Bone players - covering bass parts on a tenor. HELP!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Feel My Rath, Feb 6, 2015.

  1. Feel My Rath

    Feel My Rath Member

    As a play in a small band I'm sometimes required to put in either a bass bone part or sometimes even a tuba part. Now I currently play a Rath R4F with a Bach 5GS. Will a smaller bass mouthpiece work for a slightly fuller lower register? I'm not thinking a huge size, maybe something like a Wick 2AL or a Bach 2G or possibly a 1 1/2G.

    Sadly I don't have access to a bass bone or tuba so I'm trying to work out how best to fudge it. All opinions greatly appreciated!
  2. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    The instrument and mouthpiece you use should allow you to get by and alternating between your normal 5GS and something larger is, I believe, commonly thought of as a good way to damage your chops. I also recall reading somewhere that fitting a bass size mouthpiece to a standard large bore tenor produces a mismatch.

    Players in a brass band that I used to belong covered the bass trom part using large bore tenors with whatever mouthpiece came to their hand, no one complained. I'm not an expert, far from in-fact, and I hope that you are later supplied with a better response than mine. In your position I'd think in terms of small changes that didn't upset my tenor playing upper register playing much but allowed a better lower one. If guided by page 25 of the Bach Mouthpiece Chart ( Bach Mpce Manual.pdf) I think I'd stick to a 5G (differs from 5GS but same cup diameter) or the slightly bigger 4G ( "A versatile, large diameter mouthpiece especially useful when only one trombone is used for both the upper and very low register" ) rather than make the big step to a Bach 2G.

    I hope that this is a helpful first response, please let us know how it 'all turns out' once you have found and trialed a solution.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
  3. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    The modern bass trombone is often a bit larger than optimal for playing with a brass band that is less than powerful. A large bore tenor such as a R4F is only one bore size step smaller (.547" vs. .562"), and will do the bass trombone job just fine. Your alternative mouthpiece suggestions are very reasonable if it doesn't upset your playing to use two mouthpieces. The inbetweener 3 size may be worth a look too - it totally depends what works for you personally.
    In 2009 I watched Simon Cowen play bass trombone for Staines at the area in the championship section (the piece was Vinter's 'Salute to Youth') on a Conn 88H(CL I think). He made one of the best bass trombone sounds of the day, and not just because he's a crackingly good player. There is tonal advantage to be found in downsizing the bass trombone from its currently bloated state.

    On the other hand, you are on a hiding to nothing playing tuba parts on a tenor trombone. The range and agility needed are quite different. I'd go look in the band storeroom for a spare tuba.
  4. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Regarding putting bass mouthpieces in large bore tenors, pretty much anything up to a 2 size will work okay. Larger than that, it becomes a bit of a lottery as to whether the two will mesh well blowing-wise, but there are big bass mouthpieces that work decently in large bore tenors, e.g. Laskey 85MD.
  5. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Moomin's advice is always good - I've learned something from the above two too, thanks - and will no doubt be more help than my response, but then I really wanted to get the thread started with something that might help. With luck someone like Steve Trom and Bass Tiger will also chip in with their ideas too.

    Looking at the Rath website ( I notice that the largest large shank tenor trombone mouthpiece they sell is a L4 with a 26.0 mm cup. I guess that they think that is the largest size appropriate for an R4F; a Bach 4 also has a 26.0mm cup - in so far as such figures are accurate - read into that what you will whilst bearing in mind Moomin's noted expertise and practical experience.

    The R4 also comes with alternative leadpipes (?), I do not know how they will interact with your mouthpiece choice but suggest you ask someone 'the' question. I find what can go wrong will and that adding more adjustment features (like alternative leadpipes) just gives me more chance to carefully adjust the variables into some configuration that should work really well but doesn't.
  6. Feel My Rath

    Feel My Rath Member

    Thanks chaps. The 5GS isn't working for me down that low - it just cuts too much, with far too much edge at anything above mf for my liking. I'm guessing that's more to do with the depth than the rim, but I'll experiment and see if I can find something to work and report back. A plain 5G might do it. I've got a mate that could lend me one to try.

    Do you happen to know which smallish bass mouthpieces have a fairly wide rim, Moomin Dave? I've tried a friend's Holton 181 with Bach 1G and just found the rim too narrow to be comfortable. Maybe that's just me though.
  7. Feel My Rath

    Feel My Rath Member

    I've tried the more open leadpipe route already, 2nd T, as I have both 41A and 41B leadpipes and prefer the 41B (more open) for all my playing anyway. Good suggestions gents, keep 'em coming!
  8. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

  9. Feel My Rath

    Feel My Rath Member

    Thank you
  10. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    First, I must say, it must be nice to have a Rath! I used to have a online music store before my car accident. I have one (expensive) large shank bass bone mpc I would part with for P&P. My way of thanking you for your considerate posts. PM me and it will be done.

    You could probably play Eb bass parts with a large mpc and some of the other recommendations. Or just buy me a plane ticket :D.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
  11. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    You'll certainly find a plain Bach 5G will sound much more mellow. The 5GS is much brighter sounding - works pretty nicely as a 1st baritone mouthpiece (small shank version, obv), in my opinion.

    I would suggest not starting your investigation with a Bach 1G! But as you already have... There are a lot of Bach 1Gs around in banding, mainly because Bachs are something of a common trombone mouthpiece currency, and because the 1G is their biggest model - and was (along with the Schilke 60) pretty much the first bass trombone mouthpiece that large made available. But it has its specialities (could be a polite word for 'problems' among those who don't like it), which I would characterise as:
    - Very open backbore. Too open, I would say. You can drop a pencil through it - I don't think you can with any other bass trombone mouthpiece.
    - Very narrow rim. Back in the day the largest Bach size available was the 1-1/2G. When the 1-1/4G and 1G were introduced (70s sometime?), they were machined from the same size lump of metal ("blank"), but had more cut out of them. This results in the 1G having very little to grip on to the face with.
    - Oddly balanced. It's wide at the face, but the cup depth and enormous backbore would suit an even bigger internal diameter.
    - It's also a big big piece for someone transferring from what is not a large tenor mouthpiece to try. Very different way of blowing to make a success of it.

