More tuba questions

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More tuba questions

Post by BflatBass » Wed Aug 15, 2018 11:37 pm

Someday I'd like the tuba to be my main double but that will be at least a year away. In the mean time I thought I'd try and get some opinions from any of you that play the tuba regularly and especially from those that main on bass trombone and double on tuba.
I'm wondering about the Wessex tubas and what opinions you all might have. I could be wrong but it seems the only place to get them new is from the manufacturer. Correct? They seem to be reasonably priced for what they are. But are they a good value? I'm also wondering about rotary valve verses piston valve and front piston verses "top" piston position. What are your favorites and why? And what's the difference between a 4/4, 5/4 and 6/4 tuba? Number of valves?
I only know valve positions for Bb tubas but if I find a great deal on another key tuba I can learn. I would only be using the instrument for community band use and maybe a college concert band or orchestra. And that's a pretty big maybe. Ultimately I'd like to use it in a traditional American jazz ensemble (say "dixie land" band) if I ever find one that needs a tuba player.
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Re: More tuba questions

Post by SimmonsTrombone » Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:38 am

The 4/4 etc. designation refers to the relative size of the horn. The bigger the first number, the larger the horn, though they are not exact measurements. Usually, the bigger the group, the bigger the horn, though not always. For what you’re talking about playing, a Bb should be fine. CC and F are usually used more in orchestras. Eb would be OK, too.
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Re: More tuba questions

Post by GabeLangfur » Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:08 am

The only direct experience I have with the Chinese-made tubas is a Mack Brass Mirafone 186 copy a student of mine had. The valve block soldering failed and needed an emergency repair. It was not a great horn.

Especially for Bb tubas, you can find great deals on older quality instruments. A Conn 4J or 5J, for example, is a small Bb piston valve instrument that works great in trad jazz settings, very well in tune and easy to play with a bigger sound than it looks like it should be able to give. Bb Mirafones go for less $$$ than their C counterparts. The King 2341 in both older and newer versions is a nice instrument that can be had for not too much money.
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Re: More tuba questions

Post by jpwell » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:19 am

I am doing where u are heading. I play tenor bass and for the last 3 years BBB an EEb tuba. I have tried and owned the cheapos. Played a Miraphone copy. Valves sucked, and caps kept stripping and coming unscrewed. Play comparison the cheapo was an air hog sound and was not resonant. I went with some used quality horns Mira 191 BBB and Meinl Weston 2141 EEb one is rotary one piston. I got both for a good price vs wanting pistons vs rotary.
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Re: More tuba questions

Post by hyperbolica » Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:45 am

I bought a Mack Brass BBb Hirschbrunner copy, but ultimately returned it because there was something funny going on with me not hearing the pitch. I think it's a problem with my hearing, because I couldn't distinguish the partials. Weird.

Then I got a Wessex 3/4 Eb. I'm in the process of selling that now, because I'm just not using it, and I think tuba isn't my thing. I think maybe an F cimbasso would be more my speed, but I'm not going to waste any more time/money scratching that itch. Learning Eb on valves isn't too bad if you dedicate some time to it, but after 6 months, it's still not as intuitive as Bb valves.

In terms of size, for band, I'd get a 4/4 or 5/4, depending on how much horn you want to lug around. 3/4 is ok for dixie, but not for concert band. 6/4 is probably overkill for almost everything.

Valve type, I'd get rotaries if I were to do it again. They seem to require less daily maintenance, and give easier to control articulations.

Chinese or something else? It really all depends on how much money you want to put into it. There are so many variables in tubas, researching the topic if you don't know anything can take a lot of time. Read the Tubenet forum, but be very careful about crazy prejudices that a lot of tuba players carry around for no reason. And you can't tell when they're joking (probably because they're never serious). I've heard people have as many problems with $15k german instruments as the $3k chinese ones. Personally, if I were to do it again, I'd probably get a nice safe used Miraphone 186. It seems to have great valves, good sound, great reputation, easy to learn Bb, manageable size, iconic shape, etc.

Then there are other things that you don't think of. Pistons typically have 4 or more spit valves, which always open on your shoes or pant legs. Rotaries generally have a single key. Some tubas have the bell at ear level, so you'll go asymmetrically deaf. That's what's nice about the 186 - the bell is tall, so its further from your ears. Also some tubas point one way and some point the other. This matters when it comes time for you to sit next to other tuba players or decide which side of the band you want to sit on. Tuba specs are way more complicated than trombone specs. You've got bore size, bell size, throat size, shank size, etc...
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Re: More tuba questions

Post by greenbean » Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:34 pm

I would be patient and buy a used German or American 4/4 BBb. Mira, B&S/VMI, MW, Rudy, King, or even Cerveny. Deals are out there and your patience will pay off many times over.
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