Help I'm not fat enough!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Thirteen Ball, Sep 29, 2006.

  1. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Can anyone help with thin sounds? I’ve been criticised by conductors in the past for having a thin tone and got told it again recently. Problem is, the term “thin” seems to mean different things to different people – especially where BB flat basses are concerned - so I’m not really sure what to do about it.

    It’s getting to the point where I can go through a piece and pick out where I’m going to get knocked off parts before I’ve even played it, because “It just doesn’t sound right” which is really disheartening when you’ve practised them. And once you’ve started getting knocked off, it’s hard to re -establish yourself.

    I’ve heard people say “just use more air” but that just makes the same sound, only louder!

    Any advice? It's really starting to affect my confidence.
  2. persins

    persins Member


    Sounds like good old long note practice initially!!
    Concentrating on the breathing may help too.
    Think of controlling the airflow rather than just more air! The speed of the air tends to govern the volume therefore put the maximum amount through at the correct speed and you may gain more control and a wider, fatter sound.
    Think of a fat sausage of uninterrupted air right through from your stomach!

    The standard advise and caveats apply though...
    get a teacher;
    this is only internet advice not based on experience of your individual playing;
    more practice etc.
  3. bassmittens

    bassmittens Member

    Andi - I guess you've tried experimenting with mouthpieces?? I went through 3 before i settled on the Yamaha mp i'm on at the moment. Try some different ones it can make a huge difference.

    A tip my first tutor told me wich i always recall (cos i suffer similar problems some days) it to blow 'warm' air into the mouthpiece, not cold air! I know it sounds crazy and no pun is intended regards to "warming" your sound up.

    Give it a go it does work (well it has for me) you have to put some thought into it i still have to make the effort conciously sometimes, especially in trickier sections.

    Best of luck.
  4. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    Well, firstly, you need to see someone, or more like they need to see you, to tell whether there's a basic problem with your playing.

    Mouthpieces make a difference, but if a quick mouthpiece experiment yields no benefit/worsening, then it could be one of a hundred things, and nothing that can be advised on by ANYBODY that hasn't seen/heard you play.

    General advice is all well and good, the "warm air" idea, dropping the jaw, plum in mouth shape etc etc can all help if they "click" with you, so good luck, but there really is no alternative to a lesson or two!
  5. Anonymous_user

    Anonymous_user New Member

    I live in Brighouse West Yorkshire. If you want me to have a quick listen to see if I can help please give me a ring on 07920 44 6519

    Simon Gresswell
  6. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    I think the long note advice is spot on,but I would also recommend trying to play every day for at least 1/2 hour and to concentrate on slow melody playing through the whole range of the instrument.
    As a bass player myself, I found that sustained long note practice in the lower register, bottom C down to G enriched my tone in the higher register.
    It's a matter of "Reformatting" the strengths of the emboucher muscles.
    I reckon the most important factor is to blow every day for about 6 months concentrating on sustained sounds.
    I know it's not always easy for you BBb boys to do home practice, but I'm sure it would help.
    - Wilky
  7. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    There you go Andi, you won't get a better offer than that!
  8. Eupher6

    Eupher6 Member

    Agreed. All of the tips given are good, basic techniques for brass playing in general, and would apply to just about everyone.

    But Andi would be best helped by somebody who observes and listens to him play.
  9. Morgans Bach

    Morgans Bach Member

    I am in NO WAY an authority on this topic, but I definately agree with posts above; long-note and breathing excersices sounds like just the job. Just out of interest...

    Although I play cornet as opposed to a BBb, I aquired a DW '2' mouthpiece from a friend, as well as my usual DW '4B'. The '2' cup is much deeper, and I think I read on the info leaflet in the box that it is ideal for lower register, back row cornet work, providing a 'richer' tone. The 4B has a more moderate cup depth size, and seems to be a general, happy medium model. The '4B' is better for high register notes (but can't replace good old fashion practice of course!), but the tone isn't as 'rich'.

