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B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby TheBerlinerTuba » Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:42 am

For those who are fans of this model, I wrote an article on a bit of the history, how to identify the various series, what issues to look for and a price list for those looking for or selling one.

https://brassandpipes.wordpress.com/2020/06/24/bs-symphonie-buyers-guide/
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby bisontuba » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:22 am

One of the best and most important posts in a long time!!!
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby MikeMason » Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:41 pm

Yes it is a great read. I clicked on some of the other blogs which were also great. Berlinertuba is a great asset to our community. Thanks!
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby joshealejo » Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:34 pm

Great article! Thank you, Jake!
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby bloke » Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:43 pm

Though my list of "stuff to do" is endless, that little article just prompts me to do what is needed for a minor cosmetic overhaul (gently-polish/re-lacquer) of my own never-refinished 6-valve (simply for my own viewing pleasure).

In my view, the best of those are unsurpassed...the "mid-1960's Selmer Mark VI's" of F tubas...
...a bit like the Couesnon flugelhorn: originally manufactured/marketed (upgraded from old Gautrot designs) as "something cheap/inexpensive to offer as a brass line at USA guitar/combo stores", yet (accidentally?) the best design ever conceived, and (never: perfectly) copied both in Europe and Asia alike.

bloke "who would own a better F tuba, were there one...but there is not, so..."
--------------------------------------
re: receiver...
A really skilled (and brave) person could remove the overpart, anneal the receiver portion of the mouthpipe tube, and re-taper it from small-to-standard, or (after using a shrink ring) from standard-to-small, and reinstall the overpart.
> cutting off the formed receiver (of ANY tuba) and installing a soldered-on receiver: I look upon any such tuba as "skull-and-crossbones" (ie. ruined)...even worse than removing a nickel silver sheet metal bow cap and replacing it with sousaphone guard wire... :(
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby Doc » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:00 pm

Excellent article, especially for those of us who are long-time fans (and owners)!

BTW, that 2nd Gen 3100 in the photo sure is purdy! :wink: :mrgreen:
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby pjv » Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:11 pm

A wonderful homage to an iconic tuba.
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby Rick Denney » Wed Jul 01, 2020 11:44 am

I owned a five-valve Symphonie of the first production type. Thanks for the article, particularly the background history of its development and the production history.

(By the way, it has that ugly ___ that you so uncharitably described that I installed to get rid of the completely undersized, worn-before-their-time, poor-quality Second-World crap that the factory put there. You now, that stuff that sounded like a typewriter you were afraid your younger readers may have never heard. Was that plastic flexy? No. It's nylon loaded in compression, and the distance from the end of the steel threaded rod to the brass ball is only a couple of millimeters. Instruments in constant professional use on which I've installed those DuBro links still don't sound like typewriters, even after 30+ years. Have you ever actually played a tuba with properly installed Du-Bro ball ends? Furthermore, you used a copyrighted picture from my online article on that topic without attribution--except for my copyright watermark--or permission. That is not what I call "silent" judgment. If you don't like the way they look, that's fine and a matter of taste. I might not even disagree with you completely on looks. But they work perfectly, and far better than the originals. In any case, your uncharitable language was insulting to me and others on this board, as you knew or should have known it would be. Now, I feel better. Back to the topic at hand.)

Mine had a 1-1/2-step third valve, but the short fifth valve. It had a regular receiver size, but the left-thumb trigger to go along with the clock-spring linkages. I see a two-piece bell, not one with a triangular insert. The bows and bell were hand-hammered, and it was marked "B&S Syphonie". The braces were of the solid-bar type, filed to a graceful point. I think all that makes it from the first production series, by your reckoning:

Image

In your article, you suggest that the Symphonie was made until 1985, after which B&S F tubas no longer had the fully conical valve bore. That is not the case. B&S, near as I can tell, has never stopped making F tubas with the fully conical valve bore, though I don't think many are imported into the USA. If they were ever marked with a "PT" model number by the importer, it was PT-9, but that's just an informed guess. It is true that the PT-10 had the 19-21mm bore range, but the PT designations are now gone, of course. All the slides on my Symphonie were the same diameter as on my six-valve 3099--I had both in my possession for several weeks and performed a close comparison.

