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Which sousa would you buy?

Poll ended at Sun Aug 18, 2019 1:57 pm

King Model 2350 for $2000
Conn Silver 40K for $3000
Silver King for $2000
No votes
Total votes : 6

WTB Sousaphone

Postby scubatuba.25 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:57 pm

I'm wanting to buy a sousaphone that will help me sound like demi-god Nat McIntosh. I'm on a working vacation in Florida, but will be joining a few Youngblood themed brass bands once I drive back to Seattle. I know some of you will say that it's the player not the horn, although true, having the right kind of axe for the job will certainly help me when I hit the wood shed. Below are a few horns that have been on my radar. If you're selling a 5K sousa for 2K, I'm interested. Your shared knowledge and experience is appreciated great tuba master hive mind. :tuba:

King Model 2350 (I notice Nat playing this model often. Why not match the master)

Conn Silver 40K (my favorite, what a beauty. $1000 more than what I have and my concern is weight. Is the ability to drop a phat in tune pedals a gain that's worth the chronic back pain?)

A silver King (probably my best bet. I prefer silver. Really unfamiliar with the versatility of the king Sousa's. Played their contra line for a couple years with little complaints)
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Re: WTB Sousaphone

Postby iiipopes » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:23 am

If you can find one, add to your list a pre-Macmillian Conn 14K. Since 1977, I have played just about every souzy out there, except for some of the more obscure ones (Keefer, Besson, etc.), and the new offerings from Jupiter, Yamaha, and Conn Clones. Of the three listed, for the OP's specific application:
1) The King 2350 is a good choice. It plays very well in tune with itself, can accommodate about any mouthpiece, and any shop worth its tools will have a morgue full of crash parts if something untowards happens. They are extremely versatile, with good projection as well as tone and intonation. For example, my school could not afford both tubas and sousaphones, so we played King sousaphones in both street and field marching, and concert. My only criticism is that with the .687 bore, if pushed too hard, the tone can get edgy, where a Conn with its .734 bore the sound simply gets bigger. Traditionally, (Pre-Cyborg, Pre-UMI) they came with either a King 25 mouthpiece, a moderate bowl easy to control, or the King 26, a deep funnel, which gave, of course, a mellower tone. A modern Helleberg-style mouthpiece works very well with these horns, including a Kellyberg in your choice of color. Caveat: the bits are proprietary, with each bit having a different internal diameter, so they must be assembled in the correct order to be secure in the neck. It does appear from a couple of YouTube videos that Nat McIntosh plays an old King souzy, both visually, and the edge in his tone which is signature.
2) Probably not the Conn 40K. Probably the best sounding of the bunch, but you are right: approaching 40 pounds, not a horn to march or stand for extended periods of time with. These were designed for jazz bands and sitting playing ballroom dance gigs with the 4th valve back in the 20's, to get more sound out front than an unamplified double bass. Although, if you want the "voice of God" of sousaphones, this is it. At one time, I had the use of a Cavalier souzy (predecessor to the Conn 14K) and a 38K (same horn as a 40K but with three valves) at the house, along with my Miraphone tuba and my Besson tuba, now sold. All sounded good, but by comparison you could feel the 38K resonating in the crawl space under the floor. Even then, I did not retain the 38K because of the weight. If you are going to be standing and moving around in a genre similar to the Youngblood Brass Band, yes, this is something to consider. Something else to consider: in a small group, the near-pedal and true pedal tones may not properly support and knit with the rest of the ensemble as do the standard lower and middle ranges. You like Nat; listen again to his playing. He is not playing that many really low notes. He is playing what supports the rest of the ensemble, with some technical virtuosity thrown in, as support, response, and cohesion are more important in a small group than sub tones.
3) Not this particular Silver King. No reason to have changed the neck to a Conn neck. Something else must be wrong with it, as King necks are readily available, so I question the professionalism of the tech who did this "repair."
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Wessex BR115 & B&H 3-valve comp w/ Wick Ultra SMB6
King Super 20 trumpet w/ Bach 3C/76
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Re: WTB Sousaphone

Postby Ltrain » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:33 am

Dillon music is selling its own Conn 20K clone... Chinese but not Jin Bao. I thought the quality was on par with Eastman, better than “modern” 20Ks, and maybe only lacking compared to the best vintage 20Ks... which is saying a lot. If you’re in the Northeast, check it out!

FWIW - I can rock “Brooklyn” on a 36K and get close to that sound, given my has a brass bell, but it’s all about 1. dense air stream just under over-blowing and 2. Mic placement... Nat’s tone is an amplified tone after all.
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