Art
Fact-checked

At MusicalExpert, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is a Tubax?

A Tubax is a unique wind instrument, a hybrid of the saxophone family, known for its compact design and deep, resonant tones. It combines the range of a baritone sax with the size of an alto, offering musicians a rich sonic palette. Curious about how this intriguing instrument can transform your music experience? Discover the Tubax's captivating capabilities in our full article.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

The tubax is both a group of redesigned saxophones first created by a German instrument maker named Benedikt Eppelsheim in 1999, and in particular an Eb instrument with modern saxophone fingering, the mouthpiece of a baritone saxophone, and a range an octave below the baritone saxophone. It is thus equivalent in range to the contrabass saxophone in Eb, but it avoids that rarely used instrument’s heavy tone and lack of agility, though the tubax also lacks the contrabass saxophone’s power. Its narrower bore means that less air is required and that it can play softly throughout its range.

Eppelsheim also offers the tubax pitched in Bb, or, in other words, a type of subcontrabass saxophone. A design for a subcontrabass saxophone had been patented by Adolphe Sax, but he never finished building it. A working model of the instrument is now The Bb tubax sounds a fourth below the Eb tubax, and an octave below the bass saxophone. It uses a bass saxophone mouthpiece, and due to being folded four times instead of two, it is not much taller than a baritone saxophone. There is a C tubax, but it is only available by special order.

Man playing a guitar
Man playing a guitar

The tubax in any key is a transposing instrument. Like the other saxophones, it is written from Bb3 to F#6 on a treble staff. The Eb tubax sounds 2 octaves and a major sixth lower than it is written. The Bb tubax sounds 3 octaves and a major second lower. All types of tubax have an additional altissimo register key, providing an expanded upper range.

Noted tubax players include Randy Emerick, Jay Easton, Scott Robinson, Thomas Zoller, and Fred Bayer. Thomas Zoller has also composed pieces for tubax, as have Andreas van Zoelen, Vinny Golia, Chaya Czernowin, and Guy Barker. And if you thought contrabass instruments weren’t cool, check out the tubax videos on MySpace and YouTube.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Tubax and how does it differ from a traditional saxophone?

A Tubax is a relatively new type of saxophone that was developed by instrument maker Benedikt Eppelsheim in 1999. It is characterized by its compact, conical bore and its ability to produce the lower register notes of the saxophone family with greater ease and clarity. Unlike traditional saxophones, the Tubax has a narrower bore and uses a folded tubing design to maintain a more manageable size, allowing it to reach the low notes of a contrabass or subcontrabass saxophone without the unwieldy length.

What are the different types of Tubax saxophones available?

There are several types of Tubax saxophones, each designed to cover different ranges of the saxophone family. The most common types include the E♭ contrabass Tubax, which is pitched one octave below the baritone saxophone, and the B♭ subcontrabass Tubax, which is pitched one octave below the bass saxophone. Additionally, there is a C subcontrabass Tubax, and even a rare A♭ piccolo Tubax, which is higher-pitched than the standard E♭ alto saxophone.

How does the sound of a Tubax compare to that of a traditional saxophone?

The sound of a Tubax is unique; it retains the timbral qualities of a saxophone but with a deeper, richer tone due to its lower pitch range. The Tubax's sound is often described as more focused and direct than that of a traditional contrabass or subcontrabass saxophone, thanks to its narrower bore and innovative design. This allows for better intonation and response, especially in the lower registers where larger saxophones can struggle.

Who are some well-known musicians that have incorporated the Tubax into their music?

While the Tubax is still a rare instrument, it has been embraced by a number of adventurous musicians looking to explore its unique sound. One notable player is the saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton, who has used the Tubax in his explorations of avant-garde jazz. Another is the German musician Stefan Zeniuk, who has featured the Tubax in his Gato Loco ensemble, blending Latin rhythms with the instrument's distinctive low-end capabilities.

Where can one purchase a Tubax and what is the approximate cost?

Purchasing a Tubax can be a significant investment, as they are custom-made and relatively rare. Interested buyers should contact the manufacturer, Benedikt Eppelsheim, directly through his website or seek out specialty woodwind instrument retailers. The cost of a Tubax can vary depending on the model and specifications, but prices generally start at several thousand dollars and can reach upwards of $20,000 for certain models, reflecting the craftsmanship and specialized nature of the instrument.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to MusicalExpert about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

Learn more...
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to MusicalExpert about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

Learn more...

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Man playing a guitar
      Man playing a guitar