Bass Trombone Bells

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by BOB, Jun 1, 2010.

  1. BOB

    BOB Member

    Following an accident, I now need a replacement bell for my Rath R9. I currently have a 10inch red brass bell, and have to decide whether to replace with the same or go for a different spec. As it's an early example, first job will be to convert it for detatchable bell - so then I will be able to try out the various options and decide which sound I prefer. Question is, has anyone been through this process and does the bell spec really significantly affect the sound?
     
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  3. Bones

    Bones Member

    Hi,

    I have an R1 convertible with a Yellow bell and a Rose brass bell but nickel plated. The yellow bell is strident, and get, but untameable if not using it all the time. The rose brass bell is softer but can rip if needed, the nickel plating deadens it a little, so you can be more in control. The is more effect in changing the slides, over slide legs and tuning slides.

    I reckon you should try a nickel bell, make sure someone goes with you.
     
  4. basebonetone

    basebonetone Member

    Hi Bob, I assume you've contacted Raths-they should have a variety of bells/ex demos available to try out-I've just changed my set up -trying to get a really 'dark' sound without losing the flexibility and power as well as production at quieter dynamics. After a lot of development work I would describe the bells as follows: Nickel-massive projection but can get very wild, Yellow Brass: bright tone and focussed in all ranges, good for all types of ensembles.Red Brass: Much darker and orchestral in tone and still able to take all dynamics without breaking up. I've settled on the following set up: Rath R9 Independant Bb.F/D - 10 1/2 Red brass bell (unlaquered) bronze dual bore slide, copper main tuning slide, heavy weight valve caps and Doug Yeo mouthpiece-I have changed mouthpieces 3 times in the last couple of months and this makes a huge difference! So to answer your question the bell makes a massive difference - if you can try a few!
     
  5. Fridge

    Fridge Member

    Bass Bone Bell

    Hi Bob

    I have an R9 Heavyweight Nickel Bell section for sale.

    PM me or email me on alexh@grays-int.co.uk if you are interested!

    Alex
     
  6. MajorMorgan

    MajorMorgan Member

    Hi Bob,

    The important thing is to go to Rath to try the different options.

    In many ways there's little point in comparing set-ups with other people - the joy of a Rath is the ability to put together an instrument that suits you - even if it suits nobody else.

    For what it's worth, I went along to rath looking for the darkest sound possible and ended up with a gold brass bell, along with a bronze slide and red brass tuning slide. I'm not a fan of huge bells - it's a trombone, not a tuba. My bell is the standard 9.5" and would never go any bigger.
     
  7. BOB

    BOB Member

    Thanks for the comments guys. Mick has suggested the first step is to change the instrument to a detatchble bell set up - so I can then try the various bell options. When it was built it was made as a fixed bell (its number 56 - and Mick reckons he's upto 500+ bass trombones now!) - I think it was the only instrument available "off the shelf" when the band bought a set.
    Went up to the factory yesterday - the guys were excellent and showed us around the factory. Looking forward to getting started on the project.
     
  8. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I'm going to offer an opinion somewhat against the popular grain as offered so far in this thread....

    The material that a trombone bell is made out of is one of the least important parts of the design from the point of view of change in the sound that reaches the audience. The shape of the flare, and the diameter of the bell - these are both parameters that generate discernable difference, as they affect the bore profile of the tube... But the actual material that the sound wave is confined by - less so.

    Richard Smith has some informed views on the subject:
    http://www.smithwatkins.com/pdf/BrassHerald4.pdf

    There are a couple of effects that may mislead when comparing notionally identically-shaped bells that vary in either material or material thickness:
    1) A change in either factor will naturally result in a slightly different shaped end result when two bells are hammered out on the same mandrel - bells that are supposedly identical in shape but not material will tend to be different in both;
    2) A change in material (and hence bell weight) will cause the natural balance of the instrument to change. As noted in Richard Smith's article, players are surprisingly sensitive to this.

    In other words, even at the workshop of a world-leading boutique trombone manufacturer such as Rath, there will be complicating factors in swapping out different bells that make conclusions such as "x metal produces a more y sound than z metal" extremely difficult to accurately establish. The portion of the article dealing with the inability of top pros to pick out differences between bells that differed only in material or thickness is particularly revealing, I think, and shows how even supremely talented musicians can kid themselves into believing that a difference is due to something that it is not.

    Best just to go along and evaluate each bell offered to you on its own merits - don't have preconceptions about a particular type of brass offering particular sonic tendencies. Even better, take a friend experienced in good bass trombone sounds who can give you audience feedback on changes - do some blind testing. The input of an experienced listener is often surprising but illuminating in such situations. Of course, the Rath team know their stuff inside out and can offer plenty of pointers themselves.

    For what it's worth, the conventional wisdom is to stick to a 9.5" bell - larger bells are great for playing extremely loudly, but make you work hard to avoid tubbiness at lower dynamics.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
  9. basebonetone

    basebonetone Member

    Bass trom bells

    Best just to go along and evaluate each bell offered to you on its own merits - don't have preconceptions about a particular type of brass offering particular sonic tendencies. Even better, take a friend experienced in good bass trombone sounds who can give you audience feedback on changes - do some blind testing. The input of an experienced listener is often surprising but illuminating in such situations. Of course, the Rath team know their stuff inside out and can offer plenty of pointers themselves.



    Good sensible advice-I have spent many hours in Raths and to be honest you can forget/lose track of what you came in for! Go with an open mind and a clear idea of the type of sound you are trying to get. I have incidentally always played 9.5 bells but the 10.5 I have just moved onto gives me what I want and I have had great feedback from several knowledgeable players and conductors who have commented on the distinct change in my sound-at the end of the day its a very personal thing and depends on how far you want to go
     

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