Difference between E flat and EE flat Bass?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Chris Lee, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Sorry if this is a silly question but what exactly is the difference between an E flat and an EE flat Bass? Ditto B flat and BB flat?

    Thanks for your response

    Chris Lee (E flat Newbie)
  2. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    One's a Tuba, the other one's a Bass......:icon_evil:
  3. Al

    Al Member

    Hah hah!

    I'm probably best to leave this to those more knowledgeable and qualified but as far as I know the EEb sounds an octave lower. The single Eb is thus smaller.
  4. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    I believe the true answer is bore size, otherwise that would make a single Eb a Tenor Horn.
  5. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Thx for these responses. I read it was bore size too but that wouldn't alter the pitch would it? So why do it?

    By the way did you ever hear of the EEE flat specially commissioned by Gerard Hoffnung for one of his musical extravaganzas? And I believe a few BBB flats were built too.

    Very Best, Chris
  6. FlugelD

    FlugelD Member

    Fatter sound - think flugel/cornet, or bari/euph....
  7. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

  8. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Thx FlugelD. Good point.

    Laserbeam - not sure what you mean here. E flat is a transposing instrument (i.e it sounds E flat when you finger C). And the compensating system isn't specific to EE flat - many E flats have 4 valve (and in my case 3 valve) compensation - but that simply corrects the pitch for the additional length of tubing when the 4th valve (3rd in my case) is open.

    Very Best, Chris
  9. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    I actually don't think it has anything to do with octaves an EEb does not sound an octave below an Eb, the transposing answer is a bit facetious.
    the old Regent sized instrument was considered to be the Eb, non compensating, 3 valved and smaller sized, the imperial/sovereign sized instrument is usually considered to be "EEb". the pitch is the same, the 3 valved range is the same, but the size of the instrument is different.
    you could extend this discussion into the size of the instrument in terms of 4ths, the Eb being 2/4 or 3/4 and the EEb being 4/4 or even 5/4 sized.
    another way of looking at is that the Eb is a student or children's instrument - the Regent or the York Prescience (before it went bust) and the EEb is for adults or professionals.
    Having said all that, I'm afraid that you are quite right Chris - it is a slightly silly question to which I am equally afraid that you are going to get lots of rather silly answers.
  10. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    Sorry, replied to the wrong thread :redface:
  11. MartinT

    MartinT Member

    I had a quick blow of the BBBb in Harvard University's bandroom once. Couldn't get it to blow in tune, which I have since been told was due to the carpet stuffed down the bell. I got some random notes out of it, though! ;)
  12. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    My understanding has always been that a bass with a 4th valve that enables chromatic extension of the bottom range to the fundamental pedal note is a EEb or BBb. Normally with a wider bore and bell.
    Three valve basses were known as "Single" Eb or Bb.

    - Mr Wilx
  13. Par10

    Par10 Member

    It is all to do with size, nothing to do with compensating tubing or the number of valves.

    Traditionally we play EB basses and BBb basses in brass bands.

    You can get various sizes in all basses, half size, three quarter size, full size and full size plus, just because you get a half size Eb bass does not mean it is a tenor horn it is still an Eb bass.

    Mr. Tuba,s web site shows a very good selection of various makes of basses, some have three valves, some have four some have five.

    It is usually only those instruments with piston valves that are compensating, you can have compensating three valve basses as well as compensating four valve basses, rotor valve instruments are generally non-compensating, relying instead on the player deftly moving slides to play the few problamatic notes.

    But regardless of what size and how many valves are they a transposing instrument or is the player the transposer?
  14. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Originally, the instruments were designated according to their pitch - the bass tuba in Eb (or Eb bass) had one 'E', while the contrabass tuba in BBb (or BBb bass) had two 'B's, because it fell the other side of a C, the point at which octave designations change. I couldn't find anything online quickly that demonstrated the designation system, but it's similar to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helmholtz_pitch_notation - but write "CC" and "BB" instead of "C," and "B," in the contra octave, and then CCC and BBB for the subcontra octave, etc. Thus according to the strict method of designation, an "EEb" tuba should be one an octave below what we now call an "EEb tuba".

    As I recall it, by the early 20th century, British instrument makers were advertising their new "monster bore bombardons" in Eb (with 4th valves) as "EEb" - presumably to emphasise their facility in the low register. I don't know if this was a British thing, or if it was more widespread. I imagine it was particularly British, as the German tradition has always made use of wider-bore tubas with at least 4 valves, not often in Eb, while the French tradition called for smaller instruments in higher pitches.
  15. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    not quite, the bell and bore size are the same on 3 or 4 valved instruments of the same model.
    there is no real logic to it really, if there were cornets would be in Bb, euphoniums and baritones would be BBb and the tuba would be BBBb! One other theory is that calling them "double" Eb or Bb is just a piece of macho nonsense
  16. Despot

    Despot Member

    There's no standard recognised meaning to the term - loosely it just means "bigger" - but can mean anything you like. These days, Bb and Eb are used more to refer to smaller students models.

    In the same way you can get 1/2, 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, 6/4 size tubas. What each manufacturer means by this varies so a 4/4 can be bigger than a 5/4 from different companies.
  17. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Just a humorous interjection - A Bass Fiddle is called a double bass, to my knowledge there is no "Single" version.

    To lean back towards the topic, this Double EB/Bb bass thing is, in the case of the Eb Bass, purely a written designation.
    In all my years of playing EEb(?) Bass, I have never, in conversation, told anyone that I played the Double Eb Bass - It just doesn't sound right - I play Eb Bass.
    Now, a BBb Bass player will say he/she plays "Double B" - now just what would that mean to a non banding person, or indeed a musician from any other genre ? - Blank look, and thinks "Double B what" ?

    It's all very silly anyway.
    They are all just types of Bass Tuba where the fundamental note without use of valves is Eb or Bb.

    Now you nit picking technical hair splitters can continue this nonsensical trivial debate - I'm out of here !

    - Mr Wilx
  18. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    The version I heard, which may or may not be correct.

    This was because the lowest fundamental on an Eb tuba bass was an Eb, one and a bit octaves below middle C. Only one octave, hence, no extra letter.

    A BBb tuba was so called because it's lowest fundamental pitch was a Bb, two and a bit octaves below middle C. Since there's an extra octave involved, it was called a BBb in order to distinguish it from a Bb tuba. (ie: a euph.)

    Likewise the same reason a CC tuba has an extra C, since it's two octaves below middle C, and why a contrabass trombone is often listed as a BBb trombone.

    I suppose by that token, an EEb bass (as they're often referred to) should, by rights, be a fourth LOWER than a BBb, though that's clearly not the case!! So why an EEb is often referred to as such, I don't really understand. I've never heard one called a 'double-E' by a player....

    Edit: Just seen Moomindave's post, that says exactly what I was trying to say - only better!!
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2010
  19. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Thanks for these answers guys. I'm not sure that I'm really much wiser but I appreciate you pointing me in the right direction for a bit more research.

    Thank You all, Chris
  20. P_S_Price

    P_S_Price Member

    I always think that The Double versions E or B, give a much fuller rounder sound. But that might just be the quality of instruments/players encountered, in that Kids/New/STudent players tended to be given the single models

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