Instruments made in China

Post Reply
BflatBass
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:44 pm
Location: CA Central Valley

Instruments made in China

Post by BflatBass » Mon Sep 03, 2018 5:58 pm

I've been getting a lot of information about brass instruments in general regarding those made in China. I've been looking for a tuba as a double and asking questions in various places online just to get feedback. Different names start popping up like Wessex or MackBrass which are here in the U.S. then names like JinBao which is over seas. Can anyone list sellers/dealers here in the U.S. that deal in horns primarily made by another manufacturer in another country but carry their brand (like MackBrass)? And also list manufacturers in China or other countries that are making horns for dealers here in the U.S.?
Some are saying things like "that's a JinBao copy of a "so and so" horn referring to one with a brand name of a company here in the U.S.. If I decide to go with a so called "chinese horn" it would be nice to know more about the horn's origins and if it's an original design or a copy of another design.
Thanks for any input.

Cheer,
Robert
King 3B (mid 70's version)
King Duo Gravis Silver Sonic
St. Petersburg 202L

...and now back to your normally scheduled programming.
User avatar
Finetales
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:31 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by Finetales » Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:15 pm

JZ is Baltimore Brass' Chinese house brand, and Dillon Music has one (just "Dillon") as well. The Dillon euphonium is pretty nice, and they have a $395 British tenor horn that has tempted me several times.

John Packer (not Rath) is another one from the UK, with JP Sterling and JP Rath sort of a similar comparison to JP as Shires Q series vs. Eastman. I haven't heard of many people buying the JP instruments (at least in the States, for obvious reasons), but I tried a JP (not even JP Sterling) tenor horn at ITEC 2014 that was phenomenal and outplayed the JP Sterling they also had. Speaking of Eastman, I think they're still produced overseas? But the new 800 series plays really great.

Thomann and Gear4Music have house brands, but they're less reputable than Dillon etc. from the reviews I've read. There is an absurdly cheap "Coppergate" Chinese bass trombone on Gear4Music that actually has some good reviews on here.

As for Chinese producers, Jin Bao is the big one but there are some others, like Carol (not Carol Brass, which is Taiwanese), that sell through AliBaba/AliExpress. I only know of one instance of someone importing a Carol instrument, and that was a Carol rotary bass flugelhorn someone posted on eBay recently. Berkeley Wind is one that sells primarily from eBay. They don't have good reviews.
BflatBass
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:44 pm
Location: CA Central Valley

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by BflatBass » Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:36 pm

Finetales wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:15 pm
JZ is Baltimore Brass' Chinese house brand, and Dillon Music has one (just "Dillon") as well. The Dillon euphonium is pretty nice, and they have a $395 British tenor horn that has tempted me several times.
So when you say "house brand" you mean a dealer that puts there name on a horn manufactured in China?
King 3B (mid 70's version)
King Duo Gravis Silver Sonic
St. Petersburg 202L

...and now back to your normally scheduled programming.
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 723
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by BGuttman » Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:37 pm

China doesn't have forefront musical instrument technology so they have resorted to copying successful American and European designs. Some copies are extremely good and others not so. Another big problem is Quality Control (i.e. none). The reputable American and European dealers will test each instrument and reject the bad ones. This can be quite a plus.

In general, stay away from older Chinese instruments because they have been getting better as they try to penetrate the American market.

New technology comes to China via Wessex, Shires, Rath, and other makers looking for manufacturing for their design. Many of these instruments can be really good.

Note: I have heard that the Wessex "travel tuba" has similar problems to a pocket trumpet: very stuffy, no sound.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
BflatBass
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:44 pm
Location: CA Central Valley

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by BflatBass » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:16 pm

Thanks for all the feedback
I'm not really looking for recommendations I'm just wondering who's selling what made where?
I always thought that Eastman trombones were the Shires design made in China. The notes for the Q series trombones on the S.E. Shires website says that Eastman is their parent company. So is the Q series the chinese made Shires? Is there a Shires trombone design made in China?
This is what I'm wondering; who's making what and where are they being sold?

The info I'm getting about Wessex tubas is that their requesting design changes to "whoever" is making their horns based on user feedback. Who else is doing this and who's just selling horns based on other designs?

