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View Full Version : Eb Bass - hopelessly sharp!



Tubamutha
16.02.2010, 09:20
Hello there fellow banders

My instrument is quite sharp. I use a large mouthpiece and all of my slides are out as far as possible, so I reckon it must be the way that I play it.

I was wondering however whether anyone knows where I could obtain a shank (if that is what you call it?) to pop into the mouthpiece to give me a little extra length of pipe to try and get it a bit more in tune?

I think I saw one at a trade stand once but cannot remember where and I cant find one on the internet.

Many thanks

Cyril
16.02.2010, 09:40
Hello there fellow banders

My instrument is quite sharp. I use a large mouthpiece and all of my slides are out as far as possible, so I reckon it must be the way that I play it.

I was wondering however whether anyone knows where I could obtain a shank (if that is what you call it?) to pop into the mouthpiece to give me a little extra length of pipe to try and get it a bit more in tune?

I think I saw one at a trade stand once but cannot remember where and I cant find one on the internet.

Many thanks

Try cleaning it out first.

Despot
16.02.2010, 10:02
My instrument is quite sharp. I use a large mouthpiece and all of my slides are out as far as possible, so I reckon it must be the way that I play it.



Probably, but if it's very old, check it's not high pitch. And check the mouthpiece is actually the right fit.

And try cleaning it out as the other poster advised.

Thirteen Ball
16.02.2010, 11:16
When you say a large mouthpiece... how large? Which brand/size are you using?

Tubamutha
16.02.2010, 14:08
When you say a large mouthpiece... how large? Which brand/size are you using?

Denis Wick 2L..... I daren't go to a 1L as I won't be able to hit the high notes....

iancwilx
16.02.2010, 15:17
Denis Wick 2L..... I daren't go to a 1L as I won't be able to hit the high notes....

Like a previous poster, I reckoned it might be an old high pitch instrument, but surely a DW2L wouldn't fit in the lead pipe.
I don't see how any standard design, concert pitch instrument with all slides pulled out to abnormal extremities can be sharp to the rest of the band.

We need to know the make, approx age, and if any alteration to the tubing of the instrument is apparent before a decent diagnosis can be made.

- Mr Wilx

richardcowens2008
16.02.2010, 21:44
ive known ends of the mouthpiece been cut down in past, carn't remember if it was to sharpen or flaten the instrurment though but it worked. think it was at barnsly building society band kenilworth and thriumphant rapsody year with ian craddock.

Aussie Tuba
16.02.2010, 21:52
if it's a modern instument eg ( Besson ) then I think it needs a good internal cleaning Dennis wick mouthpeices are rarley that sharp. I had that problem with a PT 84 perrantuci playing sharp but the DW 3L was fine. Dirt build up inside could reduce the tubing causing it to play sharp. I'd be getting it Cleaned and serviced before I put any extesions in. and they are called tuning bits usually used in sousaphones usually in pairs so the player can bring the mouthpeice and lead pipe to a comfortable playing position.

Thirteen Ball
17.02.2010, 12:06
It ain't the mouthpiece then if you're on a 2L. That's a sizeable gob-iron for an Eb.

Having had a look at your playing experience, is it right that you've only been playing just over a year - and that before you were on Eb Bass you were on Baritone?

If so, that leads me onto another question - have you always had the problem of being very sharp since you moved onto Eb bass or is it only since you've used that particular instrument? (ie: are you sharp on every bass you play or just that one?)

If it's just that one bass that tends to send you razor sharp, then the advice about cleaning it out properly and having all the slides, all the valves and everything out to make sure there are no obstructions in there is really good advice. Put a pull-though down the tubing as well and make sure there's no old fag-ends or bus-tickets in there. (Yes, I've found them and stranger things down basses in the past.)

However if the problem follows you from instrument to instrument, it may be due to the instrument you've come from. All I'm thinking is that the embouchoure for producing a good sound on a baritone is very diferent to that of a bass, and that if you've always had the problem on bass, it may be that all you need is some good advice from a Tuba teacher to sort your chops out.

There's a lot of potential variables - both player-related and instrument-related - that can lead to a variances in tuning. And it could be any combination o a number of things. Unfortunately that makes it difficult to pin it down over the web I'm afraid....

I appreciate it can be very frustrating. I went through a period of being almost a quarter-tone flat for a while after moving from Eb to BB with all the slides up to the clink - and that was faulty technique on my part. If my tuning wanders, it tends to wander flat rather than sharp even now - but at least I'm aware of it so I can lip in.

MoominDave
17.02.2010, 12:18
Worth getting someone else to play it to see if they have the same problem?

brassneck
17.02.2010, 12:22
Worth getting someone else to play it to see if they have the same problem?

Thanks Dave for mentioning this. Why complicate things when a simple test can answer the question?

TubaPete
20.02.2010, 11:02
My gut reaction is with Andi's.

It's a big change from baritone to Eb in terms of the way you breathe and your embouchure.

Try thinking of the word 'door' when you play. This will make you drop your jaw and open your mouth wider and may well bring your playing down to pitch (assuming that it's just your adjustment to playing tuba).

