Other items vaguely musical:
My big tuner: Stroboconn 6T
My little tuner: Yamaha TD-1
Some interesting stuff about musical instruments and physics: http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/music
My mom bought this used horn for me, on a rent-to-own plan in sixth grade, for about $160 in 1972. (Probably at Korten's in Longview, WA. I think she got 'taken', as you usually do on any rent-to-own plan.) My brother got one too, his didn't have the copper bell making it (probably) a 15B—I (eldest) got first choice and I thought the copper looked cooler. Such is the extent of the selection criteria when in grade school! The choice of trumpet as my instrument in the first place can be laid squarely at the feet of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. (Loved that stuff. Also fairly influential was Graham Young's playing on The Waltons. [There is some conflicting information about who this was, I've also heard that it was Uan Rasey, Greg Wing, Jay Daversa, Ray Crisera... Perhaps there was more than one over the years? Whoever did it first gets the credit here.]) After I got a Jet-Tone Custom 4B mouthpiece in high school (here you see Maynard Ferguson's influence, and indirectly, Mic Gillette's, along with a generous helping of ignorance) I tried cutting down the rim of the original Conn 4 mouthpiece to make it more comfortable to play. That worked, sort of, but the result was in no way superior to the Jet-Tone and it looked like crap so mostly it just sat in the case. I never played it enough to determine if the raw brass would be a problem for me or not. (The Custom 4B's specs are JT505: 4 ['deep' cup, 21/32" diameter] B [A–D, flat to rounded] rim. List price was $18, I'm pretty sure I paid $20.)
I played this horn for my entire school music career, through college. In college, during a very cold outdoor marching band rehearsal where I had the horn tucked under my arm and my hands in my pockets, I managed to drop it on the Astroturf and bent the rim of the bell in about half an inch, which I later pounded out myself using a rubber-handled tack hammer. (I held the head and tapped away with the side of the handle. An hour or so put it back pretty good.) When Jill was playing this trumpet, our extra, for alumni band we bought a used Bach 10-½ C mouthpiece for her to use, which is what's in the case now. (She picked it from the store's tray as being the most comfortable of the available choices, she hated the cut-down Conn which was the only other mouthpiece we had at the time.)
I never play it anymore, but when we were in a parade recently I decided that it would be handy to have a lyre, which the Martin (below) doesn't have. Hey, it's a parade so I don't really need my good axe, and the sacrificial Conn is much tougher and has a lyre. (When I first got the Martin, in the throes of a comeback, I couldn't notice much difference in sound between the two horns, though I certainly noticed [and had much difficulty with] the Martin's longer [16.5mm vs 15mm] valve throw—but I sure could tell the difference in the parade. The Martin is a much better horn! That was hard to tell at first as a comeback player.)
While it was 'in play' (so to speak) for the parade gig, what should drop out of the case but the long-lost mother-of-pearl button insert for #2, which had been missing for some thirty years! I remember when it fell off during a rehearsal in high school and I tucked it into the case for safekeeping, figuring that I'd glue it back on at home. Later, when I went to do this, I couldn't find it; I scoured the case with no results, and later, the band room. I looked in the case a few other times over the years but with no luck, I figured it must have fallen out of the case and gotten lost, though I couldn't see how. I had always meant to get a new button for it, but matching the original might have been difficult and it never seemed quite worth the trouble, though that little metal ridge left on #2 was always mildly irritating. Well, now I don't need to! Naturally I had again put the insert carefully back in the case for gluing on later, since it turned up (predictably) at a time that wasn't convenient for the repair, and of course when I went to fix it I again couldn't find the insert. But now having some idea as to its one trick I looked much harder this time and eventually found it: it's amazing how quickly and well that little disc can get wedged into a case corner. The rough shell edge on the bottom was very happy to mate with the fuzzy velour of the case interior. A bit of cleaning and a dab of cyanoacrylate glue and it was, at long last, good as new again.
Update: Monday, May 4, 2009. I got the trumpet back from a week in the shop. For the princely sum of $32 I had the ripples in the bell rolled out, thus removing almost completely all evidence that I'd dropped the horn on its face back in college. Since I had it with me, for fun I played it in band after the mid-rehearsal break, complete with the same Jet-Tone I'd used all those years. Umm, yes, it's not as good as the Martin! Sure easy to tell the difference now, even my section mates noticed. It'll go back into hibernation, I think. I'm happy to have it 'restored', nonetheless, and I do want a spare B♭ trumpet on hand.
During the Benge 3C evaluation session it became quite clear that the best place for the cut-down Conn 4 mouthpiece was back on this horn, so it came 'home'. That's where it sounded best, such as it was. (It now resides in the storage bay.)
My main horn, and unique. (The goofy picture is from a concert where I was warming up this horn and the Flugelhorn at the same time, I had one in each hand. Here are the more normal Left side and right side views. Half Martin and half Benge, should it be called a Mange or a Bartin?) Once owned by Mic Gillette [RIP!] of Tower of Power, and engraved with his name. Mic said it was his main horn in the 1972–1974 timeframe, the base horn listed for $565, the customization no doubt cost much more. I bought for $500 from my brother (in let's say 1990) who still has one of the 48 (?) production late-model Martin Magnas (?) that have 6" bells. ( Martin T3-468A Deluxe, .470", Jet-Tone Studio D mouthpiece. These are not the old Magnas that have normal-sized bells. My brother's horn has since been lost to a catastrophic house fire.) I'm about the fifth or sixth owner of the horn. (We went to high school with Mic's then brother-in-law who is also a trumpet player, these horns were trickle-down.) I had to have a valve job done on it and the leadpipe replaced. (Unfortunate, but I wanted a working horn, not a collectible. Sticking valves and a bent leadpipe with a corrosion hole in the side weren't going to cut it. I don't think the result plays as openly as it did before, as I believe the leadpipe that was on it was also custom, but the valves don't stick anymore so that is good. It is possible that the leadpipe customization was limited to reaming out the inside of the original leadpipe, I vaguely recall being told that the leadpipe was 'thin' in some way. If that were true, it's not surprising that it holed over time. Idiot I, perhaps I should have just had it patched, or at least arranged to keep the old pipe, but I didn't know any better at the time.)
I bought this horn around the time I resumed playing, in the local community band, after about a ten-year hiatus after college. (My brother and I had played the two 'matching' Martins for some years while Christmas caroling in the old neighborhood, but he needed money and was going to sell the prototype. I bought it mostly so that we could continue doing this. Matching big-bell fancy silver trumpets was part of the fun for us, with my old Conn it just wouldn't be quite the same.) When I first got it I was in the throes of getting my chops (such as they are) back, having just found the community band, and couldn't really tell the difference between it and my old horn, except for the long-throw (16.5mm vs 15mm) valves which were really annoying. [Now I can very much tell the difference, it's night and day, and I hardly notice the valves.]
With the large bell and all it's quite the conversation piece. I played the Jet-Tone 4B on it for quite a while, but I find the picc's (below) cast-off Benge 7E superior for most of my band playing. (Both mouthpieces are in the case, the Jet-Tone is handy for some of the higher stuff or for when my face swells up. A word on the 7E: The Bach 7E has a 117 backbore. The Benge 7E has a standard backbore, probably the same as a Bach 10.) The two horns had been in a custom double case which stayed with my brother, so I used a gig bag for a couple of years, which I hated. I was unable to find a hard case that could hold this horn. My brother made some calls and found one of the horn series' original custom-fit cases that was being used to hold a piccolo trumpet, of all things. He procured that for me as a Christmas present. Well done, brother! I had to rip out some glued-in foam blocks to restore the proper nest for this horn, but it fits perfectly.
I contacted Mic, and he had this to say about the horn:
I loved that horn. Is the Martin 6" bell the only bell you have for it? There was an extremely thin very old French Besson bell that was made tunable to fit that horn as well. Dick Akright from A&G Music in Oakland did all of the work on that horn as long as I owned it. It was the step-up horn for me after my King Silver Flair... I didn't care for the lead pipe/tuning slide configuration which is why Dick made it a tunable bell horn. The first thing Martin ever made for me was a 6" bell and the one you have is that bell. Then they made the Martin Magna from the old Committee specs and put the newer 6" bell on it with a reverse leadpipe and a .470" bore. They made a total of 50 of those horns with my name in huge English Gothic letters on the side of the bell. They also made 2 experimental 6" bell trumpets with an unheard-of .484" bore valve section from a valve trombone. Bill Ortiz from Santana bought them both and had the horn gold plated. It is beautiful and sounds huge. I recorded with it before I sold it on both a Dionne Warwick and a Melissa Manchester album. It was too big and did not blend at all with other trumpets. What you have is a piece of history and I used it on all recordings I did between 1972 and 1974, you can see the list on my website. I would love to blow a few notes on it again someday. — Mic GilletteSure, Mic. Let me know next time you're in town and I'll be glad to drop by with the horn! :-) [Sadly, with Mic's passing January 17, 2016 this will no longer be possible.]
The likely list of recordings, extracted by date from Mic's website, is:
|Bump City||Tower of Power|
|Lights Out: San Francisco||Tower of Power|
|Fillmore: The Last Days||Tower of Power|
|Believing||Alice Stuart & Snake|
|Rolling Thunder||Mickey Hart|
|The Barbecue of Deville||Hoodoo Rhythm Devils|
|Tower of Power||Tower of Power|
|Betty Davis||Betty Davis|
|Back to Oakland||Tower of Power|
|Urban Renewal||Tower of Power|
|Funkland||Tower of Power|
|In The Beginning||Roy Buchanan|
|And The Feeling's Good||José Feliciano|
|For My Love, Mother Music||José Feliciano|
|And His Lost Planet Airmen||Commander Cody|
|Ron Gardner||Ron Gardner|
|Have You Ever Smoked The Gorowerse?||Hiroshi Kamayatsu|
|Graham Central Station||Graham Central Station|
|Release Yourself||Graham Central Station|
|Free Beer and Chicken||John Lee Hooker|
|Feats Don't Fail Me Now||Little Feat|
|Insane Asylum||Kathi McDonald|
Update: Thursday, January 15, 2009. I used Bartender's Friend soft scrub to clean off the places on the horn where the plating was worn off, and the raw brass and solder where the various Benge and Martin braces had been removed (both during the original remodeling and when the worn-out Martin leadpipe was replaced with the new Benge leadpipe), then used the Caswell silver kit to touch it up. Just as with the baritone it's not as invisible as I'd like, but the base colors are hidden. It looks a lot better than it did, anyhow.
Update: Tuesday, February 3, 2009. I used Hagerty's silver foam and Bartender's Friend soft scrub to clean off the places on the Jet-Tone mouthpiece's shank where the plating was worn off, and re-plated it with the Caswell kit. Looks better. I also cleaned off the horn's main tuning slide, even going so far as to remove the water key, and shined it up. The key's hinge area was grossly dirty, and the plating on the exposed part of the slide was in bad shape. (This poor horn suffered from fairly corrosive ownership somewhere on its way to me.) I re-plated (poorly) the slide areas. I then reinstalled the water key using a drop of oil on the pivot, and regreased the slide and put it back. While I was at it I used a bit of the silver polish on the body of the trumpet, as I'd noticed that the bell was somewhat 'whiter' than the body since I'd worked over only the bell last time I polished the horn. (It had needed it the most.)
Update: Wednesday, February 4, 2009. Today I cleaned the third-valve slide the same way I did the main tuning slide yesterday, water key and all. The entire horn is now clean and polished.
Update: Monday, March 16, 2009. Bought Betsy's old harmon (actually made by King) mute for $20. (I'd bought my Wick convertible cup mute from her, too.) I've needed one of these for a long time, but not very often. It's pretty beat up, and needs new cork. It also won't fit into my very full horn case, so that's a drag.
Update: Thursday, March 19, 2009. Time to gussy up the harmon mute. I got out the Harbor Freight doming punch set I bought some time ago, and selected (by eye) the #10 and #7 punches. (They're pieces of drill rod, or something like that, with a ball turned into the end.) I grabbed a broken-off mallet handle and cut its end square, then drilled two holes down the axis, one for each sized punch. (The smaller one deeper, of course.) With the two punches alternately pushed into the handle and a shot of oil inside the mute I was able to work out the worst of the dents in the mute's forward (rounded) edge. The rounded end of the handle was also useful, and a small hammer pushed in the pokey-out bits where a screwdriver had been used to try to push out some old dents. It's not beautiful, but it'll do. Lots of little ripples left, but at least the profile is about right. I then cut out a paper ring to wrap around the dead cork to serve as a pattern, then I transferred it to thick gasket paper, grippy side out. I trial-fit it into the horn and it did grip, so I used contact cement to glue the new gasket onto the mute. The little cup was coming loose from its pipe so I ran a bead of cyanoacrylate glue in it to secure it. It also had a few slight bends in its shape so I tried to re-round it. Success? We'll see. I may have to get some sheet cork and re-do the gasket properly, if it won't stay in the horn well.
Update: Saturday, July 4, 2009. The old neighborhood Christmas caroling gig has been dead for some years now, so I and my brother are no longer playing the Martins together. (He doesn't play at all anymore.) For fun we shamed each other into performing the national anthem before the neighborhood's new (private) fireworks extravaganza. (Beer was involved.) The Martins ride again! We did well enough to get applause, anyway. And loud enough that people who weren't even there noticed that there was live music. (It's a quiet rural neighborhood, but not on this night!)
...Since I now find I need to keep the 7E mouthpiece with the piccolo I dug in my bin of mouthpieces and found a Bach 3C and a Bach 7C. I didn't really care for the 3C, a popular choice, but the 7C (everybody's first mouthpiece, but never one of mine) felt very homey. It was quite pliers-chewed and the silver was starting to come off the rim a bit, so I used the Caswell kit and a Liberty dime anode to replate it. (The Caswell kit's silver solution is starting to go bad, hence the dime to help out.) Looks a lot better, and the raw brass is hidden. I also put a light plating on the shank, as it was pure raw brass. Really dresses up that $5 piece a lot, and it seems to play fine. We'll see how it goes with time. I also picked up a $10 no-name 1¼C which feels surprisingly comfortable, and though nominally larger than the 3C it has a different edge profile which feels tolerable—less buckety than the 3C. It's in great shape (unlike the 7C) and I'm also putting in some hours on it. It's much easier to drop below the staff on this piece. There's a nice cup and backbore comparator at Kanstul that shows what's going on. Some say that for best sound you should play the largest mouthpiece that works for you, so I'm trying that theory out. (I have larger ones procured for the Frumpet experiment, but they're too large for me to use regularly.)... I have found that I really am taking to the 1¼C, even my section mates notice an improvement. It's a little harder to play up high, but is much easier to go down low on (I don't have to re-set my embouchure) and everything sounds better. For now this is my main mouthpiece. ...After a year I decided to continue exploring the larger mouthpiece progression so I picked up used Bach 1C and 1X mouthpieces, $20 each. They both feel pretty good, and not too much different than the 1¼C, so I'll put some time in on them to see if I think it's worth switching. (I'm guessing probably not, but we shall see.)
I've been a bit worried about what I would play if something should happen to this unique horn. I contacted Flip Oakes, maker of the Wild Thing, a horn that has had said of it some of the things I think I could say of mine. He and I were both in Lacey Friday, June 28, 2013, and he graciously gave me a bit of his time. He tried out my horn, and I his. Unfortunately the limited circumstances meant it wasn't the time or the place to do more than try a few notes out, and not too loudly at that, so it was difficult to get much of an evaluation. He thought my horn was a bit stuffy, and pitchy. I thought his horn was very open, and more to the point had something of the sound that I like about my horn, and in spades. Call it a big core, or a fat sound, something. I think I could get to like the WT very much, and it certainly should be on my watch list so far as any potential replacement goes. He's had 2,000 of them made so far, so if I were to take one up I needn't worry about it being one-of-a-kind, which is today's 'problem'.
Friday, October 18, 2013 I was able to borrow a vintage Benge 3X to compare to my once-was-a-3X+ horn. The 3X sounded a lot more like the 3C, as expected, than it did to mine. Brighter. In fact, all trumpets I have tried sounded more like each other than they did to this one. (However I was really enjoying my time with this 3X, and it had been a screaming deal for the friend who had bought it, I'm kind of wishing that I had managed to score it!)
The search for a backup (or even, God forbid, a replacement!) for this horn has not been an easy one. Here's a short list of ones I should try, ones thought by me for whatever reason to be potential contenders and at least nominally affordable, in no particular order and if/when I ever get a chance. Perhaps at an ITG conference someday? You can tell this is not a serious effort, but then again I don't need to do this. Not yet, anyway.
Yes, it's heavy on the Martins, but that is to be expected. At least I've already knocked the Indiana, Imperial, and Benge 3X off the list! (Fine horns, all, but not what I'm looking for here.) I suppose I really should consider Mic's own final endorsement, the Marcinkiewicz Rembrandt, but I just can't stand Amado water keys and the look of a shepherd's crook!
Update: Thursday, July 7, 2016. Having spent some time with the Monette BL mouthpiece that came with the backup Benge I was interested in trying one out in my size. These pieces, though, are quite expensive ($350?) new which was not attractive. The main claim is that they have a better pitch center as you ascend the scale, and I think that I have noticed this, at least as compared to the 1.25C. Some queries on TPIN led me to a fellow who had a used B2S3 Prana for sale at $110, shipped. (This is arguably their closest size to the 1.25C, though even better would be to go to the shop in person and do a proper selection trial. An expensive proposition, though.) That's a good price so I bit, if it doesn't work out I can likely recoup my costs upon resale, the B2S3 is one of the most popular models... It came , and the next day I had a chance to try it out. Very interesting, certainly not the same as anything else I have, and it's going to take awhile to evaluate it. The metal is very thin at the end of the shank, care will be required.
In discussions with Dick Akright in 2017, the builder of this horn, he recalled that the original leadpipe modification was that the mouthpiece end had been opened up maybe 0.010" or so.
Bought for $20 at Value Village with its valves stuck due to being dropped, though otherwise it looked to be in very good condition. I cleaned it up and put in another $80 at the repair shop to get the valves freed up. I played it a bit and decided I just didn't like the cornet: it didn't sound really any different than my trumpet and I hated it being so close to my face. I sold it to a bandmate who was looking for a cornet, for $200, so I guess I actually made a bit of money on this one. (I'll try not to let that happen again!)
I'd always wanted a piccolo and had long kept an eye out for one, but they were rarely available used and never cheaply so I did without. (I had no actual justification for having one.) An unexpected windfall one year provided some funds to use for such a treat, and so I bought this as it was available locally and I was able to try it out before buying it.
