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.748" bore is boring

Postby bloke » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:46 am

Roughly forty years ago, a Swiss tuba maker began offering a tuba that - appearance-wise - resembled the CSO York C tubas. They were priced at around $10K (big money...about $35K, adjusted for inflation), and - even though playing characteristics weren't much like that which was copied (after all, not many potential consumers of them had any point of reference), they were - for several years - a marketing success.

Another European manufacturer had been contracted to build the valvesets for those tubas, which were (not quite 3/4" - .750" bore, but slightly smaller at) 19mm (.748") bore. Soon thereafter, that same Swiss manufacturer (my guess: wishing to get some mileage off those valvesets) began pasting that same valveset (again, a 19mm piston valveset) on to their (19.5mm bore rotary) 4/4-size C tuba body. There was a curlycue (in the form of a slide) added to the mouthpipe, as the distance from the mouthpipe receiver to the 1st valve is much shorter with a piston valveset vs. a rotary valveset. That model (yet another 19mm bore PISTON C tuba), being fairly novel, also was a business success. It didn't take other European manufacturers long to begin building piston C tubas with 19mm bore piston valvesets, and it was off to the races.

Today, it's a bit challenging (other than one or two .689" bore squatty models) to find many piston C tubas with a bore size other than 19mm - regardless of the body size of the C tuba.

My question, I suppose, is this: What's wrong with 18.5mm bore valvesets (as found on Yamaha/Eastman/Weril) and 18.7mm bore valvesets (as found on Jupiter "Quad" sousaphones)...particularly for 4/4-size tubas? Must everything feature a .748" bore, if it's a piston C tuba?

The area difference between 18.5mm bore and a 19mm bore is around 3%...and that's not just in one spot (such as with a mouthpiece throat), but is 3% larger/smaller throughout the entire valveset.

:arrow: I own a 4/4 C instrument with a bore size that is approximately 18.5mm (technically speaking, SAE 93/128" - .726" - 18.4404mm :shock: ). It plays very well, and the bore size and resistance both seem to me (??) to be more suitable to the size of the instrument.

As a parenthetical remark, Miraphone (an extremely popular model in the past) manufactures some 18mm bore ROTARY C (and Bb) tubas, but I don't seem to recall anyone having experimented with an 18mm bore PISTON C tuba.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby SousaWarrior9 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:56 pm

I agree about the over use of the .750ish bore valvesets also that it's a result of the obsession with the York-like designs. It would be nice to see a little more diversity on the market as far as piston tubas go.

I know I sound like a broken record talking about Martin tubas, but this is why I appreciate the .710-.720 range that the mammoths feature. I think it splits the difference between the .689 type bores and the .748 type bores quite nicely, and makes a horn of that size much easier to handle, in my opinion. I think a valveset with this bore could be a good fit for a large CC tuba as well.

The old Conn Donatelli had a bore of about .734 if I'm not mistaken, and I also think this would be a good option for a 4/4 or 5/4 CC (as you alluded to with the Weril/Yamaha/Jupiter comment).

Yorks really are fantastic and deserve their reputation, don't get me wrong, but I also believe that modern manufacturers should also start looking at some other great historical manufacturers for design inspiration (i.e. Conn, Martin, Buescher, etc.) Good Ol' Elkhart, Indiana is a goldmine for great tuba designs.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby bloke » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:40 pm

Thumbs-up on the Martin bore size.

Martin (in my experience...and - obviously Bb only) is the only 6/4-size bugle taper I've encountered that offers truly easily-manageable intonation...
...and it's quite odd, btw...as there is a tremendous increase in bore size (in the Martin 6/4 design) from one side of the main slide to the other.

My guess (??) is that the Martin bore size is 23/32"...but I have no Martins here, currently, to measure. The last one that visited here ("just passin' through") was repaired on-the-spot, and (well..) I forgot to definitively measure the bore.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby roweenie » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:05 pm

I don't believe a .728/18.5 mm vertical side action cluster is currently in production (Conn was close with the .734, but I don't think they make them anymore).

If it were available, I'd fall in line to get (at least) one.

(Come to think of it, I think the Wessex 4 valve sousaphone is .728, but I wouldn't count on them to sell just a valve set/cluster).

