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Thread: Old, old, OLD, and trying to get back in.

  1. #1

    Old, old, OLD, and trying to get back in.

    I’m a retired music teacher, bought myself a plastic pBone at Christmas, and quickly realized that what was missing from my life was tuba/euphonium.
    I am of the generation that was told that “women don’t play tuba”, and instead WAS allowed to play bass clarinet REALLY WELL through H.S. and college, and became a voice major since “nobody majors on bass clarinet”. I had the usual single semester of orchestral brass in college.
    I am a competent sight reader and team player, and my goals for 2019 are first, to play in a very reasonable sounding local community band and second, to participate in December in one or both of two local TubaChristmases.
    Since I already have my plastic trombone, I could be talked into a plastic euphonium or tuba too, but realizing that they have limitations, I also look at dealers of real brass instruments online.
    I do need to address some infuriating physical limitations including deforming arthritis of my left pointer finger and slightly less inflammation in the middle finger of my right hand. No problem that I can imagine with either valves or rotors. I also look for light and small, and would love to know more about the Wessex Bubbie 5.
    Still looking for a low brass teacher, but seem to be progressing on the trombone. Still doing OKish on my own with my trombone.
    Doing this right is VERY Important to me. Any thoughts or suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,284
    Hi 'annreid'. Welcome to the forum. There are a number of professional female tubists now. Sexism is dead... or getting there anyway. Whether you decide on euphonium or tuba is up to you of course. Wessex makes some very fine euphs and tubas. Don't know much about the 'bubbie 5' however, sorry. Maybe Jonathan will chime in here.

    If your location on the east coast is the 'N.E. coast' (NJ, NY, etc) there should be lots of suggestions for private teachers.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed)
    El Cumbanchero (Rafael Hernández) cell phone video

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Anderson, Indiana
    Posts
    234
    For inspiration check out Carol Jantsch (Philadelphia Orchestra), Velvet Brown (Penn State U), and Dr. Deanna Swoboda (Arizona State U), all wonderful tubists who happen to be female. (The list is much, much longer, but this is a good place to start.)

  4. #4
    Welcome to the forum! (And to the world of low brass.)

    For your needs I would consider getting an old American euphonium with valves on the front. They are light and easy to blow, with a good sound. I think your fingers might be happier with the front valve arrangement than they would with the horns like mine, where you have your right hand more to the side.

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    A 3-valve model would be fine for most concert band playing, although you'd have to work at intonation on the low B natural (fingered 123, like 7th position on your trombone). Here is an excellent price ($245 or make offer) on an Olds 3-valve, including a case:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/F-E-Olds-Ab...A/223325828075





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    If you spend a little more you can get a horn with 4 valves, which fixes that intonation issue and lets you get the notes below low E (which are rarely called for in concert bands, and probably never in TubaChristmas music). The 4th valve adds a fair amount of weight. Here is a 4-valve King for a fair price of $750 if the bidding doesn't drive it up, and there is a make-offer button (no case is mentioned in the listing):

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/King-Euphon...d/223386925122
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  5. #5
    Hello Ann, I am a former music composition major who took a 38 year-long detour into information technology... A few years ago I started to dabble with high brass with mediocre results.... Last spring a friend of mine recommended I delve into lower brass, and I should look into the euphonium.... So, to celebrate my 65th birthday and my then upcoming retirement, I decided to regale myself with a Wessex EP104 compensating front 4-valve euphonium....

    https://wessex-tubas.com/collections...nt=42925566413

    ... And promptly fell head over heel in love with all things euphonium.... Of course, my little Wessex does not pretend to be an Adams E3 or a Miraphone M5050, yet, it is remarkably well built, and to my slightly rusted ears, has pretty good intonation, and certainly a lovely tembre.

    I had opted for the front action Festivo instead of the top piston Dolce because, having some minor arthritis in my right arm (Don't you love getting younger every year?! *Grins!*, I thought that a front action eupho would be comfortable... And it sure is, besides having a wonderful tone!

    Regards, Guido
    Euph - Wessex EP104 Festivo - SM4U
    Flugel - Kanstul 1525
    Trpt - Adams A4 LB
    Bb Cornet -Carolbrass CCR-7772R-GSS
    Eb Cornet - Carolbrass CCR-7775-GSS

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    2,039
    Let's put our cards on the table here: First, of course you need to get back into playing and you definitely should play tuba if it's at all possible. Second, I'm skeptical that you're as old as I am (now 71).

    To your question about the Wessex Bubbie ... My initial inclination and reaction to this is: "No, don't go there." I've never played one, but I've heard a similar "Mighty Midget" played (by another old codger friend of mine -- even older) and the results were not good. Just not good sound and projection. Lack of resonance and sound quality. But again, I haven't played one myself. Second, if you want to play in community band (as opposed mostly just for yourself and in small -- quintet or smaller -- groups), I doubt you'd be happy with it as an F tuba. And given Wessex's description of it, I'm REALLY skeptical of it as an Eb tuba for ANY purpose other than the most most expedient one of use while travelling. I just don't believe the hype on it in it's own description on the Wessex page. So that's mostly speculation, but I think rational speculation based on some lame second-hand experience. It's enough for me not to want to touch it -- definitely not without playing one as a trial.