The Benge 7E mouthpiece that came with it was comfortable to play, but much too flat. The Schilke 6A4A that I bought to replace it is, as advertised, much sharper, though still a bit flat even with the tuning slide all the way in. (I'm having pitch troubles with this horn, imagine that!) Still, it's a lot of fun to play. I've only played it (for real) in church, they seem to like it there. I also played it at one of the community college's graduations when they used part of Handel's Messiah as a processional. The 'trumpet' part was the piccolo trumpet part from the original orchestration; the cornet parts of this band transcription were originally something else, probably stringy. Guess which part I grabbed! The short-throw valves make it feel very responsive compared to my main horn (13mm vs 16.5mm).
In December, 2010 I consulted TPIN about my persistent flatness problem. I was seeking information on what the thought was on my particular model, and problem, and whether anything from this list was likely to be helpful: Different mouthpiece? Custom short shank? Custom leadpipe? Use the A pipe and learn to transpose? Get a better horn? Just suck it up and learn to play? (The answer I most feared.)
It took awhile but I collected some good suggestions from the list, and then I sent my horn off with my wife, who was playing in the pit of White Christmas. She got a couple of the trumpet players (and one in particular I've heard perform on picc, several times, so I know he knows what he's about) to try out my horn.
Both said they'd "buy the horn" (not that it was for sale or that they were looking to own it themselves, only that it was buy-worthy), and both reportedly played right on pitch, no problems. Neither thought much of the Schilke 6A4A mouthpiece that I've been using in an attempt to sharpen it up, both suggested that something more like my regular mouthpiece would be good. (As it happens, my current regular mouthpiece is the Benge 7E that came with the horn from the factory!)
The upshot is, as I'd feared, "Learn to play." Sigh. I'd sure hoped that there'd be something easy that I could do to get me part of the way there!
(A nice quote: "...the beastly little kazoo with valves called a piccolo or Bach trumpet." Yeah, I can sympathize! Every time I pick up this horn I'm reminded of Steve Martin's short story Cruel Shoes. Paraphrased: ...she held her shod, bloody feet in the air and shouted "I like them!")
I had my one-off lesson, a Christmas present from my wife, and my instructor (one of the horn's evaluators) thought that I was doing well enough, considering, and that my tuning problems could be addressed with 'faster air'. (I'm sure that had this not been a single session he'd have had much more to say about my sloppy practice habits!) Still, it was nice to have some confirmation that I wasn't totally out in left field. Now I just have to figure out what 'faster air' means! On advice of counsel I've switched back to the 7E, and have found that the horn plays very much better with its A leadpipe. Still flat, though. Maybe when the faster air comes along? The improvement in A is dramatic, I'll want to transpose any B♭ music that I can.
Most C trumpets are pro gear and cost quite a bit more than the $355 (shipped) I paid for this in 2005, but I had little actual need for a C trumpet and didn't want to pony up the required cash for a really good one. (Just something to play along with Jill, if we should be playing from the same music. In fact I did play it pretty soon after acquisition, at my mother's funeral service. My aunt requested Morning is Broken, so Jill and I did it on trumpet and oboe with piano accompaniment.)
This was an early experiment of mine, successful, but not useful to me since I no longer play trumpet. I rarely got to play it—every time I took it out for a gig, the other trumpet player would need it to avoid transposing! The instrument is 100% Couesnon, with my cuts. I disassembled and designed the cuts. Music 6000 in Olympia reassembled the trumpet for me afterwards. I've always been happy with it, but rarely got to play it. But the people I played with always liked it too.I bid on (and lost) a number of the cheaper C trumpets before I landed this one. Few of those would have been immediately playable, I actually think I got nearly the perfect horn for my needs. I like the long bell and lead pipe, those make it look a little bit like a heraldic instrument. (I'd rather it was silver than lacquer, but I'm sure that had it been silver I couldn't have ended up with it.) The slides, even though well lubricated, are unpleasantly stiff. The case latch springs are missing or broken, that's a bit awkward. I wedged some spring steel leaves in behind them, this works well enough that you don't have to pick the latches open with your fingernails anymore, but they do tend to fall out if you're not careful and they're dangerously sharp. One handle was missing, but I ran across a thrift shop suitcase that had almost exactly the same handle. I spray-painted it brown and put it on the faux-ligator case, so now it's very usable. I've been thinking about painting the whole case black, but I haven't done this yet.
It's early work of mine. But I'm now a repair tech with 9 years' experience. It's worth the money for the talking value and the fun you'll have! Comes with the pictured case which is a modified Olds Alto Sax case, with a proper Trumpet insert. Believe me, this won't go anywhere in this old thing! Very safe!
This also represents my earliest overhaul work, so it's generally beautiful. The bell is stamped with my initials [J.C.S.] and the gentleman [W.F.] who assembled it. Also, my initials are on the bell rim after the modifications made during overhaul.
I love this instrument, and it's tough to part with, but [I'm] a tuba player, I just don't use it anymore.
The horn had no mouthpiece, but the cut-down Conn 4 from my old trumpet fits and works, and is a very appropriate match. (I'd reshaped the rim shortly after I got a better [for me] mouthpiece back in high school, in an attempt to make it more comfortable to play. The cut rim is still raw brass, I've been thinking about plating it.)
Besides the funeral service I've played this in church a couple of times for pieces that didn't have a B♭ transcription. I've also played a bit with Jill on the oboe, at home for fun. (Less of that than I'd like.)
Update: Tuesday, January 6, 2009. I got the Caswell Plug-N-Plate silver and nickel materials I'd ordered for the baritone, and decided to start small. I got out the cut-down Conn mouthpiece and used Bartender's Friend soft-scrub cleanser on it to get the corrosion off the raw brass parts. It shined up nicely, though the rim is still (as it always was) a bit rough—kind of a matte finish rather than mirror shiny. (Not surprising considering I'd used fine sandpaper on it at the end. I'd lathed it in a drill, holding a file against it to do the cutting, followed by the sandpaper. Amazing what teenagers will do sometimes.) I clipped it to the lab power supply, set it to 1.7 V with a 300 mA current limit to match the wall-wart that they sell, dipped the bandaged anode wand as per the instructions, and had at it. Miraculous. Almost instantly the raw brass was covered with silver. I put a bit on the plier wounds on the side where a ham-handed unjamming had been done (probably by me back in the day), which masked them very well. I then put a lot (many many passes) on the rim, and it silvered over nicely. Plating current ranged from 5–20 mA, depending on contact area. I used up a capful of the solution on the rim, I figured I wanted a heavy coating on the wear surface where it hits your face. The idea wasn't so much to camouflage the DIY rim profile as to cover the raw brass to prevent biological reaction. And, of course, as a non-critical test bed for the Caswell process. I must say that I'm impressed, and I didn't have any problem with black smutting that the instructions mentioned. A new tool for the arsenal, and not all that expensive. About $20 for everything I used today, and of course the wand is not really a wear item and there is a lot of silver solution left. Considering what mouthpieces cost, even used ones, this job alone nearly paid for the kit, assuming it holds up and can be considered to have 'rescued' this mouthpiece. It looks really good, at least when compared to before. (No, it's not 'shiny new', it's 'shiny used', which is a different thing but no less exciting.)
Pictures (Afters, there are unfortunately no Befores):
|Conn 4 Pliers bite, plated||(Dark, but compare gouge and shank's colors)|
|Conn 4 Rim, plated||(Blue color is from computer monitor. Can still see a bit of raw brass in throat.)|
|Couesnon C trumpet||(Dark.)|
Update: Wednesday, February 4, 2009. I used a couple of dots of Shoe Goo to tack the case latch spring helpers in place. That should keep them from falling out, though it does nothing for their nasty sharp exposed edges. In the evening I used a leftover rattle-can of vinyl paint to give the case the first coat. (It's slate blue, not black, but I figured it couldn't hurt. I'll finish up with black.) I painted over all the metalwork too, I may wire-brush it and nickel-plate later. We'll see how ambitious I get.
Update: Thursday, February 5, 2009. I bought a rattle-can of black vinyl paint today, and a swatch of dark orange velour fabric to cover the blue trumpet cradle. About $8 for everything. After work I started painting the case black, and it looks a lot better. I pulled out the trumpet insert, which was poorly-covered in a faded blue velour that clashed horribly with the existing rust-orange and didn't, IMHO, adequately protect the instrument from scuffing. Only two wood screws held it in (and a bit of glue to the old interior case fabric—that was useless). I cut a length of the new orange velour that would wrap loosely around the insert and stapled it to the back side. I then screwed the insert back in place and re-painted the screw heads. It looks a lot better, and should provide a tiny bit more padding for the horn. The remainder of the new orange fabric is draped over the general area for increased padding.
|Couesnon's case, painted|
|Couesnon's case, re-padded|
|Conn 4 Rim, re-shot|
Update: Friday, February 6, 2009. I scraped/brushed off one of the case latches and sanded it with fine sandpaper and then used soft scrub on it. Looked like brass. Then I tried the nickel plating kit, setting the power supply to the recommended 4.5 V with the same 300 mA current limit as for silver. Failure! It would put on a bit of splotchy light color, but then it got worse as application continued. Even after a re-clean it acted the same. Disgusted, I cleaned it off and painted it black again. It may be that I need to acid-activate the metal surface, and/or heat the plating solution.
Update: Sunday, June 5, 2011. I drilled a second hole in the case for another mouthpiece, besides my cut-down Conn I want to bring along a real one just in case. (I put in the 1½C that I find I don't prefer to the 1¼C I've been using lately on my main horn, but which is very close in feel.) I was playing second on the Franck, and while the horn worked OK it did seem to me that it was easily 'saturated'. (Especially since I had been asked to play in order to really boost the volume of the section during the loud bits.) During the performance I did find that I needed to switch to the 1½C mouthpiece, the mangled mouthpiece wasn't working for me under duress.
I've been thinking about upgrading horns, perhaps to a Benge 3C. (Done! I need to consider selling this one.)
During the Benge evaluation session it became quite clear that the best place for the cut-down Conn 4 mouthpiece was back on the horn it came from. That's where it sounded best, if that can be said about it at all. The Couesnon, though not as nice as the Benge, played pretty well anyway. I thought the Benge was a little easier to blow, a little better sounding up high, and definitely better sounding once you ventured onto the loud side. But the Couesnon had good intonation, and sounded nice—just so long as you stayed away from fortissimo and beyond!
With the acquisition of the Benge 3C trumpet I didn't really need this trumpet anymore, so I sold it, Wednesday, July 3, 2013, through the Trumpet Herald web site. (I put it on the local craigslist on June 9, and linked to that on the TH marketplace.) I basically sold it for what I paid for it, it can be the next guy's starter C trumpet. I need the space way more than I need a backup C trumpet.
This is no doubt a stencil, we don't know who actually made it. An internet search was fruitless. It looks most like a King Gladiator, or maybe a cheap Conn or Holton, nothing more exotic. (I looked at photos and information on http://www.clarinette-metal.fr/galerie_de_photos.htm and http://www.silver-clarinet.com, as well as browsing the archives of the Clarinet Bulletin Board. Later I found a picture of a Regent clarinet by the Ohio Band Instrument Co., which looks pretty close. They'd certainly be a stencil supplier. One source states that most metal clarinets in the US were made by Pedler, Bettoney, or the Penzel Mueller Co.)
It does play, so say those who can actually play clarinets. I replaced the worst pads with the best used ones from Mom's wooden clarinet (when I re-padded it late in 1997), so now it works again. (That was an experience!) By all consulted the best use for a horn like this is as a lamp. (Though there are some good metal clarinets, this isn't one of them; most were student models and of little value now. Her family's economic state back in the day pretty much dictated that this one be nothing special.) I dug it out again when making this page and decided it looked like silver rather than the nickel I'd always thought it to be, so I used the dregs of the Tarn-X (that I'd used on the trombone and baritone) on the bell. It shined right up. Yep, it's silver all right! (Had it been nickel I doubt there would have been the worn places that show brass.) It could use a full polish, and even some replating, but nobody's ever likely to do that, not for one of these. It's missing one hinge screw, so one of the middle keys doesn't work, one that operates the lowest pad(s). The upper ring was starting to bind up, and cleaning and lubrication didn't help. So I used a little hammer to gently tap its post to increase the clearance a fraction and now it's free again.
The case is in bad shape, with one missing latch and all the fabric fake leather scraped off the corners and edges. The wood's pretty chewed, and many of the joints are starting to come apart.
Update: Tuesday, February 10, 2009. Missing screw replaced at the shop, $3. Not bad, but Jill says that he says that there is a missing key; she calls it a POS. Well, OK, nobody's disputing that but I don't see any signs of anything broken or missing. Maybe it was built that way? Everything seems to move properly now, anyway. Jill later showed me where one of the four lower paddle keys was broken cleanly off its shaft. She says there are alternate fingerings, but that it's pretty crippled as a result. I also found the serial number (S7XX) stamped into the underside of one of the remaining keys at the bottom. Interesting.
Update: Thursday, February 26, 2009. I picked up a scrap metal clarinet key at the repair shop, no charge. It should be possible to remove the paddle and solder it to the tube in place of the broken one. It's even the 'right' key, but it's bent and is obviously from a different maker, and is an inch too short to be used directly. He said he picked around and found one for me that wasn't obviously cast pot-metal. Properly attached, though, and you'd never be able to tell that there had been anything wrong.
Update: Saturday, February 13, 2010. I cleaned up the chip in the mouthpiece beak and cut a small scrap of grenadilla wood to glue into it. I used the gap-filling cyanoacrylate glue, and once it had set up I trimmed it and began filing it to fit. (Hardly seems worth the effort, really, but I hate having broken stuff lying around.) The next day I finished trimming and filing the profile back. (Photograph.) No real idea if it's in any way fixed, but I don't see how it could be any worse than it was with a tape-covered chip out of it! I tried it in the metal clarinet, but it's in such uncertain (but likely bad) condition that I couldn't really tell anything. Throwing caution to the winds I tried it in the Buffet; I'd wanted a mouthpiece to test it with and Jill had absconded with its own mouthpiece, so this was worth a try. Well, it made noise anyway.
Update: Tuesday, March 2, 2010. I saw another "Virtuoso" sell on Goodwill's site for $57. The engraving style was different, but otherwise looked pretty similar. I wonder who these were stenciled for? A month later another one went by, for $22. Still no luck in trying to find out who sold "Virtuoso" horns.
Update: Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Yet another Goodwill "Virtuoso" clarinet, $33, and claimed to be by/for Sherman Clay & Co., which was/is a large music store in San Francisco founded in 1870, with a Tacoma branch in 1905 and a Portland branch in 1906, among many others. This seems a plausible source of the brand, though it was not apparent from the auction just why the horn is associated with SC&Co.
Bought (by me) for $150 at Value Village as a Mother's Day gift for Jill. I thought it a bit overpriced, but the slide was in good condition (though a bit stiff) and it was old and silver and nicely engraved and wasn't all banged up. (Though its threadbare case is in bad condition, with two latches missing and the handle falling apart.) It shined up nicely. Jill, as it turns out, didn't want a trombone to add to the brass collection at all and won't touch it, so I've put into 'my' collection, not hers. I like it, so we still have it.
The case has these pivoting fabric-covered wood pieces to hold the slides in the case, and one of them was broken in half. I tried peeling back the fabric a bit on the back side to glue the wood, but the cyanoacrylate glue wouldn't set up right, and wasn't strong enough to hold together the boxwood. Rather than admit defeat I peeled the fabric entirely off (the old glue was powdering) and cut a new piece of walnut from a bit of a branch I had in the shop, and shaped it to match the original. I then used contact cement to put the fabric on the new piece. While that was drying I used cyanoacrylate glue to put a sliver of wood into the hogged-out pivot screw hole in the case. When everything had dried I put it all back together and it worked properly, and looked original. (The walnut is stronger than the original wood, of course.)
The slip joint between the slide and the bell should have been called a slop joint. I had a look at it and determined that the joint had spread over the years and the slide assembly was bottoming out against the pipe inside the tapered socket, thus not fitting tightly. I filed off some of the male end of the slide assembly's taper so that it would jam a little farther into the socket, now it fits well and doesn't fall apart. The slide, however, has never gotten as smooth as it should be, even with a lot of working, oiling, steel-wooling, and cleaning.
The slide has a solder joint that's coming apart, but it usually stays jammed together. The plating is worn in spots, I may try touching it up.
Update: Thursday, January 15, 2009. I used Bartender's Friend soft scrub to clean off the places on the horn where the plating was worn off, and the filed face of the slip joint, then used the Caswell silver kit to touch it up. Just as with the baritone, it's not as invisible as I'd like, but the brass color is hidden. It looks a lot better than it did, anyhow. I tried a bit of soft scrub down in the slide as a lapping compound, but aside from getting out a bunch of grunge in the bow (I used the trumpet snake to clean it out) it didn't help. The slide is still rough.
More about this model horn from an on-line forum:
- The [friend's] horn is a Holton Special made in 1915. It is a small bore tenor in sterling silver, no lacquer, with a gold wash on the inside of the bell. There is quite a bit of engraving on the bell. The slide and bell sections mate by a pressure fit (no latch or screw fittings). The inner slide is very interesting. It appears to have copper "races" fitted at the end of each tube that the outers run on. I haven't seen this type of treatment before.
Also, there are two initials that appear on the bell section and the slide section close to where the two mate, "LP." Because of this we were wondering if the horn was custom made for a particular player.
It came with the original case, mouthpiece, multi-part lyre and cleaning rod. The mouthpiece is a Holton 37 (very small, it could almost fit inside my Schilke 58!).
- The LP stands for 'low pitch' (A = 440). As new, it would have come with 2 tuning slides. The HP (high pitch) would have been a lot shorter. Depending on the band, you needed both slides back then. Tuning wasn't standardized yet.
Someplace on the horn you should find a single number, 1 through 5. That would designate the model number: Holton Special 1, Holton Special 2, etc.
- From what I've heard, it's a pretty good horn, at least quality-wise.
As far as playing goes..... no idea.
