3 valve BBb's B&H Imps

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Aussie Tuba, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    I have always wondered why Boosey and Hawkes made so many 3 Valve BBb Bass's. You walk into many a Band room and there in the cupboard is at least one if not more ( our Band room has 3 ) 3 Valve BBb's.
    Yet there is much music out there which requires BBb to use a 4th Valve so Why Make so many instruments that are not capable of providing what Bands Need from Them. In The Bands I've Played in wherer a pedal has been needed say low Eb below bottom G from BBb I have had to play low Bb below pedal C on My EEb because the BBb with only 3 Valves has not been capable of playing the note needed.
    My origional question is Why make so many of them ? you don't see as many 4 valve instruments of the same era.
  2. Despot

    Despot Member

    They're probably 40 years old, if not older, and most music of the era they were built in could be played without the 4th.

    And players of a certain era didn't feel or understand why they needed a fourth valve. I remember many years ago meeting a few old timers couldn't understand why you'd want an instrument with 4 valves!

    Also possibly because 3 valve basses were cheaper to buy, and bands had less disposible income.

    BTW There are also lots and lots of 3 valve Imps Euphs out there, and Imp cornets without triggers. Yet try and by an pro model now without them! :)

    Times change
  3. Despot

    Despot Member

    BTW my band was actually donated one recently.

    Lovely instrument, great condition, but ultimately of limited use without a 4th valve. Useful as a training/backup instrument though.

    Just belongs to a different era.
  4. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    I'd agree they would be good for training Bands. We just have no one to train at the moment.
    I just walk into our Band room and see 3 of them just sitting there pretty much useless today because no 4th Valve. I would certainly be lost without a 4th Valve.
  5. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    They are the most in tune BBb's made in general, and very responsive and easy to play. I have one for marching and carolling etc, as they are lighter than a 4 valver (obviously) and impervious to the odd wing mirror!

    i was surprised how good it is though, it's certainly a lot better than my same vintage 4v Imp, and miles better than current models.
  6. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    I have to admit tunning wise they are better than the newer 700 series we have, It's hard to get a scale in tune on that, It's just the limitation in Range That most concerned me. Seems strange that some times I finnish up a fair bit lower down the scale than the BBb's.
  7. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    The sweetest-sounding BB I ever played was a three-valve boosey (So old it wan't even "Boosey and Hawkes" - Just "Boosey!") wich I played on before my old band bought an old imperial 4v Eb and I moved onto that.

    It looked dreadful, but sounded fabulous. Lovely warm tone right the way through the register, none of the (now usual) tuning problems on 1+3/1+2+3. Plus most of the stuff we were playing back then never needed anything below a bottom G - not that I'd have got it back then even if it did!!

    One wonders why it seems impossible to make a bass these days that has all the best characteristics of that one - but with a fourth valve as an extra for when it's needed. Some more modern basses I've played are sometimes as much as a quarter-tone sharp on 1+3/1+2+3 and there seems no reason for it because 4/2+4 is usually fine, and all the other notes involving the main three valves are usually fine as long as they don't involve you using 1+3 together!

    I'm sure Moomindave will be along soon with an engineering reason for this....
  8. tubadaz

    tubadaz Member


    I'm not Moomindave, but I'll try to answer your question.

    The 4 valve instruments are less in tune than the 3 valvers on 2-3 and 1-2-3 due to the 3 valvers having the compensating system on the 3rd valve. On the 4 valve instrument, the compensating system only comes into play when you use the 4th valve. That's why my 4 valve Sov Eb has the 3rd valve slide pulled out by an inch or so! :-D

    Incidentally, if any bands wish to donate/loan a spare Bb bass to the University of York Brass Band, they would be most gratefully received. We have 2 players who would love to play, but have no instrument! :-(

    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
  9. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Over many years of playing 4v Imperials and Sovs I find that a good starting point for tuning is, as you say, to draw the 3rd valve slide about an inch, plus, I personally pull the 1st valve slide about 1/2 inch and the 4th valve slide 1/4inch.
    Of course they can be "Tweaked" as required.
    The main slide is adjusted as usual to conform with the general pitch of the band.

    I read on an American tuba forum debate on Sovs that it is also recommended to draw the 2nd valve slide about 1/8th inch.
    I tried this for a while but it didn't work for me. I felt that it threw everything else slightly out of true if you know what I mean.

    - Mr Wilx
  10. tubadaz

    tubadaz Member

    Funnily enough, my 1st slide is also out about 1/2" and the 4th out by about 3/8" :eek:
    I've never tried pulling the 2nd out, I might try that at Quintet rehearsal tonight, see if anyone notices! :D (Not ALL the way out, obviously!!)

  11. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    I've usually found roughly simlar ratios to both Mr Wilx and Darryl above work on 4 valve BBb basses. Usually the third has to come out the most. And incidentally last night I did find pulling my 2nd valve slide out a quarter inch helped right through the range - though never had to do that on any bass before. In fact, 2nd valves have more usually been flat!

    Depending what part you're playing on BB an extra half/three-quarter-inch on the fourth slide can make all the difference with the notes in-between low G and pedal C. OK, you have to lip your D and C# up a fraction, but conversely, you have to lip your lower register down much less so it sounds much purer and clearer.

    It's more about the ears than the slides anyway isn't it chaps? As the late, great Geoff Whitham was often heard to say, "they're not just for holdin't cap out o' yer eyes!"
  12. tubadaz

    tubadaz Member

    It certainly is more about the ears, Andi! I use the slides to get the instrument close to in tune, then listen and lip it the rest of the way! It's difficult to get a valved instrument perfectly in tune over the full range of the instrument, so a compromise is needed!
    (On trombone, of course, one uses the ears to listen and adjust the note all the time!) :D

    When I'm instructing/conducting, I generally paraphrase the aforementioned and much missed Mr. Whitham with "They're not just to stop your specs sliding down your nose!" :D


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