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Thread: Denis Wick shank adaptor

  1. Denis Wick shank adaptor

    Is there any real advantage to use the Denis Wick Shank adaptor over just getting a new mouthpiece? Wouldn't it hurt the sound?

  2. #2
    There's a lot of things to say about adapters, so let's go there.

    First things, first. A well made adapter will sound and play just fine. The only downside is that it will make the mouthpiece longer, and that makes the horn longer. Not ideal if the horn barely plays in tune as is. It is possible to have an adapter that is literally just a shim. It's not very common, but it will work just fine. Speaking of uncommon, good adapters. Most of the cheap things you run into are just that. Really cheap things that aren't made properly, so they don't work properly.

    So what good is it to use an adapter? Usually cost is the concern, though it's less of a concern if you're spending $50 on the adapter. Some adapters are practically worthless. Small shank tenor to large shank is basically useless nowadays. Any of those dumb Mellophone adapters are pretty much useless because you're adapting a mouthpiece to a horn that it won't work properly on.

    1) Things you can't get a mouthpiece for
    Pretty much any variety of medium shank thing. If they're not rare or unobtainium, they're stupid expensive. If you have two different horns in a crazy shank size that don't even like the same mouthpieces, there's no reason to even bother. Just use an adapter.

    2) Testing
    You can get really good custom mouthpieces at a good price these days. Still, you don't want to pay $150 more than once for something that might not work well. So you can save a lot of money by having a custom mouthpiece made in small shank, and then adapting it to whatever else. What else is there? Well, I'm an idiot collector, so I have adapters to adapt small tenor to 4 different shanks. That's not counting the ones I can't/don't adapt.
    Hobbyist. Collector. Oval rotary guy. Unpaid shill for Josef Klier mouthpieces.

  3. I was planning on getting one for mostly the second because it wouldn't be nearly as costly. I was eying the one Denis Wick makes and I know that they're not a bad brand at the very least.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Central North Carolina
    I played my 1924 Buescher tuba for years with one of the adapters to standard American shank that Matt Walters used to make. In fact, I think it was the last one of these he made. I still have it, but no longer use it. I was never truly happy with it, no matter what mouthpiece I used. Intonation just wasn't quite right.

    Last year I finally replaced the original (European small tuba shank) receiver on it with a standard American one. It probably took me only about a half hour, including making a little "sleeve" to match the OD of the mouthpipe to the ID of the new mouthpiece receiver, and testing and tinkering with the length of that to get the pitch/intonation exactly where I wanted it. This resulted in a surprising and amazing difference, and the horn now plays very well in tune (modulo a couple of minor typical 3-valve tuba issues) and with a great sound. I typically use my Schilke 66 mouthpiece on it now, but am still experimenting now and then with a Miraphone T17 and a Kelly 25. In any event, it's MUCH better than it ever was with any mouthpiece and the adapter, and better than it ever was with any correctly fitting mouthpiece I ever tried in the original small receiver.

    There is a lot of "ideology" about what kind of mouthpieces these old Eb tubas with the small receivers "like". My experience has differed from that, although that may be because I wanted a particular "good sound" and sound quality rather than an historically correct result. But I wouldn't know the historically correct result if I heard it, and I doubt that many others would either.

    Anyhow ... An adapter is not a long-term way to go with these things. Either find a currently made mouthpiece that works with it for you, have one made that fits it and you like (Doug Elliott would be a good way to go here and probably save you money in the long run), or change out the receiver and see how that works with a mouthpiece with a different shank.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (PT-63)
    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 (with std US receiver), Kellyberg
    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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