The BBb York tubas I own (both 5/4 & 6/4) all sport .750 or .748/19mm bores, and to my certain knowledge, give me no troubles regarding intonation .

And yep, all the Martin BBb tubas I've seen have .718 (23/32") bores.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby bloke » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:40 pm

Personally, all of these "ergonomic" (millennial-era invented term) issues seem to be unnoticed by me (at least, so far).
I can sit up straighter, slouch more, put the (top-action) tuba on my left leg, change the spacing of my legs, change the angle of my wrist, or whatever...without too many things bothering me too much.

I did - at one time - own a tuba that weighed 30 pounds, but (simply) I would distribute its weight across both legs (during short rests) or set it on the floor (during longer rests).

:arrow: i.e. slant or straight front-action pistons...' makes no difference to me.
The varying quantities of work that I do notice has to do with the face.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby gionvil » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:47 pm

This is a very interesting thread. After many years playing .728, .689 and .750 tubas I really feel that now the best for me is the .728 or possibly .734 bore. Which piston CC tubas are available on the market new or used with the latter bore size? Are the Bohm & Meinl - Marzans .734?
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby roweenie » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:59 pm

The ergonomics don't mean much to me, either - I'd take a .728 bore side action set, regardless of orientation - I was just commenting that the only one I see in current production is the one used on Chinese sousaphones.

https://m.thomannmusic.com/thomann_shf_ ... ii_fib.htm


Image

(At @ $1500, I wonder what the quality of the valves would be.....)

The only difference I can see (or have seen) is that the vertical set poses less challenges to fabricate a 4th valve circuit top-pull crook, than the sousaphone/angled variety (not impossible, just a little more involved).

FWIW, every piston B&M/Marzan I've seen is .748/19mm in bore (and very well constructed, too).
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby Donn » Sat Jan 12, 2019 5:49 pm

I'm surprised anyone would ascribe particular properties to a difference of 1 mm in the principal valve bore. Given a fairly wide variety of leadpipe lengths, bugle tapers, graduated valve bores, etc., it's no surprise that the same valve section can fit a wide variety of tubas.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby roweenie » Sat Jan 12, 2019 6:37 pm

Donn wrote:I'm surprised anyone would ascribe particular properties to a difference of 1 mm in the principal valve bore. Given a fairly wide variety of leadpipe lengths, bugle tapers, graduated valve bores, etc., it's no surprise that the same valve section can fit a wide variety of tubas.


Maybe so, but 1 mm difference in bore can change volume cumulatively, especially when talking about roughly 158" (all four valves added together, in BBb) of length.

Any given bore valveset can be adapted to any given size bugle, but different sizes will affect the end result, as will any other thing that changes the volume displacement of the instrument.

Why would trumpets have been marketed as small, medium, and large bore for over 100 years, if there were no difference?
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby bloke » Sat Jan 12, 2019 6:53 pm

roweenie wrote:1 mm difference in bore can change volume cumulatively, especially when talking about roughly 158" (all four valves added together, in BBb) of length.


Thanks for clarifying. I mentioned this issue in the original post, but some prefer to skim - so they can hurry into their disagreement. :D

roweenie wrote:Why would trumpets have been marketed as small, medium, and large bore for over 100 years, if there were no difference?


yup...
.455", .459", .462"...so what...??

roweenie wrote:I was just commenting that the only one I see in current production is the one used on Chinese sousaphones.


...ignoring top-actions, such as YBB-321 (OK...perhaps Chinese...), and Besson 994 (Germany)...reportedly: .730"
...and (again) the Yamaha and Eastman sousaphones (and Weril).
I can get some old Weril sousaphone 4-valve valvesets, btw, if anyone would like to pay to have them rebuilt by Oberloh (or someone else). The Weril porting, btw (as with the YCB-826S), is luxurious - with no need for aftermarket smooth-ported pistons.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby Donn » Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:15 pm

roweenie wrote:Why would trumpets have been marketed as small, medium, and large bore for over 100 years, if there were no difference?


