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Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby WakinAZ » Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:32 pm

https://m.ebay.com/itm/5-4-B-BBb-Tuba-CERVENY/132374426221
The clocksprings give me pause.
No case either.

This guy always has nice-looking used Amati or Cerveny instruments for sale. I've messaged back and forth with him a bit, seems like a decent fellow. Anyone dealt with him?

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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby Heavy_Metal » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:45 pm

My Alex has clocksprings. They work the same as newer types. Haven't had a problem.

The horn doesn't look beat-up, so someone obviously took decent care of it.

Still- two grand?
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby joshealejo » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:30 am

Uwe, the seller has a good reputation, he has sold many kaiser tubas. I have a friend in Peru who has a Cerveny Kaiser sold by Uwe.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby Casca Grossa » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:24 am

Look for Uwe on Faceboook if you use it. He usually posts videos of him playing the instruments he sells. He has some really gigantic BBb tubas he demos. Pretty cool.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby TheGoyWonder » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:32 am

well respected seller, would have no concerns there.
The model is interesting though, have not seen a tuba exactly like that. Doesn't look like a common cerveny.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby the elephant » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:59 am

Heavy_Metal wrote:My Alex has clocksprings. They work the same as newer types. Haven't had a problem.


I have had nothing but bad luck with clock springs — initially. It seems the spring steel does wear out and lose its temper over the decades. However, having a tech install new ones will refresh the horn in a really nice way. I would agree with you on the Alex, though. I never had an issue with the clock springs on my old BBb 163.

I have liked the so-called "Dutch Machine" but have never owned one. (That was the name applied to the adjustable tension clock spiring units used on some horns. Very cool.)

The issue today is locating a tech who knows how to open, service, adjust and close back up clock spring units. As a tech I would go to a local clock maker to get replacement springs made. He was very good and cheap. However, finding a clock maker today is difficult. At least you can still purchase the springs new from some sources as a tech. I am not sure what a person would do on their own, though.

I think these are the only real limitations on clock springs: locating new springs and a tech who knows how to work on them.

*MY* worry about this tuba is the post-type stop arms. Those rockers are heavy and the post they hit is thin. They tend to be slow, too.

All this stuff can be upgraded or modified or at least serviced, though. If the tuba is a player none of this really matters, or at least should not deter a purchase, so long as the buyer knows that he may have to replace (or have serviced) all this stuff. AND everything may have been adjusted or whatever by the seller in an attempt to make it more attractive to a buyer. Only way to know is to play the horn and see how fast/slow or light/heavy the valves feel and to make sure all the little bits are present and not bent or broken.

Heavy_Metal wrote:Still- two grand?


Price + shipping at current rate of exchange is $2350.29
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby the elephant » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:07 am

I would ask the seller about the pitch range he lists. What exactly does he mean by 440-443 Hz? Is that the range the tuning slide can hit at its extremes when the horn is warmed up? If so, that would have you bordering on flat at all times. It can be cut a little, though. But I would ask, Eric.

42.9" tall
18.1" bell
.835" bore

Not that much larger than an Alex 163, not that much smaller than a 164, and a little bigger in some ways. Sort of hits a real "sweet spot" if you ask me. It even looks a lot like an Alex except for the lower 4th tube on the back, which is a classic Cerveny wrap.

I like it.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby TheGoyWonder » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:47 am

the elephant wrote:I would ask the seller about the pitch range he lists. What exactly does he mean by 440-443 Hz? Is that the range the tuning slide can hit at its extremes when the horn is warmed up? If so, that would have you bordering on flat at all times. It can be cut a little, though. But I would ask, Eric.

42.9" tall
18.1" bell
.835" bore

Not that much larger than an Alex 163, not that much smaller than a 164, and a little bigger in some ways. Sort of hits a real "sweet spot" if you ask me. It even looks a lot like an Alex except for the lower 4th tube on the back, which is a classic Cerveny wrap.

I like it.


everything in this post is backwards. if it was really 440-443 (it's not, it can't be, that's just a generic description and there's plenty of tuning slide travel) it would be borderline sharp all the time not flat. and the 4th valve wrap is the most Alex-like thing not the least.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby the elephant » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:31 pm

TheGoyWonder wrote:everything in this post is backwards. if it was really 440-443 (it's not, it can't be, that's just a generic description and there's plenty of tuning slide travel) it would be borderline sharp all the time not flat. and the 4th valve wrap is the most Alex-like thing not the least.