No "LP" on ours, but it's a bit older and has both slides so it's possibly low-pitch (standard) with the larger one installed. The bell section is marked "C" at the socket, next to the serial number, and the slide has a circled "3" on it at the mouthpiece receiver. (Also a "Pat. 10-27-08", but that's not too significant.) Holton Special #3 Model C I guess. (Oh, and it's silver-plated brass, not Sterling of course.) I found another one very like ours for sale on eBay, for $80 including shipping. Newer, Serial #38871, though the seller seems to think it is circa 1910. Missing the lyre, cleaning rod, and extra tuning slide, but from the looks of it it still would have been the better deal! Anyway, to gain some mouthpiece flexibility I ordered an inexpensive ($18) Holton 12C, which is the 'normal' tenor trombone mouthpiece these days. There is a second spot in the case, perhaps for a mouthpiece. It fits in there, but just barely. The mouthpiece also doesn't fit into the horn too well, as the modern small shank is larger than the original. (Horn-u-copia lists the Holton 37 as having a "French shank [very small trombone shank]".) Still, it plays, though I doubt as well as with the 37 (not that I could tell).
With very little to lose I began the rebuild process.
Update: Sunday, March 15, 2009. I took it to band (dress rehearsal tonight) and one of the flute players pronounced it playable, and a good student model. On Wednesday, December 2, 2009 another flute player, principal flute in Jill's symphony, was over for their quintet rehearsal. I had her play it and she pronounced it everything that it ought to be. (An adequate student model, that is.) Good enough! Later we had another flute player spend a bit more time with it, and he thought it was in fairly good shape except for the lowest three pads on the body, which were a little stiff, like perhaps the springs were too strong. (It required excess force to seal the pads.) The same was thought of the foot joint pads. OK, I can probably work on that a bit.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011, a friend at work borrowed it for his daughter to use in grade school band while hers (a family cast-off cheapie) was in for repair. It'll probably work good enough as-is, I haven't worked on it since the poorly-sealing bottom pads were diagnosed. I put the non-Sterling head from the other Gemeinhardt in the case, she doesn't need the 'good' one. (In fact I put it all in the other case, it's in less good shape and it's going into harm's way.) The girl only needed it for a couple of days, apparently it worked well (enough).
I'd been looking for an affordable yet good enough (for me) flugelhorn for awhile, preferably an older decent one rather than a $hiny new one. Based on my reading, particularly the Trumpet Gearhead, my first choice would have been a Courtois, but those are going rather dear these days. Because of the ties to my main horn, a Benge #5 was also interesting, as was a Martin. There were also various stencils of Courtois, etc., to consider. Even a decent older Eastern European model could have worked, if the price was right. I wanted silver, though, because I think it's easier to keep those looking nice than is lacquer. In spite of my interest I missed a lot of flugels on eBay that bid out of my price range, and/or I neglected to actually bid before the auction was over. The first one I managed to catch was this Olds. I got it for $510, plus $35 shipping. A bit expensive, perhaps, but on the other hand I now have a passable and presentable flugel. (The new price in 1978 was $525!) The Gearhead thinks it might have been inspired by Schilke's (pretty bad) flugelhorn, but I'm not convinced since the bell is quite different. Hey, if one's good enough for Mic Gillette himself to play it'll probably be just fine for me!
Vintage Olds Superstar Flugelhorn Flugel
This horn and case are in great shape. A couple of dings here or there on the instrument.
The silverplate is intact. Serial number is 973xxx which puts it around Sept. 1976.
Shipping is $35. Please email with any questions.
Paypal, money order and check are accepted.
This is a great player, It deserves to be played more than I currently do.
One report indicates that this model horn is a little brighter than the usual flugelhorn. I thought it did sound a little bit trumpet-y myself. So be it. (A different mouthpiece might affect this.)
I later found a local guy (named McCormick) who was selling a Bach 9AT (Alto Trumpet) mouthpiece (bought for my Frumpet experiment) on Craigslist, along with a custom Schilke 12F "McCormick", which was a "14FL flugel Yamaha body with a Schilke cup and rim". It fit my horn, and was more conical than the JL it came with, for more (I hope) of a flugel sound. I bought it for $20. When I got a chance to compare the two, the McCormick seemed more mellow and flugel-like than the JL, especially in the lower register, so I think that it was good purchase. I did think that it played a bit flatter than the first mouthpiece, and as the tuning pipe of the horn is already all the way in it's possible that it could be a problem. We shall see.
My community band finally coughed up a piece that called for two flugelhorns (Percy Grainger's Ye Banks and Braes O' Bonnie Doon), and so far it's been working well. No real intonation problems, even with the McCormick mouthpiece. The part I'm playing (F2) is low though, from G below the staff to B mid-staff, so it's not like I've been using the horn's full range! Still, so far I'm pleased. (In this arrangement the Flugel parts are in fact the same parts as Clarinet III/IV; they're probably a relic of some British-style brass band ancestral arrangement and hardly necessary in this context. Next time it comes up I don't think we'll bother with the flugels.)
Discoveries! While practicing the above piece I finally noticed what looked like a pull tab on the deck under the horn. I lifted it and found a Norlin card, the warranty registration card, and the case key (USA Excelsior Stamford Conn, #71) in the exposed storage area. The registration states that it's Model V 12 (or possibly 'U', it's punched into the card in a rather crude 4×6 dot-matrix font), and Lot #3066, besides bearing the horn's serial number.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011 I re-plated the one worn finger button using the Caswell kit. (I'd had the kit out to replate a friend's worn Bach 3C mouthpiece, and kept going.) I don't know why only the one button was worn, but now it matches the rest of the horn.
I never have an occasion to play this horn, but finally one came up! Jill put together a small brass quintet for an occasion, and she invited me to participate. The group thought that one of the pieces, Pure Imagination, would work better on flugelhorn, so I used that for the performance, on Friday, April 28, 2017. It worked well, but I really have to watch the pitch as it's set all the way sharp and I still can be flat on it.
The flugelhorn was a good start, but lately I've been taken with the idea of having a full range of trumpets just for noodling around on. While halfheartedly looking for non-Chinese/Indian bass trumpets I ran across this interesting hybrid, which can be thought of as the bastard stepchild of a French Horn and a trumpet, though some say that it's nearly all trumpet even though it's intended to take a French Horn mouthpiece. (Part trumpet, part french horn, but all bastard seems to be the consensus.) The going rate on eBay for decent-looking silver Frumpets seems to be around $200. (Lacquered beaters are a lot less, sometimes as low as $50.) I paid $195 for this, plus $25 shipping, in 2009 via Own It Now on eBay.
This auction is for a Getzen Bass Trumpet 300 Series Frumpet??
Made in ELKHORN, WS U.S.A.
E♭ and F
The Getzen is in fantastic pre-owned condition. The color is a shiny Silver. Has extra tube that is included. Case is also included but after many years it is only in fair condition. New case can be ordered online. Has a few minor dings that do not affect the playing condition of this horn.
Please look at the many pictures below. Horn retailed in the thousands. The winner will love it!!!
|Left side||Left side, #2||Bell||E♭ slide|
|Bell, LR rear||Crappy lyre mount||Right side, #2||In case|
|Dented #2 slide||Right side||Bell, UR rear|
I didn't really examine the pictures all that closely before buying it, and I didn't see the dented #2 slide, nor the bad solder job on the lyre mount, nor the small crease in the bell. Nor am I a fan of Amado water keys. Still, its condition should be satisfactory, though perhaps with a tiny bit of repair.
My vision is to either use it as-is or convert it to an Alto trumpet. (A real alto trumpet is not often found, nor particularly cheaply. One on eBay, a worn brass Olds F-10, 0.468" bore, was $427 for example.) I've spent a fair amount of time fiddling with it so far, but it's not yet gig-ready. (Nor am I!) To (ab)use a Wicked analogy, I'm looking for an Idina Menzel to go with my collection of Kristen Chenoweths.
Sunday, June 12, 2016 the horn finally got to come out to play. It has lain there for seven years, it's about time! The occasion was a call-and-response duet with an alphorn in F in an outdoor church service, on Amazing Grace. I used the Bach 9AT mouthpiece, the choice of the other musicians at the rehearsal. The performance turned out a bit flawed, but it wasn't the horn's fault. It was fun, and I think the horn needs to come out more.
I bought this from a guy on Craigslist who wasn't exactly sure what it was, he'd thought it was a bass trumpet but it looked too short to me, and the double-bend tuning slide makes me think of an E♭/F horn. [Nah, that's in the third valve slide, not in the main path. Interestingly, that slide has a faux bow across its end.] No discernible serial or model numbers. He'd bought a Bach 9AT mouthpiece for it, which didn't fit at all (that's what he was selling that I'd wanted in the first place, for the Frumpet). He'd paid $75 for the horn some time ago, I paid him $125. (I'd started watching for affordable bass trumpets recently, but I figured I'd have to look for possibly years before I found one with my name on it. [I was not keen on a Chinese rotary-valve TSO, though at a good-enough price I might have gone that way.] Instead I practically tripped over this horn, and then only because I'd asked what he'd bought the 9AT for.) It had come from an estate sale via a friend of his, where it was probably separated from any additional tuning crook, its (very odd?) mouthpiece (or adapter), and case. I imagined it was probably worth what I was paying for it, so I didn't feel too bad about gambling. The mouthpiece receiver is substantially inset (about 3½"), and at 0.490" much larger than usual for a trumpet; not even our trombone mouthpiece (which I'd brought along) fit it. At home I was able to fit the larger of the two baritone mouthpieces (the White 28) in the receiver though it went in all the way up to the end of its taper and even so was still a bit loose, and you also had to twist the horn sideways to have the main bow miss your chin while playing. Something's not right! But when I played into the tuner it was in B♭. So, it's either a bass trumpet, or some kind of marching valve trombone or baritone. (Honestly, it looks more like some kind of bass cornet to me, or perhaps a pocket valve trombone!) It has a 6.5" bell, and a 0.480" interior diameter at the main tuning slide. Weighs about 3.5#. I used a cloth tape measure to determine the length of the tubing and came up with just about 9'. Those dimensions just scream B♭ bass trumpet to me. Overall it's about 18" long.
|Right side||Engraving||Left side|
|Mouthpiece receiver||Mouthpiece inserted||Length|
This horn is quite the mystery, given its age and apparent uniqueness. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure it out. It does seem clear to me now that it is probably worth considerably more than I paid for it, especially since everybody I let play it immediately asks if it is for sale!
Sorry, no. This one is on my "cold, dead hands" list.
Thursday, December 10, 2009. eBay can be dangerous! There I was, minding my own business (!), and what should turn up but an empty Bach Stradivarius bass trumpet case. $95 later (almost as much as the horn!), it is mine. It's supposedly large enough to contain this horn, with some modifications to the support I'm sure. The Kawasaki case was amusing, and even adequate, but a real case would be very much nicer and this is a beautiful horn that deserves better... Six days in transit, and the (unused) case is here and magnificent! Looks very nice, though of course has a bit of storage damage (that was noted in the auction). It was delivered packed in a tenor saxophone box, which caused my wife some consternation until it was explained. The postal worker was worried that the box contained a gift instrument, and sidled up to the house without it to try to avoid ruining any potential surprise. Such service! The molded plastic support tray for the Bach pulled out easily, which lets this horn nestle into the raw space quite well. (The Besson is shorter and fatter than the Bach.) It looks like somebody had pulled out the tray before, probably to see what else they could fit into this orphaned case—I'm reasonably certain this case once contained a factory-new Bach horn, but the case was damaged in the store or in transit and so they ordered a replacement and thus were stuck with the damaged one. A rolled-up towel supports the horn pretty well in place of the tray, I think I can do a bit more with that sort of thing. With the towel in place under the horn it's snug, and doesn't shift around.
Bach case auction images:
|Bach case||Case interior||Case tear|
Tuesday, September 5, 2017 I loaned the horn, and my 'cheater' mouthpiece, to a Spokane Symphony member to use for an upcoming concert. Strauss' Macbeth calls for a bass trumpet.
I was at our family's beach cabin Saturday, July 4, 2009, and ran across this thing at one of the many antique/junk shops that infest the area. They wanted $145 for it, but I was able to talk them down to $120. Cosmetically it looked good, though with some plating problems, and the pads looked intact. It was all there except for the lyre and the neck plug, added draws were the two vintage Luellen plastic reeds (such things Jill loathes) and a booklet of oboe music (First Adventures in Band by Fred Weber, copyright 1955) in it, as well as a North Central High School (Spokane) Indian-head mascot decal on the case. All these things just screamed "Take me home with you!" Jill's been looking for a B♭ Tenor, and most C-mel's (including this one) resemble tenor saxophones. I knew what I was looking at, but I tried the "I got a great deal on this here tenor sax-o-phone for you" thing on her. She was less amused than I was! Jill's been ragging me about it, but I think she didn't mind too much since it was fairly inexpensive. The case is a bit mothball-y, but intact and very usable. Images:
|Side view||Engraving||Mouthpiece (C on ligature)|
|Bow||Serial number||Matching neck|
|Case||Case decal||1942 Luellen ad. #1||1942 Luellen ad. #2|
There are online C-mel resources such as http://cmelodysax.co.uk that might be of use. Once I got it home and had a chance I cleaned off the mouthpiece and the reed, and used silver polish on the tarnished cap. (It, at least, is silver and cleaned up nicely.) After I got the neck strap adjusted to length (difficult, I think we need a new, better one) I tried playing it and found that the octave pad was too high resulting in squeak-o-rama. It looked like the linkage from the body had gotten bent a bit so I used a small hammer to tap it back straight, which let it seal better. I was then able to (eventually) get something like a scale out of it. Sounds like a saxophone, of the squeaky variety. Perhaps I need saxophone lessons? (This would be helpful, if one were actually serious about the saxophone, which I am not. Not really relevant here but I liked the writing.)
To protect the linkage from further damage I turned a new 'champagne cork' body plug out of scrap wood and cut a notch in it for the link. It came out a bit loose but one wrap of electrical tape made it fit perfectly. The protruding end length of about an inch was just right to keep the horn from rattling end-to-end in the case. The plastic reeds are, I think, #2 B♭ Tenor reeds. I'm unsure of the mouthpiece as it's unmarked, and the reeds seem to fit perfectly. (The ligature, however, is marked "C".) I bought a #3 Tenor reed (they were out of #2's) to play with. I figured out how to play a scale on it, it sounded tenor-ey to my ear. I'd originally bought it for Jill to play with, but she won't touch it so I guess it's mine. I rather like the sound of it, and it seems to be more 'growly' (in a nice way) than the Vito tenor sax we got later. I intend to learn to play it, after a fashion, but I'm in no rush. I tried the Vito's (metal) Berg Larsen mouthpiece on it, and that was really hard to play, and quite harsh sounding. Ick.
I bought this in 2009, for 99¢ at Goodwill. It looked somehow 'better' to me than the usual cheapie plastic thing, and at that price I couldn't pass it up even though we already had at least one plastic recorder. From the Dolmetsch site:
The number 3499 after the letters B.S. set out as a B lying on its side over a triangle containing the letter S (also called the 'kite' mark), sometimes including the words Part 2A, refers to the now discontinued British Standard for recorders. Reference to this British Standard appears on Arnold Dolmetsch Ltd. recorders made during the 50's, 60's and early 70's.
This recorder exhibits this marking, making it possibly older than I thought. That is the only reason I bothered to record (!) it here.
One odd thing: The $5 Angel recorder my wife has plays a D when all open, whereas the Dolmetsch plays the C♯ right below it when played the same way. They do not sound good when played together! I think the D is correct, perhaps there is a reason why this was only 99¢! A little more experimentation, with a fingering chart this time and Jill's maple Johannes Adler C-soprano Baroque recorder, and the Adler played a C when appropriately fingered (thumb and #2 covered), yet this Dolmetsch plays a B when fingered that way! (Uncovering the thumb renders D [as it should] and C♯ respectively.) The holes are also obviously placed differently than on the Adler. I wonder what's up with that? Who ever heard of a recorder in the key of B? A little more reading and research, and a trip over to the lab bench's frequency counter, and I had thought I'd found the answer. While fingering an A (thumb and first two fingers covered) the frequency counter recorded approximately 830 Hz: an octave above a 415 Hz A. The 415 Hz A is a common Modern interpretation of Baroque tuning, which means that this recorder was apparently never intended to play with modern instruments! (As a quick guide, the 415 Hz A is very close to one semitone below the 440 Hz A, or equivalent to a modern G♯. In fact, 'perfect' using equal temperament is calculated by dividing 440 by the twelfth root of two, resulting in 415.3 Hz— plenty close enough to validate that rule of thumb.) But whyever would anyone make a mass-produced plastic instrument in this obsolete tuning, anymore than they would make a recorder in B? Somthing's odd, here.
Puzzled by this unlikely conclusion I contacted Saunders Recorders in England, and the proprietor was kind enough to answer:
Your recorder is not at A=415. You are not the first to be confused in the respect. There are no, and probably never will be, any moulded plastic recorders at A=415. There could be, but the mould costs are so high, the market so small, and the material so despised that such a recorder would be doomed to commercial failure.I'm with you so far! He continues:
I don't have one exactly the same as yours but I do have one very similar that I have dug out and used to make a page that I have added to my site at http://www.saundrecs.co.uk/OldDolABS.htm. My instrument has similar branding to yours, but without the 'Kite' mark or any numbers. As you may hear from the sound file (made after sticking the recorder up my jumper for few minutes) there are no problems with A=440. This was far and away the best quantity production recorder of its day. Adler and other cheap DDR imports were never any good but were thought to be better because they were made of wood. A very big mistake. Recent Angel and similar competing models are almost totally useless. Even Yamaha have made the mistake of producing recorders that are very sharp.
The main reason for the incorrect identification of the pitch is unfamiliarity with the recorder as a serious musical instrument and the comparison of a 'good' instrument with 'bad' instruments. I have a lot of mail regarding pitch and there are some answers at http://www.saundrecs.co.uk/info2.htm#tuning. Bad instruments always seem to outnumber the good instruments and it's another case of 'mob rule'. (Not unlike the VHS versus Betamax conflict.)
The important factors involved are:
- The instrument should be clean. If the bore is restricted by a layer of congealed dirt the recorder will play flat. (I am told that you can turn a B flat clarinet into an A clarinet by hanging a length of hairy string down the bore!)
- Pitch should only be judged with a warm instrument. Plastic recorders sharpen a great deal as they warm up.
- A 'good' recorder should be blown quite hard, fairly close to the upper limit of pleasing tone.
- Pitch should be assessed against a fork or tuning meter, not a 'bad' recorder.
- Bad recorders are generally sharp because they do not hold their pitch well and there is an erroneous tradition of playing recorders very quietly. Sharpness can be corrected, but flatness cannot. Only experts find fault with these instruments.
The recorders you have used for comparison are all of the 'bad' variety and they have distorted your appreciation of what a recorder is and how it should be played.
I'll be very happy for you to add my comments to your site.
The Nova branded model is actually made in Korea by the same company that makes 'Angel' branded instruments! Dolmetsch had nothing to do with the design.
