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help identifying Alexander 164-ish tuba

Postby bone-a-phone » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:16 pm

I need some help identifying an instrument. It's obviously old, and can be traced back only to the 1960s, and it seems to be at least "Alexander 164-ish". BBb.

It has been suggested that it is not Alexander production, but "hand made", whatever that is supposed to mean. This is really all I have to go on for now, I may be able to get more info later. It seems to me that this may be from some anonymous german maker. Someone suggested it was from early 1900's but I'm doubting that.

Can anyone glean any useful information from this admittedly insufficient set of clues? Particularly interested in age and place of origin, and possible makers if you can get that far.

It looks similar to this other horn posted here a couple years ago: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=67116

Image
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Re: help identifying Alexander 164-ish tuba

Postby Tom Gregory » Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:14 pm

The lyre holder looks kind of Heisner
The rest maybe Kruspe
Just guesses
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Re: help identifying Alexander 164-ish tuba

Postby bone-a-phone » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:43 am

Thanks, Tom. KRUSPE is as good a guess as I've seen. But that still puts it somewhere between late 1800s and 1966. Were string linkages in use before a certain period for tubas?
Last edited by bone-a-phone on Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: help identifying Alexander 164-ish tuba

Postby bone-a-phone » Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:14 pm

Ok, I think I'm narrowing this down. It appears to be a Walter Sear imported from Amati, built from Cerveny parts. It was a corroded pile of scrap metal found by Walter in a storage closet in 1966, so was probably an experiment or a defect. ~18" bell, 37-38" tall. In the current catalog, it looks most like a Cerveny 686-4. It doesn't resemble any of the Amati models. There is some reference in some of the tubenet articles that some horns were "pirate" models - probably assembled from spare parts, which kind of seems to fit the story behind this horn.

It has an interesting V shaped seam in the bell that I've never seen before.
Image


He also seemed to bring in some Belgian horns of different design, but the kaisers were Cerveny/Amati.

viewtopic.php?t=7146&p=53993
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Re: help identifying Alexander 164-ish tuba

Postby bone-a-phone » Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:15 pm

Ok, well, as a follow up, I bought the instrument, fairly cheap. It's not in bad shape, but there was a reason I asked the question about cleaning. When I washed it out, I got a pile of flies and those dried green algae flakes. On the second flush, I got a dead mouse. Just saying, sometimes you need to really clean your ax, and more lamp fluid isn't what it needs (unless you also have a match).

Everything works except the 3rd valve slide, which is the hardest to access, and just seems stuck. I see one solder joint that may be broken. It's a BBb, and plays nearly in tune (a bit flat) with the caveat that all I have is a std American shank mouthpiece (he delivered it with a tulip shaped Schilke 66 with std American shank). A bass trombone mouthpiece fits (Yamaha 60L) and actually plays, but the instrument needs a bigger piece for the lower notes. The S links work ok, but they're kinda noisy. Valves are ok, and I think will stop sticking with lubrication, cleaning, and use. The ferrule going from the lead pipe into the first valve may have a crack in it.

The big flattened screws in the valve spindles seem to be a clue for the age of the horn. I've never seen that type feature before. Notice one is not original.

One really interesting feature is the V insert in the bell. You can see it pretty clearly in one of the dropbox pix. It is a 2 piece bell, but not in the way that most 2 piece trombone bells are made. Probably the bell was made from a sheet of brass of limited size, and had to be made in this way.

Link to dropbox pix: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rid5ulnn6xuk ... Cef4a?dl=0" target="_blank" target="_blank
Image

Here's the story from the former owner: he said initially that this was made "when Sousa was a pup"... but since that would put it around 1900, I kinda doubt that story. Plus, there doesn't seem to be anything to back that up. I think it came from the early 1960s or maybe 50s. The owner bought it in 1966 from Walter Sear in NYC. Walter pulled it out of a closet, and it was kind of banged up, dusty, no lacquer, badly soldered. He described it as "a handmade Alexander copy", with no real evidence to confirm that aside from the fact that it has no brand markings on it. Played through 4 years at Berklee. In the 1970s it went to Giardinelli's for a makeover - remove dents, fix soldering, lacquer, etc. and has sat in a closet/barn ever since (hence the mouse). The lacquer is kind of dark, and definitely thinning.

From research here on the Tubenet, we know Walter Sear was among other things, a tuba developer and importer. It has been said that all the rotary instruments he sold were Cerveny, but he also sold Mahillon and DePrins. This tuba looks most like a modern Cerveny 686, 781 or 691, in the curves of the lead pipe and mts. I haven't found anything matching it's 3rd/4th valve wraps.
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=38988&p=340682&hilit=walter+sear#p340682
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=62796&p=522096&hilit=walter+sear#p522096

Some dimensions:

lead pipe ID at the opening: 0.546"
ID of 2nd valve slide: 0.759"
bell dia : 17.75"
overall height: 38"
weight (on bathroom scales): 17#

My guess is that Sear was doing some experimenting with design, and this was the result of putting some parts together. Likely Cerveny parts.

I plan to redo the linkages, and at least disassemble and clean/lube the levers/springs. The water key cork looks good, as do the valve bumpers. I need to check the valve alignment, and I'll probably disassemble/clean the valves as well. The sound is pretty good on most notes. I'm not a great tuba player, so I won't count the fact that I can't get notes below low F as a fault of the horn, it's definitely the player and the mal-fitting mouthpiece. Based on what I've already taken out of it, I'm going to have to clean this thing in the yard.

Also I want to get a proper mouthpiece that fits. Recommendations?
very helpful posts:
viewtopic.php?t=10390
https://www.kellymouthpieces.com/shanks/index.asp

As a trombone player, it is fun to play so far.

Any further comments about what I'm getting myself into here?
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Re: help identifying Alexander 164-ish tuba

Postby iiipopes » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:57 pm

If supposedly that old, Zimmermann?
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Re: help identifying Alexander 164-ish tuba

Postby bloke » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:21 pm

I like that tuba. 8)
I bought a 4-piston 5/4 (not 5/4 bore) recording bell Reynolds, years ago, with a dead mouse in it.
The picture of it (before things went "viral") went "viral" in the brass instrument (email) community.

If your suspicion is that run-of-the-mill valve oil is not flammable, hold a lighter in front of a valve oil bottle's nipple, and give it a squeeze.
hint: Point the nipple towards something non-flammable.
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Re: help identifying Alexander 164-ish tuba

Postby bone-a-phone » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:28 pm

iiipopes wrote:If supposedly that old, Zimmermann?


I'll look into it.

Also some similarly with this Kalashen.
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=67116" target="_blank" target="_blank

And if you follow the Kalashen trail, he was an impoter of Bohland and Fuchs who sometimes had horns made by Amati. Big circle here.

Zimmermann stuff looks very similar as well, but seems to have Russian rather than Austrian roots.
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Re: help identifying Alexander 164-ish tuba

Postby bone-a-phone » Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:39 pm

bloke wrote:I like that tuba. 8)
I bought a 4-piston 5/4 (not 5/4 bore) recording bell Reynolds, years ago, with a dead mouse in it.


Well, thanks. I like it too, although right now I might not know why. I've got a small shank Kellyberg crystal blue on the way. I've spent thousands on tbone mouthpieces. No interest in repeating that on tuba. I'll go through all my tbone etude books an octave down. Do some walking bass.
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