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Tuba Player Looking for Help

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Dave Tucker, Feb 22, 2021.

  1. Dave Tucker

    Dave Tucker

    Feb 22, 2021
    Hey all.

    I’m a professional tuba player suffering from focal dystonia in my embouchure. I’m feeling like my brass playing days are numbered and want to pick up upright bass. I’ve messed around with basses before and have a strong ear and theory background, so I think I’m ready for an intermediate/advanced instrument. Pending tuba sales, I should have a budget of around $5k.

    I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, and am looking for some places/brands I should look at. I’m in GA if that helps.

    (Edit) I should add that I’m interested in bluegrass/jazz playing.

    eerbrev and Reedt2000 like this.
  2. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    Sorry to hear your having issues with the tuba. You've posted this in the bass guitar side of TB. You'll likely have better results in the double bass side. The mods can move it for you. I'll report it and see if it gets moved.
  3. Dave Tucker

    Dave Tucker

    Feb 22, 2021
    Thank you! Newb here!
    eerbrev, krfoss and Reedt2000 like this.
  4. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    No problem, it's been moved :thumbsup:
  5. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Welcome to Talkbass. I hope things work out for you.

    We have some good sub-forums for jazz technique and bluegrass you will enjoy checking out.
    Also Talkbass classifieds is awesome for double bass purchases.
    eerbrev likes this.
  6. With Covid things are different, but the local high school with a good music program had an orchestra for adults. The idea is for adults who played in band in HS to join up later in life and enjoy playing with a group again while also getting to play/practice. Since you already have pro level ears and reading it will be easier for you to take up the bass and an environment like that will be supportive and relatively low stress.. Sorry about the dystonia, that's a tough break. Good luck with the upright.
    Dave Tucker likes this.
  7. kkenda11

    kkenda11 Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2005
    Depending on where you are in Georgia it may be too far, but I’d recommend a trip to the Bass Violin Shop in Greensboro NC.

    It seems like they always have a terrific selection of moderately priced basses.

  8. ModuMan

    ModuMan How many is too many? Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    Bristol, CT #19
    I don't have any practical advice to offer other than to say I have a friend who is also a professional tuba player as well as a very good bassist/guitarist. So you should have no fears moving forward with another instrument!

    I also know that tubas and all related parts put whatever I've spent on basses to shame.

    Best of luck to you on your search!
  9. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Welcome. There are many threads here about choosing a DB as an uneducated beginner and you should do a search and do your research and come to your own conclusions. In a nutshell, the "typical" advice is that a DB is more like a violin than a guitar and so brands are less valuable to newbies. The best is to bring a knowledgeable friend with you to play everything, new and old, that your local shops have. Failing that, used is usually a better value than new, but if you must purchase something sight unseen, Shen's tend to be a fair value purchase. But, don't quote me on that if you wind up with a Shen that sucks because I wrote first "bring a knowledgeable friend with you". There are clearly value-adding retailers, Golihur, Upton, among others, and you might get something you're happy with from them, but, a musician should really hear their purchase beforehand.
    AGCurry and eerbrev like this.
  10. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    I'd recommend renting and taking lessons for at least a year from a qualified instructor using one of the standard methods; and THEN going to look for a bass to buy. As a total beginner you have no idea what you like in a bass and what works for you.
  11. bassically_eli

    bassically_eli Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2010
    Mebane, NC
    The bass violin shop is excellent! It's also a great place to get any work done should you buy a bass elsewhere. +1 for Shen basses. They are probably #1 for value. That said, DBs vary greatly even within the same product line, so every individual instrument is unique. The suggestion to consider renting first is a good idea, but you might also consider starting with a student level plywood or hybrid instrument, until you figure out what you like in terms of feel and sound. Having a backup plywood/hybrid bass may be useful down the line. They are much sturdier and less sensitive to weather changes.

    One of the trickiest things about buying a bass is that they can change pretty drastically depending on the setup.

    And definitely do take some lessons. Your ear is probably excellent, but DB technique is not intuitive. Lessons will save you pain, literally, down the road.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
  12. bassically_eli

    bassically_eli Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2010
    Mebane, NC
  13. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Black Mountain, NC
    Used Shen or similar, either purchased from or immediately brought to a luthier for a checkup/setup, plus spirocores is a solid place to start, the bass will likely keep its value if you decide you want something different. The old American plys can be great pizz cannons, but do some DD on typical repairs and such for these if you're thinking of going that route. With your budget I'd go Shen SB150, a decent bow, and spend the rest on a good teacher.