I would be grateful if you would rework your entry along the lines of describing the recorder as playing flat in your estimation and removing the reference to A=415.
Happy to! Unfortunately for me this looks like another case of "Learn to play!" At least it appears that I happen to have purchased a tolerably-good instrument inexpensively, if only by accident. I cleaned it, using hot water, dish soap, a flute cleaning rod, some paper towels, and a pipe cleaner. It wasn't really that dirty, but it needed it nonetheless. Being able to remove the beak and windway really helped. All edges, labium and toneholes, looked sharp and clean. I then dried it, and warmed it inside my shirt, and took it to the tuner. I had poor success. If blown hard enough an almost in-tune open D could be gotten out of it, but the tone was shrill and edging on burbling. As soon as I tried to go down the scale things failed miserably, the lower down you went the less hard you could blow without the horn jumping into overtones, and the flatter and quieter it got. Never could get a tuning A out of it, for example. At a more sane and even pressure the thing continued to approximate a half-tone-less scaled instrument being played by a novice (which I am). I'm stumped.
At Saunders' proprietor's next suggestion I took some comparitive measurements, and this recorder's air column was approximately 10mm longer than his! That's really odd, and he mentioned that if the head is pulled out it gets quite flat and the tuning goes all wonky. Yeah, I'll believe that! So I took a closer look. There was a suspicious-looking 8mm gap between the head and what might be a shoulder on the body, and an even-more-suspicious 8mm region inside where the bore increased a bit in the same area. I'd originally thought this ridge was just another decorative 'turning', but this instrument wasn't fully assembled! Yet it was tight, very tight... I twisted as hard as I dared and it wouldn't budge, so out came the teakettle. I ended up dribbling nearly half a kettle of boiling water over the socket in the head, whilst running cold water over the body. (In several stages.) Finally the joint let loose and the head came off. It appeared that there was a bit of residue in the joint, yet it wasn't obviously any kind of good glue. Dried soda? Ick. Regardless, it was finally off. And once it was off and wiped out the instrument would reassemble easily all the way. The same issue was found at the foot end, except that it took even more boiling water than the head did to release. Once the instrument was cleaned and reassembled properly I warmed it and took it to the tuner and it behaved as it should. Played a scale and everything, the tuner said it was fine. That was sure a pain, but at least the mystery is now solved!
My mother played the metal clarinet for most of her school music career, and was always embarassed about the endless "lamp" comments. In later years the family would sometimes gather to play music (and discuss lamps!) at Christmas, so in one of her many thrift-shop forays she found this inexpensive wooden clarinet as an 'upgrade'. (I seem to recall $70 or $90. She wanted wood, not plastic, as that's what the good horns were made of back when she was playing, though I'm sure that a decent modern plastic student horn would have been more than adequate. That's not what she wanted, though.) It needed some work, mostly pads. She balked at the shop's quote (Korten's in Longview, WA), and bought a pad set (and some reeds and a care kit) instead and set the whole mess in front of me at Christmas in 1997. I spent half the day figuring out how to re-pad a clarinet, using hot glue as the shop had recommended, and when I was done it wouldn't play at all. She walked down the keys on the horn and I'd squeeze on pads starting at the top, and when I found one that wasn't sealing I'd take it back and reseat it. Wash, rinse, repeat. When we were done the horn played just fine, or so she said, and she derived much enjoyment from having it.
Now that I look at it with more experienced eyes I wonder about just how 'fine' it was playing, since the bridge key was broken. But she was happy. The horn was actually played only a few times before her death, and it eventually ended up with us as the most music-oriented members of the family. I never knew it was half Conn and half Noblet until I looked it over when it got here. (It is apparent that the shop that sold her the pads considered it to be a Conn, since that's what's written on the receipts.) One of the pads had a square of tape under it, I guess I didn't get them all quite right.
Jill tried playing it, and says that the pads are falling out and are bug-eaten. Even better!
I later found out that Jill had decided that it's a decent-enough horn for her doubling needs and has apparently adopted it as her own: she's taken it into the shop for re-padding, re-corking, and repair. I had been planning to fix it again myself, and am mildly insulted. (The rough estimate for the job will be about $250!)
...She picked it up, the bill was about $271 with tax, but did include replacing the broken bridge key and a full repad and recork. The repairman had said that the horn wasn't worth that kind of investment, but Jill had decided on her own that it had enough sentimental value to warrant proceeding anyway. (I would probably have counseled otherwise, but I was not consulted. I don't think Jill realized just how recent this acquisition was in my mother's life.) It plays again, and will probably be her doubling horn unless the Buffet actually turns out as I hope it will. I oiled the case hardware so that it worked a lot better, at least. The LeBlanc case is quite roomy, and has a music compartment in the lid, but Jill thinks it too large and clunky.
...The Buffet has turned out well, and has supplanted this one for her doubling career.
My maternal grandmother had this accordion, and I know it came out and was played at times during family gatherings. I remember as a child we were always wanting to 'play the accordion', but she'd claim that she couldn't find the thing in the attic, or that it'd been moved and she didn't have time to look for it, etc. I realize now that this was all a subterfuge to keep us from playing with (not on!) her instrument and breaking it. (The unlucky piano didn't fare so well, in spite of the scoldings it got a lot of banging on!)
I'm told that in their youth she and grandpa rode his Harley (with sidecar) out to the desert in California and would party around a campfire, singing along to this accordion. Apparently it was a well-loved item. (According to Mom's younger sister, while it was indeed used around a campfire this was well after they left California, in the front yard of their old house in Onalaska—no Harley time required. [Even I remember that house.] That makes more sense given the probable age of the instrument, and its excellent condition. According to Mom's older brother, Grandma and her three sisters used to sing 'round the piano in LA, Grandma playing accompaniment by ear. When they moved to Onalaska in 1945 they couldn't bring the piano, and the neighbor [Pop Wyschnescki, there since the dirt track days in 1939 or so] had an accordion that Grandma'd taught herself to play in a week. Shortly after Mom got the clarinet Grandma procured this accordion, probably used and from the same music store, and played at neighborhood [Keenan's, etc.] shindigs. 8–10 couples, dancing, etc.) They were not wealthy, this was probably one of the nicer things they had. Certainly this accordion was one of the choice pieces when it came time to divide Grandma's estate. (For sentimental reasons, not that it was ever particularly valuable, even now. An identical slightly older one [74XXX] in very good shape sold on eBay [shortly after we got this one] for about $180, shipped.) In the drawing/horse-trading process my mother ended up the victor. Uncle Bruce tells me that he was in no way vying for it! For the same reason as the wooden clarinet it has now come to us.
Jill seemed excited to find out about its history, and has expressed an interest in learning to play it. We have a friend who plays accordion, I'm sure Jill will be getting her opinion and/or help. Possibly even a few lessons? I think the family would get a real kick out of it if Jill could play a bit at a family gathering, and might not even mind that we now had it if it were being used.
Interesting links: http://1accordion.net/buy.htm, and http://1accordion.net/accordion_care.htm. A bit scary, perhaps this won't be playable? That would be unfortunate. (The dust pattern on the case implies that it was stored in the correct orientation, at least most of the time.)
I got it out, and it looked gorgeous. A bit musty smelling, but not too bad. When held vertically the bellows barely moves with no keys pressed, so it's not leaking. The chord keys were strong and robust sounding. I didn't try them all, but every one I did try played well. Most of the piano keys also worked, but a few at the top were not right. A couple of them made the most pathetic wheeping noises I've ever heard out of any instrument! This one does need service, and according to my reading of the links above, that could run into some money. That's unfortunate. However, if you stay off the top end of the keyboard you could play it just fine as-is, at least right now.
The next time we got it out it seemed to me that more keys had gone bad. I think I'm going to have to dive into it, if we want to use it at all. I ordered a reprint of the only DIY book out there: John Reuther's Accordion Repairs Made Easy. $30, shipped. We'll see if this helps.
I saw this ad. posted on Craigslist in mid-December (2009) at an attractive price:
D. Noblet wood oboe, ring system, low B flat key. Recent pad work and adjustment. Nice sound. Email for details.
Body Bell Case
Most usable oboes are much more than this, even for a student model (as this is), but the ring system is a definite turn-off in the USA. I showed the ad. to my wife. She said, most emphatically, "Do NOT get this for me for Christmas!" [OK, so I didn't! Gotta give her points for clarity, though.]
I thought about it for several weeks, and the ad. stayed up. I finally contacted the guy and we dickered a bit over the next few days:
Thanks, but I sold the twin to this one on eBay for $300. I might take $175 for it to avoid the eBay hassle. Let me know what you decide. The world's oboe players are not beating my door down.
Sounds reasonable to me. I then asked him how it played, were there any cracks (repaired or otherwise) or air leaks, and whether it was bright or dark tonally:
I was a trumpet player too, so I can't really give you the tonal quality of this oboe. I was a HS band director for many years and at one point had four oboe players and only two horns at school. I bought both of these horns from a local musician that in turn bought them from EWU as surplus horns several years ago. They were used in woodwind tech classes there, and I actually played one of them when I took the course. At the time I figured maybe I could send these home as practice oboes for my HS kids. We never got that far and as I retired recently one was sold.
It has a hairline crack in the tenon joint, which starts under the silver ring and ends at a hinge plate screw. I can't see where it would advance anymore, and am not sure it it is even to the outside surface. Other than that it looks good, no other cracks or pins, and is guaranteed to play and not leak. I had Robin Amend look it over and replace a couple of pads in Nov. The case is original and is functional. I don't have a reed handy to play myself, but if you are interested I would let you take it and see what your wife thinks, or get it and surprise her, with a money back guarantee if she doesn't like it. The bottom line is I would like to see someone get some use out of it.
My thinking, such as it is, is that it could be a backup horn, for use when she'd be worried about using the good horn. Or perhaps sell it to one of her students. Or perhaps just keep it around for fun, or even modeling for further work on the Oboe del Monte. Heck, this is one I would be allowed to play on—or with! (Not that I seem to be able to manage more than three keys at a time.) This is why I've got it listed in my collection, rather than Jill's. For now, anyway. I'm a bit scared to give it to her/tell her about it...
Anyway, we met at the repair shop. The proprietor looked it over and pronounced it good enough, so I bought it for the agreed-upon $175. (The proprietor checked the pads for leaks, and adjusted the bridge key. The previous owner had spent $40 getting it gone through recently, he was a little peeved about the apparent necessity of the bridge adjustment. He also said that the horn was owned [and used] by EWU until David Dutton started teaching there, then was surplussed—perhaps Dutton didn't like ring-system oboes?) The horn looks clean and in very good shape, it's not all scratched up. Noblet serial numbers are opaque, but the horn's Buffet-style logo is reputed to be from the 1940's–1962 timeframe (in three variations, of which this is the latest). The bell actually bears a different five-digit serial number, numerically one greater than the rest of the horn. Were the two original horns sequential, and somehow got their bells mixed up somewhere along the line? On the other hand, the five-digit serial numbers (#123XX) look home-engraved (perhaps they're EWU property numbers), and in the same style as what's scratched onto the case latch; the number mismatch could just be a mistake. On the other hand, there's a lone "3" embossed on both body sections, perhaps it is the serial number? The bell has a number "8" embossed under the keywork, so looked at that way the bell is also mismatched. (That number was hard to find, there was dirt covering it originally.) Hard to say what's up here, the single-digit numbers are awfully low for a serial number but what else could they be? It is what it is, I guess.
I snagged one of Jill's cast-off reeds and tried to play it when she wasn't around. I can't play the oboe, but I'm fairly sure it might be leaking at the upper pads, because it really didn't want to stay out of squeak territory unless I clamped down on the register pads. I could get a feeble note out with no pads down, and maybe with the first pad down, but any more and it would start shrieking. These things aren't easy! I think it could also use a good cleaning and lubrication on the mechanism, some of it felt a bit sluggish. There are a zillion little screw adjustments and cork bits that could certainly affect how it played, but those are supposedly OK right now. I dabbed some tiny bits of 90W synthetic automotive gear oil on the pivots of the upper section, I'm told that it makes a very good key oil. The pilfered reed is a problem, I'll probably need to scare up a slightly better one—but I don't want to tip my hand just yet so that'll be tricky. (I could always just purchase one, but that's no fun.)
I contacted the previous owner regarding swapping bells back, and he said:
My brother has no record of the buyer. In actuality, he "borrowed" the oboe from me and then sold it before I had a chance to switch the bells back. Sorry.
C'est la vie!
...After the 'success' of the Buffet clarinet we were talking about instruments, and as SWMBA was in a good mood I finally told her about this oboe. She was mildly annoyed, but nothing too bad. (At least it's small!) The next day she played it, and said that it did play, all the notes, but that it was missing some keys when compared to hers, and that the keywork was somewhat less refined. She did comment that for a school horn it was in remarkably good condition! She wasn't too pleased, but did say that it could maybe be her 'rain oboe'. Later she mentioned this horn to her friend and reed supplier, and he said he'd played this horn (or its mate) when in school, he called it "a POS". So now she's down on it again.
I found Brian Seaton's nice DIY oboe adjustment guide, the text of which I've grabbed here to protect against Internet bit-rot. Pretty interesting, except that his example oboe has eleven adjustment screws, whereas this one has seven (and in different places), and Jill's Loree supposedly has twenty-two!
I looked for and found the advertised crack, it's only in the socket of the lower joint, and doesn't go into the body of the joint. Near as I can tell it's completely sealed by the cork of the upper joint's tenon, and truly looks as harmless as any crack could possibly be, and seems fairly unlikely to spread. I tried playing it again and I was able to get some notes out at some times, but it's wicked hard to play and gave me a headache.
I may bring this oboe to our family campout this year (2010). Aunt Marcia played oboe in school, she might get a kick out of it. Uncle Bruce tells me that his friend Don Schilling, later Professor at University of Missouri (Columbia), was the first oboe at WSU in Pullman, and once carved a reed for Marcia when he was visiting them in Onalaska, which she still (!) has. I should tell her to bring it... but that would spoil the surprise! :-)
I touched up the chewed spots on the case with some black paint, and sewed up an opened seam on one of the handles. That dressed it up nicely.
Jill seems to have adopted this horn as hers, and refers to it as her "camping oboe". I'm not sure why, since she didn't (and still doesn't) seem to like it much and I've never seen her actually playing it, but maybe it's to serve as her 'bad example' when she teaches. Perhaps it's only because it was so inexpensive, though wood, and does play. (We did take it on the camping trip, but it only served as a reed test bed for when she was sampling my aunt's two broken Linton oboes.)
Jill doesn't think much of the horn, so Thursday, July 21, 2011, I added some 'bling' hoping to make it more attractive: at Young Life's Family Camp (in Antelope, OR) this year I found a glass 'jewel' in the parking lot, which probably fell off a girl's purse or something, so with it and a piece of black thread I made a 'necklace' for the bell. We'll see how long it takes her to notice it... She finally noticed it Friday, August 2, 2013. (She was toying with the idea of actually taking it camping. The idea was scuttled because it doesn't have a side F key, which what she was going to practice would definitely have needed, and practicing it that way ['wrong'] wouldn't be helpful, and would indeed even be detrimental.)
Jill was going to play in a 'flash mob' march in memory of the perhaps-defunct Royal Fireworks Concert, which failed this year due to money problems, so Sunday, July 27, 2014, she played it for that! David Dutton presiding, who had perhaps also presided over the retirement of this very horn. (He remembered nothing.) I guess it worked, but Jill doesn't like it any better.
Even more surprising, the CdA symphony's 2015 Labor Day free concert turned out to be cold and wet, and she was very worried about using one of her good instruments even though they were in the park's band shell. She actually took this one to the gig, and played it. (It also is wood, plastic would have been ideal, but it's clearly not a horn she's worried about!) Not her favorite horn, but apparently it worked well enough.
Jill occasionally has a young oboe student, and the latest one (Fall 2016) is moving from clarinet and is using his school's Fox, which turns out to be unplayable and in need of repairs. So she loaned him my oboe! When queried all she had to say was: "It's my oboe." Humph. (I think she also said: "It's better than broken." Well, that's true enough.)
I was mildly concerned that the Besson bass cornet wasn't really a bass trumpet and thus I was maybe missing out on something timbre-wise, but I wasn't planning to do anything about it—and then this turned up on TPIN at an attractive price so I bought it intending to compare the two. (It was advertised at 8 PM and I responded by 10 PM. Good thing I was quick, there were at least seven enquiries; I was #2 but #1 wanted to barter, not pay.) It came with three mouthpieces, that helped swing the deal.
|The works||Bell top.||Top, in case||Right side|
|Left side||Bell left||Mouthpieces|
That's the same horn I play . . . this looks like a steal of a deal.Another (http://tromboneforum.org/index.php?topic=36520.msg495133):
The Getzen is a real bass trumpet, no question about it.
I own a Getzen bass trumpet. The pitch is not excellent, even on the open notes, and I had a main slide trigger installed to tune any note, and that helped immensely. There is no third valve slide, and the first is awkward to use, and what do you do if the open F [written G] or 2nd valve E [written F♯] is sharp (which it is)? Hence the main trigger. It sounds like a valve trombone unless I use a very small mouthpiece. For that European sound, a rotary bass trumpet is the way to go. Best deal on a decent one is the Josef Lidl, or Miraphone (for twice the money). This kind of piston bass trumpet I have is recommended on The Rite of Spring by some of the aficionados though.
There are actually two Getzen bass trumpets, perhaps more. There's the older student-line 394, and the current 994 Eterna. (There may have been an original model 94 too, as that's often how these model number assignments work.)
It came Saturday, May 29, 2010, and looked good. The lacquer is worn, and the bell has obviously been straightened out, but otherwise seems to be in very good shape. The three mouthpieces are a King 12C in an electric shaver pouch, a Christian Lindberg 13 CL (alto trombone) in a generic mouthpiece pouch, and an old Conn 22 "Gold Tone" in a King mouthpiece pouch. (They all needed a good cleaning. The Gold Tone has a huge bore, the trumpet snake went right through it, not so the others.) The 13 CL is a $50 mouthpiece, and looks relatively unused, as does the 12C. The Conn is old, pre-WWII and looks it, and has apparently seen some use. One source says: "Gold-Tone mouthpieces are very rare." None of them look like the sort of thing I was finding worked best for me on the Besson. I then measured these mouthpieces and added them to the mouthpiece table I made for the Besson cornet.
