PDA

View Full Version : Bass trombone advice needed



euphoria
21.01.2012, 16:10
Knowing that there are quite a few bass trombonist in here, I thought this would be a good place to look for some advice.
I returned to active playing 5 months ago after a 10 year break where I have concentrated on conducting.

Before my break my weapon of choice was a euphonium, but I wanted to try something new, and I have always wanted to have a go in the unholy bussiness of bass-tromboning.

I was supplied with a Yamaha YBL 612 trombone with a Denis Wick 0AL mp. It is a dependent double valve trombone and it is in rather good shape for its age (well - in better shape that I was anyway). It was pitched in Bb-F-Eb with an extra attachment supplied to make it possible to pitch it in
Bb-F-D.

In the beginning I just concentrated on my band parts - learning positions and bass clef - and I very rarely had the need for the second valve.

In the last couple of months I have wanted to develop my technique and range and have been playing a lot of studies (mainly Kopprasch and Tommy Pederson). These explore the low range much more than my band parts and I now have to use my second valve all the time.

My trombone has the two paddles trigging the valves set side by side - both being operated by the thumb and I find that to be a problem.
When I first started I had my slide at an angle of about 120 degrees to the bell section which made it sit rather nice on my shoulders and worked OK when I was only having to use my first valve. When I began playing the studies, I found that I had to decrease this angle in order to be able to reach the second valve paddle, without my hand starting to cramp. I now have it set at a 90 degree angle which makes it easier to reach the second valve buth I find it more straining to hold the actual trombone.

I am now considering buying my one bone, but would like some advice.

1) what angle do you have between the slide and the bell section?

2) Is that dependent of how your valve section is located?

3) Does anyone have experiences with both side-by-side paddles (not in-line independent valves) and a setting where the second valve is operated by another finger than the thumb? If so - which do you prefer.

4) If given a choice which pitch do you prefer Bb-F-Eb or Bb-F-D (I have found a couple of books of studies specifically for the latter setup).

5) can of worms I know - but do you prefer dependent or independent valves. I know Douglas Yeo advocates dependent valves because you don't have to blow throgh two valves unless you actualle deploys the second valve, but others have said that this is not so big a deal anymore with improved valves - what is your take on this.

I know I will have a lot more questions later but this wil do for now - any advice on this valve bussiness is greatly appreciated.

Cheers Erik

Basstiger
21.01.2012, 18:29
I will start off the replies by answering some of your points....
I play on a Holton TR181 Bass Trombone which has the independent set up. Personally I prefer this set up but I know others on here advocate the dependent valves. I like mine set up as Bb/F/D as it gives the flexibility to play your 5th position Db/Gb notes in 1st position with 2nd valve only if the music dictates. The triggers on mine are set up so one is thumb operated and the other underneath so I use my middle finger for it.
I must admit I did fall out of love with my instrument recently as I had the use of a Yamaha YBL 622 (dependent) which I could get more air through. However I just couldn't get on with the dependent valves and so went back to my Holton, but changed mouthpiece and now find I can fill it just as well......
I usually have my slide at just over 90 degrees to the bell section but I think that depends on the make of instrument as to where the valves sit in the bell section.
I'm sure others on here will add their tuppence worth....trial and error is probably the name of the game!
If you are looking for a good solid growly bass trombone you can't get much better than the Holton, they are very free blowing and have a lovely dark sound and can often be picked up second hand reasonably cheaply.

hammerholmes
22.01.2012, 00:56
I feel that every reply within this thread you get is going to be totally different! It also depends on what kind of a budget you are working on. I'll add how I feel on here though...

I have, as recently as a few months ago, purchased a new bass bone. I played one of every make you can think of (conn, yamaha xeno, bach strad, holton, edwards etc.) and I must say it was very clear cut which one I went for. Having previously played a bach strad for a good 10+ years i was obviously going toward the new bach strad. I did, however test out one other specific make of trombone which i ended up buying and will never look back. That is a Rath.

I was in the suppliers for around 3-4 hours trying out all sorts of different things and they were so helpful! I ended up with the trombone of my dreams which is an independent set-up (own choice. Not point in getting into arguments over it) with a Bb/F/D set up because, as Basstiger says up above the ability to play your Db/Gb's in 1st position is very helpful when required. Be it for tuning or just for general faster playing. I also went with the choice of haggman valves, mainly because they are so much quieter and less clunky than any other valve section I have ever tried. The mouthpiece I play on at the moment is a Rath 1 1/2 MF which I am still getting used to. I may yet go back to my doug yeo yamaha mouthpiece but we shall see!

