Euph & Eb Bass Compensating - why?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by JSmith, Nov 21, 2005.

  1. JSmith

    JSmith Member

    The "Compensating" thread got me thinking...
    I accept the need for the compensating system for Bb Basses who sometimes (rarely) need to move about in the 4th valve register.

    However, given the fact that the compensating system only really comes into effect at TClef low F (below the staff), when was the last time MOST bands had a need for this on Eb Bass and (particularly) Euph.
    D & C# at the bottom of the staff are just fine with the slides set right.
    When was the last time you played an F or below in band??

    It's true that occasional modern pieces might use notes down there and if one is a soloist, these low notes are part of your normal range (but quite playable in-tune if the instrument had triggers).

    However I would suggest the vast majority of bands would be served just fine with 4 valve non-comp euphs and Eb basses.

    Any thoughts?
  2. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I've come across quite a number of pieces that go below low G (don't have an EEb pad with me to start listing them), not to mention if the lower EEb decides to double to the BBbs to help out in the fff sections it is also often real low.

    Also, if a player does any solo work or solo practising, there are often low bits in the cadenzas and what not.
  3. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    The compensating system works on any valve combination requiring more than say, 2nd+3rd. 3rd valve is deliberately longer that 1st+2nd to be in tune with 2nd+3rd. When 1st+3rd is needed then the 3rd slide needs to be longer, and when all three are pressed, longer still. So the compensating is used when playing C (concert pitch) whilst still keeping D flat (concert) in tune. The reason the lower instruments use it is because it's harder to lip these notes on lower instruments, plus the cornets and horns (apparently) wouldn't want the extra weight of the compensating slides. As an ex-tenor horn player, I would have killed for it. Wanted a 4th valve really, to be honest
  4. JSmith

    JSmith Member

    Yes, I understand how it works and so on. A 4 valve compensator does nothing to help 2+3 of course. A 3valve compensator like a Baritone is almost perfect - only the 1,2&3 combination is a whisker sharp.
    I would disagree that it's easier to lip notes on higher pitched instruments. If anything it ought to be easier on bigger mouthpieces since more of the lip vibrates. However, this isn't the main point.

    Assuming 4 valves, a TClef D (Concert C) played 4th can be tuned perfectly. This leaves the 2&4 Db tolerably in-tune; likewise the G & Gb below. A bonus of NOT having compensating is the free-er blow for these notes - particularly on Basses. This is why the VAST majority of tuba (bass) players outside England reject the system and prefer to use a 5th valve.
    Once more valves are used - like for low F 1&4 and down to the fundamental - the tuning becomes wonky. But the point is how often in band do you find a low F or below written.

    I suppose my preferred solution would be to equip all instruments with Triggers on at least the 1st & 3rd valves. Better still on the Main slide and 1st or 3rd. Triggers allow players to adjust different amounts for different notes rather than a preset amount like compers do.

    Horn players need triggers like Cornets. Good players just automatically lip motes like 1&3 D's into tune. Why should a Baritone player feel happy about the weight of compensating valves but horn players not?? A Baritone built with Triggers of some sort would be MORE versatile than one with Comp valves (tuning-wise. It would also be a LOT cheaper to buy and repair!. A 4valve Euph with triggers would also be perfectly tuneable down to D just above the fundamental. Why not also have 4 valve Flugels, Horns and Baritones as standard and exploit the extra colours available in their low ranges?
  5. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

    I find there are very few concert programmes or test pieces where I wouldn't be expected to play low F or below.
  6. bruceg

    bruceg Active Member

    I can't think of any tuba (bass) players in our little corner of the world that lies outside England who use a 5th valve in preference to a 4 valve compensating system. Maybe I need to take a closer look at the instruments being used by the bass players at Whitburn and the Scottish Co-op...
  7. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Actually, even in England you need to look at the instruments being used by orchestral players. There are probably at least a few five (and six) valve C and F tubas in use in areas other than the brass band.

    Most professional tuba players who are not in brass bands use four, five or six valve non-compensating tubas with rotary valves.
  8. bruceg

    bruceg Active Member

    I completely agree Robert. The orchestral boys do tend to own and play a huge variety of different instruments depending on the individual piece of music. And I've seen many of them use two or three different instruments during a single performance.

    However, the original post was calling into question the wisdom of bands in purchasing compensating instruments and didn't consider the "habits" of the orchestral chap(esse)s.

    And my post was really just taking exception to that whole England=Britain attitude... ;)

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