When I got a chance to play it for awhile, against the Besson, I started to come to the conclusion that the Besson might be a significantly better horn. The Getzen might have a bit of a brasher tone, but it goes with being a bit harder to play, and is analogous to the difference I now notice between my Conn and Martin trumpets: two horns with a clear difference in quality. It's not that I couldn't be brash with the Besson, but it was easier for me to be brash on it than to be sweet on the Getzen. However I have seven mouthpieces to try now, and with the two horns responding differently to each of them there's a lot of evaluation left to go. I had a much easier time playing the Neruda Trumpet Concerto in E♭ on the Besson than I did on the Getzen. I'd need to try something like Ride of the Valkyries too, though, which is a less lyrical piece, in order to make sure I was making a good comparison. (I found a free copy of Wagner's low brass parts, a rather poor scan of somebody's personal copy that was covered with handwritten notes, and it seems to be written in a variety of keys, none of which is the horn's own! I've been entering some into Lilypond, and it's transposing out to 4- and 7-sharp key signatures! Nice...) Early days, yet. If, in the course of a few months, I find that there's no reason to keep the Getzen I can just sell it. I won't be losing money if I do.
Jill played it in place of her Baritone in the back of a pickup in a July 4 parade and seemed to like it. I think we'll keep it, if for no other reason than that it can sub for the nice horn when a bit of a beater is called for, or when a smaller, lighter horn is desirable. (Jill disagrees with this assessment, and says the trumpet is not held in the lap and so is more fatiguing to play.)
While demonstrating the Besson at a trumpet class I'd also brought this along. The instructor had his own Getzen 394, in nickel, and got a chance to compare the two. He thought this one played better, having an easier blow and a bit better intonation up high. (The nickel one was sure prettier, though, and in much better condition.)
Daniel, the bassoon player, joined the marching band upon entering high school in 2016. Entering freshmen who don't play something suitable get slotted into the miscellaneous percussion roles, and he enjoyed it and did well. But! If he wants to stay in he has to move to something else, and he's selected baritone. (Bass clef, but not so big and heavy as the contrabass bugles. Oddly he had no interest in the bari sax, which you'd think would be most like what he normally plays.) It's ironic that we had a marching baritone at one point, but I got rid of it because it was a terrible horn and we had no possible use for it, or so we thought. Oops? However, this bass trumpet is a reasonable substitute as it's in the same pitch, has three valves and is bell-forward in the same configuration, it's perfect for working up some chops for next year. (Presumably he'll be issued a proper horn at some point. I got him his own 6½AL mouthpiece for Christmas. It was ultra cheap, and was something I'd ordered thinking it was something even smaller than this garden-variety size, due to the incredibly bad descriptions that are the norm for very cheap things online. I was wondering what I was going to do with it when he announced his decision!)
My aunt hit her school's surplus auction some time ago, and picked up this horn along with many others (such as the tenor sax we borrowed once and a couple of worn-out Larilee oboes). She paid $80 for it, but it was broken: parts and rods were loose and in baggies and one of the posts (a two-holer at the upper end of the G♯ nailfile key) was missing entirely. There were some dents in the body, including some that impacted the toneholes, and signs of solder repairs, but the bow and the bell were in pretty good shape. I think it got dropped on its nose, bending back the front rim of the bell and punching in the body tube via the bell brace, and possibly popping loose the posts. It's going to need a fair amount of work to play again. I paid her $100 for it, she didn't figure she was ever going to get around to fixing it and Jill wanted to borrow it anyway for a potential gig (West Side Story). Rather than put money in for repairs just to have to give it back, I bought it from her. This simplified things, IMO, but Jill wasn't pleased to have yet another instrument around the joint.
At home I looked it over more closely and all the steel parts exhibited varying degrees of rust, especially the needle springs. The rollers are all frozen, there are a number of missing setscrews, too. The broken case seems to show signs of glue failure and delamination on one end. This horn sat in the damp for some time, methinks.
I took it directly to our favorite shop, but he was swamped and didn't really have the ability nor interest in fabricating a new post. (He didn't keep that a secret.) It languished there for a month, and we were starting to get concerned. I called around, and a different shop expressed an interest in the job, and intimated that the fabrication price, if necessary, would be low—something like $25. I reclaimed the sax from the first place and brought it home, and made arrangements to take it to the second place a week later when she had room. While I waited I started gluing the broken case back together. It looked like it had gotten wet in one corner and the glue had delaminated. I used both cyanoacrylate and polyurethane glues for the repairs. The first evening I got the two layers of one side glued back together. I also started soaking the frozen MoP rollers in Kroil. I got three loosened up fairly quickly, but the other three are more recalcitrant.
Wednesday morning I did more gluing, and yet more in the evening. The case is starting to seem pretty intact now. I removed one of the roller-equipped paddles so that I could get better access to the axle screw, and while trying to remove it the MoP broke into four pieces. Rust pressure from the center combined with twisting forces. Damn. I think, however, that with acetone and some cyanoacrylate glue I can get it back together. We'll see. Thursday morning I used a bit of contact cement to secure some of the loose covering for the metal trim that rims the edge of the case. I also used it to tack down a loose flap of the furry pink lining. Thursday evening, more gluing on the outer covering. Friday morning, more glue. I tried gluing the broken MoP roller together, but it's difficult! I am also missing a sliver or two, I think I'll end up having to get a replacement, assuming I can. It might not be the only one... Friday evening I found the missing sliver. Not easy digging a tiny piece of shell out of a shag carpet that has much the same colors and level of irridescence under bright light! I pried apart the roller and cleaned it again, scraping glue off with a razor blade, then held it all together with my fingers while I dripped more cyanoacrylate glue into the cracks. It seems to have worked. I also glued down another flap of loose case material. Saturday morning, more gluing on the case. Just about done with that, I think. Sunday morning I trimmed the excess glue out of and off of the repaired roller and reinstalled it. It doesn't roll well because it's a bit off-center, but it'll do for now. I also freed the penultimate roller. That, at least, went smoothly. Monday morning I got the last roller out, but in pieces. The rust swelled it enough to crack the shell. I cleaned the pieces (four) and glued them back together as before, then sanded the ends and drilled out (fingers spinning the bits) the center. That got it working smoothly again. I put the roller back and then put the sax into the case for delivery to the shop today. The shop trip went well, she estimates about $150 to put the horn into playable condition, including dent removal, some pad work, and the whole post thing.
Friday, October 15, 2010, we got back the horn. In working condition, but it needed more work than expected. (Imagine that!) About $250, with tax. She'd had to pull the horn apart. The dents are pushed out, the missing post is replaced (with brass, but so what), and all the keys work again. Jill says it plays. It still looks fairly good, so that's OK.
Friday, April 1, 2011, and Jill again has another gig lined up for the horn, The Full Monty, but she's not happy that the horn only goes down to B♭ and not A because the book has many A's in it. New horns go to A, old ones don't. Well, the main trick is to stick some sort of extension in the bell that will trade B♭ for A and pray that you don't have too many of both! Rolled up magazines, cardboard collars, PVC pipe sections, all have been used; I told her that I would be happy to help out. But my clever wife was wandering the hardware store aisle (Lowes') looking for PVC and found something that works perfectly! A rubber sewer pipe collar intended to adapt 4" clay to 4" metal (or PVC) pipes. It is stepped in diameter and nestles nicely inside the horn, and is heavy enough to handle easily, yet is soft enough that it won't mar the metal. However, it reeks so it's spending some quality time outside airing out.
...Three weeks later and it still stinks badly. I went to Ace Hardware and bought a different rubber coupler that doesn't stink. SKU 44605, $9, labeled:
PIPECONXIt fit a little too tightly into the horn, so I took it to the disc sander and trimmed it down a hair. That helped.
Made in USA
Sadly, it turns out Jill doesn't like the whole situtation enough that she's borrowed a different Bari sax, a newish Hollywood Winds, for this gig. Too many low A's. Sigh. Her next Bari sax gig, Thoroughly Modern Millie in September 2011, she again borrowed the Hollywood. Apparently I have failed here.
Yes, totally failed. She liked that Hollywood well enough that she went and bought one, new retail! That's why this horn is listed in my pile rather than hers.
This turned up on Craigslist, and was a very attractive horn at a not unreasonable price. I didn't really need it but I found that I kept referring back to the ad. over several weeks, the seller's 'horn porn' pictures were quite good and I liked the engraving, so I finally scratched that itch. It came with its original case, three mouthpieces, and a working B♭/A quick-change mechanism. The mouthpieces are its original "Conn-Model" cookie-cutter funnel, a Bach 1½ C, and a Bach 10½ C.
Vintage cornet dated back to 1917—94 years old!; very mint condition has a few tiny tiny un-noticable dents
Gold plated bell and another part of trumpet all other is silver plated
serial number 153XXX
comes with 3 mouth pieces:
- Original mouthpiece just says "CONN-MODEL"
- VINCENT BACH 1½ C
- VINCENT BACH CORP., NEW YORK 10-½C
plays and sounds great!
Very beautiful cornet
Email with any questions! thanks!
|Right side||Bell engraving||Left side|
I got the horn and it indeed looked very good. I paid $250, which might be a bit high for such a horn but it is in excellent condition. I am apparently the third owner, the original owner had supposedly bought it new, 'custom', and kept it for most of his life before consigning it at a local music store. (I think it was perhaps only semi-custom, ordered with the finish and features that he wanted, as this otherwise looks like a regular New Wonder to me.) The next owner, a student, had played it a bit in school, but the orchestra director didn't want him to mix a cornet into a trumpet section (without even hearing it first) so he'd used a Yamaha instead. He finally sold the cornet to me as he wasn't playing it and couldn't justify keeping it; he'd only had it about nine months.
There's a brass patch on the bend of the #1 slide and the ears are gone, but it's nicely done. There's a bit of silver wear here and there, but most of it can be ignored or is easily touched up. I oiled and cleaned the valves, they work well. The horn seems to play a bit flat, even with all slides all the way in, but it can be lipped into place. (The slides are all stamped LP, for low [standard] pitch. Maybe a bit too low!) The B♭/A mechanism works well. The original mouthpiece is indeed a lot mellower than the more modern ones, and is probably what I would use whenever playing this horn.
The case is a bit tattered, but usable. The springs in the two catches are broken, but the main latch still works well. The only accessory remaining in the case is the cleaning rod, the mute and lyre are missing, and there's another site for something flat and one for maybe a grease pot. This case doesn't have sites for a high-pitch tubing set, so it was probably ordered without that. I needed to do a bit of gluing on the case interior, to restore the mouthpiece (?) nest to functionality, but otherwise it was very usable as-is. (I used yellow carpenter's glue.) I put neatsfoot oil on the dry leather horn strap, that should prevent it from tearing. Some of the dovetailed wooden case corners were coming loose where the case had gotten wet so I glued them, and I used a bit of weatherstrip cement to re-secure some of the loose flaps of cloth in the area. I cut some narrow strips of springy banding metal to push into the broken catches, and cut some bicycle inner-tube rubber faces to glue to them. These fit snugly into the catches and put a minor degree of pressure on the catch levers to help keep them closed. I tacked them in place with glue. Better than nothing, anyway.
I just can't seem to play it in tune, I wonder if a replacement high-pitch tuning slide would be of use? (The same problem as I'm having with the piccolo trumpet, It seems I might tend to play horns on the flat side.) The bore of the opera-glass tuning slide is 0.480", more or less.
...I'd been watching for a suitable tuning slide for some time, and not having much luck, so I finally broke down and bought an overpriced buy-it-now junker horn off of eBay. About $60, but I got a vintage Vega mouthpiece too. (The horn's missing valve #1 and most of the quick-change linkage, and it's pretty beat, so I'm not worried about parting it out.) With any luck the tuning slide will fit as I hope, and maybe #1 slide can also be used. We'll see... A week later it came, and it looks good. (Serial #143959, circa 1915 making it a bit older than the parts recipient.) A bit of Kroil and I had my parts off. The tuning slide fits well and is definitely shorter, and the #1 slide is also in good shape. The Vega mouthpiece looks interesting too. I put it all in a large old aluminum pot on the stove with some washing soda in it to de-tarnish, it was all extremely black. Overnight the aluminum foil did its trick, and the parts that came out could be polished. The "3"-marked tuning slide is, in fact, almost too short now as it's nearly falling out when in tune, but it works. The #1 slide is just a hair too large in diameter to fit, so that's a failure. The "George Model" Vega mouthpiece is the sleeper. I like it. It's got the classic V-shape of the Conn mouthpiece, but it's larger in diameter so it works much better for me. It also goes into the receiver a lot farther than any of the other mouthpieces, I'm not sure how significant that is. Regardless, it works, and has a nice dark cornet tone. These two parts alone are well worth the $60, and there are still good parts left on the horn. Primarily the bell, which is undamaged, though the overall finish is not great. I could easily sell the carcass along and recoup some of the parts horn expense. I'm very happy to have the horn in playable condition, I'm seriously thinking of using it for the Christmas Eve piece Jill and I are to play in church. (Did! It worked well.)
This turned up on Craigslist, advertised as a Flugabone. The condition and price were acceptable, so I bought it. I didn't really need it but I found that I kept looking at the ad., and I really wondered how a Flugabone stacked up against the Bass Cornet and Bass Trumpet. Well, keep wondering, because after I bought it I realized that it wasn't a Flugabone at all! It's a marching baritone, it says so right on the side of the (well-worn, and smelly) case, it's merely shaped something like a Flugabone. Sigh. From the dinky little picture how was I (not an expert) supposed to tell? It looked kind of like a Flugabone, but now that I look in person the bell tubing branch is much larger than what I was expecting. Like the painted-on-the-case label says, it's a baritone, and a marching baritone is not what I was after: I know that it's not anything like a bass trumpet, and we already had a baritone. Now what do I do with it? It's in grungy/smelly condition, some slides seem to be stuck, the bell has undergone serious repairs in the past, there are numerous less-than-deft solder repairs, some dents, and the finish is rough. Perfectly usable, in other words, after some TLC. But I don't want it. Caveat Emptor! It was pretty smelly, though, so as an experiment I got out the ozone generator and put it in the case with the horn. We'll see what some quality time with that does. After 24 hours the smell was significantly reduced. After 48 hours it was essentially gone, so I turned it off. We'll see if it stays gone. I gave the horn a bath and scrubbed it off and out, liberating all slides in the process, then used MAAS metal polish to remove the worst of the red corrosion, then dried and assembled it with fresh grease and oil. It looks and smells a lot better, and works well enough. Sell? Donate to a school? I've got no use for it, but as it's currently in the dining room I have grabbed it up when my son gets stuck trying to noodle out notes on his bassoon, that's been fun. I have a small Holton 37 trombone mouthpiece that I (a trumpet player) prefer on it.
|Right side||Left side||Top|
I've been playing with it, and there's some play in the third valve, and intermittent sticking, even after oiling. Ugh. There was some wear/corrosion on the bottom of the valve, so I used some MAAS metal polish on it and it shined right up. After that the sticking problem was much reduced. I also used some Kroil and vise-grips to get the bottom valve caps off of #1 and #3, #3 took a real beating. I really couldn't get at #2.
We don't really need this horn, so Thursday, July 18, 2013 I polished it some and put it up for sale on Craigslist. It's awfully bulky, it'd be nice to get the case out from underfoot. Friday, July 26, 2013 I had a mongo polishing session while watching mindless TV, and the horn actually shined up quite well. It looks good now, and should be easier to sell. I've had a couple of pretty solid nibbles on the ad. After much fooling around, with phone calls and schedule changes, it finally sold Friday, August 9, 2013 for a little bit more than I paid for it. In other words I made pennies per hour spent polishing and cleaning it and the case, which means that in my world it was a roaring success! It's off to the next proud owner, an ex-baritone player who was interested in trying his hand at a bit of instrument repair, taking out the dents and such.
(It's ironic that for 2017 Daniel selected baritone as his marching band instrument, so maybe we should have kept this as the at-home practicing horn. Oh well. The bass trumpet is a pretty reasonable substitute.)
I ran across this while looking for a Benge 3C trumpet. There are mixed opinions about this horn, but as I don't really need such a thing I figured that even if it was a bit of a dog it'd be OK. (The chances of my ever playing it in public are slim.) If the price was right I could probably sell it and not lose much, if anything, should it just not work for me. I found this on a Craigslist site far from me, and I was uneasy about such a remote transaction though the seller was willing to ship it to me if I bought it. I was able to enlist the help of a fellow car enthusiast who was located near the seller to act as my agent. Not only was he local but he played the trumpet too, and so was able to evaluate its condition. Here's what the seller had to say about the horn:
I have a Benge D/E-flat trumpet, silver plated, for sale. I don't use it anymore and am offering to sell it at a good price. It is in very good condition and plays very well.and (later by private email):
It comes with both the D and the E-flat slides. The horn is a Burbank Benge, with a serial number of 54XX, older but still in good condition.
The horn is a very good playing instrument and I have used it many times. This is one of the Burbank Benge trumpets, serial number 54XX. The plating is in good condition and the valve compression is good also. There is no case or mouthpiece with the instrument. I keep the instrument wrapped in a soft cloth and a cloth bag. It has no dents or scratches on it that I am aware.and:
I found the best mouthpiece for the D trumpet to be a Giardinelli 7 three piece mouthpiece. I used a large backbore and a V cup combination.When my agent was finally able to meet the seller he had this to say:
It is a great trumpet; there was a lot of tarnish on the grip but it was coming off easily, and there are two small spots where the [plating] was worn through. Looked like it had been kept very well until recently, when I guess he gave up polishing it regularly.When it finally came it looked very good, all the valves and slides worked and there was no damage of note, especially considering its age, though there was some tarnish. The valves are excellent, and are shorter throw (15mm vs 16.5mm) than my main trumpet, and thus faster to operate. (The difference between ML and MLP bores?) It came in a ratty old ill-fitting trumpet case, which was unexpected but not unwelcome. When I got it home I tried some loose mouthpieces in it, and the Bach 1C worked well enough. In D it sounds very in tune with itself, in E♭ not so much. I then removed the valves, wrapped it loosely in aluminum foil, and dunked it in a sink of very hot water with some washing soda in it. An hour or so later, once the water had cooled and the little bubbles had stopped coming off, I removed it from the sink. The foil was black on the inside, and the horn was noticably shinier. I scrubbed it out with the snake and valve bore brushes, then rinsed and dried it, and began a conventional silver polishing. It went quite easily. The horn shined up great, though there is some pitting where the horn is held. It looked like corrosive ownership rather than wear, but polished up it looks good. I cleaned and polished it thoroughly, even to removing the spit valves. Good as (but not priced as) new. I'm quite happy with my purchase, let's hope I actually get to use it for something!