The position of the bell, again I feel is completely down to personal preference. I've changed my position since changing trombone as I feel that the best angle to have it at is wherever your fingers rest on your triggers most comfortably. My trigger set-up is similar to Basstiger. My F trigger is situated in the 'normal' place under my thumb and the D trigger I tend to operate with my middle finger.

As for the side by side valves, my old bach strad had that kind of a valve section on it. I loved it at the time because I knew no different but, to be honest looking back on it, it would be very fiddly to go back to now. The two distinct valve positions away from each other allow so much more freedom and movement while you're playing.

As for actually buying one, like I said it all depends on you're budget. My Rath cost me a pretty penny but is a VERY worthwhile investment if you intend on playing it for a long time. I wouldn't be unhappy if it was the last trombone I ever played! I'm sure there are other makes on the market going second hand. I would strongly recommend a bach strad if you were going down the second hand market. People say that they are 'notoriously hard blowing instruments' whereas my view on it is grow a pair of lungs and blow the thing then!

Hope this helps! I'm sure many others will also be more than happy to help you out!

bobbyp
22.01.2012, 10:59
I'm probably not as proficient a player as some folks on here (being a tuba player!) But I can give my opinion on some of the questions you have asked. As always the best advice is to just go and try lots of things out extensively until you find what suits you best.

But, for me in particular;

I have my slide at a smaller angle than 90 degrees, it helps for balancing the weight, on both dependant and independant valves I play.

I play both dependant and independant depending on the situation (some rehearsals I borrow an instrument to save me carry my own) and I much prefer the independant - much less fiddly and less of a strain on my wrist and thumb.

This is probably where I vary the most - only using bass trombone in brass ensembles and the odd orchestral thing I rarely use the second valve, only really for low B's (on my dependant it is much less of a pain to play C's in triggered 7th than double triggered fourth). And in regard to dependant/independant, I think if I had the second trigger on the thumb it wouldn't make a difference to the playing that I use it for.

That's me personally, best to try lots out for yourself though :)

euphoria
22.01.2012, 19:13
Thanks for the replies.

I will try some other trombones as soon as possible to see what suits me best. I have tried a Bach Strad 50 a while back, but that was before I started using my 2. valve much, so was more concentrating on how it sounded (I quite liked the sound), but will have to try other brands and valve configurations.

I would like to have a bone where I use separate fingers for the two valves regardless of them being dependent or independent, since I find shifting between the paddles with my thumb to be a problem in fast music.

MoominDave
22.01.2012, 20:59
Quick response as time-constrained here... An obvious solution jumps out at me - why not pay someone to modify the side-by-side triggers so that they are split? The Yamaha is a good bone, and if you like it, this will be a perfect and much cheaper solution than buying another instrument.

Bayerd
22.01.2012, 21:29
Quick response as time-constrained here... An obvious solution jumps out at me - why not pay someone to modify the side-by-side triggers so that they are split? The Yamaha is a good bone, and if you like it, this will be a perfect and much cheaper solution than buying another instrument.

I asked Mick Rath to make that mod on my Duo Gravis, the cost 3 years ago to do this and sort the slide was about 300. He needed the instrument for about a week (which was booked). He did a great job. I think moving the 2nd valve action will go a long way to sorting your problems (or getting a bone with the 'saturday night finger' set up). I currently play a dependent set up and have played independent in the past and don't have a major preference one way or the other. Bell size is a different issue, I prefer 9.5" size as it's easier to get a more focussed sound.

Bandsman1
22.01.2012, 22:19
As a euphonist who also plays bone (but not bass bone) I can only offer the following advice. Regardless of the instrument you buy, this is down to personal preference, I would however highly suggest that whatever instrument you go for, make sure it has a "Thayer" type valve assembly. These are without doubt the best you can buy due to the design making the change from one tube to another without the usual mili-second delay. Thayer achieve this because the entry and exit are virually "in-line". The next favourite would be a "Hagmann" type valve assembly, very good but not quite as good as the Thayer. And finally try NOT go buy an instrument with an ordinary rotory valve. Thats all I can say to assist you. Hope it helps.

Bayerd
22.01.2012, 23:22
As a euphonist who also plays bone (but not bass bone) I can only offer the following advice. Regardless of the instrument you buy, this is down to personal preference, I would however highly suggest that whatever instrument you go for, make sure it has a "Thayer" type valve assembly. These are without doubt the best you can buy due to the design making the change from one tube to another without the usual mili-second delay. Thayer achieve this because the entry and exit are virually "in-line". The next favourite would be a "Hagmann" type valve assembly, very good but not quite as good as the Thayer. And finally try NOT go buy an instrument with an ordinary rotory valve. Thats all I can say to assist you. Hope it helps.

