Wessex previously sold a 4-rotary valve BBb tuba, Luzern which was very successful with good feedback from customers. However for modern music and playing the BBb bass part in brass bands, then 5-valves are really required to cover the full chromatic range down to the fundamental.
We have therefore redesigned the tuba with a 5th rotary valve tuned to a flat tone, as is standard on modern tubas – and operated by thumb of right hand. At the same time some other redesigning took place to make it play even better still exclusive to Wessex.
This is now a tuba that can be used to play any contrabass tuba, or BBb bass music – and provide a superb broad tone under band or orchestra.
We believe this the best value, full size BBb tuba available and is sure to satisfy player of any standard from local community band, to leading professional.
Bell: 450mm (18″)
5 rotary valves, 5th valve tuned to flat tone
Bore: 19.5 mm (0.77″)
Height: 904mm (35.6″)
Engraved valve caps
Nickel inner and outer slide
Gold brass bell and leadpipe
Valve adjustment screw for silent operation
Lightweight case with large wheels and strong straps – lined with plush red lining
Weight: 10.6 kg
Contact Jonathan Hodgetts on +44(0)7787 504987 or email Jonathan@Wessex-Tubas.co.uk to order today!
Paul Key says:
September 14, 2014 at 4:33 am
I am very happy with the new Luzern 5v.
I have already decided to use it for most of my performances this year.
The tuning is spot on just like the old 4v version. It actually took some getting used to because I realize how much compensating I am doing on my other horns just to keep things in tune. It’s very nice not to have to worry about that with the Luzern and I can really relax and just focus on the beauty of the sound.
The sound is very dark and dense which means that it very happily fits the idea of what most people think a 5/4 should sound like. This compact horn is a great fit for orchestra for this reason. The darkness has a fog and focus that makes it unique. My trombone section has no problems tuning down to it and they are very happy with the “largeness” of the platform that they are working on in our ensemble sound.
The build on the machine is very good as well. Very solid. I think there may be some oversight needed at the factor in terms of assembling the larger bows since mine has a little bit of warping in it, but it’s no real problem for me. I get the feeling they are maybe forcing things a little bit. The valve construction is excellent and with some time will relax and loosen up under the fingers. The linkages feel very solid.
I am staggered by how easy the high range is on this horn. I can get up to the F above the staff with (unbelievably) no problems in expressiveness or TUNING. I can even get a convincing Bydlo out on this horn without having to resort to a outlandish mouthpiece. Very nice perk and somewhat unexpected.
But here is the real surprise. This horn has an very facile low register that scales up in volume very nicely to support even an orchestra. With a funneled mouthpiece I can even get the fabled “burn” one might expect from a MW Thor. At one point I was looking at a Thor or Tuono but now I do not need to consider spending the $15K. I really think the ease and response of the low register is being kept a secret and I cannot imagine why.
The horn itself is very nicely set up in terms of layout and very easy to hold in any stage situation. I use a black rubber drawer liner to keep the horn from slipping but it really is optional for this horn. Reaching slides is easy though often unnecessary. I also really like that you can mostly clear the horn of water with a single spit valve that is already in the right position to empty when the horn is upright in playing position. A quick empty is very easy. I am still figuring out how to easily pick up and carry the horn (on and off stage, stage bows, etc) but I am sure I will figure that out as well.
I am happy to report that the low mid register bump from Bb to B natural has smoothed out considerably. It is still there but the valve transition is much better and the bump can be defeated with a shift in the airstream on C and B natural (downward). After only a week of playing I have mostly incorporated that change.
If I were to change anything I might consider experimenting with a removable leadpipe in a medium and larger bore. Jonathan will know exactly what I mean by this since he is a long time player of a Culbertson Neptune. I really liked that feature in my Neptune. The Luzern is just about all I need right now but it would be nice to have some options in terms of the leadpipe.
Congratulations on this improvement and creating a truly mature offering to the tuba community.
And of course all of my thanks for your excellent service for me personally.
Dennis Topper says:
June 18, 2014 at 4:08 pm
Just a quick note to say that the Luzern arrived this morning, in one piece and undamaged!
Now, the horn….I’ve had some horns over the years…quite a few, way back when, and some pretty good ones, but this, I’m almost afraid to say, is probably the best horn I’ve ever played. The sound is outrageous (and I’m nowhere near back in shape yet), and the intonation is about as spot on as I’ve ever seen. Even though it’s a big horn, the left hand can go anywhere that’s comfortable, as there’s very little if any, slide manipulation necessary. Wow, way to go guys…this was well worth all the recent drama and I’m glad it turned out so well.
Wessex Tubas says:
December 30, 2013 at 11:35 am
Below this point the previous 4-valve version
Don Haynes, Director – LBJ Bands says:
June 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm
Andy, I hope this email finds you doing well. My student for whom I purchased the new Wessex Luzern (Nate) did make all-state band here in Texas. Gosh, he got a beautiful sound on that horn. I was very excited to have his music in my band this spring.
Thank you so much for all that you did to make the deal happen!
STUART HAIGH says:
September 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm
Just thought I d let you know, I’ve been playing the Wessex 5/4 compact BBb rotary tuba in the Yorkshire Band of the Royal British Legion at gigs all over the UK since March with no problems whatsoever. I’ve had nothing but praise on the sound I produce with this instrument.
