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Fortu(ba)itous encounter - Steve
February 4th, 2008
12:54 am

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Fortu(ba)itous encounter
This last Friday and Saturday I was at the annual U.S. Army Tuba-Euphonium Conference at Fort Myer, adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery--lots of interesting and/or enjoyable music featuring the instruments you would expect, all performed by artists of the highest ability. I also caught up with several friends that I see there every year. There were opportunities to do other things as well, wherein lies the point of this post. I visited the elephant room, as the area where the vendors are set up is called, and after relinquishing more than a fistful of dollars, I am now the owner of a new tuba, a B&S PT-1, bought from Custom Music Company. As they do not take trade-ins, I still have the 1970s Mirafone 186 I have been using for 35 years.




The horn was a demonstrator or floor sample or something like that. It does have a few blemishes and one small dent on the bottom bow, but that translates to a significant discount, and compared to the wrinkled appearance of the 186 (the bell was crushed during shipment to the dealer and repaired, which got me a very affordable price in the 70s, plus a few knocks and bumps since then), the damage is trivial and cosmetic.

I had been browsing the vendors with the thought of maybe buying something. I tried a new 186 with 5 valves which was nicer and responded better that mine, but it still felt ... just ... adequate, and at $7200 besides. I finally talked myself into waiting until some later time, and continued wandering around the exhibitors when I saw the PT-1, which I hadn't noticed earlier. I tried it; it spoke easily in the lower register, which I never had with my 186; it responded well to ascending scales and descending octave slurs, again better than my 186; it just started feeling right in short order. I talked with them of price, which seemed reasonable, and did not include any tax or shipping costs. "Let's do it!" and I walked away 22 pounds heavier.

Unfortunately, the vendor was wrong when he said he thought it would fit the same bag I have been using for the 186. I have discovered that the current 186 is a slightly larger horn that mine, with the bell being an inch larger in diameter. The PT-1 is another inch+ larger yet, and 2 inches taller, so I had to order the larger Pro-Tec tuba gig bag.

I expect to be very happy with my shiny new toy. Despite containing a larger volume of air, it is more nimble than my 186, and the larger size produces a more powerful low register. I only hope that my creaky aging joints will not complain prohibitively about the 2 and a half pound weight gain.

Current Mood: pleasedpleased

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:bunrab
Date:February 4th, 2008 06:09 am (UTC)
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I can has tuba cozy?
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From:nentikobe
Date:February 4th, 2008 06:57 am (UTC)
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A beautiful thing! And such a deal!

I do enjoy rotary keys. Are they mechanized or with string?
(Deleted comment)
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From:nentikobe
Date:February 4th, 2008 08:02 am (UTC)
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Mine are string, and I just had a rubber bit replaced. Silence is, in my case, silver. :)

Congratulations!
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From:bunrab
Date:February 5th, 2008 06:04 am (UTC)
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Can you tell that S also got a new camera? Gee, he likes taking pictures at the drop of a hat.
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From:squirrel_magnet
Date:February 4th, 2008 08:06 am (UTC)
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There are rigid rods connecting the paddles to the rotors. I hadn't looked at it closely until you asked, but I see each end of the rod fits over spherical sections on the paddle and the rotor armature, so that you can wobble the rod from side to side with your fingers, but there is no to-and-fro free play at all. The 186 is strictly holes in the actuator pivoting in one axis on pins at each end. Both horns have nice quiet rubbery plastic stops for the rotary travel.

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