Re: Info about 4 valve sousaphones

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Posted by Lew on April 02, 2002 at 19:56:04:

In Reply to: Info about 4 valve sousaphones posted by Patrick on April 02, 2002 at 16:00:18:

4 valve sousaphones have always been somewhat rare. I believe that a couple of companies made them until very recently (Miraphone, Yamaha?), but I don't think that Conn or King have offered 4 valves on their sousaphones for a long time. Everything else being equal I find a sousaphone to be more open playing than a tuba.

In the 1950s and earlier tubas were used as professional instruments in big bands and brass bands, so they made models that were every bit as good as the same manufacturer's tubas. You could find them with bores up to 0.750" and above and bells as large as 30". Today the market for sousaphones is almost exclusively for marching, so the expectations are lower. But, if you want a 4th valve you're probably talking about a vintage horn anyway.

Since the seller calls the 4 valve King currently being auctioned a 3/4 sized instrument I think that it might be an Eb. It's really hard to tell from the photo. 4 Valve Eb sousaphones seem to be more common than BBbs.

Cerveny currently still makes a 4 rotary valve helicon available in Eb, F, or BBb. I played one of these in BBb a couple of years ago and it hard a great sound and feel. At the time the price was around $3500. The bore is 18mm (about 0.709") on the Eb and F and 20mm (about 0.787") on the BBb. These are the same bores as on their equivalent tubas.

In my opinion using a helicon or sousaphone is a very reasonable choice for stand up playing, depending on the venue. They just don't look right with certain groups. Klaus is correct that they can be heavy, but they shouldn't be any heavier than the equivalent tuba and the weight is better distributed.

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