Tenor Horns with Slide Triggers??

Jack E

Well-Known Member
Just wandering around on the internet this evening, and I came across something which I don't think I've seen before; a tenor horn with a trigger-operated tuning slide.

Other tenor horns I've seen were either uncompensated or compensated; according to the info I've found, the Yamaha Neo is a typical pro-standard instrument with compensation, but this Besson appears to have both compensation and a triggered slide:
https://www.trevadamusic.co.uk/brass/instruments/tenor-horns/besson/prestige-2050-2

And this Sterling from John Packer also has a trigger-operated slide; it looks to me as though there is one compensating knuckle (though I'm not sure if that's what it is):
Sterling 'Standard' Tenor Horn

And, finally, a Geneva Oldroyd Cardinal tenor horn with what appears to be a single compensating knuckle, and what I first took to be a fourth valve, but which turned out to be a tuning slide worked by a push button the size of the usual valve buttons:
Geneva Oldroyd Cardinal Tenor Horn - Nickel, Rose Brass

Does this mean that compensated instruments still have intonation issues bad enough to make a triggered tuning slide worthwhile?

Colour me Confused!
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
They're not compensated...

And IMHO no, a compensating instrument shouldn't need triggers - but as these aren't, it makes sense to be able to trigger when you have a particularly sharp valve combination (eg 1+3, 1+2+3).
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
All those pipes can be confusing and so it’s no surprise that folk are sometimes unsure about what they see. I’m a Low Brass player so have little experience of Tenor Horns and Cornets, but my recollection is that they’re virtually always either uncompensated or manually compensated by the use of triggers.

If you dig out some pictures of three valve Tubas on the Web (some big clear pictures) you’ll find compensated and uncompensated versions, learn from those to recognise the signs of each type (compensated or not) of ‘Horn’. Whilst I wonder if it would work I’ve never seen triggers on a Tuba, but players of the rotary valve ones (virtually always uncompensated) do move their slides by hand. My own visual guide is seeing the third valve (standard/piston) tubing lead back into the first valve casing, if it leads back then it’s compensated.

I found the pictures of the Besson confusing at first. As best I can see the second valve slide is on the opposite side to the first and third valve slides; the lead pipe feeds into the third valve casing rather than the first valve and from there the air exits (the valve block) past the first valve and into the tuning slide. Of course I could be completely wrong there and there’s nothing like having hold of the real item. To me the Sterling appears to have a similar configuration and air flow.
 
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Jack E

Well-Known Member
Firstly, many thanks to all who have responded - i do appreciate you taking the time to do so!

This tenor horn from Trevada is advertised as being compensated, and certainly matches 2nd Tenor's identifier of the tubing leading from the 3rd valve casing back to the first:



https://www.trevadamusic.co.uk/brass/instruments/tenor-horns/trevada/tht500

But I'm curious; why is it that the more upmarket baritones all seem to have compensation, cornets have triggered slides, but a tenor as up-market as the Yamaha Neo has neither? And, presumably, is accurate enough on intonation for players to be willing to shell out £3000 on one? And why did Trevada go to the expense of arranging compensation on their tenor horn if it's possible to build one without compensation which is accurate on intonation?

Like the Elephant's Child, I suffer from insatiable curiosity!
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
Jack. My best guess about the shift point from triggers to true compensating valves is down to size and practicality. As for the Trevada instrument I really cannot see how they justify the compensating description, but maybe that’s down to a lack of understanding on my part or perhaps the term means something different to some others. It may be that the terms ‘self compensating’ and ‘compensating’ shouldn’t always be used interchangeably and that having triggers classes something as ‘compensating’, I just don’t know on that.
 
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Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Jack - if I'm not mistaken that's the leadpipe going into the third, not a link back to first.

2T - size, practicality yes... But also response - that amount of extra weight relative to a fairly small instrument is a lot. A couple of grams in the wrong place can play havoc, this could add significantly more.
I suspect that it simply wouldn't play as well - on larger instruments, perhaps simply not as noticeable?
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
Jack - if I'm not mistaken that's the leadpipe going into the third, not a link back to first.
That’s my impression too but I might not have made that clear enough in my comments several posts above, sorry Jack and sorry for not picking up on that misunderstanding earlier.