But even the current B&S web page shows a 3099 with the fully graduated 17-21mm bore.

https://www.b-and-s.com/en/instruments/f-tubas/3099-2/

Granted, it does not say "Symphonie" on it, but all the parts are pretty much interchangeable. I have a six-valve F tuba from right around unification (maybe 1991) that is not branded "Symphonie", but which has all the same dimensions as my five-valve Symphonie. The fifth-valve slides were interchangeable, for example, though the slide on the 3099 was longer (the instrument tubing was the same). The braces on the newer one are stamped, even like your second+ series, and seem to include machine-made bells and bows. It does not have the kranz, which I do miss.

In terms of sound, if there was a difference between the two, it required imagination to detect it. But the newer one has been more playable (by me, at least) simply because of the longer fifth valve and the additional sixth valve. Here's the '91ish 3099, next to my Hirsbrunner HBS-193 (it's the best picture I have online):

Image

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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby bloke » Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:37 pm

DuBro links are remarkably quiet, remarkably durable, remarkably inexpensive, and remarkably NOT elegant.

I'm going to do a really nice job of installing Minibal links on my B&S "Symphonie" - when I do a careful/gentle cosmetic overhaul, just to "elegant up" the appearance, but for no other reason...and the main reason for the cosmetic overhaul is to help it sell for more, when I eventually croak.

I also have some (considerably more elegant than the spiral wire B&S/M-W/Markneukirchen ones) "control" springs (which discourage/prevent tilting/clicking) to use with the Minibal links, just in case I don't like the "feel" of the Minibal mushroom-head screws. I've used them before (on Minibal conversions for others). They're nearly invisible, and can be selected - due to quite a few sizes available - in "just the right" diameters (to fit over a riser, and only contact the interior ball of the link).

https://www.mcmaster.com/metal-disc-springs/stacked-wave-disc-springs/
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby Rick Denney » Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:54 pm

bloke wrote:DuBro links are remarkably quiet, remarkably durable, remarkably inexpensive, and remarkably NOT elegant.


Yes.

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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby bort » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:13 pm

bloke wrote:I also have some (considerably more elegant than the spiral wire B&S/M-W/Markneukirchen ones) "control" springs (which discourage/prevent tilting/clicking) to use with the Minibal links, just in case I don't like the "feel" of the Minibal mushroom-head screws. I've used them before (on Minibal conversions for others). They're nearly invisible, and can be selected - due to quite a few sizes available - in "just the right" diameters (to fit over a riser, and only contact the interior ball of the link).

https://www.mcmaster.com/metal-disc-springs/stacked-wave-disc-springs/


^ Kinda sorta like the 3B linkage idea? (Springs to keep things in place)

I think the idea is that for an elegant instrument, seeing less-than-elegant solutions will always be viewed differently by the purists.

Image

On a related note, I've heard first-hand about dealings with German manufacturers that have been partially or fully derailed, because alternate solutions are just not how things are done. One extreme example was a household tuba name fully breaking off a deal from one company and going to another company, because his ideas of tuba construction were said to be "not the way we do it." (Paraphrasing, but that's the idea of it.) People can be stubborn in tradition. Which, in part, is kind of what keeps tradition rooted firmly in place. I'm not saying anything about Dubro being right or wrong, or good or bad... but just that I think the people with the parts and know-how to do "the real thing" are unlikely to see anything else as an acceptable solution. Again, that's not good or bad either, but people choose what they want to do for themselves.

Louis, that's a tremendous resource and great history. Thank you!
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby Doc » Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:43 pm

bort wrote:On a related note, I've heard first-hand about dealings with German manufacturers that have been partially or fully derailed, because alternate solutions are just not how things are done. One extreme example was a household tuba name fully breaking off a deal from one company and going to another company, because his ideas of tuba construction were said to be "not the way we do it."


The German way is the German way. Period.