As someone who does play a bassbone, I think you're talking rubbish. But each to their own.....

Bandsman1
22.01.2012, 23:35
As someone who does play a bassbone, I think you're talking rubbish. But each to their own.....
You cannot argue with the technical advances made by these newer valves, but the key words there are "But each to their own"

hammerholmes
22.01.2012, 23:35
As someone who does play a bassbone, I think you're talking rubbish. But each to their own.....

Also as a bass trombonist I would second that. Thayer valves are horrible! They break easily and are quite clunky compared to hagmann. 5 years use max! Personal opinion but im sure more will agree with me than your euphonium playing self ;)

Bayerd
23.01.2012, 00:12
You cannot argue with the technical advances made by these newer valves, but the key words there are "But each to their own"

I can argue with what you think are technical advances, because I've tried both systems for extended periods of time in a band, and my thoughts are based on my experience. You're just backing the current trend.

Ask your MD what he thinks the best Bass Trom is....;)

euphoria
23.01.2012, 07:18
The bone is supplied by the band, so a mod has to be negotiated with the band. I am on the other hand rather hooked on getting my own bone, although my financial advicer (aka "She who must be obeyed") disagrees.

I can't comment on the Thayer-Hagmann discussion, since I haven't got any experience with either, so I will very happy if anyone has more info on the pro's and con's of both types.

MoominDave
23.01.2012, 12:32
Before my break my weapon of choice was a euphonium, but I wanted to try something new, and I have always wanted to have a go in the unholy bussiness of bass-tromboning.

It's fun, isn't it? Officially sanctioned musical hooliganism...



I was supplied with a Yamaha YBL 612 trombone with a Denis Wick 0AL mp. It is a dependent double valve trombone and it is in rather good shape for its age (well - in better shape that I was anyway). It was pitched in Bb-F-Eb with an extra attachment supplied to make it possible to pitch it in
Bb-F-D.

Comments on this initial setup:
1) I'm told that the 612 is not a bad instrument, although I have not tried the exact model, so I will refrain from commenting further on it.
2) The Wick 0AL is a bit of a strange mouthpiece - far too deep for its width for most bass trombone applications - I find it makes playing with a consistently focussed sound difficult on standard designs of bass trombones. It's better on a very open leadpipe, but still a bit unusual. The Wick bass trombone range is a bit odd all round, and the mouthpieces don't recall sit in a neat progression. If you like this general size, I would suggest looking at something like a Bach 1-1/4G or 1-1/2G (maybe a 1-1/2GM, which is more open). Maybe it is a good mouthpiece for you - but you would be unusual if so.
3) Dependent vs independent - personal choice, really, players at all levels split on this one. I find that I hardly ever use the second valve on its own, so I factor that out of my calculations when comparing. The dependent instrument has fewer obstructions in the unvalved airway, so sounds more trombonelike at low dynamics, but the blowing difference between open and two-valved is more pronounced. The dependent instrument has a longer conical bell flare than the independent - some players think this is important. The variation here also depends on how freeflow the valve type is.
4) Paddle position - dealt with further down. Nobody likes side-by-side!
5) Bb/F/Eb vs Bb/F/D - most players have come to prefer D on both valves to Eb (or E, another early option). Various layouts have been tried by various people (the most extreme I ever heard of was independent Bb/F/C/AA! Lots of tubing...). Some players like having an independent 2nd valve in G, which gives lots of flexibility in positions. In terms of position flexibility, I have never encountered a part that was unplayable on a Bb/F/D dependent setup, in any of the various genres that I've played in. Dependent means you lose Gb/Db in 1st, but you can always counter the need for that by taking a nearby Bb in trigger 3rd - which is a nicer-responding note in any case. D vs Eb - Eb means that the low C is a long way out, I think a substantial disadvantage.


My trombone has the two paddles trigging the valves set side by side - both being operated by the thumb and I find that to be a problem.
When I first started I had my slide at an angle of about 120 degrees to the bell section which made it sit rather nice on my shoulders and worked OK when I was only having to use my first valve. When I began playing the studies, I found that I had to decrease this angle in order to be able to reach the second valve paddle, without my hand starting to cramp. I now have it set at a 90 degree angle which makes it easier to reach the second valve buth I find it more straining to hold the actual trombone.

