High register on bass/tuba

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by B.Portas, Oct 6, 2014.

  1. B.Portas

    B.Portas Member

    Afternoon, good folk of tMP,

    I've been trying to boost my higher register on my EEb bass for a while now. The highest note I've ever had to play in a piece is only an A above the treble clef stave (concert C in bass clef) and on good days, after warming up significantly, I can get a top C (concert Eb above the stave in bass clef), but would have to give it serious work to be able to use it in a musical situation, i.e., strong, in tune, controlled.

    For upcoming test pieces and university recitals, I need to be able to cleanly (and as in tune as possible) hit the D above that in treble clef (F in bass clef).

    My question for all you bass players is - how do you/did you increase your top register? I use a Bach 18 mouthpiece, and love it for band work, but will be getting my euro shank 24AW machined down, for another smaller option. My bottom register is absolutely no problem, pedal C and beyond are fine - I think the dark side of BBb bass playing is slowly dragging me in - but I need to be able to get right up in the rafters to cut it as a tubist.

    Any tips for getting higher will be much appreciated,

    Thanks a lot!

  2. Matthew

    Matthew Active Member

    I think you need to look at your embouchure/technique properly with a decent tuba teacher - hard to say without seeing. Do you use a lot of pressure when playing?

    ROBTHEDOG Member


    I'll drop you note on FB I have a small shank 24AW if you want it ?
  4. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    Steady on, its not a dating site you know !
  5. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    Ask your teacher - if you haven't got one, get one!
    Anyone who is giving advice without being able to see what you are doing is just guessing as to what the problems might be (if there are any).
  6. B.Portas

    B.Portas Member

    I do have a teacher, and will be discussing it with him when I have my next lesson. I don't use an excessive amount of pressure (at least I don't think so - and have never been told that I need to ease off), but there must be something that's not clicking. My range both up and down has improved dramatically since selling my Imperial and getting a good old 80s Sovereign on loan from my band, and a hell of a lot of practice to try and keep up at 1st/newly promoted Champ section level, but being able to hit higher notes is probably an issue with my technique.

    It's not a hugely important part of my playing, as most written parts are well within my range, but for tuba solos at university and although I leave the top parts of any splits to the solo EEb player at my band, it'd be nice to be able to be able to really get to euphonium-like highs.

    Thanks for the advice!
  7. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    Bacjh 18 was always a BBb mouthpiece....24AW is used by many fine players, and all who studied with Patrick Harrild (LSO) .

    Follow Mike's advice, take trip across to the RNCM a good teacher will give you enough to work on in one lesson to last a couple of months!
  8. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    As I understand it the OP is studying music at York and needs the high notes to pass University 'set' recitals. At £9k per year fees I'd expect his current teachers to be sorting this problem out for him never mind having to think about a trip to the RNCM (in Leeds) and large extra expense ! Perhaps he needs to be finding a way of putting that point forward to his tutor, but in a friendly way.

    I can't offer advice on this high range issue as I'm much less expert than the OP, but instead share my own experience as a progressively improving player. I've been finding scale articulation exercises in Langey helpful (there's similar in Complete Method, etc) in stretching my upper range back up to top C. Following a chat with a much older and experienced player I've also benefited from moving my lips (vertically) away from the centre of the mouthpiece effectively reducing its width.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
  9. B.Portas

    B.Portas Member

    ^ Actually, I'm still paying the £3765 that was introduced before the government change - I transferred and had to retake 2nd year, and have been studying at uni since 2011. Still, I understand what you mean.

    I'm looking into tuition books, one of which Rob sent me via Facebook.
  10. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    I've always found Right and Rounds Complete Method great for all aspects of tuba practice up to the highest standard, it also contains a lot of advice ~ highly recommended.

    ~ Mr Wilx
  11. davetubaking

    davetubaking Member

    Coincidentally I've recently returned (after many years) to taking my playing seriously and have been working hard on my upper register with (in part) a view to playing Mussorgsky/Ravels Pictures at an Exhibition with my local orchestra (this Sunday). Bydlo is usually played on a euphonium but I want to play it on my Eb tuba. The part goes up to concert Ab or high F in Brass Band parlance.

    The most important thing is stamina and lots of practice with a consistent and long warm up and warm down that concentrates on both ends of the register. It really helps the upper register if you practice hard in the lower register (cos it strengthens your embouchure). My current warm up takes around 25 to 30 minutes. After a few mid range arpeggio slurs just to get the lips going I do long notes starting on G 2nd line (all BB parlance from here) then spiral out in semitones until I reach the G above and below. So two octaves. The notes are roughly mp and as long as is comfortable and the sound stays good. Then I do the same thing but in slurred minims (roughly crotchet = 50) breathing 3 times. Then again in crotchets breathing once then again in quavers in one breath all slurred. So that really gets things buzzing and flexibility going. Then I'll do some more slurred arpeggios from C 4th space chromatically downwards at a good MF five notes each time (C 4th space,G,E,G,C line below) sustaining the lower note for as long as comfortable. Working down as far as possible which currently is down to pedal G. Then I'll do the high stuff which consists of rapid slurred chromatic scales (in groups of 6 semis) over two octaves up and down starting at low G (3rd space below stave). One breath for each run around mp. That should be straight forward up to top C. Then I'll carry on but this time after doing the two octaves up and down to top C# I'll then do a one octave run from C# 3rd space up to top C# but sustain the C#. Then I'll do 6 chromatic semis down and up four times from the top C# ending again with a sustained top C#. Then finally a three octave run down from top C# and sustain the low C# as long as is comfortable. Repeat for D then D#/Eb, E, F, F# and G (four lines above the stave). At which point my lip is getting knackered. So I stop when it gets too squeaky and finish the warm up with sustained notes bottom c chromatically down as far as possible at a good forte.

    After that I'll practice whatever parts/pieces I want. At the end of the practice I'll do more arpeggios and sustained notes in the lower register. I'm practicing for about 90 minutes every day I can.

    Before I started my new regime, after many years of neglect, my stamina and upper register were shot to pieces and getting even up to top C was dodgy and unpleasant. But having been working on this routine for over four months now I can play up to High E comfortably and the F (for bydlo) is getting there. At orchestral rehearsal last night it was about 50/50 (the high F comes 4 times). I'm also getting up to the F# and G sometimes and expect to start getting those more regularly in the near future. My stamina is also 200% better.

    The other thing I'd recommend for all aspects of tuba playing is the Bach cello suites. Great for everything, technique, upper register, flexibilty particularly, lower register (play them down an octave) and just superlative music. But get the proper cello edition not an edited for tuba version.