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Thread: Doubling on Tuba: Instrument Choice

  1. Doubling on Tuba: Instrument Choice

    I am for the most part, a tenor and bass trombone player. I finally got the itch for a Tuba, mainly so I don't have to deal with out of tune tuba players in community groups anymore. I went to Dillon Music, and tried out a bunch of tubas. Previously I had gone to Baltimore brass a few years back, tried out a King 2341, and was just not able to really play it at all.

    This time, I was trying out a Yamaha YBB631 and YBB632 for part of the time. These are both 3+1 compensating tubas in BBb, and I was using a Helleberg 7b for most of the playing. I have a 120S but I think it's just too big for me.

    Anyway, I could not really get the notes to center, and even the better 632 just felt "stuffy" and ponderous.

    In the other room, they had a kinda beat up YEB-321 in Eb, so I tried to play that with the 7b. Well, it was night and day. Notes came out. Notes slotted. Notes SOUNDED GOOD. Even though I am not a fan of 4 valves in a row (weak pinky finger), it was actually enjoyable to play it.

    So, I'm really just trying to figure out if this is typical. Does BBb just take longer to get used to? Should I figure that Eb is just going to work better for me and stick with that? Any advice would be great. I'm really a fan of the 3+1 british setup, like on my Euphonium.
    Sterling / Perantucci 1065HGS Euphonium, Yamaha YBB-631S BBb Tuba, and a bunch of trombones.

  2. #2
    It depends on what you want to do with tuba.

    In my case I chose a fairly large 3+1 Eb, a Besson Sovereign (from the 1980's; new when I bought it). It works very well for brass quintet or for the Eb parts in brass band. It doesn't have the mellow depth of a large BBb of course, but you could get by in a band or orchestra if you were a more accomplished tubist than I. The late John Fletcher would use his Besson Eb in orchestra, but would switch to a big German horn when Mahler/etc. was on the program.

    Besson still makes such a model, of course, and so do others, including Wessex. I've thought about selling my own Sovereign and buying the smaller Wessex Eb because my back does not enjoy the very heavy Besson when I'm moving it around and in/out of the car. But I have not tried the Wessex version, although I assume it will be a nice horn. (Wessex makes 2 sizes of Eb 3+1 tubas.)

    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  3. #3
    I'd suggest that there might be a reason why, outside of the brass band world where their distinctive sound is an advantage, there aren't many tuba players who gravitate towards compensating 3+1 BBb tubas. If you wanted to stick with BBb, I'd give a German-style rotary instrument or an american-style front-action 4+1 non-compensating piston instrument a try.
    --
    Barry

  4. #4
    Wessex might be a very good choice. They currently have 4 Eb compensating models, 3 of which are the 3+1 variety, the other is a front valve 4 in line model. I own the Wessex Bombino model Eb. It is a compact version of the Eb tuba. I like it a lot. The intonation is off a little on a few notes, but alternate fingerings settles it down fine. It works really well in smaller ensembles like brass quintets or other brass ensembles. It would work in band, but not sure it would provide the total gravitas that might be needed for really big pieces if you are the only tuba, but it would be fine in a section of tubas in band. This is a very nice horn and at an exceptional price. And as for reading the music, you can play Eb tuba by reading the bass clef part as if it were in treble clef and add 3 sharps. If you read tenor clef already, then probably not too hard to do.
    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)

  5. Quote Originally Posted by bbocaner View Post
    I'd suggest that there might be a reason why, outside of the brass band world where their distinctive sound is an advantage, there aren't many tuba players who gravitate towards compensating 3+1 BBb tubas. If you wanted to stick with BBb, I'd give a German-style rotary instrument or an american-style front-action 4+1 non-compensating piston instrument a try.
    I tried out an older Miraphone 186 and a King 2431UB for a bit, and I Found the same issue. The "shorter" instruments just seem to work better. There was a Norwegian Star there, but it was brand new, and I wasn't about to mess with it. Also, even without using the +1 valve, the 631 and 632 still had that same feel the other BBb instruments did.

    If I play tuba, it will most likely be in a brass band setting, wind ensemble, or in a community orchestra, where there are usually not nearly enough string players. While a BBb or CC may be ideal for some of those pieces, a smaller tuba would definitely match better in terms of volume.

    I'm favoring the 3+1 setup, mainly because I don't have great control of my right pink finger, and it's rather weak. Good enough for typing and regular things, but not much else. Also since I am learning Euphonium currently in both bass and treble clef, the 3+1 setup would be ideal for Brass band. Also, the Eb would use the part of my brain that plays Alto trombone.
    Sterling / Perantucci 1065HGS Euphonium, Yamaha YBB-631S BBb Tuba, and a bunch of trombones.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    580
    I'm primarily a tuba player but am now focusing more on my Euphonium and Trombone playing. Playing a large BBb just takes time. It is a different approach from Euphonium and even Eb tuba. An Eb tuba would fit very well with the groups that you mention (brass band, community orchestra, etc.). If you were playing in a large wind ensemble/community band with other tuba players it would work well. Where an Eb tuba would lack would be if you were the sole player or playing in a weak section then the Eb may not provide the firm foundation needed for these ensembles. Its a different airstream as well. I've had to adjust (and still am working on it) with how I approach my Euphonium playing. As John points out the reading can be easy depending upon your background and whether you want to transpose of just learn the fingerings from scratch. Daily reading of routine maintenance playing can help expedite this. (long tones, scales, etudes, etc.) Best wishes in your search!
    John 3:16

    Mack Brass Euphonium
    Conn Victor 5H Trombone
    Yamaha 354 Trombone
    Mack Brass 200S BBb Tuba

  7. The BBb tubas, even the smaller bore ones, just do play differently I guess. It's a lot longer tube to get vibrating, and it's so easy to pour in a TON of air. Tomorrow I'm going to go back down and visit with that YBB-631 to see if maybe I can adjust.
    Last edited by tbonesullivan; 09-27-2019 at 06:31 PM.
    Sterling / Perantucci 1065HGS Euphonium, Yamaha YBB-631S BBb Tuba, and a bunch of trombones.

  8. Well, after playing on the Ybb-631 a bunch, I kinda bonded with it. Matt at Dillon gave me some good pointers, and I took it home with me. Now I begin the process in earnest of learning how to slow down my air stream.
    Sterling / Perantucci 1065HGS Euphonium, Yamaha YBB-631S BBb Tuba, and a bunch of trombones.

  9. #9
    Well, after playing on the Ybb-631 a bunch, I kinda bonded with it. Matt at Dillon gave me some good pointers, and I took it home with me. Now I begin the process in earnest of learning how to slow down my air stream.

    So how is this process going?

  10. Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    Well, after playing on the Ybb-631 a bunch, I kinda bonded with it. Matt at Dillon gave me some good pointers, and I took it home with me. Now I begin the process in earnest of learning how to slow down my air stream.

    So how is this process going?
    It's going. Currently I'm still flip/flopping back and forth between a Helleberg 120S and 7B. The 120S is wider and bigger inside, with a smaller throat, while the 7B is narrower, but has a wider throat. I get a much better sound on the 120S, but I can't nail the notes as well on the first try. I'm thinking about picking up a Yamaha 67C4, which is the mouthpiece that the horn shipped with. It's got a more bowl shape too it.

    It is however a great horn. The valves were a bit sticky at first, but now they have really gotten used to moving again. I don't think it was played much in the past few years.
    Sterling / Perantucci 1065HGS Euphonium, Yamaha YBB-631S BBb Tuba, and a bunch of trombones.

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