The Tuba Player's Guide to Public Transport

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by geordiecolin, Apr 7, 2005.

  1. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    Being a bass player and also a student, throughout the 3 1/2 years I have now spent in Sheffield I have become a bit of an expert with regards to the transportation of tubas via public transport. I thought I would share a few tips with you:

    Please note, I am assuming that you are playing a Sovereign sized instrument in a hard case. I would be very wary of taking a tuba in a soft case anywhere near public transport.

    1. Don't use public transport if you can avoid it. It is a monumental pain in the posterior

    2.Trams are good. Most tram systems in the UK are tuba friendly, that is, easy access and you can usually steal the pushchair/wheelchair spot. On some trams there are 2 of these so one's usually available. I've never tried taking a tuba on the Nottingham tram, but they're a bit tighter than the Sheffield Supertram I'm used to so might present problems.

    3. Beware old buses. Many older double decker buses have a pole running floor to ceiling to divide the door. These are a pain to get your bass through. It will go, but with a lot effort. If buses are regular, wait for the next one.

    4. Small local "Sprinter" type trains can usually accomodate your instrument in the cycle space, provided there are no bikes!

    5. The even smaller local "Pacer" type trains are slightly better as you can fold up one of the bench seats by the door and put your tuba there. Unless of course someone is sitting there.

    6. Avoid Virgin Trains. Virgin's s****y little trains are ridiculous. Firstly, the aisles are just that little bit too narrow for your bass. Secondly, their valuable luggage "compartment" is a small alcove at the rear of the train. This is in no way secure and is handily located adjacent to the "quiet coach", so unless you want to abandon your instrument for the journey, you must refrain from even breathing, lest you be scowled at. You can of course opt to stay with your instrument but the luggage compartment isn't air conditioned and is freezing! Also the chances are you'll arrive late.

    7. GNER rock! Old style 125 or 225s are great. (Midland Mainline use them too). Only one of the "engines" actually works, the other is known as a "dummy car". There is nothing in the dummy car but a small "train office". If you knock on the door and ask nicely, you MAY be able to put your instrument in the "dummy car". There it will be safe from thieves and damage, although you must lay it down flat. I recommend going to pick up your instrument a good 20 mins before your station in case there is no-one in the office. Also, GNER/Mainline are NOT responsible in anyway for any damage that may occur.

    8. Be willing to work your journey around the above advice. If travelling Sheffield - Newcastle, I will often get a local train to Doncaster so I can pick up a GNER train as opposed to the direct Virgin service.

    9. Your bass will probably fit in the luggage rack of most standard sized buses.

    10. Keep an eye on case and wheel wear and tear. People often comment on my slightly battered case, but then most bass player's cases only go from house - car - bandroom. Watch wheel wear especially.

    11. It is possible to get 4 people, a tuba, a trombone and a clarinet in a standard london style black cab.

    12. Leave extra journey time.

    13. Don't go out in the snow. Bass case wheels hate snow.

    14. Be prepared for daft looks.

    15. Buy a car

    16. Take up Sop

    17. Oh yeah, TRUST NO-ONE. Try to avoid letting your instrument or luggage go out of sight. I will often go and "guard" my instrument at every station.

    18. I really am desperate to avoid writing the essay I'm supposed to be doing!!................

    19. Eat 5 portions of vegetables a day.

    20. If you have a satellite dish on your house which is no longer used, under Schedule 2, Class H, Pt 2 of the General Permitted Development Order, it should be removed.

    Mods: one for the library maybe?
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2005
  2. Red Elvis

    Red Elvis Active Member

    Geordie Colin rightly points out the joys of transporting instruments via public transport. I also have much experience of London Underground during the evening rush hour , trying to get myself , a baritone , or sometimes a euph or trom over to rehearsals , or various combinations thereof !

    Whilst there are many hazards associated with this , one bonus is the ease with which a judiciously timed swing of the arm / wrist carrying the instrument can ease your way through the crowds and onto said trains !!!!

    Edit : Woo !!! 300 posts !!!!
  3. Andy_Euph

    Andy_Euph Active Member

    Go on Colin! You must be as bored as I am.

    Can see where your coming from though as I have hassle just with a euph, when I go up home I have to get the crappy Transpennine trains, I normally put my euph on the storage space but try to sit near it so no idiot gets on the train and throws something on top of it ( this has happened before normally when people get on the train at leeds)

    P.S. not about this but how crap are the buses up home! Can spend about 70p and go almost anywhere around Manchester, I come home and its 3 quid from newbiggin to newcastle, talk about rip off
  4. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Ah, that brings back memories. Not that I've got a car, nothing of the sort! Thankfully my bass is securely locked in the bandroom, and I've a student model at home. Which is a most convenient arrangement!

