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Old Miraphone 186

Postby tubacharlie » Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:39 pm

I'm thinking about buying a very old Miraphone which they say is a 186 BBb Tuba that has been a high school horn. I have never seen or heard of one with a detachable bell in fact it has a straight and a recording bell. The condition is playable but it looks like a well used school horn. Did the 186 come with a detachable bell and does anyone have an idea how old it is?
Did the old Miraphones play as good as today's.
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby Voisi1ev » Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:51 pm

I'd say at least 7 grand, and buy the band teacher a few drinks.
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby the elephant » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:07 pm

The actual variation of the model (in the US) was:

186-5U CC with 186 being the US number for the model, 5 being the number of valves and U meaning upright bell, and then the key.

What you may or may not be looking at would be a 186-4R BBb that also has the optional upright bell. (186-4U/R BBb, maybe?)

So, YES, the 186 was available with the fixed upright bell as well as with a removable recording bell and an optional upright to go with it. I do not think they ever made a fixed recording bell at any point.

Photos will help us better help you. Good luck.
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby hrender » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:14 pm

I played cello in a community orchestra '78-'79 in which the tuba player had one. Nice horn. I think he'd bought it pretty recently which is why I think they still made them at the time. I never asked to play his horn, so I can't comment on its playing characteristics.

I've seen them for sale since on CL and fleaBay. None have appeared that looked recent, so I don't think they made them much past the 1970's.
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby Voisi1ev » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:33 pm

Pictures

https://imgur.com/a/qBcb6

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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby tubacharlie » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:45 pm

Thanks for the photo. I'm very interested
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby rodgeman » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:42 pm

I have one from the 60's with a detachable recording bell. Plays better than the one I had a few years ago with the same vintage but with a straight, non detachable bell.
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby Dan Schultz » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:48 pm

Where is the horn in question located? I've built quite a few detachable upright bells for the Miraphone 186.

I've never had one come to me with only an upright detachable bell. I think the rationale of the detachable recording bell was in order to provide cases for recording bell horns. The cases for tubas with fixed recording bells were pretty large and difficult to handle.

I'm sure Miraphone sold the 186 with BOTH detachable bells but I've not seen one that way.
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby the elephant » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:04 pm

Dan Schultz wrote:I think the rationale of the detachable recording bell was in order to provide cases for recording bell horns.


I have surmised this, too. It is the same reason that sousaphone bells are detachable. I don't believe for a minute that it was to adjust the angle of the bell for the player; it was strictly for the sake of getting the thing into a case. When you can lay the circular body over the bell then the one case works well enough, but with a concert tuba body you must have a separate case.

I remember the cases for several BBb Yorks with huge, fixed recording bells. They were ludicrous both to look at and to have to use.
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby bloke » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:05 pm

I believe I can guess what occurred:

1. The original recording bell was not wanted.
2. The wish for an upright bell was made known to a shop.
3. The shop ordered a new 17-3/4" bell, removed the collar from the original recording bell, installed it on the new bell, cut the new bell, and polished and lacquered the new bell.

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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby the elephant » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:09 pm



This horn is probably from the late 1980s. (I am guessing like 1987 or so, as it sports the DVS linkage system and a nickel silver leadpipe.)

Could you post the serial number?

It is possible that the bell was cut and the collar added by a previous owner. I believe Miraphone is one of the companies that keeps this sort of serial number-based information on file. (Not that the bell was cut, but whether it was a 4U or a 4R from the factory, as well as the date of manufacture.)
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby the elephant » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:10 pm

Joe beat me to the punch by less than a minute, it appears. ;-)
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby bloke » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:20 pm

sorry :(
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby Voisi1ev » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:47 pm

To clarify, the horn has a recording and straight bell and both have the Mirafone detailing around the edge and a logo, so I assume both were made for the horn.

I've e-mailed Miraphone to get more info, does look like mid to late eighties though.
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby the elephant » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:23 pm

Yeah, that is a Miraphone bell. The bell could have been cut and the collar added to allow the use of an older recording bell. Not likely, but possible.
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby PaulMaybery » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:15 pm

These were relatively popular at the University of Minnesota from the 1960s when Stan Freese performed as tuba soloist with the U of M Band on their tour to Russia. A member on Tubenet is a fellow from that generation at the U and could probably shed more accurate light on it. I remember a gig with Stan from about 15 years ago and he brought along that very same Mirafone. Stan's dad Harold Freese, author of a rather successful band instruction book, was band director (I believe) at a Middle School in Edina, Minnesota. I recall being at the Edina HS for a reherarsal 2 years back and there was one of these in the band room.
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby Dan Schultz » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:30 pm

Voisi1ev wrote:To clarify, the horn has a recording and straight bell and both have the Mirafone detailing around the edge and a logo, so I assume both were made for the horn.

I've e-mailed Miraphone to get more info, does look like mid to late eighties though.


Do both bells sport the same serial number?
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby Voisi1ev » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:05 am

No serial on the bell, it has the logo on the side and normal Miraphone detailing on the edge of the bell.
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby tubacharlie » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:15 pm

Thanks for the information. I cant wait to give it a try. Currently I'm playing a Yamaha 321 that was a school horn and seen better days. I had to replace all the valves since they were pitted and worn and the lead pipe was leaking. The repairs helped but I'm at the point now I think I need a better quality tuba which is easier to handle and has a better sound since I'm in a low brass ensemble and perform with voisi1ev and I sure don't want the tubas to sound bad.
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Re: Old Miraphone 186

Postby groth » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:57 pm

There was one that recently sold a few months ago on eBay for a nice price. Mid-80's is also my guess. I remember these being top heavy and overall, heavier than fixed bells.
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