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Thread: Found a 4-valve tuba or euphonium new identification help

  1. #1

    Found a 4-valve tuba or euphonium new identification help

    I am the tuba player for a town band in Vermont USA. I was given an old 4-valve instrument to check out. I play a 3 valve Besson. I have found fingering charts for a 4-valve non compensating tuba that is not working. I found a 4-valve compensating euphonium that seems to work better. Can anyone give me some advice about the instrument I have? It is shorter than my Besson but has a larger bell. The manufacturer is Frank Holton and Co., Elkhorn, Wisconsin. I want to see if this old man can learn to play this old tuba. I have attached a photo. I want to know what I have and which fingering chart is correct. Any help is greatly appreciated.Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Join Date
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    That’s interesting. It looks like a tuba that may me in the key of ‘F’ but not sure Holton made those. If you play the smaller horn open (no valves depressed), can you get a Bb? The 4th valve on the side suggests it could be a compensating horn, but without seeing the back of the horn can’t tell if there are any extra slides. Your bigger horn is 3 valve compensating I can tell.

    Welcome to the forum.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
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    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Hidden Valley, AZ
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    The little one looks more like an Eb job. You'll either have to learn new fingerings, or write transposed parts.

    Dennis
    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Central North Carolina
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    Definitely looks like an Eb Holton to me. Not sure that 4th valve is compensating, but it could be, because I see a lot of tubing in there. Post it to Tubenet, and they'll tell you what it is. It could be something odd -- like a Besson-manufactured or German-manufactured horn branded as Holton.

    But if it's an Eb, then what you need is something like this: http://www.norlanbewley.com/tuba/fingering-tuba-3.htm or this: http://www.norlanbewley.com/tuba/fingering-tuba-3cv.htm

    If it is an Eb horn, then if you just hold down that 4th valve all the time, it's a Bb horn -- but that's no way to live your life.
    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)

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Hidden Valley, AZ
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    I blew up the photo and that baby tuba is not a compensator, just a 3&1.

    Holton made some really good horns. I had one of their double-bells years ago.

    Eb tuba parts do show up in some charts.

    Dennis
    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Central North Carolina
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    Holton tubas have often been great. There's someone on Tubenet who's refurbished one of the old large ones (maybe a monster?), I think added a valve to it, and uses it as an orchestral instrument. A 4-valve Eb like that could be a really sweet horn in a community band if you can put it in good shape. Learn the Eb fingerings. Although I'm playing bass trombone full time now, I used my Wesses Eb in community band for about 5 years -- really love the Eb horns. The 4th valve should let you play anything you come across, and the false tones on the Ebs are usually excellent as well.
    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. Unless a tuba player needs notes below f below double BBb, the Besson 3-valve comp is in my not-so-humble opinion the best tuba for community band in terms of consistent tone and superlative intonation from register to register. Yes, 2nd ledger line C can occasionally be stuffy, but it is a small price to pay for the overall superlative nature of the instrument, especially when played with the mouthpiece that was designed for it, the Wick 1. The only drawback is that it is built like a tank, and the cavalry ball should be removed, and if I was not playing literature that did descend below the low F, I would still have mine. I like the tone so much that I had a Besson 17-inch bell transplanted to my 186 to retain the tone.

    The quirk of the Besson 3-valve comp is that since it has the comp loops on the 3rd valve instead of the 4th, the 3rd valve circuit is tuned "dead" so that the low G's and D's can be played better in tune with 3rd valve alone. 1+2 is sharp. And due to the logarithmic taper of the bell, even the 5th and 7th partials are usable without alternate fingerings. I could go on longer, but I will stop now since the thread is about the OP's Eb purchase rather than his Besson 3-valve comp.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    There is a fairly widespread view among tuba players that a 4(or more)-valve instrument (no matter what its pitch) is necessary. This is simply not true, and definitely is not true in the case of a BBb horn (there are a lot of wonderful old King and Conn 3-valve BBb horns out there that you can play anything on that you're likely to come across). It's especially definitely not true in the case of a 3-valve compensating horn. The best tuba player in the band I currently play in has a small collection of tubas, including a Miraphone 186. But for years he preferred one of his big 3-valve Kings. Until he managed to snag his 4-valve Marzan. But he will still frequently use one of the Kings.
    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)

  9. #9
    Thank you ALL for the great information. I decided to try an Eb four valve fingering. All went well until I tried to produce an open Eb. I tried it a few times and finally got it. I think my lip had "muscle memory" for an open F which I use all the time with the BBb. I will return the Eb to its owner and continue with the Besson. I will be poking around the forum for more info on the Besson. I love learning about the beast. FWIW I found the cavalry ball a pain when playing on metal chairs. By pain I mean the tuba would slip off the chair and I would mash my lip in the mouthpiece. My workaround was to build a wooden panel to sit on with a hole for the ball. It works well (as long as I remember to take it along). Thanks again folks!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    2,045
    There are a couple of other frequently used names for that feature besides "cavalry ball".
    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)

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