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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentInstruments(Moderators: tbone62, Greg Waits) Looking for tuba advice from non-tubists
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Author Topic: Looking for tuba advice from non-tubists  (Read 5138 times)
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jackbird
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« on: Dec 07, 2017, 07:02PM »

I'm thinking about getting a tuba. But then I see F, Eb, CC, BBb. I was hoping this would be simple. Alas. I'm not a big guy, so does it follow that I should have a small tuba? So F or Eb? Is there a serious difference other than that step? Is an F easier for a bone player to transition to? What am I getting myself into? Can I buy something off eBay? Mack? Wessex? I just want something perfect for about $5. Probably can't get to anywhere to test tubas. Is there a "sure thing" out there, like an 88h of cheap tubas? I'll probably be playing small orchestra and chamber groups. Doubling on tenor.

Advice?
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davdud101
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 07, 2017, 07:04PM »

**Disclaimer: I KNOW NOTHING**

Someone posted in another thread that Eb's are good for smaller folks and do a good job covering the whole range.
But I've only played sousaphone mostly for about 4 or 5 months in a brass band, and used a Kelly 1.5G bass trombone mouthpiece, so take this with a molecule of salt.
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 07, 2017, 07:33PM »

For a basic doubler horn, I like the 3/4 Yamaha Bb's, particularly the YBB-103.
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 07, 2017, 08:17PM »

For your mental sanity I recommend a BBb.  The valve combinations are exactly the same as a Euphonium.

Some BBb's are kinda hard to fill.  I learned to play an Eb tuba (mine is 125 years old!).  Then I branched out to an F.  But I play the Eb most of the time since I don't play tuba a lot lately.

I did manage with some smaller bore BBb tubas so that might be a good option.

Sometimes you can find an old Eb 3 valve for $200 or so.  Might be a good starting point.  Eb fingerings are easy to learn.  Read the bass clef as tenor clef and put your fingers on those buttons.  So is open (no valves) and is 1st valve (if it's flat).
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 07, 2017, 08:20PM »

For a basic doubler horn, I like the 3/4 Yamaha Bb's, particularly the YBB-103.

I double the motion.

A Bb tuba would make the most sense to a trombone player without previous valve experience and the 3/4 school models can be found used cheaply. I have one.

I also have an Eb tuba.  It's more like a euphonium than a real bass instrument.

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« Reply #5 on: Dec 07, 2017, 08:36PM »

This is more complicated than I expected. Is a 3/4 a smaller bore? Would an Eb cover bass trombone parts? I assume 4 valves would be enough? I don't want to rattle the rafters, just play some low notes with a nice deep sound. Thanks for the video. I'm not getting the relative scale of these things. The video helped see an Eb next to a person. It does look like a bloated euph.

Maybe something older with character? https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F173006503513
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« Reply #6 on: Dec 07, 2017, 08:49PM »

1.  3/4 size BBb tubas are usually smaller bore.  Some smaller bore tubas are not called 3/4, though.

2.  My Eb looks like an oversize Euph as well.  Its chromatic range is down to "pedal A" on a bass trombone.  Adding a 4th valve lets you get more notes.  A compensating 4th valve gets you chromatic to the pedal.

New tubas often come with obscene prices.  I know of one that is $10,000.  Way too rich for the likes of me.  Older with character is the way to go.
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« Reply #7 on: Dec 07, 2017, 08:54PM »

This is more complicated than I expected. Is a 3/4 a smaller bore?


Yes.  "3/4" is an approximate indication that the bore is smaller than a 4/4, which is an approximate indication of something.


Here's a simple King 3/4 Bb tuba.  3-valves Purchased for $125

This is a Besson 4/4 3-valve compensating Bb tuba Purchased for $400






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« Reply #8 on: Dec 07, 2017, 09:15PM »

Here is another slant on the topic. I play tenor and bass trombone. I started with a Chinese BBb tuba I quickly out grew its sound. Construction was poor. I then upgraded to a mira 191 it sucks the wind out of you fast!!! It sounds real good and can it play low notes. I play in a brass band, started on EEb tuba. My current EEb is a Mienl Weston 2141, its awesome. It doesn't suck the wind out of you. Easy to keep up with the big tubas. Can easily play bass trombone parts. In some ways its easier to play than a bass trombone. It has taken my about a year to get pretty good at it. I learned treble clef then learned bass clef, its just moving flats and sharps around. The biggest change in the playing tuba is learning to move lots of air. If you have time to learn EEb fingerings go for it. If you play it safe go BBb.
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« Reply #9 on: Dec 07, 2017, 09:47PM »

Tubas come in lots of different configurations, far more so than trombones.
The "quarter" designations are sort of related to bore size but really they are marketing designations for different sizes within each manufacturer's offerings, and there are no standards at all - there are big overlaps in bore size vs quarter sizes.   It's really more about the size of the larger tubing closer to the bell.  For a doubler, to be easier to play look for 3/4 or 4/4 at the most.  BBb will be the easiest to learn if you already know fingerings, and will make the most sense since the bottom of the range matches your expectations.

