Re: King rotary valve tubas?

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Posted by MikeL on July 26, 2002 at 23:07:05:

In Reply to: King rotary valve tubas? posted by Tom Mason on July 26, 2002 at 08:46:56:

The smaller .687 bore rotary Kings, of which there were very few made in CC, is a pretty terrific horn, though each I've played or discussed with former owners had some tendencies which differed from others. These were the horns played by Bill Bell, Joe Novotny, Abe Torchinsky and Phil Cadway. They have a clean tight sound. Joe Novotny 's can be heard on the many reissued Bernstein recordings (Prok. 5 is very good, for my taste). These horns were the (very basic) model for the Meinl Weston Bell Model (though that horn is pretty different from the Kings). I have 2 CC's, and one is superb; the other, well..."presents some challenges" (though it was played professionally, and very well, for many years). The one that Bell played for the latter part of his playing career (his second one), was by several reliable and knowledgeable accounts, horrible for most people, to the point of being, for many, virtually unplayable. [Fortunately, it did not seem to hold back Mr. Bell]
Of the .750 bore horns, I have a BB-flat and CC in the Symphony Bass style, and a .750 Pit Tuba in BB-flat. Both are great sounding horns. I've played several, and the BB-flats tend to be fairly consistent, with some excellent; and the CC's tend to have some significant but sometimes manageable pitch issues (C in the staff is often very sharp played open, but may work played 2-3 for example -not a common fingering pattern for most of us). On two CC's I've played, the pitch is actaully somewhat better with the recording bell on.
The pit tuba is surprisingly good, and (at least on mine) a later King upright bell fits on it. HOWEVER, due to the configuration of the standard recording bell (the only standard bell for these), a tall King upright bell on it gives you a very nice playing BB tuba (maybe just very slightly flat (it's been a long time since I tried it), rather than the far more desireable BB-flat tuba one would hope for. I've played 3, and all were very good. If someone wants something unusual, can use a recording bell horn, and doesn't mind making and hauling around a little box to set the horn on in order to play sitting down, these are pretty neat horns. [You can clench it between your calves, but it does nothing for promoting relaxed playing...]

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