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Orchestral Tuxedos (Suggestions For Buying)

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Rob Hunter, Jul 22, 2005.

  1. I'm getting married in October - and so instead of renting a tux, I've decided to buy one (my wife-to-be is a classically trained violinist, I imagine there's going to be some community symphony work for me in the years ahead!).

    Last November, a great thread was posted on "orchestral dress codes" and it's been helpful. I found the comments about comfy shoes and "getting it baggy under the armpits" to be good advice for bass players. But while I've decided on a simple black tux with a bow tie, two minor issues come up: (a) the shirt and (b) the vest/cummerbund dilemma.

    I'm planning to get a white, pleated shirt with a normal collar (not the "small wing" kind) and buttons, not studs. I really don't want a vest or a cummerbund and so I'm hoping I can do without.

    Does this kind of tux/attire sound acceptable to you orchestral players? Keep in mind this would be a community group - nothing professional - but even community players around Toronto all seem to wear tuxes. I'm starting the search in a couple of weeks, so any thoughts/info would be most appreciated!
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well the first thing, look at what everybody else in the section is wearing and dress like that. If everbody got vests, you gonna get a vest too.

    Personally, for club date/concert stuff (no orchestral) I wear a double breasted tux jacket, which kind of renders the cummerbund/vest issue moot. I like the way a wing collar shirt looks, I got 3. I would like to get a lighter weight (linen?) jacket for those horrid outdoor gigs.

    buttons/studs - most nice shirts come with a Clever Device. It's a strip of cloth with buttons sewn on so that you have a choice. If you don't want to use studs, you just put the piece of cloth on the inside of the shirt and button the buttons through both holes in the shirt. Voila, you has a button-up shirt.

    PS - learn to tie a bow tie. It looks better than a clip on and, at the end of the gig, when you pull the tie undone, you feel like James Bond...
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    A couple of things I do when buying work clothes:

    With the jacket,the cool trick is to get something oversized and then have it taylored. Get the sleeves shortened (but a bit longer than normal) and have the 'cuffs) tightened up so that they don't fall down to your elbow and bunch up when you have your arm over your head. With the right sleeve, the tightened cuff will keep the sleeve from grabbing the end of the bow and generally snagging on things. I did a casino sho gig a copuple of years back and the show provided jackets. The seamstress also hipped me to have the left sleeve just a bit longer than the right as they then look even when you're playing. Since the cuffs stayed right at the wrist, I didn't notice anything wierd when not playing, but you could notice that the left sleeve was a little puffier when your arms were at rest -- if you know what to look for.

    With the shirt: Buttons are better than the tux buttons and cufflinks. Cufflinks scratch like hell, and the buttons are uncomfortable (and can scrath) when you get them mashed between you and the bass. Same general principal as with the jacket: Slightly oversized in better, especially across the shoulders and in the collar.

    The cumberbund is a bass atrocity. Vest is the way to go, and if your ruffly shirt doesn't make it all the way into your pants in the front you should definitely wear one. Unless you have a mullet.

    VAMP: Comfortable shoes. :VAMP

  4. Good Tip. Those clip ons never seem to sit properly anyway.
  5. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Linen tux shirts always seemed to breathe better for me...
  6. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    IMO, any tux nice enough to get married in should be no where near the orchestra pit. Plus, if it fits ideally for you to look the best (which you should want on your wedding day), it'll be a PITA to play in. The idea of wearing an oversized jacket is almost a must.

    I have a really nice wool tux that I bought several years ago. It's your classic, single breasted deal. I think I paid about $500 for just the pants and jacket. I wore for the first concert black gig that I had to do. Not only was it uncomfortable, I almost ruined it. I bought another cheap one before doing another gig.

    I have worn my synthetic "trash" tux 8-10 times playing DB, and it is already starting to look pretty weathered. Everything takes it toll. Roadying the gear rain, sleet or snow, navigating the tight pits. Rosin. Sweat, sweat and sweat.

    Stale sweat and wool make for a funk unlike any other. So, unless you don't mind being the smelly guy, you have to have it cleaned pretty regularly, which isn't the best for a nice wool suit.
  7. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Designing a tux that looks from a distance like a nice tux, but that wears like a suit of pajamas.

    No, don't tell me about those T-shirt "tuxes". I'm serious.

    I'd pay good money for a really comfortable tux-like outfit to use only for bass playing.