Even if such marketing made no sense, you ask? Ha ha. But I'm sure it does. Certainly trombones are defined by bore - as they're more or less cylindrical over a good part of their natural length. The trumpet is arguably a valved member of the same family, and at any rate is far more cylindrical than the tuba, so when we consider the trumpet bore, that has a very considerable influence on the whole instrument.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby roweenie » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:31 am

Well, I'm no mathematician, but my rough ciphering says the difference in displacement between bore sizes of 19mm and 18mm of cylindrical tubing on a BBb tuba is 114.5 cubic centimeters....does that mean anything? I don't know, but having experimented with pasting different bore size valve sets onto the same horn, I have empirical evidence that bore size does make a difference in the final outcome, YMMV.
Last edited by roweenie on Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby iiipopes » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:38 am

Hmmm. How about measuring the effective bore? The same bore size block is going to play "smaller" if the leadpipe is longer, say like a typical rotary BBb with the long looping leadpipe, than a shorter straight-in leadpipe. Has anybody factored that into the equation? For example, the historical Besson bore was .730 for the BBb New Standards, but because the leadpipe was so short, it played much larger. And the Miraphone bore on the 186 was historically .770, but with the really long looping leadpipe played much smaller. And the Conn .734 for the 14K and similar souzys, well, as observed, plays just right (and we all wish Conn would develop a next generation 4/4 "Donatelli" or similar). I do agree on the Martin: some years ago I was in a music store that had an old Mammoth on display, and they let me play it. I was surprised at the response and intonation. But at the time I owned both the Besson I used to own and had just gotten the Miraphone, so I did not need another tuba!
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby Donn » Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:21 am

Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. Swapping different sized valve sets on the same tuba, there should be a difference. But comparing different tubas, which seems to be the point, the size of valve set relates to the overall outcome in unpredictable ways, depending for example on where the valve section is located in the bugle. If I had designed a tuba, with .748 valve bore, I'd be somewhat resistant to the idea the design could be improved by the simple expedient of reducing the bore size by .022 in, without changing anything else, so it would really mean going back to the drawing board for a new design altogether - and at that point, it's no longer just about the bore size.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby cambrook » Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:05 am

It would be great if there was more choice available to makers - unfortunately the options have shrunk. I think Willson still make their pistons in-house, Bauerfind is now owned by Adams, and MW have moved to use only using their "Big Valves" on their tubas for cost reasons.

As a result some tubas that used to have smaller valves are now a bit compromised in their design, and often the newer versions have a bit less character.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby bloke » Sun Jan 13, 2019 11:35 am

With a 16-plus-plus-plus feet-long tuba or an 18-plus-plus-plus feet-long tuba, I believe TubeNet analysts credit a ten-inch-or-so difference in the capillary portion of the instrument with more ability to discount the bore size of a tuba's machine that is actually effective.

Regardless of whether an instrument's machine occurs ten inches sooner or ten inches later, the player - ultimately - is still going go find themselves blowing through several feet of cylindrical tubing of a particular diameter.

The typical piston trumpet's machine is located HALFWAY down the instrument, but trumpet players still claim a significant difference if three thousandths of an inch in machine tubing sizing.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby Donn » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:09 pm

Trumpets aren't conical.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby bloke » Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:08 pm

oh...

It must be a parlor trick that trumpets originate under 1/4 inch i.d., and end up nearly 5 inches i.d.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby toobagrowl » Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:43 pm

Whenever something becomes super common it becomes boring. So yeah, the super-common .748" valve bore and the widespread proliferation of York-a-phones and York-inspired tubas are boring to me.
I thinking at this point, both have just about been "maxed out".

Sure, I'd like to see more tubas with the .718", .728" and .734" valve bores. My old POS "practice tuba" YBB-201, and Selmer Signet sousa both have the same .728" valve bore; my Elkhart Conn 14k sousa has a .734" valve bore. They were all old instruments I rescued, got parts for and fixed up, and they all play very well for 3v BBb instruments.
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Re: .748" bore is boring

Postby bttmbow » Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:08 pm

Joe, I agree with you. Bore sizes should be looked at in newer designs. If the bugle works, bore size could be smaller on some instruments, but not all. This is a point that many tuba makers should be thinking about, in my opinion. My old BBb York Master had the same bore on the fourth valve as the first three valves, and had a better low FF than most horns I have ever played. Go figure. Seacrest out.
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