Until now, compensated BBb basses have been overly large for an average size person to comfortably hold and play, while at the same time a small bore for their overall size. This is a completely new design, based on a great bass of the past.
The Wessex ‘Excelsior’ is only slightly larger in overall size than the popular compensated EEb tuba, but at the same time is large bore with true 5/4 bell throat for a broad contrabass tone. It is the compensated BBb bass as is should be!
- Key: BBb
- Bell: 19″ (480mm)
- Bore: 0.767″-0.775″ (19.5 mm – 19.7mm)
- Weight: 23.92 lbs (10.85 kg)
- Large bell throat for a broad tone
- Larger bore than most other compensated BBb basses
- The same reach to 4th valve as on the EEb tuba making it comfortable to play<
- Lightweight foambody case with robust wheels
- Wessex Chief mouthpiece
- Well-balanced for marching
Note: Gig bag for this tuba is B210
The Inspiration behind Excelsior – by Jonathan Hodgetts
Although others may disagree, I have long thought that the traditional British compensated BBb bass/tuba to be an unwieldy beast. An ergonomic nightmare with a mouthpiece too high, so that sitting comfortably it is level with one’s forehead and the fourth valve is too far away causing the player to have to contort uncomfortably to reach unless they are a person of giant proportions. Plus in my experience despite the large proportions, the design doesn’t even produce as rich and full tone as is possible on German and American BBb tubas. Those players which have managed to make a great sound with these monsters have my admiration.
What I have long thought required, is a compensated BBb, with the comfortable ergonomic proportions of the compensated Eb with the tone of German and American tubas.
Since starting Wessex Tubas three years ago, I have had in the back of my mind for us to develop a BBb tuba to fulfil these requirements. Courtois had attempted to make a compact compensated BBb, but it had too small bows to provide a free blowing tuba with full tone. Yamaha have more recently addressed the problem of reach to the fourth valve with their Neo model but it’s still of large proportions with high mouthpiece.
I am excited that with the work of Jim Langley as developer, Wessex Tubas has at last created the compensated BBb bass/tuba of my dreams. This is a true 5/4 size tuba, but with the mouthpiece height and reach to fourth valve exactly the same as the Eb tuba, making this comfortable to hold and immediately familiar to anyone that has played the Eb.
In spring 2014, I visited Jim Langley to collect the development prototype of the new Wessex ‘Excelsior’ tuba. As soon as I saw it, I thought what a beautiful Tuba. The ‘Excelsior’ does not look like a tuba that has been put together with parts, but a beautiful integrated design. The outer bows are big and chubby to give that good full sound, while inside this is full of piping to get this big tuba within a compact size, only a fraction bigger than the Eb tuba. On picking up it immediately felt familiar and comfortable to hold. Then when blowing, the big tuba tone was music to my ears. Next out came the tuner to check intonation and I found that it was not only good, but incredibly good, with the needle on the green up and down the range.
The next day I tried it at band rehearsal playing alongside a Besson Sovereign BBb and found it blends very well into the band texture.
I think for all those brass bands that have had trouble filling the BBb bass seats, there is at last a bass available that people actually want to play. ‘Excelsior’ is such a pleasure to play!
I thank Jim Langley for his incredible work in bringing my design concepts for this new tuba into reality…