Sunday, February 21, 2016

Pre-Spring Update?

It's been a while since I've played a tuba, but I have my Holton 345 out here in Arizona, just haven't taken the time to find a group to play with. I found another tuba I'd like to buy, but I can't afford it... unless I sell some things first... like the Holton....

In a couple weeks, I'll have my EEb subbass here as well, maybe a few other instruments too. Additionally, I'll be thinning the herd down to just a couple instruments - except for the planned projects.

Right now, I think I have "promised" my raincatcher to a guy in the Midwest, but the other instruments are essentially up for grabs. Here's a general idea on what I have - these will probably get listed on eBay (assuming my account was deactivated due to inactivity):

Olds Marching Trombone
King Marching French Horn
Yamaha YEP-201 body parts
Yamaha Bb piston block (.460")
Carl Fisher BBb 'Raincatcher' Sousaphone
Unmarked Eb 'tuba'
1930s York sousaphone body, bell, case and 1910s York valve assembly (no pistons)
Misc Frumpet bells

I also have a bunch of parts/tubes/braces and some baritone/euphonium cases, as well as some instruments I'm probably forgetting.

Instruments that need to be put back together:
1910s York Monster Eb helicon (19" bell, silver plated) and 1930s York Eb four-piston valve assembly (brass, lacquered)
Two "Barcone" mini sousaphones
Conn Bass/baritone bugle in G
Chinese Rotary Euphonium "Maestro"

I'll also be trying to complete the contrabass trumpet in F - I think I have all the parts necessary.

Also, while I have a 1935 King BBb tuba body/bell, I'm going to attempt to mount my Jumbo's valve section to it - make it removable to use on two instruments.

So, for the instruments I'll be keeping:
EEb subbass tuba
Buescher Eb helicon (17" bell)
King Jumbo sousaphone
King BBb tuba
Martin helicon project (convert to CC and return to owner)
Maybe the F contrabass trumpet

That's it for now. Maybe I'll take some video of me playing the 345 this coming weekend.

Also, I'm ditching photobucket in favor of imgur.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Recently, I received an update regarding the bass horn from the current owner. He's used it, that's the big thing, but better yet, it was recorded on video for some religious service in Europe. 

Anyway, he likes it and finds that it has good intonation, especially just picking it up and playing it without a warm-up.

Here are some photos:

I think he's playing it around the 11 minute mark and somewhere about a half hour or so in as well. Sounds great!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Eb Euphonium or Eb Mini-Tuba

I'll be starting a new instrument soon...

An Eb euphonium or Eb mini-tuba made from the body and bell of a Yamaha YEP-201 and the valve section from a small Buescher Eb helicon (bore measures around .595"). Not sure if it will use a tuba mouthpiece or a large tenor/bass trombone mouthpiece.

The body and bell need work, the body especially. I don't have a lot of tools for some of the dents, so I'm either going to be buying the tools needed or having the parts worked on by someone else. The rest of it is fairly straightforward - assemble the body so that it's in-tune with the pre-existing valve section in Eb.

In conjunction with the above, I'm starting another bass horn using an Eb Buescher helicon - it's the perfect size. The bell is 17-inches in diameter and the body is quite small, slightly larger than the Barcone body I used previously. Best of all, it has a very nice taper. I will either use a couple of different universal leadpipes to make it almost entirely conical or have a custom leadpipe made for it. The mouthpiece will be a bass trombone size.

Haven't quite figured out what key I'll put it in, but CC looks promising. I think I have another rotary valve that I can add that will have two slides -one to drop it into BBb and the other to act as the more standard long whole step.

Hand-stopping will be a little more difficult, given the larger bell, but I may some how try to figure out a bolstered leather glove of sorts to use.

I have something close to a lead on another Buescher Eb, I just need to bug the owner a little more!

I'll try to get a picture posted of the Buescher body and start another post on the Eb euphonium

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Carl Fischer EEb Subcontrabass/Contrabass Tuba

Recently, I drove down to Cleveland at Academy Music to swap tubas - my 36K Monster for an EEb subcontrabass/contrabass tuba.

The Conn is a nice playing sousaphone (very similar in size to the 40K), but I definitely prefer King (HN White) instruments... but HN White never made a 'Giant' raincatcher (.750" bore)... Anyway, I couldn't pass up the chance to own a very unique and interesting tuba (though I try to find mostly sousaphones). Plus, I can take it to TubaChristmas and have the only 'subcontrabass' in the crowd!

It's a little difficult to play, but then I'm so used to playing BBb... that and I don't have a proper Euro-shank mouthpiece for it (the LM-12 doesn't cut it). Man, what a sound though!

