Using 4th valve

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Chris Lee, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Hi folks. I am just moving from a 3 valve E flat bass to a compensating 4 valve, and have to ask a stupid question: is there any convention that everybody except me knows about regarding when to use the 4th valve?

    I realise I have a range of options, from just ignoring it, right through to using it whenever it offers alternative fingering. But I think the real answer must lie somewhere between those extremes.

    Of course I have to use it for low F and everything below that. (I am talking about notes transposed for E flat here).

    And I guess I should use it for low F sharp, G, A, B, C sharp and D below the stave (treble clef). But maybe not - see comment below.

    Comment. Please tell me if I'm wrong here... Any single valve can be assumed reasonably accurate because the additional tubing it introduces is simply a percentage addition to the overall length of the instrument. When a second valve is opened, the instrument is effectively already a bit longer on account of the first valve adding some tubing, so the new note is not quite the same percentage of the total length, and therefore not quite accurate. As more tubing is added (by opening multiple valves, especially in combination with 3) the worse this effect gets. By the time you get to the fourth valve, the effect is so noticeable that the tubing on each of the other valves has to be compensated (altered) to give the correct percentage change. (I've actually come across compensation on a 3 valved instrument, presumably following the same logic). However, that only compensates for the tubing introduced by the 4th valve when it is in use, and doesn't alter the discrepancy inherent in the other valves. The pitching benefit of the 4th valve (apart from lowering the overall range) is not to do with the compensation per se but comes from the fact that it can be used to minimise the number of valves open together, and therefore the innacuracy.
    On that basis you wouldn't want to use 4th for low A or low B where it doesn't reduce the number of open valves. (In fact I've seen a fingering chart that makes that assumption).

    I'd dearly appreciate your comments here - I believe the situation is even more complex because some of the open notes are themselves not 100% accurate due to the character of multiples of fundamental resonance in the tube.

    And what about the top end?
    For transposed top F would you use 1 and 3 or 1 and 4?
    For F sharp: 2, or 2 and 4
    For G sharp, 0 or 4

    Using the same logic you wouldn't use the 4th valve for any of them (and i've seen that on a fingering chart too).

    I'm sure you will answer 'play what sounds right' or somesuch, but I'd really appreciate the benefit of your experience here.

    Very Best, Chris Lee

    Newbie, 928 series Besson EEflat 4 valve compensating
    Amersham Vintage, Training and Ellesborough Silver Bands (UK)
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2010
  2. Beesa

    Beesa Member

    A quick answer might be:

    There are no rules. Just play the fingering that is most in tune. It is all a compromise anyway.
  3. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Hi Beesa. I thought that might be the answer. I guess I am just a bit concerned because I took grade 3 and 4 on the 3 valve, and the ABRMS guidelines say that you must use a fourth valve if there is one. So I wondered if there were in fact any guidelines. Appreciate your response.

    Very Best, Chris
  4. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    As has been said, there are no hard and fast rules, just do what works for you. As you get more used to having a fourth valve you'll find you use it more to help with awkward fingering changes as well as tuning issues. One thing to remember is that, if you're going to use it at all, you should aim to use it frequently, otherwise when you do introduce it you are adding a length of colder tubing.
  5. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Interesting point Peter. Thanks for your response.

    Very Best, Chris
  6. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    +1, and no matter how much you use the 4th valve, use your ears more.
  7. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    I guess so. Thanks. Chris Lee
  8. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    That fact that you are already looking at it from a such a scientific perspective leads me to believe you'll be fine. (Also keep in mind that those you are listening to all likely play different horns, and...IMHO...different mouthpieces which can affect pitch a great deal).

    I would suggest taking all the input, then sitting down with a. Tuner to see what works best for you.

    Dr. DB
  9. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Thx for this Dr DB. You know, I'd was just deciding that's what I should do next.

    Very Best, Chris
  10. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    Use 4th for c sharps, Ds and low Gs downwards on anything longer than a quaver. the alternative are out of tune. Its no more complicated than that. forget the science.
  11. Jnr.

    Jnr. New Member

    Likewise, when do people feel is it appropriate to use 2 triggers on a bass trombone rather than 1 trigger in 4/5 position?
  12. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Interesting response Toby because those are exactly the notes using the 3rd valve and therfore the most out of tune. So very logical thing to do.

    What about the top end? F, Fsharp, G? Any guidance there?

    Very Best, Chris
  13. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Experiment with none, 1 or both until you find what works best for you
  14. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    Very occasionally on exposed parts it may be necessary but generally don't use it up there, its easier to lip the note in than fiddling, it makes the sound too thin and empty using 4th. So unless you want to do some tuba crime like pines of Rome (which has occasionally been known from me cough cough)........dont bother. A good use for 4th valve is playing low C on 4 and 1... B on 4 1,2 etc. It makes it very flat so you have to lip up but you get lots of resistance on usually very open notes, so very quiet passages around there with practice and carefull listening can become easier, especially when under pressure and nerves are kicking in ......
  15. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    When it saves you a long shift, enabling you to play the line more smoothly. Bear in mind that using both with a short shift rather than one with a longer shift will involve some change of blowing response that may cost more than it gains in terms of playing ease.

    For the 4th valve debate, Toby's covered it, but I'd just to point out that, as Chris seems to be quite new to all this, it would make best sense if he kept things simple... So replace 1+3 with 4 and 1+2+3 with 4, and leave it alone apart from that and low F on down. It's what almost all experienced players do anyway.
  16. Phil Green

    Phil Green Supporting Member

    that wouldn't be the crime where the good doctor called us into his dressing room and told us in no uncertain terms "..never ever make a noise like that in this band again!!" ??

    Also, don't go giving away all our quiet playing secrets - I hardly get any work as it is!

    Happy Christmas old friend,
  17. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    I thought we only had two dynamics........on and off!!!!!!!!

    and all the best to you mate. Its been to long!!!
  18. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    my rule of thumb is any where I would use 1+3 I use 4
    c# 1+2+3 I use 2+4
    G 1+3 I use 4
    D 1+3 I use 4
    works for me, I don't use 4 on higher notes.
    A & B below pedal C no 4th Valve
    Pedal G use 4
    pedal F# 2+4
    Pedal F 1+4
    hope that helps
  19. Pondasher

    Pondasher Member

  20. Chris Lee

    Chris Lee Guest

    Thank You

    Thank you all for your guidance. It all pulls together to give a pretty consistent story (summarised in that nice chart) and I very much appreciate your advice.

    Thanks, Chris Lee