This is a problem, and one more reason to modify the paddle position.

Something else that comes to mind when you talk about having trouble holding the instrument is that this is usually due to a problem with the front-back weight distribution of it. I like my bass trombones to be back-heavy, and find some older designs cause forward torque on my left wrist - so much so that I had a counterweight added to the back of my 73H (which has two (dependent) valves, but is still front-heavy). Try attaching a big lump of plasticine to the back - does it make it sit more comfortably in your left hand when you play?


1) what angle do you have between the slide and the bell section?

I have a relatively narrow angle - but then I have quite small hands (normal-sized palm but short stubby fingers). Somewhere about 75 degrees, I think. I also feel that I get more immediate aural feedback with the bell side up close by my left ear.



2) Is that dependent of how your valve section is located?

Have played both for extended periods of time at different times. They both have their pros and cons (see above).



3) Does anyone have experiences with both side-by-side paddles (not in-line independent valves) and a setting where the second valve is operated by another finger than the thumb? If so - which do you prefer.

Everybody in the world (pretty much) prefers finger-and-thumb. Side-by-side is an old design that disappeared when finger-and-thumb was introduced. Modifying your existing instrument would make it more usable by others.



4) If given a choice which pitch do you prefer Bb-F-Eb or Bb-F-D (I have found a couple of books of studies specifically for the latter setup).

Personally, Bb-F-D, due to the far-out position of low B on an Eb valve (see above). I also like to tune the 2nd valve by comparing G in 4th with low C in the same position with two valves, which only works on a D valve.



5) can of worms I know - but do you prefer dependent or independent valves. I know Douglas Yeo advocates dependent valves because you don't have to blow throgh two valves unless you actualle deploys the second valve, but others have said that this is not so big a deal anymore with improved valves - what is your take on this.

See above for some discussion. This one is six of one, half a dozen of the other. More open valves (i.e. Thayer, Hagmann, Trubore, Lindberg, Greenhoe, etc.) have the effect you describe, but the differences are still noticeable.


If you are looking for a good solid growly bass trombone you can't get much better than the Holton, they are very free blowing and have a lovely dark sound and can often be picked up second hand reasonably cheaply.

The 181 is a good band bass trombone, that's for sure - very popular, you see them around at all levels, though not so much these days in the best bands - you see a lot of Raths now. They have their disadvantages - they go very fluffy at quieter dynamics, and don't always blend well with tenors when played with a forcing tone. The older Holton models (the TR180 and especially the much rarer TR169, which is a wonderful design) I generally prefer.


The mouthpiece I play on at the moment is a Rath 1 1/2 MF which I am still getting used to.

Think you must mean either Rath B1 MF or Rath B1-1/2? Both are nice mouthpieces...


I would strongly recommend a bach strad if you were going down the second hand market. People say that they are 'notoriously hard blowing instruments' whereas my view on it is grow a pair of lungs and blow the thing then!

The Bach 50 is not to everyone's taste, for sure. It's an instrument that is easy to play badly - I have always found them unforgiving; a small error in embouchure always makes for a big error in sound. They also have a kind of dull thunk to the sound that is not what I'm personally after - the basic sound reminds me of hitting two pieces of wood together... But they do well for band use, and can certainly roar if you push them. It's strange that a design inspired by a variant of the Conn 70H turned out so differently to it...

Trying one with fancy valves might change that - I have a similar issue with the Bach large bore valved tenor, the 42B, but I tried a new Hagmann-valved one (42A) in a shop a while back that blew beautifully. Crazy price tags on new Bachs though, and you won't find any older ones with non-standard valves that haven't been specifically modified - the fancy-valved models haven't been out for that many years.


on my dependant it is much less of a pain to play C's in triggered 7th than double triggered fourth

It blows better, but for those of us with short arms, low C in long 7th is unreachable...


I think moving the 2nd valve action will go a long way to sorting your problems

I agree.



Bell size is a different issue, I prefer 9.5" size as it's easier to get a more focussed sound.

Most people do. Again, I agree with my personal preference. The larger bells make it easier to play very loudly, but defocus the tone somewhat. Smaller bells tend not to be available as an option, which is a pity.


As a euphonist who also plays bone (but not bass bone) I can only offer the following advice. Regardless of the instrument you buy, this is down to personal preference, I would however highly suggest that whatever instrument you go for, make sure it has a "Thayer" type valve assembly. These are without doubt the best you can buy due to the design making the change from one tube to another without the usual mili-second delay. Thayer achieve this because the entry and exit are virually "in-line". The next favourite would be a "Hagmann" type valve assembly, very good but not quite as good as the Thayer. And finally try NOT go buy an instrument with an ordinary rotory valve. Thats all I can say to assist you. Hope it helps.


