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Thread: Eb Tuba

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Orlando, Florida

    Eb Tuba

    When i went to get the Adam E3 valve fixed that i dropped, i was talking to the shop owner about the horns i have. I mentioned i had an Eb Tuba. He mentioned that he never would take an Eb tuba on consignment (I am not selling mine), but would only sell Bb tubas.

    I was curious, given that opinion, who does use Eb tubas? In the VFW band I play with, one tuba player played the C tuba and i never asked him why he chose that one.

    I was just curious about who would use what where and when!

    I do admit that i have not had time to play the tuba. I can read treble clef and can add the sharps necessary. But if i wanted to play something from memory that i can play on a trombone or euphonium, I cannot because i would still think the fingering and notes based upon those horns.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    West Palm Beach, FL
    I think the Eb tuba would be useful in smaller ensembles. The main use I think is in British style brass bands where you normally have two Eb and two Bb tubas.
    Rick Floyd
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  3. #3
    In a clinic John Fletcher gave some years ago, he said he normally uses his Eb (a Besson Sovereign) in the Philip Jones ensemble AND in orchestra for most music. But he said he also has a large German CC tuba to use in Mahler/etc.

    A Sovereign Eb is a formidable instrument for a lot of uses. My first brass band gig (Classic Brass Band in Connecticut) was playing the Eb tuba parts on my Sovereign Eb. Danny Vinson, the other USCG euphonium player, was in the same group using his Miraphone CC (a small model, but I don't recall the number). We play tested each other's horns before a rehearsal once. Dan's CC was lighter to lift than my Besson Eb. It was quite easy to play, but did not have a rich a sound as the Besson.

    After many years of hearing various tubas in ensembles, I will say that the larger CC/BBb horns can add a "velvety depth" of sound that is hard to achieve on an Eb. It's a matter of the tonal balance, not volume. On the other hand, an Eb can add clarity in technical or declarative passages that might not be there with CC/BBb.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Orlando, Florida
    Thanks Dave! Mine is a Wessex Bombino that i bought from someone in central Florida, a forum member. I bought it just to work on low notes but still have not had the time to do that! I get that the difference is really the sound or dexterity. If i ever decide to retire, I will have to donate more time to all these instruments i seem to be collecting for no valid reason

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Summerfield, Florida Sturgis, SD (previously)
    Some noted tuba soloists use the Eb tuba, one in particular is ěystein Baadsvik, a very good virtuoso tubist. Brass band is clearly a place for Eb tuba. 2 of the 4 tubas in a brass band are Ebs. An Eb can also work well in small ensembles (brass quintets - you will commonly find both Bb and Eb parts for tuba) and in smaller sized concert bands, perhaps a wind ensemble. In very large community bands, say 70-90 players, an Eb tuba by itself might get a little lost in the crowd so to speak. But if you had multiple tuba players in the larger community band, an Eb could work. It also might not have the gravitas needed for a full symphony orchestra, a CC or BBb being the usual tubas used, with exceptions of course.
    Last edited by John Morgan; 08-23-2022 at 11:37 PM.
    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
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    Kingdom of the Sun (KOS) Concert Band, Ocala, FL (Euphonium)
    KOS Brass Quintet (Trombone, Euphonium)

  6. In my quintet, our tuba players have both used Eb, also in the small orchestra I play with. One of the pro quintets in the area uses a big Yamaha F. Sam Pilafian and Dallenbach used C most of the time, I think. I originally got an Eb Bombino as well to learn on, but I went the other way, with a 3/4 BBb. The fingerings are more natural on the BBb, but with the 3/4 size, it's easier to manage.

    I think you can make anything work, and it just comes down to trying stuff to see what you like best. It took me a couple of different tuba purchases to settle on the small BBb (Mack Brass 422).

  7. #7
    I played a Wessex Eb tuba in a community band and enjoyed it. As a native treble clef reader, the Eb was an easy transition and sounded just fine when played along with my BBb colleagues.
    Sterling Virtuoso Euphonium, Denis Wick 4AL
    Besson New Standard

  8. I play a EEb Besson Sovereign. The king of tubas! I grew up in Aberdeen, Scotland, so there is a heritage of brass bands and wind bands that play military band style music. The EEb fits into these bands and music type perfectly. I have played in orchestras, ensembles, all sorts, and the Sovereign EEb is a classy instrument to fit into any of these settings.

  9. #9
    I'm so used to calling them "Basses".. I'd give a boob for a late 80's beautiful Besson/BH Eb Bass. They're sooooo cute... (yeah, not the typical unit of measurement... LOL)

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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Central North Carolina
    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    After many years of hearing various tubas in ensembles, I will say that the larger CC/BBb horns can add a "velvety depth" of sound that is hard to achieve on an Eb. It's a matter of the tonal balance, not volume. On the other hand, an Eb can add clarity in technical or declarative passages that might not be there with CC/BBb.
    All true. In addition, the Eb will typically sound noticeably better above the (BC) staff. The contrabass will give you that "surround sound" effect, but the bass will give you a kind of clarity the contrabass won't. Tradeoffs.

    In community bands, I have seen my share of BBb players simply avoid the top of the staff and beyond, either dropping out or playing down an octave. On the other hand, when mining in the octave below the staff, the Eb is definitely more work (and physical effort in many cases) -- and the tonal quality is not you'd like it to be unless you have BIG Eb (and I mean bigger than the typical 4-valve Besson-style horns that are favored). Mouthpiece choice can attenuate some of the issues.

    I suspect that the retailer who doesn't want to get involved in Eb consignments is simply being realistic about the potential customer base (in the US), and how long such a horn would gather dust in his store.

    Gosh, I haven't played in a few years now. I really should get back to it. But it's still so hit and miss in terms of community bands around here (practices and events), that I'm still just sitting and waiting. But I've been thinking I'll probably go back with the Eb tuba instead of the bass trombone -- assuming my back will agree to hauling it around. Kind of wishing I had a Bombino now instead of the Champion. Of course, I could always use the Buescher -- but that's a whole different sort of challenge.
    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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