Posted by anon on December 21, 1999 at 04:16:00:
I just purchased one of these, and if any are in the market or curious as to the intonation flaws and playing characteristics of this instrument, here goes (all preceded by "IMO"):
Intonation on this Hirsbrunner 4/4 CC tuba is as good as is found on Miraphone tubas (which have about the best scale of any tubas around), with the tonal characteristics of the Hirsbrunner being superior to that of Miraphones. The open notes are all remarkably close to in tune.
Serious intonation flaws occur, predictably, on the Eb below the staff (2&3) which is extremely flat (but, thankfully, quite, flexible) and the F natural in up in the staff which is quite sharp and MUST be "pulled" ANY time that it "matters". Incidentally, if the E natural (below the staff and next door to that REALLY flat Eb) is fingered with the traditional (sharp tending) 1&2 fingering, its pitch will be OK on that E natural.
The F# next door to the F natural up in the staff is almost as sharp as the F natural but, infortunately, there is no easy remedy.
A natural at the top of the staff needs to be played with the 3rd valve, because it likes to be sharp, and using the 3rd valve will avoid a #1 slide pull for this note.
D natural in the staff MUST be "pushed" in as close as possible, as it tends to be flat.
The D natural BELOW the staff really must be played 1&3, and the C# next door works best with 2&4.
When fully warmed up, the instrument will play just above A=440 (maybe as much as 10 cents sharp) with the main tuning slide pushed in all of the way, and I only pull the tuning slide out about 3/8 of an inch to play at A=440. This is with a deep funnel mouthpiece.
I believe that they have hit on a happy medium with the size and taper of the mouthpipe tube. Perhaps, I would like just a tad more resistance, but I believe that most everyone else would disagree with my tastes, here.
I find this 1999 vintage model to not have as much "brightness" (when played very loudly) in the tone as 4/4 Hirsbrunner CC's that I have played in the past (with money in my hand at different times ready to buy) and I think that the "less brightness" is very good.
The case that is available as standard equipment is a regular General Woodworkers Wisconsin-made case with excellent wheels, but still made of the standard plywood, pressed board bell wings, and "black paper over gauze" cortex construction. Certainly, one should not pay more than $500 for this case, when purchased with the tuba.
Cosmetic comments: I would only remark that it would be just a bit classier, in this price range, for the brace flanges which were NOT part of the pre-manufactured valveset (ie: the ones installed at the Hirsbrunner factory) to MATCH the ones on the valveset, itself. As it is, the brace flanges on the valveset have a York-copy look to them, and the spartan-design flanges on the rest of the instrument have a Kurath-Willson Swiss look to them.
Mechanics: All is fine EXCEPT that I was astonished (again, considering the price range) to realize that my #1 slide would need considerable alignment and fitting work before it would be usable to correct the intonation flaws listed above. Whether or not a portion of an instrument is manufactured or assembled by the maker who's name appears on the instrument, the listed maker is ultimately responsible for the fit and finish of all parts.
I thought that this review might begin to satify the curiousity of those who haven't had an opportunity to try out one of these instruments. In particular, some instrument owners who have purchased tubas in the upper price ranges might be reluctant to discuss imperfections in their instruments, as perhaps this would draw attention to them or to their instruments in specific ways which they they might find undesirable.