As someone who does play a bassbone, I think you're talking rubbish. But each to their own.....

Again, Birdy, you're on the nail imo.

Sorry, Bandsman1, you didn't make sense in that post; the point of a Thayer is that it offers a less restricted airflow, not that it has a quick action. Indeed, some Thayers have a notably slow action. In fact, the valve with the quickest action on the market is the Lindberg valve (which only rotates 45 degrees rather than the usual rotary 90), if that is the be-all and end-all of consideration (and it shouldn't be).

Note that I didn't say the "advantage of a Thayer" - a less restricted airflow makes the change in blow between the two sides of the instrument cleaner, but it also makes it harder to sound characteristically like a trombone. I suspect it is something to do with turbulence in the airstream around the non-circular cross-section of a rotary valve, but don't have a good scientific reason why. Fact is, using Thayers makes some aspects of playing easier, but brings its own different challenge.


The bone is supplied by the band, so a mod has to be negotiated with the band.

I would be very surprised if they vetoed it, particularly if you are paying for it - no bass trombonist that I have ever met has preferred the side-by-side paddles to the finger-and-thumb setup. It's just awkward and obsolete. I had the same mod done to my Conn 73H last year, by a chap in Edinburgh called Bryce Ferguson. It cost me about 100, not the 300 that Birdy mentioned, and the work was good. I can send you photos of the new linkage layout if you wish - it's not complex, but you need to think about the geometry of the movement in order to get it right.



I can't comment on the Thayer-Hagmann discussion, since I haven't got any experience with either, so I will very happy if anyone has more info on the pro's and con's of both types.

The trade-off here is between consistency of blow between open and valved notes (which designs like the Thayer do well) and achieving of a characteristically 'warm' but interesting trombone sound (which old-style rotary valves are more suited to). I would love to try an instrument with free-blowing valves but a non-circularity in the tube straight after the valves on the open pipe - I reckon this would win in both situations. But I haven't seen such a design made. When I win the lottery, I will commission Mick Rath to try it...

A summary of valve types:
- Rotary
The original trombone valve, applied to instruments since 1839. Has been around long enough that the sound that it helps produce has become the 'industry standard'. Has the disadvantage that it requires a distinctly different blow to the straight tube on an open trombone, but introduces a resistance to the blow that actually makes for a more interesting trombone sound. The design has been around for long enough that there are numerous variants on it - indeed, even different-seeming valves such as the Thayer or Hagmann are essentially rotary in design, although the rotation in these cases is in a different plane - and it is possible to characterise the different rotary designs of different manufacturers (in different eras, too) as having qualities relative to the rotary designs of other manufacturers. So Bach rotaries are 'tight', while old Conn rotaries are 'stuffy', but new Conn rotaries are more open. Holton rotaries I rather like, although I know some find them difficult - I find them relatively open, but the whole instrument design makes for a sound that is easy to colour. Newer Yamaha rotaries are also similarly pleasing, although older ones can have difficulties along the lines of the old Conn designs. There's so much variety to the question once you start looking in detail for the answer...
- Piston
The original brass valve type (patented 1818 ), and the only concept markedly different from the rotary. Not often applied to trombones, and never recently; only included for completeness. Some ancient Conn models have a piston for the left hand instead of the usual rotary. Must admit that I've never tried a piston-valved trombone, so cannot comment on how they blow, but I see no reason why one couldn't make a free-flow piston trombone valve.
- Thayer
The first of the 'new wave' of valve designs, designed by Ed Thayer in 1976. Patenting problems have led to this being in the public domain (as I recall?), and so various manufacturers offer their own axial-flow versions. The gimmick is that the valve is cone-shaped, with the airflow entering the cone at its apex, and the rotation being about the axis of symmetry of the cone. This allows a much more consistent blow between open and valved notes, but has the following disadvantages: 1) Greatly decreased general blowing resistance = naturally less colourful sound and harder work to sustain; 2) Very long valve body means that some of the conical bell-flare is sacrificed; 3) Some models have short life; 4) Difficulties with air sealing.
- Hagmann
Designed by Rene Hagmann of Geneva in 1991, and very often seen on Rath trombones. This is a rotary valve, but the rotation is in the plane perpendicular to the bell stay rather than parallel to it. This allows a rather efficient tubing layout to be implemented. Not as open as a Thayer but more open than a traditional rotary. A nice compromise in new packaging. Some makers (e.g. Thein) produce their own design (I believe). Hagmann has produced a design that maintains a conical flare throughout the valve section, which I have not personally tried.
- Lindberg
Has a side passage in the large rotary valve which permits a very short action and efficient tubing layout. Easy to play, but users often complain of maintenance issues, and the side passage does take some of the colour out of the sound. Interesting, but neither game-changing nor highly popular. Only supplied on some Conn instruments, so far as I'm aware.
- Greenhoe
Only supplied and fitted by the Greenhoe company. A traditionally-derived rotary design that implements the following changes: 1) Circular tubing cross-section throughout; 2) Vented (read: a small hole drilled through the casing to eliminate the 'pop' you can get when depressing a valve while blowing continuously); 3) Tubing entry port positions arranged to eliminate sharper bends. Very nice, but like all Greenhoe kit, extremely expensive...
- Trubore (Shires)
Maintains a completely straight tube through the valve while not engaged. I have not tried.
- Controlled Resistance (CR) (Kanstul)
I have not tried. Rather like the Greenhoe, I'm told. A lot cheaper though.

