What’s your favourite instrument and why?

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I got Bach strad 37 it is wonderful, in 3 weeks that i have owned it i have not had to lubricate the valves at all
I’m glad that you like your Bach Strad 37 Trumpet. I suggest that you talk to your Teacher about valves and whether to lubricate or not. A bottle of valve oil costs little and lasts for years, it really would be a shame if your valves started to wear because you hadn’t lubricated them - valves and their casings are both difficult and expensive to replace, and alternative repair isn’t always possible or cheap.
 

Ron Lander

Member
Definitely the trumpet. Performers that spring to mind are Maurice Andre, Maynard Ferguson and Miles Davies. Many years ago I was lucky enough to play trumpet in Orchestra, big band and even a German steam band!

Started off with a second hand Conn Constellation. But during my time at the Royal Military School of Music Knellar Hall another student needed to sell his almost new Olds Rafael Mendez trumpet so he could buy a motorbike! I managed to secure it. What a wonderful looking trumpet. Gold plated and sympathetically engraved from mouthpiece receiver to the bell.

Had a great time playing it, but after getting married and deciding it was time to leave the Army it was sold to pay for my discharge by purchase.

If I had to pick just one trumpet player it would have to be Maurice Andre. Imho nobody since has matched his skill and listenability.
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
Every instrument has its charm to listen to. I'm quite fond of a well-played baritone - deserves the limelight much more than it gets; the euphonium down the row gets too much of the baritone's share. I do tend to think that the modern euph makes too fat a noise for its own good - the character of the sound of pre-wide-bore instruments seems on a more human scale, as with almost all of our brass band instruments. The modern baritone sound is not so tremendously different from the older euphonium sound - they aren't the same, but the modern baritone hasn't expanded beyond a threshold that changes the way it's played, whereas the euph has.

But I've selfishly gravitated towards the instrument whose sound attracted me - the trombone, and in particular the bass trombone, covering everything from a beautifully singing vocal quality to thuggish lasered musical assault. Over the years I've played one, I've come to realise that the sound quality of an individual instrument is of paramount importance to the trombone, and that many (not all!) up-to-date designs prioritise ease of playing over interestingness of sound (which one might think of in terms of complexity of overtone structure to the tone). To my mind, this misses the point of the trombone almost entirely, chipping away at the distinctive attributes that make it special while leaving it still much more unwieldy than any of the conical valved brass - something deeply important is lost without gaining anything very meaningful. I would assert (without being so contentious as to name them) that several highly favoured modern trombone makers have fallen into this trap. One that hasn't, to their credit, is Shires. It's possible to buy a new Shires that sounds as interesting as any trombone ever produced that allies that to an ease of playing not found on vintage instruments. But it'll cost you!

Not being made of money, I've enjoyed exploring the vintage route. For the last 5 years I've been very happy playing on a modified 1962 Holton 169, which (start scrolling down now if you're already bored...) was one of the very first batch of Holton .562" bore basses ever made by the serial number. It started life as a Bb/F single trigger instrument, and was modified by LA repairer Burt Herrick in 1969 using parts from the Holton optional drop-in second valve to be Bb/F/Ab/E independent. When I bought it from Chris Stearn of Scottish Opera, who'd used it for a number of years, an extra tubing sleeve had been added to make it Bb/F/G/Eb (Chris's preferred layout) or with some swapping of tubing the more standard Bb/F/Gb/D. Now, the only playing imperfection on this lovely instrument to my mind was that using both triggers at once resulted in a problematic stuffiness to the blow that made it difficult to move smoothly on and off the combination when playing. So I commissioned a long slide for the second valve that takes it down to D when used on its own, resulting in a Bb/F/D/B layout, which I'm very happy with, though it does make it a little heavy to hold. In fact, I had two attempts at having this long valve slide made, the second of which was more satisfactory both playing-wise and visually. I've attached the only picture I could find that shows the instrument in any close-up, which was taken some years ago (2015 maybe?) and shows the first iteration of the long slide rather than the more satisfactory second.

Long story short, with apologies for boring people - I reckon I play something close to my perfect instrument. #smugsorry
 

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Ron Lander

Member
We're way off topic eh?
Okay, I'll go back to the OP.

This soprano cornet is my favourite.

Why?

Several reasons. For starters it's a soprano cornet, the most fun seat in the band.

This particular one is a bit unusual, though.
No other sop out there has this combination of lacquer tones (yet?), it also has some custom special-request touches like the flower buttons, the tapered finger rings (wider at the base than the top).

On top of the physical "special" nature of the instrument, it's special to me because I was involved with the prototyping of it (this particular one is the 6th or 7th different model I've had) and after much driving to and from Luton it's nice to know that I had a hand in the emergence of one of the best sops (and therefore best instruments full stop ;) ) that money can buy.

