Where have all the Bb bass players gone?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Ali, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. Sop_Or_Bass?

    Sop_Or_Bass? Member

  2. Neillyboy

    Neillyboy Member

    I have just read 11 pages of valid points that certainly got me inclined to chip in.

    When I started playing brass at 8 years old, I started on a baritone, within a year was on a euph, and after2 years on that I was on a half sized Bb. After a year on that I played an imperial and at the grand age of 12 and approximately 4 ft 5 in heights was playing a 3+1 sov. I still play BBb and I have tried rotaries, euros, etc and the reason why British bands don't use them is because the sound is far too thin.

    If you think about a European tuba for a second,what's its main purpose? To cut over a 60 piece orchestra, whereas a top loaded valve sov is designed to provide a foundation on which the rest of the band sits on. For that to happen it needs to be a British style bass as they are specifically designed to resonate and provide a deep sonorous noise.

    In regards to playing, the Bb is possibly the hardest instrument due to several factors;

    1. It requires gallons of air, especially at fortissimo and beyond
    2. The articulation has to be exaggerated through the mouthpiece.
    3. It's heavy and bulky on the march therefore tricky to play.

    However, the argument that Bb players get all the tricky stuff taken off them and out onto Eb is a lot of nonsense.im going to take this years second section test piece as a prime example of a bass section working as a team. In cross patonce, the principal Eb and Bb both have some tricky wee solos, a bass quartet is there, a lot of harmony work. It is clear that a bass section works well by encouraging weaker players to play out and giving hints and tips and as a result, the players start to enjoy it and want to play it because they enjoy the challenge.

    As a result, size and air required for these instruments are put to the back of minds, and players challenge the self to master the king tuba!

    As for bass players being in short demand, I feel there is no encouragement to entice players to play them. Yes instruments can be battered or falling apart but get the players on the seats and invest in them. Youth bands are great for building players at grass roots level and there is funding available to buy good new instruments.

    Sorry it's long, I feel the need to say my bit!
  3. derekdawson

    derekdawson Member

    Having played with Barnsley Chronicle Band on Sat. last, 50 yrs. after first going on stage at SGH with Grimethorpe, and also playing with the Grimethorpe all stars at Butlins, it would seem to me to be a good time to call it a day, I am in my 75th. year and all good things come to an end.
  4. skiosbod

    skiosbod New Member

    I've played the BBb Bass since my School Brass Teacher saw I could lift and blow a note out of it. Unfortunately, my present shift job only allows me to play occasionally and can't commit fully to any Band. Interestingly, my Nephew wanted to play Bass in School but was told to learn on a Trombone even though they had brand new 3 valve Basses available. When the School concert came round the Brass Band Teacher had invited his fellow Band players to play the Basses. I wonder if this is common in other places?
  5. iancwilx

    iancwilx Active Member

    I don't believe it Dirk, you're just having a low moment.
    As As I've said before, "Old bandsmen don't retire they simply blow away" ~ I'd bet on you being back passing on your considerable font of banding/playing knowledge to some youngsters before long !

    ~ Mr Wilx
  6. derekdawson

    derekdawson Member

    Can't argue with that Wilkie I suppose, I do still enjoy playing, it's the getting up and going that does it, I've noticed a few derogatory remarks about BBb bass players recently on Tmp, well as you know Wilkie you don't build a good house on bad foundations, and I would advise any young musician to consider the instrument, best move I ever made at the tender age of 18 yrs.( well EEb bass at that time) George Thompson talked me onto BBb at 25yrs. still my best move.Thank's for the reply


    Derek....I think the only way you will be able to retire from playing will be to change your phone number and keep the front door locked ! You are still in great demand.
  8. iancwilx

    iancwilx Active Member

    Well said Stuart ~ Good BBb players are as rare as rocking horse doody !
    It's time all that so called "Expenses" dosh that's frequently heaped on the multitudinous ranks of Solo Cornets, troms, sops and Euphs is diverted to attract stars of the BBb Bass !! ( Not that I agree with outlandish payments that would make Bankers blush being paid out to mediocre mussos in our amateur hobby.)

