Posted by Jim McIntyr on the Smart Groups list:
I not only know the name, I've played one for about 6 years now. mine's a largish 4/4 BBb German-style instrument in raw brass with four rotary valves.
My understanding of the name is that the instrument was made by B&S in East Germany during the communist era. Some time around the 1970s these B&S instruments were imported into the U.S. by several different resellers. For each of these importers, a "stencil" name was created. B&S instruments exist with the stencil names:
Meister Gerhard Schneider
With some minor differences (e.g., I think that all of the Sonora and most of the Zeiss tubas I've seen were lacquered), I believe the horns are fundamentally the same. I'm not exactly sure which horns were imported for which reseller. Perhaps someone on the list can help to clarify that.
The BBb instrument has a distinctive tube wrap. The third and fourth valve slides are side by side completely behind the instrument. This pattern has now started to show up in some Chinese-made instruments and I believe legend has it that the Germans brought this instrument there in the early 1990s.
I know relatively little about the history of my particular instrument. I bought it at an antique store in the middle of nowhere and when I got it, it was missing the first valve slide and had an alto sax mouthpiece stuck onto the receiver.
My instrument originally had a six digit serial number stamped on the outside of the ferrule on the mouthpiece receiver. I do know that another local player owns a Schneider two serial numbers different. Again, my understanding is that few if any of the instruments made in East Germany during this period had serial numbers but that they were required for entry into the U.S.
My instrument plays reasonably well in tune, projects well, and has been a decent horn for me in my community bands. Several years ago I had the original mouthpiece receiver (which was just the leadpipe with a ferrule around it) replaced with a proper receiver. This noticeably improved the response of the instrument.
Basically, these horns were probably made sometime between 1965 and 1985, they play reasonably well and are not particularly uncommon (I've run across about 5 Schneiders and many more Sonora and Zeiss horns at TubaChristmases over the years, usually recognizing them by the wrap).
That said, I have no idea who Schneider or Zeiss were or whether they existed at all. For all I know they may have been employees at B&S, local orchestra players, or the cousins of the importers. . .
What else would you like to know?
Posted by Christian Klein on the Smart Groups list:
You'll find both Cerveny and B&S made Zeiss tubas.
The model of which Jim speaks is very nice, better in tune than a Mirafone 186. I played one recently at a friend's shop. It was fairly well dented, waiting for a overhaul prior to being resold. The valves were bone dry. It still played wonderfully. It had and F above the staff that just rang (almost as well as that note on my B&S F tuba).
I believe B&S still makes this model and now calls it the model 3101, described as BBb-Tuba ¾ "Model W. Hilgers" 4 rotary valves. Evidently somebody else thinks rather highly of it, too. ;^)
I purchased a VMI 3302 and it was a fantastic horn. One of the best BBbs I've ever played.