Contrabass Digest

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list                           Wed, 2 Dec 1998            Volume 1 : Number 42

In this issue:


Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 19:54:40 EST
Subject: Anti-tarnish strips

Steve Rea asked,
>>What are "3-M anti-tarnish strips"?>>

I took another look at mine and found that the correct name is 3-M Silver
Protector Strips.  They're slips of paper, about the size of average
bookmarks.  They contain something that neutralizes the sulfur compounds in
the air that oxidize silver to produce black tarnish.   Ferree's Tools
( sells these strips in packets of 12 and they're
also available in department stores and other places that sell silver
tableware.  There may be other brands available.  I put one in with each of my
silver-plated instruments except the bass sax, which naturally got *two*.  I
haven't been using these strips long enough to swear by them, but so far it
looks to me like they work, as long as the horn stays inside the closed case
when not in use.  Good thing, too, because I'd just as soon not have the whole
clean-up to do all over again.  Yuck.  Now if someone would come up with a
really great way to eradicate black mildew stains from velvet case linings....

A big gang of Daleks, triple forte, ad libitum, not in unison:
"Exteriminate!  Exterminate!  Exterminate!"


Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 22:47:22 +0100
From: Drake MABRY <>
Subject: Re: Bass sax

    Just saw some comments about playing the bass sax with bari mouthpieces. In the 1970's, when I
was an active bass sax player, I located Dixie Rollini, Adrian Rollini's widow on Long Island. She
confirmed that her husband used a bari mouthpiece but didn't know the make. On the way back to Texas
I stopped off to see Spencer Clark in North Carolina and found that he too used a bari mouthpiece.

    best regards,


Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998 01:12:05 +0100
From: Drake MABRY <>
Subject: Re: Bass sax

    You asked about currently available Rollini CD's. Here's a few:

  1.     Biograph CD129 "New York Jazz in the Roaring Twenties" (Edison diamond discs from the 20's) California Ramblers et al. 3 tracks with Rollini and 2 with Clark
  2.     Topaz Jazz TPZ 1027 "Adrian Rollini Bouncin in Rhythm" 1926-35 Some Bix, Venuti (Beatin the Dog etc.), and Rollini's orchestra
  3.    Timeless CBC 1-017 "The Goofus Five" 1926-27 Rollini on bass sax and goofus
  4.    Affinity AFS 1030 "Adrian Rollini Swing Low" Rollini's 30's band (bass sax and vibes) By the way, vibes players I work with have been surprised that Rollini's four stick technique predates Gary Burton's use by about 30 years
  5.    Timeless CBC 1-037 "The Little Ramblers" 1924-27" Rollini on goofus and bass sax, his earliest recordings I think.
  6.    Disques Swing CDSW 8457 "Jazz in the Thirties" double CD with some Adrian Rollini and his Orchestra and some excellent cuts with Venuti (Raggin the Scale, Sweet Lorraine etc.)
    Check out some 1920's and 1930's Red Nichols. I've just ordered a Red Nichols CD of radio broadcasts with Rollini on Call of the Freaks.
    And of course I'm still waiting for a reissue of the University Six with his famous solo on San.

    Anybody have other sources of reissues?
    all the best,

Bob Thomas wrote:

> I've heard (forget where) that Rollini used bass reeds which
> he cut down to fit the bari mouthpiece that he used on his
> bass sax (!)
> Speaking of which, if anyone knows of any currently available
> Rollini recordings (other than the vibes stuff or the Bix tracks,
> which I have), I'd love to hear about it.
>                                                 b.


Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 11:44:23 +0000
Subject: Subcontrabassoon

Dear all,
I'm afraid that the subcontrabassoon is a fantasy that reappears every year on the list.
There is a lengthy article about this instrument showing that it did not exist.
Cerveny made a contrabassoon out of metal which descended to a low Db and which was pitched in Eb.
When he made a Bb instrument descending to its low (I think Bb) he called it subcontrabassoon to contrast it with the Eb instrument.
The low Bb is in the 32 foot register (although at the upper end of it) and therefore the instrument has been misunderstood as being 32 foot long! This misunderstanding has been reproduced in a number of publications.
Here are the details of the 2 important articles on this topic:
Eppelsheim, Jurgen: "Das Subkontrafagott", Alta Musica, Vol. 1, 1976, pp. 233-272
Eppelsheim, Jurgen: "More Facts about the 'Subkontrafaggot'", Galpin Society Journal, Vol. 32, 1979, pp. 104-114
Sorry about any disappointments - I, too, was disappointed at first.
Francis Firth


Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 12:36:48 -0800
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: Mystery Instrument

OK, I'm baffled.  There is a horn listed on eBay at (see for the pictures),
that I cannot readily identify.  It is shaped like a helicon with a serious
brass deficiency, or a trombone with delusions of sousaphone.

