I have played on a Miraphone tuba exclusively since 1992. I have based my career on it and make my living on it. I still exclusively play the one horn I have ever bought. It's seen so much action... been ridden hard and put away wet, and still has so much character, flexibility and soul.
On Gato Loco's recent trip to Europe a couple of weeks ago, it was my extreme pleasure to get to visit and tour the Miraphone factory in Waldkraiburg, Germany, about an hour train ride outside of Munich, right in the heart of Bavaria.
It's a magical place full of magical people and magical instruments!
Upon arrival, I met Josef Eisgruber, a technician, artisan, and euphoniumist from the company. He was incredibly enthusiastic about his job at Miraphone, and explained how the company is actually employee-owned and every stage of their horn production happens right there.
Josef gave me a tour of every corner of the factory...
(click on each photo for a larger version, sorry some are a bit blurry, they are phone pictures)
Assembly bench with 4/4, 5/4, and 6/4 tubas in final stages of production.
The assembly room.
Raw brass, from Germany, used for valve tubing.
Raw brass, from Germany, used in the larger parts of the horn.
More raw brass storage.
Bow jig/mold for the 4/4 C and Bb tubas.
Josef with the press that uses the molds. A tenor horn mold is in there at the moment.
Bells of raw brass in an early stage of fabrication.
A worker hand fires and joins the edges of the raw brass to make a flugelhorn bell.
The bell is now made round by hand with a hammer and anvil.
This is used to further shape the bell (a mold, of sorts - this one is for a 3/4 tuba)
A worker further shapes a tuba bell.
A worker makes valves on this hi-precision lathe.
Miraphone makes all their valves in-house. These are rotary valves for a tuba.
Rotary valve paddles.
Valve clusters for the popular 'Norwegian Star' Eb/F tuba.
Tubas ready for lacquer then assembly.
Giant dryer to dry the parts before lacquering begins.
Complete horns awaiting assembly.
Horn assembly bench. This guy (and a few others) were rocking some serious blaßmusik in the background while they worked!
A beautiful new 188 (or "88" as they call it now) is almost complete.
Josef and the 88. All that's left to be added is valve linkage.
Josef and I with the 88.
A bunch of horns, almost completed.
Finishing each detail.
Even more detail work. I loved how this worker suspended the horn from the ceiling.
Stockroom with horns awaiting shipment.
Naturally, I had to have them give my horn a tweak! They replaced some parts of my valve linkage and tightened it all up -- I am guessing it is better now than it was when it was brand new!!!
Artisans working on my horn.
Amazing work!! Many many thanks!!!!!
While there, I also spent a lot of time playing horns... I was SO giddy, like a kid in a candy shop, that I forgot to take pictures of the showroom -- I even forgot my mouthpiece when I was done!! Wow, was I excited...!
I got a chance to meet and spend some time with their development manager Christian Niedermaier and I got a chance to play about a zillion different tubas. I played every single CC they had in the showroom, as well as a couple of prototypes, including the new 6/4 York-style horn which is still in development. (it was great, York-like, but still had a Miraphone soul) I played a few F and BBb tubas as well. The best tuba I played there (next to mine, of course!) was the new 5/4 "Bruckner" rotary CC. It was actually one of the best CC tubas I've ever played. I almost tried to buy it on the spot... It's absolutely outstanding. Another tuba of note was the good ol 88 (188) It still retains that old Miraphone soul!
That was a spectacular day and really was an honor for me. I'll definitely be back!! Thanks so much Miraphone!!!