Doubling on bass trombone

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EKTrombone
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Doubling on bass trombone

Post by EKTrombone »

I'm not entirely sure if there hasn't been a similar thread already, but I couldn't find anything.

Short background:
I'm mostly a tenor player. Before I started studying I'd played btb only for one and a half years. Changed back to tenor shortly before I started studying and stayed with it. Every now and then, I double on bass.

I know it requires lots of practicing on both instruments to get a satisfying result on both horns and I'm on my way to get this done, because I start to get more gigs on btb. However, I play an Edwards B-454 for bass and even when I only play this one, I didn't really feel comfortable with it and it felt just too big. This feeling gets stronger of course if you play less. I bought this 10 years ago when I didn't know much about trombones or bass trombones at all (the latter hasn't changed tho).

I'm wondering if the B-454 is considered a bigger btb horn compared to others? Do you have any btb horn in mind that might feel a little smaller? I use a Bach 1-1/2G mouthpiece and mostly play bigband stuff, but I want to get started on some pit stuff with it as well. The range that mostly feels weird is from D (the valve one) to B natural (two valve one). Contra range works out quite good. Likely I just have to put even more work in it, but any thoughts (even if it's just confirmation of what I just wrote) are much appreciated. Thanks! :)
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by brassmedic »

There are options on that horn, right? You can get dual bore slide or larger bell, I think. Do you have the smallest set up, i.e. single bore .562 slide and 9 1/2 inch bell?

Also, axial flow valves will definitely make it feel "big" compared to conventional rotors.
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by tbonesullivan »

I also double, and for me I found that Axial Flow valves on a bass were just not for me. I just have more trouble making them speak than when I have standard rotors. The Edwards Basses are pretty substantially built, made for a big orchestral sound. As previously mentioned, what options you have can make a pretty big difference on how the instrument plays.

If I don't play bass for a while, I find it takes about two weeks of steady practice and playing to get my "bass sound" back.
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Burgerbob
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by Burgerbob »

Edwards are big, yes. One of the factors is the tuning slide and bell stem, which are some of the largest out there.

That said, I don't think they're especially hard to play- make sure the valves are well oiled. If they are leaky, the whole horn will feel much, much worse.
EKTrombone
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by EKTrombone »

brassmedic wrote: Thu Jun 23, 2022 2:17 pm There are options on that horn, right? You can get dual bore slide or larger bell, I think. Do you have the smallest set up, i.e. single bore .562 slide and 9 1/2 inch bell?
Yeah, definitely the 9 1/2 inch bell, but not sure about the bore. Would have to find out, but I think it's the single bore .562 one and not the dual bore.

Thank you so far everyone. I initially liked the Thayer valves, because they felt really "open", but on the other hand they do kind of feel a little slow although I've just oiled them and had the horn checked. I think I will try a couple of horns in the next time, just to have a bit more of comparison.
I've already been offered trade options (a Duo Gravis or a Conn which I don't remember), so I'll maybe try those just for having something to compare.
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Matt K
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by Matt K »

Leadpipe choice makes an enormous difference, especially if you're doubling. I almost always tend to go for something that is on the shorter/tighter side since I'm primarily a tenor. If you have an Edwards "1" pipe (which can be identified by the fact that it has... I think two rings rather than 3 or 4... I'd suggest putting that in and seeing if it helps.
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by BGuttman »

If you have a thinner wall bell on the Eddie it can help as well.

If you don't mind dependent valves, a King Duo Gravis is a much lighter instrument and would fit nicely in a Big Band or small pit orchestra.

When I don't play bass for a while I need to downsize to a 1 1/2 G sized mouthpiece rather than my larger "1 1/8 G" sized piece (a Doug Elliott LB112/L/L7).
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by deanmccarty »

I have doubled for almost 40 years now. I have found (for me, at least) that smaller works better to be successful. I tend to gravitate to rotary valves, except for my large tenor (I use a Hagmann). For bass, I play a mouthpiece similar to 1.25. I play tighter leadpipes, but go with bronze to help darken the sound. I stay away from dual bore. The Edwards is a heavy instrument… but they do have options you could switch… Rotax valves may be a good option for you… a tighter leadpipe, and a smaller mouthpiece. Unless you’re wanting a new instrument, I would just try out new components on what you already have. If that’s not really possible, then I would seek out an instrument like I described.