I'm reminded of the number of reports from Musikmesse in which German players would not even pick up a tuba to test it because it did not "look right." I think Bloke has commented previously about how the Hagen has gotten traction, whereas the Siegfried has not taken off, mostly due to appearance, NOT because the Siegfried is a lesser instrument.

**Sidebar to Bloke (tantamount to blather): I have recently lamented, albeit only occasionally, not purchasing the used Siegfried from Norway. It's a ton of great tuba for a great price. Make no mistake - I really like the 496. It makes a large, deep sound, and the intonation is insanely good. Dreamy valves, excellent response, thin, resonant brass, and I really do like the sound profile. Even so, a bigger BBb still has it's attraction. FWIW, I'm slightly afraid to try the 497 that currently is within knocking distance from me. If I fall in love with it, that could spell big trouble that I can't currently afford. Thankfully, all wisdom and practicality hasn't completely left me. Yet.**

***Second sidebar to Bloke: The more I play my Symphonie, the more I like it, and (obviously) the better I play it/figure it out. There is NO sacrifice in the low range, and unlike modern 6/4 F tubas, there is no sacrifice in tone. My wife said it is WAY louder (projects the most) than anything else I own. She describes it as a dark rich big laser beam (although her favorite sound is the 186 - go figure :roll: :mrgreen: ). My Symphonie is the tuba in the 2nd Gen photo example in Louis' article.
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby bloke » Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:33 pm

The original Miraphone DVS links were white plastic (nylon?), and pretty darn good. Later, they were made of a gray plastic that was cracked. Even later, they use some plastic non-adjustable links that were crap. Dubro outlasts all of those that Miraphone used in the past.

If Miraphone is still making any instruments with S-arm linkage (??), I have to believe that they are still using nylon inserts as their S-arm bearings.

McMaster has some 3mm internally-threaded links for only $7.50...but it says
"county of Origin: Peoples Republic of China".
I dunno if they're better or the same as those Jinbao links (??)
JP spends a fortune for the lightweight aluminum Minibal links...and they had to jump through all sorts of hoops to get permission to use imported-from-Europe parts on their made-in-China tubas.
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby Rick Denney » Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:17 pm

Look, if I was replacing the linkages on my Hirsbrunner, I'd call up Herr Hirsbrunner and ask him how much it would cost to send me a new set. And he would tell me. I would gasp, but probably still pay it. 1.) the factory-supplied ball links are very good, and 2.) they look good on an instrument that was made to look good.

I never thought of the B&S tubas as particularly elegant in appearance. Like all Second-World producers, they were centrally managed for reasons not closely related to market success, and not expected to be efficient or to provide any particular quality control. That they did was just momentum from before the Iron Curtain, and maybe even before the war. But the design sometimes overrides all that, and the B&S F's follow an amazing design. Earlier ones were made more elegantly than later ones, but I think that was just that momentum. I have made the same observations with DDR-made photography equipment, which I have collected extensively, some of which isn't made quite to the standard required by the design for reliable operation.

And that's how I would describe the ball links provided on my older Symphonie--not made quite to the standards required by the design. If doing it the way the factory did it is "correct", then I'm not on board. Doing it better--fine. Doing it more elegantly? Sure, if there's a reasonable way to do it. But I have an instrument I paid $3100 for, and someone wants me to spend $500 or more buying parts and paying a tech to convert it to the sorts of ball links at home on a Hirsbrunner? I don't think so. I bought the instrument to play, not to look at. But those DuBro ball links were not that ugly. Inelegant--yes. They do not raise the appearance of the instrument, but they also don't lower it as much as is being suggested. But they do work, and I could install them with stuff bought locally and installed that day.

But my main beef was being accused in a public article of putting cheap ____ on my tuba, and then using my own picture, with my name on it but without my permission, as evidence of same, knowing that Louis KNOWS that I would see it. We are all friends here, and if he thought it was crap, he could have chatted with me about it before publishing an article using the language he used. We have to remember that one reason pros loved the Symphonie was that back in the 70's, when money was (apparently) harder to get, they were cheap--a triumph of design over prestige and brand value. The factory ball links on my older B&S were no better than the ball links on my house-brand Cerveny cheapie Bb. And I replaced those, too.

