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European-made tubas with "big valves" feature stout stainless steel pistons which are patterned after early-mid 20th century design pistons made by York and Holton. The original York pistons were astonishingly lightweight, and the Holton pistons were a bit heavier. The European pistons are the heaviest of all.
This weight (as it effectively multiplies with motion) requires springs of significant strength. If you're like me, you've replaced those springs with lighter-action (typically Yamaha) springs to reduce the amount of work required by the finger and forearm muscles (exertion which can easily transfer stress into other aspects of playing the tuba - including the sound that comes out the bell). Up until now, doing that slightly reduced the speed of the return of the pistons.
As the finger buttons mated up with these European pistons (again, patterned after some seen on some well-known York tubas) are quite heavy themselves, here is an opportunity to get rid of some of the weight, decrease the spring tension, and preserve the speed of the pistons.
After a good bit of testing, Dave Houser has beautifully executed (as well as offering some great input) the concept and design that was in my head.
These finger buttons...
- are stainless steel
- are very strong
- feature the same top surface size as the big European buttons
- sport a matte finish and logo on top, to increase grip
- are less than half the weight of the massive European brass/pearl finger buttons
The threading fits EUROPEAN valve stems only. In the future, we might consider other thread sizes, but not right now.
They are now available for purchase at Mid-South Music here in Tennessee. I have a good supply of them (the entire first run!) here.
A set of four of these super-lightweight finger buttons is $100 + $3 postage to the CONUS.
I can take VISA and MASTERCARD over the phone 901-465-4739, and will gladly accept your personal check as well.
Mid-South Music Sales & Service
14560 Highway 193
Williston, TN 38076
The email address is midsouthmusic at aol
Last edited by bloke on Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Several orders already in my Inbox (incl. Matt Good - Dallas Symphony)
...and Rich Serpa - Richmond Symphony (thanks!)
These finger buttons are light enough that the entire moving body that the spring must push back up (including the piston body, the stem, the guide, the washers, and - yes - the Houser-Sellmansberger finger button) is 9% lighter.
The threads are nice and close-fitting to the German-made stems as well...no slop, which means a reduced chance of loosening.
Andy Rummel http://finearts.illinoisstate.edu/profiles/default.aspx?q=BM200807100178&unitAbbr=schoolofmusic
Rod Mathews http://www.santarosasymphony.com/about_us/artistic_staff.asp
For the convenience of those who will be ordering the finger buttons, I just ordered a " big gob" of ("tuba") medium strength Yamaha springs and a " big gob" of ("euphonium") medium-light strength Yamaha springs. They should all be here in less than a week. The euphonium springs, in my experience, will still effectively move a "big valve" (particularly with the light weight finger button installed) in the regular horizontal playing position. The tuba springs are already considerably easier to depress than stock European springs, and will probably be the most commonly selected. The euphonium springs might be a good intermediate-use spring for someone who is trying to get over hand-cramping problems or forearm muscle soreness problems. (I'm not a doctor, and don't play one on TV. )
This supply of Yamaha springs should last for a good while. They are $16/set of four. Please only order them from me in conjunction with orders for finger buttons. Yes, you may certainly order more than one set of springs with an order of one set of finger buttons. Domestic postage cost for either a set of buttons or a set of buttons plus a set of springs is only $3.
As to the lightweight stainless steel finger buttons themselves, a "grain" measurement comparison seems to indicate that these buttons weight just about 30% of the amount that the German-made brass+pearl finger buttons weigh.
As of today, these have made their way into the realm of the D.C.-area service bands.
lightweight finger buttons in the UK...
Andrew Miller - principal tuba, Alabama Symphony
Israel Defense Forces Orchestra
Besides reducing weight (which reduces the amount of work that the finger and forearm muscles are required to do), these (also vertically LOWER) buttons also lower the angle of the player's wrist.
It doesn't take much of a test to figure out that when the hand comes out of the wrist at a straighter angle, several muscles are more relaxed. A lower and more collinear angle of the hand in relation to the forearm allows for less work and less stress. Most any piston valve tuba immediately becomes more ergonomic.
Are those going to be aviable anytime soon?
13 posts • Page 1 of 1
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