All the slides slid easily, everything was there, [it] blew freely, mechanicals were perfect, valves were appropriately springy.
I had my mouthpiece and the seller had his. He is a much better trumpet player than I am, and he wasn't shy to unleash it in the parking lot. I thought it had a slightly thicker tone than a standard trumpet, but I'm not sure that I'm comparing equivalent players. In any case a lovely sound.
I next turned to the ill-fitting B♭ case, and crimped its two loose hinges back into the carcass. I pulled out the velour-covered styrofoam nest, peeled off the velour, and carved the foam until it fit the horn. I washed the nasty-smelling velour, and after everything was dry I used water-based contact cement to stick it back down. It is now a fairly well-fitting case, and as it's overlarge it can even take the horn with mouthpiece. I noticed this same horn was advertised at a retail site for nearly twice what I paid for mine, which means that I did reasonably well. (Theirs was no doubt CLA'd, and it was retail, presumably with some sort of warrantee.)
|Right side||Left side||Pre-sale|
Monday, February 17, 2014 I loaned the horn to a friend that's going to play in a Messiah on Easter. The piece is scored for Trumpet in D, why not try one? I borrowed a copy of his music and tried it a few times before loaning out the horn. I think it works very nicely on TTSS. It's a fair stretch on a regular B♭. The D avoids that extreme reach, yet avoids the ingrained treachery of a piccolo... He said the horn worked well for him, and he returned it cleaned and polished. I took the opportunity to treat it with Renaissance wax, since it is going to spend a lot of time in storage.
I stumbled upon this, the predecessor to the modern B♭ and C trumpets, and recalled reading that the old orchestral (low) F trumpets could be used as natural trumpets, besides being used (presumably) to play 19th-century music that is scored for them. (Such as the Franck Symphony in D Minor I once played.) The price seemed reasonable, $249, if it can be used at all for either of these purposes. (Shipping was another $59, as the seller seems to be employed in emptying Germany's closets of odd old instruments and dumping them on the USA.) I was the only bidder, there is little call for an instrument in this pitch these days.
Though nominally the same length as an Alto trumpet in F, the bell and bore characteristics of the orchestral F trumpet result in a timbre much more like a modern trumpet, or even a natural trumpet; they are not substitutes for each other!
See: http://www.trumpetmaster.com/vb/f132/f-trumpet-question-38147.html and Dotzauer's http://www.aswltd.com/rotary.htm, the latter from which I have excerpted to protect against bit-rot, and to highlight what particularly interested me in this horn:
These instruments represented the final stage of development of the eight-foot length trumpet of the baroque and classical periods and were the standard trumpet used in the late 19th and early 20th century orchestra before the now-common half-length B♭ and C trumpets came into general use. Comment on the then-new short trumpets was not universally favorable, and many conductors and players criticized the lack of authentic trumpet tone quality of the half-length instruments.
Trumpet historians have recently concluded that the low F orchestral trumpet... was in fact the last true member of the historical trumpet family and that modern half-length trumpets... are in fact a hybrid of trumpet and cornet design and represent a new type of instrument... The newer four-foot instruments provided greater security in the upper register than the older eight-foot pitch instruments for the less-accomplished players of that day, but at a considerable sacrifice in tonal quality and musical properties.
...It bears the same relationship to the B♭ trumpet as the F side of a double [French] horn does to the B♭.
...Once one has experienced playing the Franck Symphony, the Wagner Parsifal Prelude, Strauss's Tyl Eulenspiegel, or the Sibelius Second Symphony on an F trumpet, the tonal limitations of the short length trumpets for this late romantic literature become readily apparent.
...The low F trumpet also can be used as an excellent full-length eight-foot instrument for the performance of natural trumpet parts of the classical and early romantic periods from high F down to B♭. The various valve combinations, which substitute for the tuning crooks of the natural trumpet, allow the modern player to "crook" the instrument from F down to B♮; pulling out the tuning and valve slides easily allows playing in B♭ as well. This technique recreates the tonal properties and playing technique of the full-length natural trumpet without the dynamic limitations that an historical instrument would have when used in a modern orchestral context.
...A further if somewhat less authentic use of this instrument would be for a modern-instrument performance of the solo trumpet part of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 of J. S. Bach. This writer has for over twenty-five years maintained that this part was supposed to sound an octave lower than it is customarily played today... The use of the low F orchestral trumpet would in fact keep the work in the provenance of the trumpet world, provide a tonal quality closer to that of the same-length baroque F trumpet, and restore the proper balance and octave placement of the four solo parts as well.
All this assuming, of course, that this horn is an old orchestral F trumpet! That's the gamble. Anyway, the Unnatural trumpet experiment was bogging down, and this suggested itself as a possible easy alternative.
Here's what the seller had to say about the horn:
Nice old trumpet with rotary valves and a garland. The bell reads "Lipa Nymburk". There are a few very small dents. (Not very dramatic, see pic). The "stopper" of the middle valve needs to be fixed again. (Not a big thing!) Size of the horn is 44cm/17,5 inch. The tubing from the bell to the beginning of the mouthpiece receiver is 179cm/70,5 inches long. Bellsize: 13cm, aprox. 5 inches. [Bore: 10mm.] I guess it plays in F but maybe in an old military pitch? The valves are moving, but they need some oil. Only the main slide is moving. The instrument needs to be cleaned and serviced.
|Top||Top, closer||Valves, top||Engraving||Bell rim|
|Dents, fuzzy||Bottom||Valves, bottom||Slide|
I would probably rather have had a piston F trumpet, such as this one, but these things are not common in any form so I'll take what I can get.
This link http://www.trumpetmaster.com/vb/f131/praise-f-trumpet-32589.html suggests that plausible mouthpieces might be a Schilke 18, Wick 1X, Monette Prana B2D, or something cu$tom by Egger.
When the horn came it looked almost exactly as described/expected, in spite of the inadequate packing. (The box was partially crushed, and torn on one corner, but the horn seemed to survive unscathed even though it was pretty loose in the box, what was left of it. The bubble wrap held the line, I guess.) With the tuning slide pulled out most of the way the tuner said it was in F, so that's good. (The horn appears to be intended to be in F♯, unless there's a missing mouthpiece 'bit' that's pretty long, or the old high-pitch F is a close match to today's F♯.) The valves were in poor shape, and all slides but the main tuning slide were stuck solidly. A trumpet mouthpiece doesn't really go in properly, and a cornet mouthpiece drops in too far. This has a decidedly odd receiver. In fact, careful probing with a drill bit set, and some light finger-driven 'drilling' removed a lot of oily fuzz and dirt from the receiver. After being cleaned out it appears that there is next to no taper at the receiver, and the cornet mouthpiece would no longer stay in the horn. An 'X' drill bit (0.397") goes in (butt-first) to its full length, but a 'Z' bit (0.413") only goes in maybe 1/8". The valves were a mess, so I looked up how to disassemble rotary valves, then did so. (Remove linkage screw, thumbscrew, and bottom cap, then tap on end of rotor shaft with a drift and mallet to drive valve and plate out the bottom. When reassembling do not mix up valve components, they're all hand-fit. Align the marks on the bottom plates to the valve casings.) I then cleaned and oiled the valves, using synthetic gear oil. I tightened the stop posts on #1 and #3, which appear to be screw-in shouldered brass posts, but #2 was obviously some kind of hack as it was steel, and quite rusted where it went into the top cap. I cleaned it up and used cyanoacrylate glue to fix it back in place. (This could be cleaned up someday, if a correct fix were desired.) I then put the valves back together. The arm on key #1 was starting to come loose, it looks like it might be pinned and soldered into place, so I used cyanoacrylate glue there too. (If this were an important horn I would look into getting this fixed professionally/properly.) With the horn assembled it then worked fairly normally, and seems in pretty good shape considering it's around 100 years old. I noodled on it, and it does indeed seem to be a hybrid of a regular trumpet, but in F, and something that sounds more like a natural trumpet in its higher harmonics. (I think of this as a 'thick' or congested, and not very piercing or loud, sound as compared to today's trumpet. [The exact opposite of what you get when moving to a piccolo horn, in fact.] But not muffled in any way.) The character of the sound changes substantially in the higher register. This is very intriguing, indeed. The mouthpiece is going to be an issue, and the horn still needs a good cleaning, which I cannot really do until I can get the valve slides out, and probably slightly lighter oil for the valves. It also could really use a longer main tuning slide, as when set to F it's almost to the point of falling out. It's also a bit loose at that extension, even when greased with Vaseline, which hinders usability.
The horn is almost completely cylindrical, the only conical sections appear to be in the mouthpiece, and in the bell. I'm speculating here, but I think I can see the ancestor of this type of horn is the natural trumpet in F (the shortest in common use), but instead of using crooks to take it down to D, C, etc. they used valves. Initially they probably were thinking of the valves as 'instant crooks', but I'm sure it didn't take long to notice that if you had enough valves you could play chromatically using the valves while staying in the low harmonics. (I'm sure this development happened essentially simultaneously, in fact.) That gives you a different, more powerful sound, and one that is also better in tune and more consistent throughout the range. From there it was a short jump to the shorter horns such as B♭, which allowed higher notes to be played as lower harmonics, keeping the new trumpet/cornet hybrid sound. Or something like that.
A handy reference chart for crooking:
Some time later I tried playing some of the Franck Symphony on this thing, the instrument for which it was scored, and it is hard! It feels (and somewhat sounds) like playing an octave up, which is essentially what you do on it. The harmonics are also, of course, closer together and harder to target. Also, for the ear calibrated to B♭, it's easy to hit the wrong harmonic and not even know it. I can definitely see why these were replaced by the modern instruments, any timbral 'degradation' was more than made up for by the easier playing. The water situation on this particular horn is also pretty bad, there are no water keys and you have to remove the mouthpiece and the main tuning slide then rotate and dump the horn while working the valves. A lot like a french horn; not that fun.
I tried a session of heat, Kroil penetrant, rubber hammer tapping, and towel pulling, and I was able to free the #1 slide. Unfortunately I dented both it and #3, which I was not able to free. I left penetrant on it and #2, about which I'm not even sure where the sliding joint is. (Though it seems that it must have one.)
I sent the horn in for repairs, and got it back Monday, July 22, 2013, $97 (what I had in my pocket at the moment). She said she had about 15 hours into it, the #3 slide was a really nasty bit of stuck business! She loosened #3, of course, and replaced some of its tubing, and did a bit of soldering. (I don't think #2 was addressed at all.) She made a nice little mouthpipe 'bit' for it, made from a Conn 16B receiver. There's more to do, she didn't get to everything, but she's swamped right now (due to various reasons) and won't be able to look at it again 'til Fall. She put it in a Tuxedo horn gig bag for transport, said I could keep it for awhile. Thursday, August 1, 2013 I hit the thrift shop, and got a small American Tourister hard shell briefcase for $3 that looked like it just might hold the horn. ("Tiara" model, I feel so special!) Once the innards were removed the horn tucks in and the lid closes, just barely. Some thin padding? A hard metal anti-crush ring? Needs a bit more thought. I picked up a bunch of scrap foam packaging from work, both open-cell egg-carton sheets and some solid closed-cell blocks. All in pink, unfortunately. I also bought a big chunk of red fleecy material at the thrift shop, it goes with the red interior of the briefcase. A few days later I washed out and off the case, and used the grinder to remove the rivets holding in some of the objectionable bits of metal hardware. I found the goofy key (face and hat?) tucked into the lining, doubt I'll ever use that. I then used rubber cement to put in a few of the pink foam blocks that will cradle the horn. The next day more foam went in, and I folded a large sheet of open-cell egg-crate foam in two and glued it together along the edge to make a pillow of sorts, then wrapped it in red fleece material, secured with glue. I then glued the pillow into the lid of the case, it secures the horn nicely against the blocks and looks decent.
I bid on and won a half-price Wick 1X mouthpiece, an it came Saturday, May 27, 2017. It's certainly large! I think it facilitates the lower range of this horn, and is going to live in this case.
The same source that had the marching baritone also had this for sale. Supposedly it played halfway decently, unlike an earlier one he'd had. It took us a couple of months to rendezvous, but eventually mine for $200. The hard plastic case is nicer than some I've seen, and it came with an unmarked, and nearly unplated, mouthpiece. The lacquer on the horn was nearly perfect. After play-testing I find the tone somewhat thin, especially at the bottom of the range. The small bell no doubt is a big part of this. The valves are also somewhat scratchy, and the valve construction is, pretty much as expected, substandard. Still, it does work, and seems a reasonable specimen of its class. (If you want a really good horn, you have to pay for it.)
I played it for a session in band, and it is pretty squirrely, I fought the intonation a fair amount and it just doesn't feel 'normal'. I think, though, that this is fairly typical of the breed, and that for its intended purpose, a portable chop-maintenence tool and emergency trumpet, it will suffice. I later sat down with the tuner and spent some time with it and got the main tuning slide set to a compromise position. (I also compared it to my old student Conn, which kicked the crap out of it.) The more I played it and got used to its quirks the better it sounded, so that's a hopeful sign. Honestly it evokes the picc more than anything else. (Your reward for taming the beast, though, is something you could have had for free merely by picking up a regular horn.)
I later A/B'd it against a borrowed, older, Indian (but stenciled with a NY music shop) pocket, and I think the Indian was marginally better, at least down low. Both of them had intonation issues.
This was another Craigslist item that I found I just couldn't ignore. It stayed up a couple of weeks, it looked like there was no general interest in it. While I already have a copper-belled 17B Director, my backup, it's not a particularly good horn, whereas the 12B seems to be well thought of, and was top of the line in its day. I figured that at the price, $110, I couldn't go too far wrong. There are some small dents on the bell, and the rim was pushed in slightly, but the worst damage is on the bell curve by the mouthpiece. I think this can be repaired, at least substantially, so we'll see, but the horn is perfectly usable as-is. In fact I played the horn in band an hour after I got it, and it seemed to play fairly well, though I had a little trouble with the lowest notes. This is definitely (at this time) the second-best trumpet I have. The original case is long gone, unfortunately; the horn's in a rather worn lightweight Cordura-wrapped wooden case, and had some no-name unmarked (and small) mouthpiece with it, along with a trumpet snake, valve and mouthpiece brushes, some slide grease and an empty valve oil bottle, so that was all a bonus. The PO and his son both had played the horn in their day. The horn might be lacquer-less, the PO says he polished it with Brasso. It looks too shiny for its age for the original lacquer to be intact. The engraving on the bell is still good. The bottom valve caps are stuck, but everything else is moving. The valves are a bit draggy, but a good cleaning and polishing should set that right.
The next day I glued the loose flaps of cloth back to the case, using good weatherstrip cement, and used a stick of Grenadilla wood as a hammer to tap on the stuck valve caps to release them. Once the horn was all apart I used MAAS metal polish on the valves and their bores, using a flute rod with some cloth wrapped around it to polish the bores, and cleaned that all out. I did find one mistake: valves 2 & 3 were swapped! There's the mystery of the low notes right there. I used a tiny dab of anti-seize on the valve caps when reassembling, and I oiled the horn with the Hetman synthetic valve oil. (Fitting for a horn in storage.) The valves were then in good shape. I greased the slides and put in my mouthpiece, and the horn played smoothly, and with no trouble down low. All done except for dent removal, and replacing one missing foot on the case. A couple of days later I glued a plastic foot (from some scrap electronics gear) to the case, over the protruding (and sharp!) screw from the missing foot. That should protect car upholstery, etc. I refilled the valve oil bottle with citronella lamp oil (free, and procured for large-scale tuba lubing), figuring that in an emergency anything was better than nothing. For a lark I A/B'd the two Conns together, and they weren't as different as I'd thought the first time, and the valves on the 17B, equally lubricated, were quieter and smoother! I was not using my mouthpiece, however, nor conducting a blind test. More later, I'm sure.
|Left side||On bell|
Monday, April 15, 2013 I sent the horn to the shop to have the dents in the copper taken out. Ballpark estimate is in the $50 range. Monday, April 22, 2013 I got it back, $50. The bell rim looks better now, and the flat dents in the side of the bell are gone. The worst of the crunched bow is out, but you can still see where the damage was as it's a bit ripply. She said she could make it better, but only if she removed the bell and annealed the copper, which is a whole 'nother level of involvement. It is fine now, a player. I traded cases with the King 600 before its sale, it had a plastic Bach clamshell case that I much preferred.
Monday, June 23, 2014 I decided that if I was going to even have a backup horn I ought to put in at least a little time on it. What if I actually needed to use it? Our community band is in its summer session, and I thought this was the perfect time/excuse to give my main axe a little rest, and dig out this, theoretically my second-best horn.
Well, I took it to the first rehearsal, and it was lousy! The intonation was all over the map, and it wasn't pretty. My habits are probably too ingrained from my main horn at the moment, and that chaotic atmosphere was not conducive to learning this one. (Due to bad planning on my part the intended familiarization session in front of the Stroboconn did not happen.) I had figured that it oughtn't be all that different from my first horn I played all those years, through college, and maybe that was true and maybe it was not, all I know is that the results weren't pretty and my standmate lamented that she'd wished I'd brought the good horn! Well, me too, but I still think I'd better learn my backup better, and the summer session is 'it'.
In the delayed familiarization session on Sunday I found that I had the tuning slide too far out. While I was at it I worked on the dragging third valve a bit and got it working nicely, and replaced the ratty main water key cork.
I had been looking for a 3C (key of C, #3 bell, MLP bore) for a long time as that was their horn that was reputed to play the most like their B♭ horns, one of which is the basis of my main axe. (Perfect for a transposition-avoider like me as opposed to someone who wanted the smaller, brighter timbre of the normal 2C, or even the rarely-seen French-style 1C. Or such is the theory.) I wanted to upgrade my Couesnon C trumpet, as I found I wasn't that fond of it once I'd had to play it for real. This is the first 3C I ran into in something like a year of searching. While priced high ($1300) it was in beautiful condition, and as I'd just sold a car I bid on, and won it. I am only the second owner. Here is what the PO had to say:
I am the original owner of this Los Angeles Benge C Trumpet serial number 167XX. It was purchased in 1975 and has seen relatively little use. Was used in orchestra and brass ensemble 1975–1980 then moved to [the] closet where it sat in storage for 31 years. It is in absolutely pristine condition except for a few mute dings on [the] inside of the bell. These cannot be found on the outside of [the] bell. The rest of the horn [has only] one very small ding on [the] bell next to the leadpipe brace (see photo). No dents or scratches. New pads all around and recent valve alignment, good compression [on] all valves and no sign of wear on any of the silver finish. Comes with Bach 1.5C mouthpiece on request. This horn plays beautifully and has been used only by myself at a professional level. Good, bright, pure C Trumpet sound. Comes with new Duoer soft case to protect in shipping. Of course [I] will add much more shipping protection.Auction images:
... it is still in [as] close as possible to mint condition. The Benge MLP is 0.464" as compared to ML = 0.460" and L = 0.468". The bell size is 3C as designated with the number 3 on [the] ferrule where [the] bell joins [the] first valve casing.
|Left side||Bell engraving||Left valves||Bore mark|
|Left bell||Bell brace||Right valves||Bell face|
In my search I'd become aware that most Benge C trumpets on the market did not include hard cases of any sort (as was in fact the case [ahem!] with this one) so I'd also been keeping an eye out for a case. About a month prior to the purchase of this horn I'd found a rather ratty Benge trumpet case online, which I procured for the price of shipping. (About $29, IIRC.)