Any ideas?


Grant Green  


Date: Wed, 02 Dec 1998 22:20:02 +0100
From: Hans Mons <>
Subject: (Sub-)Contra Racket.  Was: Subcontrabassoon??

>>symphonic contra, folded over on itself? Maybe improve the sausage bassoon
>>idea? What kind of reed (maybe 3 cm across at the tip and a blade over 4
>>cm long)? And how do you figure-out if your BBBb (64') is a bit sharp or
>>It seems as neat an idea as octosubcontrabasso flutes.
>A subcontra rackett (with conical bore) would probably work out to be
>about 4' long by at least about 13" in diameter. Well, maybe that's
>not so bad after all...

My gues is that the length of a baroque contra racket would be about 40 cm
with a diameter of about 15 cm.  And for subcontra racket a length of
roughly 80 cm with a diameter of 20 cm.  What not means that your figures
are unrealistic, you probably could make a subcontra baroque racket with
these dimensions.
BUT. Positioning the finger holes such that you could finger them would be
almost impossible for any baroque contra or subcontra racket, I guess.
What means that a brand new key system should be developed to make the
instrument playable. This is probably the reason that even the baroque
contra racket did not exist.

>Of course, we should probably ask Hans how much space one needs to
>leave between the bores in order to drill non-intersecting fingerholes.

I am very honored by that question.  Although, answering it means that I
first should do a big part of the development work for these instruments.
Without doing that, my guess is that you end up with unrealistic values,
and therefore the only solution would be a lot of keywork.

>If you went with a Renaissance-style rackett design (cylindrical bore),
>you could make a much smaller instrument. The Ren. contra has a
>bore of around 1 cm to 0.5", and (because it is cylindrical) would need
>only 16' of bore.  Folded 9 times gives you an instrument about 21" long,

Grant, suppose you calculated the length of a renaissance subcontra racket
and not for a contra.
The renaissance contra rackets I made have a bore diameter of 12mm, a total
diameter of 64mm and a length of 28cm.  Sarah, the reed I use for this
renaissance contra racket has a blade length of 40mm and a tip width of
22mm.  Even with here I have the feeling that the tip width is to small for
the instrument.  If someone knows a source for cane bigger then that for
contra bassoon, let me know.
For a renaissance subcontra racket you could have a bore of about 16mm
diameter, a body diameter of about 90mm and a length of about 55cm.  And
again a lot of keywork will be needed to let this thing work.  After that,
you still have an instrument with a very weak tone, as all the renaissance
rackets have.
But, perhaps a quart-contrabass racket that goes down to 32' G is feasable
without keywork, perhaps...

>but one that overblows in 12ths instead of octaves.
True, a few notes.

Hans Mons


Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 15:33:04 -0600
From: "Sam Henson" <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: Mystery Instrument

The instrument could be a tenor helicon which i have heard about.  All the
tenor helicon is, is a a three valved cimbasso in the shape of a helicon.
-----Original Message-----
From: Grant Green <>
To: <>
Date: Wednesday, December 02, 1998 2:50 PM
Subject: Mystery Instrument

>OK, I'm baffled.  There is a horn listed on eBay at
> (see
> for the pictures),
>that I cannot readily identify.  It is shaped like a helicon with a serious
>brass deficiency, or a trombone with delusions of sousaphone.
>Any ideas?


Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 17:37:14 -0800
Subject: Re: Mystery Instrument

>OK, I'm baffled.  There is a horn listed on eBay at
> (see
> for the
>pictures), that I cannot readily identify.  It is shaped like a helicon with a
>serious brass deficiency, or a trombone with delusions of sousaphone.
>Any ideas?

It is a bariton shaped like a helicon.  The German army had mounted
cavalry bands with the brass wrapped thusly.  There is some evidence that
there was also a SS bicycle band or two using the same style instruments.
 The bore most closely resembles the Tenor horn, which is a very narrow
bore instrument in Bb, tighter than a Baritone, and much tighter than a
Euphonium.  Not to be confused with the Eb alto horn that the Brits call
a tenor horn but really isn't.  :-)


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Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 16:21:39 -0800
From: Grant Green <>
Subject: Another Heckelphone CD

Well, actually its more of a CD that happens to have a little heckelphone
audible at times...  Anyway, the CD is Paul Winter, "Solstice Live!" (1993
Living Music 01048-81525-2), and includes Mark Perchanok on heckelphone.  I
haven't listened to it particularly critically, beyond noticing the
occasional strain of heckelphone.  Good music, regardless.


Grant Green  


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