Round stamp, wide bore?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Suzi Q, Jan 19, 2018.

  1. Suzi Q

    Suzi Q Member

    One day I want to buy myself a nice tenor horn, I use a band instrument at the moment. I’ve been looking around (dreaming!) and have noticed some terms I really don’t understand. What does ‘round stamp’ and ‘large bore’ actually mean? What’s the difference? What’s your preferance and why? And are there any other terms I need to be aware of when buying and instrument?


  2. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    "Roundstamp" means it's a boosey & hawkes sovereign - the bell stamp is a kind of globe motif.
    To many these are the best era of production - the designs were slightly different then, but it's more that the production quality was more consistently good (Vs the later Besson sovereign's which have had some very dodgy periods with a mix of good and bad) - a good instrument from the roundstamp period is no better than a good Besson made later, it's just your odds of getting a good one are different and this leads to a perception that the roundstamp were intrinsically better (which is questionable)

    "Large bore" refers to the size of the cylindrical cross-section through the valveblock - ie: the diameter of the tubing (usually measured at the 2nd valve slide).
    This itself makes far less difference than many believe but at the same time larger bore variants are usually designed to create the expected effect (less resistance) in other ways such as the leadpipe or bell profiles.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
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  3. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Suzi - I asked a similar question re. bore sizes some time back, and Moomin Dave kindly posted a couple of links to performances which illustrate how different medium and large bore instruments can sound (and I stress, they can - but I've been told that a skilled player can make a cornet sound like a trumpet, and a trumpet sound like a cornet, so it's not cut and dried!).

    The first is the legendary Bert Sullivan playing with the GUS Band in 1960.

    That far back, Bert was almost certainly playing a medium bore euphonium. Listen to the clean articulation, every note perfectly defined, yet without a harsh edge to a single one - I'd give my eye teeth to be able to achieve that with a baritone, never mind a euph!! In fact, if it hadn't been made clear on the YouTube clip, I'd have assumed that Bert was playing a baritone.

    Now have a listen to this clip, of Bob Childs playing 'Carnival of Venice', with Brighouse & Rastrick, twenty-five years later (so almost certainly on a large bore euph), and you can really hear the difference.

    And for a direct comparison with Bert's performance, this is David Childs playing the same piece in 2013:

    Quite a contrast, eh? And it doesn't just apply to euphs. I've read comments on here as to how different modern bands sound to the way they used to be, from people who have records going back many years. On the other thread, I commented to Moomin Dave:

    "I've only just played both tracks through, Dave, and listened to the band sounds - my GOSH!! What a dramatic difference in them, too! I take Fettler's point, in that the sound recording equipment will have changed dramatically in that 25 year gap - but as soon as I listened to GUS playing that middle section, blimey - it took me right back to when I was playing with marbles, conkers and gobs, and hearing the local Sally Army band playing in the street on Sunday mornings . . . over 60 years ago . . . and that was just how they sounded, so I don't think the recording had affected the sound of GUS to that extent. Funny how vividly some old memories are crystal clear, isn't it?"

    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
  4. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member


    Just bear in mind that the boresize is only one of the factors at play here - these instruments are FAR from identical in lots of other ways (bells tapers and flairs, leadpipe tapers, weight, wrap), and the vast majority of the difference has very little to do with the bore.

    Just for a modern example:
    The Maestro cornets feel quite resistant and almost stuffy compared with most of the serious players in the market now - the Neo couldn't really feel much more different to play if it tried... And yet - both are exactly the same bore size (.469 L bore).

    Long story short there are a LOT of different factors at play and bore is only one of them (and a fairly minor one at that).
    Yes the older instruments are different from the modern ones, and yes there's a trend towards slightly larger bores (the difference is tiny really though) but there's so much else going on that to portray old-v-new as medium-v-large bore is leaving out the majority of the picture - it's practically a correlation-causation fallacy

    Edit: I'm also aware that it's quite likely I've written it similarly out of laziness at times... Since most modern large bores are designed to have bigger blow generally then referring to "largebore" to mean all of the changes that go with it doesn't normally incur any significant misunderstanding.
    At the same time, it's worth its interesting just how many different factors really are at play.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
  5. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    That's true, Tom - but bore size isn't the only dimension which has radically changed; bell size is another. For instance, the bell on my 1974 baritone measures 8 inches. Compare that with the bell sizes of current Yamaha instruments:

    Yamaha YAH-203 Tenor horn: Bell dia. 8.062 inches
    Yamaha YBH- 831 Baritone: Bell dia. 9.600 inches

    I think you'll agree that that is a pretty significant difference.