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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby bort » Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:51 pm

One thing is for sure -- Dubro linkages are a whole lot better than Duplo linkages. :tuba:
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby roweenie » Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:05 pm

FWIW, I use Dubro linkages on all my 5th valve projects - inexpensive, easy to get, easy to work with, quiet, reliable, quite effective, easy to remove for servicing, cheap to replace when worn, and I actually think they look pretty good. I don't see where there's a downside....... :tuba:
Last edited by roweenie on Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby bloke » Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:05 pm

A friend of mine (who lives quite modestly, and is quietly quite wealthy) pointed out a couple of things to me SEVERAL decades ago:

> What one pays for something and the amount for which they eventually sell it have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with each other.
> Just because something is bought for a low price does not mean that it is ONLY worth what was paid. (and this one should be self-evident)

As I KNOW those things to be true, I'm not going to balk at a bloke-executed linkage conversion, which (yes) will "look" better (and hell, MIGHT NOT ?? work as well) as/than a dozen of *these - and some shrink-tubing-coated all-thread:

Berliner Tuba:
seems to enjoy running down others' stuff (as it's "not his", etc.)...sort of the "see, I'm an obnoxious German guy, now" persona, etc...
He's run down my $h!t, here...and it hurt me very deeply...right here...right under my pack of cigarettes. :cry:
Image

B&S Symphonie Modell F tuba:
I can think of no more cleverly/elegantly-designed (none better-looking, overall) F tuba.

Mine cost me $2400 new. (6V, yellow brass, kranz...I've owned a couple of gold-brass, but prefer this one, as I've preferred yellow brass in other makes/models of tubas as well) The person who sold it to me may well have only paid $1000. They had to buy a plane ticket, and bought it (maybe?) for HUNDREDS of dollars (yes: new). They THEN - though - ALSO had to fly from central Europe r/t to some mid-Atlantic airport, and drop it off at their parents' house for me to pick up later, so perhaps they paid a total of $1400 and profited by $1000 (??).

You might also like to know that - the ENTIRE TIME - they were trying to get me to change my mind and buy an Alexander F tuba - a suggestion that I refused, hands-down.

One of the online inflation calculators claims that the 2020 equivalent of $2400 is $6400. There is NO WAY (even though brown) I would sell mine for $6400 (nor double that amount). In fact, I don't have a "would sell it for that" price in my head. There's nothing made today that approaches it.

_____________________________________________
*
Image

This ain't "art", but - hell yeah - it looks better than DuBro:
Image
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby TheBerlinerTuba » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:06 pm

Hello everyone,

thank you to all of you for your advice and comments!  

First of all I want to apologize to Rick Denney for using a photo from his website without his permission.  I received the photo from another source and did not think to ask where it came from and for that I am sorry.  The photo has since been removed from the blog.  

I will say this Rick, if my foul language is enough to get you to post more on Tubnet then you are putting me in a bind here.

Regarding Du-Bro linkage, all of you bring up very good points and concerns.
As I said in my blogpost, these are my opinions and you should use your own common sense.  If you feel Du-Bro linkage works fine for you and you are satisfied, then this discussion is over, please jump to the next paragraph. I have indeed tried Du-Bro linkage on several occasions and in isolation they are "ok" however when I tried them back-to-back with a set of modern minibals from Seibold or the other german or swiss made versions, you could indeed feel the Du-Bros flexing.  For myself, this was not acceptable.  Also, consider the fact that I live in a country where function is usually more important than aesthetics, and I still find Du-Bros fugly.  The other issue is of course cost.  The cost 3€ vs 12€ per link, plus you need 10 to 12 links plus pushrods and finally labor is a strong factor to consider, although if you have the ability to install Du-Bros, I doubt minibals would provide much of a challenge to you.

A few thoughts about unibal and minibal linkage. The unibal type linkage used on B&S tubas from the 60s until the early 90s are known to most of us as being rather clanky and noisy, and were often quickly replaced, as Rick has done with his tuba.  What most people don't realize is that they were meant to be greased (not oiled) on a weekly to monthly basis and the owners who did this, even now 40 years later still have a relatively silent linkage.  Unfortunately most of us didn't know this (shame on the factory/dealers for not advertising this) and after a few months they were worn out.  Randomly enough, the factory still lists these under spare parts available!

