Euphonium to Eb Bass

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Bloo42, Dec 8, 2018.

  1. Bloo42

    Bloo42 New Member

    I'm a Euphonium/Trombone player primarily, but I've been getting an itch for some lower brass for a while now.
    I've made the decision that I want to buy a cheap EEb Tuba after playing both an EEb and a BBb for a while. It's much more comfortable and more practical for me to carry to and from school.
    I have been wondering though - what should I get? I've heard Wessex tubas are decent, and their EEbs are round $2500. Should I invest in one of those, or buy a used one from a more reputable brand?

    Also, does anyone have tips for making the switch? My embouchure is still shaky with tuba, and I slip partials very easily.
  2. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    The Sunny Isle of Wight
    Wessex are excellent value
  3. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    From another of your posts this is comment of yours reminds us of context: “I've been a brass player for about 5 years now. I'll play anything that's needed of me, but I am most comfortable and most proficient with Trombone/Euphonium ranged instruments. Below is a list of the brass I currently own and play. I play in a private brass choir at the moment, and in a couple of orchestras in the central Wisconsin area.”

    As you mention school and spending $2500 I anticipate that you’re a teacher rather than a pupil.

    Wessex have a good name and Mike Lyons used to play one of their EEb’s before circumstances moved him onto Euphonium, a private message to him might get picked up and give you the information you seek, Mike does know rather a lot about music and playing. As I understand it the Wessex Instruments are made by Jimbo in China but they are not their standard product. Wessex manage additional quality assurance on them and have parts of the design altered/enhanced for their instruments too, older Wessex instruments might not be as good as later ones - you pays your money and you takes your choice. I always prefer to buy used instruments rather than new; choose carefully, play them first if you can and budget for some repair work. Used instruments that are well set-up have given me great value, but YMMV. As well as the Wessex what’s available in your area (new or used) that you might consider buying? Your suggested/implied price for a Wessex Tuba ($2500) seems low to me for a new four valve instrument .....

    This forum is basically U.K. based and so experience here might not match what would work best in the USA. Here in the U.K. the Besson Sovereign is very popular and before it the Boosey and Hawkes Imperial was what ‘proper’ Tuba players used. Yamaha make something similar and their instruments are well regarded if not necessarily predominantly used here. Whatever, it’s possible to shell out a load of money on top rate instruments and still not make a top rate sound - please don’t ask me how I know that. If you are a teacher you will likely have seen (in your pupils) that so long as the instrument works reasonably then what matters most is talent and good practice rather than how expensive an instrument is. Here’s an example of someone achieving what I think is a lot with a very basic instrument: .
    Hats off to Robcat2075!

    As you will know Tubas come in three sizes: Tenor, Bass and Contra Bass. The Eb is a (or even ‘The’) Bass Tuba and from what I see in the U.K. it is the type that Orchestral players use the most in their professional playing - from what I read they pick up a Contra Bass when they need and rarely a Tenor. So, on that basis, I’d say Eb (but in four compensating valve form) is the way to go. I’m uncertain what happens in the USA as BBb’s seem to be the only Tuba used now in their Concert Bands, but you’ll know and be able to add that to your judgement. For what it’s worth the MD of River City Brass is the Tuba player in Pittsburgh’s Orchestra, he’s Scottish and uses a Besson Sovereign Eb Tuba with four ‘compensating’ valves.

    Tuba mouthpieces are big and the change from Trombone to Tuba isn’t necessarily easy, you may well struggle to control your chops. The good news on this is that whilst possible tone and ease of speaking in the fourth valve might suffer you can get Tubas to work with relatively small mouthpieces. I suggest that you consider starting small and working up to larger sizes over a long time period, go that way to retain control of your chops whilst they slowly grow stronger (your sound will be more solid and controlled than it would be with a bigger cup). I can get a BBb to work with a Wick 5 (a 30 mm cup?) and an Eb with a large Bass Trombone Mouthpiece (28 mm cup), if you aim to settle on a Wick 3 in the long term then you’ll be about right. IIRC a mate of mine uses a Wick 4L (Bach 25 size) ‘cause that’s what came with his EEb, his tone with the Wick 4 is rich and solid - so, for some, it’s possible to produce a really beautiful bass sound with what might be considered a smaller mouthpiece.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
  4. David Broad

    David Broad Member

    Chedworth Gloucestershire
    The "Eb" is the most versatile bass as the players can read Bass Clef parts in concert pitch as Treble clef in Eb by scrubbing out three flats (or adding 3 sharps) to the bass or vice versa.
    The BB can be a monster if fitted with 4 valves but we have some Besson 700 3 valve BBbs which are no heavier than 4 valve Ebs and have a nicer sound on the lower notes. I would not touch a non compensated instrument even a 5 valve rotary and sorry but I wouldn't go for a budget Chinese model either. Tuning issues will drive you quite mad. Much better to buy good quality second hand horn. Some good ones available in UK but watch shipping and import duty.
    2nd tenor likes this.
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