Whoops, yes, the slide would be all the way out and bordering on sharp. Sorry. Fuzzy brain that early in the a.m.

That lower 4th tube is *not* like any 163 I have ever seen. It follows the bottom bow all the way around. The Alex wrap has it pulling upwards from the bottom bow much earlier. It fairly announces this is not an Alexander tuba, to me, having owned several and playing them in an orchestra for a living for twelve years. Perhaps your experience with 163 tubas has been different than mine?
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby Alex C » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:26 pm

At that price? No. I bought a generation-later Cerveny Kaiser for $400. With work it will be a good player. Here are some of the problems you will face.

First, the rotors will be very worn with all of the problems that worn rotary valves have. I had a 1903 Cerveny Kaiser and looked into getting the the rotors plated and fitted. No can do. The rotors open ONLY at the top, the bottom of the casing is silver soldered. Lapping the casing requires an open casing which this tuba does not have. Additionally the casing and rotor on this era Cerveny are tapered so that when the fitting wears the player can tighten the rotor cap, push the rotor lower in the casing thus having a better fit.

So... plating the rotor can make it impossible to fit back in the casing with no guarantee of a better seal.

Second, this rotary valve section is first generation rotary valve mechanical design. The stop for the rotor is built into the rotary arm pivot. It cannot be adjusted... IF you can make it work. This is difficult to explain in text, you'll have to trust me even though you don't know me. When they do work, they are noisy as hell.

I have looked into replacing the rotary stack with modern rotors. This is difficult because the first two rotors are a different size than the last two rotors. The valve tubing would not fit unless you had the stack cu$tom built.

Replacing the entire valve section including new tubing has it's own set of problems. If you could convince one of the fine artist level repair techs (who are often on this site) to do the work, you could end up spending more than many new tubas.

There is no telling what the condition of the metal on the inside of the tubing is like. If it is pitted there would be no way the instrument would ever play well. There used to be a guy in Germany who knew how much milk to pour into a pitted leadpipe to fill the pits with.... milk scum I guess. Or so I was told. If must have been a common problem.

So my advice would be to stay away at this price. Somewhere around $600-800 and it would be worth the gamble. If you played it and loved it, the price might go higher but there is still the problem of the rotary arm stop.

I have played a Cerveny Kaiser BBb tuba from around 1900-1904 (dated by the street address on the Louis Vitak badge soldered on the bell) which is one of the finest tubas I have ever played. Flexible but with a thundering fortissimo and a velvet pianissimo, it stole my heart.

A friend of mine, David Mayfield, bought the horn from Joseph Hebert (pronounced "A-bear") who had bought it from one of the Hollywood studio musicians of the 1930's-50's. I arranged a lesson for David with Arnold Jacobs who fell in love with the horn and tried to buy it on the spot. David refused but Jake asked me about that horn for the next ten years. It remains one of the 3 or 4 best horns I've ever played.

But the tuba in this picture is not that tuba and never will be. I hate to end the day dream but don't buy this one. Just my opinion.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby WakinAZ » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:20 am

Thanks all. I think I'll keep my euros in my wallet until a better one shows up.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby Dan Schultz » Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:58 am

Clocksprings are not a problem. I keep several widths of spring steel and it's just a matter of popping apart the spring housing, making a new spring, and putting everything back together. Making a spring is only a matter of selecting a length of spring stock and annealing the ends so they can be formed to suit. Getting the little bugger wound up and back inside the housing without slashing a finger or two is my only problem.

The spring steel will not degrade over time as long as it it kept dry. The culprit is rust from lack of oiling and water getting inside the housings during cleaning. Whenever I chem-clean a horn with clocksprings, I simply take the paddle bar assembly off the horn. That's not a bad idea for regular springs either because even that style utilizes a steel shaft that can rust if not properly lubricated.

