Age of EEb Bass

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by iancwilx, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    I have a Besson 4v EEb Bass. It is almost identical to a modern Sov.( I've played many)
    It has a 19" bell, and large bore mouthpiece pipe. It has a knob on the bottom, no water key on 3rd valve slide and has full protective plates on all large external exposed pipes.
    When I bought it I was told it was a "New Standard" model but it is not engraved as such. On the front of the bell facing the same way as the valves and slides it is engraved "Made by Besson England"
    I suspect that at some time in the past it has been completely refurbished and replated. This makes the reg. number a bit difficult to make out, but with the aid of a magnifying glass I can make out 665413.
    I wouldn't part with it as it plays like a dream, but I am curious to its age and value.
    I would guess it to be about 1980 with an approx value of £1500.
    Could any of you experts out there help date it.

    - Mr Wilx

    Attached Files:

  2. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  3. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    That was amazingly quick ! Thanks so much for that, most helpful.


    - Ian W.
  4. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Your tuba's in good shape for it's age too! Lol, it was probably played by a rival (that you probably beat) in that year! :)
  5. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    That's a nice thought.
    Yes, it's in excellent nick. Only a few very minor dings and nothing at all on the bottom bow which usually suffers abuse over the years, and the plating is 100%.
    I rate it much better than the "Lottery" Sovs I've played in recent years - beats them out of sight !
    Mrs W treats it as a rival for my (Dubious) affections Ha ! Ha !

    - Ian
  6. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    I doubt whether I personally am worth very much, (LOL) but what are 30 year old good quality EEb Basses going for these days ?
    I'm not selling, just curious.

    - Mr Wilx
  7. ronnie_the_lizard

    ronnie_the_lizard Active Member

    Hi Ian, Long time no see,

    Not absolutely certain about Brassneck's calculations (but probably agree). His 1981 comes from the combined 'Brass' and 'Reed' numbers from Boosey, but according to his quoted Besson chart it should be pre-1952, but this seems ridiculous given the dimensions of your bass (and also the massive jump in the Besson No quoted in 1952 and the discrepancy between the site Brassneck quotes and other sites). More likely, since it's after the late 1940's B&H/Besson merger, it does indeed use the ongoing B&H numbering but retained the Besson stamp distinguishing it in the converging heritage from late B&H models.

    Otherwise, the age fits pretty well with mine - a B&H "Imperial" by stamp (no. 62****; best for insurance purposes to avoid publishing exact serial no....), but custom built for Briggus in '78 (can't think how they could afford it that year.......) with 4v compensating, a wide bore mouthpipe and a 19" Bell.

    Both were precursors (Yours Besson, Mine B&H despite the same company) of the Sovereign.

    I bought mine in '88 for £1200. It's paid for itself several times over and I think it's retained it's value apart from cosmetic wear of the plating and a couple of stuck slides. The valve action is still the best I have ever played on though the thickness of the bell metal makes articulation too heavy for routine band work (still prefer it to a sov for marching and orchestral stuff).

    Age shouldn't make much of a difference with Basses - you can see the cosmetic faults and valve / slide problems are fairly obvious on inspection - so design (Make/Model; 4vC, Bell diam, Mouthpipe diam/position, Bell thickness) makes the big difference to price.

    As an estimate I would put an early 981 Sov in good condition at around £1800-2500 (because of the reputation and rarity of pre-lottery sovs the 25yo value is probably pretty much the same as a second hand 5 yo model) with our 'non-sov' prototypes a bit behind behind so I think your £1500 for a good condition wide bore 19" would be about right, with deductions for dents / plating defects etc.

    P.s. I'm sure you're still worth a scrap value if nothing else.

    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Hmmmm. There are separate brass and reed serial lists. It is more difficult since the serial number tool that used to be on the Besson site is no longer available and other sites only quote earlier manufacture dates. I can support my dating with another site pdf (p23 dates it 1980-81), if that's any help?
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  9. ronnie_the_lizard

    ronnie_the_lizard Active Member

    I agree totally with your dating - just that in your (initially quoted) list things were ambiguous.

    From your current reference:

    The British arm of the French company Besson
    was bought up by Boosey & Hawkes in the 1940s, and the name was retained for many Boosey &
    Hawkes brass instruments until 2002. Brass instruments bearing the Besson name that were
    manufactured by Boosey & Hawkes (the UK instruments with serial numbers 185200 - 890000 : )

    can be found in the main Boosey & Hawkes brass instrument sequence."


    'From October 1954, instruments stamped with the "Besson" name were given serial​
    numbers in the main Boosey & Hawkes brass instrument sequence.'

    That confirms things adequately, Thanks.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Just as important to note ... :cool::tup

  11. ronnie_the_lizard

    ronnie_the_lizard Active Member

    ..... ummmmm..... yeah ..... but should be properly referenced / linked......... ;)
  12. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Very grateful to you guys for "Burning the midnight oil" on my behalf. All very interesting stuff for which I thank you.
    Nice to hear from you Ron. I hope you are well and still enjoying your banding.
    I really enjoyed the jobs we did together when you did a string of dep gigs for Kippax. (Refusing payment on every occasion I might add !)

    Keep well,

    - Ian
  13. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    PS: Ron, I well recall your "Floral Dance" tuba with the brass bottom bow - a good horn !
  14. phildriscoll

    phildriscoll Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Ian

    My bass looks near identical physically and in terms of how it's labelled, the only differences I can see are the valve tops (mine have tapered sides) and the finish (mine's frosted silver). Like yours, mine is just labelled Besson, and is in very close to perfect condition.
    On the value front, I got mine on Ebay just over a year ago for about £850 - though I think that was a very low price for what I got.
    I haven't got the serial number to hand just now, but the guy who sold it to me said he thought it was a 1981 instrument.

    For the sake of proving that it is a small world, I now sit in your old chair at Kippax :)

  15. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Hi Phil, nice to hear from you. It is a small world isn't it ?

    I bought my bass from an Army guy in Richmond through an advert on here. (tmp)
    I paid £1200 for it + £100 for a very thin gig bag, as there wasn't a hard case.
    I've tried to source a 2nd hand case but no joy.

    I was glad to get rid of the plastic valve guides on the new Sovs. I don't know if you've got the bass I used to play, but I was forever changing the guides and you could never rely on the valve action 100%. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it !!)
    It's nice to have your own "machine" isn't it ?

    I wish you all the good banding times I experienced in that chair Phil. We had ups and downs of course, but a very memorable 18 years.

    Keep blowing,

    - Ian
  16. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    It is nice to have your own machine as you put it. My 982 has those plastic valve guides and is getting near 20 years old. I recently had them changed for the first time, so the first set lasted about 18 years. I have not had problems with the valve action, though I feel the new guides will need to bed in ( I had them fitted by a technition, he needed to alter them slightly as they were a little firm a fit ) I don't think they will be a problem once bedded in.