    - Mr Wilx
  9. derekdawson

    derekdawson Member

    I can see me ending up doing a Tommy Cooper, but not yet for a bit eh?
  10. cornyandy

    cornyandy Member

    What do you mean " Bass Bottle, Bottle Bass" or even pronounce it differently "Bottle of Bass" :D
  11. Matthew

    Matthew Member

    Super points and well made, agreed! :)
  12. meandmycornet

    meandmycornet Active Member

    Hello, My name is Fi, and I want to play bass!

    Someone silly let me have a go on an Eb Bass a couple of years (I was thrilled as I'd always wanted to have a try!) and from that moment on, I have wanted to play bass!

    I was at a carolling job with my current band, and those of you who know me, will not be suprised to hear I was told stop chatting 'or you'll be going on Eb Bass after Christmas!' .... much shock and suprise when my reply was 'Oooooh CAN I?!?!'

    I had a go on Eb and was hooked... but as we already had two Eb players and the area contest was looming, I had to pack my new friend back into the instrument cupboard and retake my seat on the back row cornet bench for the time being!

    The bandmaster (jokingly, I thought) informed me that I was going on Bb Bass after the area.... now I told him... I know I'm keen...but I think that is a step too far even for me! Well yesterday... he took me on a 'secret mission' to a Trevada trade stand. I got to have a cuddle with a lovely 'Baby Bb' York Tuba and I was smitten! Hopefully the committee will agree that it's a very good idea and I will get to sit with the big boys again! :D

    Oh and .... if I can manage a bass, anyone can... I'm only 5ft tall!
  13. derekdawson

    derekdawson Member

    Hello Fi,( I just changed that from Hi Fi) nice to see your message, stick with it and don't let anyone put you off being a Bass player, I would advise an EEb rather than a baby Bb, you need the power of a full sized Bass(4valves) to really get your teeth into, there was a colour sergeant Eb bass player in the Army with me he was only about 5 foot and managed OK,( good Rugby player as well) one tip I will pass on to you, I always carry a cushion in the bell of the Bass as no two chairs on gigs are the same, and the cushion helps you to adjust and reach the bass properly, best of luck in your endeavours FI and let me know how you get on. Derek
  14. BassBlaster

    BassBlaster Member

    Yep your a bass player alright, mental. sounds good to me, get off the cornet go to the bass :)
  15. meandmycornet

    meandmycornet Active Member

    Hi Derek... I would rather play Eb... but there's no space on the Eb Bass Bench.... and the band needs Bb ... so muggins here is stepping in.... or rather... being pushed in head first by my lovely darling bandmaster! :D He thinks it's a marvellous idea! I'm witholding judgement until I get my mitts on this new bass!
  16. iancwilx

    iancwilx Active Member

    "Sound" advice from the master !

    ~ Mr Wilx
  17. Matthew

    Matthew Member

    Superb! You'll never regret it or look back!

    PS: You might swear once or twice or more when lugging it about.....in the rain, up the stairs, down the street, on the march, perched on a stupid chair, in cramped spaces, when you can't see, list goes on........lol...........but it's ALWAYS worth it! :D
  18. pbirch

    pbirch Member

    Without wishing to open the health and safety can of worms, these are significant points, good chairs and perhaps playing stands will make life easier, and longer, for BBb players. Proper transport is a consideration, too. I doubt that the percussion section would be asked to get the kit,the timps, the glock, the tubular bells etc into the back of a mondeo, neither should the big tuba players.
    I did note a while ago that professional military bands have stopped using BBbs on the march, as they exceed the safe 10kg limit for manual handling. The cramped spaces we play in are always a risk, not just to backs and joints but also to valuable instruments.
  19. derekdawson

    derekdawson Member

    Best of luck Fi, it could still turn out for the best, as I said before, I was pushed onto BBb and it has taken me round the world, so hang in there. Derek
  20. StellaJohnson

    StellaJohnson Active Member

    If you want to attract bass players and our percussionists then appropriate transport is in order. I'm not as fussy as Stuart, I'm not after a brand new instrument, but I'm not buying a 4x4 and a 3 bedroom semi just to please a 4th section band. If there are any bands in the Huddersfield area that do have adequate transport to take the basses to and from concerts please get in touch, you might tempt me back out of retirement!!! My bass at my previous band was getting in the way of the TV screen in my small affordable terrace house and my other half does like his football!!

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