I think that covers most of the principal contenders... Let me know if I missed any. A bass trombone with anything other than rotaries will carry a hefty price premium.

hammerholmes
23.01.2012, 16:44
Sorry I meant I play on a rath 1 1/2 W. Was thinking of something totally different! I do however disagree with your synopsis of the Rath R9 bass bone. I feel that, no matter what the dynamic, I can get a very nice sound out of the bone. I find it so easy to blend with my band yet when I want to I can make my presence felt. As for balance with the tenors, solo trombone in my band also plays a Rath and 2nd bone plays a Conn. I would say that we have a very good sound as a section! I wouldn't say there are any balance or blending issues within this. I must also say that I do love the sound of the Holton 181 is a very nice bone. I just found the valve positions a tad out of place for me, everyone has their own personal preference. I am glad, however that all bass trombone players seem to be in agreement with regard to Thayer valves. How one man can say this and totally contradict himself in one post does amuse me slightly. You've hit the nail on the head, Dave by saying that they are definitely not known for their fast action. I had one on rental when my strad broke and was waiting on my Rath and I must say I came very close to hatred with it. I know thats my own personal opinion but I felt that the valves were very, very slow. The bone itself made a very nice sound but the valves put me off completely

MoominDave
23.01.2012, 18:15
I was talking about the Holton 181, not the Raths... I'd never generalise that way. Just looked back, I see that I phrased myself rather unclearly - sorry about that.

euphoria
23.01.2012, 18:34
Wow MooninDave. Thanks for the comprehensive reply - not least explaining the difference between the valve brands. Choosing a trombone is surely a lot harder than choosing a euph!

I can see that "building" a trombone is much like my other hobby - building a HiFi set.
A lot of testing needing to be done - which will surely be fun (and potentially quite costly).

I have tried Bach mouthpieces and they don't suit me very much - but then again I only tested them for a week and I suppose they take some getting used to for a lifelong Denis Wick fan.
I wondered if any of you have had a go at the D.W. Heritage mp's?
I have also arranged to test the Schilke 59 and 60, which look a bit like Bach on the outside, but should have a different cup shape (according to the shop that supplies them).

On a side note: I am going to RNCM Festival of Brass in the weekend. Do they have trade stands there?

Cheers Erik


It's fun, isn't it? Officially sanctioned musical hooliganism... More than I dare to admit :D

bobbyp
23.01.2012, 20:24
If you're happy with a Wick why not stick with your Wick? Or if you feel its too big switch to a smaller size? Isn't the Schilke 60 quite big too though? I don't know off the top of my head, but I thought it was a similar size to the 1G? Ill check for sure when I get to my computer.

But Ill seem really odd here with my opinions of the models - my favourite bass trombone that I tried was an older bach strad with the independant valves. I know a lot of people say they have to work hard to make a good sound with them, but it really worked for me. Other than that my second favourite one was the Yammy 612, although the only reason I didn't end up buying it was purely because of the two thumb valves. If someone can move them cheap enough, I might consider that as a serious option when I come to buy my own in the (hopefully) not so near future. I didn't really like the rath bass when I played it briefly. To me it seemed really hard blowing especially in the lower register. Maybe I tried a duff one though if the general opinion seems otherwise. I've tried a couple of holtons too (181), and no matter how hard I've tried (and Ive really wanted to, because they're quite cheap second hand) I just can't get on with them. They dont give me sound the strad or that yammy did. Hell I almost wish I hadn't sold my yammy 321 because I much prefered that to the conn 73h I'm playing.