    My Brooks Brother tux looks fine for real formal wear, but I hate playing in it...
  8. Damn fine idea. It took me about a year to figure the thing out, but it's pretty sweet.
  9. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I agree with Chasarms that any decent dress tux is not a tux you would want to play in. Same goes for the other way around. The only thing about real bow-ties is that they can come undone if you don't do them tightly enough and if you're fairly active such as playing drums or conducting. Something to keep in mind.
  10. I've never heard of that happening. I don't even see how that could occur.
  11. Friends, how about those wonderful skin tight lycra tuxes of Dennis Trembley? For sheer comfort, what could surpass that? And from far away, well, I surmise it maybe dependant upon how many gym visits one has notched.

    I can say for a fact that any tux will stink if you stink, so clean it often!

    Mullets can cover up the worst problems as can ZZtop beards.
    Happy shopping - please post your solution.
  12. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    man, are you on shrooms??

    I'm sorry, but I can't take your posts seriously, what with your profile - I googled stuff and it doesn't even exist....could you give us a more serious profile please?

    And why isn't your 5-string Prescott with the LOW F# extension part of the talkbasses yet?
  13. My thanks for all the great comments re: tux. Because of your good advice, here are the additional things I've decided:

    - I'll get a vest, just in case
    - The bow tie will NOT be a clip on
    - The fabric should be a tad oversized and as light as possible
    - No cufflinks

    I should mention that the wedding is an extremely small/quick affair (it's wedding no. 2 and we're not even hiring a photographer), so I'm more concerned with my tux looking/feeling good for future gigs. And the wife-to-be actually agrees with that! (As stated, she's a musician, while wife no. 1 wasn't - so we're gonna be fine!)
  14. Re bow ties:
    The ones I wear are tied and stitched, and have an adjustable collar strap that unclips behind the tie. Easy, looks good. I won't do clip-ons.

    Re wedding photography:
    Ask all your family and friends to take pictures. Digital cameras are pretty good and pretty foolproof now. The unposed shots will be the best.
  15. Thanks Eric, I'll take your advice re: photog, but I have to confess, I do like Ed's comment about the "James Bond" bow tie. Quite cool!

    Oh, and to all, sorry about posting this thread in the "techniques" section. I did so because it housed a similar thread last year - and because it would likely catch the orchestral guys' attention.
  16. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Tieing a bow is no harder than a straight tie, once you get the hang of it...
  17. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I'm about to pull the trigger on a new monkey suit before New Years' Eve, and it will probably be a sub-$100 lightweight microfiber one like they have at etuxedo.com. I have owned a lot of higher-end tuxes, and they mostly become a PITA after awhile. Uncomfortable, stiff, hot, not good for playing the bass, which is all I do in them. And it's usually only on New Years' Eve, as agents here are finally seeing the light and realising that tuxes are a bit overkill here in Hawai'i. Besides, I'm usually standing in the back, behind my bass and a horn player, so I'm barely visible anyway. If the thing looks reasonably nice and pressed, the client's happy and so am I.
    They do seem to notice shiny shoes in particular, so I try to keep a fresh pair ready to use for formal stuff.

    BTW, a Google search shows a bunch of hits on how to tie a bowtie.

    We don't do the dark jacket thing here much...I just got back from a trip to NY (wedding), and I gotta say, it actually felt good to put on a jacket and tie for a change. I felt like a real grownup :smug:

    PS....I just realized that this was a question regarding orch tuxes, so...sorry for the slight sidetrack. I guess you need to check out what everyone else is doing, as suggested.
  18. Hi Rob:

    It's really not necessary. I've been playing primarily in orchestras for many years. It's not a requirement in any of the community, and even the professional orchestras I've ever worked for. It's a personal choice. The only requirement is tux, and black tie, black shoes. The vest, cummerbund issue, is all optional. Personally, I don't use either. Good Luck.

  19. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Do any of your orchestras require cutaway jackets?

    They use them in the National Symphony. I think it's a snappy look, though I've never played in one.
  20. I generally wear a cummerbund. It's not so bad, especially if you play sitting. Yes, it's optional, but it's one of those things that your "supposed" to do when you wear a tuxedo. It's sort of like how you aren't meant to button the bottom button of a suit jacket or vest.

    I do have a vest, but I've only worn it for formal solo performances. It looks good with no jacket and a normal back tie. It should have a full back if you want to do that, though.