Minibal linkages come in a few versions.  Seibold (minibal.de) for example has around 4 different types.  The one that most of us have encountered, either on modern Miraphone tubas or other various german instruments are a nickel-silver housing with a stainless steel ball joint.  Again, like unibals, these minibals require a bit of key oil on a monthly basis otherwise they will wear and start to "click".  There is however a set of pliers available from Seibold which are used to tighten the joint slightly and remove the play, which can be done multiple times.  If you take good care of these linkages, they will last a lifetime.  Also, if money is no object, there is a blinged-out bronze bushing version which is bomb-proof, but I personally feel is overkill, but again, to each his or her own. 

Regarding B&S valves' conical design.  Up until the early 90s, B&S had a number of old parts they tried to use up.  Therefore you might see an occasional  "PT-xx" from the 80s with a "fully conical valve block". However after reunification, there were efforts to reduce costs and the valve block design was taken into consideration.  If you take out your calipers and measure every inlet and outlet ear on the block, you will see the ears on a modern B&S have become more cylindrical and on the large bore models this is even more pronounced with the 5-6 valves and the 1-2 valves sharing the same bore size.  Notice that their marketing says "graduated bore" not "fully conical" which would not be true as with the Symphonie models.  On a Symphonie or some PTs from the 80s, each ear on the valve block has a different size.  Again due to parts sharing and using up spares, you will occasionally see some strange combinations.  The way to spot this quickly is to look at the valve rotation direction.  If valves 1-4 all turn in the same rotation, it's a modern block.

Regarding differences of "sound" or "playing characteristics", to each his/her own.  As others have said here, I haven't found another modern F-Tuba that I like as much.  Some are easier to play ie more modern, but my best experiences with an orchestra F-Tuba has always been with a Symphonie F-Tuba.  

Have a good night everyone,
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby bloke » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:30 pm

At the risk of triggering owners of newer B&S F tubas...
In addition to the various lower and higher-grade Chinese copies, I consider the modern-era PT-8/9/10/12/15/16 (but mostly the 8/9, ref: the bore sizes being "Symphonie Modell"-like) to be made-in-the-same-location-as-original "copies" of "Symphonie Modell" F tubas. :shock:

Compared to the best of the early handmade "cheap" (cheap to buy) ones (made back when the B&S factory had a dirt floor, prior to reunification, modernization, and moving of some tooling from *Geretsried) neither the playing experience nor the resonance are the same...much as with any saxophones that were made in the Henri Selmer factory past the early 1970's seem to miss the mark - again, as if in-house-made "copies".

I don't know why (??) I gravitate towards yellow brass (more zinc) construction instruments (when there are choices available, which isn't often)...because I'm really skeptical about my OWN ability to be able to discern a difference...but I always have...and I've always been attracted to "premium"-grade, but - well - if goldbrass is "premium", I guess I'm like Charlie the Tuna...I just don't have good taste. :|

Image

I owned a (and played other) goldbrass Miraphone 188 tubas, and always liked the yellow brass versions more (I bought the goldbrass because a vendor was stuck with it - ie. due to price)...and the same with Alexander (particularly when the C instruments' intonation later became more consistent from one instrument to the next - with a higher percentage of them offering workable intonation), because - not being distracted by wonky intonation - I could concentrate more on listening to the resonance.

Last thoughts in DuBro...It barely does "give"...but that's sorta nice...particularly since it's silent, and the hard rubber bumpers that I choose give VERY little at all. Again...I'm GOING to install Minibal links (some of the larger ones...as I have a sack full of various sizes and with several of the optional screws) when I do my cosmetic refurbish...just because...and even if I don't like the "feel" as much.

