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New tuba - old guy question

Postby jperry1466 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:21 am

I just purchased a Mack Brass CC TUu-410L tuba and received it today. Response is nice, most especially in the low register. Now I am a bit rusty, actually a whole lot rusty so this may just be a player problem. This horn seems to play well except for one note, the E above the bass clef staff. It should be open or better 1-2, but I cannot make that partial happen. Played open, it wants to go to D or F but not the E between. After experimenting, I got 2-3 to work, but it is very flat. It just doesn't seem to want to play that partial. So being just the one note, is this just 67-year-old me or possibly a tuba problem?

Some history: Many years ago, I owned a Meinl-Weston model 32 CC and got my masters in performance from U. of Kentucky in 1974 where I studied with Rex Conner. Then I taught high school band for almost 40 years. During that time, kids, house payments, etc. came along and I sold the Meinl. What little playing I did the last 30 years was done with the BBb's we used at school, but I was never as comfortable with the BBb as with the CC and always wanted to get another. Realizing I don't play like I did 44 years ago and knowing that the tuba parts in the community band I play in don't need that kind of range, I can chalk some of this up to rust. I know it's a crazy question and yes I've just had it for one day, but any and all opinions are welcome. Thanks in advance.
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby Matt Walters » Wed Aug 08, 2018 6:31 am

So....you are concerned about one note that you will most likely never use in the real world environment? Sorry, but many tubas costing up to 10 times as much as what you paid have a bad note in worse places.
If you are regularly playing music that requires you to play above middle C, you'll need to shop where you can play test many tubas and expect to pay more money.
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby Worth » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:25 am

Toward the end, Meistersinger has a great high E, quite important to be spot on. I don't get around as much as many here, but that was my only high E ever, when I was fortunate to be playing with a decent community orchestra.
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby Doc » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:01 am

Did you try 3rd valve? 4th valve? Did you experiment with different mouthpieces? Have you tried other instruments?

If you are rusty, it very well may clear up over time with practice. Otherwise, you'll just have to find a way to play it. In addition, each individual instrument has its own learning curve of sorts, so you may need to simply spend time playing it to get acclimated to that tuba. Good luck, and keep us informed about your journey.
All that, plus $8.00, will get you a venti at Starbucks.
Or in my case, a large can of Folgers.
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby bloke » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:41 am

:lol:

a recently-deceased expert woodwind repairman quotation recalled, and withheld
Last edited by bloke on Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby michael_glenn » Wed Aug 08, 2018 6:58 pm

Several years ago I tried a friend’s 410 CC. I had the same issue with the high E. About a year ago I tried his horn again, and I didn’t have an issue at all with it. He hadn’t done any work or modifications to the horn. The only change was my own playing ability.
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby tofu » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:13 pm

michael_glenn wrote:Several years ago I tried a friend’s 410 CC. I had the same issue with the high E. About a year ago I tried his horn again, and I didn’t have an issue at all with it. He hadn’t done any work or modifications to the horn. The only change was my own playing ability.
“It ain’t the horn son.”


Well...that's a story about you.

There are plenty of horns around that just have a really bad note. Some you can overcome with alternative fingerings and some with technique. BUT, there are definitely some quirky horns out there that the note is just not there. I've seen this with a lot of old Eb's. This fellow has a masters in performance & studied with Rex Connor. Even though he is rusty I'm pretty sure he didn't play all those years and get a masters and not have a pretty good idea of how to get around on the horn.

To the OP: I'd give it a while and see if your chops come back with face time if this is still an issue in a month. If you can find a competent player(s) and ask them to try your horn & see if that note speaks for them. If it doesn't then maybe a return and exchange is in order. I'm sure Mack Brass wants you to be happy and will do their best to make that happen. Good Luck! Welcome back to tuba playing, TubeNet and to the TNFJ (TubeNet Freak Jury) :)
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby Three Valves » Wed Aug 08, 2018 8:34 pm

“Hey Tom, one note out of 36 is broken, can you fix it??”

:tuba:
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby jperry1466 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:59 pm

Thanks, guys, for all the responses. It was fun reading all of them. Fortunately, I have the ability to laugh at myself, so the humorous answers were fun, too. After my 2nd whole day of owning this tuba, I have really fallen for it. It plays well and plays in tune with the usual CC tendencies (yes, I play the first valve slide like a trombone player). Nice that it's beginning to come back to me, though I realize I will never play like I did at 23 again. This horn plays better in the low register than my Meinl did but not quite as easily in the higher register. In fact, it played more like the old Miraphones (back pressure) than the Meinl, but that horn is long gone.

To answer your questions, no I will never need the high E in the real world unless I go on the recital circuit (at 67?). I did finally find a combination that "sort of" worked, 4th valve with the 4th slide pulled about halfway. Yes, I tried 4 different mouthpieces, all with the same result, if not worse. I wish I had access to other CC instruments to compare, but this is band country (Texas) and not orchestra country. Yes, “Hey Tom, one note out of 36 is broken, can you fix it??” does put things in perspective.

