ITEC 2010 - Let's Go Shopping!
by, 06-04-2010 at 06:00 PM (1829 Views)
Why does one spend the money and take the time to attend an International Tuba-Euphonium Conference? Certainly to hear some wonderful performances and to meet old friends and make new ones. That is reason enough to go for many. But consider the shopping/research opportunities! There are many posts on my forum about things like:
- Is the ___ euphonium better than the ____ euphonium?
- What difference is there between the bells on the Sterling?
- How different are the Yamaha 842 and 642, or the Besson Sovereign and Prestige?
- How does that new model of the ____ tuba play?
- Where can I find sheet music for ____?
- Who carries the CD's by ____?
- Is there a place I can compare the GW mouthpieces with the Wick Heritage?
- ... and so on
If you have never attended one of these events, you may have no idea of the opportunities to compare/find/try various items. It is something that is nearly impossible to match any other way. Below is a little tour of the displays. I probably missed a few, but most are represented. Consider the expense the vendors took to get there. Try to estimate how many dollars-worth of instruments and accessories were available to attendees. It is a staggering number, I'm sure.
As an aside, when I thought back over about 3 decades of going to these events in the USA, it seems like the most consistent participants (for vendors) have been Custom Music and Miraphone. For those who pay attention, a certain amount of appreciation of those two companies would seem natural. So thanks, folks!
=== The following vendors were each in their own room for the most part ===
CUSTOM MUSIC INTERNATIONAL: Custom had about 15 tubas and 6 euphoniums. There were 4 Sterlings in a variety of configurations, plus a B&S and a Hirsbrunner. I enjoyed another chance to play the various models one after another. I once again was convinced that for full-time band playing I might prefer the heavy red bell in the larger size. They had one that was about 11-3/4", which I liked very much. But for recital and chamber playing, the 300mm bell still seems like the best bet.
Sterling is constantly working on improvements and innovations. This time I saw a new trigger mechanism on one of the horns. It is simpler, with an extremely easy base tuning adjustment. It locks the main slide to its tuned position with a thumb lock. Turn a quarter turn, move slide where you want to tune your Bb, and turn back a quarter tune. Takes maybe 2 seconds. They are also using a lighter spring on the trigger paddle. They are still using the same clever slide guard, which I see has shown up on some Besson players' horns as well. Another Sterling was using a different valve set. Seemed as smooth and had slightly narrower finger spacing, as well as a simpler valve guide system. I'm not sure if that will be carried into future production or not, but I am going to be testing one at home for a while. I'll keep you posted.
For fun I also tried the PT22 Eb tuba, and it was a honey! Blows very evenly in all ranges and had good intonation everywhere. Nice piston valve action, plus a rotor to handle pitch issues (no compensating system, so this rotor takes care of the intonation issues that would otherwise be troublesome).
MEINL: I didn't spend much time here, partly because I didn't find their little corner of the world until late in the conference (they were at the end of a hallway). They had several horns on display, pretty much like what I saw at ITEC 2 years ago in Ohio. They also had that cute little "travel tuba", which you can see in the hands of the player on the right side of the photo. BESSON: They had the usual line-up there, including baritones, euphoniums, and tubas. I went in to give more of a blow to the Prestige euphonium, but they one I tried had pretty sluggish valves (not uncommon in horns for conference displays). The displayed horns seemed to be made well and consistently. YAMAHA: They had a few tubas, euphoniums, and baritones, and even an alto horn. No new models or features in the euphonium realm. I didn't have a chance to play these on my trip, but I don't believe they would be different from ones I have played before. BRASSWIND: They had some Bessons and Yamahas on display, if I recall correctly, and they had the only York on display (for obvious reasons). I had a chance to talk to the salesperson, and he was very helpful in my questions about a case. (I was very interested because of the damage Delta managed to inflict on my horn, which has flown and otherwise traveled in the same case with no problems for 15 years.) === The following were all in one large theater room (along with many accessory vendors) ===
Shown with a narrow gap above.
Shown with a wider gap above.
ADAMS: Given their limited line for a tuba-euphonium show, Adams were there in force, with about half a dozen euphoniums, all different. The differences were in materials and finish. Quite a diverse selection, given that there are no other options as far as I could tell (no trigger, no trim options, no Amado keys, and they don't even use a trigger lock). I welcomed the chance to play this new brand. My impression was that the tone was light, as others have stated in my forum. However, I'm not 100% sure of that. As the room cleared out a bit and I could hear a little of the room echo, it seemed like there was good projection into the hall. It surely had very nice response.