The Cerveny on eBay is probably workable, but if you buy something like that expect to possibly put hundreds of dollars into repairs to get it playable. Shipping can get expensive and hard to avoid shipping damage.  A lot depends on where you are - there are specialty shops and specialty repair people who can give you good advice, and one of those places is probably the best place to buy, so you're not getting unknown problems.
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« Reply #10 on: Dec 08, 2017, 02:44AM »

I've got an old Holton "Monster" Eb which is more the size & sound of a 4/4 Bb. It only has 3 valves but the "privilege" tones between the 1st partial and the pedals are really excellent so it has a great low range.
the advantage of Eb over F are they are typically way less expensive and you can read bass clef as tenor clef (or Bb treble) & not have to do a whole lot of thinking.
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« Reply #11 on: Dec 08, 2017, 05:42AM »

Thanks, all, that's exactly the kind of info I need. The dizzying array of bells and bores and valves is crazy against the relative uniformity of the trombone world.

I think I'll look at Eb horns because I can do the tenor clef thing, and I don't want to tote all that extra metal around, and I've got enough trouble putting air through a bass bone. Plus I'll probably wind up using it in smaller groups.

One more question. I think I can handle 4 valves, I have a 4v compensating euph. Should I just keep it to 4 or is there some advantage with 5? I tend to the keep it simple philosophy here. And then rotors or pistons? Pistons seem simpler.
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« Reply #12 on: Dec 08, 2017, 06:02AM »

Try before you buy. 
I have a 1907 Eb York Monster that was High Pitch and I had to have an extension made for the tuning slide to get it down to normal pitch.  I didn't know that until other work had been done so it was playable.
Whatever you're looking at, do some research.  If you're not willing or able to put more money into repairs, go somewhere you can try a bunch.  Baltimore Brass is probably the best known place for that.
Valve configurations vary widely.  You're used to right hand 3 valves, left hand 1 valve, right?  You can get used to anything with enough practice, but a lot of tubas are right hand 4 valves - how's your pinky for operating a valve?  I can't really do it, especially pistons.
Try before you buy.
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« Reply #13 on: Dec 08, 2017, 06:37AM »



I think I'll look at Eb horns because I can do the tenor clef thing, and I don't want to tote all that extra metal around, and I've got enough trouble putting air through a bass bone. Plus I'll probably wind up using it in smaller groups.


I looked at this a few years back when a friend was trying to get a small oom-pah band together to make some extra cash.  I did play tuba in a community band many years ago, probably embarrassingly badly. 

You will be surprised to find most Eb horns are neither small nor light.  I've looked at various models at conferences, even brought a mouthpiece and played a few one year.  If there's any weight advantage to an Eb I can't see it.  It's not like an Eb alto trombone, that's basically 3/4 size.  I don't know why this is, but I think you'll be better off with one of the smaller BBb tubas.  IMO, and not currently a tuba player. 

My sister has an Eb sousaphone.  Gorgeous tone, but as heavy as a Bb, and the case won't fit in any known make of vehicle.  She never figured out Eb fingerings in concert pitch, but only played it when Eb parts were available.

The more valves, the more notes in tune.  Er, the more notes potentially in tune.  Some tuba players are more conscientious about this than others.  Some lip notes, some pull slides, some have figured out good alternate fingerings.   
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« Reply #14 on: Dec 08, 2017, 07:38AM »

Hmm. Ok. Baltimore brass I can probably do. Checked out their site, and they have lots of new and used tubas. geez. If only for the education and experience of playing a bunch of different things, this would be a great visit.

Also found this at Mack brass. Might make a weekend of it and go see both next time Im up around DC (after the holidays prolly).

Anyway, this mack brass thing ticks all the boxes. BBb, 3/4, 4v, cheap, smallish without being freakishly small. It's a copy of a Yamaha 103 that a couple people recommended, but has an added 4th valve.

http://www.mackbrass.com/MACK-TU520L__BBb_Tuba.php
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« Reply #15 on: Dec 08, 2017, 07:45AM »

The Wessex Junior BBb tuba is around $1000.  Ridiculously easy to play.  I got one for my middle school and is an easy one to get students to switch to.

Nice case and fit and finish are good. Comes with a smallish easy mouthpiece.
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« Reply #16 on: Dec 08, 2017, 07:49AM »

Yeah go to Baltimore Brass. If you’re lucky Mr Fedderly will be there. He is the owner, former tuba teacher at Juilliard and Peabody, former tubist of the Baltimore symphony, Arnold Jacobs disciple, and all around great person. Can’t think of a better person to buy a tuba from.
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« Reply #17 on: Dec 08, 2017, 08:21AM »

When you say "up" to visit Baltimore Brass, you might be closer to The Tuba Exchange in Durham NC.  A friend of mine got a really nice pair of tubas (CC and F) there.  He traded in a tuba I had sold him.  Note that CC is a tuba that mostly appeals to classical tuba players.  I think it's the hardest of the 4 to learn.

https://www.tubaexchange.com/
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« Reply #18 on: Dec 08, 2017, 08:48AM »

I lived across the street from Mack, say hi if you're driving by. 
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #19 on: Dec 08, 2017, 08:55AM »

I think I'll look at Eb horns because I can do the tenor clef thing

OK, not being facile in tenor clef, I'll bite: excepting British brass band and certain "world music" ensembles, tuba parts are non-transposing instruments (i.e., are notated at concert pitch, so how does facility reading tenor clef make an Eb preferable to a BBb, C, or F?
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