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Thread: Wessex Eb Bombino Tuba - What a Great Tuba!

  1. #21
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    Dec 2011
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    Regarding a tuba with a bore smaller than .7" as "not a real tuba" would be quite a shock to tuba players generally since it treats most American and British tubas over the past century as not "real". This includes many (even most?) classic Conn, Olds, Buescher, King, and Besson tubas.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by hyperbolica View Post

    Back on topic, I was wondering if anyone had the opportunity to test the Bombino against its larger siblings, Champion and Solo, and how would you compare them? At some point I'll be able to calibrate all these opinions with some personal experience.
    I have not had a chance to do such a test. But based on tuba experience, I'd expect the differences you'd see would be:


    • The degree of "projection" of the sound -- particularly noticeable in large halls or outdoors. A larger bore and a larger bell just pitches sound better.
    • The "gravitas" of the sound -- which means, basically, richness in the low range.
    • The ease of playing (articulation, speed, sound quality, and effort) in the contra bass range, and particularly in the compensating register. With a compensating instrument, bore size starts to really matter in that range because of the extra tubing involving and resulting pressure resistance.
    • The ease and tone quality in the high range (above the staff). This is where the smaller horn really sings and the larger one loses focus.
    • Feeling of confidence and satisfaction -- and effort -- in supporting a large ensemble if you're the ONLY tuba. Even with the Champion, doing this in a 45+ member community band is taxing. If you have one other section mate (with a CC or BBb horn, preferably), life is much better. But with the smaller horn, it's even more difficult to hold up that end of the ensemble by yourself.
    • By the same token, in small ensembles (quintets, etc.), the smaller horn can work and fit in better.


    All of these involve trade-offs, and none should deter you. I think I'd not want to be the tuba in an orchestra with the Solo or the Bombino, but I'd go for pretty much anything else.

    Mouthpiece makes a difference. For me the Wick 3XL is just absolutely the best, hands down. If you get a chance, try one. The Wick mouthpieces are particularly well suited for these Eb British-style horns -- and were in fact designed for them. Wessex used to include a Wick (generally a 2L, I think) with their horns, but I believe went in a different direction, I would guess, as a cost-cutting/profit margin move. As a trombone player, I believe you'd find the 2 size a bit big. For me, it's a little too big -- but sometimes I shift to it for special occasions (some Wagner, Sousa, etc.). It takes all the air I've got, but produces BBb-like performance in the contra range. And I lose the focus and singing quality above the staff.

    Be sure you go to one or more Tuba Christmas events this year, and have a really good time.

    One other thing ... I find that if I switch back and forth between bass trombone and tuba, it takes me a while (and I mean more than a few minutes) to lock back into hitting the pitches and right partials. When I committed to really learning bass trombone this past year, I just put the tuba away and didn't touch it. You may experience the same problem. Just be aware that it may take a bit of effort to do those switches happily. If I had to (e.g., in something like a pit orchestra) switch back in forth during a performance, I could do it -- but I wouldn't be at all happy with my sound/performance on either instrument. But maybe that's just a comment on my own skill.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  3. For the "real tuba" comment, I started my search for a tuba getting a lot of advice and just listening to a guy who is a great tubist, and went to the same music school I went to, so his comments carried a lot of weight with me. Unfortunately, he had some really strong prejudices about various tubish topics, and I might have stereotyped tubists to all have similar views. He had me playing a 4/4 Bb, which he of course thought was small, but it just didn't work for me because the pitches were too nebulous, and there wasn't any way to connect with the Euphonium, my only tubish point of reference. Small Eb I'm sure looks like a toy to him, he called them obsolete. He was coming from a background as big orchestral player. Alex 163 preferred ax.

    Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    I have not had a chance to do such a test. But based on tuba experience, I'd expect the differences you'd see would be:


    • The degree of "projection" of the sound -- particularly noticeable in large halls or outdoors. A larger bore and a larger bell just pitches sound better.
    • The "gravitas" of the sound -- which means, basically, richness in the low range.
    • The ease of playing (articulation, speed, sound quality, and effort) in the contra bass range, and particularly in the compensating register. With a compensating instrument, bore size starts to really matter in that range because of the extra tubing involving and resulting pressure resistance.
    • The ease and tone quality in the high range (above the staff). This is where the smaller horn really sings and the larger one loses focus.
    • Feeling of confidence and satisfaction -- and effort -- in supporting a large ensemble if you're the ONLY tuba. Even with the Champion, doing this in a 45+ member community band is taxing. If you have one other section mate (with a CC or BBb horn, preferably), life is much better. But with the smaller horn, it's even more difficult to hold up that end of the ensemble by yourself.
    • By the same token, in small ensembles (quintets, etc.), the smaller horn can work and fit in better.


    All of these involve trade-offs, and none should deter you. I think I'd not want to be the tuba in an orchestra with the Solo or the Bombino, but I'd go for pretty much anything else.

    Mouthpiece makes a difference. For me the Wick 3XL is just absolutely the best, hands down. If you get a chance, try one. The Wick mouthpieces are particularly well suited for these Eb British-style horns -- and were in fact designed for them. Wessex used to include a Wick (generally a 2L, I think) with their horns, but I believe went in a different direction, I would guess, as a cost-cutting/profit margin move. As a trombone player, I believe you'd find the 2 size a bit big. For me, it's a little too big -- but sometimes I shift to it for special occasions (some Wagner, Sousa, etc.). It takes all the air I've got, but produces BBb-like performance in the contra range. And I lose the focus and singing quality above the staff.

    Be sure you go to one or more Tuba Christmas events this year, and have a really good time.

    One other thing ... I find that if I switch back and forth between bass trombone and tuba, it takes me a while (and I mean more than a few minutes) to lock back into hitting the pitches and right partials. When I committed to really learning bass trombone this past year, I just put the tuba away and didn't touch it. You may experience the same problem. Just be aware that it may take a bit of effort to do those switches happily. If I had to (e.g., in something like a pit orchestra) switch back in forth during a performance, I could do it -- but I wouldn't be at all happy with my sound/performance on either instrument. But maybe that's just a comment on my own skill.
    Thanks for all that. Definitely want to get in on Tuba Christmas, especially now that I can kind of read music for the Eb and relate it to notes.

    For ensembles, I think I might sit in on a trombone quartet, or brass quintet, or dixieland group, where I think the Bombino will be in its element. Some time later I may try my hand at a bigger Bb again to play in an orchestra, but I'm not there yet.

    Your comments about switching between bone and tuba are interesting. I've found that I can switch back and forth immediately, and that my bass bone playing improves after playing tuba. The Eb tuba works well, but the big Bb didn't because all the overtones were about the same intensity as the fundamental, and I couldn't tell where I was in the overtone series - I got lost in the partials. The Eb is much better about hearing the notes, the only problem is relative pitch. I play a low Eb, and it doesn't feel at all like a low Bb on trombone, so I do get a little lost. If I spend more time on the Eb, I'll be able to tell the partials by feel, the way I do on trombone.

  4. #24
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    Central North Carolina
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    Your tuba friend is pretty classic -- at least in academic contexts. The only puzzling thing is that he's not a CC fanatic. Big honking tubas have their place, and nothing else will do the trick when needed. Even John Fletcher gave up his Eb in terms of a big CC in certain orchestral settings (like Wagner). But if you want to here some classic orchestral Eb tuba playing, go on Youtube and listen to him.

    And you're right about a given pitch not "feeling" the same on the two instruments. That's what screws me up most. I think that's mostly mouthpiece size and the conical vs. cylindrical bore difference having an effect on timbre.