My purpose here is to get a horn that feels/sounds like my B♭ horn, but pitched in C, so that if I ever again should be asked to play in a situation where I need one I'll be well-prepared—at least on the equipment front! The real questions here are:
If everything goes to plan I'll sell the Couesnon. I don't need two C trumpets. (I don't even really need one.) Assuming that I can sell it for near what I paid for it, and combined with the profit from the car, that'd pay for this horn.
It came Tuesday, April 16, 2013, and is beautiful. It fits nicely into the used Benge case I bought for it, but far out-classes it. I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with it, and my main horn, and the Couesnon, to see how things are.
On Thursday I had a bit of time, so I got out both C trumpets and both B♭ trumpets and had at 'em. What was surprising to me is that the Couesnon, though not as nice as the Benge, played pretty well anyway. I thought the Benge was a little easier to blow, a little better sounding up high, and definitely better sounding once you ventured onto the loud side. But the Couesnon had good intonation, and sounded nice—just so long as you stayed away from fortissimo and beyond! What was not all that surprising was that though the Benge 3C is a very nice horn, it didn't really feel like my Benge/Martin B♭. Perhaps nothing ever will? Oh well. I think the Benge 3C is a decent upgrade, though perhaps not everything I'd hoped. (More time will tell.) It is certainly a beautiful horn, and I am happy to have it.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013 I got 'the call'. Jill's symphony found themselves unexpectedly short a third trumpet player for their Friday/Saturday concert where they were to play the Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition. None of the usual suspects were available on such short notice, not ones that would take an unpaid gig anyway, and they thought of me. Sure! The short notice was not fun, but the T3 part is not difficult, mostly just chord filling on quarter notes and slower in a few movements, and I had the requisite tux and C horn. I hurriedly washed and polished the horn that night, and practiced the music the next evening, the part had been e-mailed that morning. (That was only the second time I had ever played this horn!) The next evening was rehearsal, my only one, followed by the two concert dates. My only instructions were to play loud, and I can do that, especially on this horn. (This would not have worked out as well on its predecessor, but I suppose I could have transcribed the relatively small amount of music to B♭; this way I didn't need to, and there's no way I'd want to try to rely on my non-existent transposition skills.) It was fun! (Counting to the entrances was the hardest part, T3 is enough different than the others that just attempting to follow their lead would be problematic.) The horn worked nicely, but I did notice that while it seemed generally in tune, the in-staff C was relatively flat! After the first performance I pushed the tuning slide the rest of the way in, so that the C was better, and I was still able to make everything else work OK. The only trouble is now the horn's set as sharp as it will go! I also spent some time oiling/working/wiping the two kicker slides to get them working smoother; afterwards I put O-rings on both of them to tame the clicking when they're drawn in. (I ordered proper stop screws from WWBW for the third slide, what's there is not right. About $6. They came Friday, October 18, 2013, they fit well and look good. They're a little bigger than stock, when compared to the other three Benges I had access to, but they're definitely better than the over-diameter too-thin single nut that was on there when I got it.)
Because my main horn is unique I had been worried about what I might do if something were to happen to it, and I'd been trying out various horns to see what, if anything, might feel and sound enough like it to serve as a worthy backup. The Benge 3C evaluation hinted to me that my horn might be more Martin-ey than Benge-y in nature, and so one of the regular vintage Benge horns (which are costing a bit too much now to just buy one on spec. anyway) is perhaps not the best place to start looking. What I like most about my horn is its large, rich sound, quite different than the bright sound I get from, let us say, the Conn 12B (reputedly a very fine horn in its own right). Hmm, dark and smokey sounding is how the Martin Committee model is described, but prices for those are insane, thank you Misters Davis, Baker, Ferguson, and Botti, etc. Not a chance, in other words, unless I trip over one at a yard sale. There are, however, the various so-called 'poor man's committees', namely the old Martin Indiana and Imperial horns made once the Committee model was itself well-established, and those are generally reasonably priced. Hence this one, $200 on eBay, via a Best Offer—perhaps a bit much for what it is, I guess I got carried away. Listing text:
The Indiana Trumpet
Martin Band Instrument Co.
Serial # 733XX
With Hard Case
This is an estate find. I literally pulled it out of the attic. The case has a slight old musty smell, not like moldy, but an old smell. Case has the Martin name plate. case shows some damage on the corners, and the latches have some surface rust. The latches and hinges do work pretty good.
The trumpet has a few small dings and some finish wear on it, but overall is pretty nice. Also it is missing one of the bottom valve covers. It comes with a 7C mouthpiece all three valves work good.
Please see my pictures below:
Auction images (there were a lot):
|In case, Right||Right||Bell scuffs||Slide #1||Slide #3|
|Bow, Left||Flare, Left (2)||Flare, Top||Buttons||Bottom caps|
|Slide #2||Tuning slide||Bell||Right, #2||Left|
|Top||Bell engraving (2)||Mouthpiece shank||Mouthpiece cup||In case, Right #2|
|In case, Right #3||In case, Right #4||Case, top||Case handle||Case latch #1|
|Case hinge #1||Badge||Case, bottom||Case, bottom #2||Case, end #1|
|Case, end #2||Case, top #2||Case, inside||Case, storage||Case, storage #2|
|Case, storage #3||Case, inside #2|
When it came it looked decent, and did indeed smell funny. Kind of like mothballs mixed with cleaning soap. The mouthpiece was loose inside the case, but didn't seem to have banged up the trumpet any. (It should have been secured in its storage slot under the hatch in the case.) The case is surprisingly small, not much larger than a gig bag. The valves were sluggish, but oiled up OK. They clank, it needs new felts. The tuning and #3 slides are stuck, and #3's bottom valve cap is very tight. I moved the #2 cap to #1, that will better shield the cap-less valve for now. #3's problem is that its threads were damaged, perhaps the cap was missing there first, and damage was done? Regardless, on to first impressions: The lacquer is decent, the horn is perfectly presentable. There are a number of ripples and deformations at the leadpipe end of the horn, perhaps it was dropped and repaired at some point? The bell branch is constricted a bit due to twisting, I'm not sure if that's truly significant. There are no slide rings, lipping is your only dynamic tuning mechanism, but I don't tend to use them anyway. In play the horn was closer to the sound of my 'Mange' than the 12B, but that doesn't make it close! The two lesser trumpets were closer to each other than to the Mange. Still, this one was less laser-like than the 12B, and so might be a better choice in its place. OTOH, if I should want a laser, keep the 12B too? Initially, it seems, the search for a good inexpensive backup horn is still on. (And with no good ideas on what to try next.) A couple of days later I had a session with Kroil and tapping the tuning slide with a rounded stick of grenadilla; lots of pulling and tapping and the slide finally let loose and I could at last polish and grease the slides, then tune the horn. (#3 slide wasn't really stuck after all, but the tuning slide sure was.) I also turned over the crunched valve felts, which improved the action somewhat, or at least cut the clanking a bit.
I cleaned the horn thoroughly, there was a clot (ick!) of something in the leadpipe. A valve cap from an old Holton cornet (parts horn) fit the threads well enough to fill in for the missing cap, I doubt that anything more authentic will be necessary. I put it on #3, where its slightly loose fit was a nice complement to the deformed threads found there. I used a tiny amount of anti-seize on the valve cap and button threads. I took the horn to a band rehearsal, but it didn't fit in as well as I'd hoped, mostly due to my unfamiliarity with its particular intonation quirks, and I did have some intermittent slow action on #1, which eventually ended the experiment. (There were a few minor-looking tiny marks on the piston, perhaps it had been dropped at some point?) At home I got out the Lansky knife sharpening kit and used the super fine stone (sapphire) to go over the outside of the piston, very lightly. I also used it with a chamfering action around all six ports. That seems to have helped, there might have been high spots at the marks or a burr in the port area. Time will tell.
...Not quite, it was still binding a bit. I took another stab at it, I used Meguire's #17 plastic polish slathered on a 7/16" chromed deep socket to hone through the #1 valve bore in hopes of finding and knocking down a high spot. (I was successful doing something like this once before on an engine rebuild, though that was a much coarser situation.) I also used a thin stick of grenadilla wood to scour the edges of the ports on that cylinder, hoping to knock off any burrs or crap that might be there, I had noticed some green flecks when I wiped out the bore from the honing. I was opting for gentleness, I do not want to go too far or do any damage along the way. Since I was there I disassembled the valves themselves and polished the valve stems. I found that #3 was missing its cork spacing washer under the inner felt washer, so I flanged one up using a bit of wine cork and a razor blade. Imperfect, but better than nothing. I then cleaned the horn out again and re-lubricated the valves, and reassembled everything. Again, time will tell if I've improved it or not. It definitely needs new top felt rings, the ones that were glued (!) there are not really the correct size, and they're fairly flimsy. I measured the wells for the rings, they're 17.68mm O.D. × 9.68mm I.D. × 2.5mm thick. (Or 0.694" × 0.379" × 0.098" in the antiquated, and correct for this vintage, English system; likely 11/16" × 3/8" × 3/32" in fractional inches.) They need to be dense felt, they only contact the button at its thin (0.25mm) rim edge, and so can't compress easily or, as the ill-fitting ones that came on it do, wedge into the button so that the button clanks down onto the top cap. I ordered new red ones in two sizes (3 each 11/16" × 3/8" × 1/16" and 23/32" × 3/8" × 3/32") from J.L. Smith; $8.28, most of that shipping. When they came (in a huge box, when a letter envelope would have sufficed) it didn't take long to figure out that while the 3/32" rings fit nice and snug, and filled the wells beautifully, it was the 1/16" rings that were better for the valve alignment. Though less snug, they still fit well enough that they don't bunch up into the valve buttons like the undersized ones that came on it did.
Sunday, February 11, 2018 Daniel asks if I have a horn to loan to one of his classmates, who needs one for a week or so. Sure, I guess this one can do... I got it back after a couple of months, apparently my son failed to collect it when it was ready to come back.
I didn't really need this, but it became available at an attractive price, and I thought to myself "Why not?" The case is in excellent condition. Styling on the case and the horn lead me to believe this is a late-40's–early-50's horn. It has clearly been refinished, there are signs of buffing on the engraving. There is a slide extender to put it into F. The tuning slide and extender are pretty stiff and tend to bind. Much care is required.
I played it and it's definitely a piccolo: it has that same treacherous tendency to want to quack if you're not careful that the Benge has, and, like it, it wants to play flat for me even with the tuning slide all the way in. (The slide also has a very short range of adjustment.) Oddly, this horn is the only one I've ever played that seems to have an open F# (concert, written B) a little over an octave below the bottom open note of the horn that acts like a regular note that you don't have to force. (But not, however, when rigged for F, go figure.) You can even go down a few half steps from there, but not to anything requiring the third valve.
If our string-less community band ever decides to put an arrangement of Brandenburg #2 on the program, I'll be ready! (Except for the practicing... :-)
In 2017 our community band did a Christmas piece that had a section that screamed for picc, but I was having too many pitch issues with the Benge. I transcribed the music, and it worked very well on this horn, in G. Nice, nice little horn, the experiment was a success. Later in the month I also used it for a descant in church, same deal, and it worked well there too. Three years of nothing, and then twice in one month. Weird.
Still on the lookout for a reasonable backup for my unique main horn, here is another shot at it. The Indiana really didn't do it, and this Wurlitzer-era horn came up locally at an attractive price. I figured I could keep the 'better' of these two same-priced Martins, and not really lose any money. The horn is in excellent condition, no dents and 90% lacquer. The valves are smooth, and compression is excellent. The case has some tattered leather on the edges, but is otherwise in excellent condition and does not smell. It came with valve oil, a Humes & Berg straight mute, and a Martin 7 mouthpiece. The 7 is the largest of their stock mouthpieces, and feels fairly similar to my 1.25C, though it might be a bit shallower. I like it, the mouthpiece is probably worth keeping, if nothing else. (It seems to itself be worth around $50 on the open market.) I pulled and greased the slides, which were pretty stiff, nearly frozen, and they all slicked up just fine. The valves oiled up nicely, too. Initial evaluation of this horn shows it to be pretty similar to the other Martin, neither of which sound much like my main horn. The search continues? I glued and painted the case corners, it looks a lot better as a result. Oiling the latches made them work much more smoothly. The horn's #1 valve would occasionally lag on the way up, and no amount of cleaning seemed to help. It didn't seem damaged, though, so I stretched the spring a little bit and that seems to have taken care of the problem. I polished the few spots on the leadpipe where the lacquer is failing, and then used Renaissance wax on it. Everything looks pretty sharp now, and of course the horn itself is a decent one. I haven't decided whether to keep either of these, or to sell them, but this one is certainly in marketable condition now.
This turned up on Craigslist, at an attractive and ever-dropping price, and I finally just had to go look at it. It was at an estate sale, as it turns out, and the guy was in a mood to dicker. I looked it over and it seemed to be in pretty good shape for a well-used horn of its age. Maybe 85% lacquer, and only some relatively minor denting and a bit of creased bell rim, and some minor deformation. I made a yard-sale offer and he took it. It came with a somewhat beaten case, a lyre, and two Conn 4 mouthpieces: one of them kind of worn out.
Original Craigslist images:
I have no actual need of this, of course, but rumor has it that this cornet is actually a better horn than the 17B that was my first trumpet! (And quite possibly better than my 14A lucky parade horn. It is, though, definitely the least-desirable of the coprion cornet models.)
Anyway, I cleaned it up a bit and lubed it, and tried it out. (There was gunk in the leadpipe and mouthpiece, but that was easily dealt with.) Even with the hated Conn 4 mouthpiece, I liked it! I even found that I wasn't hating the mouthpiece, which surprised me. I didn't really spend all that much time with it, but I definitely liked it better than my old 17B, and the 14A. It seemed to be fairly on par with the 80A. It's definitely worth some more investigation, and not an immediate candidate for flipping. Perhaps I should start keeping an eye out for one of the more well-regarded coprion cornets? (The 9A, 10A, or 12A models, or perhaps even an 18A.)
A week later I had another session with it, and #1 valve was a bit draggy at times. Disassembly showed that it had been dropped at one point and the edge on the bottom of the valve was pushed in a bit, resulting in slight shoulders at the edge of the bend. The valve could not slip all the way through the bore, and bound at the bottom. A bit of judicious filing and lapping on the valve bottom seems to have fixed that. I then cleaned the horn thoroughly this time, and it now plays pretty well. I still really like it, it's probably a keeper.
I had been looking for a good backup horn for awhile, but on a bit of a budget, and while I had found many a decent-enough horn, nothing was really what I would call 'good enough' to substitute for my main axe, if necessary. Monday, December 8, 2014 I found an ad. on Craigslist, near where my brother lives:
Local band director has two great horns for sale. I just purchased a Monette and no longer play either of these horns that are now for sale. The first is a Benge MLP from the 70's. This horn has been in my family since new and is in great shape. It plays really well after a recent valve/felt adjustment. It is a great lead horn with a really free blowing upper register. The horn locks well and plays great. My father played this horn professionally many years when it was new. This horn comes with a Monette Prana BL mouthpiece that lists at nearly $300 new these days! It really fits this horn well from my experience. $600 ... I am trying to raise some cash to purchase a C trumpet.(My earlier brief experience with a borrowed Benge 3X ML led me to believe that this horn could be a very suitable choice as a backup [or even primary] axe.) I called my brother, and he seemed pretty willing to call the seller that night, and throw it on his errand list for the next morning in town if it worked out. Which it did, and the horn was bought early the next morning, before classes started. The price was attractive enough and there was sufficient interest in it that if he'd waited any longer to call, or to show up, the horn would have gone to another. Not surprisingly, there was no dickering.
The seller provided a letter with the horn:
My father, Al Robertson, ran an 8-piece dance band for years and played trumpet. He was playing a Bach Strad when I was growing up and decided he wanted to buy a new Benge. He was really well connected to Don Wunn Music Store in Portland (he knew Don well) and Don asked the Benge Factory to send him several new horns to try. The local pro at the Benge shop selected six horns and sent them to Portland and my father tried all six. He chose the horn you now own and used this horn for many years playing in his local band. He later played with the Dell Herreid Orchestra in Portland that used much of the same book. I became a band director in 1973 and trumpet was one of the most difficult instruments for me to learn. I would say about 15–20 years ago my father stopped playing as trumpet was getting too difficult to key up his chops so he switched to tuba and played that instrument the rest of his life. About two years ago I started playing trumpet seriously myself and started taking lessons from Gerald Webster (the top trumpet teacher in the metro area). I have really done well and enjoy playing trumpet a great deal now. I currently play in a brass quintet and also with the Beacocks Jazz Band. I also sub with the Marcinkiowisc jazz band in Portland (Joe M. builds trumpets). I ended up buying an expensive Monette trumpet at my teacher's urging and I had to sell an expensive '57 Chev pickup that was restored to pay for it. (A new Monette is nearly $30,000!) My Monette is used and still very expensive.Perhaps now I can finally consider the search to be over? If I were to sell all of the unsatisfactory potential backups I have bought since my search began (Conn 12B, Martin Indiana, Martin Imperial), even if only for what I'm into them, they would easily pay for this horn. (I think the two Martins are goners, but I'll probably keep the Conn because of its copper bell.)
The Benge you have is a great horn that just went through a valve alignment to make it play even better. I had no idea it would help it as much as it did. I hope you enjoy the horn and would welcome any questions you might have at any time. I love playing trumpet and am just starting to get some chops and endurance built up.
Enjoy the horn!
Original Craigslist images:
When I picked up the horn it looked pretty good, but the first two valves were solidly locked. They did loosen up and work pretty well, but it was a bit concerning at first. Closer examination showed that the horn was filthy inside, there was green grunge throughout that was probably responsible for the valve issue. When I got it home I bathed the horn thoroughly, a lot came out of the inside. Ugh. I then polished and waxed it, the horn looks very good and the valve are great. Compression seems good. There is some fairly significant corrosion in the leadpipe, but it is not holed or anything.