    As another indication of how much modern instrument sizes differ from old ones, consider this; soon after I bought my baritone, I went shopping for a new case, and the only one I could find which would fit was made by Gewa. In other makes, the smallest I could find was made for a 9 inch bell, and some were even larger. All the others were made to fit baritones with bell sizes from 9 inches upwards.

    I did look at cases meant for tenor horns, which would have been a nice fit for the bell, but they were of course too short on length. If it hadn't been for Gewa, my only hope would have been to find a second-hand case.

    Re. bore size; I believe the bore size on my baritone is 0.500 inches. I'm not sure how to compare that with a Yamaha, as they quote two sizes; for the YBH-831, it's 0.520 - 0.551 inches. John Packer's JP373 is quoted as 0.547 inches - so we're looking at an increase of about 10%. But I've also read about still earlier baritones and trombones (not student models) with a bore size of 0.462 inches - and from that to 0.55 inches is about 20% larger.

    Even those numbers don't give a fair indication of the significance of the change, as they are bore diameters; in terms of blowing resistance, a more realistic measure is the change in cross-sectional area, as below:

    Bore Dia., 0.462" - csa 0.168 sq. inches
    Bore Dia., 0.500" - csa 0.196 sq. inches
    Bore Dia., 0.551" - csa 0.238 sq. inches

    So the csa of a bore of 0.551" is 21% bigger than that of a 0.500" bore, and 42% bigger than one of 0.462". I think it safe to say that such an increase would have some impact, especially as the increase in bell sizes make it virtually certain that a proportional increase was made all the way from the valve block to the bell.

    With best regards,

  6. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    One of my Trombones has a 0.500 inch bore and another has a 0.55o inch bore, both are good quality instruments. The smaller one is relatively easy to blow for longish phrases but has limited sound volume (quite loud but still an upper limit). The larger bore will take all the air you can throw at it and is exceedingly loud until I run out of air (which doesn’t take that long).
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  7. sop@55

    sop@55 Member

    And no-one has touched on mouthpieces yet.........o_O
  8. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Don't go there, you'll never stop me :p
  9. sop@55

    sop@55 Member

    tee hee....there is also the question of what one sounds like on a particular instrument and how it sits with the others in the section. I remember a summer school where John Hudson said "close your eyes and listen to front row "A" band. Then do the same with front row "B" band. the difference was one player was playing a bach mouthpiece. and the largest bore (bore) in the world could not help him blend. So, "if all your mates play a modern Sovereign maybe you should too (same for Yamaha...etc)" . Oh, I've also converted to lacquer as I can leave them out and they don't tarnish! yet another thread in the making.
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  10. David Broad

    David Broad Member

    Couldn't put it better myself, horns play primarily as a section creating chords so a matched set of instruments is always going to be ahead of the game as regards intonation and blending compared to a non matched set. As long as they come from a reputable manufacturer they will rise and fall in temperature and pitch together.
    Personally my favourite Tenor horn is a 1920's Boosey, sounds like a Flugel up around top C, instead of like a gelded Euphonium, very sweet, very easy to play ppp but crackles when you go for ff.
  11. Mello

    Mello Active Member

    - a good instrument from the roundstamp period is no better than a good Besson made later, it's just your odds of getting a good one are different and this leads to a perception that the roundstamp were intrinsically better (which is questionable)

    Please note I am NOT criticising comments previously made.. I am merely pointing out that the above statement is incorrect. Having been involved with B&H ( also Yamaha actually ) there are often differences other than the stamp..

    Re the Tenor Horn , which is the original instrument Suzy asked about.
    The original Round stamp Sovereign , is without doubt better than the later model. The man who designed the original Richard Smith ( though not a brass player ) was a genius in my book..a highly skilled technician.
    He is also responsible for the Smith Watkins range of Trumpets.
    The easiest visible difference with the Tenor Hns is the length of the main tuning slide. When comparing the main tuning slides side by side, Old next to New , the smallest of the two is Mark 1 ( the original ). There may be other variations but that is the easiest way by far.
    good dealer will know that anyway so just ask. Go for the original every time .
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  12. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Sorry, that statement I made wasn't the clearest - I didn't mean to say there's no differences between them (I agree, there are differences with the cornets too), but I wouldn't have said a good example of one was better or worse than the other (atleast with cornets), but that more of the roundstamps seem to be especially good.

    Also, I was under the impression (atleast with the cornets) that the later Besson models were designed by Richard Smith (the Besson 927 and 928 cornets) and the Boosey and Hawkes models (920, 921) were not?
    Is this different on the horn lines?

    A bit like there are clear differences between an old NewYork Bach 25/37 trumpet and a current production 25/37 (despite the same bell and leadpipe mandrels) and they play a bit differently - but I couldn't say one design/period was objectively better or worse, just different.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018