Switching to Baritone from Eb Bass

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by JacobM, Apr 7, 2007.

  1. JacobM

    JacobM New Member


    I've recently switched to this instrument and on the whole am enjoying the change, finding the music more challenging and rewarding. However, I am having a few problems and wondered if anyone here could offer up suggestions.

    1. I am finding the pitching higher notes a little tricky (which I did expect) so wondered if anyone knew any techniques which could be recommended.

    2. I am also currently finding it a bit uncomfortable to hold. What is the best place to have the left arm? Is it all the way across like a euph or bass (which im used to) or is it just holding the frame?

    I ask this because I am finding my left upper arm aches at the moment when playing for any meaningful amount of time and when this occurs it makes the note production a bit shaky.

    It could be that I have been applying too much pressure on a bass and this simply doesn’t work on a bartine, but would like other people’s opinions.


  2. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    Good post Jacob...I have to say it's a bit funny to me as I switched from baritone to EEb bass....However, here is my personal advice.

    1) Pitching the instrument...I would almost think the issue you are dealing with is more a Bb/ Eb issue than baritone tuba issue....I have bounced around from tenor horn to trombone to baritone to EEb bass to BBb and jumping octaves isn't nearly as challenging as switching pitches. It just takes some time with the horn on the lips to get used to. (of course time goes by much quicker when you practice at home rather than only once or twice a week at band). For me the Bb/Eb conversion took about a month to feel really comfortable with moderate practice.

    2) How to hold the baritone...depends on whether or not you have a fourth valve...if you do, I'd hold it like a euph or EEb bass. If not your left hand does not need to be quite as high up.
  3. LostBass

    LostBass New Member


    I'm no expert, but I made the move from Bb Bass to Baritone at Christmas, I don't have any great pearls of wisdom but a couple of thoughts.

    I have found difficulty pitching Bb/D/F and top Bb, just when you start to get used to your highest note being an F your upper register improves and you have to start all over again. Make sure you warm up properly and try and get the notes in your head especially before a band practice. It's easy to get lost when everyone around you is playing notes from a chord, and you're not certain which one you should be putting in.

    I know exactly what you mean about your arm hurting, I've tried a few different places to hold the instrument. My favourite at the moment is to hold the valve block as I can get my fingers between the 1st and 3rd valve tubing. This keeps my wrist straight so it's much more comfy. I don't think there any definite best places as each manufacturers instrument is different and we are all different shapes and sizes, so just try and find what works best for you.

    I hope you enjoy the move as much as I have, I'm trying to play 1st baritone parts and it's a real challenge, but great fun.

    All the best

    Denton Brass
  4. euphojim

    euphojim Member

    Hi Jacob,

    I have changed instruments several times in the past few years (moving up and down) and it always takes me a month or so to get comfortable with the new instrument, particularly when switching between Eb and Bb pitches. Moving to a smaller instrument will always pose a challenge for the upper register because of the higher frquency at which your lips need to vibrate - the only solution is lots of practice, daily if you can manage it, even if it is only for 10 or 15 minutes. As mentioned already you need to warm up gently and gradually extend your range over a perod of weeks.

    Regarding holding the baritone, I do not cuddle mine (as I did the Euph and Bass) but just hold thumb and 1st finger on the valve casings with the other fingers on the 3rd valve slide and that works for me. Being a shorter instrument it does not rest on your lap (unless you are a smaller person) so the left arm does take the weight of the instrument and that can be tiring until you get used to it.

    I am sure you will do fine but need to be patient.

  5. JacobM

    JacobM New Member

    Thanks a lot for the replies people. Some very good points there. Seems that I need to do some relaxed, measured practise to tackle the high notes.

    I am glad that I'm not the only one who found the instrument a little uncomfortable at first! :sup