Opinions on a new trombone

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by T Bone Funky, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. T Bone Funky

    T Bone Funky New Member

    To give a little backstory, before Christmas I damaged the slide of my trombone slide at a concert. After the instrument repairer tried repairing it, he wasn't able to get it back to 100% working condition such was the damage. So he suggested that I get a new slide for it via the insurance. It then became apparent that nowhere in the UK supplied Conn slide assemblies on their own, and that to get just the slide assembly I'd have to ship one over from the States, which bumped the cost dramatically and could take up to 6 months! so it was decided in the end that a brand new complete trombone was the cheapest thing to do.
    Anyway, after much deliberating and delay on the insurance company's end, they did pay out.

    Now my initial thought was to replace my Conn 88H with a straight up replacement, BUT, another model from Conn caught my eye; the Conn 89H. Now here's where I'd like some help. Does anyone here have any experience with the 89H model and know if it's as good as the 88H?

    For those who are just passing by this thread, the 89H is essentially a 88H but the trigger section is detachable, and it can be converted into a straight tenor trom.

    The reason I'm considering getting this model is because I play with a jazz band, and I'm also in an Oompah band who gig regularly around the North Wales area. I feel much better playing these jazz stuff and most of our Oompah set with a straight tenor trom because of the high register, but the current straight trom I have is really hampering my high register. It's a Benge (not sure of the model), and though I use my regular Conn mouthpiece on it, I find that my high register is grossly limited on it for some reason, with me struggling to hit top C's, B's and even A's by the end of sets. On my regular Conn 88H I can easily hit these notes, and can venture up as high as super G with relative ease (even beyond that on good days!). So I thought by getting the 89H I could get my new trigger trom and a straight trom, in one, for the price of just one (from the research I've done the 89H costs virtually the same as the 88H).

    My main concern with getting an 89H would be that the places where the trigger section/straight section is screwed on/off vibrates or leaks air and such. I'm basically worried that it's not a sound design!

    So yeah, I'd be very grateful if anyone has any info on the 89H model of the Conn, and also if anyone knows of anywhere in the UK supplies them, as so far I've had no luck in finding anywhere.

  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    No personal experience with the convertible model, just a few points worth raising:

    Regarding the 89H:
    1) Those that mention it online find it a decent design. However, such references are fairly rare.
    2) In one of the above links, someone states that it is only available with the old-style wrap. Reading through this document, this does seem to be true - despite the fact that a new-style wrap is pictured on a detachable gooseneck on the front cover! Is it a big deal if you can't get a new-style valve wrap? I'll just point out that the new-style ("open") wrap has a 180 degree bend as it exits the valve that the old-style ("closed") wrap didn't; in some important ways the old wrap was a more sophisticated design. It wouldn't be a big deal to me; they both play okay, particularly when compared to the very stuffy blow of the rotor side of pre-90s 88Hs.
    3) There's no reason a trombone with a detachable bell shouldn't play just fine. Nobody complains about Rath, Edwards or Shires modular trombones having the problems you ask about. The screw-on parts are not on the air column, but in the middle of the cross-bracing. The tuning slide goes on one side on each component and will seal the same as on an 8(8 )H.

