune with themselves, other than a flat fifth partial - with is either lipped or alternates sought). To me, tuba "bugles" that find themselves tuned in this way make the easiest-to-play-in-tune tubas. Nearly off-topic, I'm attracted to my own Melton/Meinl Weston model 5450 tuba for several reasons, but this type of intonation is certainly one of them.

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:15 pm
by The Big Ben
Donn wrote:
TD517 wrote:I'd resigned to the fate of having to have a new lead pipe manually bent to fit, so Bloke may have just saved me $$$


I've never bought a leadpipe, do they come ready to solder on? I had a notion somehow that they come out of the box straight.

I agree about the outcome - an uncrushed leadpipe is bound to make a very noticeable improvement.


I had a new Miraphone mouthpipe put on a 186 and it came from MP bent. It did need to be tweaked a little bit to get it just so. Chances are good that even a "clone" mouthpipe is going to have to be wrestled and tweaked to get it installed. Too many variables to think it would just "go on".

I've seen mouthpipes in the catalogs that are straight, filled with pitch/Cerrobend and I've seen flat pieces of sheet that were cut, bent, tapped, soldered and pounded and to make a custom mouthpipe. Labor charges would escalate for each step from a prebent mouthpipe.

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 3:15 pm
by Dan Schultz
I routinely refurb and offer those horns for sale for between $1,800 and $2,500 depending on the exact condition. Would I spend the same amount of money on a Chinese horn? HELL NO!

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:35 pm
by TD517
The Big Ben wrote:Chances are good that even a "clone" mouthpipe is going to have to be wrestled and tweaked to get it installed. Too many variables to think it would just "go on".

My repair tech basically said the same things. Enough so that he was apprehensive about that route unless they still have the pitch in them, or "they can be returned when it doesn't fit". Hmmm...

He also mentioned that most suppliers don't make mouthpipes that long anymore. He could splice two together, but that doesn't seem optimal either.

Also, shout out to Dan, who is great. I got a stop plate from him for this tuba, very reasonably. Great guy, highly recommended!

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 5:14 pm
by bloke
I don't ever expect parts like that - even if made by the original manufacturer - to lay right into place.
Tuba repairs are more than parts-changing.
I'm nearly certain that those two Jinbao-made parts could be convinced to fit, and to be made to look as if originally fit.

I recently installed a PT6-P mouthpipe on a Wisemann 900. Did it "fit"? nope. Did the customer leave with it "fit" to their tuba? yes. Did I oval the mouthpipe when installing it? nope.

Re: Buy new or Restore old?

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:27 pm
by toobagrowl
bloke wrote:I don't ever expect parts like that - even if made by the original manufacturer - to lay right into place.
Tuba repairs are more than parts-changing.
I'm nearly certain that those two Jinbao-made parts could be convinced to fit, and to be made to look as if originally fit.

Yup :!:

TD517 wrote:
The Big Ben wrote:Chances are good that even a "clone" mouthpipe is going to have to be wrestled and tweaked to get it installed. Too many variables to think it would just "go on".

My repair tech basically said the same things. Enough so that he was apprehensive about that route unless they still have the pitch in them, or "they can be returned when it doesn't fit". Hmmm...

He also mentioned that most suppliers don't make mouthpipes that long anymore. He could splice two together, but that doesn't seem optimal either.


The Jinbao-made mouthpipes still have pine-tar pitch in them, and they are made in one long piece -- I should know because I bought a couple of them several years ago for a couple old tubas I have.
If your brass tech is STILL apprehensive to "do the job" with the already-bent/already-filled B&S copy mouthpipe, it may be time to look for another tech to do the job....
Either way, a new mouthpipe/leadpipe will most likely have to be 'tweaked' (slight bending, cutting, etc) to fit your horn anyway. And they will have to melt out the pitch (duh) and round out the ends before soldering it onto the tuba :idea: