Eb Bass - hopelessly sharp!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Tubamutha, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. Tubamutha

    Tubamutha Member

    Hello there fellow banders

    My instrument is quite sharp. I use a large mouthpiece and all of my slides are out as far as possible, so I reckon it must be the way that I play it.

    I was wondering however whether anyone knows where I could obtain a shank (if that is what you call it?) to pop into the mouthpiece to give me a little extra length of pipe to try and get it a bit more in tune?

    I think I saw one at a trade stand once but cannot remember where and I cant find one on the internet.

    Many thanks
  2. Cyril

    Cyril New Member

    Try cleaning it out first.
  3. Despot

    Despot Member

    Probably, but if it's very old, check it's not high pitch. And check the mouthpiece is actually the right fit.

    And try cleaning it out as the other poster advised.
  4. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    When you say a large mouthpiece... how large? Which brand/size are you using?
  5. Tubamutha

    Tubamutha Member

    Denis Wick 2L..... I daren't go to a 1L as I won't be able to hit the high notes....
  6. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Like a previous poster, I reckoned it might be an old high pitch instrument, but surely a DW2L wouldn't fit in the lead pipe.
    I don't see how any standard design, concert pitch instrument with all slides pulled out to abnormal extremities can be sharp to the rest of the band.

    We need to know the make, approx age, and if any alteration to the tubing of the instrument is apparent before a decent diagnosis can be made.

    - Mr Wilx
  7. ive known ends of the mouthpiece been cut down in past, carn't remember if it was to sharpen or flaten the instrurment though but it worked. think it was at barnsly building society band kenilworth and thriumphant rapsody year with ian craddock.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2010
  8. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    if it's a modern instument eg ( Besson ) then I think it needs a good internal cleaning Dennis wick mouthpeices are rarley that sharp. I had that problem with a PT 84 perrantuci playing sharp but the DW 3L was fine. Dirt build up inside could reduce the tubing causing it to play sharp. I'd be getting it Cleaned and serviced before I put any extesions in. and they are called tuning bits usually used in sousaphones usually in pairs so the player can bring the mouthpeice and lead pipe to a comfortable playing position.
  9. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    It ain't the mouthpiece then if you're on a 2L. That's a sizeable gob-iron for an Eb.

    Having had a look at your playing experience, is it right that you've only been playing just over a year - and that before you were on Eb Bass you were on Baritone?

    If so, that leads me onto another question - have you always had the problem of being very sharp since you moved onto Eb bass or is it only since you've used that particular instrument? (ie: are you sharp on every bass you play or just that one?)

    If it's just that one bass that tends to send you razor sharp, then the advice about cleaning it out properly and having all the slides, all the valves and everything out to make sure there are no obstructions in there is really good advice. Put a pull-though down the tubing as well and make sure there's no old fag-ends or bus-tickets in there. (Yes, I've found them and stranger things down basses in the past.)

    However if the problem follows you from instrument to instrument, it may be due to the instrument you've come from. All I'm thinking is that the embouchoure for producing a good sound on a baritone is very diferent to that of a bass, and that if you've always had the problem on bass, it may be that all you need is some good advice from a Tuba teacher to sort your chops out.

    There's a lot of potential variables - both player-related and instrument-related - that can lead to a variances in tuning. And it could be any combination o a number of things. Unfortunately that makes it difficult to pin it down over the web I'm afraid....

    I appreciate it can be very frustrating. I went through a period of being almost a quarter-tone flat for a while after moving from Eb to BB with all the slides up to the clink - and that was faulty technique on my part. If my tuning wanders, it tends to wander flat rather than sharp even now - but at least I'm aware of it so I can lip in.
  10. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Worth getting someone else to play it to see if they have the same problem?
  11. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Thanks Dave for mentioning this. Why complicate things when a simple test can answer the question?
  12. TubaPete

    TubaPete Member

    My gut reaction is with Andi's.

    It's a big change from baritone to Eb in terms of the way you breathe and your embouchure.

    Try thinking of the word 'door' when you play. This will make you drop your jaw and open your mouth wider and may well bring your playing down to pitch (assuming that it's just your adjustment to playing tuba).

    I'd expect someone moving to tuba from a smaller instrument to take many months of hard work before they con properly fill it at the right pitch. In fact I kn ow some people who have played for years and still don't do it right!

  13. Independent Silver Band

    Independent Silver Band Active Member

    I have had better success building extensions for the main tuning slide to bring pitch to modern standard. Of course, it's necessary to adjust the valve slides accordingly.
  14. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    As Mentioned here you havn't told us age ( approx ) or make of what you are playing, We have put in plenty of advice such as try to get some one else to try playing this tuba. But your not giving us any answers to help. has any one else tried playing it yet ? and what make / Model are you playing?
    has any of our advice helped ?
  15. Tubamutha

    Tubamutha Member

    Thank you for all your advice - I am going to be bathing my bass this weekend to give it a good clean out and hopefully that will help.

    I am not sure of the age - it is a Besson but not a sovereign (I think someone said it was a '700' if that makes sense?). With plenty of 'dings' in it.

    To be honest I really think it is a problem with embouchour. Thinking of 'door' is helping..... and just lots more practice needed. I had only been on baritone for three weeks before I decided to give the bass a try instead which probably didn't help. It's also only particular notes (like a D at the bottom of the stave) that are coming out sharp - and I have tried adjusting the relevant slides. I have been trying to lip the notes in but it doesn't always work........
  16. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Low D can be a funny note - especially if played on 1+3 on a 4-valve instrument. 4th is usually flatter if you have a 4th valve? On a 4-valve bass, using 1+3 cuts out the compensating system so tends toward sharpness. It's the same story with C#/Db on 1+2+3 - where 2+4 is usually flatter.

    If, however, it's a 3-valve instrument, the third valve is normally compensated when used in conjunction with the 1st, so should be OK on D and C#.
  17. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    The 700 series in none compensating which explains a lot regarding tuning or lack of tuning.
    do you play your D's on your 4th Valve ? being none compensating that means as you go lower the instrument may play sharp because it doesn't have the extra tubing a compensating tuba would have. but play D's and low G's on 4th and keep it tuned for your lower notes and leave 3rd valve for Eb and Ab. 1st and 3rd for D's and G's not a good option on this instrument.
  18. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Aussie and I clearly thinking along the same lines! :D
  19. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Aha! Some questions:

    1) How are you fingering that D?
    If "1+3", go to (2). If "4", then I'm on the wrong track.

    2) Does your bass have 3rd valve compensation? That is - does the 3rd valve tubing loop back through valves 1 and 2?
    If "No", then go to (3). If "Yes", then I'm on the wrong track.

    3) Then you'd expect that fingering to be sharp. Does your bass have a 4th valve?
    If "Yes", then use 4 instead of 1+3. If "No", then you're just going to have to lip it until you get a better bass.

    Same goes for the C# next to it - 1+2+3 is fine on a 3rd-valve-compensating instrument, while 2+4 is fine on a 4-valve instrument (though a bit sharp if it's not a 4th-valve compensator); but 1+2+3 is very sharp on an uncompensating instrument.
  20. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    That's the second time I've done that (repeated an answer just given) recently... Should read more carefully... D'oh...