I don't always use this one (I have two, the only difference being slightly different bells and different finishes)... But this one is the special one of the two.

View attachment 5155 View attachment 5156
Great looking instrument Tom. Does it have the normal size bell or the large one? Would you recommend the large bell version for brass band?
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Great looking instrument Tom. Does it have the normal size bell or the large one? Would you recommend the large bell version for brass band?
Cheers Ron

That one is the larger bell (in red brass) - more recently I've been using this one more than the regular one, but that may change again at some point.

As to whether I'd recommend it over the standard... Personal choice.
I suspect more players than not would find the large a little on the unwieldy side - but it's working great in band for me at the moment.

I have one with each bell (regular yellow, silver plated; large red, two-tone lacquer) and they have their differences in tone and blow resistance (more noticeably up high)... The two different tuning pipes (large and small) also make a noticeable difference in this sense.

This is the nice thing about variety - you try different combinations (or different instruments altogether) and use what suits you.
At present I'm getting my best results on large bell and large pipe (having initially been reluctant to switch from the large pipe & regular bell I'd been playing for a good while before)... But then there are far better players than me that like their instruments on the tight side - it's quite a personal choice.
 

Ron Lander

Member
Thanks Tom. Good to know the large is suitable for brass band. If this thread had appeared earlier I would have probably been down to Luton. Sadly I’ve already bought my own birthday present. So will have to start saving!
 
I’m glad that you like your Bach Strad 37 Trumpet. I suggest that you talk to your Teacher about valves and whether to lubricate or not. A bottle of valve oil costs little and lasts for years, it really would be a shame if your valves started to wear because you hadn’t lubricated them - valves and their casings are both difficult and expensive to replace, and alternative repair isn’t always possible or cheap.
Agree, a useful trick run oil down the hole where the valve stem comes through the top cap and saturate the top felt. It then acts like a reservoir and releases oil gradually as you play. Works for me.
As regards favourite instrument. For satisfaction showing off, Sop. For a challenge Euph. For pleasure a good old Tenor Horn. I sometimes play a Boosey (pre B/H) and it absolutely screams well over top C when I'm messing about. Much thinner sound than newer ones, more like a Flugel.
 

Bloo42

New Member
Trombone.
Heard a guy make a car sound on one in 6th grade, and immediately signed up for band. Several years later and I'm going to college for the thing.
I've played everything from picc trumpet to bari sax to piano, and I can play it all pretty well, but nothing is as enjoyable for me as trombone. When I'm playing trombone, there's no barrier between me and the instrument. I don't think about where my hand is gonna go or what my lips are gonna do, it just happens. Trombone is a natural part of me, and it's just as important as any other part of my person. Any other instrument is like an extension of my person.
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
A favourite was my old and somewhat battered Boosey & Hawkes Regent baritone. She had plenty of dings, plenty of scabby bits on the plating, valves so worn that the brass was showing through - but a great instrument for learning on, because of the very tight slotting. Get your embouchure right, and out came a lovely note.
Be a bit careless with your embouchure, and she went "BLERRGGHHTT! Get a GRIP, you numbskull!!"
@Mesmerist - like a first rate teaching horse called Mona that I used to ride. She was very forgiving with raw beginners, until you got up to the fair to middling stage; then, if you got the aids exactly right, she'd do whatever you asked; even a little bit off, and she wouldn't do it at all!
 

CousinJack

New Member
I can approach this as a player and as a composer/conductor/listener/person with ears.

As a player it would easily be the York 3 valved baritone I played with Porthleven. Lovely to play all through the range and I feel like I got a good sound out of it too. I'd love to return to 1st baritone but unfortunately I am currently lumbered with a BBb tuba. I also enjoy my 1960 Boosey and Hawkes Imperial euphonium. A good first euph for me, coming from a baritone playing background. I don't enjoy the 90s (I believe) Besson Sovereign BBb I currently play at Crystal Palace so much, but I feel I am starting to manage to handle it a bit better. I will be playing an older Sovereign over summer with Porthleven so hopefully that one doesn't have the same tuning issues!

As a composer I enjoy using the baritone as a soloist, I think its melodic sound is much less intense than that of a solo euphonium (which of course has its own uses!) and quite sweet without the potential of being sickly. I also love the sound of Eb tuba in the high register, it has such a strident, open, and almost anxious sound (that might be because the player is being asked to play high!) especially when played with a little bit of tasteful vibrato. I'm far more impartial to combined timbres though. Still considering melodic writing: a trio of trombone (with or without 1 Eb tuba) played in a straight orchestral style (no vib!) sounds heavenly, horn trio/quartet with flugel is a lovely sweet sound, and I love the quartet of cornet, flugel, baritone, and euphonium Peter Graham uses in Metropolis 1927 but I haven't found a reason to use it in a piece just yet.

