Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha 641

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Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha 641

Post by bman94 »

Band director here and amateur Tuba player (primary is Euphonium). I have the opportunity to buy some more instruments so of course I want to invest in some more Tubas. What should I default to? King 2341W or the Yamaha 641?

We own 12 Tubas already, but only 4 fulk sized ones. 2 of the full sized ones are the Yamaha 641s but I'm really concerned about upkeep for Rotary Tubas. The ones we have currently were purchased in 2007 and are already in rough shape.

Anybody that has played the King 2341W can tell me their impressions on it? I like the mellow sound of the Yamaha but it seems to get lost in the ensemble at times with my students not being able to fill it up? What should I go with? (Also I'm slightly impartial to the Yamahas just from a visual standpoint)
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by bigtubby »

IMHO the King 12xx/23xx tubas are really hard to beat in playability, durability and maintenance cost. The definition of a solid 4/4 tuba.

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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by The Big Ben »

There are quite a few Yamaha 321s in use in the high schools and middle schools around me. They seem to be pretty tough. You might talk to the people who would be repairing your horns to see if they have suggestions.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by Art Hovey »

Get the Kings. Or save a few bucks and get the Eastman King clones.
Eastman also makes a smaller tuba ("3/4" size) with 4 front pistons identical to the King 2341 valve section.
In my opinion it is an ideal tuba for middle school kids who may not yet be big enough for either of the models you mentioned.
I have one myself and like it a lot.
The Yamaha 641s that I have seen students using have rather weak low register. More than one of my younger students trying for a low F put the right finger down but hit a low G instead. When I try it myself I can hit a perfectly good low F, but can lip it up to G with very little effort.
That does not happen with the Kings and Eastman King clones.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

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The Big Ben wrote:There are quite a few Yamaha 321s in use in the high schools and middle schools around me. They seem to be pretty tough. You might talk to the people who would be repairing your horns to see if they have suggestions.
Except for the valve guides, which break if you look at them wrong or aren't as careful as a professional in re-inserting the valve after oiling. Then they are unplayable until fixed.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by Sam Gnagey »

You might want to consider the Yamaha YBB621 which is much more manageable for Junior High students. I believe it would stand up to middle school usage than those mentioned above and still provide a 4-valve BBb experience.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by Davidus1 »

Mark Finley wrote:The 641 is the worst mainstream tuba on the planet. Please stop buying them and maybe yamaha would actually be forced to make something decent
+1. I really dislike the 641. I would recommend the Kings or Eastman or even a Conn 5j.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by bort »

iiipopes wrote:
The Big Ben wrote:There are quite a few Yamaha 321s in use in the high schools and middle schools around me. They seem to be pretty tough. You might talk to the people who would be repairing your horns to see if they have suggestions.
Except for the valve guides, which break if you look at them wrong or aren't as careful as a professional in re-inserting the valve after oiling. Then they are unplayable until fixed.
Unplayable? Ha! When I was in HS, I just had to deal with it and be real careful to press the valve up and down. There was no budget for new valve guides (I'm serious). If that meant the tuba was unplayable... there would have been no tuba for bort to play.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by The Big Ben »

iiipopes wrote:
The Big Ben wrote:There are quite a few Yamaha 321s in use in the high schools and middle schools around me. They seem to be pretty tough. You might talk to the people who would be repairing your horns to see if they have suggestions.
Except for the valve guides, which break if you look at them wrong or aren't as careful as a professional in re-inserting the valve after oiling. Then they are unplayable until fixed.
Again, it would be a good idea to talk to the people who will be repairing them. About any horn choice.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by Bill Troiano »

I think those 321's are pretty awkward to hold, especially for a middle school sized kid. They're also a bit demanding for air usage. I was always a big fan of the 2341 for any age level and any size player.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by tofu »

What horn is the 641 a clone of?
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by timayer »

I had a student with a school-owned 641 once. We spent a lot of time on tone production, and it never seemed to get there. I played the horn for about 30 seconds, at which point I apologized for spending so much time on tone production and concentrated on different aspects of technique for the rest of the school year. Calling the low register unplayable is being generous.

