Posted by jlb on December 02, 1999 at 13:59:38:
In Reply to: Eb or F? posted by Beau on November 29, 1999 at 16:11:05:
Well, here's my tale. I also played only BBb (sheltered life) until two years + ago. My old Markneukirchen made BBb finally wore out -- valves leak, top bow is dented and torn, bell is bent and torn, leadpipe is mashed and repaired several times, etc. I got an estimate of $2000 to do the physical repairs, not including the cosmetic stuff, like a re-lacquer, no guarantees how it would play.
I decided I would rather put $2000 into a good used horn that I could try before buy. Then I ran low on funds for various reasons. I had been reading the tubaeuph list and this BBS for some time and knew EEb horns were less expensive because they are not as popular. I also knew there are several pro's who favor EEb. Then I ran across a 15 year old Holton 3 valve EEb for $350. I bought it and learned to play EEb on it.
Nice looking little horn, but it was small bore, and my wife kept complaining that "It didn't sound like a tuba". Finally traded it plus cash for a Conn 26K 3valve EEb Sousaphone. I like the sousy and still have it (for parades and such), but it is a beater. All the major dents are out, but it looks like it was hit all over with an ugly stick.
Then, this fall, we got back in the chips and I went looking for a horn. What I found was a 1970 Mirafone 183-4U, 4 rotary valve EEb, for considerably less than $2000. It is the perfect horn for me at this time and it definitely does 'sound like a tuba'. Does 4tet and 5tet just fine (at least at my level of play). I am usually the only tuba with the town band - about 25 instruments, and the Mirafone works very well in this setting -- played last night and the conductor came up to me afterwards and told me the new tuba sounds great. Then I play in a local college wind symphony (about 55 pieces) with 3 other tubas -- 2 BBb and 2 EEb, total. Again, this works great.
So, my experience says, unless you are a pro looking for a certain sound, or are well to do and can buy as many different horns as you like, an EEb in the US today is a good choice. You can find a good one for a pretty reasonable price and learning the fingerings is just a matter of practice. However, as is often said here: "Your mileage may vary." Look around and try as many as you can, then buy the best you can afford.
Good luck and good tootin'