Bone players covering the bass parts on a tenor trombone - instrument selection(s)

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by 2nd tenor, Mar 15, 2015.

  1. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I found the recent thread about covering the Bass Trombone part on a Tenor Trombone very interesting – it is both a challenge that I might take on at some point and learning how to make the instrument play well and through the trigger in the lower range is an interesting development of playing skill – however the ‘conversation’ centred around mouthpiece choice to use with an existing instrument. It didn’t seem completely fair to add on to the other thread (!) so I’ve started this new one in the hope that it will produce some useful comments on the large bore tenor and maybe the single trigger bass too.

    What features make a (large bore?) Tenor Trombone more or less suitable for playing the Bass Trombone part? In response #3 of the earlier thread Dave Taylor did mention how very well Simon Cowen had played Bass Trombone for Staines at the area Championship Section on a Conn 88H (CL version?), so it can be done well with the right instrument. However, would it have worked as well on a Bach 42 with a standard valve and closed wrap? I’ve ready many comments elsewhere in which players felt that that instrument was ‘stuffy’ in the trigger range.

    Whilst selection after personally playing several instruments for sale and excellent technique might be part of the ideal purchase process life doesn’t always work that way, and anyway it’s helpful to read the comments of others to narrow down what’s likely to work for you. Thinking about trombones 'speaking' well through the valve section and the variables to have in mind I came up with six - some of which will be more important that others – but there might well be others that should be on this list: bore size(s), valve size, f section wrap type, valve type, valve quality and qualities, and quality of the f section’s build.

    Reading generally the larger the bore and the larger the valve the better - so a 0.548” bore is preferred over 0.525” – but little if any data is available on rotor sizes. Simplistically air flow that has a 90 degree change of direction through the (rotary) valve (as on the standard Conn 88H) is better than 180 degrees (an on part of the YSL 448 ) however valve size and wrap type might well change the f section's overall air flow qualities. I believe that the Yamaha has a larger rotary valve (than is common on other makes) and that in part compensates for the greater angle and that the wrap type (with less tight bends) allows further benefit(s). The Rath 400 Bb/F ( looks sensible to me – 90 degree turns through the valve, minimal and gentle bends in the wrap's pipe-work and not too much wrap overhang - but a second hand YSL 448 might be more affordable and work well enough for me.

    I wonder both what design features, etc. players should consider when buying a trombone to cover both Tenor and Bass parts, and what particular instruments other players have found that work well for covering that wide pitch range.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2015
  2. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Why not use a bass trombone to pay the bass trombone part?

    They are different instruments for a reason, they create a different sound.
  3. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Fair point.

    I believe that at one time the 0.548" bore trombone was considered a bass - no larger bore was available - but today it is considered a tenor.

    It may be that the larger bore and double trigger bass tombone is perfect for the task, whilst its smaller and simpler brother is just OK. 'Just OK' is good enough for what I (and maybe others) would like to do and as I pointed out above the size seemed to work for Simon Cowen.
  4. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    When in comes to large bores, trombone players are the absolute experts.
  5. Basstiger

    Basstiger Member

    Right, here's my tuppence worth. I used to own the aforementioned Bach Strad 42B with closed wrap valve. I played tenor trombone parts very successfully on it for years. When I changed bands since I was the only one with a trigger trombone I was asked to play 3rd trombone - this in a concert band though - I took this on with my Strad using a Wick 4BL mouthpiece. That combination did me well for a couple of years, and because I didn't know any different then I stuck with it. When I was left some money I decided to buy a bass trombone as everything I was doing at that time, bands orchestras etc was bass trombone. So I got a Holton TR181 double plug bass and what a revelation that was after the Strad!
    My next experiment came when I moved to the band I am currently with. The standard is not high and I wondered if I really needed a 2 trigger bass. So I acquired myself a Yamaha single trigger bass which was more than up to the job, and was particularly good for marching jobs. However I missed my second trigger, so have just got myself another 2 trigger bass and am currently rediscovering the joys of the 2nd independent valve! I use a Wick 1AL with my basses.
    In my mind there is no substitute for a bass trombone in terms of sound; I do understand though, there are people who need to cover bass parts without becoming a proper bass trombone player which in itself is a scary prospect!
    I might add though, that the single trigger bass I have can be made to sound like a tenor, but I'm not sure a tenor can ever really sound like a bass.......
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2015
  6. Feel My Rath

    Feel My Rath Member

    Having played (but not owned) on both open and closed wrap Conn 88Hs, I can't say that I noticed much difference in their blow - I think it may be more about the valve than the tubing.

    At the same time I also had a play on a Bach 42B (closed wrap) and a Bach 42T (I think) which had a Thayer valve and open wrap. There was a massive difference in how they played in the valve register. The plain 42B was stuffy - even worse than the Yamaha 356G I was playing at the time, whereas the 42T was like blowing into a carrier bag - there was just no resistence to it at all. I liked neither of the Bach bones.

    My Rath R4F has a Hagmann valve which I really like. It has a little resistence like a traditional rotor, but is much more open feeling, but nowhere near as open as the 42T I tried was. Can it sound like a bass? No. Can it cover a bass part if needed? Definitely.

