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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningBeginners and Returning Trombonists(Moderator: bhcordova) Beginning doubling on Eb bass tuba ... hard sweat with the instrument
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marccromme

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« on: Aug 13, 2015, 02:23PM »

After playing 3 decades tenor trombone and 8 years bass trombone, I got the challenge from my local city brass band to convert to Eb bass tuba, as we now have too many trombonists (never happened before - two bass trombones and 4 tenors !!!), and are short of tuba players. I am used to Yamaha Yeo size bass mouthpiece, so I thought I will give it a try.

I could borrow an old Besson Eb tuba 3+1 compensated with small-european shank (fits bass trombone mouthpieces)
Bore: 17.5mm (0.688") valve 1-3, 18.5mm (0.728") valve 4 Bell: 495mm (19.5"). Age unknown, silver brush plated. Engraving says only Besson.

The instrument is beaten, but working after a complete dis-assemble and bath in the tub. Intonation is tricky though, playing in 442Hz needs lipping up, especially in the upper register.

I use a DW 5 tuba mouthpiece (30mm inner rim), the smallest one I could find that fits the receiver. With this I can barely come up to 442 Hz, and the higher notes get too low.

I tried also a Yamaha 60L Bass trombone mouthpiece, here the intonation in the higher register is better, but the sound is too brassy, and the notes under the staff don't speak well.

I have a couple of questions:

1) Does anybody know a european-small-shank mouthpiece that has same rim diameter, but less volume in the cup than the DW 5 (too squeeze intonation up) ???

2) or, does a larger bass mouthpiece work in such an instrument ??? A Laskey 95D for example ??

3) I need to get up to 442 or/and 443 Hz while keeping the embouchure centered on the tones. The tuning slide is too short to be shortened - I might want to un-solder one of the big U-tubes (after the valve section) and shorten it for 1 to 2 cm. Is this a good idea?

4) is there anything else I can do to raise the intonation of the upper octaves?

5) The compensating system is over-compensating 4th valve Bb (two ledger lines under F-staff) are fine, but 4+2 and 4+1 and 4+1+2 A/Ab/G gets too low (1/4 tone!). Needs so much lipping up that it is easier to finger 1/2 tone to high and lip down. Anybody tried to un-solder and shorten the compensating bows at the backside of a tuba?

Apart from the intonation issues, it's great fun to play Eb bass in brass band. Probably also I'll get more control over the intonation issues when my embochure strengthens over the next weeks.

It is amazing to feel the difference between an euph and an Eb bass, the later requires much more effort to start the tones precisely in-tune and at-time. And the heavier piston valves make at the moment faster passages very difficult.

But great fun it is!
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 13, 2015, 02:31PM »

I have an 1892 Conn Eb bass (3 valve) and I use a Marcinkiewicz 107 in it.

I also have something called a Herco Professional Eb mouthpiece that has the small shank but I think it's larger than the DW 5.

My F tuba uses a "normal" tuba shank and I have 3 mouthpieces for it: a Mirafone H2 (small Helleberg), a Schilke Helleberg, and a Perantucci S25 (it's been renumbered).  That's small to large.  When I haven't been playing tuba too much the H2 is pretty much where I can go.  After a week or two I can move to the Schilke.  When I'm really up on my tuba I can go to the Perantucci.
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 13, 2015, 03:28PM »

After playing 3 decades tenor trombone and 8 years bass trombone, I got the challenge from my local city brass band to convert to Eb bass tuba, as we now have too many trombonists (never happened before - two bass trombones and 4 tenors !!!), and are short of tuba players. I am used to Yamaha Yeo size bass mouthpiece, so I thought I will give it a try.

I could borrow an old Besson Eb tuba 3+1 compensated with small-european shank (fits bass trombone mouthpieces)
Bore: 17.5mm (0.688") valve 1-3, 18.5mm (0.728") valve 4 Bell: 495mm (19.5"). Age unknown, silver brush plated. Engraving says only Besson.

The instrument is beaten, but working after a complete dis-assemble and bath in the tub. Intonation is tricky though, playing in 442Hz needs lipping up, especially in the upper register.

I use a DW 5 tuba mouthpiece (30mm inner rim), the smallest one I could find that fits the receiver. With this I can barely come up to 442 Hz, and the higher notes get too low.