On a final note listening to Symphony of Marches made me realise that soprano cornet as a soloist is really underused, and is something I am trying to use more.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
....... but unfortunately I am currently lumbered with a BBb tuba.
That’s a common perspective but, to my mind, not really a fair one. Lumbered, that’s what’s happens when you’re happily playing the second Tenor Trombone part and then you get promoted to first - harder work and higher notes.

One could justifiably say that the BBb is the foundation of the Band’s sound and that it was a privilege to be entrusted with that responsibility - a job to be placed in ‘safe hands’. That would be true too, if your Bass Section is poor then the band will never sound good and if your Bass Section is good it will lift the the quality of your Band’s sound. One could say “playing a BBb has allowed me to play in a higher section Band that otherwise wouldn’t consider having me as a player”. That’s an option that I have on EEb but I don’t want to contest or be the weakest player in the Band - the Bass parts in higher section music can also be surprisingly challenging. One could say that being a BBb player allows you a little spare mental capacity such that you can listen to the rest of the Band (enjoy the music) rather than focus solely on your own part. I’m currently a EEb player - returned to my roots and very happy there - but I wouldn’t regard a move to BBb as a bad thing, just another opportunity to grow skills in some way. Enjoy your time on BBb and look at the pluses ;-) .
 
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CousinJack

New Member
I suppose I meant lumbered in the physical sense! I don't mind the parts, but it is a London based band and my trip home afterwards at the moment means I'm not at liberty to regularly take the beast home. Therefore I can't play it as much as I like so I am frustrated with my progress, which is considerably slower then it would be had I been able to practice.
 
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2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I suppose I meant lumbered in the physical sense! I don't mind the parts, but it is a London based band and my trip hope afterwards at the moment means I'm not at liberty to regularly take the beast home. Therefore I can't play it as much as I like so I am frustrated with my progress, which is considerably slower then it would be had I been able to practice.
That difficulty in moving a Tuba I can relate to, I wonder how your section mates and your Band’s percussionists manage. I move ‘my’ EEb in my car but moving it on public transport would be virtually impossible. As a youth I used to move a ‘small’ Eb Bass around on public transport and the BBb Bass player was able to do similar. It may be that your way forward includes a three valve, non comp, small bell BBb that can be either left at home or moved to and from the Band-room as and when needed. Something for you to talk over with your MD who might realise that an investment in his Bass Section is amongst the best money he can spend - older small three valve BBb’s can sometimes be had for surprisingly good prices, it just depends how lucky you are. I practice on a small ‘student’ type Eb at home and have made fantastic progress on it - it’s an easier blow than the EEb too.

At ‘our’ last Band practice the MD pulled out some pieces that the Band had been unable to do a few years earlier, this time we aced the pieces even though it was sight reading for some of us. Why did we do well when we’d done so poorly before? Well I am biased but now we have quite a decent Bass Section and in the past we didn’t, put in those solid foundations of sound, rhythm and style and other good things follow. CousinJack, you’re part of that solution, enjoy ;-) .
 
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dennis78

New Member
Although I started playing trumpet I’ve always had a penchant for the low brass. Bought a tenor bone and couldn’t play a lick.
pretty happy playing baritone this year. One day I’d love to play bass.
My favorite is probably the piccolo trumpet. It’s just a beautiful sound. Although I have absolutely no want to actually play it.
If it has to be an instrument I play then it’s definitely baritone! Im really enjoying more than the cornet or trumpet.
 

Richard Knock

New Member
I’m glad that you like your Bach Strad 37 Trumpet. I suggest that you talk to your Teacher about valves and whether to lubricate or not. A bottle of valve oil costs little and lasts for years, it really would be a shame if your valves started to wear because you hadn’t lubricated them - valves and their casings are both difficult and expensive to replace, and alternative repair isn’t always possible or cheap.
My wife bought me a Bach Strad on our siver wedding anniversary 28 years ago, it replaced a B&H Emporer. I lightly oil the valves before every gig and give it a thourough wash out and clean every month, same as my Sovereign cornet, which is even older. The cornet shows visible signs of wear on the valves but still plays well, but the Strad valves look like new and it is a dream to play. Then, it cost £1,400, I think they are in the £3,000 area now.worth every one of my wife’s pennies!
 

Ron Lander

Member
I have started to suffer from Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS). Been listening a lot to brass band and jazz flugelhorn solos. Currently working hard to avoid pressing the BUY button on this.
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