Bass question

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by kiwiinoz, Jan 29, 2015.

  1. kiwiinoz

    kiwiinoz Member

    Hi there. Can someone tell me the big difference between the e flat sound and b flat sound. In our band the b flats are an 'issue' and maybe just not up to making a nice sound and e flats peddle easier with a much nicer tone. Maybe just player issues but I have often wondered what the difference is meant to sound like.
  2. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    oh your present bassophenists are gonna love reading this !

  3. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    I played a BBb for a few months many years ago. From what I recall the BBb's music was easier than the Eb's however the instrument (BBb) felt more difficult to play. Aside from instrument quality (are your Eb's and BBb's of the same quality?) the player with more ambition and skill is (IMHO) attracted to the Eb over the BBb so maybe you have the mix of (without wishing to upset anyone) the less able trying to play the harder instrument?

    It seems quite common for Bass players to switch between Eb and BBb so I'm sure there's a lot of educated opinion out there.
    Had you considered doubling for a while yourself to check out the issues?
  4. kiwiinoz

    kiwiinoz Member

  5. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    In theory, the Bb bass can produce a bigger sound in the lower register, particularly in the low C to low G range, which in terms of sounding pitch equates to the low 'G' downwards 4th valve register on the Eb, which is sometimes difficult to focus. I add the caveat "in theory" because of 2nd tenor's point above.
  6. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    Bb bass parts are often "easier" than the Eb parts, no doubt; and Eb bass is often featured more in brass band music. The skill of the Bb player is, as GJG says, in producing the tone quality, and, just as importantly, the tone quality with power way down the register: this is what separates the men from the boys on the Bb chair, in my opinion.

    Almost all functional players can produce a passable sound, and the complexity of the parts is not going to pose many problems, but there's nothing worse than a Bb player who sits there sucking air into his lungs like a bellows every two bars...huff puff huff puff huff puff. We had a quality Bb bass player who, due to work commitments, would often arrive a half hour late to rehearsal. And, my God, when he joined in and started playing, the band's sound seemed to just settle on top of what he produced.

    Last Whit Friday, we had the pleasure of being the next band on after Dyke at one of the villages, and their Bb basses were just one watching conductor described it: in the big chords, their sound was like a squadron of Lancaster Bombers passing right overhead
  7. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    My wife plays the Eb bass nicely and has pretty good sound and projection however when she swaps to the Bb she really struggles with projection and quality. Mostly the lower notes and in particular the pedal notes suffer.
  8. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Some people feel that working on a Bb bass for some of the time can improve sound quality, power and projection on the Eb. I know of a few tuba teachers who recommend spending part of one's practice time on the Bb.
  9. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I think I'm right in saying that there's a general sense that the current design of brass band BBb Bass as exemplified by the Sovereign is not yet finished. Compared to the modern Eb, it is stuffy and a bit undersized for the job it does. It is also prone to pitch instability in the middle register - whenever I pick one up, I find that farty and squealy notes are fine, but that there is an area around A in the middle of the staff (transposing treble) where splitting is embarrassingly likely, at least at first.
  10. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Went to a Steve Sykes masterclass a few years back where he was talking about the modern Bb bass, and said much the same thing; I recall he described the sound of the instrument above the mid-stave point as being "wooden" ...
  11. Mr N N Fixer

    Mr N N Fixer Member

    Most military bands seem to stick with EEb basses these days, and the really good ones produce excellent deep rich sounds on them. Eg, RAF Central on their latest recording. Mind you, most of those guys are performance graduates. Maybe we could do with comment from guys like Gilbert Symes or Andy Cattanach. Those two produce phenomenal sound quality and volume from BBb basses.
    Perhaps they could tell you their secret ? (it might cost you a pint or two!)

    Bye bye for now,
    Mr Fixer.
  12. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I think the military dropping of double Bs was a Health and Safety thing - I seem to remember reading that they were decreed too heavy to march with?
  13. Mr N N Fixer

    Mr N N Fixer Member

    That was the case, but not for the Marines or indeed the RAF. In fact I believe the Marines still use BBbs.

    Bye bye for now.
    Mr Fixer.
  14. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Active Member

    It would be an interesting aside to know whether the Kings Division also only use EEb's. I guess such full timers can reasonably readily take a BBb part and re-write it for Eb (or rather the four valve Eb or known as the EEb)

    For contesting bands is there a requirement to use BBb's?

    Given that BBb's and Eb Cornets are the largest and smallest instruments in the band might they be the practical limit (in terms of pitch and size) as to what is possible with a lip reed instruments and as such the most difficult to play well?
  15. tallyman

    tallyman Member

    Bb bass players tend to be high maintainance and have multiple tmp accounts.
  16. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Not as far as I know, although it may have changed recently. Zone one brass used to play four Eb's, and as far as I know although there are rules concerning instruments you can't use (like Eb Trumpets or picc. trumpets) there are no rules concerning instruments you must use. In theory, you could go on stage with 24 sopranos and a bass trombone, and you wouldn't be disqualified for it. You would most probably be disqualified for blatant redistribution of parts, however ...
  17. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    BBb's are in the Army brass bands, even for marching. H+S was suddenly dropped when they wanted Brass Bands!!

    RAF Central always had a BBb and an EEb I think, I believe Dave Richards is still their BBb, and a great one at that.

    There's no reason why BBb's shouldn't sound as impressive as EEb's, I think the general shortage means that some players end up lumped on BBb so don't really care or understand the instrument, and others realise they're a protected species and take it easy. I've heard some terrible stuff from "higher level" band BBb's.

    There's no secret I don't think, just keep it on your face and use your brain.
  18. owain_s

    owain_s Member

    Yep, that's pretty much it. This is what the rules of the regional contests say:
  19. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    No need for disqualification, that band would come last anyway.
  20. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Matter of principle; disqualification at the area qualifiers means last place + 1 point. The extra point might make the difference come relegation time ...

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