Dean Morley reviews Yamaha Neo BBb Tuba

Dean writes:-
I heard on the Tuba grapevine that the latest Yamaha Neo BBb Tuba was a vast improvement on previous models and many of the old problems had been ironed out. My partner Julie Woods and I were flying to the UK to play at the British Open so I thought that I would take the opportunity to try out the instrument to see if the rumours were true. Also, a friend of mine at Brisbane XLCR band, Mark Biggs, was in the market for a new BBb Tuba so I advised him that if the Neo was up to scratch, I would purchase one for him and bring it home to Australia with me.

I contacted the Music Cellar in Preston and they were very accommodating and managed to obtain a Neo for me to test out. Andy Cattanach (BBb Tuba guru) agreed to pop over to help me put the instrument through its paces.
My immediate observation was how different the Neo was from the Besson/York/LMI instruments. Lighter and with a slightly larger bell flare and the 4th valve pops out in the middle of the 4th valve slide. It is therefore much easier to reach for bass players who do not have arms like a chimpanzee and you can sit comfortably without enduring spinal damage every time they play.
The first sound I produced came easily and rang around the room. It projected well, with ease and great resonance. The quality of sound did not alter throughout the register and it felt very comfortable to produce. With less effort and really slow air flow, I was able to produce the same level of sound as I would on other brands of BBb Tuba but without breaking a sweat.
Historically, BBb Tubas vary greatly in quality and their intonation is always an issue. Alternative fingerings are never ideal but unfortunately they are a way of life for all players of the BBb bass to try and master to blend with the other voices in the band. The Neo is the exception to the rule. The tuning was extremely accurate throughout the range and a joy to behold. Like a breath of fresh air, I was able to play all combinations of notes without bending and straining and this was a revelation.
As a control experiment for instrument standard and quality, I tried Andy's Neo out. It was just like playing the same instrument. Identical in every way with the same effortless production and excellent intonation. The craftsmanship and finish of these instruments is superb and definitely the best on the market at the moment.
Andy and I then played through some test pieces together to see how the instruments would handle when placed in the 'Warp Factor 8' level of thrust and they past this test with flying colours. You never really know how a bass will perform until you are in a brass band situation and really pushing the boundaries, so this was the ultimate test. The results were amazing with only minor damage to the structural integrity of The Music Cellar roof!
I was able to obtain a very competitive price from The Music Cellar and purchased the instrument there and then. I flew the instrument back to Brisbane the day after the Open and handed it over to Mark who was extremely happy with my recommendation and quality of the new Neo BBb Tuba.
I would like to thank all the guys at The Music Cellar in Preston and Andy Cattanach for all his help in the test run of the Neo. Oh and Yamaha for producing the best BBb Bass on the market!


It seems ridiculous that our friends in Oz have to come to the UK to try / buy an instrument made in the Pacific! Hopefully Ray Knowles in Toowoomba will be able to get some in so in future the happy customer can avoid the 24000 mile round trip - not to mention the Japan to UK trip made by the instrument prior to sale. Sounds like a fantastic BBb, but with a pretty hefty CO2 footprint - get tree planting in Brisbane!

Hove Edge

Glad you like it Dean. It was four and half years in development and I am chuffed with the finished product. Many thanks to the people at Yamaha.

Simon Gresswell
Yamaha Development Artist