I'd expect someone moving to tuba from a smaller instrument to take many months of hard work before they con properly fill it at the right pitch. In fact I kn ow some people who have played for years and still don't do it right!

Pete

Independent Silver Band
20.02.2010, 16:35
I have had better success building extensions for the main tuning slide to bring pitch to modern standard. Of course, it's necessary to adjust the valve slides accordingly.

Aussie Tuba
23.02.2010, 09:09
Like a previous poster, I reckoned it might be an old high pitch instrument, but surely a DW2L wouldn't fit in the lead pipe.
I don't see how any standard design, concert pitch instrument with all slides pulled out to abnormal extremities can be sharp to the rest of the band.

We need to know the make, approx age, and if any alteration to the tubing of the instrument is apparent before a decent diagnosis can be made.

- Mr Wilx

As Mentioned here you havn't told us age ( approx ) or make of what you are playing, We have put in plenty of advice such as try to get some one else to try playing this tuba. But your not giving us any answers to help. has any one else tried playing it yet ? and what make / Model are you playing?
has any of our advice helped ?

Tubamutha
23.02.2010, 09:19
Thank you for all your advice - I am going to be bathing my bass this weekend to give it a good clean out and hopefully that will help.

I am not sure of the age - it is a Besson but not a sovereign (I think someone said it was a '700' if that makes sense?). With plenty of 'dings' in it.

To be honest I really think it is a problem with embouchour. Thinking of 'door' is helping..... and just lots more practice needed. I had only been on baritone for three weeks before I decided to give the bass a try instead which probably didn't help. It's also only particular notes (like a D at the bottom of the stave) that are coming out sharp - and I have tried adjusting the relevant slides. I have been trying to lip the notes in but it doesn't always work........

Thirteen Ball
23.02.2010, 09:45
Low D can be a funny note - especially if played on 1+3 on a 4-valve instrument. 4th is usually flatter if you have a 4th valve? On a 4-valve bass, using 1+3 cuts out the compensating system so tends toward sharpness. It's the same story with C#/Db on 1+2+3 - where 2+4 is usually flatter.

If, however, it's a 3-valve instrument, the third valve is normally compensated when used in conjunction with the 1st, so should be OK on D and C#.

Aussie Tuba
23.02.2010, 09:46
The 700 series in none compensating which explains a lot regarding tuning or lack of tuning.
do you play your D's on your 4th Valve ? being none compensating that means as you go lower the instrument may play sharp because it doesn't have the extra tubing a compensating tuba would have. but play D's and low G's on 4th and keep it tuned for your lower notes and leave 3rd valve for Eb and Ab. 1st and 3rd for D's and G's not a good option on this instrument.

Thirteen Ball
23.02.2010, 09:48
Aussie and I clearly thinking along the same lines! :D

MoominDave
23.02.2010, 11:02
It's also only particular notes (like a D at the bottom of the stave) that are coming out sharp - and I have tried adjusting the relevant slides. I have been trying to lip the notes in but it doesn't always work........

Aha! Some questions:

1) How are you fingering that D?
If "1+3", go to (2). If "4", then I'm on the wrong track.

2) Does your bass have 3rd valve compensation? That is - does the 3rd valve tubing loop back through valves 1 and 2?
If "No", then go to (3). If "Yes", then I'm on the wrong track.

3) Then you'd expect that fingering to be sharp. Does your bass have a 4th valve?
If "Yes", then use 4 instead of 1+3. If "No", then you're just going to have to lip it until you get a better bass.

Same goes for the C# next to it - 1+2+3 is fine on a 3rd-valve-compensating instrument, while 2+4 is fine on a 4-valve instrument (though a bit sharp if it's not a 4th-valve compensator); but 1+2+3 is very sharp on an uncompensating instrument.

MoominDave
23.02.2010, 11:06
That's the second time I've done that (repeated an answer just given) recently... Should read more carefully... D'oh...

Thirteen Ball
23.02.2010, 11:45
We can't all be wrong, Dave!! ;)

Aussie Tuba
23.02.2010, 11:53
Aha! Some questions
2) Does your bass have 3rd valve compensation?

700 series instruments are non Compensating on any valves

Thirteen Ball
23.02.2010, 13:51
700 series instruments are non Compensating on any valves

Ok so on the down-side, Tubamutha, it's going to be a tricky instrument for intonation, particularly where back-valve is involved.

On the up-side, yes spending a bit of time on that, and lipping almost every note up or down might be a royal pain in the backside at times... but if you can play a non-compensator in tune, you can play anything in tune! And if/when you do get onto a compensating bass, you should find it soooooo much easier to play that in tune with the extra listening experience you've gained in lipping up/down.

Every cloud eh?

FastFinguredFreddy
23.02.2010, 17:04
This is all very interesting because i thought Basses were always just razor sharp no matter what!! Perhaps its a D# bass and not an Eb bass!
Sorry couldnt resist a wee dig and the grave digger end of the band.

tubadaz
23.02.2010, 21:33
Did anyone hear some high pitched squeaking just then? :confused: I think we must have mice or something!! :D

Regarding the OP's problems, I fully agree with giving it a bit more time "on the instrument" before trying to fix something that probably just needs a bit of blowing to solve! :-)

Darryl

Aussie Tuba
23.02.2010, 21:47
I am not sure of the age - it is a Besson but not a sovereign (I think someone said it was a '700' if that makes sense?). With plenty of 'dings' in it......

