Posted by Joe Sellmansberger on April 14, 1999 at 23:48:11:
I need some responses to this one from guys that play a lot of F tuba (like I do) and have really strong opinions (like I do). I have played all of the F tubas from the early Alex's, stinky Mirafone's, old stuffy Meinl-Weston's (VERY ancient history models), and I even got to play a very sweet little Kruspe F, once. Later on came the B & S (The first time I ever saw one was the tuba player in the Leipzig orchestra - actually getting away with it on Tchaikowsky Pathetique) models, and they seemed to get even better through the early 1980's. After that, they were "perantouched".
The B & S, the first truly playable F that I had found except for that fluke old Kruspe, was "messed up" in the mid 1980's by opinion polls: It had been "large bored". It was acoustically goofed up (in my opinion) by making the mouthpipe too big (early perantouched models had two interchangable mouthpipes) and removing the first two bore gradations to where there were only three bore gradations through the rotors, rather than five. I think that they were trying to make the Db, C, and B below the staff focus better, but all that they accomplished (in my opinion) was to make the entire instrument play like a cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper (not enough resistance).
Now, the trend in F tubas is biggest, biggester, and biggestest, and all of them seem to be trying to accomplish making an instrument that CC oriented players (who have no F experience) feel comfortable enough with on the"first toot" (using their "bucket" Helleburg mouthpieces to try out the instruments, too) to buy. No focus, no character of sound, and horrid intonation just about across the board. (I did play a TINY little piston prototype that the Hirsbrunners brought to Kentucky a few years ago that played VERY well -- never saw another one.
(In my opinion) even these small Yamaha F's that many people seem to rave about are big-time losers: no character of sound, too free-blowing, and goofy intonation. I have played one of these small Yamahas extensively, and listened to them live used in the original Empire group and the Chestnut group. uhhhh...... Further, (in my opinion) Yamaha has "pulled one over" on tuba players as a group by taking their "student" 3/4 BBb tuba bell and bottom bow and morphing that set-up into a "professional" 3/4-size CC and an F.
Even more unplayable are those "bathhouse brass" Culbertson "Apollo" (or whatever) F tubas -- way too big everything and absolutely no acoustical logic. I don't need to mention the Kurath-made F at all, unless something drastic has been done to improve its intonation.
I guess by now everyone who is reading this is wondering what has me so annoyed. Well, the fact is that I cannot find one single playable new F tuba, and I have started wearing out the rotors in my old 1982 (pre-perantouched) B & S. I WILL NOT invest in "rebuilding" the rotors with nickel plating, because that will only last a few years. I have had to do this to renew my B & S: I bought an old 1970's B & S with very little playing time on it (rotors like new) and transferred the valve section of that instrument (mostly just the rotors) over to my OLD (1982 vintage) B & S that still plays a bit better than the 1970's one. This was a LOT of trouble, but I could not locate a nice playable NEW F tuba. As discussed above, it seems as if no one makes them, anymore.
Am I the ONLY F player that USES the resistance of a good F tuba to make it sing? I never found the three so-called "dead notes" ( again Db,C, and B below the staff) to be that much of a problem. You just have to approach them from a different "angle" than their very resonant sound-alikes on the CC's.
Maybe F tubas just aren't that important, or else tuba players DO want F tubas, but they really don't want them to be a different instrument, just a "kapo-ed up" (a little guitar lingo there) version of their CC, I guess.
Your comments/criticisms/poo-pooings welcome.