Contrabass Sackbut in BBb by Brad Close

I’ve had a longstanding fascination with sackbuts, particularly the original surviving contrabass sackbut in BBb made by Georg Öller in 1639. The original is a massive instrument, towering over the player with a slide that’s almost 5 feet long and performed with a handle that’s 2 feet long. I wanted a more compact BBb contra that I could actually play. Brad is becoming quite the artisan maker of sackbuts, and during the Covid pandemic, I commissioned him to build me one in BBb. Previously, Ewald Meinl of Germany had built two full-size contrabass sackbut replicas—one for Wim Becu and one for Mack Ramsey. They also made a contrabass replica with a doubled slide which was inspiration for this instrument. You can still order a contrabass from Meinl, I don’t think Brad will ever do it again. I requested it to be made from seamed red brass; I had a coil of pre-WWII red brass supplied by my dear friend Thomas Zsvikovits, which had been sitting around the shop for years, and we had just enough to make this instrument. The bell was hand-hammered to a larger diameter than a bass, and Brad crafted all the tubing from sheet red brass. The slide tubes were salvaged from a donor Bach model 6 trombone.