Instrument Modification!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by madandcrazytromboneguy, Mar 9, 2006.

  1. just wondered if any of you could think of anything that could make instruments easier to play or hold or keep in good condition etc.

    could the bass be smaller or lighter and still be as effective in sound?

    could the euphonium have less tuning slides to worry about? lol

    could there be anything to make the balance of holding a trombone easier?

    any other questions like these and answers to them would be very interesting!
  2. vonny

    vonny Member

    Clive I see you're in reflective mode :wink:
  3. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I think euphs and basses have to be the size and weight they are because of the compensating tubing. If you took that away it would be virtually impossible to get a BBb in tune. I can't comment on trombones I'm afraid - I thought they had balancing weights in anyway?
  4. ronnie_the_lizard

    ronnie_the_lizard Active Member

    Re: lighter basses -
    I play on an old B&H Imperial Bass (but modified to a sovn-size large bore mouthpipe) rather than a sov - the newer Besson sovn basses are much thinner/lighter material & just don't feel right. They sound different, but not necessarily better - depends what you want to use them for. I don't think lighter would be possible without losing sound - you would have to lose either compensating tubing or bell diameter.

    Re: Modifications
    For me, there are 2 things that I have been considering as modifications - I find that the pipe that goes across behind the valves to hold on to is in the wrong position for my grip and there must be a better way of arranging this - possibly with the tube in a different place and an adjustable padded grip to allow the fingers to sit better on the valves. In particular I find my thumb searches desperately for something to rest against but there's nothing there. Secondly I have big problems with water buildup and could do with more water keys on e.g. 3rd and 4th valve slides, though you could then end up with more drip-marks on the instrument - perhaps some sorrt of sump for drained water to collect into would be possible.

    Re: Futuristic dreams/nightmares
    In the longer term - why do we still rely on all-mechanical instruments - For basses especially I can't see any reason why the valve mechanisms couldn't be replaced by an electronic system with buttons/pressure pads instead of valve caps and then the entire 'valve block' could be done away with and replaced with individual (and lightweight) electrically controlled valves wherever they are needed rather than having to have the 'standard' and 'compensating' part of each valve in the same vertical line. I guess the potential electric failure problems / battery costs etc might outweight the advantages ??
  5. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Basses (and I presume the same applies to other instruments) are certainly a lot lighter than they used to be. When I was in college I used to play - and frequently march with - a 3-valve BBb dating from about 1940. Fine instrument, and easy-blowing, but a bit of a monster to carry. When I moved onto bass at Hadleigh and was presented with my 4-valve Sovereign (playing it on the march for the first time) I was pleasantly surprised how light it actually was.
  6. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    I know one instrument manufacturer are currently investigating improvements to basses in regard to size, valve bore, leadpipe positions and materials.

    The only way to better balance a trombone is to get a custom one but you get used to whatever you play.

    Removing the slides from a euph would be a bit daft, especially considering the intonation issues the newer ones have already.

    The best way to keep them looking new is to keep them in their case, always the best option.

    The only improvement I think necessary is quality control on instruments coming into the market place. Once we are sure whats being manufactured then we can start asking for modifications on them.
  7. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Brass instruments have been evolving since the first caveman blew down an animal horn and thought that it sounded nice. If you look at the way instruments have changed in the past hundred years, you will see that some have changed and others haven't. If you take a Hawkes Clippertone cornet from the 1920s, apart from a few obvious differences, the overall size and shape has not changed much. However, looking over to the right hand side of the band, trombones have probably changed the most. Up until the 1950s/60s you would still see two peashooters and a G bass, but now we all use American large-bore tenors and a lot of bass trombonists use those awful Edwards blunderbusses.

    My point is this, though; apart from constant fine-tuning and improvement in manufacturing techniques, instruments haven't changed too much. Maybe they have got as good as they are going to get? Scary, I know :( . Maybe Conn trombones are always going to have a duff middle A (brass band B). Maybe euphs are always going to have to tune their Fs and Gs and maybe cornet low C# and D are going to be sharp as a witch's nose? I don't think any amount of electronic gadgetry is going to make much difference. In trying to play 'in tune' (equal temprament, which in itself is out of tune) we are actually trying to change the laws of physics. I'd much rather not worry about it and look forward to my pint after band practice :guiness !!!!!!!!!!
  8. starperformer

    starperformer Member

    Far from it - we put up with a load of rubbish. All current instruments are minute incremental improvements on things that were designed in the 1800s to suit the peculiar characteristics of the pig iron they were wrought from. There is no law of physics that says that brass instruments must be cumbersome and each have a known variety of duff notes [particularly in the case of trombones - no excuses there]. The best instruments out there today are the ones with most interest from the outside world - trumpets first and foremost.

