Posted by Rick Denney on June 30, 2003 at 09:27:29:
In Reply to: Intonation on Yahama 621 posted by Dave S on June 27, 2003 at 23:43:30:
I've been a little light on F tuba playing lately because our quintet has been dormant for a couple of months, but I pulled it out last night to check some of these intonation issues.
For me, the low Eb plays perhaps 8 or 10 cents flatter than the F above it when I just play the note and don't look at the tuner until the pitch is stabilized. I can very easily pull it up to tune with the ensemble. All other first-valve notes are pretty much spot-on, with the exception of the G on the staff. That one can be ugly-flat if I'm not paying attention.
But my intonation on the Yamaha always varies with whatever contrabass I've been playing most frequently. Apparently, I bring my intonation adjustments from my BBb tuba to the Yamaha until I get my brain rewrapped. The YM plays the 8th partial quite sharp, and so I was accustomed to pulling that G and higher notes. When switching to the Yamaha, I'd really have fun with that G. The Holton has different (mostly insignificant) issues, and going to the Yamaha is a little more brainless. Between the Yamaha and the Miraphone I was playing before the YM, there was hardly any difference at all.
My point is that you might be bringing your contrabass fight to your 621.
By the way, when I play a Conn Helleberg on the 621, I have a harder time centering the pitch with a good sound. I think that mouthpiece is just that little bit too big for that instrument, at least for me. The mouthpiece I'm using now (a custom Warburton) is a little shallower with a little smaller throat, and it's a little easier to manage on the 621. But it's still a funnel concept. I tried a 7B but the rim diameter is too small for my face. I will probably try to put a Doug Elliott together for it at some point, when Doug catches up a bit and when I do too. I'm thinking a P cup with a 4 backbore would be about right, or maybe even an N.
Though Yamaha has always had a great reputation for consistency, I have heard superb players complain about a few notes on the 621. At my stage of skill, if the intonation was particularly bad I wouldn't be able to control it, so I have to think that we are talking about different instruments (i.e. sample variation). It is true, though, that some of those players who have complained play other instruments known for the work required to play them in tune, and that may be contributing to their impressions. A valuable F tuba is one that responds in the same way as your main contrabass, so you don't have to remember two completely different strategies, it seems to me.
Rick "who plays better in tune on the 621 than on most tubas" Denney