The horn, though, is pretty bright. This is in keeping with what this particular model was generally used for: commercial and lead playing. That's not really what I do, though, which led (in time) to my acquiring a Benge 5X, a somewhat darker horn. Me like! That, of course, meant that this horn was left without an active role. After some consideration, and dismay at how large the instrument pile was getting, I decided that it was time to retire my lucky parade horn, an unnecessary affectation, in favor of this one. Just in time for the eighth year of the Laclede parade. This horn is louder, brighter, and easier to play: all good characteristics for use in a parade! I'm also not as worried about the safety of the gig, it's gotten pretty familiar. So, in light of all this, ...
...Another year for the Laclede parade gig (2017, #8). The 'leather' trim on the horn case was coming loose in places, so I used black weatherstrip cement to secure it. We liked the canopy over the trailer last year, but I was just not that happy with the Connestoga-style hoops and the flimsy safety rope. I started to make a pinned-together wooden frame for the trailer that should be a lot more secure, and which will allow for more roof overhang and thus more shade, besides being more picturesque, but I don't know if I can finish it completely in time for the parade. Plan B is to get as far as I can, but still use the metal hoops for the roof.
I had been looking for an E♭ tuba sporadically for awhile, ever since it was pointed out to me (when I had apparently missed getting a very nice York locally) that B♭ music readers can read bass clef music on E♭ horns merely by adding three sharps and pretending it is treble clef. (This would be for playing duets with my son on bassoon, as my modest efforts to learn to read bass clef have not gone well.) I was on a bit of a budget, and eventually I ran across this one. $414, shipped.
Original eBay description:
Antique Conn 3J Eb tuba, good ready to play condition.
Antique C.G. Conn 3J (I think) Eb tuba good used condition. Valves are all free as are the slides. Has good compression. Has dents but no large ones. The worst can be seen in last photo. Some silver loss and could use a good cleaning/polishing. serial number #159773, 1918 model? 32in. long and has a very large 16in. upright bell. Comes with a very good no name mouthpiece.
Original eBay images:
|Front view||Back view||Bell|
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 it showed up, and it looks good. It should shine up well. There is a fair amount of pitting and scuffing, but it is not all beat up. There are two pretty good bash-ins on one side, but the bell looks good and the valves work. I can play it, the mouthpiece seems to work for me.
Saturday, September 26, 2015 I wrapped it in aluminum foil and submerged it in water and washing soda. That seems to have put a dent in the tarnish, and it's now clear that there is a fair amount of silver loss to go with the pitting. I still think it'll shine up nicely. The next day I had at it with MAAS, while watching TV, and it ended up looking fairly nice. I had to rap on the bottom valve caps fairly firmly with a grenadilla stick to get them loose. Valve #3 might be binding a bit. It's hard to be sure.
This turned up on Craigslist, at a somewhat high price, but it was at a good-cause thrift store and the finish and case were in surprisingly good condition, definitely better than the 17A, and I finally just had to go look at it. I bought it, $250 on 30% off Tuesday. (Hey, it was for a good cause.) With two mutes, a Conn 4 mouthpiece, lyre, and valve oil. There is some damage to the rest in the case and one latch spring is broken, the receiver was cocked, the bell rim was bent in a bit, and there are some small dents in the bell. One of the felts was missing, and #3 was rammed into the valve casing with the plastic guide not in its groove, so it was very stuck. The valve seemed to work fine once it was reinstalled correctly.
I had some new valve felts that fit nicely, and I cleaned the horn and polished the mouthpiece. I used my thumbs to roll out the bend in the bell rim, and to straighten the receiver. It now looks very nice. Interestingly, it sounds a bit different than the 17A, and the bell is larger. The wrap is a little different, this horn's leadpipe is shorter. I might actually prefer the sound of the 17A, but this one is sure prettier!
|Right side||Top||Left side|
Efforts to rank the two cornets had been inconclusive so far, so Monday, September 21, 2015 I took them both to band rehearsal. The plan was to play one in the first half, and the other in the second. I started with the 17A. Unfortunately circumstances turned out such that the second half was very short on playing time, so the experiment wasn't what it should have been. But I was enjoying playing the 18A more, I think, so I guess the jury's still out.
This turned up on Craigslist, at an extremely attractive price, and I tried to ignore it but couldn't. Even throwing it at my low-brass friend didn't work, he said he already had one, thank you very much, and that this one might play better than Jill's baritone. I had been toying with the idea of joining in Tuba Christmas this year (2015), and was mulling over the choice between the baritone or the E♭ Tuba. Well, the choice has been made!
Double Bell Euphonium, Made by J W YORK Co. 3 valves on top and one valve on side, has hard side Case, (case is functional and shows some wear), instrument is playable, call Walt.
According to the seller this horn was his father-in-law's pride and joy, and was played up until fairly recently with a banjo band in Tacoma. The seller inherited this, and as they didn't play they thought it was time to pass it on. It had been gone over by our favorite tech only a week before his unexpected passing a couple of years ago, and pronounced good at the time.
The horn clearly was high-pitch originally, and has a bunch of single-tube slide extenders on it to bring it to modern pitch. It came with the original old mouthpiece, but it doesn't fit anymore because the receiver has been replaced with a larger one. It also came with a nearly new 6-1/2AL mouthpiece, which fits the new receiver perfectly. The horn seems to play fairly in tune with itself, on both bells, and looks great. It only has minor dents in it, most should be able to be taken out easily.
I did some minor polishing on it, and pushed out the worst dent in the bell. I lubed the slides and valves, and the tenor bell neck. There are a couple of broken solder joints that will have to be dealt with, it's actually possible to completely remove the leadpipe (but not the receiver) from the horn. I made a sleeve for the original mouthpiece out of some plastic from a .410 shotgun shell casing, and it fits well enough now. I find that the small size of the old mouthpiece suits me very well, and it's probably what I will play on the horn. The only thing I have that I like better is the Herco I have for the Bass Cornet. I wrapped the blackened mouthpiece in aluminum foil and boiled it in washing-soda-laden water. It came out a light gray after only a few minutes, and polished right up after that to a nice shiny silver.
I played the horn for Tuba Christmas, Saturday, December 12, 2015. A first for Spokane, and for me. I think it worked well, and the horn drew a lot of attention, especially as I'd put a battery-powered string of lights on it and wrapped it in some garland. I used the smallest-size binder clips, padded with some cloth bits to protect the horn, to make attachment points on the bell rims for the decorations. The worst part of the gig was that I just can't find a comfortable way to hold the horn! I used the Herco 'cheater' mouthpiece, it worked great. I even got my picture in the paper, which was probably pretty galling to real low brass players, long-time supporters, and the event organizers!
Saturday, October 22, 2016 I dropped the horn off at the shop to have the leadpipe reattached. I asked her to see if the receiver could be shifted slightly so that my wrist wasn't cocked at quite such an angle as I played. (It got uncomfortable after playing all day last year.) A month and a half later I picked it up, $81.53 for what I had asked for. It doesn't look quite as good before, perhaps, as the receiver brace is no longer the original, but it should work better for me. At Tuba Christmas, Saturday, December 10, 2016 the horn again drew some interest, and it worked well. The receiver angle change helped with comfort, but the horn is still quite uncomfortable to hold. Maybe a neck strap or a support stick? TC was almost twice as big this year, with 35 participants to last year's 18.
One of the 48 big-bell Martins that were made for Mic Gillette and friends in the 70's. My brother had at one time played this professionally, and it was one of his most prized possessions until a tragic house fire destroyed it in 2016. I brought home the carcass (photo 1, photo 2) so that he wouldn't have to look at it, and made enquiries of the restoration masters. The deal I made with my brother is that I'd fund the restoration, if such was possible, and in return I'd get to play it (at least for a while) until he paid me back for it, then it'd return to him. There wasn't much joy, due to the severity of the bell damage, until I talked to Dick Akright, builder of my main axe, who found that Mic's estate had one of the original bells that was not on a horn! (Apparently he kept it on the mantle.) With Mic's passing it was no longer of interest to the family, and it was available at a reasonable price. All of a sudden resurrecting this horn became a potentially viable proposition, and Dick wanted to restore this horn personally, if it was at all possible to do so, even though he is nominally retired. In mid-February 2017 I sent him the parts we had recovered from the fire, along with a letter describing our intent, and he put it on his projects pile. (My term for it!) By April he'd decided that the project was definitely a 'go', and began. Tuesday, April 25, 2017 he sent me a photo of the completed valve section. Shiny! From this photo it's clear that the result will need re-plating if it's ever to look anything like it did before the fire.
One odd thing is that the horn's serial number would place it in 1957, yet that is clearly incorrect. A NOS valve section? An old horn reworked at the factory? An anomaly, for sure. There had been an original factory receipt in the case, which I had once seen, but the fire destroyed that source of information.
Before Restoration Images:
|Fire 1||Fire 2|
|Sidelit||Bell Hole||Right Side|
|Valve #1||Valve #3||Left Side|
|Bell Face||Bell Rim|
During Restoration Images:
|Valve Section||April 25||Lead Pipe||May 19|
|Bell||May 30||Engraving||May 30|
|Assembled #1||May 30||Assembled #2||May 30|
|Right Side Bell||July 11||Right Side||July 11|
|Left Side Bell||July 11||Left Side||July 11|
|Finished, Right Side||August 28||Finished, Left Side||August 28|
|Finished, Bell||August 28|
Monday, August 28, 2017 Dick called and said the horn was done, and would be shipped immediately. Thursday, August 31, 2017 it arrived. Beautiful! Not new by any means, it still bears some scars here and there, but highly satisfactory. The old bell and unused parts came back too, it looks like he didn't re-use any of the tubing. Just the valve block and some of the bits and braces.
I played this horn for the Fall quarter. It sounds a whole lot like the other one, and is certainly prettier. But... I find myself preferring the original. If for no other reason than it feels a bit better in the hand.
Monday, January 15, 2018, the experiment over for now, I used a torch and removed the pearls from the buttons and dropped the horn off with the rock guy for some custom buttons. Some kind of fire-red rock...
I'm endlessly looking for a good backup horn, it seems, on a bit of a budget, and while the Benge 3X+ is a good horn it still wasn't an ideal substitute for my main axe. I found a nicely-priced 5X on eBay. The 3X+ is a fairly bright horn, the much-less-common 5X is described as darker. When I borrowed a 3X once I found that the smaller ML bore didn't seem to be any kind of problem, the horn was a joy to play. Monday, October 10, 2016 my 'new' 5X came. It's a newer model, a UMI rather than the more desireable earlier models, but it looks like it's built exactly the same as those and was in overall excellent condition. (Far from mint, but entirely presentable and indeed needing nothing, other than a new grab button on the third valve slide dump crook and some slide stop nuts.) It came in a nice ProTec gig bag. I washed the horn and lubed it, and took it to rehearsal that very day. I liked it!
Up for sale is a VINTAGE 1980's SILVER E-BENGE TRUMPET W/CASE EXCELLENT CONDITION! READY TO PLAY. Horn is in excellent condition for its age, has mother of pearl buttons, valves are smooth like butter & all slides come right out nice and easy. Came into our shop comes w/case, Benge 7C mouthpiece, mute, & valve oil. Trumpet has a few little dings, photo 12 is a picture of the worst ding. This trumpet is super clean for being 30 years old.Auction images:
When I had some time I polished the crevices that the PO had missed, and it looks sharp. All the slides work well, even the third slide dump. I found an "81" stamped on the third slide brace, and one on the first slide ferrule, which makes them matched parts to the horn. (They're the last two digits of the serial number.) The horn does not look worn at all, even the valves, which points to light duty. Some pings and light scratching on the bell, but nothing even very noticeable. I bought some Bach slide stop nuts, they look like they belong there. Dating the horn has been very problematic. By the engraving it's clearly not an LA vintage horn, but it doesn't bear a UMI-style serial number, yet all of the details match my LA horn. By the King 6-digit brass serial number list this would be circa 1986, which was right in the midst of the successive Conn and UMI acquisitions. Clearly a transitional case, but likely still more Benge than anything else at that point. I would guess that it's still all LA parts but assembled in Eastlake.
Later I dropped it off at the shop to have a new button soldered on the dump crook... When it came back she'd removed all the little dents, which I hadn't asked for but which was nice for $20, but forgot to put on the button. Next time we first write down what's to be done!
I found a good-looking used Benge case on eBay for $150, shipped. It came Thursday, June 1, 2017. It had a bent latch, and there aren't really any pads in it, just a hard shelf. I used two hammers to straighten the latch, and some rolled toweling should do for padding.
The next time back from the shop she'd put on the third valve water key. The difficult part of "match the other one" turned out to be finding a water key pivot that looked right. She ended up stealing an assembly off of a nice old Frank Holton trumpet. (These water keys have a pivot that looks a bit like snail eyes on stalks, more elaborate than the usual sheet metal bracket. She said she'll replace the one on the old horn later.) The nipple was also a bit of a problem, she ended up fabricating one out of a saxophone octave vent. It took hours, she did it all for about $100. Wow.
So far we're up to just about $900, ready to play and the way I want it. Not great, but acceptable.
Besides endlessly looking for a good backup horn, I'm also generally taken with Benge trumpets and seem to be collecting one of everything; this one came up at a good-enough price, so I bought it. While the horn is solidly UMI in age, the design is still classic Benge, and I believe it to be essentially identical to earlier such horns.
Benge 7T Herald Trumpet with case—Bb—B flatAuction images:
Serial # 43 4631XX
Excellent Playing Condition—Very Good Cosmetic Condition
All solder joints are solid
Professionally ultrasonically cleaned internally at our own in-store repair shop to insure that valves and slides all work smoothly.
|In case||On case||On case, 2||On case, 3||Assembled|
|Right||Assembled, 2||Bell, right||Assembled, Left||Bell, left|
Googling showed it to be this exact horn: http://www.trumpetmaster.com/vb/f139/hark-herald-trumpet-51482.html The horn did not have a case at that time; the case that came with it now is a cheap no-name case, and not a Benge original. Not bad, but decidedly odd. Looks a bit like an alto sax case.
There I was, pretty happy with the Benge 5X, and an LA-vintage 5X came up at a reasonable price. I tossed a bid at it, not expecting much, and I won! It's the last thing I need, but it is a more desirable vintage. I suppose I'll decide which I like better and sell the other one. Or something.
Here's a Los Angeles Benge Resno Tempered Silver model 5X Bb Trumpet in excellent playing condition, serial 84XX, ML bore. All valves & slides are excellent, tight, work free & easy. Horn shows scratches, has some nicks & dings, nothing tragic, Great Horn! The 3rd valve slide stopper & holding post is missing. Comes in its original hard case. Of course listing shows pictures of the actual instrument you will receive. Buyer to pay $30.00 shipping in 48 states. Paypal payment preferred. Florida residents pay 6% sales tax.Auction images:
I didn't have time to mess with this horn right away, so I loaned it to a friend with a 3X ML, and he said it was a nice horn that he couldn't really distinguish from his own, though perhaps the bell felt a bit heavier? Later I cleaned and polished the horn, and had a play. Seemed quite nice. I compared it physically to the UMI 5X and they are very close. Not identical, though. I think the leadpipe extends a bit further towards your face on this one. I checked, and though these horns are the same bore the third valve dump slides do not quite interchange. They start to fit together, but then bind up. Tolerances, etc. So, I can't just blindly swap my new spit valve over from the UMI.
I bought a lot of Benge trumpet parts, and in it were two new third-valve slide water keys.
I was wandering the antique mall and ran across this. Clearly non-authentic, likely a drilled-out branch of some sort, but attractive enough, and at an acceptable price. I liked the bend in it. It was cracked, but that's just wood. A few days later I followed some instructions I found online, and used a gouge to remove some wood from the inside where it wouldn't be missed, chopped it into sawdust with a knife, and mixed it with PVA wood glue to make a paste, then troweled it into the cracks. Less than stellar results, mostly due to the sawdust not being fine enough, and too dark because they had burned (for effect) the inside of the bell where I got the wood, but probably adequate. I used some cyanoacrylate glue to level it out after it had dried some. I still need to fabricate a beeswax mouthpiece, I have a pound or so that I had picked up earlier at the thrift shop, for $5.
Supposedly didges are excellent for warm-downs, strengthening your breathing, and even to help reduce sleep apnea. Plus, they're cool. What's not to love?
The next morning I cut a chunk off the end of the beeswax brick and put it in a halved pop can sitting on one of those 20W mug warmers. After it warmed up some, and impatient with the slow progress, I got out the heat gun and ramped things up a bit. Once the can's contents were liquid I dipped the mouthpiece end of the didge into it to form a nice sealing base for the mouthpiece. I then stirred and cooled the remaining wax until I could scrape it out and roll it into a half-inch rope, which I then stuck to the dipped end and started forming into a mouthpiece. The heat gun helped keep things warm as I formed. Eventually I got something that looked OK, and seemed to work. Not a lot of wax left over, so I guessed on the quantity pretty well.
I have been wanting one of these for a really long time, but the days of getting one at a decent price seem to be long past. Wednesday, April 11, 2018 I finally caved and did a BIN of $1134, ouch. It's a late-model UMI and not a more desirable early model, but I guess I'm OK with that.
REALLY BEAUTIFUL SILVER BENGE POCKET TRUMPETAuction images:
AS NEAR MINT AS POSSIBLE
MADE IN THE USA
ML BORE .460
NO DENTS NO DINGS
NO WEAR THROUGH OF PLATING
A VERY VERY LIGHTLY USED HORN
READY TO PLAY
INCLUDES ORIGINAL CASE
|In Case||Right Side||Left Side|
It really is in perfect condition.
Only after having BIN'd the first pocket Benge, I started looking closer at the pictures and noticing differences like the valve caps. Maybe this UMI is not all that great an item. I decided to buy the other one that was for sale too, which is vintage. Get them both, make a decision, and sell one. I don't think I really need it to be silver, though that is certainly my general preference.
Extremely fine condition - This Pocket Trumpet plays great and I think you will be very impressed with the sound. Mouthpiece seen in photos is not included. Buyer will need to purchase a mouthpiece that works for them.Auction images:
|Right Side||Top||Top 2|
|Case 1||Case 2||Case 3|
It is in generally pretty good used condition. Numerous lacquer flaws, but no damage. The first-valve trigger is missing, and there's no sign that it ever had a thumb saddle.
Return to Site Home