They also have a "gap adjustment" on the leadpipe. It is a mechanism that moves the mouthpiece a little inward or outward, to vary the gap between the end of the shank and the start of the inner leadpipe (hidden inside the receiver). Photos are to the left. Sorry about the blur, but you can see the mechanism in two positions. I added red blocks to show the changes. (It is the inner barrel that moves, not the outer piece with the thumbscrew.) I could feel and hear the difference as I tried moving this piece. Interesting. Despite all the years brass instruments have been around, people keep coming up with ideas.
Click this link for a better discussion of the Adams Adjustable Gap Receiver
He was here with a nice assortment of Wick mouthpieces and mutes. Also some interesting accessories (like the embouchure massager, which I will cover in a later post). Shown were the Wick standard, Heritage, and Ultra.
KING/CONN: It looked like all they actually displayed for the side-valve euphoniums were two Kings, but that's OK, because they are the better choice of the two brands. Played one for a minute and it seemed as good as ever. I think it's still my favorite among the mid-level non-comp brands. JUPITER: They were there with their new compensating euphonium. It played pretty well, but still needs some work. The horn had a couple notes that were pretty far out of tune, and not the ones you usually encounter. If they can address those issues, it might be very competitive in the mid-price region. I think they said the price will likely be in the $3k's. ARMY RECRUITING AND GW MOUTHPIECES:
No, these two were not in partnership, but it made a convenient 2-in-1 shot. Nice assortment of mouthpieces, and the Army had a few trinkets (I came home with a camouflage lanyard).
No photo of this booth. Not sure how I forgot!
NIRSCHL: I noticed they had a compensator, so I played it. I didn't think it was quite ready for prime time yet. It was stuffy on the 4th valve and not as centered as it should be elsewhere. As I discussed this with the reps, they handed me another one to play. It was also a compensator, but its design ran the compensating loop through the lower part of the valves. That gave it a very different look, and it actually responded better than the other one. It was interesting, but I didn't have time for more testing.
JUST FOR BRASS:
Pat Stuckmeyer's company was there with tons of sheet music and accessories. They showed a brand new gadget to help clean out your horn (review coming later on this blog). The photo below shows one side of their CD rack. They also had cases, mutes, etc.
WILLSON: They had the usual lines, 2900, 2975, 2960, and 2950. The 2960 on display had a trigger, which was a surprise. I didn't have a chance to ask if it was standard, optional, or experimental. It's a good idea, though. I didn't notice any playing differences compared to the Willsons I played in previous years in the brief tests I gave them.
I took a couple extra photos of the 2975. This is the model with four inline front valves, but it is still compensating.
KANSTUL: They seem quite serious about the low brass market. They have a new York-based tuba that was getting a lot of attention, and they seem to have done some work on their compensating euphonium. It plays better than the last one I tried. They had the some lovely-looking model as I saw at a previous TUSAB conference, with a silver body and bronze bell. However, I wonder if the removable bell hampers response, because I didn't seem to be able to get the horn "going" in any satisfying way. There was no standard compensating model to try (although it was late in the show - maybe they had one and sold it). They have the only American-made compensator I can think of (ever). MIRAPHONE: Lots of horns. I spent quite a while play-testing the 5050 back and forth with my Sterling 300mm heavy red bell. The 5050 has a somewhat bigger sound, but there is less of a singing quality inherent in it. It's very dark and smooth, and is quite easy to play, especially given the volume it puts out. When I played a powerful piece, like Barat's Introduction and Dance, the Miraphone was well suited to the task. But when I played a more playful piece, like Mendez's Chiapanecas, my horn won clearly. The Miraphone just couldn't dance as well in that context. On other things, like Broadway songs, Grainger's "Brisk Young Sailor" from Lincolnshire Posy, the Holst 2nd Suite solo, or Carnival of Venice, I preferred my own, but that is probably a matter of personal taste. === The following were all in the conference sign-in room. === EUPHONIUM.COM:
Adam Frey's company was there with lots of intersting sheet music. Good place to find new and hard-to-get music.
Also there with a great selection of sheet music, CD's, and some accessories. (I even bought a neat little accessory bag.)
MOUNTAIN PEAK MUSIC / SUMMIT RECORDS:
Two vendors are shown here for convenience. Both well-known to ITEA members because of their presense in the Journal.
And not surprisingly we had a booth for the Tuba-Euphonium Press. This is a publishing company that carries many of our historic titles as well as some music that has too little sales potential for a standard publisher but can be the perfect fit for a euphonium recital. Tending the booth at this time we see Adam Frey and James Gourlay.
This table was there for the convenience of the performing artists at the conference as well as their fans. It was an easy place to find a CD by one of the performers.
=== And on the bulletin board... === It's not just the booths that have opportunites. Three, count 'em three double-bell euphoniums were offered for sale by private parties. Here are the flyers I saw. ?* ?*