    So I would say - note that you didn't like the Bach 1G, but don't seek to draw any wider lessons from that particular example. It's rather a unique mouthpiece design. There are mouthpieces in that size range that are more conventionally balanced to blow, and that have much wider rims. It isn't clear to me whether you would do better to seek a mouthpiece that is completely different from what you currently use, or to seek one that will let you adapt your current way of blowing. Either approach might be right for different people; the former lets you have two different approaches, while the latter broadens one approach. I suggest trying a few pieces (not too many - likely to confuse your face), and then settling on a strategy, picking one to work at for a while. What mouthpieces do you have access to? A Bach 2G or a Wick 2AL would seem a pretty likely place to start. Note that if wide rims are specifically what floats your boat, then the Rath bass trombone line offers wide rim versions, such as the B2W.
  12. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I've seen it done with single and double trigger bass troms. It sort of works (which might be all you need) rather than is ideal and can be rather difficult for the player - IMHO only the experienced/better player should 'have a go'. In that it allows a group to play (when a Tuba isn't available) I think it better than nothing, but I am of the pragmatic mind set that says playing something 'passably' is almost always better than playing nothing.
  13. Feel My Rath

    Feel My Rath Member

    Doc Fox - thanks so much for the offer, very kind, I'll pass for now though until I know what I want/ if I want anything new at all. The Rath is brilliant to play, I don't think I'll ever swap it for anything else.

    Moomin Dave - thanks for the knowledgeable and thorough post. I never knew that the 1G's narrow rim was due to the original blank from the 1-1/2G. Like you say, it just isn't comfy on my face, and my opinion (without trying it in my instrument, rightly or wrongly) is that it will be too big and a total mismatch for the instrument.

    Like you've also pointed out, I don't want to confuse my embouchure either, so I'm tempted to stay away from a small change in rim size (something like a 4G) at the moment. I used to double on trumpet and was used to switching between my old .500 Yamaha with 11C to a 7C trumpet mouthpiece regularly, and the change in rim size was so great that I could do it relatively well, hence why I'm tempted to upsize a bit this time. Likewise a 5 rim with a deeper cup and larger backbore might well work.

    My local (ish!) music shop tends to only stock Bach and Wick, so I'll start there and see what (if anything) works for this project. I'm tempted to go and try a Rath piece, but I don't think I could justify the extra £££ (to the wife) for something that will be used occaisionaly.

    Thank you very much for all your advice.

    2nd Tenor. We're going for the something is better than nothing approach. It might work, it might not, but I'm sure I'll have a laugh trying it out.

    Thanks chaps, I'll report back when I've found the time to go shopping.
  14. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Some would argue that it's too big and a mismatch for the instrument when the instrument is a bass trombone also. You're right - I would not even bother to try plugging it into your R4.

    The results of Rath's design philosophy tend to be hard work to make sound colourful. Easy to play, but not always as interesting a sound to listen to out front as various older designs that are harder to play. In my observation, that goes for both instruments and mouthpieces. I have only very rarely seen a player use a Rath mouthpiece in a Rath trombone - far more often you see people using one or the other with something different. Too much of a good thing, possibly?

    But you're only an hour from the Rath workshop in Honley - I bet they have a selection of mouthpieces in stock that you could have a toot on. Just be careful they don't try to flog you something extremely expensive and rather nice that you hadn't budgeted for!
  15. Feel My Rath

    Feel My Rath Member

    That is the worry. Knowing me I'd walk out with two new mouthpieces, a new leadpipe, and a red brass tuning slide!
  16. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    "Oh, and didn't I mention that I was intending to pick up a brand new R9, darling?"
  17. Feel My Rath

    Feel My Rath Member

    The voice of experience?
  18. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    They tried to push their luck too far and ended up not selling anything. But it was close!
  19. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    "2nd Tenor. We're going for the something is better than nothing approach. It might work, it might not, but I'm sure I'll have a laugh trying it out."

    In that case a second hand Wick or Bach size 4 large shank off of Ebay (or some other 2nd hand source) could be a cost effective first step towards what you are hoping to achieve - and so perhaps more acceptable to your 'other half' too. For a sample of what's available see:

    Somewhere I read that the Wick 'A' cup (eg. 4AL) uses a lot of air but I don't know if that is true or even matters for some players. At some point I'll buy a cheap 4B to (try to) improve my mid and lower range without killing off my 'top end'. I've used Wick 6B's for several years and am very pleased with them though (the never needed) 'peddle' G (two octaves below that within the stave) is hard to sound, the 4B's slightly larger cup might free up my cops sufficiently to help me with that very low range.

    I'm not at all expert enough to say this is better than that, etc. and am mearly passing comment based on my experience(s) and what I've read.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
  20. Basstiger

    Basstiger Member

    A bit late to the thread, here is my tuppence worth.....
    I have done just what you are being asked to do on a Bach Strad 42B with a Wick 4BL mouthpiece and it was ok. I liked playing the bass parts so much I ended up moving to bass trombone permanently!
    I have always found the Wick mouthpieces more comfortable to play on as they have a wider rim. I am given to understand the Bachs are just bored out more to make the cups deeper which makes the rims narrower. I have no idea if this is the case.
    I have a spare 2AL you could have to try if you are interested. It was given to me and I have no use for it....too small for me!
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015

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