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Trying to upgrade with little money

Postby BopEuph » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:32 am

Hey all,

I'm ready to take the next step in my tuba playing. I built up some pretty darn good chops on an old, beat-up Conn 12J, but as Tom Treece has told me, it's holding me back. The horn actually sounds good on the full range, but low E and F are weak and impossible to get an accurate articulation. I tend to blame myself and am still working towards those low notes, but it's obvious when I pick up another horn that it's not me.

I want to keep this tuba, since it's great for standing jazz/pop gigs, but I'd love something that could take me to the next level. I've done a couple of pops orchestra jobs in the past, and would like to do more. I'm really wanting an old style King 2341, but they seem impossible to find in good shape. A good named 4/4 piston horn would be best for me.

Besides that, there's the financial part. I don't have a lot of money to play with, and it will be at least another six months before I could look at a new loan, but I was hoping to find something that would be worth getting now, and breaking even on a sale later...likely to just put whatever I make back into that loan on an even better horn.

I tried a Jupiter 582 yesterday, and I really liked it for the price. It played leaps and bounds better than my Conn, the low notes were articulate, and it was surprisingly more nimble than my horn. It's practically mint except for a dent on the bottom bow, and he's asking $3500 for the horn.

While I think that's a reasonable price, from what I understand, the resale value isn't going to even break even for me. I don't see a lot of these horns popping up for sale on the used market, and the ones that have don't seem to have been sold. Not that I have 3500 in my pocket right now, but I'm sure that wouldn't be difficult for me to scrounge up.

I mainly do commercial music, but would like something that allows me to start looking into the occasional orchestral job, too.

Any recommendations on a horn that would be a good "holdover" horn until I can afford something better? One that will keep its value when I want to sell it?

Here's some clips of generally what I've been doing with the horn:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hvtt_n-sTyU
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Re: Trying to upgrade with little money

Postby bloke » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:41 am

Low F and E can be produced (ok: easily) with a small tuba in good condition.

Just like most other "pretty good" instruments (and I sometimes use the so-called "stuffy" valve trombones as examples) instruments will respond when "given what they need". Is it possible that you're fighting the 12J? Hey...none of us are there with you, so... The low range (regardless of the tuba) is the most difficult to master. "Really wide" tubas are no easier to center (in that range) than are "really narrow" tubas. Again, "what the tuba needs" to vibrate nicely in that range must be found...embouchure shape...embouchure tension...air speed...air quantity... :arrow: proper lengths of tubing...

Sure, some mouthpieces and some tubas ("on average") are "easier to play" (for the "median" tuba player...whomever that is) but please note that I'm neither attempting - at least, not at this time (but please give me a shot, if you're determined to shop) - to see you an instrument nor a mouthpiece.

...and we also don't know the definition of "beat up", as it pertains to your 12J. The videos don't show anything particularly "beat up" to me.

OK...just a couple more things:
- A 3-valve tuba is QUITE A FEW INCHES TOO SHORT to play low F and low E. If you REALLY are looking for great response on those pitches, you're going to have to find something to pull out...a LOT...If nothing is easy to pull nor easy to reach, you might need some alteration.
- The embouchure for that range with a loud sound (at least, for ME) involves lip placement (which involves TEETH position) whereby the lips are about 1/4" apart. ' yours...??
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Re: Trying to upgrade with little money

Postby BopEuph » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:03 am

Good point. It's an old high school rescue. It's not a bad looking horn, after I've had a large portion of dents rolled out and stripped the lacquer. According to Tom:

1.) The bell is so thin, that any rolled out dents will likely have the rim fall off. It's crooked, as well. New bell was recommended, but a good used one is difficult to find.
2.) The slides are in poor alignment, due to what was very likely a bell smash at some point, putting the braces out of whack. There's been attempts to align them, but the 3rd slide is in bad enough shape that it's going to need a complete teardown.

The valves are working great now, as a friend spent a good deal of time aligning them. Before that, I couldn't really get down to low G that well, and after the valve work, I was able to get to a Gb. I CAN play F and E, they just won't speak right away, but speak almost immediately on any newer horn. The false tone range is surprisingly very open on this horn, though.