    I play in a small ensemble which means I have to (at times) cover parts intended for French horn, Baritone, Euph, Tenor trom, Bass trom, and Bb Tuba. I'd like to think that I'm doing an admirable job, but at all times I sound like a tenor trombone.
  7. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the responses so far, the last two have been particularly helpful and gave a lot of opportunity for insight into what features to look for and what to be satisfied with.

    A proper bass trombone will have something like a 0.562” bore and typically two triggers but a large tenor at 0.548” with a single trigger can be made to cover the work with a large mouthpiece (Wick 2 – 4) and an open valve. The valve quality is much more important that wrap type so, providing they are well made and large(r) bore, either closed or open types will be fine for what I’d want to do.

    Hagmann valves, which have a little resistance to air flow, work better than both traditional Rotary and Thayer valves but they are rare. Traditional rotary valves have historically been undersize (the Gen II Conn 88H has a bigger valve than the Gen I and the Bach 42 is considered undersize) but larger rotary valves and better porting (as on the current Yamaha design) do much to improve air flow. Rotax manufactured valves are considered amongst the best of the rotary type valves (well engineered and optimised air flow for the size) but their compactness is more a need on other (three/four valve) brass instruments and (IMHO) not necessarily of any advantage on a trombone. When the time comes I’ll look for a large rotary valve with (any parallel) pipes well separated and curved into the valve ports as per the Yamaha design.
  8. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I'd ment to pick up the point about using a bass as a tenor in my post above (late last night) but missed it. Whilst I think a large bell bass trombone might look too out of place let's set that thought to one side - I'm more interested in results than presentation and this use might help somebody. How do you make a single trigger bass trombone (e.g. a Yamaha YBL 322) sound like a tenor? Is it just by using a smaller and shallower mouthpiece or what?
  9. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    how come 'bone players are so into the tech specs and design features of their instruments? I don't think any other type of brass player is so obsessed with hardware
  10. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    It is insufferably dull. Unfortunately this is what happens when the mods (well, mod) zealously deletes the interesting posts.
  11. Basstiger

    Basstiger Member

    My single trigger is a Yamaha YBL 321 and by using a tenor (4AL) mouthpiece I can make it sound tenorish. For some reason it doesn't take as much air to fill it as my 613H although the bores are supposedly the same.

    On the subject of valve types I might add at one point I was recently the proud owner of a Yamaha YSL 682B "Bousfield" Bb/F tenor which was the most free blowing and lovely sounding tenor even in my hands. No substitute for a bass sound though:)
  12. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Ever seen any of the trumpet forums??!
  13. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

    No posts deleted in this thread - tried specsavers?
  14. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    It is impossible to see what isn't there Pauli. Though I do know that an interesting thread was deleted yesterday, a thread which you yourself contributed to (thus in my mind giving it approval and validation). I can only assume that either you had a change of heart on that or that the mods are not of one mind. Or maybe some mods are more senior than others?
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015
  15. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

    I can see what is not there so trust me, no deleted posts on this thread so far (and no, that isn't a challenge! ;) )
  16. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    There's various reasons for trombonists getting more interested in specs than other band instruments, imo. Also, note that if one thinks this limited amount of inquiry is geeky and inward-looking, then clearly one hasn't spent any significant time hanging around trumpeters...

    Reason 1) It's a relatively simple instrument. Only a few parameters to fiddle with; changes relatively straightforwardly seen. You can fiddle with little bits of (say) euph design, but be prepared to get much more confused than you will fiddling about with trombone design. And those that design trombones get fairly confused at times...
    Reason 2) It's a relatively difficult instrument to make sound good. It's always tempting to blame the instrument for deficiencies in the noise output - "Ah ****, I just sounded like an idiot again. Hope it was the instrument and not me..."
    Reason 3) Many brass band trombone players also play a lot outside brass bands. Within banding there's something of a culture of "Just blow the damn thing"; outside banding people often take more of an interest in the non-essential stuff than is seen within it.

    If you find the conversation boring, don't read it. Don't understand why anyone would join in with a conversation just to announce that they found the conversation boring - you wouldn't do it in a pub, would you? If you did, the response you'd get would be both swift and predictable.
  17. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

  18. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    At the risk of incurring the conversational displeasure of the mad B flatty one...

    Bang on. The whole 'closed wrap' thing is pretty much nothing more than a marketing ploy as it currently exists. Get the valve right, don't bend the tubing too tightly, and you can make it loop the loop without having a badly playing F side.

    It's common to find a large variation when comparing Bach trombones. If you lined up a row of 42Bs to try, you'd find that there were some that were much more to your taste than others - it's eminently possible that both that you tried were inferior examples. I haven't tried the 42T, though I have tried a 42A (Hagmann version) - this felt beautiful and mellow to play, but I'm not convinced that it would have been easy work to make it cut in a band the way it would need to.

    Say rather that they work differently, not better. It's worth noting that it's not uncommon to encounter a UK pro player that's tried them then gone on to something else. All these low-resistance valve designs seem to do better with the US market, where there are a lot of people looking for a more mellow sound concept than we are in the main. At the far end of the spectrum is the Thayer valve, which often manages to feels more open blowing when engaged than when not engaged.

    Also, I wouldn't describe them as rare - most players with Raths have one or two on, and there are a lot of Raths around in banding these days...
  19. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Me neither. Hope it came out okay!
  20. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    It came out more than OK and thank you for the other posts too.

    If anyone (mods aside) doesn't like the specialist content of this thread then they would be happier doing something else.

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