Posted by Joe Selllmansberger on April 15, 1999 at 21:40:00:
In Reply to: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No decent New F tubas on the market (me out-of-step? too picky?) posted by Jay Bertolet on April 15, 1999 at 18:54:41:
I don't look forward to any of these consistant "wonder tubas" anytime in the near future. Consider something as simple as a saxophone. Would anyone with a fine Selmer Mark VI or King Super 20 (1950' and 1960's vintage instruments) trade their instrument for two of ANYTHING made today by saxophone manufacturers? Not if they are smart, sensitive players they won't.
As a music wind instrument music store owner, I really don't think that manufacturers of brass instruments are terribly interested in us. The fact is that we (high-end tuba consumers, small in numbers, and very few who are really willing to sacrifice substantial financial resources to obtain superb instruments) as a group do not look terribly interesting to manufacturers. Selmer just tossed all of their (not even professional quality, but "student") harmony brass tooling in the store room and are buying Yamastuff and stamping their trade name on it. I think that we as a group are lucky that a few manufacturing concerns just seem to LIKE making these instruments (professional quality tubas) very much (apparently regardless of the lack of a chance to make a lot of money at it). As much as I criticize their products, I think that collectively we are lucky that they even bother to manufacture CC and F tubas at all. That is why I think it is rather tragic when a few apparently influential "jock" tuba players encourage these manufacturers into moving from incredibly unbelievably fine designs (early 80's B. & S. F was my example) into less artistic versions that cater to less sensitive players. Heck, the manufacturers are not super players themselves. They are only responding to the majority of the comments that they receive. That extraordinary F Hirsbrunner prototype that Sean and I played in the early 1990's never even went into production. I can only imagine the majority of the feedback that the Hirsbrunners got on it at the Kentucky convention. "bark (playing) "bark" "bark" (etc.)..... "Hmmm (talking), ' sure is small -- and no lacquer, huh?"
That type of stuff is what happened to the Selmer, Paris Mark VI saxophones: The company that ORIGINATED the saxophone (Henri Selmer bought that company from Adolph Sax) abandoned the best saxophone design ever in existance in favor of "moving on" to the Mark 7 model - a clearly inferior "bigger" (sound familiar?) saxophone. As FEW companies as there are that are willing to even consider catering to our tuba needs, we as a group of tuba players cannot afford to screw up like that. Heck, I can RE-make tubas and piece together tubas, but I am certainly not equipped to spin bells, shape, seam, stamp, and braze together bottom bows, and manufacture valve sets from scratch. Let's not take the people who CAN do this for granted, and when they DO opt for design changes that are clearly detrimental, let's let the manufacturers know that they need to BACK UP.
One other thing that I would like to go into is the tuba player "Walmart" mentality. Over and over, I hear tuba players, who are trying to make a living at it, telling me how they "had to" sell their great tuba in favor of an "OK" tuba, because of some perceived money troubles. These same guys drive cars that are less than five years old, and subscribe to extras like cable TV and online services. You cannot consider yourself a "serious" musician if you ever sold a better instrument and bought a cheaper one that played "OK" in order to solve financial problems. Most serious violinists, oboists, bassoonists, and others would NEVER consider doing something like this, unless they were hooked on crack, or something. If we use price point as our major consideration for purchase ($6000 verses $10000 is a pretty common example) we are NOT serious, and we should not expect the few manufacturers to take us seriously. Further, if Vendor A has a Model XX tuba for $10000 that plays unbelievable well and Vendor B has a Model XX tuba for $8000 that plays 99% as well as Vendor A's, if you choose the $8000 one, you are a fool. That 1% is a BARGAIN at $2000 ! There are more entries on this BBS about those "passable" Russian tubas that anything else. What does that say about our commitment, as a group, to the perfection of our craft and to the perfection of our equipment?