Posted by Lew on May 30, 2003 at 13:39:53:
In Reply to: 5th valve on Bb and Eb tubas posted by Mark Preece on May 30, 2003 at 03:01:03:
A 5th valve on a BBb can be useful, but it really depends on the group and music they are playing. As Gus mentioned the 5th valve helps play the notes below low E better in tune, but with 4 valves it is possible to play down to a pedal Bb and below in tune on many tubas with alternate fingerings and a good ear. I have never encountered any piece for which a 5th valve was critical on a BBb tuba in the community band music that I have played, although it would have helped with some of the 8-va options on some parts.
I have found the 3301s that I have played to feel more free blowing than the 3302s. I believe that this is because of the 5th valve. On the other hand the 5 valve Miraphone 1291s that I have played have been among the best playing tubas I have ever tried. I decided that for the playing that I do the 5th valve wasn't a necessity, especially for the extra $$.
An Eb is another story. If you plan to use an Eb as your primary horn and want to comfortably play in the most common low range a 5th valve would be almost a necessity. The 5th valve would be used in the "money" range of the horn, like the low A and below. Again it may be possible to play many of these notes with only a 4 valve horn, but the 5th valve would be used much more often on an Eb than on a BBb.
I don't know if any compensating tubas are made with 5 valves, although one could certainly be added. Using the 5th valve adds tubing to compensate on the low notes, but it also allows one to play the same note on a different partial, making the note somewhat easier to reach. This would be true on a compensating or non-compensating horn.