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Re: Eb question

Postby bloke » Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:31 am

I won't offer my opinions on the individual models listed, nor one (as one could easily accuse me of bias, since I sell them...and others will be auto-biased against it, because it is not front-action) that I like better than all on your list...

...but - as I often state, but wonder if it means anything to others -

Individual tubas must be given what they need, rather than what we want to give them. Picking up some new-to-us tuba and attempting to play it (blow through it) in the same manner that we've been blowing through tubas to which we are accustomed doesn't always work out all that well. It took me into my later 20's to "get" this - as I was exposed to more-and-more widely-varying styles/sizes/lengths of tubas, and heard more-and-more players play models of instruments (that I had previously dismissed) marvelously well.

If a tuba offers easy-achievable good intonation (with very easily-solvable intonation quirks) and is put together well, I'm automatically going to be interested in it. All other characteristics of tubas - in my view - are dwarfed by "offers easy good intonation". That having been said, people testing out extremes of tubas in rooms where forty others are playing (and without the aid of an electronic tuner - much less, one that isolates their tuba's sound from the sounds of others)...I sort-of wonder what they think they're doing.
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Re: Eb question

Postby Jerryleejr » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:23 am

bloke wrote:I won't offer my opinions on the individual models listed, nor one (as one could easily accuse me of bias, since I sell them...and others will be auto-biased against it, because it is not front-action) that I like better than all on your list...

...but - as I often state, but wonder if it means anything to others -

Individual tubas must be given what they need, rather than what we want to give them. Picking up some new-to-us tuba and attempting to play it (blow through it) in the same manner that we've been blowing through tubas to which we are accustomed doesn't always work out all that well. It took me into my later 20's to "get" this - as I was exposed to more-and-more widely-varying styles/sizes/lengths of tubas, and heard more-and-more players play models of instruments (that I had previously dismissed) marvelously well.

If a tuba offers easy-achievable good intonation (with very easily-solvable intonation quirks) and is put together well, I'm automatically going to be interested in it. All other characteristics of tubas - in my view - are dwarfed by "offers easy good intonation". That having been said, people testing out extremes of tubas in rooms where forty others are playing (and without the aid of an electronic tuner - much less, one that isolates their tuba's sound from the sounds of others)...I sort-of wonder what they think they're doing.

I totally agree, and because of that environment I was focusing more on feel and how much work I was putting into each horn. I plan on trying to spend some time in a controlled environment with a tuner and some smaller mouthpieces with at least my top two choices...

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Re: Eb question

Postby MaryAnn » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:40 am

GC wrote:I've never been fortunate enough to have encountered a tuba that doesn't have any irritating resistance when 1-2-3-4 is down. .


I'm still trying to figure out where "stuffiness" comes from when more valves are down, because it's not like there is significantly more impedance to air flow. It must have to do with the nodes....all that squirrelly tubing and it seems the nodes are not as "secure" as they are with less tubing. Yet the compensating tubas manage to not be stuffy with four valves down, so.....any other engineer ideas out there? I remember the story of the guy with the F tuba who dropped his mouthpiece on it and put a dent in the bell branch, and its low C instantly became easy to play; conclusion was that he fixed a node problem. Picture here on Tubenet somewhere, but it's a really long time ago. I always wanted Rick Denney to chime in but it was at the end of his time of contributions here.
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Re: Eb question

Postby Donn » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:26 am

MaryAnn wrote:I'm still trying to figure out where "stuffiness" comes from when more valves are down, because it's not like there is significantly more impedance to air flow. It must have to do with the nodes....all that squirrelly tubing and it seems the nodes are not as "secure" as they are with less tubing.


Naturally, it's departing farther and farther from the ideal acoustical horn. There'd probably be some insight into the issue in the role that the bell plays in "cylindrical" instruments like the trombone, which in a way seems a lot like the shape of a tuba with a lot of straight valve tubing. (Or a person could read up on legit acoustic theory, but what's the fun in that?)