    I do still recall the breathtaking inconvenience of transporting a tuba on a bus. And the comments from the public. If I had a pound for every time someone had said 'that's a big trumpet.' I'd be a rich man!

    Best moment ever, when a conductor on Black Prince busses tried to charge me full fare for me and half fare for the bass! :shock: I was still laughing when I got off at the practice room four miles later.

    He, was apparently serious too, not that it bothered me...
  5. Owen S

    Owen S Member

    While I was at Uni, one of our bass players used to cycle the mile or two to band every week with his bass slung over his back on the strap. Seeing him in the middle of the road with his arm out waiting to turn right was always a sight.
  6. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I was thinking of doing a thread just like this, but you've beaten me to it!

    Bring back the old open backed buses I say! Nothing like it for putting your bass in a safe place while you go for a fag! upstairs ;)

    Trouble is, I don't smoke any more :(
  7. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    Nice research Colin...just out of curiosity, I'd guess the thread is for Eb basses...what amendments should be made for BBb's or is it just "buy a truck?"
  8. Ben Miller

    Ben Miller New Member

    I would add, that the new Scotrail shuttle trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow are great if you put your bass against the door which is NOT in use (failing to remember this has led to my tuba falling out on more than slightly surprised passengers waiting to get on), although there is just nowhere on the older trains. If a conductor tries to give you a hard time just do your best glower and tell them how many bodies can be hidden in a case of that size...
  9. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    .. and what about gig-bags for chewbas? They look nice (well, the ReUnion Blues ones do) and look like they can be worn well for trekking off to band. Anyone been caught out with the aching shoulders you get after carrying the instrument? Managed to offset this a wee bit by adding some form of waist strap to redistribute the weight! :mad:
  10. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I don't know how well those protect the horn as well. My horn seemed to work fine and then after two weeks in a gig bag the 4th valve became quite dodgy. I had it fixed and have been usingthe hard case ever since. A pain to transport...but the instrument has stayed healthy.
  11. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    The R-Blues bag I have works really well with it's design (... I got a custom 19" bag made in L.A. for Phil Parker) except that there is no firm protection for the bell. Only other gripe is that the horn fits too snugly. Difficult to take out or put back if you are in a hurry! But the burgundy colour attracts a lot of attention!
  12. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Oh, on public transport buses, I've had to give up my seat at the front to parent 'n' pram on a few occasions! (... and once to an old woman). Ideal situation is when the luggage area at the front is free ... seems to fit EEbs perfectly!
  13. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    Is there a website link where I can check that out?
  14. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    (I got my bag before they exported their manufacture to the Far East ... and apparently the quality isn't as good!)

    hmmm! they've now added an 19" bell bag!
  15. carlwoodman

    carlwoodman Member

    Excellent post geordiecolin!

    I've had to bring a Sovereign BBb (in a hard case) to work this morning as I'm going straight to an evening rehearsal at Hendon afterwards.

    My wife gave me a lift to the station and I got the slow Blackfriars train so I didn't have to change at Bromley South.
    Why is it that the hoardes of ticket inspectors that descend on Elephant & Castle station from time to time have to stand right at the bottom of the steps? Why can't they go back a few feet? I had to walk past them this morning in order to find a space to put the case down and one clot thought I was trying to get past without showing my ticket!
    Should be fun on the Northern line this evening!

    Incidentally, I can recommend the new shape Toyota Corolla Verso for carting tubas around. The Sovereign BBb (in the hard case) fits in the back and you only have to remove the luggage cover.
    With the middle seats folded flat, I've had two BBbs in there side by side and there was probably room for a third too.

    I've had an Armadillo case for my Eb for many years. I bought mine from Barratts in Manchester in 1981 and it's still going strong.
    For those of you that have never seen an Armadillo tuba case it's VERY shaped and streamlined even more so than a Yamaha case. The drawbacks are that it is quite heavy and hasn't got wheels but the protection for the tuba is superb.
    Because it is very streamlined, it is quite funny sometimes seeing people fall over it as they see the thin bit coming towards them but don't account for the bell flare!
    James Gourlay auditioned me for an orchestra years ago and he seemed more interested in the case than he was in my playing!
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2005
  16. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    On the way back from the Tmp Children in Need gig in Birmingham I was forced alas, to get a Virgin train. Instead of faffing around with luggage compartments i just dumped my bass against the opposite door, sat on it and promptly went to sleep. I got a bit of a shock when we got to Derby and the door i was leaning on suddenly opened and I almost fell out of the train, much to the surprise of the people trying to get on!

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