I had one of my private students who is an all-state player come over and play it. He is a BBb player but wants a CC for college, and he had the same problem with the E. But I am not sending this horn back for one note since the other 35 play so well. The chops just have to be rebuilt after 33 years of teaching band and 12 years of retirement, a kidney transplant, knee replacement and colon surgery (I think I have more replacement parts than originals now), but I am really having fun with this. Tofu, thanks for the validation and advice; by the way, although Rex Conner could play them all, he preferred the BBb (played a Meinl Weston model 30) and only a few of our 16 tuba majors played CC. I am thinking it will only get better, and this is way more than enough horn for my community band, church, and brass quintet work. Thanks again to all. There is no brotherhood like us tubists. :tuba:
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby jperry1466 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:48 pm

If anyone is curious, here is the reply I received from Tom at Mack Brass. It validates what several of you said:

"The only other time i had someone have an issue with the open E above the staff was when the tuba player who had retired from the Vancouver symphony called about it. He was in a similar situation, had not played in over 3 years but that note did come back. I took 6 years years off myself once and endurance was my biggest issue. it will take time so i would just be a little patient. "

Maybe I was being just the tiniest bit impatient after a 40 year layoff.
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby Three Valves » Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:46 pm

Did he make you a Mack Brass Artiste??

:tuba:
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby jperry1466 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:40 pm

Uh, no. Maybe a Mack Brass Artifact. :lol:
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby bloke » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:53 pm

I like Tom.
He neither overcharges nor over-represents, he can actually fix stuff, and he actually does un-box every single instrument, check it over, and re-box it before sending it out.
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby MaryAnn » Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:46 pm

Yeah my comment, late of course, would be does any player currently up to snuff have insurmountable problems with that note? I'm not as competent on tuba as I am on horn, and I can make any horn go whether it wants to or not, even now in my dotage (older than you and poor health to boot.) So....patience, my friend, and it will come. Just remember to blow, and keep that sense of humor that works so well for you.
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby bloke » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:12 pm

In the distant past I owned a rotary valve tuba made in Germany (known for difficult-to-repair bell flairs, as well as for designating their models as 3/4, 4/4, and 5/4, which are actually one size level above the designations) that was a "4/4" size. E above middle C was virtually impossible. That having been said, I was playing on (well...in my opinion) a terrible mouthpiece during that time period as well (a made-in-Germany mouthpiece that came with the instrument).

Many C-length tubas call out for the valve combination 1-2 (as the classic "open" fingering tends to ride flat), and some F tubas call out for (actually) the 3rd valve (as a flat 9th partial alternate fingering) as the classic 2nd-valve fingering (again: F tuba) tends to ride sharp.
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby jperry1466 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:46 pm

Thanks, Maryann and Bloke. Good comments. I know I just need time and practice. I have had this horn all of 4 days now after a 40 layoff from CC. I taught and played the BBb horns all these years of band directing, but the flexibility and range were never there like they are on CC.

I did find a way to make the note speak - 4th valve with a slight pull on the 4th slide, so if I ever really have to play that note in the real world, I can. I have tried 5 mouthpieces and found one that works best (out of my collection) for this instrument, and the horn plays so well. It seems to have a better low range than my old Meinl Weston, and perhaps a little more struggle with the upper range, but it is way to early to tell. Also, where my lips used to be quite supple, they feel like lumber trying to vibrate now. Maybe another 40 years of daily practice will reverse this process. :lol:
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby Doc » Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:59 am

Now, you just need to post some recordings of you and the new tuba. :tuba: :tuba: :tuba:
All that, plus $8.00, will get you a venti at Starbucks.
Or in my case, a large can of Folgers.
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby jperry1466 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:30 pm

Yes, everyone would probably be highly entertained by a recording of a bunch of cracked notes. :lol:

The chops are starting to come back, although 67-year-old lips seem to be a bit stiffer than 22-year-old lips. I played something tonight that called for the high E, and it came out nicely played 4th valve. I still cannot duplicate it played either open or 1-2, interestingly enough.

The upper range above the staff still needs a lot of work, but I was pleasantly surprised at my progress after the 40 year layoff. In other news, now that I have my own horn and am practicing again, my non-musician wife of 48 years seems to roll her eyes a lot. :roll:
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby Doc » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:27 am

She'll get over it. Keep practicing and enjoying the dream. :tuba: :tuba: :tuba:
All that, plus $8.00, will get you a venti at Starbucks.
Or in my case, a large can of Folgers.
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Re: New tuba - old guy question

Postby Doc » Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:32 am

jperry1466 wrote:Yes, everyone would probably be highly entertained by a recording of a bunch of cracked notes. :lol:


You shouldn't be scared after hearing some of the crap I've posted. :shock:

No one is required to post anything, but tuba audio is like crack for a few of us addicts around here. Post when you are comfortable, or not at all. Just don't give up playing and practicing.
All that, plus $8.00, will get you a venti at Starbucks.
Or in my case, a large can of Folgers.
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