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Thread: Low pitch too low, high pitch too high

  1. #1

    Low pitch too low, high pitch too high

    I have an old (ca 1912) Conn euphonium, and it's set up for high or low pitch. There's a tuning slide extension (two parallel tubes, braced) for low pitch, and high pitch is without the extension. The problem is that with the extension, and the slide all the way in, it just barely makes it up to A-440. Without the extension, it almost reaches down to A-440 with the slide pulled so far that it might fall out. What I want is a way to play it at modern pitch, but with the slide pulled far enough that I can easily push it or pull it to match other musicians or to deal with temperature, etc. Like with a modern A-440 instrument.

    This is a cententarian horn in very good original condition, and I am loth to do any mods on it like shortening a slide. The two solutions I have considered are: 1) have a new tuning slide fabricated for me, and 2) use a leadpipe/mouthpiece extension. Does anyone have experience with these solutions, or perhaps a different solution? I tried a "short shank trombone mouthpiece extension" from Bach, but it didn't fit very well and only lenghthened the horn by about 1/4 inch (6 mm). I think I need at least an inch.

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  2. #2
    I think the right way is to have at least the main slide lengthened. A good repair tech should be able to carefully unsolder the original inner legs and put in place a new pair that are longer. Of course I'm speaking of the high-pitch configuration.

    However, have you made sure to get the horn fully warmed up and test the intonation on the low pitch side? A lot of players (even on modern horns) tend to check tuning as soon as they start to play. In my case, my main practice area is a cool basement, and it's easy to measure the horn flat before I've played for several minutes.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
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  3. #3
    Thanks, Dave.

    For the moment, I'm sticking with the idea of keeping the horn in original condition (although it has brand new springs, corks, pads, etc). Why do I care? I'm not sure! Replacing the slide inners would at least be a reversible modification. It would mean that I could no longer reach "high pitch", but I don't think that will ever be an issue. I'm still leaning toward having a slide made. I plan to take it to my brass tech for a consultation, but that won't happen for a while, due to scheduling reasons. He can definitely fabricate a slide or replace the slide inners, and he'll give me good advice.

    I'm not really a euphonium player; I'm a trumpet player who suddenly owns a euph, so that may be part of the problem; embouchure and the like. I don't know how to play this thing! But it's still a hair flat, even after playing a couple of tunes, and "Studio 9" has pretty well controlled temperature. Maybe I should get a few lessons from a trumpet/euphonium doubler.

    The original mouthpiece that came with it (Conn "E") is noticeably shorter than the two modern pieces I've tried (I had a Kelly 12 lying around, and then I bought a new Yamaha 51D), so that may be part of the problem. Or maybe it's just me, that's been known to happen.

  4. IIRC, members have attested to the sensitivity of those old horns to mouthpiece choice. What have you tried?
    Christopher Chen
    bolded are for sale
    B&H 967 - Globe Stamp
    B&H 960 (3 valve comp euph) - Globe Stamp
    Salvation Army Triumphonic Eb Alto, silver plated


    On the lookout for:
    Silver plated:
    pre '93, post '06 Sovereign Alto/Tenor Horn
    pre '93, post '06 Sovereign Baritone (3 valve)

    York/Sterling/LMI variants accepted

  5. #5
    The original Conn "E" and the Kelly 12 were obviously wrong, so I bought a Yamaha 51D, which is what I've been using. Maybe I should try some others; that's an excellent idea. I'll try the Conn and Kelly again, just to see if the pitch is better, that might lead me somewhere. Maybe my local shop has a few things to try.

  6. #6
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    I'm not surprised that the low pitch is too low. As I (and some others) have observed in other threads and other forums, neither "low pitch" nor "high pitch" had unique meanings in that period. My Buescher is designated as "LP" on the second valve and was pitched to 435 prior to my cutting it down.

    After being certain that the instrument is really clean (!!!), doesn't leak, and that you have a "reasonable" mouthpiece, then -- given your desire not to modify its existing parts -- I'd have someone craft a new tuning slide for you that should allow you to play to 440. I think that something like a leadpipe extension will not work out very well. My guess is that it would yield poor intonation in at least some places. But you can try this with some flexible plastic tubing and duct tape . That may also give you an idea of how much length would need to be added to the (high) tuning slide -- though your repair guy will handle that all by himself.

    I'm more than a little skeptical about what the intonation will be like no matter what you do. It's a bit tricky to manufacture a valved instrument so that you can get the valve tuning circuits sharp enough to provide good tuning/intonation for the high tuning and also get the tuning circuits flat enough so you can achieve good tuning/intonation for the low tuning. This is ESPECIALLY tricky for the second valve on a baritone/euphonium where there's not much length to work with at all. So any fingering involving the second valve may well turn out to be wonky. My Eb horn still suffers from that a bit, and even on the Eb tuba there's almost NO room to do anything about it. Consequently, even if you get it so you can "tune" to A=440, the overall intonation may be pretty unfortunate. Don't expect too much. I've come to suspect that a lot of the nostalgia about these old horns made in the WWI and post-war period -- many models of which seem to have been made with a "town band" market in mind -- is mostly just nostalgia and bears little relation to how they actually played.
    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)

  7. #7
    I'll bet that your Conn low pitch is 435, checkout the very pertinent links in forum thread "Pitch-iness", there is even a link to an article and photo of a Conn euph about the age of yours.

    Perhaps you could get a 440 version of the leadpipe extensions made for your horn. If the horn can be tuned to 456 and 435, then you would think the valve slides could handle 440, given an appropriate extension.

    -Carroll

  8. #8
    I'm not too worried about the valve slides. Conn recommended specific amounts to pull each valve slide for "low pitch" (e.g. 2nd valve 9/32", 1st valve 9/16"). And in fact, those recommended lengths are actually marked on the slide inners, with grooves. Pull the slide until the groove is just visible; and they're all long enough to do it securely. The horn sounds reasonably in tune with itself with those adjustments. There's no spec (or groove) for the fourth valve slide, which was an option on this horn, but I've done the math and it can be pulled far enough, too.

    So maybe you're right, maybe it was built for A-335, which is a couple of cents below A-440.

    Thanks to all of you for your insights. I'll go looking for "pitch-iness" and check out the thread.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mm55 View Post
    So maybe you're right, maybe it was built for A-335, which is a couple of cents below A-440.

    Uh, more than a couple! More like 20. . The math is actually quite complex. But here's a nifty little site that does it for you: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu...sic/cents.html.

    Here's the math: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu.../cents.html#c2.

    One way you can get a good idea whether your instrument tunes to something other than A=440 is to set your tuner to different tunings (most have such a capability) and see if the scales you play start to look reasonable.
    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)

  10. #10
    Conn 30-I double bell euphoniums are "Very Low Pitch". I never could figure it out when playing my first 30-I in lacquer. Very close to A=435, 20 cents flat as Gary says above. After I acquired the 30-I in silver, I experienced the same problem. Both horns are from the same year, 1946, last year of production. The seller of the silver horn included a cut-down 12C mouthpiece that would tune to A-440 after the horn was warmed up. The 12C shank had been shortened by ~3/8". I contacted the mighty Tubatinker, and asked him to take the main tuning slide from a Conn 20-I donor horn in his junk parts inventory and cut it down by 3/8" on both sides. The three-valve bugle of the 20-I is virtually identical the 30-I, so the tuning slides are "plug compatible". After satisfactory testing, I ordered a duplicate for the other horn. Photo is the silver 30-I with a cut-down 20-I tuning slide pulled to tune to A-440 with a full-length 12C.

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    Last edited by dukachop; 11-19-2016 at 06:01 PM.

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