:arrow: Something else REALLY crazy that I'm considering (and I already have the chunk of solid nickel silver with which to do it) is to manufacture a NEW c. 1/2-inch LONGER connecting tube from the 17mm bore 5th valve to the 18mm bore 6th valve) that still features the same bore increase, but (again) over a longer distance. Along with some other mechanical modifications that would necessarily be required, this would allow me to elevate the mouthpipe tube by that same amount UP the bell (improved playing posture), but WITHOUT bending the mouthpipe (as I hate to see factory mouthpipes that are distorted unartfully by "repair guys"). Sure...the instrument will be longer, but there's still a bit of room for A=440 and (well...) if I run into too many A=442 situations, the ferrules on the main slide are quite long, and can easily be shortened to compensate. I have NOT made a final decision as to whether I'm going to do this, but I'm not "afraid" that it will "affect the sound" as it takes quite a bit of doing to actually screw up a good tuba, and (by the same token) it's often a hopeless endeavor to attempt to improve a "suck" tuba.

Image

I needled Berliner Tuba (as I do many others), but he and I are hand-in-hand in that there has been no better F tuba, certainly not for orchestral F tuba playing...YET when I've owned one or two other F tubas (supposedly to use them with this/that/the-other ensemble, those "different" F tuba ALWAYS fell short (for me) and I always ended up selling them. :roll:
______________________________________
*I have no documentation nor proof that tooling was moved, but I've certainly seen some formerly-made-in-Geretsried specific body shapes (and entire models) made in Markneukirchen that were formerly made in Geretsried.
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Re: B&S Symphonie Buyers Guide

Postby Rick Denney » Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:14 am

TheBerlinerTuba wrote:I will say this Rick, if my foul language is enough to get you to post more on Tubnet then you are putting me in a bind here.

[bowing] A very good comeback.

Regarding Du-Bro linkage, all of you bring up very good points and concerns....


The challenge for me is (maybe "was") in finding alternatives. I first installed DuBro linkages over 30 years ago, before the web made such research easy, and in the day when I wouldn't have even known who to call to find out where to enquire about miniball linkages. And they worked very well compared to what I had before, and still do. There are those like Dan Schultz and Lee Stofer who are artists at making the old pin-and-tube S-linkages work well, but it's not easy and requires special tools and techniques. And it only works on tubas that had them in the first place. I installed DuBro links on the following instruments:

1. Cerveny-made Sanders 1314U (from Custom Music), which came with similarly cobbled-together plastic ball ends, possibly speced and maybe installed by the importer. Except that the ones they used were mounted on 2-56 threaded rod (rather than the 4-40 I used), used a much smaller ball and (plastic) socket, and had no adjustment screw. The ball is about the same small size as on the uniball arrangement. The threaded rod was covered with raw aluminum tubing. I bent one by accident by pressing too hard on the paddle (not really, but it sounds funny). The DuBro linkages were a vast improvement, functionally and aesthetically. I was living in Austin when I made this conversion, making it closer to 35 years ago.

2. The early DVS or whatever they were called white plastic ball linkages on my Miraphone 186 Bb tuba from about 1980 or so. They were cracked and had to be replaced. Miraphone machined connecting rods for those things that looked very nice, and better than what I installed, but there functionality and durability won out over aesthetics. Only a couple of years later, Orpheus Music, the Miraphone importer (when they were in Sunnyvale) relocated to San Antonio, and I could have gotten all the spare parts I needed easily. Except that my DuBro linkages were working so well it never occurred to me to pursue it.

3. An earlier 186-CC, middle-70's vintage, with worn-out S-linkages. That instrument was and still is in professional use, and still has the DuBro linkages I installed. They still work.

4. A 70's-era Rudolf Meinl 4/4 Bb. Lovely instrument, but the usual undesired rhythm section from the valve machinery. DuBro links cost $15 total and are still in place on that instrument, as far as I know.

5. I used the DuBro links for a tuning stick for a Vespro tuba that had a lateral main slide, requiring me to fabricate a bell-crank arrangement to turn the vertical stick motion into lateral motion. I confess I reused one of those those Miraphone machined rods in that project because it looked nice.

All of the above were converted before I moved away from San Antonio in 1993.

