Bach NY era mouthpieces

User avatar
novalvz
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:50 pm

Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by novalvz » Mon May 18, 2020 1:08 pm

It is widely accepted that NY (and Mt. Vernon) mouthpieces play and sound different than their modern counterparts.
Aside from their obvious visual differences in design such as rim shapes and widths, interior and exterior bowl shapes, overall lengths, etc, etc, does metallurgy come into play?

Were the brass alloys used in the NY era different than those used in today's mouthpiece manufacture? :idk:
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 2236
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by BGuttman » Mon May 18, 2020 1:40 pm

novalvz wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 1:08 pm
It is widely accepted that NY (and Mt. Vernon) mouthpieces play and sound different than their modern counterparts.
Aside from their obvious visual differences in design such as rim shapes and widths, interior and exterior bowl shapes, overall lengths, etc, etc, does metallurgy come into play?

Were the brass alloys used in the NY era different than those used in today's mouthpiece manufacture? :idk:
This has been a matter of conjecture for years.

I got a bunch of New York, Mount Vernon, and Elkhart mouthpieces (as well as other vendors) from Doug Elliott, DJ Kennedy, and Benn Hansson and ran an X-Ray Fluorescence elemental analysis. All of the mouthpieces showed 342 Brass (has about 1-2% lead to improve machinability). I couldn't find significant amounts of trace metals to make a difference.

There were tales of using something called "cartridge brass" made by melting ammunition shells left over from World War I (and maybe World War II as well) but I couldn't determine a difference in alloy composition.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
"Almost Professional"
User avatar
paulyg
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu May 17, 2018 12:30 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by paulyg » Mon May 18, 2020 1:48 pm

I have owned a few pieces of both vintages, and compared them with their modern counterparts.

The internal differences are noticeable, visually. My MV 3 has a flatter rim and more abrupt cup-to-throat joint (shoulder) than a Corp 3 that I had, or a modern CNC 3. It played like a different mouthpiece. Incidentally, I briefly had another MV 3 that had a more rounded rim, which played closer to the modern pieces (not as magical as the other MV 3).

My general feeling is that the modern Bach pieces have been tweaked for comfort, and for ease of producing a "modern" sound (modern here meaning a dark, dense, boring sound by my taste).
Paul Gilles
Aerospace Engineer & Trombone Player
User avatar
novalvz
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:50 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by novalvz » Mon May 18, 2020 2:50 pm

Thanks for your replies.

So, based on your findings Bruce, can we determine that the tonal characteristics of these vintage pieces are directly related to the mouthpiece design, and not influenced by the brass itself?

Interesting.
hyperbolica
Posts: 1055
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:31 am

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by hyperbolica » Mon May 18, 2020 3:00 pm

novalvz wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 2:50 pm
...
So, based on your findings Bruce, can we determine that the tonal characteristics of these vintage pieces are directly related to the mouthpiece design, and not influenced by the brass itself?
...or the player's imagination, if you're taking everything into account.
WGWTR180
Posts: 361
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:32 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by WGWTR180 » Mon May 18, 2020 3:46 pm

hyperbolica wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 3:00 pm
novalvz wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 2:50 pm
...
So, based on your findings Bruce, can we determine that the tonal characteristics of these vintage pieces are directly related to the mouthpiece design, and not influenced by the brass itself?
...or the player's imagination, if you're taking everything into account.
Sorry but no. In my case not the player's imagination. But stir the pot. I like it.
FOSSIL
Posts: 290
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:41 am

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by FOSSIL » Mon May 18, 2020 3:52 pm

A great mouthpiece is a great mouthpiece, whoever makes it, whenever it's made.... a lot of those old Bachs were great mouthpieces...live with it. Get over it.

Chris
hyperbolica
Posts: 1055
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:31 am

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by hyperbolica » Mon May 18, 2020 7:32 pm

You know, Bluegrass is an entire style of music devoted to nostalgia and bitterness.
Doug Elliott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:12 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by Doug Elliott » Mon May 18, 2020 9:31 pm

There are many differences - both internal and external measurements, shapes, manufacturing techniques, inconsistencies...
WGWTR180
Posts: 361
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:32 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by WGWTR180 » Tue May 19, 2020 5:19 am

hyperbolica wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 7:32 pm
You know, Bluegrass is an entire style of music devoted to nostalgia and bitterness.
That's all you've got???
User avatar
Ellefson
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:07 am
Location: Bloomington, IN
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by Ellefson » Tue May 19, 2020 7:29 am

Similarly to others commenting above, I have owned Bach mouthpieces from all eras. Like the instruments made in the corresponding eras, there are good and bad from each. I can't help but chuckle at the perceived value of the words New York, Mount Vernon, Corporation, etc. (and I own/have owned all of them!). There were some really nice horns from those manufacturing periods...there were also some dogs. I suspect it is human nature to believe that anything older must be better. The term "Corporation" is now thrown around as a stamp of quality the way "Mount Vernon" was thrown around when I was younger, and "New York" before that. They are more rare due to age and (I assume) lower numbers assembled during those periods. Rarity does not automatically guarantee quality. A good instrument is a good instrument and the date it was manufactured is merely a coincidence. If a player believes it is better, it likely will be. Imagination and player preconception both play a huge role in the determination of quality. One can find a fantastic instrument manufactured last week and a complete dog made in those "golden" eras. One can argue that there was more care, pride, artisanship, etc. in the old days of instruments being handmade but that also fostered inherent inconsistency. What might be perceived as great playability by one person might be viewed as undesirable to another. Lots of variables at play, both in manufacturing and player preference.