I’m not sure how close you are to the Jürgen Voigt factory… but they build some great instruments… I would go there and play test your Edwards against what they have.
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by dukesboneman »

When I started to seriously double on Bass , my first horn was an older Yamaha 321.
Lighter horn , single trigger so for me it was a good starting point on Bass. The sound was nice, spoke quickly.
I recently sold that horn and moved to a Bach 50BO, double trigger.
I was ready for the move and have found where the Yamaha (IMO) liked either a Schilke 58 or 59
The Bach really opens up with 1 1/GM or me
EKTrombone
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by EKTrombone »

Matt K wrote: Thu Jun 23, 2022 3:28 pm Leadpipe choice makes an enormous difference, especially if you're doubling. I almost always tend to go for something that is on the shorter/tighter side since I'm primarily a tenor. If you have an Edwards "1" pipe (which can be identified by the fact that it has... I think two rings rather than 3 or 4... I'd suggest putting that in and seeing if it helps.
Interesting! I think I have one or two other leadpipes for the horn that I've never really tried. I'll definitely do that. The one I'm using now has 4 rings and is really long.

I've made some pictures of the horn. It has no information anywhere about the model, besides that number on the slide. But I expect it's a B - 454.

Pictures in this Dropbox:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7svj1gtr71n2 ... zBFTa?dl=0
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by Digidog »

I have doubled seriously for, like, twenty odd years on my Yamaha 421. I practise two days per week on my bass, and have done so since I found that I could manage to take on bass trombone parts - if they were not overly (expertly) demanding.

From this, I learned to fake a low B and to ease off a lot of breathing tensions and resistances, as well a making my chops more articulate and versatile. I still feel the need to practise inhaling more for bass, but what I've learned so far has helped my regular tenor playing enormously.

I'm now in the process of buying a Conn 62H with Lindberg valves and a sterling silver bell, and this is because I sincerely feel that the time is right, and that I'm ready for a more capable instrument.
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by PhilTrombone »

Try a smaller mouthpiece before committing to a different horn. You don't need such a large mpc, especially if you are doing big band/commercial playing. I would venture that a smaller mpc would help you blend better in these situations.

I play a lot of bass tbn, use a much smaller mpc. I played a Conn 3 for many years, in all situations.

IMO, a 1.5 is a big challenge for a tenor player who is just dabbling on bass.
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by Matt K »

I am unfamiliar with the older designations for slides but I believe that one is single bore based off the faint markings. I would not b dogmatic in that assertion. You do indeed have the largest of the lead pipes. That isn’t inherently a bad thing. But I find the more open Venturi to work best with “smaller” playing bell sections. Or brighter. Or whatever descriptor makes sense. Basically… I don’t like 3 leadpipe on thayers or heavy bells.

At any rate. The bell number would be between the f and gb attachment tubing. You probably will have to remove the bell to identify it. Some people have no problem identifying what the number/letters mean on Edwards… I always have to google them. It should tell you the gauge of material, if it was double buffed, etc.

In any case, since you have the other leadpipe a it would be the cheapest and easiest way to see if you should get something else or are okay with it as is!

I do agree with others that you might have success with other mouthpieces although not necessarily because of size. I find 1.5g rims to be really uncomfortable. Granted I started on bass on a smaller rim (one of Doug’s euph 104 rims). Schilke style shapes work way better for me on bass regardless of size. I would encourage trying a piece with another style of rim if the Bach isn’t working well. Schilke 59 is another super popular mouthpiece. A little bigger but bigger isn’t always harder. But it could be. I would be open minded about trying a few things between as small as the 1.04” rim size (but deepish cup) through maybe 1.12”. Go with whatever is easiest initallly and then maybe revisit after you’ve practiced on it for awhile.
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by tbonesullivan »

I should say that I played for years on a Faxx 1 1/2G, and it was fine for most community orchestra playing where they don't need a sound cannon.
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by Crazy4Tbone86 »

Hey EKTrombone,

I have been a tenor trombonist for most of my life. Over the years, about 1/4 of my gigs have been on bass trombone. I was able to get by on bass without devoting huge chunks of my life to the instrument.

