Re: converting a contrabass bugle

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Posted by Randy Mac Iver on October 13, 1999 at 23:12:02:

In Reply to: converting a contrabass bugle posted by JRTapes on October 12, 1999 at 11:10:58:

Well, Ya know a contra bass bugle is a tuba. It's just pitched in GG. Those Drum Corps Guys have been debating the issue for years. I've played every version of the Contra Bass ever made from the shortie with one valve and a pull slide to the one valve / rotor and pull slide to the two valve version and the three valve version. When I was in high school back in the late 70's up in Mass. I use to tape down the third valve on my BBb Besson tuba which puts the horn in GG and play it on my should like a contra bass. Due to money issues and the quest for a better sounding horn some one messed with wacking of the third valve of a Yamaha 201s tuba and putting it in GG and using it in Corps. Pretty soon they became common placed and I believe last year at DCI finals there were a couple of corps using the Three valve Yamaha 201s with slide extensions making them three valve tubas in GG. So as you can see what you are asking has already been done in reverse. The Three valve King's and Kanstull Contras made today are not to bad for a marching horn. Most have a better ensemble sound than a fleet of Sousaphones. The Contra Bass has a Cylindrical approach to the tubing as oppossed to the Tuba which is usualy conical,kind of like the difference between a Trumpet and a Cornet or Flugel horn if you follow me. Most Contras are stuffy in some part of it's register and parts of the overtone series are usually wacked out. It's the nature of the beast. You either live with it or move to Baritone. Some guys have done what you are suggesting and done well but you'll definitely get varied results. I would have to say that unless alot more work is done on the design end of a Three valve shoulder held Bell front tuba you might want to let it be. Due to the rule change in DCI with BBb horns being allowed soon enough there will be alot of cheap horns around to be had. With all the stereotypes about Drum Corps player aside, you might just want to find out how all those knuckleheads could get a good sound out of those chrome plated Bumper like GG Tubas. Ya know if you could get one company to make a matched set of horns you could have a low Brass ensemble with a GG Tuba, a BBb Tuba, a CC Tuba, an Eb Tuba, an F Tuba and a Bb Euphonium. That might prove to have a better blend of sound. Well if you got the time and money to pay a competent horn guy is say have at it. Good luck. Randy

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