    Regarding straight vs. triggered:
    1) You write that you feel happier playing high on a straight instrument because of the better high register. It is not usually the valvedness of an instrument that makes high register easier or harder. Rather factors such as bore size and mouthpiece choice play a much greater role. Try playing a King 3B/F side by side with a Bach 42 - no contest on high register, the smaller-bore nimble F-valved King will run rings around the heavy-blowing large-bore unvalved Bach. I can't tell whether you are thinking about this in an unusual way, or a pro-type player who is detecting a subtle effect that I've never run across... Apologies if the latter.
    2) I'm not familiar with playing Benges of any kind, but I do strongly suspect that the high register issues you describe are much more to do with the bore profile of that particular design than with its valvedness. At a first wild guess, I'd hazard that, even if it has the same basic dimensions as the 88H (and the fact that your large-shank mouthpiece goes in suggests that it probably will have) the leadpipe will be notably different to the 88H, which will do different things to blowing response and, after a while, stamina.
    3) One does run across ill-informed snobs who say things like "all good trombones have F attachments" (in environments such as bands or orchestras) or "you can't play jazz on that big F attachment trombone" (in smaller trombone environments). Some people (even some trombonists, sadly) listen to trombones with their eyes. Are you trying to satisfy a bandleader of this ilk?
    4) I would suggest giving consideration to purchasing a smaller-bore trombone for your jazz and oompah bands. This really will make the high register easier work, and will make a pointier noise - definitely great for jazz (where something as big as an 8H is almost always unwieldy). Something like a King 3B; these are also cheaper and widely available second-hand.
  3. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    Dave's absolutely right, of course. It's interesting to read that Conn now make a trombone with a detachable F section - that's something that's been on my wish list for a while, simply as I do a lot of orchestral playing which simply doesn't require it. On the other hand, I love the versatility of a Bb/F trombone for the alternatives it gives both in fast stuff and slow chordal writing.

    If you're a Conn man (as I am myself) it may be worth hunting around for a 6H (which is a medium bore straight tenor) or something similar - a smaller bore than the King 3B Dave described, but with the potential to make a nice big sound if required. I love my 6H, it's done everything I've needed it to from Beethoven symphonies to big band/show band work.
  4. T Bone Funky

    T Bone Funky New Member

    Thanks to both for your replies.

    Funnily enough Dave, I've read through all the links you provided as I was doing my own research! The 89H does indeed seem a rare model. As far as what wrap I'm aiming for, I'm pretty easy on that front, though would prefer a closed wrap model as that's what I've always played in my career so far. The 89H is only available with a closed wrap detachable F section as far as I know. I prefer the classic closed wrap to the open wrap, though according to experts the open wrap is easier to blow through due to the fact it has less bends in it. But I still prefer the closed wrap myself.
    I actually realized after that the sections of the 89H connect at the straps, and don't affect any wind pipes, so stupid question on my par there, apologies!

    Maybe I wrote wrong when I said I prefer playing high register on a straight trom. What I was trying to say was that I can play higher better on my 88H than I can on my straight Benge trom. Both are large bore, but I'm sure the Benge is a bigger trombone, despite being a straight one, hence why my register is hampered on that one.
    As you mention, I think it's the leadpipe that does it. It's a shame because I really love playing that Benge, but because it hampers my high register it doesn't appear that I'm going to be using it for much longer as it doesn't fulfill the purposes I use it for; Jazz band and Oompah band. Lovely instrument, but looks like it'll be getting the boot from me soon. Benge aren't in production any more, and I believe that they were bought by Conn Selmer. I think I'm right in saying that they specialized in bass trombones, but the straight one I have is a really nice instrument that produces a lovely sound. Underrated make I find.
    To clarify, the reasons I prefer just a straight trom for Jazz and Oompah are because of ease more than anything else. I'm standing up for both of these (up to 4 hours for Oompah) and a straight trom is lighter of course. Our Oompah gigs also tend to get messy in terms of drunkenness, so you can see why I may have reservations about using my £3,500 Conn for those gigs!
    Fortunately I've not come across people like that, but even if I had, I wouldn't listen to them. The only people I will listen to when it comes to my own instrument is my old teacher from home or myself of course, as I have more than enough experience on my own instrument to know better than anyone who says such drivel as "you can't play jazz with a valved trombone" or "all good trombones have triggers"! I've played my fair share of jazz with my 88H to good effect! But yeah, I'm just trying to satisfy myself here, nobody else. I'm just testing things out until I find the right formula for me in terms of my equipment.
    I do actually have a smaller trombone with me; a Blessing B128 Scholastic. Small bore. It's been sitting at home unused for over 10 years pretty much. The only reservations I have about using this again is the fact that I can't use my regular Conn mouthpiece on it. Using a smaller mouthpiece and a bigger mouthpiece at the same time will mess with your embouchure, something I want to avoid. I've had a look around for a converter so that I could possibly use my large bore Conn mouthpiece on my small bore Blessing, but there doesn't seem to be any available.

