When Wessex Tubas started in 2011 the first tuba in the range was the EEb compensated bass tuba, the staple tuba used throughout the UK in bands and orchestras.
We started by selling a standard product already manufactured in China by the best brass factory in that country.
We found that although this tuba played surprisingly well with good tone and intonation, there were other features we certainly did not like - most notably noisy, clanky valves and low Fletcher style leadpipe which Jonathan Hodgetts (owner of Wessex Tubas) knew from painful personal experience can cause back problems through crouching playing over long periods. This standard basic instrument is still that sold by every other retailer of the Chinese made EEb tubas, but at Wessex we have continually developed to make what we now believe to be the very best EEb tuba sold at any price - backed up by it being used as of choice by top professional tuba players, such as Ian Foster, Owen Slade and Mike Poyser.
Jonathan Hodgetts plays the Wessex EEb tuba daily as his main tuba, so has lots of experience to know its strengths and weaknesses to develop. Also we have taken careful note of feedback from professional players and customers to ever improve. Some of the significant enhancements we have applied which makes the Wessex so special are below. We also continue to develop with new enhancements in virtually every batch of the tuba to make even better still, while keeping the price reasonable and affordable - that is Wessex!
We soon found out that water collects in the 3rd valve slide and this is not easy slide to remove while playing, so water key was soon added.
High-Quality valve Components for Quiet Reliable Valves
We have undertaken a lot of experimenting and improvements to make those previously noisy, clanky valves into ones that are as quiet and reliable as the most expensive tubas. Now we feel they are as good as the best with;
- good reliable valve thread
- stainless steel valves
- nylon valve guides
- high quality valve washers
- rubber valve dampeners
- hand-lapped valves for smooth reliable action
Special Wessex Higher Leadpipe in Gold Brass
The tuba originally just came with Fletcher style lower leadpipe which most customers do not find comfortable and can cause severe back problems over time. It was therefore very important for Wessex to improve for comfort and safety playing. After research and experimenting we have fitted entirely new leadpipe angled and at height optimal ergonomically for most players. We at the same time had made in gold brass to avoid red-rot which can cause holes in yellow brass leadpipes over time. This also enhances how the tuba plays.
For the minority of players that find the lower Fletcher leadpipe best for them, we still make available the EEb tuba so fitted, but that too is enhanced with gold-brass leadpipe - which is better than the original 981 on which this was based.
A sign of a quality tuba is nickel silver inner and outer slides which gives the most reliable slide action and means no unsightly bare brass if slide is pulled out for tuning on silver-plated instrument.
All the Wessex range of brass are now being fitted with nickel-silver inner and outer slides
Hooks in Optimal position for marching with tubaThe standard Chinese-made EEb tuba as sold elsewhere has the marching hooks in very bad position, making it almost impossible to carry the tuba comfortably. After experimenting, we have moved into the best positions for standing/marching use so the instrument hangs well with mouthpiece in correct position.
Lyre Box moved to better positionOnce again the lyre box was fitted in poor position as standard and Wessex have moved to best position for use
No hooks, or lyre for symphonic use
Those tubaists that play with orchestras and do not march prefer to have clean lines with no hooks and lyre which also makes the tuba more comfortable to hug, if that is your thing!
We therefore offer the Wessex EEb without hooks and lyre.
The Fletcher leadpipe version is now supplied only without hooks - as that low leadpipe is unsuitable for marching use
3rd valve compensating slide pull ring & tuning improvement
Following the model of the Besson Sovereign on which all compensated EEb tubas seem to be based, the 3rd compensating slide only had knobs for pulling, which can be difficult. We thought more sensible to fit with pull ring, so that is what you now find on the Wessex. A very simple improvement which makes the player's life easier, particularly if it needs pulling quickly during performance to empty water.
At the same time we adjusted slide length for better tuning and more open low register
Improved, Smaller Case with Robust Wheels and Better Handles
The standard Chinese case is enormous and has wheels sticking out, easy to break. So Wessex have improved the case, now smaller while still providing good protection and fitted with robust wheels, better pull strap and handles and its appearance enhanced with elegant embroidered Wessex Wyvern. Quality and practicality - that is Wessex!
Such improved cases are now being supplied with all Wessex Tubas
These with numerous quality improvements are just some of the enhancements applied to the Wessex EEb tuba which makes it so special!
Keep looking out for more enhancements in the future...