Where have all the Bb bass players gone?

DaveBBb

Member
The very poor ergonomics of the traditional British BBb with mouthpiece too high and too far a reach to the 4th valve

The most ergonomically pleasing BBb bass I play is my own home practice instrument. A 700 series Besson. The mouthpiece is exactly at the right hight, the fourth valve is in a good position as the instrument is not too broad unlike a Courtois. It is easy to blow and it is a relatively light instrument (relative to the sov). The down side is that it has non-compensating valves and the sound projection is not as good as my bands' instrument which is a sov. However it is a joy to hold and play. I like the look of the new Neo, esp the positioning of the 4th valve but have never had a blow on one so I cannot compare the 700 with that particular beast.

I suggest that instrument designers could do worse than having a look at the ergonomics of the 700 series Bessons for some inspiration.

Dave BBb
 

Matthew

Active Member
Interesting mix, Hove Edge, sounds good! :)

Dave BBb - that sounds perfect, I've been toying with the idea of picking up a cheap BBb (e.g. 3 Valve) on E-Bay for home practice and to keep my lip in (bit rusty at the mo) in between playing properly for a band. :D
 
BBb bass players must have all been culled in our area - finding one has proved impossible for over 12 months now, despite numerous contest victories and players joining on all other instruments, the BBb bass position has continually been vacant.

Of course, if there is one of these rare individuals who fancies playing at Torquay in March, please PM me and come along for a blow - if only to get my MD off my back about filling the position.
 
Back on topic...A main reason for the lack of BB bass players is the state of the instruments that most bands have. I see the same local bands adverts for bass players and when I think back to the poor state of the basses in these bands it s no wonder no one wants to play for them.It s hard work on BB bass so why slog your guts out on a piece of leaking scrap when half you effort is lost? Bands seem to have an endless supply of other instruments and will buy new ones to attract players...but not basses.Most of the basses are smashed up because people have been put on them from other instruments and they don t know how to look after them.I wonder how many bands would still have vacancies if they had bought a pair of Yamaha Neo s? So get the money spent on new basses or do without the players.
 

winterman

Member
Back on topic...A main reason for the lack of BB bass players is the state of the instruments that most bands have. I see the same local bands adverts for bass players and when I think back to the poor state of the basses in these bands it s no wonder no one wants to play for them.It s hard work on BB bass so why slog your guts out on a piece of leaking scrap when half you effort is lost? Bands seem to have an endless supply of other instruments and will buy new ones to attract players...but not basses.Most of the basses are smashed up because people have been put on them from other instruments and they don t know how to look after them.I wonder how many bands would still have vacancies if they had bought a pair of Yamaha Neo s? So get the money spent on new basses or do without the players.

I think one of the problems there Stuart is that one single, decent, Bb Bass can cost as much as and entire section elsewhere, and often eat into much more than a band can, safely/justifiably, afford at the time especially if they don't have the player for the instrument. Replacing a couple of cornets here and there or even Baritones etc is far more achievable than one Bb Bass.

Admittedly they are more reasonably priced now £7000~ for a Yamaha Neo Bb, maybe just achievable for bands with limited budget.
 
I was once in a band and they gave me one of those Courtois basses to test...it was ok on All In The April Evening but the real test was theme from Starwars...as I got louder the instrument started to quiver and vibrate like a jelly,I really thought it was going to fall apart...absolute ****...don t ever buy one !
 
I think one of the problems there Stuart is that one single, decent, Bb Bass can cost as much as and entire section elsewhere, and often eat into much more than a band can, safely/justifiably, afford at the time especially if they don't have the player for the instrument. Replacing a couple of cornets here and there or even Baritones etc is far more achievable than one Bb Bass.

Admittedly they are more reasonably priced now £7000~ for a Yamaha Neo Bb, maybe just achievable for bands with limited budget.

I m not saying replace the basses at 2 yearly intervals it s just bands let the basses get too knackered before they do owt about it.They don t even consider having them refurbished.
 

bassmittens

Member
I was once in a band and they gave me one of those Courtois basses to test...it was ok on All In The April Evening but the real test was theme from Starwars...as I got louder the instrument started to quiver and vibrate like a jelly,I really thought it was going to fall apart...absolute ****...don t ever buy one !

I'm using one as an 'at home' instrument at the moment........hmmmmmmm!

It's reasonable enough to allow me something to blow on with a practice mute in to get my lip back in some sense of order - but when i take the mute out and really blow it, it goes to about mf then it all falls apart (no - not literally!).