    I don't really have any interest in purchasing another straight trombone. I was looking at the 89H as an option since I was in need of a new trigger trom and I saw it as a chance to kill 2 birds with one stone so to speak, given that it cost the same as an 88H. But alas, after a lot of searching it doesn't seem to be available in the UK anyway.
    I've placed an order for a new 88H just now, next day delivery (for free may I add!), and at a bargain price!
    As far as what I do about my preference for a straight trom for Oompah and jazz band, I'll likely just push on with the Benge, or just do what I've occasionally done and just use my Conn. I am however strongly considering saying "F**k it" and just using my Blessing. That trombone has a lot of nostalgia as it was the first trom I owned, and it belonged to Ed Jones (Principal of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra). My mother always tells me to get rid of it, bug I can't! I really want to start using it again so I may just take that leap and go for it! Some company needs to hurry up and make a converter for the purpose I need though ideally!
  5. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    Benge are good trombones, and often overlooked (if not under-rated) - though they do take a lot of blowing as I recall. That could simply be because my Benge (Bb/F) was my first large-bore tenor - although by then I also had a Bach 50 (bass) to [try and] fill at my local band. Certainly I would have hung onto it as an instrument for college, if I'd been able to find a Conn 8H - but only the 88H was to be found, so I had to sell the Benge to meet the cost of that.

    Dave may be able to correct me on this, but I wonder how much resistance is lost in the Benge as it has single-radius bows at both bends in the instrument - those on the Conn are a fair bit tighter. Not much, but there could be a difference there - not much of one, I imagine.

    My previous trombone before the Benge was a King 2103 (an ML-bore Bb/F, not sure how this fits in the 2B/3B scheme of things - Dave?), which I didn't get much use out of before the slide plating gave up, unfortunately. Going on to the Benge, I found a fair family resemblance - the two brands shared manufacturers by that point (c. 2000) I think.

    Don't listen to your mother (just this once). Never get rid of an instrument! I still have the Imperial cornet I first started on (aged about 7) which gathered dust for years - it's now my teaching instrument for trumpet pupils...
  6. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    As for mouthpieces, what do you play on? A lot of models can be found in small-shank versions - or if you have a 'No. 2' mouthpiece, ask any repairer who knows how to use a lathe to turn it down to fit.
  7. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    The open wrap does have that sharp 180 degree bend as you exit the valve. A feature like that is potentially more limiting than a greater amount of gentler curves, as in the closed wrap. Something like this tries more successfully than either design to minimise the amount of extra resistance in the valve section.

    There are people who love them, for sure. I think it was the Cleveland Orchestra that used Benge trombones professionally for many years. The bass model was the 290, but they did make well-regarded tenor models of various sizes too - 190 and 165 for large bore, 175 for medium-large, and probably some more too that I haven't heard of. I have tried a friend's 175F - it's a nice bone.

    Avoid converters; they mess up the intonation and make the instrument feel funny on the face. Not sure I've ever seen a large-to-small-shank one either - it would have to have a pretty odd shape internally and it's hard to imagine it working at all.

    You know your own embouchure best, but plenty of people double on different mouthpiece sizes for different instruments. It's not the disaster you describe, as long as you give both respect. And, as Jack points out, tenor trombone mouthpieces are often available in both large- and small-shank versions - what size is yours? It might well be possible to find a small-shank exact equivalent for you.

    Do you mean that the Benge has dual-radius bows, i.e. two distinct bends each moving 90 degrees? My 88H definitely has a single radius at both ends, i.e. only one bend travelling 180 degrees. In any case, it's hard to comment without having blown one myself! And while trying out various trombones leads one to try instruments with both single- and dual-radius bows, and to wonder what the effects of that are exactly, I don't think I've ever been in the situation of comparing side-by-side two slides on the same bell section that differ only in bow type. You'd want interchangeable leadpipes on both too, so that the test could be done with the same pipe. I suspect the answers may be counter-intuitive; I'd be interested to know!