But yeah the best that worked for me was the strad and the yammies ive tried.

hammerholmes
23.01.2012, 22:31
I didn't really like the rath bass when I played it briefly. To me it seemed really hard blowing especially in the lower register. Maybe I tried a duff one though if the general opinion seems otherwise.

The one problem with Rath bass bones is that you can't try someone else's to find out how it plays because every single Rath bone is made to suit the specific player. Every bone has different combinations of metal to suit each players needs. I spent about four hours at John Packers trying out everything and seeing what fit me best as a player. The fact is that there was only one combination for me and I don't think that I would have bought one if it was pre-made in a different combination. That's the brilliance of having a Rath, it's entirely unique! If you are serious about wanting one there is no point in trying out someone else's, phone them up and book a session with them. They are very helpful and you will see exactly what I mean. I'm not a salesman for them so I can't explain what goes on as well. I just know that everything was easy and I've enjoyed every second of playing mine!

MoominDave
24.01.2012, 10:40
Choosing a trombone is surely a lot harder than choosing a euph!

I think there are three main factors at play that result in more consideration being given to bass trombone design than euph design:
1) The narrower and straighter bore profile is a less forgiving piece of tube to play.
2) There has been a substantial community of players of the instrument with professional playing needs for a long time.
3) The overall concept is simpler, and so one can get a good feel for general trends and effects more easily than with euphonium design.


I can see that "building" a trombone is much like my other hobby - building a HiFi set.
A lot of testing needing to be done - which will surely be fun (and potentially quite costly).

I recommend the classified ads at www.tromboneforum.org (http://www.tromboneforum.org). A lot of bits and pieces (particularly mouthpieces) come up there cheap, even after paying for postage from the US...


I have tried Bach mouthpieces and they don't suit me very much - but then again I only tested them for a week and I suppose they take some getting used to for a lifelong Denis Wick fan.

One point is that the DW 0AL has a distinctly different playing flavour to smaller Wick mouthpieces - it's not a mouthpiece that I would expect a "Wick fan" used to euphonium-sized pieces (4AL? 3AL?) to naturally enjoy playing. I find that the Wick bass trombone range is not as consistent between models as its tenor trombone range - the 2AL was developed from the Bach 2G, while the 1AL was developed from the Schilke 58; I don't know what the 0AL was prototyped from, but I've never found another mouthpiece with similar dimensions! Closest I've run across is the Yamaha 60, which is similarly overdeep, but rather bigger all over. In my opinion, the Wick range is nicely consistent from about 6BL to 2AL, but the larger pieces should each be considered separately, on their own merits.

But if the 0AL is what works for you, stick with it. All I was doing was pointing out that it's a rather unusual choice.



I wondered if any of you have had a go at the D.W. Heritage mp's?

Many people will want to disagree with me on this conclusion, but I stand by it - the change due to mass rearrangement of the external shape is minute compared to the historical variations of internal shape seen in traditional Wick mouthpieces. It is thus pretty much impossible to come to a reliable conclusion on the relative merits of Heritage vs traditional on even a single size of mouthpiece, let alone make a generalisation across the whole wide range.

Most models are good mouthpieces, but so are the same models in a traditional blank. I play a Heritage 4AL in my Conn 88H, but not because of the external shape. Try some, have a parp, see what you think. I recommend borrowing rather than buying at first - the Heritage shape carries a hefty price premium...

The gold plating on the rim of my Heritage 4AL wore away very quickly, incidentally.



I have also arranged to test the Schilke 59 and 60, which look a bit like Bach on the outside, but should have a different cup shape (according to the shop that supplies them).