I can see them being useful to beginners in youth bands etc (good size, reasonable sound at lower volumes and to be fair to them.....very nice valves)

Looking forward to chucking my lungs down a Sov on Thursday now though.
 

Matthew

Active Member
Agreed - BBb instruments are often in a terrible state of repair, they've very sadly been neglected!

I haven't tried a Yamaha Neo BBb, but they sound fantastic! Any band that has one in my area, I might be forced to camp out on your doorstep for a try/audition! LOL. ;)
 
I'm using one as an 'at home' instrument at the moment........hmmmmmmm!

It's reasonable enough to allow me something to blow on with a practice mute in to get my lip back in some sense of order - but when i take the mute out and really blow it, it goes to about mf then it all falls apart (no - not literally!).

I can see them being useful to beginners in youth bands etc (good size, reasonable sound at lower volumes and to be fair to them.....very nice valves)

Looking forward to chucking my lungs down a Sov on Thursday now though.

Take the Courtois up onto the moors with a copy of the CHIEFTAIN and give it some right ####### welly,bit s will fall of it.
 

EbCRC

New Member
Bit of a long shot i guess but anyway! We are a new band from Canterbury in Kent that have two BBb players - rare I know - and two rather tired Yamaha 4 valve instruments. If anyone out there has recently upgraded and wishes to oust their existing top quality hardware for a 'fair price' we would be delighted to help you!

Cheers
 

bassmittens

Member
Stuart - you are more than likely right! I had pipes falling out of it yesterday when playing only at a modest level in the house.
 

Thirteen Ball

Active Member
Stuart - you are more than likely right! I had pipes falling out of it yesterday when playing only at a modest level in the house.

Potentially something to do with it having more slides than are strictly necessary? Last courtois compact I stripped and fettled had nine slides.

One for each of the 4 valves, 1st and 3rd valve compensators, main tuning slide, a random upward-pointing one on the 3rd valve slide, and one on the leadpipe of all places.....

Just adds potential for more air-leakage if you ask me.
 

bassmittens

Member
Potentially something to do with it having more slides than are strictly necessary? Last courtois compact I stripped and fettled had nine slides.

One for each of the 4 valves, 1st and 3rd valve compensators, main tuning slide, a random upward-pointing one on the 3rd valve slide, and one on the leadpipe of all places.....

Just adds potential for more air-leakage if you ask me.

Agree with you there. It fell on the floor and i couldn't work out where it came from at first!!!!
 

pbirch

Active Member
I have played in a section with no problem using the following mixture:- Eb Besson Eb Mirophone Bb Yamaha neo and Bb Besson

in my view blending is something that happens in the ears and heads of the players.

I also think there might be an issue with how we talk about the BBb tuba, using words like "the beast" or "the monster" and terms like "the dark arts" when referring to playing it. Now, I know that the BBb has its own particular challenges, but are they really greater than those of the cornet, tenor horn, baritone or EEB tuba, or are they just different? every player has to find a way to make a beautiful sound on their instrument, and in that the BBb is no different to any other instrument in the band.
 

winterman

Member
I also think there might be an issue with how we talk about the BBb tuba, using words like "the beast" or "the monster" and terms like "the dark arts" when referring to playing it. Now, I know that the BBb has its own particular challenges, but are they really greater than those of the cornet, tenor horn, baritone or EEB tuba, or are they just different? every player has to find a way to make a beautiful sound on their instrument, and in that the BBb is no different to any other instrument in the band.

As someone who has played almost every section in a brass band, including Top Chair and Trombone (not Sop though, I'm not that daft - yet!), I can safely say the Bb Bass is proving to be my biggest challenge yet!

Trying to get the stamina, tonal quality and articulation is a LOT harder than any the others, for me personally.. Eb Bass, no problem, Bb Bass a whole new set of aches and pains!
 
To me it's the cost of a BBb Bass - I can only play it if a band can lend me one!

Love playing BBb & love playing Sop too (a man of extremes) - both offer their challenges :)
 
As someone who has played almost every section in a brass band, including Top Chair and Trombone (not Sop though, I'm not that daft - yet!), I can safely say the Bb Bass is proving to be my biggest challenge yet!

Trying to get the stamina, tonal quality and articulation is a LOT harder than any the others, for me personally.. Eb Bass, no problem, Bb Bass a whole new set of aches and pains!
Well said...and TRUE.
 

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