As I view it the air flow is reversed to normal. The air (via lead pipe) enters the valve block at the third valve’s sleeve and then passes through the third then second then first valves to exit the valve block from the first valve’s sleeve. After leaving the valve block (at the first valves’s sleeve) the air then goes (down) to the tuning slide and onwards as normal. I can only guess at the reason for this configuration but would guess that it’s something to do with the ease of installing triggers - to me the triggers on some models seem to be missing or less obvious than on others.

One thing I do like about the revised air flow is the probable alleviation of oil wash-off on the first valve. ‘Water’ is drained away in the lead pipe before it reaches the third valve’s casing and by the time the air reaches the first valve it will be drier. The third valve might get some wash-off but the more often used first valve will be near free from that problem so will work more reliably - well that’s my guess.
 
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Jack E

Well-Known Member
@2nd tenor and @Tom-King - many thanks for your detailed replies. It's tricky for me to follow the flow of air on some of those imstruments; some of the pictures are less than helpful in that respect, and as my baritone is uncompensated, I can't use that as a point of reference.

2nd tenor; that's an interesting point you make about the possibility that the airflow was re-arranged to reduce the amount of moisture getting into the first valve - and makes the point that there may still be room for significant improvements in the design of valved instruments, even though they've been around for well over 150 years.

With best regards,

Jack
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
Jack, I’ll try and go through the models as they are mentioned through the thread. Looking at all the photographs again this is what I see:

# The Besson from Tevada has a trigger on the tuning slide only and no other compensating mechanism or pipework. The air flow through the valves is the reverse of the traditional standard. The second photo shows the lead pipe going behind the valves, the third photo shows the trigger rod onto the main tuning slide, the fifth photo shows the trigger lever and the lead pipe going along the back of the valves to enter the third valves casing, and the second photo shows the water key in the lead pipe just next to the third valve. The second and third pictures, with interpretation, show the airflow exiting the first valve and going down into the main tuning slide.

# The John Packer Sterling has a trigger on the tuning slide only and no other compensating mechanism or pipework. The air flow through the valves is the reverse of the traditional standard. Only two photos and less easy to make out what’s what. The first photo shows the lead pipe dipping down hind the valves and the second shows it running behind them to enter into the third valve casing. Note the water key and that the trigger rod acts on the entry side of the tuning slide.

# The Geneva has a trigger on an additional slide - complete with waterkey - in the airflow directly before the third valve sleeve and directly after the lead pipe section and no other compensating mechanism or pipework. The airflow through the valves is the reverse of the traditional standard. The Geneva has many good photos but you only need look at the sixth, note the high lead pipe and the additional slide with operating mechanism.

# The Trevada 500 has no triggers on any slides and no compensating pipework - as best as I can see this is an uncompensated instrument. The airflow through the valves is the reverse of the traditional standard. I found the Trevada photos hard on the eyes but still helpful. The first phot shows the lead pipe going down behind the valves and the fourth photo shows it running behind the valves before it enters into the third valve casing, note the water key. The second and third photos give good views of all the slides and show no tiggers or push rods.

I hope that the above helps; it is tricky to follow the airflow but, like all things, experience helps. I would agree with posts #2 (Andrew) and #3 (Tom); to my mind these instruments aren’t self compensated and only some of them have manual compensation via a trigger on either their main or an auxiliary slide.

Edit.
Additional explanation detail added to help Jack as he goes through the photos.
The photos are on external sites; over time they might be changed or deleted.
 
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Jack E

Well-Known Member
Many thanks for your help on this, 2nd Tenor; I'll print your post off and use it to go through the pictures one at a time.

With best regards,

Jack
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
It's not unusual to go into the third valve and out of the first into the bell at all - 99.9% of trumpets and cornets are arranged this way.

Flugels almost (but not quite) always into first and out of third.

I don't know about low brass without looking.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
It's not unusual to go into the third valve and out of the first into the bell at all - 99.9% of trumpets and cornets are arranged this way.

Flugels almost (but not quite) always into first and out of third.

I don't know about low brass without looking.
That’s true enough about Trumpets and Cornets but (as far as I know) they’re not based on Sax Horns ( Saxhorn - Wikipedia ) whilst a Tenor Horn is. From what I see of traditional type Sax Horns, which is most of the rest of the Band, their airflow is into valve one and out of valve three.