Idk how relevant this is to my needs because I plan on playing the tuba I buy first and if I find a used horn (estate sale, pawn shop) who knows what brand/model it will end up being (can you say crap shoot) and the only store near me that has a decent selection of new horns is the Horn Guys and they don't have any chinese made horns listed on their web site. I'm just curious about the logistics involved in the U.S. connection to China in regards to brass instruments.

Cheers,
Robert
King 3B (mid 70's version)
King Duo Gravis Silver Sonic
St. Petersburg 202L

...and now back to your normally scheduled programming.
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 723
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by BGuttman » Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:00 am

Shipping a tuba isn't cheap.

If you buy from Wessexl Dillon, or Jim Laabs you are going to pay shipping inside the US.

Have you looked into Tuba Exchange? They have lots of good used tubas at good prices. Sometims you can find a gem. I had a Weimar that was actually made from Mirafone parts. I found a Wunderlich for a student who loved it. Note that these are older tubas and were made in Germany.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
User avatar
JohnL
Posts: 234
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:01 am
Contact:

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by JohnL » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:40 am

There's a LOT of factories in China turning out brass instruments. With the possible exception of Eastman, who seems to have their own factory, and Jinbao, all of the Chinese-made instruments I've seen are "stencils" (they're marked with the name of the importer, distributor, or retailers rather than the manufacturer). There's a long tradition of stencil instruments, and there's nothing inherently bad about them.

But...

Stencils can be a gamble. Since you don't know who actually made the instrument, you're relying on the whoever's name is on the horn - and some are better than others. I've known people who purchased "no-name" instruments that were very happy with them right out of the box, and others that purchased instruments from well-known importer/distributors who got a clunker the first time around and had to go through an exchange process to get a good one.
User avatar
Matt K
Posts: 918
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:34 pm

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by Matt K » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:23 am

BflatBass wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:16 pm
I'm not really looking for recommendations I'm just wondering who's selling what made where?
To some extent, these are not separable with the imported horns. A ton of these horns are made by JinBao and the distributors have different price points depending on the level of work that they put into it. For example: Wessex, MackBrass, JimLaabs, HornGuys, Dillons, and a few others each have models that are made in the JinBao factory. However, they don't all sell the same instruments or have the same level of QC.

Wessex has several exclusive models that only Wessex sells despite being made in the same factory as other brands. These include their large bore alto, a handful of bass trombones that are not merely copies, an Urbie Green Martin copy, as well as some other unique brass instruments like the 4 valve valve front, upright euphonium.

MackBrass & Horn Guys (possibly others as well but I don't know that for sure) charge a little more for the instruments but have better levels of QC than buying say, off eBay. At least Mack Brass will take back a horn if you don't like it and will also provide parts for the horn if they break. Horn Guys sells the JinBao alto and if you buy the horn through them and for a little upcharge, replace the leadpipe with one they designed that works with the horn better than the stock one.

I'm less familiar with the process from the others - but then at the bottom of the list you have the eBay horns. Some of these are okay. Others are not. Some people have lucked out here and been happy with them. Others... ehhh, not so much. Since you're trying first, this is less of an issue but something that you still might want to be aware of.

I always thought that Eastman trombones were the Shires design made in China. The notes for the Q series trombones on the S.E. Shires website says that Eastman is their parent company. So is the Q series the chinese made Shires? Is there a Shires trombone design made in China?
This is what I'm wondering; who's making what and where are they being sold?
Eastman trombones have several different lines. If branded just "Eastman" then they aren't Shires designs as far as I'm aware of, though some of them do bear a small resemblance. The Eastman by Shires were designed by Shires but were made completely in China. (I only say in past tense because I'm not sure if they're still available). They also were somewhat compatible with Shires components in the same way Getzens are compatible with Edwards (they aren't completely but some components will fit together like the leadpipes).

Then there is the Q series. The Q have all of the parts made in the Boston factory (bells, valve casings, tubing, etc.) and those parts are shipped to the factory in China where they are assembled and then shipped back to Shires for lacquering and final QC. I've tried a few of these horns and I was quite impressed by them... I do generally recommend someone looking to buy new go with these over other brands just because the price point for what you get is really great. And they're fully modular with Shires components, which do seem to come up for sale on the used market fairly frequently so it isn't difficult to customize.