    I was just wondering if you've given a 'deeper cup depth' mouthpiece a try?
  10. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    It's fairly difficult to find one deeper than a Perantucci PT50+ without going up to silly sizes. (And that's already wider than a wick 1XL) Mind you, I'm pretty sure one of the BBs from Dyke plays on a VB24AW, which I always found way too small, and yet there's nothing thin about the sound from either of them!

    By process of elimination, it's starting to look like there's a fault with my technique. Will have to set aside pennies for lessons and find myself a Tuba teacher. Thanks for the advice though everyone.

    And thanks for the kind offer Mr Greswell!! I shall definitely be in touch!
  11. leisa

    leisa Active Member

    Andy, Billy said you could get get one off him
  12. bennem

    bennem Member

    Take a look at some of the embouchure aperture discussions going on within some of the trumpet forums. On a trumpet/cornet a pinched sound is usually caused by having too closed an aperture. I would have thought that the issue will be the same on a Tuba. It is just a really, really, really, really, big bass cornet after all...... ;)
  13. Daisy Duck

    Daisy Duck Member

    This is totally irrelevant but when I read the title of your thread, I thought, "Me too!".

    I'm trying to put on a stone and a half at the moment... different kind of fat!
  14. Jacob Larsen

    Jacob Larsen Member

    If you need a bigger sound you should try this out... This is the "Chicago" way of playing brass instruments..

    1. When you practise you should do some breathing exercises.
    - Take 4 beats out and 1 beat in.
    - Take 3 beats out and 1 in..
    - Keep on doing this ontil you can fill you longues 100 % on a quaver..
    - Don´t lift your shoulders. Place a finger at your lips to "hear" the breathing.
    - Do this every day.

    2. Play on your mouthpiece for 5-10 min. Short melodies, scales, long notes.. Be sure to play in tune.. Use a piano to get the right pitch and intonation...
    - Sing the frase with your best singing voice...
    - Play the same frase on the mouthpiece...

    In this way you will make a connection between your brain´s speaking and singing centre (your piching) and the vibrations your lips (via your 7th facial muscle) make to get a tone in perfect pitch..

    3. Practise legato playing.. (Marco Bodogni etudes for trombone are very good - I use them on the trumpet as well) :)

    4. Always watch out for wrong pitching and lack of air...

    5. If you have an old mouthpiece you can build your own buzzer... Just cut away all the metal so your have the rim... Click on the link to see image..


    " SONG & WIND "



    Ps. Here is the Marco Bodogni etudes in treble clef... Another trumpeter has made these and published them for free at his website... You can also find them at my website... Click on the link below...
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2006
  15. Anonymous_user

    Anonymous_user New Member

    Lots of good tips and not so good (Bass trumpet) above, my mobile has not been ringing yet. Lets get it on! and sorted
    It wont cost you a penny!
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2006
  16. Chris Thomas

    Chris Thomas Member

    This is the one call you'll ever need to make!!!!!

  17. Jacob Larsen

    Jacob Larsen Member

    Im a bit confused... Do you disagree in what I was suggesting ? ?? ?? How would you get a bigger sound ??? I have based my teaching on the "Chicago" way of teaching / playing brass instruments.. My teacher at the conservatorie in Århus has written a book about this way of teaching...

    Click below and see the reviews in English...
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2006
  18. matt_BBb_bass

    matt_BBb_bass Member

    i play BBb bass aswell and my md tells me to blow long lower notes if you do that for 5-10 mins a day it helps with you breath and it you use a mute while doing it it helps both at the same time. If you dont have a mute like me i just put a cusion down my bass.
  19. agentorange

    agentorange Member

    Hi Andi.
    I'll pass on the advice I was given many, many years ago

    "imagine tha's playin' wi a boiled egg in thi gob"

    It sounds daft but give it a try, it worked for me!

  20. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    I was told something similar by a bb flat bass legend, but it wasn't a egg i had to imagine was in my mouth, it was something far far ruder!!!!!!!! The warm air thing is a winner imagine your breathing onto a window to write your name in the mist. But the top and bottom of it is on the tuba like any brass instrument, you only get out what you put in, practice taking in more air than you think you possibly need and certainly on the bb flat think about width of sound before volume, the volume will come with time and effort. (that's if you don't die early in a freak chest explosion disaster!!!)