Is there a good BBb contra?

Post Reply
User avatar
MoominDave
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:23 am

Is there a good BBb contra?

Post by MoominDave » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:39 am

I have a friend who wishes to purchase one. He's a BBb tuba player in our brass band, and an absolute horse of a man - doesn't train but can lift a 200 kg weight. Once went 40 days without sleep. A gentle giant - this is not someone who will experience any physical challenges with a BBb contra.

He doesn't need it for any gigs, but has been borrowing my Mirafone BBb/FF for the last year or so, and enjoying very much playing it at home. However, I need it back now (realising I had better practise it a bit before Gurrelieder at the end of August...), and he's looking to fill the void...
He specifically wants one in the low key - I've made recommendations for F contra (I suggested Rath - their R90 F contra is excellent and he likes Rath basses), but he prefers BBb. He knows that F is usually quite a bit easier to play, and still wants BBb. He's a BBb tuba specialist - he's comfortable on the long tube.

Far be it from me to discourage a true enthusiast, so I'd like to make some suggestions as to where he could look. However, my contra is the only modern BBb trombone I've ever tried, so I'm short of reference points. I wouldn't recommend one to match mine (much as he loved it) - it's not the most tonally stable trombone ever built. The only other modern maker of a BBb contra that springs to mind is Thein - has anyone ever tried theirs? I'm not a fan of the Thein F contra or any of their basses I've run across (only a couple), finding them all a bit hard to focus, but that doesn't mean that my friend might not like them more (and the craftmanship is second to none). I also can't find the Thein price-list on their website any more. Has it become an "If you have to ask, you can't afford it" kind of thing? :-)

Looking at the Miraphone website, I see that they make a double-valve contra in CC, which might conceivably be a suitable option - has anyone tried one of these?

Then - second-hand - not many contras come up used, but those that do tend to be interesting. Anyone got anything out there?
User avatar
Matt K
Posts: 314
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:34 pm

Re: Is there a good BBb contra?

Post by Matt K » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:58 am

One option might be to go with an F and have one of the valves made in BBb and then reverse the rotor on it so that it is ascending. That way he has an "F" attachment that actually goes up so could be nice for higher range stuff. I had an alto like that which was surprisingly nice playing despite going through the valves. It being built right goes a long way towards that goal which if they're contemplating Thein... they can probably afford for it to be built well.

A contra is on my bucket list for sure and if I were to pull the proverbial trigger on one... I'm thinking about going that route myself... need a great bass first though personally so that's a number of years down the proverbial road!
User avatar
MoominDave
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:23 am

Re: Is there a good BBb contra?

Post by MoominDave » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:09 am

I told him how much a new Thein F contra was last time I checked, and he did wince a bit :-) Said he'd have to save a bit longer when I guesstimated that one must be about £15k by now. It would be best to keep suggestions within the 4-digit GBP range, I think - say up to $15k equivalent at the biggest stretch to put it in USD, or €12k in EUR.

Not sure he's going to be keen on an avant-garde valve setup, to be honest, but it's an idea. Sure Rath would manufacture one that way if they were paid enough for it.
blast
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:46 am

Re: Is there a good BBb contra?

Post by blast » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:34 am

Short answer no... no decent ones out there. Long answer.... Rath might build one but as a one off I would guess you would need to wave about 20K at him. Other custom shops might bite but the result is unknowable.

Chris
User avatar
JohnL
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:01 am
Contact:

Re: Is there a good BBb contra?

Post by JohnL » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:42 am

Sell him your BBb and buy yourself an F. Everyone's happy...

and broke. :twisted:
User avatar
MoominDave
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:23 am

Re: Is there a good BBb contra?

Post by MoominDave » Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:47 am

blast wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:34 am
Short answer no... no decent ones out there. Long answer.... Rath might build one but as a one off I would guess you would need to wave about 20K at him. Other custom shops might bite but the result is unknowable.

Chris
I don't think that £20k is on the table, but I'll chat about it with my friend. It would certainly be an extremely cool thing to commission Rath (say) to prototype a BBb contra. In that kind of process, how much does one specify? Does one say "Make me a BBb contra with <valve layout>" and sit back, or does one also say things like "I like <xxx> sounds and responses and admire <yyy> bass trombone design"? Maybe going as far as "I reckon .578 would be a good bore size with the fourth leg increasing to .594"?

Personally, I would use a spare £20k to build a room to put trombones in... But if he wanted to go this route I would be very keen to be involved. However, I suspect that it's unlikely.
Last edited by MoominDave on Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
MoominDave
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:23 am

Re: Is there a good BBb contra?

Post by MoominDave » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:32 am

JohnL wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:42 am
Sell him your BBb and buy yourself an F. Everyone's happy...

and broke. :twisted:
This isn't the silliest idea anyone's ever had, and it has crossed my mind...

Given that we're having building work done at the moment though, I think that what would happen would be that I'd sell him my BBb, and then the temporary funds would get sucked into the building project... Let's see where we stand next year.
sf105
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 12:28 pm

Re: Is there a good BBb contra?

Post by sf105 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:47 am

Or perhaps talk to Wessex? Apparently their new contra is much better than the first version.
johnnymack
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 10:48 am

Re: Is there a good BBb contra?

Post by johnnymack » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:10 pm

Brass Ark has a "One Of a Kind " BBbb made by Brad Close for Noah Gladstone. Go to Brass Ark's Facebook page and check it out.
User avatar
MoominDave
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:23 am

Re: Is there a good BBb contra?

Post by MoominDave » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:56 am

johnnymack wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:10 pm
Brass Ark has a "One Of a Kind " BBbb made by Brad Close for Noah Gladstone. Go to Brass Ark's Facebook page and check it out.
It's a beautiful instrument - but not for sale, I don't think?
User avatar
Burgerbob
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:10 pm

Re: Is there a good BBb contra?

Post by Burgerbob » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:31 pm

The Miraphone is sadly the best one on the market.

I'm in possession of one right now. It's actually not nearly as bad as I was led to believe, and a little easier to play than a friend's (his is all red brass- mine is all yellow).

It's still not great, and other than a couple recordings I've put down on it I'm not sure if I would ever play with people on it.
Yup, the same burgerbob!
Post Reply