Contrabass Digest

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list                           Mon, 24 Aug 1998           Volume 1 : Number 68

In this issue:


Date: Sun, 23 Aug 1998 18:04:00 -0400
From: Dave Robinson <>
Subject: Old threads


I was wondering aloud in an e-mail to Grant about a couple of earlier
threads that never seemed to reach resolution on the List.  He
encouraged me to post a query and assured me it would not be in bad form
to reopen these issues.  So here's my questions--what ever became of: a)
the report of a drawing of a production Conn subcontrabass sax (claimed
not to be the huge unplayable Conn promo sax that we're all familiar
with by now); and b) the report that there is now available a second
recording of Sidney Bechet on contrabass sarrusophone?

Can anyone deliver the goods?

Dave Robinson


Date: Sun, 23 Aug 1998 09:26:55 -0500
From: Chip Owen <>
Subject: Cheap Contrabassoons

Welcome to the list, Sarah.

There is a basic and somewhat universal response to your question about the
quality of cheap contrabassoons:  There would be no market for the expensive ones
if the cheap ones were good.

One way to understand the value of quality comes from the resale market.  Fine
instruments usually appreciate in value and can be often be sold after a few years
at a price that exceeds the original purchase price.  The cheap instruments are
likely to depreciate in value and can be found on the resale market at prices
lower than new instruments of the same make and model.

I make the Fox Contrabassoons which would be at the expensive end of your list.  I
know that quality sells.  Finely made instruments will always have a market.  So
will the cheap stuff.  But later on the buyers of the cheap stuff will need to get
a better instrument while the buyers of the quality instruments will already have
good instruments.

Having said all of that, it's really too soon for you to worry about the quality
of contrabassoons.  Until you have played on a few contras and learned something
of their various problems the answer to the question will have no relevence.  Do
what you can to play on some contras and the value of quality will probably become
obvious to you.

Chip Owen
Columbia City, IN

Sarah Cordish wrote:

> Secondly, a question which has probably already been discussed:
> Contrabassoons range tremendously in price.  From affordable to very
> unaffordable.  Are the cheaper ones any good; or is it only worthwhile
> to buy when one has, say, won the lottery?


Date: Sat, 22 Aug 1998 18:55:15 -0500
Subject: Subcontrabass tuba

I have played the tuba for many years and recently, I have added the
contrabass trombone to my instruments.   I have heard rumors that there
is a subcontrabass tuba possibly in the key of BBBb or EEEb.  Can anyone
tell me more or even show me a picture?


Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 09:43:54 EDT
From: <>
Subject: Re:  Subcontrabass tuba

In a message dated 8/23/98 11:53:31 PM, S210031@MAIL.NWMISSOURI.EDU wrote:

<<I have heard rumors that there is a subcontrabass tuba possibly in the key
of BBBb or EEEb.  Can anyone tell me more or even show me a picture?>>

Check out for pictures
of a subcontrabass tuba being played by a young Sam Pilafian and another being
played by Gerard Hoffnung.  The first horn is owned by Harvard and was one of
three such subcontrabass tubas ordered from Conn by Sousa.  Matt Gaunt, tubist
in the Boston area, says that he had quite a hoot playing this monster
recently!  (Another one of the three ordered by Sousa is visible, but
unplayable, at Carl Fischer's in New York).  The other subcontrabass tuba was
played and recorded on the 1956 Hoffnung Music Festival album, available on
EMI/Angel.  The last known location of this horn is Paxson's in England.

Then there is the BBb/EEE subcontrabass 6-valved double tuba designed and
owned by Dr. Frederick Young, who says that he used it on occasion with the
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  The is a website with a picture of him with
his horn and his biography; the URL should be found on one of the major search

Kindest regards,
Steve Marcus (


Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 20:38:25 EDT
From: <>
Subject: Bass sax stands; stairwells

Jack Silver asked,
>>Does anyone have a bass sax stand for sale or know where to get one?  A
very nice bass sax player and friend of Spencer Clark wrote me how to
convert my baritone sax stand to bass sax but I think it is too flimsy and
I don't trust it!>>

L. A. Sax's web site,, offers a practical-looking bass sax stand
on wheels, with a cage to hold the monster in and a crank to raise it up and
down.  L. A. Sax sells this stand with the new bass sax made by Rossi, but
also advertises the stand for sale separately.  No price given on the site; e-
mail for details.  I haven't done that yet, but if the price of the sax is any
indication, the stand won't be a bargain :~(.

Grant Green commented,
>>For really amazing resonance, try a tall stairwell.>>

Resonance and economy, too--even a short stairwell enriches sound.  A 13- step
stairwell coming right up into the middle of my cramped, oddly-shaped attic
office makes this the perfect practice room for my bass sax and other wind
instruments.  The room is pine-panelled.  The sharply angled ceilings act as
sound shells to bounce sound from anywhere in the room down against the
plaster walls in the stairs, for a beautiful hang time of about 3 seconds. I'm
using a Yamaha Clavinova 811 electronic keyboard up here,  against the railing
of the stairwell, which acts as a sound chamber and boosts both volume and
resonance to the point where the small internal speakers are more than
adequate.  (The Clavinova has excellent key action and sounds convincing as a
piano and a  harpsichord, although the organ settings are very limited.) For
music while I'm pretending to use the office for real work on the computer, a
small boom box ($10 at a yard sale) on the opposite side of the stairwell
sounds like a real audio system.  Of course these modest savings in the home
office disappeared straight down the gaping gullet of the bass sax, which has
needed quite a lot of restoration work....



End of list V1 #68

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