Anywhere that sells Shires horns can get their hands on the Q, as well as any of the Eastman instruments.
The info I'm getting about Wessex tubas is that their requesting design changes to "whoever" is making their horns based on user feedback. Who else is doing this and who's just selling horns based on other designs?
Rath also does this but as far as I know, it is a different factory though I'm not privy to such information. They have two lines, the "JP" rath line and the R"00" line. The JP Rath line are 'student' level horns but are actually quite good. I've tried several that I've liked, although I've known a few others who have had valve problems with it so ymmv. I do not own one. The R00 line (such as the R100) are Rath designs that are assembled in China, sort of like the Eastman by Shires.
Idk how relevant this is to my needs because I plan on playing the tuba I buy first and if I find a used horn (estate sale, pawn shop) who knows what brand/model it will end up being (can you say crap shoot) and the only store near me that has a decent selection of new horns is the Horn Guys and they don't have any chinese made horns listed on their web site. I'm just curious about the logistics involved in the U.S. connection to China in regards to brass instruments.
Horn Guys does stock the alto trombone, which is a Slokar copy. I've owned a few and they did play nice. They send back the duds. If you're close, they might be able to order another one for you but I don't know the logistics of if they could send it back in the same capacity. My guess is no since they don't offer it, but might be worth checking out either way.
User avatar
Matt K
Posts: 918
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:34 pm

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by Matt K » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:26 am

Also, if you're looking for a BBb, you might want to consider looking for a King. I don't remember the model number, but they are often reasonably priced and I've heard good things about them. Also worth checking out TubeNet if that's your ultimate goal.
User avatar
ghmerrill
Posts: 282
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:41 pm
Location: Central North Carolina

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by ghmerrill » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:57 am

Regarding QC, I can say that on the basis of my own experience (and limited to that), the level of QC on the three Chinese instruments I have (and use!) from three suppliers has been pretty much the same -- with a few minor things that obviously could have been eliminated with a bit of attention and care. These included the quality and precision of valve cap threading, one solder joint failure after a few months on a tuba (which I resoldered myself), a solder joint on a bass trombone 2nd valve lever that broke (replaced quickly by the supplier), some minor voids in soldering bases of braces, some small flat areas near the tops of piston valves (not affecting anything), a poorly seated/soldered rotary valve knuckle (discovered only when I disassembled the valve -- and I'm ignoring it).

I couldn't honestly say that of the three instruments I have, the QC has been remarkably different. And I've been happy with each of them. There was a tendency for the brass to be a bit soft on these instruments, but I think that this has been addressed recently, at least in some cases.

Perhaps there is a noticeable difference with some "boutique clone brands" (if that makes sense. But I have no knowledge of that. I'm not sure that I'd see any added "value" there to be worth the difference in price, but that would depend on the details.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
cmcslide
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:16 pm
Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by cmcslide » Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:03 pm

BGuttman wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:00 am
Shipping a tuba isn't cheap.

If you buy from Wessexl Dillon, or Jim Laabs you are going to pay shipping inside the US.

Have you looked into Tuba Exchange? They have lots of good used tubas at good prices. Sometims you can find a gem. I had a Weimar that was actually made from Mirafone parts. I found a Wunderlich for a student who loved it. Note that these are older tubas and were made in Germany.
Tuba Exchange also sells a line of Chinese instruments under their own name. I believe that many of them are the same horns that Mack Brass sells...
Professor of Low Brass, Coastal Carolina University
SimmonsTrombone
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:43 am

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by SimmonsTrombone » Wed Sep 05, 2018 4:54 am

I decided to take up tuba and the first one loaned to me to try was a Hunter. It appears they make the horns and will put whatever name you want on the horns. The horn seemed generally well made except for two things. The valves would stick fairly often. And the lead pipe was made with a downward turn that made it impossible for me to get the mouthpiece square on my lips. That caused all kinds of double buzzing problems. I took the horn back and got an old Conn 10j and all those problems disappeared.