    So ... alternatives?

    Some things to keep in mind (and without knowing your full physical limitations/concerns):


    1. You won't need any more than 3 valves on a BBb tuba. Really, for anything you're likely to encounter. When I had my Cerveny I ended up using the 4th valve very infrequently and instead pulling a slide to get other combinations in tune when needed.
    2. You CAN get along with a 3-valve Eb tuba for most band work. I CAN (with practice and effort) use my 1924 3-valve E-flat to play anything I've ever seen in a community band play list -- including the usual Holst and Vaughn Williams stuff. This requires learning to use the "ghost tones" that the Eb tubas tend to support so well. But even if you don't do that, you can play almost everything except for some passages now and then with the Eb -- or play those up an octave.
    3. In terms of weight, you probably won't be able to find a BBb or Eb that weighs anywhere near the advertised weight of the Bubbie, but Wessex (and others like Schiller) have BBb and Eb tubas in the 14 lb range, often made for middle school school students. I believe these would be of much more use than the Bubbie. Take a look at things like the (BBb) Wessex Imp and Stumpy and the (Eb) Junior Elf. Another real alternative for you MIGHT be the Wessex French C Tuba at 9.5 lbs. I say "might" because of your problem with hand arthritis. Also take a look at the Schiller Gentleman's 1/2 size Eb tuba (https://www.jimlaabsmusicstore.com/s...-12-size-tuba/). Do NOT look at the Schiller "Big Mini BBb Tuba". Shield your eyes from it. It will be very tempting. Run away.
    4. If you look around (often on Craigslist or Ebay or the Tubenet "for sale" section), you can sometimes find something good in the "vintage" American tuba area. I paid $250 for my Buescher 3-valve horn, but a bunch of sweat equity into it, and I use it at least every year for "patriotic performances". It's not the best tuba on the planet (never was), but I HAVE used it to play fully community band repertoire, it's a hoot to play, and once you get used to it, you can produce very good music with it. Every once in a while you can find much better similar horns for just a bit more money (typically < $1000) since no one wants those old 3-valve horns any longer. Idiots. Yeah, without the 4th valve they are challenging a bit in terms of intonation and range But the old BBb horns don't have that problem. So a small (e.g., "3/4 size") American tuba (Buescher, Conn, King, ...) is another real alternative for you if you stumble across one. A word of warning if you go in this direction: be aware that prior to, say, the mid 1930s, pitch of brass instruments was kind of random. There were "high pitch" and "low pitch". High pitch is above A=440 and you should stay away from those. Low pitch can mean either A=440 OR LOWER. My Buescher was pitched at 435 and I cut it to 440. You don't want to get involved in that. So when looking at "vintage" (early 20th century) tubas, be sure of how they're pitched.


    I think that's about all the worthwhile advice/suggestions I have. I think I understand what your situation is, and in it I'd focus (as you seem to be doing), on a relatively light instrument (definitely a smaller bell!) that's pleasantly playable given your arthritis problem (I have pretty significant shoulder arthritis). But try not to sacrifice playability too much for weight. It will be a compromise.

    One other thing: Get a tuba stand and use it. It will change your life since you won't have to support and wrestle with the horn. I made my own, but there are decent and usable ones on the market. Don't leave home without one. A lot more people (even young people) are starting to use these now.
    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)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    2,039
    Here's another alternative if you have the financial resources ... Go the route of Charles Daellenbach.

    He's in his mid-70s and still running around on stage and doing gymnastics with his (relatively small size) CC tuba. But he's got a CARBON FIBER bell on it!! He also uses a Kelly plastic mouthpiece, but I doubt it's part of his weight reduction approach.
    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. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Indianapolis area
    Posts
    824
    Mack Brass is coming out with a 3/4-size BB Flat tuba with four front-action valves.
    That would also be an excellent option for a returning player--light weight yet with the helpful fourth valve.
    Jim Williams N9EJR (love 10 meters)
    Yamaha 642-II Neo, Wedge 103E, SM3.5
    Yamaha 321, Yamaha 621 Baritone
    Conn 50H trombone
    Blue P-bone
    www.soundcloud.com/jweuph

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    2,039
    Interesting. I always like the looks of the 3/4 BBb Tom used to sell and then dropped.
    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)

  10. #10
    Welcome to this forum. I have and do play a Bubbie 5 Wessex Tuba. I play it in Eb and it does play very well. I've played it as an F too, but not as much. It also does well. With that said, I would say that it has limited use in a community band setting. I have played it there and in quintet, but it does suffer from projection. I play and Eb almost exclusively and am able to cover all the community band, orchestra and quintet parts I've encountered. I would encourage you to try an Eb. If I was going to suggest to you and Eb that would cover almost everything you might encounter, I would suggest a 4 valved horn. There are several situations where the the extra range over 3 valves is very useful. If weight is an issue, consider one of the smaller horns from Wessex or Mack Brass. They will serve you well. A C or and BBb would likely be larger and heavier. I also play baritone in a community band. The parts are more interesting but harder. You tend to have some melody and good counter melodies. A euphonium or baritones are lighter than the Eb tubas and a little easier to carry around. Any one of these instruments are fun to play. Get what interests you or check with the band you'd like to join and see what they need.

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