    That's what you get when you allow design processes to be monopolised by a company mostly interested in outsourcing cheap labour, adding gold valve caps to silver instruments and then going bust.
  9. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Interesting concept. 'The outside world' - are you suggesting brass bands are not part of the overall musical world? I think they are, and I talk from the perspective of a pro player who just happens to play in a band for fun. I can see what you are getting at, though but I think you are a bit harsh on Boosey/Besson. From the turn of the 20th century to about 25 years ago, I don't notice any other companies producing a better euphonium (for example). We must realize that the brass band world (oh dear, I'm doing it now) is tiny in comparison to orchestral, jazz etc. For a company who (in the main) produce only brass band instruments to compete with Yamaha, who are a huge multi-national organisation, is impossible.

    Anyway, back on track, I feel that Besson were absolutely right to try and perfect their cornets and euphs by fitting tuning slide triggers and fitting fancy valve caps was just a way of advertising the differences. No major manufacturer has produced an off-the-shelf instrument with a tuning slide trigger until that point, so Besson can hardly be accused of complacency. It's just a great shame that one of our national treasures went belly-up due to mis-management. Anybody want to buy my Rover Metro?
  10. starperformer

    starperformer Member

    Not that brass bands are not part of the musical world - but that all innovation in the instruments is driven from outside. The further an instrument is from being of use in orchestral and jazz settings, the less research has gone into it in the last 100 years. This explains why, for example, cornets, which have some minor uses in other mediums, are just starting to get obvious features that were developed on trumpets decades ago (such as spit valves that don't redirect all the air into a series of turbulent eddy currents). Soprano cornets, however, are not getting any of those features, despite the fact that any rocket scientist or brain surgeon could see that it's just the same instrument but a bit smaller.

    Same applies to euphs which do get some minor interest from elsewhere and do have the occasional feature added on, while modern baritones are probably modelled on euph designs of the 1940s.
  11. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    I want someone to make a BB with the tubing wound tighter(pocket trumpet fashion) so that it's the size of en Eb bass. I'm not bothered about it being lighter, just smaller.

    Part of the reason BB players have a reputation as being technically inept on the fast stuff is the extra distance between the valves on a BB, as compared to an E. Unless you've got hands like shovels (and I ain't, although a lot of BB players have) this can become prohibitive when there's a lot of back-valve stuff going in, and there's no reason for it as the valve pistons themselves are of an identical bore-size. Lazy design again.

    Plus the physical size (not the wieght) of the instrument can also make it difficult to fit inwith. I've always thought my seating position with a BB is a compromise between being able to breathe properly, and where the instument will actually let me sit in order to play it! I never had that problem with an Eb Tuba.

    As soon as someone makes one, I'll buy it.
  12. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Aren't the Courtois BBb about the same size as a Besson EEb? Recall seeing someone from Thurcroft with one some years ago and I thought he was transposing the BBb part on to an EEb.
  13. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Not sure. If they are it could be well worth looking into!!

    Anyone play one?
  14. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    Blackburn Salvation Army band bought a Courtois BBb bass not long after they came out. They are definately smaller than a Besson BBb and it was often mistaken for an Eb bass by onlookers. I've no idea what it was like to play, but the player who played it liked it.

    Didn't Fodens have a set of Courtois basses when they were sponsored by that company?
  15. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    From John Packer website

    Courtois 182 'Symphonie' Tuba BBb Lacquer Capable of fully professional level of performance. 4 valve, compensating. 19mm bore with 475mm yellow brass bell. Deluxe case with wheels. Innovative compact design.
  16. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Great - I'll do some more research then! Thanks for the help Tubafran & Mr Kelly.

    (and apologies mods for hijacking the thread for the last 15 mins!) :oops:
  17. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    There is a company in the USA called Ergobrass which makes harnesses and supports for trombones, euphoniums and (probably French) horns. I don't know if they are any use or not, but they are recommended by Ben van Dijk, bass trombone of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and bass trombone teacher at the Royal Northern College of Music.
  18. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    Fred Rhodes Ltd is the official UK importer for Courtois instruments, so they would be a good place to start.
  19. vonny

    vonny Member

    I think it's amazing how instruments come in different shapes and sizes, big bells, little bells.... At the end of the day it dosen't matter, it's quality that counts, not quantity :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink:
  20. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    After discussion among the moderators, several off-topic posts have been removed from this thread. Please feel free to PM myself or any of the team if you have questions about why these posts were removed.

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