Distinctly different feel to play, some of which is due to a rather different rim contour. I personally have never found a Schilke mouthpiece of any size to my taste, but many people like them. The 59 is like a large version of the Bach 1-1/4G inside... I consider that there is a broad split in bass trombone mouthpiece type at around this size, although exactly where it is depends on the player's embouchure. For me, the VB 1-1/4G is a large small mouthpiece while the Schilke 59 is a small large mouthpiece - if that distinction makes sense? For me, the 1-1/4G is a mouthpiece for letting strong lips get more leverage on the brighter small mouthpiece sound, while the 59 is a mouthpiece for brightening up the mellow sound of a large mouthpiece.
The Schlike 60 is the original toilet-bowl bass trombone mouthpiece - when Schilke introduced it and the 59 in the 70s, there was nothing on the market as big as either of them. Bach introduced the 1-1/4G and 1G in response, which compare to the 59 and 60 respectively. I haven't spent a lot of time on a 60 (bit big for me - makes my sound too mellow for my taste at lower dynamics), but significant development work has gone into working out the faults of the design in newer models derived from it. Probably the most commercially successful of these is the Yamaha Yeo, which is a very nice larger mouthpiece indeed. Others include the Laskey 93D (which feels bigger on the face but plays smaller), the Hammond 21BL/21BXL (which both feel more controlled) and the Schilke D6.0 (which I haven't tried).
The Bach 1G has a truly gigantic throat - you can drop an HB pencil through it! Similarly to the 60, it is generally felt that there are now superior versions of this size of mouthpiece out there, although there are still plenty of players out there who like this piece - more in bands than elsewhere, it seems to me sometimes. It has the undeserved reputation of being the 'ultimate' in big bass trombone mouthpieces, and players seduced by 'bigger=better' often end up on one [as do other players, I hasten to add!].


On a side note: I am going to RNCM Festival of Brass in the weekend. Do they have trade stands there?

Google suggests that they do...

euphoria
24.01.2012, 11:04
Thanks again Dave for taking the time to help me with my questions - I really appreciate this!

I didn't choose the DW 0AL specifically - it just came with the bone and I decided to give it a go. I was quite supprised that it felt so good since I am not a "bigger-is-better" person. I stuck with my 4AL on the euph when most of my euph-buddies chose 2AL or other bigger mp's.

It did still feel like a DW to me - mind you that I hadn't played for a decade and a started with lips pretty much feeling like two pieces of raw liver.

I have a decent range and I would say the sound is on the darker side - I suppose I am still not quite clear as to how my ideal sound is on a bass trombone - I think that the bass trombone ideal sound varies a lot more with the type of music than the euph sound does, but that is just my personal opinion.

Do you stick with just one mp or do you change for reasons of range, type of music, solos or other (perhaps even during a concert)?

Erik

MoominDave
24.01.2012, 11:16
Thanks again Dave for taking the time to help me with my questions - I really appreciate this!

No worries... I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I have spent a while taking a bit of a geeky interest in this kind of thing...



I didn't choose the DW 0AL specifically - it just came with the bone and I decided to give it a go. I was quite supprised that it felt so good since I am not a "bigger-is-better" person. I stuck with my 4AL on the euph when most of my euph-buddies chose 2AL or other bigger mp's.

It did still feel like a DW to me - mind you that I hadn't played for a decade and a started with lips pretty much feeling like two pieces of raw liver.

Fair enough! The 0AL isn't that huge - it's very deep, but not very wide. The big bass trombone mouthpieces feel a lot bigger. The Wick 00AL is one such.



I have a decent range and I would say the sound is on the darker side - I suppose I am still not quite clear as to how my ideal sound is on a bass trombone - I think that the bass trombone ideal sound varies a lot more with the type of music than the euph sound does, but that is just my personal opinion.

Yes, I agree with that. To generalise crudely, principally the interest in the sound is in the 'forced' aspect of it - the 'edge', but you need to be able to deploy any amount of edge, from about 0 to about 50% of the sound (numbers plucked out of the air, but that feels intuitive to me) on demand.

You'll work out what your ideal bass trombone sound is easily enough. Worth bearing in mind that many people moving to the instrument initially look for a darker sound than actually sounds good out in the audience.



Do you stick with just one mp or do you change for reasons of range, type of music, solos or other (perhaps even during a concert)?

I've experimented with many, but find that I feel most comfortable on one particular one (an old VB 1-1/4G I've used for most of the last 10 years). I would hesitate before changing in order to facilitate range or power (the question almost never arises). What I tend to do is match each instrument I play for a given musical task to a favourite mouthpiece. For brass band bass trombone (which is most of my playing), this mouthpiece does for everything, and prolonged experimentation has shown that I tend to prefer to use it over other choices even if I change the instrument.

If you mess around with mouthpieces too much, your face forgets what it should be doing!

Basstiger
24.01.2012, 12:36
On the mouthpiece issue...I had quite a long experimental phase with several mouthpieces....I always played on a Wick 1AL but then had a go at an 0AL, then an 00AL and for a while a bespoke stainless steel LOUD LM31 mouthpiece and a Rath B1 1/4 (just too big!)....whereas I could make a bigger sound with all of them I couldn't sustain it, and it all became a bit indistinct. I thought about changing trombone even, but finally saw sense and reverted to a 1AL.......problem solved.