Posted by Sean Chisham on January 21, 1999 at 15:14:36:
In Reply to: Horn size I.E. 4/4,5/4,etc. posted by Neil Dwyer on January 21, 1999 at 14:53:38:
There is no technical differentiation between 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, etc. These terms are marketting terms used to attempt to convey the physical size of an instrument in relation to other instruments in production. Because the terms are thrown around so easily, they have lost most of their usefullness in describing horns. VMI calls one of their F tuba's a 7/4. Is this to imply that the horn is 75% larger than an "average" sized F tuba?
The term came from the world of strings where very young players play on 1/4 and 1/2 sized instruments because their arms and fingers aren't developed enough to physically handle "average" sized instruments, such as a cello.
Tuba players looking for "bigger" sounds began to fall into the trap and craved bigger Bigger BIGGER BIGGER. Now you have many adds for 5/4 horns. With the number of "5/4" horns out there, I would venture to say that the "average" size of the tuba is larger than it used to be, so these "5/4" instruments are of "average" size to today's players. So what is a 5/4 instrument? Good question.
Some manufacturer's make 3 different sizes of the same basic design. Rudy Meinl is an example of this. They make a 3/4 4/4 and a 5/4 version of their CC tuba. There is a clear distinction between these instruments and the designation is clear. Another company, Miraphone, makes 3 horns called the 184, 185, and 186. Each one is a bit larger than the one before it. Does this make them 1/2, 3/4, and 4/4 sized? I don't believe so. They are just three different horns.
Now, to the point of advertising the numeric dimensions of a tuba in general. I don't tend to pay too much attention to the attempted conveyances portrayed by numbers about such things as bore size, bell size, X/4 size, etc. Numbers fail miserably in telling the story of the quality of an instrument.
On the otherhand, a 3/4 horn is usually fairly small in stature and sound.
I am not implying that large horns are bad. Some of the larger horns are fantastic, such as the Walter Nirschl York copy, Hirsbrunner Yorkbrunner, and the Perantucci PT-7P. Sometimes people get hung up, including myself, on trying to understand the significance of the x/4 size in a horns description.