Bell: 18"
Bore: .800"
Height: 38"
Weight: 26.2 lbs

The EEb was likely made by Bohland & Fuchs in the early 1900s-1920s and imported by Carl Fischer in New York. It bears the engraving of "U of I", likely from the University of Illinois. It's one of two known EEb basses, the other being the EEb "Majestic Monster" helicon imported by Louis B. Malecki in Chicago, IL and made in Austria.

It's rather odd that both EEb instruments are in the Great Lakes area - as one of the previous owners wondered: Who would need a EEb tuba or helicon? I would be very interested in knowing who these were built for and where they were played.

In any case, here is a picture next to my Holton 345 BBb and a medium-length video (please excuse my questionable playing):

Thursday, March 20, 2014

BBb Bass French Horn

Just a final update on the Bass Horn - I've sold it to a tuba player in Europe. In an effort to save on shipping costs, I've gone ahead and added the bell collars from the original Barcone sousaphone. This reduces the bell length (from the lip to the narrow end of the throat) by about five inches... which should be enough to keep the shipping cost below 200... in two boxes.

It took a little measuring, but they fit fine. Not sure how this will change the pitch, other than lowering it just a bit. If you notice, it's lacking bell screws and flanges, as well as a brace. The reasons being that I have no bell screws on any of the Barcone sousaphones (I have no idea why - they're all missing them) and I don't have a way to make a removable brace for the bell.

Next on the plate, is either going to be the F contrabass trumpet or the start of a single CC Bass Horn. Both will be using smaller bore valve sections than are featured on other examples, and will both take a bass trombone size mouthpiece. One of the tuba players in the community band here in town has agreed to play-test the F contrabass trumpet (he plays a nice Yamaha 822 F tuba), so I will at least be able to get some better feedback on tuning and functionality. The idea is to use a contrabass trombone bell section with a smaller bore piston valve section, though I'll play around with the parts I have on hand until I hear back from Wessex Tubas about how much that bell is going to cost me. Yes, you read that right, I'm buying a Chinese-copy of contrabass trombone. It's cheaper than what I can get from Kanstul or Miraphone or Thein or Rath and will be just as good on what I'm making - prototypes.

The owner of the Eb contrabass flugelhorn is quite happy with his instrument. He sent some pictures of it at TubaChristmas, though most people thought it was just another marching baritone.

Now that the weather is warming up, I'll be able to once again post more frequently on the progress of various instruments.

I started the other day tearing down a rotary euphonium for the valve section - got it for cheap! I even have a lead on another one for just a little more than what I paid for this one.

Also, I picked up a Buescher Eb helicon with a tiny 15" bell which will serve as the body/bell for the new CC Bass Horn. The whole instrument is pretty small and easily fits my design. There's another Buescher Eb with a slightly larger bell (17") that I'm hoping to trade or buy, but need to work out the details. This will, if I can get it at all, replace the larger Barcone sousaphone body I have for the FF/BBb contrabass double horn. Yes, a true contrabass double horn in FF (24-25 feet) and BBb (18 feet). I think the Buescher body is the right proportion for such an instrument and certainly conical enough as is. Although there are a few more details to work out - EXPENSIVE double valve section!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Eb Contrabass Flugelhorn

After a longer than expected wait... here is the Eb Contrabass Flugelhorn:

It came out well, though a little over-budget and overdue. Some of the parts that were sent to me weren't ideal and new parts needed to be found.

The flugel is the same length of an Eb tuba - roughly 13.5 feet - and it has a 10" bell with a ~.560" bore. The receiver accepts a standard American-shank tuba mouthpiece. The client wanted an instrument could still use a tuba mouthpiece, but had a more appropriate bore than the travel/trolley tubas. There were some limitations:

1. It needed to be as small as possible, both side to side and bell to bow.
2. Easy access to the left side to hold the instrument while playing.
3. Able to use a tuba mouthpiece.

The flugel went through a couple iteration to get the slides in the right positions and maintaining a small package. I had originally wanted two main tuning slides, one to serve as the main set slide and a second for fine-tuning like on Kanstul's marching tubas. Unfortunately, given the restrictions on space, I opted for on main tuning slide, though it could be modified later on (as you'll see further down in another picture) to serve as two slides.

As with most custom instruments, it has to be looked at as a prototype. As such, I expected there to be some odd intonation issues and some notes that would need alternate fingerings or lipping to bring these pitches in-tune. It sounds very much like a small-bore tuba - due, in part, to the nearly entire conical tubing. There are only a few parts that are cylindrical tubing. Some pitches still require alternate fingerings, but not unlike some tubas I play.