About a year ago, I switched to the bass trombone/tuba book in my brass quintet. Being that much of the literature requires being very nimble below the bass clef staff (almost every piece has low Cs, B naturals and pedal notes) I had to start devoting a tremendous amount of time making the bass trombone my "primary" instrument. Most of my bass trombone playing friends have a huge lung capacity. Unfortunately, I have not been blessed with a huge set of lungs and it has shaped the way I approach the instrument.

First of all, I must make breathing, stretching and long tones part of my daily routine. I have found that my body starts the daily rather stiff/not flexible and my breathing can be stiff as well. With some simple stretching and inhalation exercises, I find that my breathing becomes more relaxed and I am able to handle long phrases on the bass trombone much better.

The other thing about being lung-volume-challenged, I learned that choosing the appropriate mouthpiece has made a huge difference in my success on the instrument. The throat of a mouthpiece has a HUGE impact on a person's ability to manage air. The throats vary greatly on bass trombone mouthpieces, from the mid .270s inch to .320 inch! While some of the mouthpieces that have throats of .312 and above produce a wonderful sound for many players, these mouthpieces require a tremendous supply of air. I have found that I do very well with a throat of about .306 inch. Any smaller and my sound is a little stuffy. If I go larger, I am not able to play long legato phrases in the low and pedal register. Yes, there are many other variables that determine the playability of a mouthpiece, but I have found that the throat is a significant factor.

If air volume is not an issue for you, please disregard my remarks. But if air management on the bass trombone is something that concerns you, please take a look at the throat diameter of your mouthpiece.
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by Posaunus »

Crazy4Tbone86 wrote: Fri Jun 24, 2022 9:12 am
The throat of a mouthpiece has a HUGE impact on a person's ability to manage air. The throats vary greatly on bass trombone mouthpieces, from the mid .270s inch to .320 inch! While some of the mouthpieces that have throats of .312 and above produce a wonderful sound for many players, these mouthpieces require a tremendous supply of air. I have found that I do very well with a throat of about .306 inch.
The nominal throat diameter of a Bach 1½G is 7.0mm = 0.276" (I've measured a few as large as 7.04mm; not much larger.) These throat sizes are quite manageable for me on bass trombone. At my advanced age, I start to gasp for air with throats much larger than 7.67mm / 0.302"
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by hyperbolica »

We get a new bass doubler thread every few months it seems. For me anyway, it's a chance to reflect and see if I've improved or changed in some way. I came to bass somewhat reluctantly. I had a group that needed a bass and no one else was interested.I tried a bunch of horns, and didn't know what I was looking at. I eventually bought one that was expensive enough I had to stay with it (Kanstul 1662i). It didn't really seem to fit me, but over the last 8 years I seem to be growing into it. Like you, I struggled with the size and air required by the horn kind of overwhelming me. Ferguson mouthpieces V and L seem to make more noise per effort, and Doug Elliot pieces just sound and feel right.

But it sounds like you have to get your leadpipe sorted out first. I'd try a couple smaller pipes, where the venturi is small and the pipe is long. And then try a few mouthpieces. On the small side, a ferguson V is a cost effective 1.5 size piece that will be more efficient with your air. If you need something bigger, try the ferguson L, which is a 1.25 piece that's a little brighter than the usual suspects. Doug Elliot stuff will give you a good sound and good feel that you can tweek components to dial in.