---snip---

Try some of the other DW tuba m'pces with the correct shank, and learn to play the larger rims. It can be done. And...you may need to cut the horn down somewhere. It's a different pitch world now than it was when those horns were made. I haven't needed to do it yet, but I have been told that the best place to cut it is at the receiver. However... first try to get into the horn as it is. They can be pitchy...I play one regularly...but after being a slide trombonist, learning how to lip notes up and down w/out the benefit of a slide can be tricky.



Quote
4) is there anything else I can do to raise the intonation of the upper octaves?

Get stronger at the chop.

Quote
5) The compensating system is over-compensating. 4th valve Bb (two ledger lines under F-staff) are fine, but 4+2 and 4+1 and 4+1+2 A/Ab/G gets too low (1/4 tone!). Needs so much lipping up that it is easier to finger 1/2 tone to high and lip down. Anybody tried to un-solder and shorten the compensating bows at the backside of a tuba?

Again...get stronger at the chop. And better balanced, too.

Quote
p---snip---Probably also I'll get more control over the intonation issues when my embouchure strengthens over the next weeks.

Like I said...

Good luck. They really are good horns. Once you get balanced on a m'pce that really fits the uses for the horn that you need...I mostly use a Conn Helleberg w/an altered shank or a similarly altered old Schilke, myself...then you can begin to fine tune the compensating slides. And the non-compensating slides as well. I tune the 3rd valve so that it tunes up various wonky 1+2 fingerings and that allows me to tune 1st and 2nd more precisely for their general uses and also gives me some leeway in the 4th valve register. I don't know about you but for me I have a shift that wanders around about Ab-G below the staff. Once I learn/relearn/time in that shift after being off the horn for a while, everything right on down through the pedal ranges gets much, much easier to tune.

Later...

S.
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 14, 2015, 02:51AM »

After playing 3 decades tenor trombone and 8 years bass trombone, I got the challenge from my local city brass band to convert to Eb bass tuba, as we now have too many trombonists (never happened before - two bass trombones and 4 tenors !!!), and are short of tuba players. I am used to Yamaha Yeo size bass mouthpiece, so I thought I will give it a try.

I could borrow an old Besson Eb tuba 3+1 compensated with small-european shank (fits bass trombone mouthpieces)
Bore: 17.5mm (0.688") valve 1-3, 18.5mm (0.728") valve 4 Bell: 495mm (19.5"). Age unknown, silver brush plated. Engraving says only Besson.

The instrument is beaten, but working after a complete dis-assemble and bath in the tub. Intonation is tricky though, playing in 442Hz needs lipping up, especially in the upper register.

I use a DW 5 tuba mouthpiece (30mm inner rim), the smallest one I could find that fits the receiver. With this I can barely come up to 442 Hz, and the higher notes get too low.

I tried also a Yamaha 60L Bass trombone mouthpiece, here the intonation in the higher register is better, but the sound is too brassy, and the notes under the staff don't speak well.

I have a couple of questions:

1) Does anybody know a european-small-shank mouthpiece that has same rim diameter, but less volume in the cup than the DW 5 (too squeeze intonation up) ???

2) or, does a larger bass mouthpiece work in such an instrument ??? A Laskey 95D for example ??

3) I need to get up to 442 or/and 443 Hz while keeping the embouchure centered on the tones. The tuning slide is too short to be shortened - I might want to un-solder one of the big U-tubes (after the valve section) and shorten it for 1 to 2 cm. Is this a good idea?

4) is there anything else I can do to raise the intonation of the upper octaves?

5) The compensating system is over-compensating 4th valve Bb (two ledger lines under F-staff) are fine, but 4+2 and 4+1 and 4+1+2 A/Ab/G gets too low (1/4 tone!). Needs so much lipping up that it is easier to finger 1/2 tone to high and lip down. Anybody tried to un-solder and shorten the compensating bows at the backside of a tuba?

Apart from the intonation issues, it's great fun to play Eb bass in brass band. Probably also I'll get more control over the intonation issues when my embochure strengthens over the next weeks.

It is amazing to feel the difference between an euph and an Eb bass, the later requires much more effort to start the tones precisely in-tune and at-time. And the heavier piston valves make at the moment faster passages very difficult.