August 11, 2013 at 12:26 pm
Thanks for coming yesterday.I hope you had a very successful day.
Did first gig last night and I thought you might like a review.
Tuba doesn’t like having mouthpiece extension and blew slightly flat on Bb but was spot on without it (slightly sharp as it should be)
I found the rotary valve spoons were very wide apart and it took me some time to come to terms with that as it did affect my fluidity initially until I got used to them.
I found the valve action a little stiff but I think that can be corrected over time and use and maybe a little work.
Apart from that the tuba did everything I expected of it.
Firstly and mainly it answered all my requirements on compact size and was as easy to handle as an EEb.
The sound was punchy and I could get good volume without distortion although I suspect it would not be brass banders first choice.
Despite the usual ribbing from my colleagues about turning up with a brand new instrument it got the thumbs up from them all.
Matthew Ledger says:
June 29, 2013 at 8:27 pm
The ‘Swiss’ style Rotary BBb Tuba from Wessex Tubas has been in my possession for about 3 months, so I now feel able to honestly critique the instrument, its playing capabilities and general use. These are my opinions/experiences and I’ve based them on owning the instrument.
Firstly, I don’t work for Wessex, I’m a genuine customer who purchased the 5/4 Rotary BBb from Jonathan back in March as I was looking to buy my first ever rotary tuba. I was fortunately able to first test play one in my area before making a purchase.
Range/tone/sound of the instrument – this is generally fantastic. At 19.5mm the BBb has a large bore (you’ll need plenty of lung power!), making this larger than a typical Sovereign which has a smaller 18.54mm bore. The Tuba plays excellently throughout all registers and I’m able to play from the lowest pedal notes (e.g. Treble Clef ‘Pedal C’ and below), right up to the highest octaves (e.g. ‘Top C’ and above) with ease. The instrument produces a nice, clear, warm tone within all registers and provides a big, powerful sound that will not disintegrate or sound ‘stuffy’.
Intonation is generally excellent but will require some minor adjustments (e.g. lip/slide pulling/other valve combinations) to get the tuba exactly in tune for some notes (e.g. Treble Clef Middle & Low Ab/G# using the 2+3 valve combination).
As the instrument isn’t compensating, it has taken me some time to become accustomed to manually altering some valve combinations that are traditionally used when playing on a compensated BBb instrument. For example, ‘low F’ typically played with 1+4 on a compensating BBb tuba must be played using 1+2+4 on the Rotary BBb.
I won’t pretend that using my little finger to play the 4th valve hasn’t been challenging on the rotary. This will require some practice to become skilled in, especially if you’re used to playing on a 3+1 piston valve set up. Perseverance is key here and like all muscles newly used it may present difficulties at first for players and this will undoubtedly depend on your individual capabilities.
The four rotary valves are nicely spaced on the instrument and the finger ‘paddles’ sit nicely under the fingers without you having to strain to play. The thumb slots comfortably into the thumb ring to support your right hand. The left hand is then of course free to operate instrument slides, help support the instrument and turn music, etc. Oiling rotary valves was new to me and following advice I was given I have oiled inside and outside the valves using 2 different types of oil supplied by Wessex.
Unlike a more traditional British tuba, the Wessex Rotary points over to the left of the player, which means the 18″ bell will sit to your left hand side, rather than the more typical upright tuba bell position when using a piston valve tuba. Again, like the rotary valves and 4th valve little-finger use, this will take some getting used to as your posture might need to be adapted to suit.
From my personal experience the left hand pointing bell can have some benefits – e.g. I can clearly hear my own playing/intonation, giving a more realistic idea of how I really sound. I did find it physically difficult to sit for long periods using the tuba at first and this can feel strange to hold while you adjust to it, so in these instances a tuba playing stand could be of benefit to a player. I was kindly sent one by Jonathan free of charge which has really helped.
The Tuba feels solid and well-made throughout, with good valve movements which are quiet to operate when playing. At a weight of 10.6kg it does feel heavy, but this is still lighter than a Besson Sovereign which weighs in at 11.8kg. You also get all the benefits of playing/handling a smaller tuba which is more similar to an EEb size than a traditional BBb instrument.
My Wessex BBb is a silver plated instrument and the plating is of a good standard over the entire instrument; this won’t exceed a tuba finish which you’d expect from a rotary tuba costing 3 or 4 times the price, but it does come in at a very close 2nd place and you won’t be disappointed at all. The instrument is eye-catching, looks great and has a pleasing design.
The supplied case (with wheels) meets the needs of storing, protecting and transporting the instrument and fits in the car as nicely as any other tuba case.
For the price this has been a superb buy (it cost me just over £2000). When you compare it with other rotary tubas on the market that can cost anything up to £10,000 this really is a brilliant and cheaper alternative for a Tuba player like me that would like to own a rotary for use in Wind Bands, Orchestras, small ensembles, solo work or just home playing use. I haven’t tried the Wessex Rotary in a brass band set up personally but I’m sure in the right hands this could work well. However with the sound being different to the more traditionally used brass band tubas and the bell pointing to the left, this would need some careful and sensitive brass band use in order to blend in to the section.
Finally, I can’t recommend Jonathan highly enough in terms of his customer service, help, attention to detail and first-class professionalism. Larger companies could learn much from his excellent customer focus and after-sales support.