I'm not real sure though that "stuffy" always means the same thing to everyone. Like "high F". We use terms like that; ask what they mean, find out that they mean every different thing they could possibly mean; keep using them as if we're communicating.

Yet the compensating tubas manage to not be stuffy with four valves down


I don't think there's full consensus on that, as you may see earlier in this thread.
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Re: Eb question

Postby roweenie » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:49 am

I'm going to stick my neck out here, and propose my empirical theory on low-register "stuffiness" (which I describe as difficulty in centering notes, even when you are buzzing the correct pitch).

I've noticed that horns that have this feature generally are ones that are "exaggerated" (ie. drastic tapers) versions of their kind. For example, I've never really seen this problem on 4/4 - 5/4 horns (regardless of key), but step it up to 6/4 (or monster, or whatever), these idiosyncrasies start to become an issue....not always, as for every rule there is an anomaly, but often enough to warrant a "theory".

The heirloom US manufacturers addressed this issue, with some success, by enlarging the bell flare (I know this from personal trial-and-error, swapping bells on horns I've built). I don't think the choice of exaggerated bell flare was for cosmetic (or perceptual) effect, although that was probably a welcome byproduct.

I recall someone saying here that the "note" actually occurs somewhere past the bell of the instrument - FWIW, I know nothing about physics, but I find, sometimes, there seems to be less "stuffiness" on these horns when I play them in a room with a low ceiling, leading me to believe it's just as much an issue of perception as it is an issue of physics.
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Re: Eb question

Postby Jerryleejr » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:04 pm

roweenie wrote:I'm going to stick my neck out here, and propose my empirical theory on low-register "stuffiness" (which I describe as difficulty in centering notes, even when you are buzzing the correct pitch).

I've noticed that horns that have this feature generally are ones that are "exaggerated" (ie. drastic tapers) versions of their kind. For example, I've never really seen this problem on 4/4 - 5/4 horns (regardless of key), but step it up to 6/4 (or monster, or whatever), these idiosyncrasies start to become an issue....not always, as for every rule there is an anomaly, but often enough to warrant a "theory".

The heirloom US manufacturers addressed this issue, with some success, by enlarging the bell flare (I know this from personal trial-and-error, swapping bells on horns I've built). I don't think the choice of exaggerated bell flare was for cosmetic (or perceptual) effect, although that was probably a welcome byproduct.

I recall someone saying here that the "note" actually occurs somewhere past the bell of the instrument - FWIW, I know nothing about physics, but I find, sometimes, there seems to be less "stuffiness" on these horns when I play them in a room with a low ceiling, leading me to believe it's just as much an issue of perception as it is an issue of physics.

I may be interchanging Stuffiness and Resistance, The best I can describe it is when playing open it feels like blowing thru a sponge on certain notes as opposed to how other notes feel more open if this makes sense...

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Re: Eb question

Postby barry grrr-ero » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:59 pm

I think the more pertinent question is at what notes did you experience 'stuffiness' (?). I played a 983 for years and it was quite solid all the way down to low F. Low E was, of course, rather stuffy. But nobody buys an Eb tuba for a strong low E natural, do they? I've played numerous CC tubas where low E wasn't a particularly great note. It's not even a really a great note on my big "Neptune". If you're buying an eefer to play as a surrogate 4/4 CC, it ain't gonna happen. The best you can hope for is to make it an equivalent of a 3/4 CC tuba. But here's the good news . . .

My experience has been that most Eb tubas are very forgiving in terms of the mouthpieces you stick in them. Therefore, you can put pretty large mouthpieces in them and get away with it, as long as you know a few tricks to keep everything relatively well in tune. They can take quite small m.p.'s as well. The great thing about a good Eb tuba is its versatility. Just don't expect one to sound like a 4/4 CC that has a 'biggish' m.p. in it.

