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Thread: Moving from Euphonium to Tuba

  1. #1

    Moving from Euphonium to Tuba

    I've been playing Euphonium for about 4 years, but for our next Areas competition (UK 4th sectioon) our conductor has asked me to switch over to BBb Bass. I've been playing it for about 7 weeks now and am slowly getting better on it, it was a bit of a shock at first! One thing I've noticed is with a lot of the notes between middle C and the next C up (treble clef) there seems to be a lot of room for an error in your pitching - if you're slightly out you get a really rumbling feedback from the instrument (best way I can think to describe it is Euphonium is like a piano keyboard, easy to hit the right note. The bass seems like someone spread the keys apart and put rumble strips in between them... if you slightly miss the note you really know about it). Apart from lots of practise (I've started using my Euphonium warmup routine on it) is there any other thing to think about to avoid this?

    Also any other tips (especially in playing bottom the G below middle C really loud? There's a lot of those Gs in our piece)



  2. #2
    Well, certainly the partials are closer together in that range on the BBb than on your euph, so that could be part of the issue. But what size mouthpiece are you using? Maybe it is too large. Some of our tuba players (I play with tuba, more than playing tuba) could opine about that or other possible causes.
    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
    Its a Denis Wick mouthpiece - has a 2 on the side. Feels huge compared with my SM4X on the euph!

  4. #4
    I think when I started on tuba, a Sovereign Eb, I used a Wick 5, a small tuba mouthpiece. After several months I moved to a Schilke 67. You may be on a mouthpiece that's too large for you.

    You might try long tones, starting at pp, going to f, and then back to pp. Start in you solid range and gradually move higher.
    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
    The "rumble strip" effect you mention is called a double buzz. It's what happens when your embouchure is trying to produce a pitch between a pair that the instrument will resonate at.

    The exercise to fix it is lip slurs. Start with a pitch you feel comfortable with, say third space C. Then hear the G below in your head. When you've got it there, slur down to it. Then hear the C below and slur down to it. So on up and down the partials.

    Don't forget to do lip slur exercises on other fingerings than just open. You'll find some notes in these series don't always want to speak (especially 1-2 and 3 in my experience)

    And always, with a tuba, use big slow air. When you think you're giving it enough air, give it 10% more.
    Adrian L. Quince
    Composer, Conductor, Euphoniumist

    Kanstul 976 - SM4U

  6. #6
    Thanks all for your advice

  7. #7
    This is something I have also dealt with, and am still dealing with. A switch from Euphonium to Eb Bass is fairly easy. Going to BBb contrabass is a whole different deal. It needs much "slower air". One of the "classic" mouthpieces for Contrabass tuba is the Conn Helleberg 120S, which has a nice big cup, but a somewhat smaller throat. You've really gotta relax and not try to force out the notes at first. It's a LONG instrument, so it takes a different kind of air stream to get it going.

    I have found "long tones" very helpful. Go up chromatically, and with each note, try to keep a good sound and avoid the double buzz you've been having. Your mouth is pretty much learning how to play a new instrument.
    Sterling / Perantucci 1065HGS Euphonium, 1952 B&H Imperial Eb Tuba, Yamaha YBB-631S BBb Tuba, and a bunch of trombones.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Central North Carolina
    I've never been able to use the 120S -- it seems to suck the air out of my lungs. Over time (about 20 years) I also came to prefer the bowl (German) style tuba mouthpieces to the Hellebergs, though my go-to-will-always-work-on-pretty-much-any-tuba is the Schilke 66 (a comparatively "small" Helleberg). Many tuba players use (or try to use) a mouthpiece that's simply too big for them. The Wick 2 is a good "standard" size for the BBb for many players. But you might consider a 3 -- at least try it. It will give you more control and won't hurt your range. If you're playing a typical BBb Brit compensator, I would stick with a Wick. For my Eb I've found that the Wicks just seem to work a lot better -- which came as a surprise to me. If you're using a non-comp, a Wick should work fine; but you might want to experiment with others. Again, don't get sucked into the "bigger is better" approach to BBb mouthpieces. I'd say try a Wick 3 or something like a Bach 25 to see if you get better comfort and control. If you need to at some later point, you can always move to something larger -- if you NEED to.

    Tuba is, in my experience, VERY different from euphonium; and you can't play it as just a "big euphonium" (just as you can't play euphonium simply as a "small tuba"). There's a lot more room for embouchure error in the larger mouthpieces, but you can also get away with more sloppiness in the middle and low registers. So concentration on embouchure is important to produce the best effect consistently. The whole feel of the instrument is different too, and that takes getting used to. The other recommendations in this thread are good pointers to addressing those issues.
    Last edited by ghmerrill; 02-25-2020 at 11:20 AM.
    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)


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