Posted by Bryan on January 24, 2000 at 20:20:03:
In Reply to: Good piston F/Eb tuba ??? posted by Bruce on January 24, 2000 at 12:59:08:
I too was in the market for an F and auditioned many horns over a six month period. Here are my observations in a nutshell (well, a big nutshell):
Best all-around and overall winner: Hirsbrunner HB-12. Nothing else came close in terms of sweetness of sound and response. The low range was excellent and very free-blowing for an F tuba. Cons: Extremely expensive. These are in the same range as an HB-21 - around $13K.
Close second: Gronitz. These are not well known in the US but are very popular in Europe. This horn is larger than the Hirs or Yamaha and has a very sweet "German F" sound. The low Db and C were a little stuffy compared to the Yamaha, but definetly playable. Cons: Tuba Exchange is the only importer of these horns. They are very hard to come by and you will probably have to wait several months to get yours. Also, because they are the sole importer, they can charge whatever they want for them...which is $7300.
Yamaha 822F - probably the easiest of the bunch to just pick up and play. The low register is right there and feels like a C tuba. My problem with this horn is the sound. It just doesn't sound like an F tuba to me. I think they concentrated on the openess and sacrificed a little in the sound area. I would say that this is probably one of, if not THE best selling F tubas in the marketplace, so obviously many people disagree with me here. Or, maybe the playability is more important to some than the sound - to each his own! Other downer for me is the price: You could buy one of these new a year ago for 6K. Now they're about $7400 or so. At that price, I would easily go for the Gronitz.
PT-10 and PT15: I didn't play the piston version of these horns, only the rotary. Your post was specifically about piston horns, so I only include this for others that may be interested. A lot of people like these horns, a lot of people don't. I think I have to put myself in the latter category. The PT-10's low range (at least the one I tried) was so bad that I didn't spend more than about three minutes with it. It reminded me of the old B&S F that I owned many years ago - very stuffy, probably not intended to be played below the staff. The PT-15 faired much better - I think they worked out of lot of the bugs. I guess it just came down to the same conclusion you came to - I like pistons better. Like I said, I didn't try the 15P - I would definetly check it out though if I were you.
Meinl 45SLP: I'll end the suspense here and tell you that this is the horn I eventually bought. These are in such high demand that I never got to try one out (at a show or dealership) until I bought it. Obviously, I recommend you only deal with somebody you know and who will give you a trial period. I wouldn't have thought twice about sending the thing back if I didn't like it...this was just a horn on my list that I wanted to try before I bought anything. Here's what convinced me: This horn is pretty big - quite a bit bigger than the Yamaha and somewhat larger than the PT's as I recall. It is the perfect Symphonie Fantastique horn. It projects really well and has the requisite sweet "German F" sound. The sacrifice here is that I think they made the low D-Db-C as open as they could WITHOUT sacrificing the sound. It's not as open as the Yamaha or Gronitz, but it's in the zone. I think they made a great compromise with this one... Also, you can't beat the price: $4995. Other good news is that Fedderly just got two of them in....better hurry!
A lot of your choice will depend on what you want to use the horn for. I'm still not sure that we don't need three horns...the big F's are supposed to be the solution, but I'm not convinced. I still like to play a lot of the solo literature on a medium C. If you are buying the horn strictly for solo work, then I probably wouldn't buy the Meinl. I never tried the small Yamaha, only because I knew from the beginning that I wanted a larger horn.
So after all of that, my advice is: Hirsbrunner, Gronitz, Meinl, Yamaha, PT-15 in that order. Obviously, your results may vary.
Keep in mind that these are the opinions of just one person - there will probably be many posts after this one hazing me because I dissed someone's favorite horn. The axiom of the board still stands: Go try them for yourself and make your own decision. The "best" horn out there is the one that YOU make magic with.