Bass Trombone Change in the BB world

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by B(r)assBone, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. B(r)assBone

    B(r)assBone Member

    Hi there,

    I wonder why so many Bass Trombonist playing in Brass Bands switched to Rath Bass Trombones and did not stay with an Edwards or buy a Shires?
    Is it a different and more "modern" sound that is currently wanted and provided by the Raths? What might be the reason for that? In my opinion both Edwards and Shires have good quality and work reluctantly. All three of them (Rath/Edwards/Shires) are in about the same price range. So, can't be the price and quality, I suppose.

    So, what might be the reason for that?

    Since, I am in the market of maybe buying a new Bass Trombone - does anybody have experiences with a Rath R9, Nickel Silver bell, Dual Bore Bronze Slide, Hagman (heavy caps), Yellow Brass Tuning Slide? How open and free blowing is it compared to Edwards/Shires? Is it a darker/brighter sound compared to the other brands or a more sonor sound? Could anybody provide some details and impressions? I am looking for an instrument with very good response, not only in loud but also in soft dynamics. I don't know how it is with such a Rath, but Edwards/Shires need more effort in soft dynamics to respond, but do not provide the full and rich sound. But they do on loud dynamics and don't break up an becoming nasty too quickly. I know it's always they same, choosing thicker bells, keeping the sound together on loud dynamics, but need a lot of work to get started on soft dynamics. So how is it with the Rath setup from above?
  2. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    I play a sovereign with a big bell and a bucket mouthpiece, all i get asked is to shut the f*** up
    pedaller likes this.
  3. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    oi , shut the f*** up !
    pedaller likes this.
  4. Worth checking out the new Rath R900 as well. Off the shelf, so a good deal to be had.
  5. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    Try all versions of all makes of trombone and buy what works for you!

    Do not make the mistake of going into to somewhere like Rath with fixed ideas, because you will come out with a totally different setup to the one you thought you would!
  6. Cybone

    Cybone New Member

    The reason Raths are so popular in Britain is because they are made in Britain. Raths are not necessarily the best trombones in the world but they amongst the best.

    I carried out a very informal survey at a Whit Friday venue last year involving 50 bands. Approximately two thirds of all the bass trombones were Raths and one third of the tenors were Raths. I would say that Rath have pretty much cornered the market for new trombones in this country and I for one feel very grateful to have them.
  7. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    That's a very sweeping statement, even on your straw pole 66% of tenor players don't play Rath!

    Mick makes a quality trombone, and the advantage is that his factory is at most a 4 hour drive from almost anywhere in the UK, and if your spending that amount of money on a 'boutique' horn it is easier than having to fly to the USA.

    But his trombones do not work for everyone, so as I said try everything and play what works for you!
  8. JimboFB

    JimboFB Active Member

    My my, where to start here...

    Just waiting for MoominDave to interject with his findings as i understand he has just got a new Rath R9!!!

    I 'had' an Edwards, cant remember the spec, but i went to packers and they built me a R9 rath copy. Exact same spec. Plays nothing like the Edwards. For me, its just not the same, i cant figure out why, maybe lead pipe? maybe hagman vs thayer? Either way, IF i could i'd get my old Edwards back tomorrow i would 100% do it.

    From my personal experience, i think that the fact you can get a 'custom made' trombone is in theory a good, thing but in reality, mayb ethere are too many options for the average trombone player and you end up with a 'pimp my trombone' type scenario where its not quite what you want but you cant figure out why!

    Before you all start saying, try other options on the Rath - I have (bells/slides/leadpipes/mouthpieces) and it doesnt matter what i do, its just not quite how i want it to sound.
  9. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    I would say that location will play a strong factor. Mick's based right in the middle of brass band heartland, so he's in the right place for the UK bass bonists.

    FWIW I'm still on a 30 year old King Duo Gravis with no intentions of swapping, so I can't really comment on the way Raths play, however Mick has done some modification work to my instrument. He's a good guy to deal with and did a great job so I can imagine that those going and getting a bespoke instrument from him get great service.
  10. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Hah, my reputation precedes me! It's a second-hand R9 - a lot cheaper than a new one... Still loving it - just an easy easy bone to play, and the sound works well in a brass band. It's not as interesting a sound as some of the older designs (the Conn 73H does still come out sometimes, though not for band), but I had become conscious that other players who were using more up-to-date instruments had fewer playing limitations to work around; I had begun to feel that I was selling my playing short through prioritising sound quality over flexibility. Must admit that I am on a relatively small setup as R9s go - in general all this modular stuff seems to be designed for somebody who wants a less crackly bass trombone sound than I do. 9A leadpipe, 9.5" 745 bell. It does have independent Hagmanns - would be interested to try swapping out Rotaxes to see the effect. To my mind the metal composition is not an effect worth noting - but it's all yellow (I think) if that's what anyone wants to know.

    I agree that (in my somewhat limited experience) even with custom makes you find a characteristic maker sound - for me, the average Rath R9 has always had a bit more 'colour', a bit more 'interest' in the sound than anything I've ever heard or played from an Edwards B454. Shires also, as far as my experience goes - but that is not very far. I suppose Raths were designed in a country whose trombone playing tradition is heavily influenced by the brass band style, and so one would expect that the sounds that they make it easy to produce fit more naturally with that tradition. Just my take though - I know there are plenty of Edwards devotees in bands.