It seems to me that the reverse flow in Tenor Horns is a development that’s becoming the standard on more expensive instruments, well that’s what I saw on Google Images. Personally I can see some advantages in that new arrangement ‘cause the lead pipe going straight into the valves gives me some oil wash away problems - but others might experience no difficulties. I wonder whether the idea will carry forward to the bigger Horns and whether tuning slide triggers will follow - long slides would be needed for the bigger instruments so the mechanics might not be viable.
 

Slider1

Active Member
That’s true enough about Trumpets and Cornets but (as far as I know) they’re not based on Sax Horns ( Saxhorn - Wikipedia ) whilst a Tenor Horn is. From what I see of traditional type Sax Horns, which is most of the rest of the Band, their airflow is into valve one and out of valve three.

It seems to me that the reverse flow in Tenor Horns is a development that’s becoming the standard on more expensive instruments, well that’s what I saw on Google Images. Personally I can see some advantages in that new arrangement ‘cause the lead pipe going straight into the valves gives me some oil wash away problems - but others might experience no difficulties. I wonder whether the idea will carry forward to the bigger Horns and whether tuning slide triggers will follow - long slides would be needed for the bigger instruments so the mechanics might not be viable.
Surely moist air, spittle, dottle, whatever you call it, will act as a lubricant for the first valve
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
Surely moist air, spittle, dottle, whatever you call it, will act as a lubricant for the first valve
Experiences differ and so do instruments; my valves work much more reliably with oil than spit, but it’s true that some folk do spit on their valves. Compared to oil I can’t really say that spit’s much of a lubricant, but I suppose it’s better than nothing. YMMV, as I wrote above: “the lead pipe going straight into the valves gives me some oil wash away problems - but others might experience no difficulties”.

Old time Sax Horn type instruments used to have their main tuning slide directly after the leadpipe and directly before the valve block, the main tuning slide has a water key and the rest don’t. I understand that that arrangement is considered acoustical inferior (to the leadpipe entering the valve block straight away) but as a youth I found it practical in use. Yamaha still make a student Tenor Horn like that, their YAH 203, see: YAH-203S - Overview - Alto (Tenor) Horns - Brass & Woodwinds - Musical Instruments - Products - Yamaha - UK and Ireland . At the other end of the size spectrum Jupiter make some Tubas (JTU 700) with that arrangement: TUBAS ; and Wessex do : BBb Junior Tuba ‘Imp’ (student) – TB330 ; and Besson do : http://www.besson.com/en/instruments/new-standard-tubas/new-standard-be187/ .
 
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pbirch

Active Member
They're not compensated...

And IMHO no, a compensating instrument shouldn't need triggers - but as these aren't, it makes sense to be able to trigger when you have a particularly sharp valve combination (eg 1+3, 1+2+3).
I suppose that the triggers do form a sort of compensating system, allowing the player some flexibility in how much compensating they do, what is apparent though, in low brass, and particularly in euphoniums, is that the compensating system addresses intonation in the lower register, but the instruments remains quite sharp on particular notes in its medium high register which is addressed by a tuning slide trigger
 

Mello

Active Member
I confess to finding all this trigger business both interesting and to a degree , slightly amusing.
I used to play T/hn myself & have experienced playing trigger AND 4 valved prototypes.

To be honest I always preferred the Bog Standard ( forgive the term ) instruments. over trigger models.
Admittedly they were were the more expensive Sovereign & Yamaha models , but I seemed to manage ok without any apparent tuning problems.
In fact I declined a trigger model when offered.

I do know that some T/hn players I have come across do use triggers , but many seem to use them ad lib ( because they are there? ) Yet still play out of tune. To be blunt they dont seem to use their ears, believing that pressing a trigger eradicates being out of tune !.

Its important to stress I a NOT condemning triggers , but personally, I found them unnecessary.

I also fear that some youngsters who cant afford Trigger models, may feel inferior simply because of the lack of a trigger. Please let them be be assured , the instrument with triggers doesnt , on its own, make the player better, Practice & hard work does that.

PS I am aware that a trigger can aid those elusive notes between the Low Gb and pedals , but otherwise why bother ?

Just my opinion
 
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