Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Holton 6/4 in my living room..what to do

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Posted by Jay Bertolet on April 29, 2002 at 18:40:04:

In Reply to: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Holton 6/4 in my living room..what to do posted by Tony E on April 29, 2002 at 15:18:22:

Well, I can tell you what I know/think and you can draw your own conclusions for what it's worth.

A new production of Holton 345 BBb tubas would be in direct competition with such instruments as the Meinl-Weston 2165 (believe it or not, M-W offers a conversion kit to modify the slides and make the horn a BBb), the Willson 3100, the Cerveny 601, the Rudolf Meinl 50-5S (I hope that's the right model number, they make their 5/4 CC in BBb), the Rudolf Meinl 6/4 BBb (I don't know that model number), the new Meinl Weston Fafner BBb (195?), and the Gronitz PCK. Also, I'd be shocked if Hirsbrunner didn't sell a large BBb tuba, such is their popularity in europe. These are all new horns and they cover quite a spectrum of price. If we're looking strictly at price, the Gronitz and Cerveny models cost less than the others. In fact, you could get a new Cerveny 601 for just about the same as the price of the used 345 you are considering, maybe even a little less.

I don't agree that you can't find that kind of instrument in production today (one like the 345). I wouldn't worry about finding "the magic" from a factory fresh horn. That's why they have trial periods. As with any tuba purchase, I encourage folks to play the horn first and see if it speaks to them. That's the most important thing. Of the list I've given you, I have personal experience with most of those horns. One of my students had a brand new Cerveny 601 BBb here just a couple of years ago and it was a damn fine tuba. I've never played a Gronitz PCK but I heard that Tommy Johnson bought one. That tells me that the horn should at least be considered.

What would I do? How about I tell you what I did:

1) I bought used a Rudy 4/4 CC in 1979 because the sound was absolutely to die for. The horn played really great. The only problem was that the intonation was completely wacky. I had to learn to use a plethora of alternate fingerings. Despite the intonation difficulties, that horn covered the most ground of any tuba I've ever tried or owned. I eventually won my current job playing that horn, doing both orchestra excerpts and the Encounters II solo.

2) I bought a used Nirschl York copy in early 2000 because the sound was absolutely to die for. When I bought the horn, everybody warned me that the horn was notorious for intonation difficulties. At the time, I already had a really good Cerveny 601 which played really well in tune. After playing the Nirschl for about an hour, I desperately wanted to bring it to work. The sound was that good. Sure enough, every mouthpiece I tried either didn't feel right, didn't make the right sound, or yielded funky intonation. I checked around and found a Laskey 30H mouthpiece. I plugged that one in and all the problems vanished. The combination of the Laskey, the Nirschl, and me has been absolute magic for me. Even though I planned to use the Nirschl only for really big orchestral works, I now use it all the time. It has become my main tuba.

See a pattern? For me, the sound is the key. If the sound of that Holton really touches you, buy the horn and don't look back! I would much rather have a horn that really sounds like something than one that doesn't but plays well in tune. I can always learn to adjust the intonation. I could never make any of my other tubas sound like that Nirschl, no matter the intonation.

My opinion for what it's worth...

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