But great fun it is!

- A deeper tuba mouthpiece is what you need for better intonation and to get a tuba sound.

- A Denis Wick with European shank that fits will also make a difference. It will go in farther into the receiver and give you a couple of centimeters. I started on a Denis Wick No 2 but have changed to a Denis Wick No 1 which is the largest, it gives me the best tuba sound.

If your tuba is made before 1948 I think it might need to be cut, but you must first learn how to play a proper mouthpiece and then also check for any leaks before you can decide. It also takes a while to learn how to play the tuba and make it in tune anyhow.

What if you decide you have to cut?

I don't know where the best point is to shorten that Besson. I have a Boosey & Hawkes Imperial Silver 4v compensating LP Eb Tuba with a 15" bell from 1954. It might be a lot different from yours.

I tried everything first before I understood it had the old tuning. Then it was converted to modern pitch A = 440 HZ by Alexander Clement at Lars Gerdt’s music in Stockholm in 2013. One thing you could do is to bring that tuba and the correct mouthpiece to a professional tuba player and let him try. He will know right away if it is LP.

See this old thread about this subject. A lot of the things you describe as problems is in that thread. I got the help I needed. I described my problems there and they are similar to what you describe. http://tromboneforum.org/index.php/topic,68274.msg937431.html#msg937431

If you have done all I did and it still is flat you could try some of the other things recommended in that thread if you dare.

As I said in that thread Alexander Clement shortened the tuning slide AND did the "Parker/Fletcher cut" - that's the name of the "cut" that the legendary English tubaplayer John Fletcher had Phil Parkers do in London. That cut removed 2,4 cm of the back bow. It had a lot of dents there I wanted to remove and dents of that size could also do a difference so I had him shorten it at the same time. When this was done I tried it but it was still very flat. We then removed 4,4 cm  from the tuningslide, this means 2,2 on each side. A total length of 6,8 cm was removed in the end and that was what it took to make it play in tune.

It is VERY important not to cut conical tubes. The Parker/Fletcher cut is done at a point where the tube is conical but only slightly conical. Alexander Clement adviced me not to cut much there. So I decided to just remove 1,2 on each side which is a total of 2,4.

My tuba plays in tune and is good and I still have a tuningslide.

/Tom
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 14, 2015, 11:28AM »

I have an 1892 Conn Eb bass (3 valve) and I use a Marcinkiewicz 107 in it.

Bruce - Thanks for the tip - the M 107 seems similar in dimensions as the DW 5, maybe with a slightly flatter cup. I'll see if I can get one and try it. This seems very worth trying. If it still feels to large, there is the 106 I can try. Good idea.
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 14, 2015, 11:38AM »

I bet one of Doug's CB pieces would also work pretty well on something of that size.
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 14, 2015, 11:46AM »

Try some of the other DW tuba m'pces with the correct shank, and learn to play the larger rims. It can be done.  

Hi Sam - I don't think I'll go larger than the DW 5 I am using right now, as I have enough challenges with the chops at this stage. This may change with 1-2 month more training, but I am mostly interested in finding a setup that works for now, as we have danish Brass Band competitions in 3 month.

And...you may need to cut the horn down somewhere. It's a different pitch world now than it was when those horns were made. I haven't needed to do it yet, but I have been told that the best place to cut it is at the receiver. However... first try to get into the horn as it is.

I will give it a month from now before deciding anything about cutting the instrument, and I am in touch with a professional tuba player to get a second opinion on how the instrument plays, and if cutting will be needed. Cutting the receiver end is easier, good to know ...

They can be pitchy...I play one regularly...but after being a slide trombonist, learning how to lip notes up and down w/out the benefit of a slide can be tricky.

I have no problem with lipping into pitch on both of my euphoniums (Hirsbrunner and Wessex Dolce), albeit the Wessex B (4+1) is a tad to low.

I don't know about you but for me I have a shift that wanders around about Ab-G below the staff.

Bb below staff plays well with 1+3 or 4, A-Ab-G-Gb-F-E all with 4+something do not speak well. I can play these well as pedal tones on a bass bone, only with a smaall shift, but on this tuba they are far worse.

Great thoughts! As always, I appreciate the insight presented in this forum. Thanks!