6. Fast-forward to the middle 2000's, when I bought that old Symphonie. At that time, they had a smaller fan club (with Bloke as the Cheerleader-In-Chief), but piston F tubas were still all the rage. I needed an F tuba that would compete with a community band for transcriptions of orchestral works that needed at least one player on an F tuba to sound right (Berlioz, for example). My Yamaha F tuba is a great little F tuba for smaller groups, but, as Lee Hipp once put it, there is a ceiling above which it will not go. Dave Fedderly had this old Symphonie on the Army-Conference floor for $3100. I compared it to a range of instruments, including my little Yamaha, in the noisy Elephant Room, using Ken Sloan as the "can you hear me now?" tester. The Symphonie, almost uniquely, could penetrate high ambient noise levels, and the price was right. But those uniball linkages were toast. The DuBro linkages seemed an obvious choice, given that I had positive experience with them already. But, mainly, they used parts I could source locally and install the same day, and I'm an impatient sort.

A few thoughts about unibal and minibal linkage. The unibal type linkage used on B&S tubas from the 60s until the early 90s are known to most of us as being rather clanky and noisy, and were often quickly replaced, as Rick has done with his tuba.  What most people don't realize is that they were meant to be greased (not oiled) on a weekly to monthly basis and the owners who did this, even now 40 years later still have a relatively silent linkage.  Unfortunately most of us didn't know this (shame on the factory/dealers for not advertising this) and after a few months they were worn out.  Randomly enough, the factory still lists these under spare parts available!


(One must admit that what is available in Germany to anyone might only be available to certain repair shops or suppliers in the USA, none of which are particularly geared to serve do-it-yourselfers like me. In any case, I'm too lazy to jump through all the necessary hoops.) By the way, grease is just heavy oil emulsified in a soap, so oil works, but has to be applied more often. The issue is that the balls are small, with small surface areas, and that means the oil has to be heavier to prevent metal-metal contact. Truth be told, this is an engineering advantage for plastics, which are self-lubricating in low-temperature applications. The bronze lining in the fancier ball links will also be a bit self-lubricating, and that's what makes them fancier.

Minibal linkages come in a few versions.  Seibold (minibal.de) for example has around 4 different types.  ... 


Excellent! Thank you for the source information. When I replace the uniball linkages on my current B&S, I'll use these, because I do agree that they look nicer. I'm assuming that Siebold will sell and ship to regular people in the USA.

Regarding B&S valves' conical design.  Up until the early 90s, B&S had a number of old parts they tried to use up.  Therefore you might see an occasional  "PT-xx" from the 80s with a "fully conical valve block". However after reunification, there were efforts to reduce costs and the valve block design was taken into consideration.  If you take out your calipers and measure every inlet and outlet ear on the block, you will see the ears on a modern B&S have become more cylindrical and on the large bore models this is even more pronounced with the 5-6 valves and the 1-2 valves sharing the same bore size.  Notice that their marketing says "graduated bore" not "fully conical" which would not be true as with the Symphonie models.  On a Symphonie or some PTs from the 80s, each ear on the valve block has a different size.  Again due to parts sharing and using up spares, you will occasionally see some strange combinations.  The way to spot this quickly is to look at the valve rotation direction.  If valves 1-4 all turn in the same rotation, it's a modern block.


Good information--you should add this to your blog post. You made me go upstairs and look at my current F tuba, and, sure enough, valves 1-2 turn in opposite directions than valves 3-4, which I gather indicates the older valve block (and which is different than the current instrument pictured on the B&S web page). And the bore expansion is visible between each individual valve. As far as I know, my six-valve B&S (pictured above, next to the Hirsbrunner) was owned by a tuba player in London, who bought it new right around the time of unification. I don't know who that was, and the story passed through a few hands on the way to me, so anything is possible. It is not marked "Symphonie" and does not have a kranz, but everything else about it aligns with your description of the final production run.

Regarding differences of "sound" or "playing characteristics", to each his/her own.  As others have said here, I haven't found another modern F-Tuba that I like as much.  Some are easier to play ie more modern, but my best experiences with an orchestra F-Tuba has always been with a Symphonie F-Tuba.


Agreed!

Rick "hoping the discussion increased interest and readership" Denney
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