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  1. #1

    Default USA première performance of the Subcontrabass Sax (BBBb!)

    Yes it was Jay Easton and his Subcontrabass BBBb Tubax at the World Saxophone Congress Wednesday July 9th!

    After showing serious "go low" skill on his Orsi Contrabass EEb Sax and Selmer BBb Bass Sax, Jay took "how low can you go" to seriously new depths! The lowest fundimental of the Subcontrabass is roughly 24.6 hertz, low enough that you can nearly count the pulses!!!

    What an instrument! The workmanship was stunning! The very serious crowd of exceptional players who mobbed Jay and his horns after his performance really was heartwarming!

    I'll ask Jay if it ok to put up the photos.


  2. #2


    Way off-topic, but I have to ask: Why some instruments have like BBBb or EEb or BBb, doesnt just Bb and Eb say the same thing? English is foreign language for me, hope some of you understood what I said.

    I listened the subcontrabass-soundclips on his site. Sweet.

  3. #3


    It seems that Custom has been to indicate the "depth" of the instrument by repeating the note of pitch - the Bb Tenor, then one octave lower the BBb Bass and again an additional octave lower BBBb Subcontrabass.

    Perhaps someone with a more scholarly background can cast more light on the issue, but I have noticed it is not consistant among instrument families (a Bass Clarinet is one example - kind of skipped the Tenor eh?).

    StevenW 8)

  4. #4
    Forum Contributor 2011 Pete's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    Phoenix, AZ USA


    "EEb" essentially means "an octave lower than the Eb bass instrument", which is actually the Eb baritone sax in this instance. It's easier to understand for the BBb horns (there is a real Bb bass) and the CC horns (A. Sax's original instrument was a C bass).

    This, of course, brings up the unwinnable argument about the stupidity of the contra-, counter-, baritone, bass naming scheme. Just call me a counter-baritone! (Let's not mention that there's music in the key of H )

    I've posted some further information iabout the Eppelsheim instruments (with pricing info!) in
    Last edited by Pete; 04-13-2005 at 05:42 PM.

  5. #5


    Actually, this comes from international pitch notation. The octaves arranged down from highest to lowest are:
    c7 (c=16744.0 Hz, eb7 = 19,912.1 Hz; Human hearing threshold is 20,000 Hz)
    c6 (c=8372.0 Hz, b6 = 15804.3 Hz)
    c5 (c=4186.0 Hz, b5 = 7902.1 Hz)
    c4 (c=2093.0 Hz, b4 = 3951.1 Hz)
    c3 (c=1046.5 Hz, b3 = 1975.3 Hz)
    c2 (c=523.3 Hz, b2 = 987.8 Hz)
    c1 (c=261.6 Hz, a1=440Hz, a1 = 493.9 Hz)
    small, or c (c=130.8 Hz = Middle C, b (small b) = 246.9 Hz
    Great, or C (C = 65.4 Hz, Great B = 123.5 Hz)
    Contra, or CC (CC = 32.7 Hz, BB = 61.7 Hz)
    Sub-Contra, or CCC (CCC = 16.4 Hz. Human hearing threshold is 20 Hz +/-, BBB = 30.9 Hz)

    See the chart at for a better layout of this information.

    Anyway, "Bb" is the Key. If the lowest "Concert C" your instrument is designed to play is a Sub-Contra C (CCC) and it is a transposing instrument in the key of Bb, it is a BBBb instrument. If it only plays in the Contra (CC) range, it is a BBb instrument. If it only plays in the Great range (C), it is a Bb instrument. If it only plays in the small (c) range, it is a bb instrument (that is small B-flat). If it is a higher pitch, say playing in the c4 range it is technically a bb4 (B-flat 4) instrument. However this is quite confusing, so most manufacturers only state the key such as Bb for a Tenor saxophone.

    When you go down low, saying BBBb says you play so low that you can push the bottom edge of human hearing. Saying BBb says you are an octave above that level.

    With the average human threshold of 20 Hz, the lowest note you can hear would be EEE or Sub-Contra E. You might hear EEEb at 19.4 Hz but only if you hear low notes better than average. Most people would feel these bass notes rather than hear them.

  6. #6
    Über Geek
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    bari_sax_diva's Avatar
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    May 2003
    Los Angeles


    Wow... listing to the clips on Jay's site now. It reminds me of those really great low pipe organ notes. They're kind of creepy, but beautiful.

  7. #7


    It's called a tubex. There is one in Eb, and one in Bb if I remember correctly.

  8. #8
    bariman's Avatar
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    Apr 2004
    High Point, North Carolina


    Don't mean to be smart, but it's Tubax.


  9. #9
    Administrator Emeritus Chris S's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    Northern Texas


    saxpics wrote:

    (Let's not mention that there's music in the key of H Smile)
    Technically there is, as H is B natural. This is how Bach spelled his name out in various pieces....

    Chris S
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