Vol. 2, No. 36


An email list for discussion of bass and contrabass instruments of all kinds. To subscribe, send a message with "subscribe" in the subject line to contrabass-list-request@contrabass.com.

To post, send your message to contrabass-list@contrabass.com.
See the Archive for back issues.

5 May 1997

Contrabass-list Digest Volume 97 : Issue 36

Today's Topics:

Date: Fri, 02 May 1997 17:11:08 -0700
From: Grant Green <gdgreen@contrabass.com>
To: contrabass-list@contrabass.com
Subject: Re: contrabass-list Digest V97 #34

At 02:31 PM 5/2/97 -0400, you wrote:

>Date: Thu, 1 May 1997 21:25:24 -0400 (EDT)
>From: WilPryde@aol.com
>To: contrabass-list@contrabass.com
>Subject: Earlier Questions.............

> Anyone have any suggestions for me?

Regarding construction of a BBBb subcontra tuba? Sounds to me like there are a few design problems to overcome, like how to make one that will support its own weight. Carl has a great site that explains a lot of the construction aspects (for normal sized tubas).

Here's a suggestion: make a contra cimbasso instead. I think this would have a cylindrical bore, which means you'll have a much lighter and more practical instrument. Compare Carl's contrabass trumpet in F to an F bass tuba: same fundamental range, but the trumpet weighs in at 2 pounds or less, and the tuba about 20 pounds or so. Conical flare adds weight quick. From what little I've seen, a cimbasso is essentially a cylindrical bore tuba (or maybe a contrabass valve trombone). If you can find (or make) valves in the bore diameter you want, it should be much easier to work with straight tube (at least, up to the bell flare). You'll probably want to pick a bore size that corresponds to something that an existing mouthpiece will fit. Perhaps pick the largest bore used in tubas (for mpc and valves), and design the longest bore that can use that diameter.

Or maybe a contrabass valve trombone? Anyone else have thoughts on the subject? Perhaps an octocontrabass trumpet?


Date: Fri, 2 May 1997 22:28:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: Stryder <stryder@mhv.net>
To: contrabass-list@contrabass.com
Subject: Dual-Bore

On Fri, 2 May 1997 contrabass-list-request@contrabass.com wrote:

Hrm, the happy attachment thing won't let me reply with an included message, and i don't want to bother to read it in. Anyway Dual bore trombones have the first inner slide of the hand slide (the thing instead of valves on say a euphonium, not the tuning slide) smaller than the second inner slide, the second inner slide is the actualy bore of the horn, on say a .547 symphonic tenor, the second would be .547 and the first would be .540 depends on the company. anyway the point is to minimize the change in bore from the mouthpiece and leadpipe to the first inner slide the air encounters. It's supposed to make it easier to play and more free blowing. I'm not that expericenced in trombone, and i've never played a dual bore trombone, but it seems to work on people that have played it.

Date: Fri, 2 May 1997 22:41:25 -0400 (EDT)
From: PaulC135@aol.com
To: contrabass-list@contrabass.com
Subject: Re: contrabass-list Digest V97 #35

O.K. thanks I am still wondering if anyone could send me some pictures of
1.This Sub-Octo-Contrabass Saxaphone(I think thats right?)

Sorry, no such instrument was ever made.

Paul Cohen

Date: Sat, 3 May 1997 05:43:13 -0700 (PDT)
From: groover@netcom.com (Robert Groover)
To: contrabass-list@contrabass.com
Subject: Re: contrabass-list Digest V97 #35

The reasons for the lack of bass trumpets, sarrusophones, etc., might relate to conservatism and technophobia among musicians generally - people who read this list aren't typical! - and among musical instrument makers. (Would anybody hire A.Sax today??)

Robert Groover groover@netcom.com (PGP key on request)
Member ECS, AVS, ACM, OSA, Sen.Mem.IEEE, Reg'd Patent Atty
"All men by nature desire knowledge."

Date: Sat, 03 May 1997 15:50:55
From: Carl Kleinsteuber <carl@tip.nl>
To: contrabass-list@contrabass.com
Subject: contrabass trumpet...

Grant et al.:

I'm glad that contrabass trumpet #3 (of 4 to date) has found a good home!

A few ruminations re: my contrabass trumpet-building project:

I find the speculation about the 'correct' sound of a contrabass trumpet interesting. I didn't build it with a specific timbre in mind. My goal was a compact instrument in the same key as my bass-tuba (F) that also accepted my F-tuba mouthpiece. The intent was a friendly instrument on which to practice jazz; 25 years of diligent Arbans practice has loaded the tuba with a certain workman-like approach that is not compatible with jazz. The contrabass trumpet was meant to be an 'alter ego'. As for the resulting timbre, the description "husky flugelhorn" immediately sprang to mind.

>Carl Kleinsteuber is THE expert on this subject...

Cool! Those of you with 28.8k modems can see me blushing :-)

As for mouthpiece choice with the CB trumpets I've built, during play testing, I found only the shallowest of mouthpieces would work. Otherwise intonation goes bad, and a flabby TOOBA sound is produced that is the antithesis of the agile instrument that I was trying to create. After all, trumpet mouthpieces aren't funnel shaped (tuba mouthpieces are, though).