Almost as much as sound, consider the ergonomics. Eb tubas are very much a 'try before you buy' situation, especially if you're going to use one for everything. I hated the Willson 3400 Eb. For me, it was one of the one worst tubas possible. It was like playing a bad 3/4 CC with terrible ergonomics. I traded one for somebody else's Besson 983. We were both happier.
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Re: Eb question

Postby Jerryleejr » Sat Jun 01, 2019 7:55 pm

barry grrr-ero wrote:I think the more pertinent question is at what notes did you experience 'stuffiness' (?). I played a 983 for years and it was quite solid all the way down to low F. Low E was, of course, rather stuffy. But nobody buys an Eb tuba for a strong low E natural, do they? I've played numerous CC tubas where low E wasn't a particularly great note. It's not even a really a great note on my big "Neptune". If you're buying an eefer to play as a surrogate 4/4 CC, it ain't gonna happen. The best you can hope for is to make it an equivalent of a 3/4 CC tuba. But here's the good news . . .

My experience has been that most Eb tubas are very forgiving in terms of the mouthpieces you stick in them. Therefore, you can put pretty large mouthpieces in them and get away with it, as long as you know a few tricks to keep everything relatively well in tune. They can take quite small m.p.'s as well. The great thing about a good Eb tuba is its versatility. Just don't expect one to sound like a 4/4 CC that has a 'biggish' m.p. in it.

Almost as much as sound, consider the ergonomics. Eb tubas are very much a 'try before you buy' situation, especially if you're going to use one for everything. I hated the Willson 3400 Eb. For me, it was one of the one worst tubas possible. It was like playing a bad 3/4 CC with terrible ergonomics. I traded one for somebody else's Besson 983. We were both happier.

Specifically Eb just below the staff, seemed to go away when I started putting valves down or went into the upper register. Even the lower register was fine with valves down.

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Re: Eb question

Postby Donn » Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:21 am

OK, now that sounds like a bum horn. I had a baritone horn like that for a while, interesting 4V instrument with a powerful direct sound elsewhere, but Bb was not a note. It was weird. My understanding is that it did turn out to be a leak, but I sure didn't find it nor did a local repair technician.

It doesn't make sense that anyone would bring an instrument like that to ITEC, let alone several different tubas with the same problem, but neither does it makes sense that Eb would be any kind of difficult note, on any Eb tuba. Maybe someone snuck around with a bag of crickets and tossed them into the Eb tubas while no one was looking.
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Re: Eb question

Postby GC » Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:28 am

MaryAnn wrote:I'm still trying to figure out where "stuffiness" comes from when more valves are down, because it's not like there is significantly more impedance to air flow. It must have to do with the nodes....all that squirrelly tubing and it seems the nodes are not as "secure" as they are with less tubing. Yet the compensating tubas manage to not be stuffy with four valves down, so.....any other engineer ideas out there?

I've never encountered a 4-banger where I couldn't just blow air through, no buzz, then put down all the valves and not feel a significant increase in resistance. There's always been a difference. Some horns are much more resistant, some are much less resistant. I'd love to try one that has no difference.

My current compensating instrument is pretty decent about not just piling on the resistance when you add more valves, but there's still a significant amount. It just means I have to work a little harder on low F and E. I've never liked excessively (to my taste, anyway) free-blowing instruments. A little resistance helps me control my lip better, but too much gets in the way. I wonder if more open resistance leads to a little more 1-2-3-4 resistance, or a lot . . .

Edit: thinking a little further on the subject, a compensating tuba with the system Besson and its imitators use has a lot of points for addition to impediment of the air flow built in, and they try to minimize the effect. With no valves down, the air flow goes through all four valves, but the path is not straight; there are bends and sometimes sharp corners here and there to affect the air flow. Builders try to keep the flow as straight and unimpeded as possible, but there's still no perfect straight path. As the valves 1-3 are used, there are redirects through the valves, more and more tubing for flow resistance, and tight bends in the ends of the valve slides. If the 4th valve is used, the exit flow redirects to the valves again, and as 1-3 are engaged, there are even more port redirects and tight bends in the compensating sections of each valve. Using all of 1-4, you've added a bunch of impediments to smooth air flow.

