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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2015

    Wessex French C Tuba TC 236 P

    Hi all, here is a first short review on my recent purchase, the Wessex french C tuba TC-236P-S, an exact reproduction of the original 1930 small French tuba in C, with the difference that the third slide now has a normal length of one and a half tones instead of the two tones of the original. This choice of mine might seem a bit anachronistic or at least "strange", but it was due to the fact that I wanted an instrument in C in order to play the parts written in the bass clef without using the mezzo soprano transport with which I have some difficulties and also the curiosity to play an instrument used in the orchestra until the middle of the last century to deal with tuba bass parts in the high register. The instrument arrived well packaged, inside a nice semi-rigid case, with reinforcements to protect the bell, with handle and shoulder straps, a front pocket with key lock and a rear zip pocket to contain the music parts, equipped from two mouthpieces, one with euphonium cup and one for tuba, cloth, oil, pencil, springs and spare guides plus a black cap with the inscription Wessex and the dragon emblem. Once the case was opened, the French tuba immediately made a good impression on me: when compared to a classic euphonium, it looks like a small, squat, a little chubby boy. The silver plating has been impeccably done, it has no scratches or imperfections, the valves are clean and perfectly sliding as well as the slides. Ergonomics are optimal, with the three valves for the left hand placed, compared to the euphonium immediately behind the section of the third valve tube and in front of the main tube, so as to make it easy to use even for people with a small build and with small hands. The metal with which it was made is consistent, with the bell diameter of 260 mm, the thickness of the plate 0,6 mm made in a single piece hammered by hand. The weight is quite substantial, 4.395 gr. without mouthpiece. When it arrived, despite being in a hurry, I could not resist the temptation to make four notes immediately: a serious mistake. Trying a new instrument, moreover in a key never played before and in the cold of the cellar, gave me the impression that the instrument sounded strange, very low in pitch and out of tune. When, after a couple of days, I calmly tested it thoroughly for a couple of hours in an environment at an optimal temperature of 22 ° kelvin, the general intonation arrives, with the main slide all inserted at A = 440: it would be useful have a shorter main slide, in order to reach A = 442, the reference pitch that is adopted in all the bands in which I play.The sound comes out very free, beautiful and warm, at the limit completely comparable to that of my Prestige, slightly clearer than the New standard, I would say a tenor tuba sound. As for the intonation it is quite good, all the notes are centered in the range of a few cents, except for the 5th partial which comes out very low, but easily adjusted with the lips or with the alternative positions, while the sixth, very high on the Bessons euphoniums, is in tune here. At the beginning it took me a while to tune the lips and brain with the new tonality: when you think of a note to play, the brain commands the lips in the right position in which to make them vibrate and, hearing a sound a higher pitch than usual it tends to make it go down but, after a little practice, everything becomes normal. For now I have not yet explored the lower end of the range in the tuba range, limiting myself to the fundamental. On the other hand, I'm not going to play the tuba parts, but to stick to those of the euphonium, with another fun instrument to use as an alternative. There is also an interesting discovery that I made: by holding down the 5th valve and pulling out the slides of the other valves adequately, the chubby boy tunes perfectly in Bb making it a euphonium to all intents and purposes. I took him to rehearsal with the band last Friday and the “guy” blended seamlessly with the other two Bessons, a Prestige and a Sovereign from my chair mates. Overall I am very satisfied with my new toy and I congratulate Wessex for having exhumed an instrument of the past destined for oblivion and for the excellent workmanship of the same that I bought for a very competitive price: € 3500 including taxes, duty and freight (Wessex has recently made free shipping to Europe) are, in my opinion, a great price for an instrument with six pistons and all the bore needed to make it.

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    Last edited by franz; 11-14-2021 at 01:03 PM.
    Besson Prestige 2052, 3D+ K&G mouthpiece; JP373 baritone,4B modified K&G mouthpiece; Bach 42GO trombone, T4C K&G mouthpiece; Besson New Standard 3 compensated valves 1974, 3D+ K&G modified mouthpiece; Wessex French C tuba 3D+ K&G modified mouthpiece.


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