Posted by Joe S. on May 09, 1999 at 18:40:04:
In Reply to: Re: M. Weston 2145 posted by Dale S. on May 09, 1999 at 09:11:06:
I would like to disagree, respectfully, with the American mindset about "lifetime"-type purchases, such as artist-quality musical instruments. I have gone into this before, and will abridge this, but why is a few thousand dollars assumed to be the single criterium for "competes with"?
I really don't believe that instrument manufacturers know a lot about the "whys" of the intonation and tone quality of their instruments. Those who, through more extensive trial and error, have come up with designs that more people seem to like, are able to charge more for their products and reap the obvious financial and prestige-related benefits. (Pete Hirsbrunner would not hold his prices at the point that he has held them at, if no one bought his products, and I don't think that tuba players in general are the sort of lot to be "fooled" by a higher price. This ploy might work in the fashion world, but not in the instrument world.)
When I bought my B&S F tuba new from someone who could go over to the Soviet-occupied German Democratic Republic and pick it out for me, it cost about half as much as the troublesome little Mirafone 180-F-5U, the stuffy little Meinl-Weston F that was available back then, and about 1/3 as much as the Alex 6 valve "tuning disaster" F. (During that time, few had even HEARD of B&S F tubas, and those who had sort of viewed them in the way that St. Petes are today: "hmmm...CHEAP. ' wonder if its any good, though.") HOWEVER, NONE of these known instruments "competed" with the B&S F (as far as I was concerned) that belonged to the nice chubby old German in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, who let me blow on it when they were touring the U.S. in the 1970's. I would have been DELIGHTED to pay $4000 in 1970's money for my B&S, but it only cost $1,800. Here, the price factor happened to be "upside-down".
I would suggest that a few of us, when seriously in the market for an artist quality musical instrument, put away our "Walmart-Always-the-lowest-price,-always."/1-800-XXX-XXXX/horsetrader/whatever mentality, pay more attention to the instruments that we are considering purchasing and how much you like it, and less to its price tag. Many of us drive recently-manufactured vehicles, wear name-brand clothes and shoes, subscribe to extras such as online services and TV channels, but when it come to the thing that some of us claim to be our most important purchase, our artist quality musical instrument, it all comes down to price. If you like the man's tuba better than the other man's, pay his price and HAVE what you like. You don't buy something like this very often, and it's not a "disposable" or "consumable" item...You will eventually recover from an $11,000 expense, just as you would a $6000 expense. (I am talking to those who consider themselves serious, professional, or candidates for the profession.)
As a specific response to a post located a few up from this one, I understand that you are criticising the more expensive Hirsbrunners and intimating that they are not worth the money, but let's not "class" tubas according to price. If I had made that mistake, I might have ended up with one of those sorry '60's or '70's Alex F's, instead of my gem.
Sean is quite correct. Most Europeans use the same manufactured valvesets for their piston instruments, and I will go one further: Their workmanship is all of fairly similar quality. (However, "workmanship" alone does not offer the potential for a beautiful sound, nor for an accurate scale. These are dictated by an instrument's DESIGN.) To summarize, generally, the more popular a model is, the more a manufacturer can charge for it, and that manufacturer OWES it to his family and his employees to charge the highest possible price for his efforts, as do the rest of us for our own efforts. Buy what you like if you are serious, and sacrific, if need be, to do so. Base YOUR opinions on YOUR experiences.