The most striking feature of the cimbasso is the front-facing bell, which points slightly downward when the instrument is in the correct playing position. The cimbasso is about 120 cm high and is played in the sitting position, resting on the floor on a tail-pin or spike the length of which is adjustable. The five rotary valves are operated by the right hand, the 5th valve by the right thumb; the triggers of the first two valves are activated by the left hand.
The cimbasso is usually played by a tuba player because its mouthpiece is the same as the tuba’s.
Today the instrument is made in two keys, F and Eb (four valves) and is of the valved contrabass trombone type.
This valve was developed in Vienna by Joseph Riedl in 1835 and is now the most commonly used valve on brass instruments along with the Périnet or piston valve.
Aerophone, lip-vibrated instrument, brass wind instrument
Brass, gold brass, nickel silver, gold lacquer.
Deep cup mouthpiece (corresponds to the tuba’s mouthpiece)
Length 340 cm, cylindrical
Narrow, inner diameter 18.5 mm
Five valves (lowering pitch by 1, ½, 1½ steps, fourth-valve, 5th valve for the right thumb: wide whole step)
Rim diameter 27 cm