Last year, I went to the Ashland TubaChristmas like I usually do at the start of the Christmas season. Also like I usually do, I brought my King K-70 G baritone bugle, because I have a lot of fun playing on it and there are few G bugles at these events. Everything seemed fine until I played my first note…
Instead of a clear and warm tone, what came out of the bell of my horn could best be described as the death rattle of a moose. No matter what I did, I could only make the worst sounds which could hardly be described as musical. My friend Brad, who also loves to play on G bugles at these concerts, couldn’t figure out what was happening, either. He agreed to take my horn and have a friend who works on brass instruments take a look.
Weeks later, I got the news: the lead pipe of my horn had a crack in it, leading to air escaping through the crack when I played and the strange buzzing noise. Over time, attempts to find a replacement lead pipe compatible with my model were unsuccessful, as these horns were made back on the 80s and the tooling to fashion a new one were no longer available. Simply patching the cracks (turns out there was a SECOND crack to deal with) would at best be a temporary solution.
Fortunately, Tyler Ferris of Ferris Brass took up the challenge of bringing The Beast back to life. Tyler gave my bugle the full treatment, starting with a full disassembly and chem clean. Tyler then got creative and used the outer 3rd valve slide tube of a Buescher Eb alto horn to make a leadpipe sleeve. This was a much more solid solution to simply patching the cracks. Tyler also went through the process of restoring the rest of the horn as best as he could, installing new corks and felts, aligning the valves, polishing the slides and making the #1 slide kick-able again as the thumb ring has broken off some time ago, and retiring the worn valve springs with new ones.
Tyler has returned my bugle back to Brad, who is planning to attend the Ashland TubaChristmas this season, as am I. Just about a year since this adventure began, The Beast will be back in my hands and back on the stage, playing Christmas carols to ring in the season.
Here is my 2023 TubaChristmas schedule, 100 percent subject to change. If you’re planning to play at any of these concerts, let me know. If you love the Christmas season and singing Christmas carols with fellow Christmas lovers, all TubaChristmas concerts are free to the public, so come join us or find a TubaChristmas near you!
- December 2 – Ashland, Ohio (12 PM at the Hugo Young Theatre at Ashland University)
- December 3 – Canton, Ohio (5:30 PM at the Johnson Center for Worship and the Fine Arts at Malone University)
- December 9 – Ashtabula, Ohio (1 PM at Lakeside High School)
- December 10 – Lorain, Ohio (2 PM at the Palace Theatre)
- December 16 – Wooster, Ohio (12 PM at Wooster High School)
- December 23 – Akron, Ohio (12 PM and 2 PM at EJ Thomas Hall at the University of Akron)