I played a YBB103 throughout middle school and never had an issue with it. But I was also a middle school player at the time, so take that for what it's worth. I started out 6th grade at 4'10" and had to have it on its side to reach the mouthpiece, and it worked fine. And in 8th grade I was 5'10" and it was still comfortable. I played the upright version for marching band in high school and never had issues with it even when using it for a sit-down tuba.

The 321s my high school had were always fine, though pretty big. I couldn't have handled it in middle school.

Never played the King or any clones.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by timayer »

Mark Finley wrote:People have been playing clones for decades, they just didn't know it.
This is making me think of Cylons...
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by Voisi1ev »

I've never figured out the appeal of a 321. Even tall kids have trouble playing it comfortably.

Have a 2341 for my kiddos. Works great. Big sound. Really good ergonomically for MS and HS Kids.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by iiipopes »

bort wrote:
iiipopes wrote:
The Big Ben wrote:There are quite a few Yamaha 321s in use in the high schools and middle schools around me. They seem to be pretty tough. You might talk to the people who would be repairing your horns to see if they have suggestions.
Except for the valve guides, which break if you look at them wrong or aren't as careful as a professional in re-inserting the valve after oiling. Then they are unplayable until fixed.
Unplayable? Ha! When I was in HS, I just had to deal with it and be real careful to press the valve up and down. There was no budget for new valve guides (I'm serious). If that meant the tuba was unplayable... there would have been no tuba for bort to play.
You are right. A couple of years ago one of the regional private teachers invited a couple of players to join us for Memorial Day. They brought their Yammies. They were having to align the valves so often that it is a wonder they played any notes at all.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by iiipopes »

bigtubby wrote:IMHO the King 12xx/23xx tubas are really hard to beat in playability, durability and maintenance cost. The definition of a solid 4/4 tuba.
YMMV
And since they have been made in essentially the same form for over a century, any tech worth his/her tools should have plenty of crash parts in their morgue.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by Sousaswag »

I'd go with the King. I seem to remember the low range of the 641 not being there when I played one back in high school. Not to mention the issue of other students knocking the horn over and making the rotors immobile. If you are *really* concerned about durability, go with the 321 since top action pistons are pretty hard to damage.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by WC8KCY »

Sousaswag wrote:I'd go with the King. I seem to remember the low range of the 641 not being there when I played one back in high school. Not to mention the issue of other students knocking the horn over and making the rotors immobile. If you are *really* concerned about durability, go with the 321 since top action pistons are pretty hard to damage.
I had use of a local college's 641 when playing in one of their wind ensembles. Anything below low A was stuffy and needed some extra coaxing. The high range was squirrelly too.

It's hard to accept that such a beautiful looking instrument could be such a chore to play.

Frankly, low F and below are easier and more dependable as false and pedal tones on my Holton eefer than when played with the 4th valve on the 641.

This model harkens back to Yamaha's early days of building uninspired designs that were not quite sorted out and made to sell at a certain price point...back when people settled for a Yamaha when they couldn't afford the horn they really wanted.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by Three Valves »

In middle school I never dropped my sousaphone from its wenger chair.
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Re: Buying Tubas for Middle School Band:King 2341W or Yamaha

Post by iiipopes »

Three Valves wrote:In middle school I never dropped my sousaphone from its wenger chair.
This ^ is what my middle school (we called it Jr. High) had.
"Bessophone" w/ 2-piece Imperial Blokepiece,
Lexan 32.6 Modified Helleberg rim & modified .080 extender
Wessex BR115 & B&H 3-valve comp w/ Wick Ultra SMB6
King Super 20 trumpet w/ Bach 3C/76
Fanned fret bass and electric guitars
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