    Not sure how a tuba would fit into a trombone quartet. You'd lose the trombone quartet sound with that big conical bore horn in the mix. That's one major reason that only conical brass are permitted in Tuba Christmas events. No trombones!!
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  5. #25
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    Sturgis, South Dakota
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    ...Not sure how a tuba would fit into a trombone quartet. You'd lose the trombone quartet sound with that big conical bore horn in the mix. That's one major reason that only conical brass are permitted in Tuba Christmas events. No trombones!!
    I wish that were true for my local Tuba Christmas group. Every year a darned trombone player (the same one) shows up and the Tuba Christmas "staff" let him join in. I keep objecting to this and ask them to tell this person that this is for Euphoniums and Tubas ONLY, PERIOD!! They always say before the event that they will enforce this, then the fellow shows up, and they let him in. Just really ticks me off. And he sticks out like a sore thumb. Maybe someone out there knows how to solve this. Are the Tuba Christmas police anywhere when you need them? Can our local Tuba Christmas franchise be disenfranchised? Of course, then the rest of us couldn't play. I know, this sounds like I am a big "Bah Humbug" person, I'm really not. I just wish trombones know where they belong (and don't).
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  6. Quote Originally Posted by John Morgan View Post
    I wish that were true for my local Tuba Christmas group. Every year a darned trombone player (the same one) shows up and the Tuba Christmas "staff" let him join in. I keep objecting to this and ask them to tell this person that this is for Euphoniums and Tubas ONLY, PERIOD!! They always say before the event that they will enforce this, then the fellow shows up, and they let him in. Just really ticks me off. And he sticks out like a sore thumb. Maybe someone out there knows how to solve this. Are the Tuba Christmas police anywhere when you need them? Can our local Tuba Christmas franchise be disenfranchised? Of course, then the rest of us couldn't play. I know, this sounds like I am a big "Bah Humbug" person, I'm really not. I just wish trombones know where they belong (and don't).
    Let him in, but loan him a euphonium. Or worse, a non-Bb tuba. With sticky valves. And a missing second valve slide.

  7. #27
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    The conical brass thing was really part of Harvey Phillips' vision and goal with Tuba Christmas. To violate it seems both senseless and disrespectful. To violate it repeatedly for the same "offender" seems senseless and cowardly. The idea of a loaner is a good one (there are certainly enough old euphs/baritones around in playable shape). Then: "We really strive to enforce the true concept of Tuba Christmas here and so aren't allowing anything outside the tuba family of instruments. But here's a horn you can use if you like." Also note that this forbids the odd guy who shows up with a serpent, an ophicleide, a Russian Bassoon, ... I've seen it happen and it seems to be regarded as "cute", though it's obviously just an attention-getting device -- and in practice it doesn't matter much because those things can't be heard very well over a clutch of tubas. But I would remain steadfast in not extending "tuba" to "tuba predecessor (under one interpretation or another)". There is some question as to whether flugel horns should be allowed, but (on the usual physical/structural criteria, and considering the inclusion of alto horns) I'm inclined to see them as soprano tubas.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  8. #28
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    Apr 2014
    Location
    Sturgis, South Dakota
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    I like the idea of lending this chap a euphonium. I will suggest this to the Tuba Christmas staff. I will also put the Tuba Christmas staff on notice. If they let him in next year, I will be taking my euphonium and going home. I know, grow up John. But it should be what it is supposed to be. And it is not hard at all to tell anyone who shows up with the wrong instrument, sorry, but this is for tubas/sousaphones and euphoniums/baritones. Always has been, always will be. And if the staff was smart, they would use the email addresses, which they get each year, to send out a notice to everyone that the event will be for tuba family instruments only, no trombones, no trumpets, no clarinets, etc.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  9. #29
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    Mar 2017
    Location
    Sacramento, CA area
    Posts
    128
    In my opinion, this all sounds a bit "bah humbug" or worse, "I'm taking my toys and going home." Remember, it is a Christmas event, and so people want the "Peace on earth and good will toward men" feel to predominate. As a musician, I know I like to find any opportunity at all to play and hang out with fellow musicians. In this trombonist's mind, this may be all he is doing. Offering him a loaner helps send the message that he is welcome, just his choice of instrument is not the thing for the event of the day. And yes, sending out a message before hand to the emailing list reminding everyone of the vision for the event (tuba family only) and Christmas spirit is a good idea as well.

    Are there any similar events featuring trombones or tenor/low brass in general? Perhaps a personal email with information about an event fitting his chosen instrument would be a good idea, but tact would also be important.

    In the mean time, does anyone know about a Tuba Christmas style event in Northern California? If so, please forward the details to me. I would be interested in learning more.

    Sara Hood (Baritone in Sacramento, CA)

  10. I hate to ask this, (I played in 10 Tuba Christmases this year) but what's the opinion of a British style baritone? I ask because it's cylindrical.

    KKORO

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