    But James - you are right! It's very tempting to look for modular hardware shortcuts to fix one's own playing lazinesses... I was happy to buy a second-hand R9 that felt like a good blow out of the box and wasn't set up in an obviously idiosyncratic way with the aim of getting to know how it played thoroughly before going on to experiment with it. I'll give it a while yet as it is.
  11. Gtrom

    Gtrom Member

    I had played a Yamaha 613G for upwards of 20 years and have switched relatively recently to a Rath R9. I managed to pick it up second hand but luckily the spec was what I was after being Red Brass Bell with Hagmann valves. Obviously being second hand it took away from me the wide choices available of materials and set ups but in a way I was glad as I learned to produce the sound I wanted with the equipment I had. My colleagues often told me they liked the noise from the yammie and since the noise from the Rath is just as good (if a little easier to produce) especially in the lower register. The valves are ultra quiet but require more maintenance than most (13 drops of oil in each every week) and the slide is just a joy. I had a quick blow on an Edwards B454 at a recent Trombone Convention and was a bit disappointed with it, it felt heavy and cumbersome, I guess in time I would get used to it however I took to the Rath almost immediately. I have never played on a Shires so cannot comment. A huge part of me did not want to go with the flow and follow the crowds to Rath but I'm so glad I did. (for some reason my "return key" isn't working on tmp so apologies for my presentation).
  12. B(r)assBone

    B(r)assBone Member

    Dave, are you still with your R9? How do you like it after a while?

    Did you chose the Nickel Silver Bell and Bronze Slide or ever had the opportunity to play this configuration? Any comments on that? Somebody told me that it is hardly possible to edge out with that particular configuration. Is it really like that? Can't imagine if this instrument is made with Brass Band in mind.
  13. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Have changed leadpipe to a standard 9 (after experimenting with a larger prototype that came with the instrument), and am currently using a slightly bigger mouthpiece - not sure if that's a personal playing development thing or an instrument response thing.
    Have not yet taken the time to go to the Rath factory to play with bell and slide options... It's still a nice-playing bone out of the box...

    Mind you, just back from a gig playing the B&H Imperial G&D... That thing has some serious tonal heft when pushed!
  14. B(r)assBone

    B(r)assBone Member

    My general rule of thumb is - you have a choice between easy response and good sound, do you agree? How is it with the R9? I read a lot of posts telling that both the response and the sound is great. Does this rule not apply to Raths? Fuller sound less edgy? How would you describe it?

    I haven't tried a B&H so far. Easy playing horn?
    I also went for a bigger MP and play a 1G most of my time. The sound seems to be fuller when pushed but I really have to work sometimes since it is more difficult to get a good core with bigger MPs
  15. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Not seriously recommending the antique .523" bore B&H, was just joking really... No, it's not an easy-playing horn... But boy can it rip...

    I can only really speak about the particular Rath that I have (described above)... Yes, it has both an easy response and a colourful sound throughout the dynamic range - somehow the traditional trade-off isn't made in quite the same way. Articulations still feel a little unfamiliar to me on this open-blowing instrument, I felt that I needed more 'leverage' with the mouthpiece, hence the slightly larger piece (Laskey 85MD at the moment, which is wide but only medium-deep and has a much smaller throat than something like a Bach 1G). I may well experiment with Rotax valves to see if a little bit more back-pressure helps make articulations feel more secure.
  16. Mujician

    Mujician Member

    Horses for courses. I tried a Rath, a few years ago. Loved it. Far more than my Edwards. I'm nearly at the point I can afford a Rath, and then sell my Edwards. If someone makes me an offer on it then I'll make do without for a while. Go with what you like. If you have the time, you could go to somewhere like Prozone Music and ask to try out a number of instruments. See which one you like. The best bass troms to test out would be Rath, Shires, Kanstul, and Conn - not necessarily in that order of course. Most pro players in orchestras tend to have Conns. I like Raths for the response the instrument gives, and the aesthetics. If Conns were prettier, I would consider getting one!
  17. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    As a cornet player I feel a bit of a gooseberry in this thread, so I won't linger, but...

    This, 100%. IMO you have to be a pretty seriously good player before the tweaks and mods you get from any custom made horn make any noticeable difference to your playing - or at least more difference than an extra 30 minutes practice every day would make. I've quite regularly seen average players go out and treat themselves to thousands of pounds worth of boutique hornage to end up as... the same average player, but with an expensive horn. A class player can make a £150 student cornet sing. Unless you've got (a) a really solid technique and a good, settled embouchure and (b) a really clear understanding of the theory behind instrument design and how it affects your sound going for something custom made is at best an expensive luxury. [The same applies to swapping mouthpieces every six weeks but that's a whole other dull thread...]

    That's not to say that if I won the lottery I wouldn't be off to Eclipse for a pimped up frankencornet, just a cautionary tale against expecting miraculous playing changes from pimping a horn unless you know of a specific deficiency in playing that's due to , ahem, inferior tackle. Brass players aren't alone in this; I've lost count of the number of golfers/fishermen* who swear blind they'd be a better golfer/angler* if only they had a set of top notch, preferably custom made, clubs/rods and reels* [*delete as applicable]
    Jack E, pedaller, stevetrom and 2 others like this.
  18. Basstiger

    Basstiger Member

    I went ages ago (Jan 15) to buy a new bass trombone.....bearing in mind I don't play at a particularly high standard....and am never likely to need a Rath R9. I tried a new R900 though and came home with a 2nd hand Yamaha 613H which in my limited honest opinion is quite the nicest instrument I have ever played. I had one ages ago which was a bit of a dog but this one is really good and I will probably never need another.
    But each to their own. If we all liked the same thing it would be very boring.
  19. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    A sports reporter apparently commented to Jack Niklaus something to the effect that 'luck had really been running his way' after he'd won a golf tournament. Niklaus grinned and replied:

    "It's a funny thing; the more I practise, the luckier I get . . . "!

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