Air is so wonderfully lacking in fluid resistance, so even with all the impediments to smooth flow, it still allows us to play. I'd love to see a tuba underwater and filled with water for a flow resistance testing. I bet trying to send water through with all the valves down would more than double the flow resistance. Been wrong before, though.

Now after typing all this, I wonder if I've made some monumental error in logic. I guess I'll find out.
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Re: Eb question

Postby Donn » Sun Jun 02, 2019 1:37 am

Well, one thing to bear in mind is that there isn't a whole lot of air flow through there. I don't have my valve trombone any more, but if you have a couple horns where resistance in one is noticeably higher than the other, try just blowing into them, not super hard but without buzzing. My guess is that you won't see the same difference there, and the effect depends on the formation of a note (a low note.)
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Re: Eb question

Postby MaryAnn » Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:05 am

GC wrote:
Air is so wonderfully lacking in fluid resistance, so even with all the impediments to smooth flow, it still allows us to play. I'd love to see a tuba underwater and filled with water for a flow resistance testing. I bet trying to send water through with all the valves down would more than double the flow resistance. Been wrong before, though.

Now after typing all this, I wonder if I've made some monumental error in logic. I guess I'll find out.


I agree a water test would certainly exaggerate any difference in impedance, and I never meant to say that there is zero change in impedance, just wondered why the compensators I've played (both euphs and tubas) were definitely less "stuffy" than the rotaries. I don't own a compensating tuba because I can't reach them and don't do well with pistons. I do have a compensating euph and compared to horn playing, do not find it stuffy. It is probably "more" stuffy with a lot of valves down, but I'm so accustomed to making a horn work that I don't even notice it.
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Re: Eb question

Postby GC » Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:49 pm

I think the resistance in rotary tubas comes from several factors. First, very long lead pipes without a lot of taper. Second, the path through most rotary valve sets has a lot of bends and constrictions. Using the NoStar as an example, with no valves there are 10 significant bends just going through the valve set. If you use all the valves, that's 10 more significant bends plus semi-tight tubing bends in the 2nd and 5th valves, for a total of 22. I don't know what the insides of the valves on the NoStar look like, but rotary valves I've seen in the past don't seem to be designed to be internally drag-resistant (maybe Rotax valves?). It's my guess that a lot of the big bore sizes in rotor horns are to reduce resistance as much as deepen tone.

And I agree: making the horn work is the most important thing. Then again, a horn where you have to work too hard to get what you want from it is a horn you don't need. It's best to get as close to the point-and-shoot ideal as you can. NoStars are pretty much there already.

Rethink: then again, the one horn I ever owned that had so little resistance that it was uncontrollable with my meager abilities was a 4-rotor CC Cerveny 601. I could tell there was slightly more resistance with most of the valves down, but it still just took the air out of me. Mileage WILL vary. All generalizations are false, including this one.
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Re: Eb question

Postby bloke » Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:05 pm

I've noticed that a common rotary bore is 19.5mm, whereas (for nearly forty years, now) a common piston valveset pasted on the same body will tend to be 19mm bore...

...That having been said, I'm not sure this is a "compensating for stuffiness" issue, but dates back to a long tradition of 19.5mm bore rotors in Germany, and - around 1980 - Hirsbrunner (deciding to attempt to build a successful CSO York tuba knock-off) discovering that Walter Nirschl's factory had some tooling to make 19mm bore piston valvesets (very close to the 3/4" bore of the largest Michigan-made York piston tubas) which they had used to build (German-made) "York Master" piston tubas for export to the USA.

Again, the more different size/configuration/length of tubas-or-tuba-related-instruments a player regularly plays, the more they will nearly instantly sense what an individual instrument requires, and not really judge any "good" instrument as "stuffy".

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