    Slightly confused - the 2103 is the modern badging of the 3B, i.e. a medium-small (.508") instrument, not a medium-large one. King never had a very satisfactory label for their medium-large (.525") instruments - historically it was the 3B+, now it's the 2103PLS, according to the Conn-Selmer website. As far as I can see, the addition of a F-valve still implies the addition of "F" on the end of the model number (though it used to be "/F").
  8. Daniel Sheard

    Daniel Sheard Member

    I'm late to this thread - hi funky, who do you play for in North Wales?

    I see you've already ordered a new 88H, but if I had been in your position having damaged the slide, I would have been looking for an 8H and then you have the option of two configurations.

    Daniel. (Northop)
  9. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Good spot, Daniel... Feeling a little silly for overlooking that possibility here...
  10. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    Dave, my apologies - it could well have been an MS rather than ML bore. It was my first owned instrument; really wasn't that aware of specs at the time.

    In terms of bow radii, I had meant single radius as in the curve of the bow adheres to a perfect semicircular shape - ie. there is no change in the curve, meaning it could be measured as having a continuous radius. Conn slide bows have a slightly flatter curve - ie. a smaller radius to begin with, but opening out into a gentler curve along the bottom of the bow. Bach slide bows are even shallower, having an almost squared-off look. Does that make more sense? Sorry, I was up early and the tea hadn't kicked in at that point :)
  11. T Bone Funky

    T Bone Funky New Member

    They are indeed, and from blowing this Benge I have I can tell that I have to work harder to shift air through it.

    The larger bends in the Benge will definitely be a contributing factor I'd say, not much, but every little helps as they say.

    Oh I have no intention of listening to my mother haha! Each time she suggests it I just blow her off in that respect!

    I play on the standard 5G Conn mouthpiece that comes with the Conn trombones. I'll have to look into possibly getting a small shank model of that.

    I play with Llanrug.

    You know what, you're right there. I feel so stupid not to have realized that! There is a 14 day return option on my new trom...
  12. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Ah, I see what you mean now. Bachs (or at least the larger ones) are in fact squared off, with two corners and a straight section - hence 'dual-radius'. I'm not entirely clear on the blowing effect of this - you'd expect (a) tighter bend(s) to create more resistance - but then at the bottom of the slide crook you have a wider bore anyway, due to being beyond the end of the inner slide. And Bach 42s are even wider, as they use the same crook as on the Bach 50 (but the same bell section and valve as the Bach 36 - no wonder the 42 is a bit schizophrenic to blow). In short, I don't know well enough to comment - it's more complex than might be imagined.

    For some reason, it is difficult to find either specs or buying information on CKB ("Conn King Benge") or UMI ("United Musical Instruments") mouthpieces, which is how all modern Conn mouthpieces are badged (so far as I'm aware?). I did a few years ago buy a UMI 1-1/4H from them, so it must be possible... I think I rang them up in the US and then waited a long time for it to arrive. I do recall that the range that they sell is basically a derivative of the Bach mouthpiece range, and is not as extensive as the Bach range - it's eminently possible that there isn't a modern Conn small shank equivalent. Please let me know if you find out that there is!

    That's the (probably) bad news. The good news is that they are not very different to the equivalent-numbered Bach mouthpieces, and Bach definitely do offer a small-shank 5G, which should be easy to obtain in this country. N.B. This is not the 5GS, which has a shallower cup; Bach designations are not like Wick designations - they don't mark the shank size in the designation at all - you'd want simply a small shank mouthpiece stamped "5G" if you want the closest equivalent.

    If you could at this point find someone who has an 8H and wants an 88H instead, you could trade the bell sections and probably even make a little money on the trade. But you'll have to move quickly now if you want to both scope that possibility out and retain the option to return the new one.

    Incidentally, it tends to be worth travelling to a shop and hand-picking a new instrument rather than just ordering blind - some are great, some are a bit duff, and you won't know which until you've got them in your hands.

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