In engineering terms, clocksprings are referred to as 'constant velocity' springs. Properly set up and adjusted they are (in my opinion) superior to other styles of springs. The full motion of the finger paddle tends to be more even. Not certain but I thing clocksrings can still be ordered on the better European horns.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby bigtubby » Sat Oct 28, 2017 2:07 pm

Dan Schultz wrote:Clocksprings are not a problem. I keep several widths of spring steel and it's just a matter of popping apart the spring housing, making a new spring, and putting everything back together. Making a spring is only a matter of selecting a length of spring stock and annealing the ends so they can be formed to suit. Getting the little bugger wound up and back inside the housing without slashing a finger or two is my only problem.

The spring steel will not degrade over time as long as it it kept dry. The culprit is rust from lack of oiling and water getting inside the housings during cleaning. Whenever I chem-clean a horn with clocksprings, I simply take the paddle bar assembly off the horn. That's not a bad idea for regular springs either because even that style utilizes a steel shaft that can rust if not properly lubricated.

In engineering terms, clocksprings are referred to as 'constant velocity' springs. Properly set up and adjusted they are (in my opinion) superior to other styles of springs. The full motion of the finger paddle tends to be more even. Not certain but I thing clocksrings can still be ordered on the better European horns.

I agree about clocksprings - several of my "player" tubas have them and they work very well when properly maintained.

There is a fairly easy solution to the finger slashing problem: I bought an old spring winder, turned an appropriate mandrel for it (roughly the same as the barrel in most clockspring mechanisms) and fabricated a simple retainer out of brass.

Simply wind the prepared spring (cut to length, ends annealed and formed) into the retainer and then use the barrel and spindle to load the spring into the casing. No more blood, sweat and tears.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby bigtubby » Sat Oct 28, 2017 2:13 pm

WakinAZ wrote:https://m.ebay.com/itm/5-4-B-BBb-Tuba-CERVENY/132374426221
The clocksprings give me pause.
No case either.

This guy always has nice-looking used Amati or Cerveny instruments for sale. I've messaged back and forth with him a bit, seems like a decent fellow. Anyone dealt with him?

Eric "von Schteric"

See above about clocksprings. This is a cool old horn (c.1920s, maybe late teens) but frankly the seller gives me pause as I and another person who purchased from him had very similar problems. Please feel to PM me for details.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby bigtubby » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:08 pm

the elephant wrote:*MY* worry about this tuba is the post-type stop arms. Those rockers are heavy and the post they hit is thin. They tend to be slow, too.

There is no stopper post in those old style Cerveny mechanisms. The bumpers are inserted into holes the stop arms. The stops themselves are formed from the S-link ends, little "wings" on either side of the pivot. I own three tubas with these actuators and they work very well. The one caveat is that one must use oil resistant material for the bumpers or they melt away from oiling the mechanisms (if you oil the mechanisms :\ ).

<EDIT>
My late 1880s Schuster does have those "post" style stops, I've put a lot of hours in playing that horn and have had no problems with it either. In fact it is a favorite player of mine.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby The Big Ben » Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:42 am

FYI: Dillon's has a Cerveny 601 BBb for $1900 right now. Says it has been de-dented but the bell has some patches on it. They only posted one picture but, if you were interested in it, you could ask for more.

Not sure if the bell throat of the 601 is big enough to call it a "kaiser tuba" and not just "big howitzer".
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby WakinAZ » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:37 pm

Yes I saw that. Looks pretty good except it has clock Springs and is raw brass - two strikes for this guy. I could probably put up with the raw brass although I really don't like it.
But the clock Springs just make me nervous. The techs in the town I live in are not really that great - I have trouble getting decent work done on the more common setups, let alone old technology

Yes, picky and cheap is a bad combination, trust me.

Maybe I'll see if Matt can quote me to convert the linkage and springs.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby bigtubby » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:51 pm

WakinAZ wrote:Yes I saw that. Looks pretty good except it has clock Springs and is raw brass - two strikes for this guy. I could probably put up with the raw brass although I really don't like it.
But the clock Springs just make me nervous. The techs in the town I live in are not really that great - I have trouble getting decent work done on the more common setups, let alone old technology

Yes, picky and cheap is a bad combination, trust me.

Maybe I'll see if Matt can quote me to convert the linkage and springs.

:D Picky and cheap.

I'm confident that Matt will do you right on conversion, He might even buff it up and lacquer it for you.
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Re: Is this Kaiser tuba a good deal?

Postby humBell » Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:26 pm

Thanks for this thread, and in particular for Alex C's right up.
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