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First glimpse of prototype for the new Wessex Tubas Eb Helicon (worn by Jonathan Hodgetts) beside 19th century example (worn by Jim Langley).
I personally find it a lot more comfortable to carry than a sousaphone. Lighter and with lower centre of gravity. Sound is more like tuba and not as woofy as sousaphone.
Expected to be available late 2016 or early 2017.
Last edited by Wyvern on Sun Jul 03, 2016 2:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
I wonder if there would be a market for the ancient Roman military corni? Would your guys build one, Jonathan? Might be tough finding a sample to take measurements. Bore size? Conical? Cylindrical? Pitch? Bell flare? Mouthpiece configuration? Etc.
I know someone who has modern reproduction. Looks good, but not sure how accurate it plays and sounds. That is pitched like modern euphonium.
In future plans dependant on how the Eb version is received
It is a helicon reverse engineered from sousaphone, rather than based on vintage helicon
Same size bore and 19" bell
I think your biggest challenge won't be whether there is a market for new helicons, but shipping them. Both from a damage standpoint, but also at a reasonable cost point to customers. That is going to be one huge and expensive box to ship.
I'm a long time multiple Helicon owner of both BBb & Eb and the only disadvantage of a Helicon is transport to gigs in car/bus and forget about flying!
So perhaps you might want to think about having a detachable bell which would not only help in shipping, but also benefit owners when transporting to gigs?
It would be hard to resist if it were in CC.
Doug Black, D.M.A.
B&S Performing Artist
Adjunct Professor of Tuba and Euphonium, Winthrop University
Adjunct Instructor of Tuba and Euphonium, University of South Carolina
I have been trying out the new Wessex Eb Helicon on the march and in concert with band this last couple weekend and can say I absolutely love! Why military bands stopped using them, I just do not know? I found it to be the perfect tuba for marching. Weight is about 25% less than sousaphone with lower centre of gravity making it easy to carry, while that weight is directly over spine unlike tuba on strap where I am bracing to stay upright. Therefore my posture was much better and I suffered no back pain. Also I found the music stayed steady and did not jog-around, so I could easier read on the march.
A big surprise to me is the helicon plays much better than sousaphone. The sound is more focused, the notes slot better with improved intonation and fuller low register. I never before realised the adverse effect that double curve of tube and oversize bell had on the playing of sousaphones. As Tom Holtz commented on Facebook, "It's night and day. Truly." I now understand!
I am pleased to hear the Swedish Royal Army Band has started using helicon again. I hope Wessex Tubas can start a helicon revival. The first batch of Eb helicon will be available November and we expect to have a 4 piston valve BBb version following in 2017.
Here are some photos of me playing the Eb helicon with Wessex Military Band.
Works well sitting too - unless you are the euphonium player to my left!
I would think a detachable bell would help both buyer and seller out. I would never consider buying anything you can't put in the trunk (or even the back seat) of most cars
that being said, excellent product announcement Jonathan, thanks for always trying to bring something to the market that there wouldn't necessarily be a HuGE market for, but something that fills a niche
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