I also do want a 4/4 tuba because the 12J is just easy to overblow without any real effort. So loud passages get ugly.

Here's a pic: Image
Last edited by BopEuph on Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trying to upgrade with little money

Postby BopEuph » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:07 am

And yes to the low F and E, which is why I just would really also like a fourth valve. A 5J would absolutely be a good replacement for this horn, but I'd just like something a little bigger, too.
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Re: Trying to upgrade with little money

Postby Levaix » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:08 am

Dan Schultz has a BBb B&S stencil on his website for under 2000 at this moment. These punch well above their selling point. Only thing you might not like is it's a rotary tuba. If you can get over that, these play great and you should be able to resell down the road within a couple hundred dollars. I paid 1200 for my Sonora (same horn) but mine had some pretty serious dents.
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Re: Trying to upgrade with little money

Postby BopEuph » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:14 am

Levaix wrote:Dan Schultz has a BBb B&S stencil on his website for under 2000 at this moment. These punch well above their selling point. Only thing you might not like is it's a rotary tuba. If you can get over that, these play great and you should be able to resell down the road within a couple hundred dollars. I paid 1200 for my Sonora (same horn) but mine had some pretty serious dents.


Oh, that's good to know! I didn't recognize the model, and the price was something that I was reluctant about. But if it does mean I can break even, then that might be my best bet!
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Re: Trying to upgrade with little money

Postby bloke » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:27 am

Here's a much smaller version of the picture of your tuba, just in case you would like to edit your post
for easier subsequent posting by yourself and others:

https: // i.imgur.com/5UJgAV8.jpg

Just remove the two spaces that I intentionally placed in the link.

None of those issues (other than the poor slide alignment - as a 3-valve is too short to play low F and E without some epic lipping OR slide-pulling)
are "holding you back", in my view.

Assuming they are all correctly diagnosed, they all add up to "some possible reasons to consider saving up for a tuba",
but (again) - other than the tubing length thing - aren't contributing to our complaint/problem/issue, in my view.

The "over-blow because the bore is too small" thing" is a matter of (again) "giving the instrument what it needs" (whether small, medium, or large in size).

As an example, Harvey Phillips' tuba wasn't any larger than yours, and no one ever complained of him "over-blowing".

I would suggest:
- freeing up and aligning (or installing) an upper slide (if one exists...either a #1 or a #3)
- mastering the low F and low E with this tuba and with some upper slide pulled out far enough to play those pitches more easily...
(That adjustment will also help with C and B.)
- saving up dough for another tuba, it that's what you would really like to do
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Re: Trying to upgrade with little money

Postby BopEuph » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:37 am

Much better. Thank you.

I definitely am working in the low range on this horn...I figure it's difficult, but not truly impossible, and if I can play it on this horn, anything else that comes along will be much easier. It's already proving to be the case, as I couldn't play low on any horn a year ago, and now my range is getting stronger.

Would you say that I should be able to do a commendable job on local professional orchestral auditions on this horn? Every one of my tuba player friends keeps saying that there's no way I'll even get past the first round on a 12J.

There is an upper slide for 1 and 3, and #1 actually works well. I use it often. #3 is so bad, that unless a complete teardown is involved in the horn, it's kinda stuck where it is. You can see the dent on the top bow of the horn where the slide is pressed against.
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Re: Trying to upgrade with little money

Postby EdFirth » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:20 pm

There's a very nice silver King at Dillon's with a bell front for 1900 bucks. Then you could just hunt down a raincatcher for it.
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Re: Trying to upgrade with little money

Postby BopEuph » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:26 pm

Ed! That was me trying to call you this morning. Thanks for the heads up!

If you're available, I'd love to have another "tuba talk" with you in person sometime.
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Re: Trying to upgrade with little money

Postby pauvog1 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:52 pm

EdFirth wrote:There's a very nice silver King at Dillon's with a bell front for 1900 bucks. Then you could just hunt down a raincatcher for it.


They also have a couple 5J's too.
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Re: Trying to upgrade with little money

Postby ren » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:08 pm

https://wessex-tubas.com/collections/tu ... zern-tb575

Amazing price similar to a 4/4 hirsbrunner.
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