As for the horn, that's a more expensive thing to swap out. You seem interested in smaller horns, which was the same path I took. Edwards I always think of as being big and heavy, but that can depend on the individual components. Although the bracing, in my view, is seriously overkill and heavy. Of course the Kanstul has almost no bracing in the attachment tubing. The only way to know is to try a bunch. Older horns are going to feel smaller, but old 2 valve basses can be hard to find. I'd avoid the Getzen 1062 (dual bore). The Getzen 1052 might be better< I haven't played it. You can easily avoid any axial flow setups. A nice older Bach 50b2 or 50b3 might be feel good to you, I liked those. Conn 62h, even the new ones are getting some better opinions around here lately. I think even the Conn 112 might be worth looking at, if you can find one. Duo Gravis can be hard to find, like King 7b and 8b. Some like the Benge 290. Holtons are hard to find except the 181, which is not a preferred bass. Olds made some quirky basses that I liked, but generally are pretty far out of the mainstream for a number of reasons that don't really matter.

With tenors, you can find a lot of great used horns cheap, but basses have much less history.
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by Pezza »

Don't double on bass.
Play bass & double on tenor!
Am I a trombone player who plays euphonium, or a euphonium player who plays trombone? :idk:
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by vetsurginc »

Pezza wrote: Fri Jun 24, 2022 7:27 pm Don't double on bass.
Play bass & double on tenor!
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by imsevimse »

Different mindset is needed for bass and tenor that's what I've learned as a doubler. I've learned that I need to back off from the face in the trigger register, while still not being loose in the emboushure and then the trigger nites both speaks better and can be controlled better.

/Tom
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by tbonesullivan »

imsevimse wrote: Sat Jun 25, 2022 10:48 am Different mindset is needed for bass and tenor that's what I've learned as a doubler. I've learned that I need to back off from the face in the trigger register, while still not being loose in the emboushure and then the trigger nites both speaks better and can be controlled better.

/Tom
I DEFINITELY agree with this. The same is true if you want to double on Tuba. I have found that playing an Eb tuba or F is much closer to a Bass Trombone than a CC or BBb tuba, which I just can't get to work for me. Doesn't matter that I CAN buzz that low, the sound and air concepts are just to different.

Currently trying to decide if I want to keep trying the BBb, or should just sell it and get a better Eb.
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by modelerdc »

I have a four-valve compensating Boosey E flat, it's the same as a Besson. Easiest tuba for me to play, and the compensating system works well. You only need a bigger tuba for the massive sound of a large orchestra or band, but really this tuba works everywhere. Playing bass trombone in the orchestra, the tuba players have brought in many tubas in all the common pitches over the years. I've yet to hear a player on an F that really has the breadth of sound to use for general playing. but the Besson E flat does, and there are some useable copies out there too. some players have no problem doubling BB flat or CC, more power to 'em, but for me the E flat tuba works the best by far.
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by calcbone »

modelerdc wrote: Sat Jun 25, 2022 8:13 pm I've yet to hear a player on an F that really has the breadth of sound to use for general playing. but the Besson E flat does, and there are some useable copies out there too. some players have no problem doubling BB flat or CC, more power to 'em, but for me the E flat tuba works the best by far.
Having played with some different tubists on F tuba in a brass quintet, there’s a wide variation of horns in that size, and I agree with one exception:

In grad school, about a dozen years ago, Derek Fenstermacher (current tubist with St. Louis Symphony but at the time, a prospective graduate student) auditioned to be in my graduate brass quintet. He had a huge sound, and I thought to myself “interesting choice to play a CC on a quintet audition…” but indeed, it was a (rather large) Yamaha F tuba.
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Re: Doubling on bass trombone

Post by Kbiggs »

Yes, the Edwards feels and sounds “bigger” than many other bass trombones.

Yes, it takes more air to play bass in general. You will breathe more frequently, period. Axial flow valves tend to offer less resistance in the air stream and resonance in the horn. The large tuning slide, leadpipe and bell stem of an Edwards contribute to that feeling.

A 1 1/2G is a great mouthpiece. For doublers who are primarily tenor players, it works.

The low D to B range is difficult for all bass trombonists. Keep the corners of the embouchure firm (not tight), and especially the muscles directly underneath the corners of the mouth. Allow the center of the lips to be loose, but not flappy. And use tuning drones and/or a tuner to help lock in pitches.

Playing big band and chamber music on bass requires a lot of facility. Find materials that help develop slurs, flexibility, valve dexterity, and articulations—the fundamentals.

Most of all—have fun!!
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