Posted by Tony E on October 19, 2002 at 13:21:50:
In Reply to: Re: Holton 6/4 BBb - Update posted by Dale P. on October 19, 2002 at 11:59:11:
Yes, I agree that problems with the lead pipe, the first valve port, and the throw of the pistons were probably the most blatant offenders.
Conventional wisdom certainly holds that the alignment and assembly of the various parts don’t have a substantial influence on the intonation. But what if that’s not true? At least, what if that’s not true with respect to these instruments? I can’t help but wonder.
How many times have you read that “the math on those old tubas doesn’t add up”? Meaning, the design is flawed and they have fundamental intonation problems. But what if that’s not true either? In fact, if that were true, nothing Dan Oberloh did could have produced a horn with solid intonation.
I suspect that the “design flaw” theory prevails because it easily explains the fact that almost all the old Holton’s have major intonation problems (more on that below).
I can’t speak to the CC Horns, so let me limit my ponderings to the BBb horns, and wonder aloud a bit.
How good was the workmanship at the factory? I’ve heard stories about the “master craftsman” who was the only one who knew how to build these instruments. But the repair people I’ve talked to say that the reputation, back when they were being produced, was that the factory workmanship was poor and sloppy. As I said, these things are an art to assemble, and maybe most of them left the factory with less attention than required. Maybe the valve stems in question were in fact the factory valve stems, and it left the factory with a throw that was too short. Or maybe not. How would we know?
Well, at what point did the horns begin to develop a reputation for intonation problems? Was it 10 or 15 years later, when repaired and/or mucked up horns were being resold? Is there any record of the initial impressions of the intonation from players who bought the horns first hand from the factory?
Additionally, what’s our sampling group to say that most of the BBb Holtons have intonation problems? Most of them were cut to CC. How many carefully restored BBb 6/4 Tuba’s are out there to use as a basis for that conclusion? I’m sure you’ve heard as often as I have…”I’ve never played an old Holton that didn’t have major intonation problems”? Ok. How many old Holton’s would that be? Were any of them even close to pristine condition? What would a competent repair person find if they took a close look at the ‘sample horn” being used to draw the conclusion? Perhaps there were blatant reasons for the intonation problems that had nothing to do with the design.
I’ve entered Rick Denney territory, because I’m really talking about what we can and can’t know about older instruments. Perhaps he can shed some light here.
Here’s what I do know: 1. The old 6/4 BBb Holtons have a reputation for having fundamental (design based) intonation problems. 2. The old Holton’s people find around have these problems. 3. The 6/4 BBb Holton that I just got back from Dan Oberloh’s shop has excellent intonation from top to bottom.