Based on that limited experience, I’d want to play any Chinese horn I’d consider buying.
User avatar
ghmerrill
Posts: 282
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:41 pm
Location: Central North Carolina

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by ghmerrill » Wed Sep 05, 2018 10:19 am

I think that in the case of tubas, I'd want to try almost ANY horn I'd consider buying. I did this even with my 1924 Buescher, and still bought it ($250!) even after discovering that it was pitched lower than 440 -- despite the owner's insistence that he'd been playing it for years and only a few notes required a bit of "lipping". Right.

I'm sure that Conn 10j is a much better horn than the Hunter (?).
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
BflatBass
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:44 pm
Location: CA Central Valley

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by BflatBass » Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:30 pm

ghmerrill wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:57 am
Regarding QC, I can say that on the basis of my own experience (and limited to that), the level of QC on the three Chinese instruments I have (and use!) from three suppliers has been pretty much the same -- with a few minor things that obviously could have been eliminated with a bit of attention and care. These included the quality and precision of valve cap threading, one solder joint failure after a few months on a tuba (which I resoldered myself), a solder joint on a bass trombone 2nd valve lever that broke (replaced quickly by the supplier), some minor voids in soldering bases of braces, some small flat areas near the tops of piston valves (not affecting anything), a poorly seated/soldered rotary valve knuckle (discovered only when I disassembled the valve -- and I'm ignoring it).
The only reason I'm considering a tuba made in China is the price. Based on what your saying I can live with these sorts of things if fixing them is inexpensive (like less than $100) or if they're just cosmetic and don't effect the playing of the instrument. You get what you pay for and you buy what you can afford or don't play.

Thanks Matt K.. This really shed some useful light on the subject. And I think the King your speaking of is the 2341. That has been recommended to me by another user as well. And I've been trying to get on TubeNet but they won't send me a verification email. I've checked my spam folder, rechecked the email address I provided them, I even re-registered. Nothing
So I joined a tuba group on facebook instead and so far that's helped.

And the only reason I'm not looking for a chinese trombone is that I already have trombones that suffice for now. Maybe I'll be looking in a year or so and all this info will come in handy then. I was only asking because I thought the logistics between the U.S. and China would be the same for trombones or tubas.

Ultimately I'd like the tuba I buy now to be the last tuba I ever buy but since I'm new to the instrument that probably won't happen.

Cheers,
Robert
King 3B (mid 70's version)
King Duo Gravis Silver Sonic
St. Petersburg 202L

...and now back to your normally scheduled programming.
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 723
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by BGuttman » Wed Sep 05, 2018 1:18 pm

I'd like to put in a recommendation for the Conn 5J. It's a 4 valve BBb and seems to be a good fit for Euph players. Good size for quintet and smaller Community Band.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
User avatar
BrassedOn
Posts: 58
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:06 am

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by BrassedOn » Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:15 pm

I think doubling is great. So many opportunities I've had were based on being able to double. tenor/bass bone, euph/bone, tuba/bass bone, electric bass/tuba. I started out doubling with Bass Bone jobs that needed Tuba, like shows and theme park gigs, and did Dixieland on Tuba because there were so many outstanding trombone players to compete with in the city. Not every band had a bone, but they all needed some bass instrument. In actuality, there have been many times where my $600 sousaphone is earning more money than the tuba, so keep that in mind as you shop around.

If you're interested in how a particular horn came to be (the end product), you might look from the other end of the story, the original horns that you'd like but don't have that kind of cash. You said, " "that's a JinBao copy of a "so and so" . So start with the "so and so". A maker like Wessex started with a tuba function to fill (like student horn or orchestral contrabass) and an existing horn for inspiration, and copied some elements and created some new elements. Some of the makers are pretty clear that they intended to design based on some Euro maker, some just imply. It would help to hang out with tuba players, maybe try their gear to see what works for you. And then look for a cheaper but pretty good copy. Start by looking at pictures and comparing. Sometimes it's pretty easy to match. I think the Chinese makers are taking inspiration from multiple American and Euro makers.

So what's a good horn for a doubler? Depends on what you want to play and budget.
Concert band, put on a strap to play some Dixie. Tons of 3/4 and 4/4 horns to choose from. For the last horn you ever buy or a quintet horn you might need to go for the 4 valve versions.

