Posted by Rick Denney on October 28, 2003 at 19:52:33:
In Reply to: Re: King 2341 (old) 4/4 or 5/4? posted by 4/4 -- 4 sure on October 28, 2003 at 10:12:35:
The Conn 2xJ's are as big as the old Orchestra Grand Bass, and are 6/4, assuming that other 6/4 tubas are also 6/4. My 20J was every bit as large as my Holton 345, which is supposedly even a bit larger than the CSO York, which is the archetypal 6/4 tuba.
But to the original poster: These designations mean very little that is useful.
The German manufacturers built tubas that were proportional. Small tubas were skinny with a small bell, standards tubas were bigger with a bigger bell, and large tubas were bigger still with a big bell. They used the quarter system to designate them. Thus, the Miraphone 184 was a 3/4, the Miraphone 186 is a 4/4, and the 190 was a 5/4. But the 190 and other so-called kaiser tubas are every bit as big as those called "6/4" in American usage.
Others have said and I think they're right: Hirsbrunner was the first to adopt the designation "6/4" to distinguish their relative short but fat Yorkbrunner from their other more German designs. Since that time, the short, fat grand orchestral tubas have been called 6/4's.
There has been a bit of slippage in recent years. My York Master would be thought a 4/4 tuba by nearly any standard of 20 years ago, but it is larger than most 4/4 instruments today, including the King (both old and new). Thus, the King is consistent with 4/4 instruments, even though it is taller than most front-action piston tubas.
Rick "who thinks the labels don't mean that much" Denney