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« Reply #7 on: Aug 14, 2015, 11:55AM »

Just a thought about embouchure.

(based on seeing a young euph student struggle recently)

On trombone you may be accustomed to holding your head still but making some adjustments moving the horn in different registers.  These movements may be subtle or extreme, and you may or may not be aware of them.

On tuba you probably can't move the horn, so you probably will have to move the head.  That may take care of itself, or if you've worked hard to keep your head still, then again it may not. 
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« Reply #8 on: Aug 14, 2015, 12:34PM »

On tuba you probably can't move the horn, so you probably will have to move the head.  That may take care of itself, or if you've worked hard to keep your head still, then again it may not. 

Hi Tim, yes, I noticed that one is far more constraint in the correct sitting position with a tuba than with an euph or trombone. I have to angle my head slightly to get the small shift for more upper lip in play, which I need for the deep register. On a bass bone, I just stand relaxed and play and don't think over the slight angle changes.
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 14, 2015, 12:36PM »

Marcinkiewicz 105, 106, and 107 are all considered contra mouthpieces.  The 105 was a little large and fit my King 7B rather poorly but it works on the Conn tuba.  The 107 was that little bit larger so it's what I use.

I have a genuine mouthpiece from the period and it's smaller than my 1 1/2 G!!!! Amazed
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« Reply #10 on: Aug 14, 2015, 12:56PM »

Hi Tim, yes, I noticed that one is far more constraint in the correct sitting position with a tuba than with an euph or trombone. I have to angle my head slightly to get the small shift for more upper lip in play, which I need for the deep register. On a bass bone, I just stand relaxed and play and don't think over the slight angle changes.

I rest it on my left knee and carry a collection of towels to get it at the right height depending on the height of the chair. I expertiment until I've got the right amount of toweling under the horn. It helps my leg, too. That's a lot of weight to be resting behind your knee. I lift and lower my knee by using the front of my foot for Reinhardt-style angle changes/lip slides against the teeth.

S.
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 14, 2015, 01:40PM »

I would stay fairly large on the rim inside diameter so you can get good low range response, and go shallower on the cup and make sure the shank goes in far enough.  I have a backbore for Eb tubas that helps too.  All of those things should bring the pitch up while giving a characteristic sound and response.

I don't think a bass trombone mouthpiece is the way to go in this case.  A small rim size decreases cup volume but that alone will not help in a useful way.  The low range won't work and the high range will still be flat.
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« Reply #12 on: Aug 14, 2015, 01:50PM »


Hi Tom - thanks for pointing the thread to the Fletcher cut out for me. This is what I was thinking of might be the remedy for my low intonation problems.

- A deeper tuba mouthpiece is what you need for better intonation and to get a tuba sound.

- A Denis Wick with European shank that fits will also make a difference. It will go in farther into the receiver and give you a couple of centimeters. I started on a Denis Wick No 2 but have changed to a Denis Wick No 1 which is the largest, it gives me the best tuba sound.

Actually, I use the DW 5 with small european shank, and it seems to large in cup volumen, as the higher octaves are too low. More practice will help, of course ..


If your tuba is made before 1948 I think it might need to be cut, but you must first learn how to play a proper mouthpiece and then also check for any leaks before you can decide. It also takes a while to learn how to play the tuba and make it in tune anyhow.

Right. I am in contact with a tuba professional to get the instrument checked by him.

What if you decide you have to cut?
 A lot of the things you describe as problems is in that thread. I got the help I needed. I described my problems there and they are similar to what you describe. [/b]http://tromboneforum.org/index.php/topic,68274.msg937431.html#msg937431



Thanks for the link to the discussion on the tuba forum!

It took me some time to read and digest everything. Great thoughts!

I will try and practice like mad the next month, before I'll decide to cut anything.

Thanks for the detailled thread on the Fletcher cut, Tom. Much appreciated.
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« Reply #13 on: Aug 14, 2015, 01:58PM »

Hi Doug

I would stay fairly large on the rim inside diameter so you can get good low range response, and go shallower on the cup and make sure the shank goes in far enough.  I have a backbore for Eb tubas that helps too.  All of those things should bring the pitch up while giving a characteristic sound and response.
This is noted. Sounds like a CB mouthpiece might be the cheap cure, as proposed by Bruce ?? If I'd want to invest more money, which of your rim/cup combinations would you suggest for a beginner tuba player?