These 700 series instruments were made by Besson as a Cheaper range of insruments. Cheaper in Name, don't think they cost much less. As such the tuba's were made without the compensating valve system. I beleive they are better suited for Learner bands or School Bands. Where real low register stuff is not needed.
My Instrument technitian ( repairer ) beleives Besson had the made in India to further cut cost of the manufacture of them.
We have 2 in our Band a EEb 4 valve and a BBb 4 valve and we are allways having trouble with the tuning of them particularly in the lower register. I have often said I would rather have an old Imperial 4 valve with 15 inch bell than any of these 700 series instruments. They look nice enough with their bright silver plate, very similar to the sovreign. But looks is where the similarity ends. These are worse than the lottery instruments we hear so much about. The only good thing about them is the case is the same as the Sovreign.

Thirteen Ball
24.02.2010, 12:56
This is all very interesting because i thought Basses were always just razor sharp no matter what!! Perhaps its a D# bass and not an Eb bass!
Sorry couldnt resist a wee dig and the grave digger end of the band.

In my experience, we're more often flat.....

Tubamutha
25.02.2010, 14:16
Thank you all for your advice - it's nice to hear from experienced players......

I shall try with the 'more practice' route. I do play D's and G's on 4th, as per strict instructions by our conductor (who I happen to be married to!). The only problem is he is a cornet expert and will openly admit he doesn't know much about the Bass (apart from advising when I am out of tune).

Tried tuning me again the other day and it wasnt as bad as last week so I think I must have adjusted my embouchour somewhat, without realising it! I will have to play about as I can't remember what I actually did to make it in tune!

I am sure I will get there in the end.......

iancwilx
25.02.2010, 15:02
Thank you all for your advice - it's nice to hear from experienced players......

I shall try with the 'more practice' route. I do play D's and G's on 4th, as per strict instructions by our conductor (who I happen to be married to!). The only problem is he is a cornet expert and will openly admit he doesn't know much about the Bass (apart from advising when I am out of tune).

Tried tuning me again the other day and it wasnt as bad as last week so I think I must have adjusted my embouchour somewhat, without realising it! I will have to play about as I can't remember what I actually did to make it in tune!

I am sure I will get there in the end.......

I'm sure you will because you obviously care about it and will persevere.
Good luck

- Mr Wilx

Aussie Tuba
25.02.2010, 22:39
Thank you all for your advice - it's nice to hear from experienced players......

I shall try with the 'more practice' route. I do play D's and G's on 4th, as per strict instructions by our conductor (who I happen to be married to!). The only problem is he is a cornet expert and will openly admit he doesn't know much about the Bass (apart from advising when I am out of tune).

Tried tuning me again the other day and it wasnt as bad as last week so I think I must have adjusted my embouchour somewhat, without realising it! I will have to play about as I can't remember what I actually did to make it in tune!

I am sure I will get there in the end.......

No worries. we like helping out if we can. and as mentioned By Iancwilx you sound sound sincer and you obviously want to improve. If we can help further just ask.

TubaPete
28.02.2010, 18:55
Thank you all for your advice - it's nice to hear from experienced players......

Tried tuning me again the other day and it wasnt as bad as last week so I think I must have adjusted my embouchour somewhat, without realising it! I will have to play about as I can't remember what I actually did to make it in tune!

I am sure I will get there in the end.......

I'm glad to hear that you feel you're making progress. I am certain you will get there.

Keep up the good work - and don't forget to enjoy it!

Pete

mikelyons
31.10.2012, 08:34
Think big,
think volume of air,
think open,
think door,
bring the air from your diaphragm not your throat,
make the inside of your mouth like a hollow sphere, not a slit. i.e. O not 0,
Try pushing all your slides back in and start from the beginning.
I think your gob iron is too big.
Go for a 3L or 24AW, which are more normal for Eb beginners.
Don't forget, as well, you are coming from Bb pitch - even though you were only on it for a short time, you have been corrupted, it will take time to get over the trauma.
Sit up straight when you play, but think miserable thoughts;-)
If you sing, think about how you get the sounds at the bottom of your vocal range, similar techniques will produce similar results.
Don't listen to your husband for three reasons 1. He's a cornet player; 2. He plays B FLAT cornet; 3. He's your husband! ;-)

Phil Green
31.10.2012, 09:07
Crikey, this is an old thread but I'm drawn (hooked) to add couple of points.

Whilst the 700 Series were non-compensating they were almost identical to the 900 Series in most other ways. The quality was good - as good as a Sov - and tuning was excellent until valve combinations that included 4th were used (which is where compensation works).
A DW3 or 24AW is not a good beginners Eb mouthpiece. They are both very deep in comparison to their width and this gives less experienced players massive tuning problems. The 24W is a better bet and so, perversely, is the DW2(L)