If you want something easy playing, add to the list 3/4 horns like a Cerveny piggy model. I got into the tuba game with a Yamaha 104 3v Bb. Felt like a toy but actually quite good pitch and easy to blow, so little frustration. And then went larger with a King.

You'll find a lot of ideas on Tubenethttp://forums.chisham.com/


Best in your search.
"Do less, better."
1973 King 3B Silver Sonic
1987 Bach 42BO
1994ish Getzen Eterna 1062 Dave Taylor (stacked)
User avatar
ghmerrill
Posts: 282
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:41 pm
Location: Central North Carolina

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by ghmerrill » Wed Sep 05, 2018 3:51 pm

BGuttman wrote:
Wed Sep 05, 2018 1:18 pm
I'd like to put in a recommendation for the Conn 5J. It's a 4 valve BBb and seems to be a good fit for Euph players. Good size for quintet and smaller Community Band.
Yeah, absolutely. Also, keep in mind that for a lot of uses (most?) you do NOT need a 4-valve BBb tuba. You don't even need a 4-valve Eb tuba if it's got good solid ghost tones. There are a number of good used 3-valve BBb American tubas kicking around that most tuba players stick their noses up at. If I wanted at this point to pick up a BBb horn for "general" work (including jazz, Dixieland, small groups, community band, etc. I would probably be looking at a good used 3-valve horn that wasn't too big, but not too small. For orchestral work (!!) you might want that 4th valve.

For perspective ... When I was playing BBb (for about 20 years), I played a Cervehy 781 (Czech/German style 4 rotary valves). It was a great instrument. But after I lapped the 1st valve slide and vented it so I could use it "dynamically", I almost never used the 4th valve. On my Eb Wessex (Besson 981 clone), I use the 4th valve a LOT. But technically, a number of those uses could be avoided with false tones. On my 1924 Eb Buescher, there is no 4th valve, and so the false tones are used. Chromatically, all the way down to the fundamental and pedal register.

So at least think of a 3-valve BBb if it would fit your needs.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
Cotboneman
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:16 pm
Location: Tucson, AZ
Contact:

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by Cotboneman » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:58 pm

I've posted on another thread here about the JP Rath line of instruments, which are starting to get some notoriety here in the states. I have a JP Rath 3320 open wrap .547 bore tenor that I bought through Horn Guys. The workmanship is really outstanding on this instrument, and plays on par or even better than my old Bach 42F that was plagued with fit and finish and slide problems not long after I bought it new while I was in graduate school. That horn was purchased in the late 1980's. I sold it for a Getzen Eterna model several years later and was not altogether pleased with that one either. I've really not had a .547 horn since until I bought the JP Rath earlier this year.

My understanding is that these instruments are also made at the Jin Bao factory, but are made under the scrutiny of both the John Packer and Michael Rath companies, whose names go on the instruments. Also Horn Guys goes through them when they receive them as well. They told me that they send back horns that don't meet their standards.

I play the tenor in community bands and also have played the Sleeping Beauty ballet in the pit on it. Plays great and slots very well for me. No tuning issues and it came out of the case with a light, quick slide that is as refined as I have seen. There are some negatives though.

One is the case, which is a lightweight, padded gig case. I do not like this case, but I do understand a horn that sells for about $1600 US might need to cut some corners with its case. I also find that the F valve is tight and tends to freeze up it is left out in the stand a few days, as i keep my horns. I keep it well oiled.

I've also heard some good things about JP Rath's compensating and non-compensating euphoniums, which start around $2000 US and can get pricey with options.

As far as tubas go, I've seen their website and I do know that they make a full line of tubas. Who makes them I do not know, but I would not be surprised that there is a common Chinese source for these instruments as well.
User avatar
ghmerrill
Posts: 282
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:41 pm
Location: Central North Carolina

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by ghmerrill » Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:23 pm

I was really interested in a JP Rath bass before I went low ball on the Schiller. But even though Tuba Exchange is a John Packer dealer, and even though the JP people thought the TE had instruments to try, when I went up there they only had a couple of tenors. So I'm not sure how available these really are in the US. But maybe that's just the TE.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
CamelWorld
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:39 am

Re: Instruments made in China

Post by CamelWorld » Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:20 am

Wessex is great for how much you pay.
Post Reply

Return to “Instruments”