I don't think a bass trombone mouthpiece is the way to go in this case.  A small rim size decreases cup volume but that alone will not help in a useful way.  The low range won't work and the high range will still be flat.

Noand yes, the Yamaha 60 does improve the pitch of the high range, but at the cost of a very weak low range and brassy sound. That is why I have given up this experiment.

Thanks for your feedback, as always helpful!
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 14, 2015, 02:41PM »

To paraphrase a pro tuba player in town when he doubled on cimbasso: "A tuba needs a warm air stream whereas the cimbasso (bass trombone) needs a cool air stream."

I would avoid using a bass trombone mouthpiece.

Good luck! Eb bass in a brass band is a lot more playing. In the brass band bass team, the Eb gives the note, the Bb bass gives the weight, and the bass trombone gives the edge.
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« Reply #15 on: Aug 14, 2015, 06:18PM »

I have an old Conn 15J  EEb tuba that I use for dixieland, chamber music, and occasionally fooling around with big band stuff.  It had a Bass bone receiver, and I tried a Marcinkiewicz 107, but that made it sound and play like a larger euphonium... which is useful sometimes, but really not a tuba sound.  So I used a DW5 for a few years until I finally got fed up and put a tuba receiver on it and now use a 25, and it plays very nicely.  Plays in tune with the slide out about a half inch.  Tried a 24AW, and the intination was VERY wonky, so maybe the right mouthpiece (and the right practice regime) will work for you.

Good luck!
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« Reply #16 on: Aug 15, 2015, 09:05AM »

I have an old Conn 15J  EEb tuba that I use for dixieland, chamber music, and occasionally fooling around with big band stuff.  It had a Bass bone receiver, and I tried a Marcinkiewicz 107, but that made it sound and play like a larger euphonium... which is useful sometimes, but really not a tuba sound.  So I used a DW5 for a few years until I finally got fed up and put a tuba receiver on it and now use a 25, and it plays very nicely.  Plays in tune with the slide out about a half inch.  Tried a 24AW, and the intination was VERY wonky, so maybe the right mouthpiece (and the right practice regime) will work for you.

Good luck!

Yes.

That's another route to try. Using a regular tuba receiver and m'pce has many things to recommend it, not the least of which is being able to try about 100 times more m'pces on it than the 4 or 5 offered by Denis Wick w/the Besson shank. I had the shank cut down on a couple of m'pces that I liked a great deal when I was playing a BBb of about the same size and bore as the Besson EEb and I liked them better than the Wicks or the original (tiny!!!) Besson m'pce that came with the horn, but if you need to try m'pces in order to find what fits your face and blow the smaller receiver is a big drawback.

S.
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« Reply #17 on: Aug 15, 2015, 11:03AM »

Hello Marc...

Why not E-mail Jonathan at Wessex and ask his advice?  He is a good tuba player and he is also good at solving tuba and tuba mouthpiece problems.
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« Reply #18 on: Aug 15, 2015, 12:26PM »

Eb bass in a brass band is a lot more playing. In the brass band bass team, the Eb gives the note, the Bb bass gives the weight, and the bass trombone gives the edge.
... so very true!
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« Reply #19 on: Aug 18, 2015, 02:56PM »

Ok, I had the tuba out at a lesson with a professional tuba player from the Danish Royal Guard. Learnings so far:
  • The low tuning is part my chops, part the tube
  • He can effortless play in 440-441 Hz
  • ... but needs cutting about 2 to 3 cm  to get up in 442-443 Hz
  • ... about 1.5 cm can be gained at the receiver end (first try)
  • internal intonation is a bit wonky, all octaves are about 10 cent too small
  • highest notes need alternative fingering to get them up in tune (I have to work more with a tuner ti figure these details out)
  • breathing exercises and more air support help in intonation
  • my chops are not that bad, after shifting the mouthpiece a bit more to rest on the upper lip things work better
  • ... and I ordered a Marc 107 to see how that works out.


I might need to come back to the Fletcher cut, but not as drastically as I feared. For now, I will practice and fix the receiver such  that the mouthpiece will go 1.5 cm further in. Then I will see in a couple of weeks how it works.

Thanks to all for all the valuable feedback!
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