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!