Re: I'm looking for my first horn

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Posted by Matt Walters on November 28, 1999 at 12:50:00:

In Reply to: I'm looking for my first horn posted by Sparticus on November 28, 1999 at 11:09:26:

Go play some for yourself. What was a good choice for soeone else, may not be a good choice for you.

1. Play a slow scale using a dotted half note and quarter rest patern. Also articulate with a natural (neutral) attack.

1a) Listen to the articualtion. Did you hear fuzz in front of the note, or did it sound like you were accenting the notes?
1b) Listen to the pitch? Does it stay on pitch or does it fish (typically you'll lip up if the bore is too big for you)?

2. Do you like the sound it gives? Ask others what they hear from a distance. Mom and Dad are perfect for this as the majority of people you will play for are non tubists and typically non musicians.

3. Is the horn comfortable to hold and play?

4. Do you like it or just hate it. The most perfect tuba will do you no good if you don't like it.

After you found 2 or more good choices go to step 5.

5. Factor in the 1st 4 steps while you play with a tuner. Tune the open pitch of the horn. Tune the 1st to 1 whole step below the pitch ofthe tuba (BBb tuba use Ab or Eb). (AT)nd valve tuned down 1/2 step (BBb tuba to A) 3rd valve to tune a 2&3 combination (BBb tuba tune to Db) And 4th valve to tune the note just above the low tuning pitch (BBb tuba play a C just above the low Bb). Play some scales and check with a tuner. Can you manipulate a slide or alternate fingerings to bring notes in tune. + or - 10 cents, is in tune as you will lip that amount without any thought.

Find the tuba with the best compromise of intonation, response (resistance or how it blows for you), comfort to hold, sound quality, and fun to play factor. You will have made a good decision. There is no such thing as a PERFECT tuba.
What if there is a tie? Lucky you to find 2 or more great tubas in your price range! Then expand the envelope. Which will let me play softer? Which will let me play louder? Which slurs better? There is always a winner by this point or as I say, "The right tuba will pick you."
Do these things and you will be pleased with your purchase fr years to come. Don't, and you will soon be wondering if it is you or the horn that can't play in tune, articulate, or slur.
Best of luck.

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