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Thread: Bass Baritonium ???

  1. Bass Baritonium ???

    I'm trying to start a project. I want to create something between a baritone horn and a bass trombone. The need for this is that the physical requirements of the bass trombone are wearing on me, and I need something easier to hold and play. A tuba seems too much. F cimbasso might be close, but its so ungainly. So it has to have the range of a bass trombone, but the sound can be a little darker than a normal bass bone, so something in the baritone range, but probably not as dark as a euphonium. If that makes any sense.

    I'm not sure where to start sourcing parts, but I'm thinking a large bore non-compensating piston valve set. Maybe a 5th rotary valve. Large shank (bass trombone mouthpiece) leadpipe. A 10-11" forward facing bell. Not sure if it should be in Bb or F. It would need a range of F an octave below the bass clef to F an octave above the bass clef, with an emphasis on playability in the lower notes. I guess I'm looking for something with a large bore, but not sure where to look. What would be a large bore euphonium model with 4 non-compensating valves that I could economically scrap for parts?

    I started to think this was sounding a lot like a double wagner tuba, but I'm not sure I understand what that is or how it's pitched. Saying "it's the same as a french horn" isn't really helpful, since I don't understand that either. For example I know F and Bb, but is F above Bb or the other way around? Is the Bb trumpet Bb or trombone Bb? and the F is like F tuba or something else?

    Am I just describing a Wessex Bubbie 5? or is that really just a useless novelty? Is it more a bass baritone than an F tuba?
    Last edited by hyperbolica; 03-25-2022 at 03:02 PM.

  2. Howdy

    Might a trombonium work? But it probably doesn't have enough of a lower range. Might you be interested in my "like-new" 6 pound Wessex travel euphonium? I bought it about 20 months ago and have played it less than an hour. I'm selling it for half the price of a new one.


  3. #3
    So I don't really have a ton of experience with exactly these sorts of instruments to say what will definitely work, but I can say what won't work and give some tips here and there.

    RE: Trombonium
    No. The Trombonium is actually a really good instrument when provided with the correct sort of mouthpiece, but I can assure you that it won't achieve the sound you want, even with a very specialized mouthpiece. The reason I know is that I actually tried. I had made an experimental mouthpiece to test the extremes of narrow cup diameter and extreme cup depth. Presenting the Trombonium with this sort of baby Bass Trombone mouthpiece sounds really cool and plays alright, but the sound is pretty small.

    RE: Wagner Tuba
    Big fat no to this. Wagner Tuba and Horn in F are effectively alto instruments. Sure, they're in 16'F, but they're designed to be played in a higher range. Same thing for any sort of Bb Horn related things. You can gimmick the mouthpiece to force them to play as tenor things, but it's not a particularly interesting sound, and the power is non-existent. To clarify, the Bb Horn is the same length as a Euphonium or Trombone, and the F Horn is the same length as an F Tuba. The difference is the dramatically smaller bore of leadpipe, smaller bore in general, and (of course) smaller mouthpiece.

    I know that it's a bit of a jerk move to just say "use a custom mouthpiece, lol", but I have tested two experimental mouthpieces to achieve a similar concept to this, so I guess I can respond on that front.
    1) Super wide [28mm], "shallow" cup [less than 5G], large throat [7.6mm]
    Pretty interesting sound, and far more playable than I initially imagined. Gives a pretty good "Tenor Tuba" sound from various types of Euphoniums. I designed this to see if I could force Bass Trombone behavior from Saxhorn things by overwhelming the cup diameter while maintaining the necessary ratio of cup depth to throat size. This was mostly successful, but admittedly, the smaller instruments do still fight against the wide cup diameter.

    2) Baby Bass Trombone [24mm wide], very deep [not quite 51D], large throat [7.6mm]
    Euphoniums aren't so impressed with this piece, but it works on the small stuff. Also the big Soviet Baritone actually plays well with it! Really fun to play in the low range. Still, instruments like the British Baritone Horn and Trombonium only have so much room for energy before they get wild.

    For no other reason than lack of disposable cash, I have not tested this. But if I had to guess, I would say that the Bubbie mated someway/somehow to a Bass Trombone mouthpiece should be able to do what you're wanting, though it's possible that the bore size is too small. There does come the issue of then figuring out how exactly to get such a mouthpiece on the Bubbie. If it's using a standard American Tuba mouthpiece shank, an adapter is probably not possible (12.5mm to 13.1mm? I wish). Investment risk becomes a big concern.
    Hobbyist. Collector. Oval rotary guy. Unpaid shill for Josef Klier mouthpieces.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    San Diego, California
    I know professional tubist/trombonist Jim Self has had some custom trombone work done by Larry Minnick years ago. If you Google their names you can find some of their instruments also check out Jim's website (
    Miraphone 5050 Ambassador
    Mp: Wick SM4 Ultra X
    The San Diego Concert Band
    Big Brass Quartet- tuba ensemble (EETT)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    NYC metro area
    Quote Originally Posted by LittleJimmy View Post
    [snip]Might a trombonium work? But it probably doesn't have enough of a lower range.[snip]
    There IS a bass trombonium. A collector friend of mine had acquired one. However, it was four valves (non-compensating) so I don't think B1 was playable (i.e., just like a single valve Bb/F bass trombone). He was a tuba player and wound up selling the bass trombonium because it didn't suit what he was playing.
    Dean L. Surkin
    Mack Brass MACK-EU1150S, BB1 (DE 101XTG9 mouthpiece in the drawer)
    Bach 36B trombone; Bach 6.5AL mouthpiece (pBone on loan to granddaughter)
    Steinway 1902 Model A, restored by AC Pianocraft in 1988; Kawai MP8, Yamaha KX-76
    See my avatar: Jazz (the black cockapoo) and Delilah (the cavapoo) keep me company while practicing

  6. #6
    RE: a 4-valve bass trombonium...

    There IS a way to make a low B possible on a non-compensating 4-valve system:

    That's assuming you have a nice long pull on the 3rd slide so you can apply this system.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  7. Thanks for all the responses. Yeah, the Jim Self Jimbasso is exactly what I'm looking for. Low C and B are definite needs. So a 4 valve in F or 5 valve in Bb. But the more valves the weirder the intonation... Bubbie 5 might save a lot of experimentation. People say it doesn't exactly make a great tuba, but does it make a passable bass trombone? The whole small bore horn thing I think is a no-go.

    I just got rid of a King 2280 which has a great 4th valve tuning system. It's like having an Eb pull on a trigger trombone, and gives full chromatic range.

    Tromboniums are generally small bore. There was an 88h 547 type trombonium made, but they are rare, and that's still just a large bore tenor. I don't know of any full bore valve bass trombone aside from F cimbasso. That wouldn't be all bad, but it just looks like such an awkward instrument. Take the range of a small F tuba and the relative size of a baritone horn, and combine those.

    The thing I'm afraid of with a Bubbie is that the bore is so small (.51-.55?) which is medium tenor range. Ideally this would be like 578 or contra bass trombone range. I guess I need to find a way to test one of these. Problem is you've got to buy it to test it. Do they even allow you to play horns at in-person music conventions these days?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    The instrument you are looking for might be the Wessex French C tuba: it plays easily with a decent intonation all the notes that euphoniuns and tuba basses can achieve. I recently bought one and am thrilled with it.
    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.

  9. That bit about the French C tuba is interesting. Do you have a recording of a skilled player showing the range? Also, can you explain how you use the 6 valve arrangement?

  10. #10

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