The receiver was kindly made by Kanstul Musical Instruments. All of the other parts were sourced from either marching baritones or, in the case of a crook on the third valve tubing, an HN White "KING" baritone bugle. The inner branches between the valve section and the two large branches before the bell were sourced from a junker tuba... that just happened to have the right bore and length...

Here are some more shots:

As you can see, the large W-shaped slide is the main tuning slide. This could be modified into two separate slides, one for the main set and the other for fine tuning. You'll also notice solder marks and other imperfections.... this is because I still lack the tools necessary to fix all the dents and a proper buffing machine to polish the parts. The best I can do, with what I have, is to give the finish a satin-look and wipe away excess solder.

The flugel might still be able to fit into a standard marching baritone case (with some interior modification) or in one of those aftermarket gigs bags from ProTec or Gard.

Here's a short-ish video of me playing on the Eb Contrabass Flugelhorn (it's going to take some time for the buyer to get used to how it plays):

With all the parts I've accumulated from this project, I will be building a couple of contrabass trumpets next. One will have four in-line pistons, while the other will have a thumb activated piston for the fourth valve. Since these will be trumpets, they will be roughly 2/3 cylindrical tubing, meaning if I built them in Eb, I would have almost nine feet of straight tubing - through valves and tight bends... not an ideal situation for a trumpet! So, I'm aiming for F - less tubing, lighter, and more in-line with the needs potential buyers.

Also on the docket:
- That Martin Eb (D) needs a fourth valve and maybe a fifth rotary valve for a slide-switch conversion to CC
- A custom JW York CC helicon (aiming to have this one bead blasted and silver plated), not unlike the famous Sellmasberger Buescher CC helicon:
- One or two more Bass French horns in CC and BBb
- Two or three more mini BBb and CC piston travel tubas, using a slightly larger body for a more tuba-like tone.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Some Updates

Recently, I acquired a number of instruments:

Three miniature sousaphones, a mellophone, a couple of helicons, a raincatcher sousaphone, and another tuba. Most of these instruments will be dismantled and turned into other instruments - like three more french horns and a few more mini-tubas.

On my move from Seattle, I came across a raincatcher Sousaphone at a TGIF restaurant. Sure, it had some holes in it and was considerably dirty/grimy, but how often do you find a raincatcher, let alone one you could buy because the restaurant was going to be remodeling the following week! Anyway, it's a Carl Fisher, probably late-1910s, maybe early 1920s. Definitely an import, but a nice example of a raincatcher Sousaphone.

I also bought a Martin Eb helicon, which may or may not be in the key of D - that's not a Low Pitch tuning, but the actual pitch of D. Evidently Martin made an extra long slide to place the key in D... for whatever reason. The helicon needs a little work, but is in quite good shape. The previous owner "suggested" that I convert it to CC and add a valve. I might, but I still need to find a Martin valve/casing and a whole bunch of Martin braces and tubing - it needs to look natural. On the other hand, I could add a rotary valve (with a thumb trigger) and make another set of slides to allow the instrument to play in CC or Eb. Harvey Hartman did this for one of his customers and I've heard of good results from others regarding such a "conversion".

Let's see... here are some quicks:

- Converted the bass trumpet to an alto in D (need to either cut to Eb or add a little more to C) with four valves.
- In the process of another alto in Eb with four in-line valves and a 7" Olds bell
- Attempting to sell the Bass Horn to fund a few more
- Bought a JW York Eb tuba in excellent condition... just needs a couple dents removed. Otherwise, it plays very well.
- Sold a couple of Getzen Eterna Bass trumpets.

The big news is I've got a customer wanting a contrabass flugelhorn in Eb. It's using a .560" marching baritone valve block and a considerable amount of conical tubing. The end result will hopefully be around the size of a standard marching baritone.

Coupled with that, I have enough parts and bells to make two contrabass trumpets in either Eb or F.

As for the Jumbo sousaphone, I sent the valve block off to NRE Brassworks to finish up the fourth valve tubing. There are some other small changes to the look, but I'll hopefully have it back in time for Purdue University's Homecoming. A friend of mine has a King Jumbo and another alumnus has one as well. Counting "Big Bertha" owned by Purdue, that's three Jumbo for their Homecoming. Once mine is up and running, I'll be bringing it down to Purdue to have one of the alumni players use it for the game, so that their will be FOUR King Jumbos in use - two three valve 1265's and two four valve 1266's! Just like the Pentwater Jumbo Summit of 2011.