    Quality instruction to get started cannot be overemphasized, especially since you have already experienced playing-related injury! My $.02, welcome aboard
    Dave Tucker likes this.
  14. oldNewbie

    oldNewbie Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    +1 on teachers but are you planning getting a top-shelf orchestral or studio doubler who can maximize all your professional training and experience? At least now that most teachers can use Zoom you can look for anyone, anywhere . Take a lesson with someone you've always wanted to meet ! Take lessons from different people! You have the bigger musical picture already, should be fun classes. Like you need me (or us) to tell you this. But the pandemic-Zoom growth does leave interesting possibilities .

    How 'bout start with the ISB directory ?
    International Society of Bassists - Teacher Directory

    +1 on renting . And basses are individual beasts , but at $5K in hand you should be able to do quite well once you have a decent understanding of what you like. How about @james condino ? likely worth the drive for you, as is Cincinnati Bass Cellar, Bass violin shop, etc.
    Sorry about the embouchure, but good for you to keep making music.
    best wishes
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
    Dave Tucker likes this.
  15. lurk


    Dec 2, 2009
    I'm a former tuba player as well. Assuming you get a decent axe and teacher to start you right, I think the biggest issue is psychological. As a tubaist you don't play all the time, and when you do you're something of a soloist. As you know, there are famous examples of players having trouble with that stress, but I always liked it. As a bassist - I'm talking jazz - you're always playing and ideally meshing with the rhythm section and constantly trying to make everyone else play better. It's a different mentality with a long view. Your time frame is beat one to the end. My heroes, Paul Chambers and Ron Carter are not IMHO particularly brilliant soloists, but man do they make bands sound good.
    notabene, Dave Tucker and eerbrev like this.
  16. Luigir


    Mar 15, 2018
    +1 on renting a bass for some time. IMHO these are money well spent. Some shops let you rent the bass for one year and then they discount part of the payed rent if you buy it.
    It will probably take more than one year to find out what you prefer in terms of shape, ease of play, sound...
    Dave Tucker likes this.
  17. Dave Tucker

    Dave Tucker

    Feb 22, 2021
    Folks, thank you, really. I know that the “I’m a newb what bass is best” posts probably get tiring to the forum vets, but it’s just an icebreaker. Thanks for the assist!

    Looking into the “rent first” advice. A local music store has an Engelhardt for $65 a month, plus security deposit. I just may go that route first, plus some lessons. What kind of a baseline does an Engelhardt set, assuming it’s a good representative instrument of the name?

    Edit: I should add that it’s a C1
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
    eerbrev likes this.
  18. bassically_eli

    bassically_eli Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2010
    Mebane, NC
    Engelhardts are tanks! They're student instruments but can sound really nice with the right strings and a good setup. The C1 is the modern day version of the old Kay basses. They're very popular basses for bluegrass, rockabilly, and anyone who likes a plywood bass. I play a C1. For most of the gigs I play, I'm not wild about the idea of using an expensive, carved bass.

    I use Spirocore Mediums for the E&A strings, and Obligatos for the D&G on mine. The Spirocore D & G don't have a great reputation for arco playing, which I do a lot of, hence the Obligatos. My main complaint about the C1 is that the fingerboard is rather flat for bowing. I had mine dressed--at The Bass Violin Shop--to give it more arch, and wow, what a difference! The wolf tone it had is almost completely gone, and I think the bass just sounds better. The fingerboard wood is quite thick, so there is still plenty of wood left for future dressings.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
    Dave Tucker likes this.
  19. bassmanbrent

    bassmanbrent Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    My advice to you would be to find a good teacher in your area to start. Even though you're already a strong musician, I think you'll benefit in multiple ways by connecting with a knowledgeable teacher. Some have basses available to rent to their students, or have a 2nd bass that they might be willing to sell. Most will at least be in contact with other pro players in your area and know what might be available for sale. Good luck! I have a friend that has battled with focal dystonia as a trumpet player and it took him 3 years or so, but he's back at it and sounding beautiful. I sincerely hope you find your way through it!
    Dave Tucker and Luigir like this.
  20. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    A set of Spirocores on a student instrument will take you a fair distance on your journey. I think renting an instrument is also a good plan for at least a year. The music shop near me will give you half your rent toward a new instrument. It is pretty affordable, especially if the shop isn't going to make you buy the insurance ... not to say that the insurance is a bad idea, generally.

    And if you buy better strings for the rental, have the shop set them up for you, and give you the original strings in the bag, and then keep your Spiros and put the old strings back on the rental when you return it.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
    Dave Tucker and Luigir like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 2, 2021

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