Different subject: "dual bore" trombones. Someone asked the meaning of this term. On a dual bore trombone, the top and bottom slides are of different bore size (commonly the top slide is of tenor bore, and the bottom slide is of bass-trombone bore). The intent is a more 'conical' trombone, which of course is absurd.

Carl Kleinsteuber
"Carl's Home-Built Tuba Page"

Date: Sat, 03 May 1997 11:40:44 -0500
From: The White Family <boeck-white.family@worldnet.att.net>
To: contrabass-list@contrabass.com
Subject: Sarrusophone

Hey Grant, right now I play clarinet and bass clarinet, plus a little sax in a concert band and a jazz band. I'm really intyerested to adding sarrusophone, whatever type, to that list. (I think it might add some color to the band :) Anyhow, If you know were I can get one, how much it will dent my budget, and how I can learn to play it, it would be a huge help. Thanks

Date: Sat, 3 May 1997 15:16:50 -0400
From: "Daryl Fletcher" <daryl@www.walker.public.lib.ga.us>
To: <contrabass-list@contrabass.com>
Subject: Re: Bass trumpets

Grant said:

For me, tone is a matter of practicing a lot while listening to the
result. I think my embouchure adjusts subconsciously. Certainly seems
to with flute in particular: I'll start playing after a hiatus, and
can hear my tone go from fuzzy to clear to sweet, without making any
conscious adjustment. Anyone else experience this?

That's the way it was for me when I was learning to play tuba, and the way it is now with my Cb. Tpt. It's probably just a normal thing for all wind players.

>I am sure that I have read somewhere (Summit Records' CD of Bass Trumpet
>excerpts) saying that you should try to make sure that a bass trumpet sounds
>trumpetlike and not like a trombone.

Well, the valves make an obvious difference. I think the difference in
sound may be due to that (and perhaps the attack) as much as anything.
I looked up bore sizes in the Brasswind catalog. The Getzen bass
trumpet has a 0.500" bore, while the Bach bore is 0.480". Tenor
trombones seem to range from about 0.500" to 0.547", with one at 0.484
(the Holton valve/slide "MF Superbone"). The valve trombones range
from 0.488" to 0.500". Bass bones range from 0.560" to 0.563".
Clearly, the bass trumpet and tenor trombone (especially valve
trombone) overlap in bore diameter.

Notice in the same catalog that the Getzen bass trumpet lists for $1950, while the Getzen valve trombone with the same bore lists for $1335. That's over a $600 price difference. There has to be something different about these horns besides the shape.

The valves certainly do make a difference in the sound. Even instruments with rotary valves sound a little different than those with pistons. But slide, rotary, and piston trumpets are all trumpets. A large bored and a small bored trombone are both trombones. Trumpets and trombones both come in a variety of pitches, have the same shaped bell, and are both cylindrical. This is all very confusing.

The bore on my contrabass trumpet is very small. You might expect it to be like what is on a standard bass trombone, but it actually might be just a bit smaller than a small tenor trombone. Carl gave me the exact measurements earlier, and I have them around here somewhere. The bell is from an unusual valveless low Eb bugle that Carl found in a pawn shop in Holland, and it's very similar to a regular tenor trombone bell.

I've had it for four months now, and it doesn't sound that much like either a euphonium or a bass trombone anymore. It now speaks with a voice all its own, and is really interesting when used in combination with regular soprano trumpets.

> Do the mouthpieces differ?

The Shilke mouthpiece brochure suggests that their model 40 trombone mouthpiece is good for bass trumpet and valve trombone, but I've never seen anything listed as just a bass trumpet mouthpiece.

I imagine that most people who play lower pitched trumpets are like me and just experiment with different things to see what works best.

BTW, the Brasswind catalog lists several trombones with "dual bores".
Can one of our trombone subscribers enlighten me as to what that
means, and why one would want it? Thanks, GDG

Well, I'm not a trombone player, but I'll try to take a stab at it. On a dual bore, one side of the slide would be slightly bigger around than the other.

I know that some tubas they're making these days have dual or graduated bores. The bore on tubas is measured at the first valve slide. The larger of the bores is often at the 5th valve, which would come later in the air stream. Having too much tubing the same size on a tuba (such as when all 5 are pressed on "conventional" 5 valve tubas) can make the sound really dull. So for tubas, anyway, this is a way to work around that.

I would imagine that the tone on a dual-bored trombone would be just a bit richer. In a way, though, it's making the trombone a little more conical, which might be defeating the point just a bit.

Sorry for the extra long post this time.



Date: Sat, 3 May 1997 21:25:38 PST
From: angelaj4@juno.com (Angela J Combs)
To: contrabass-list@contrabass.com
Subject: Re: contrabass-list Digest V97 #35

Thank you so much for explaining all the flutes in the lower register Francis! I had no idea there were that many! And also thank you Marion for the info about Chicago. It sounds interesting and from all the things I've heard about it, I really want to go!

Could either of you tell me who Pierre-Yves Artaud is? Excuse my naiveness, but I'm still very young. Where can I get the Kotato catalogue? It sounds very interesting.

Thanks all!
Angela Combs

End of contrabass-list Digest V97 Issue #36


Next Digest>

Back to Index^

Previous Digest<