Now to the mouthpieces being discussed here. Yes, lots of inconsistency over the decades of Bach mouthpieces and there has been great (and some not-so-great) playing on those mouthpieces from every era. The Bach mouthpieces currently being produced are very consistent one to another. They are different, of course, from those made 5, 10, 50 years ago, owing to the various methods of production.

This past January, after decades of experimenting (and I would hate to know how many thousands of dollars spent...easily north of $10K) I decided to return to a stock Bach 5G. I own many 5Gs from the various eras and they all play differently. They all play fine...when I am playing well (hint, hint). Since I keep trombones in different homes and my office, I wanted to have a consistent mouthpiece in each location. I ordered several brand new 5Gs and because of the CNC production now being used in Elkhart, they are identical, at least to my sense of sound and "feel." Does that mean I am done searching? I'd like to think so but I also know my history. I did experience a sense of relief by not wondering if there is something "better" out there. I let go of that disquieting question and accepted the onus of producing quality behind the horn.

PE
hyperbolica
Posts: 1055
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:31 am

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by hyperbolica » Tue May 19, 2020 10:10 am

Ellefson wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 7:29 am
I can't help but chuckle at the perceived value of the words New York, Mount Vernon, Corporation, etc.......If a player believes it is better, it likely will be. Imagination and player preconception both play a huge role in the determination of quality
Bingo.
WGWTR180
Posts: 361
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:32 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by WGWTR180 » Tue May 19, 2020 10:33 am

hyperbolica wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 10:10 am
Ellefson wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 7:29 am
I can't help but chuckle at the perceived value of the words New York, Mount Vernon, Corporation, etc.......If a player believes it is better, it likely will be. Imagination and player preconception both play a huge role in the determination of quality
Bingo.
Not true.
User avatar
Matt K
Posts: 1794
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:34 pm
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by Matt K » Tue May 19, 2020 11:13 am

Choice-supportive bias is a pretty well documented phenomena, as is the placebo effect. We're talking about something that is essentially a purely subjective experience with a near infinite set of choices. Nobody here, as far as I can tell, is suggesting that it is purely irrational to play a Mt. Vernon/NY/Corporation piece, nor has anyone suggested that the majority - let alone the entirety - of that choice is attributable to these subconscious effects. Just that certainly there is some element of subconscious bias at play. (Also important to note is that this is not necessarily a negative either. Subjective experience is not an unimportant matter).

I had a pretty good Mt. Vernon 2G for awhile that I ultimately sold because I prefer Doug's pieces. It was different than other 2G I've played but I never had a full scan of it done. I suspect that a very good portion of the difference is selection bias, where the great playing pieces are the ones that are simply not discarded. It would be really interesting to get a decent sample size of scans of the internal contour of some NY and Mt. Vernon pieces and see just how widely they diverge in terms of their physical shape. My suspicion is that there would be a good bit of divergence between them but I have utterly no evidence of that beyond the purely anecdotal.
WGWTR180
Posts: 361
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:32 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by WGWTR180 » Tue May 19, 2020 11:25 am

Matt K wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 11:13 am
Choice-supportive bias is a pretty well documented phenomena, as is the placebo effect. We're talking about something that is essentially a purely subjective experience with a near infinite set of choices. Nobody here, as far as I can tell, is suggesting that it is purely irrational to play a Mt. Vernon/NY/Corporation piece, nor has anyone suggested that the majority - let alone the entirety - of that choice is attributable to these subconscious effects. Just that certainly there is some element of subconscious bias at play. (Also important to note is that this is not necessarily a negative either. Subjective experience is not an unimportant matter).

I had a pretty good Mt. Vernon 2G for awhile that I ultimately sold because I prefer Doug's pieces. It was different than other 2G I've played but I never had a full scan of it done. I suspect that a very good portion of the difference is selection bias, where the great playing pieces are the ones that are simply not discarded. It would be really interesting to get a decent sample size of scans of the internal contour of some NY and Mt. Vernon pieces and see just how widely they diverge in terms of their physical shape. My suspicion is that there would be a good bit of divergence between them but I have utterly no evidence of that beyond the purely anecdotal.
We're past the measurement and metal alloy phase of the conversation here Matt K. People can chose whatever they want to play. I seem to remember you've tried almost every combination known to man. We've all messed around with stuff but to say one choice over another is just "in your head" is ridiculous. I think there's something else simmering here but that's okay. As I said let them stir the pot-it's welcome.
User avatar
Matt K
Posts: 1794
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:34 pm
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by Matt K » Tue May 19, 2020 12:00 pm

There are 30+ citations to scientific literature on the subject in the Wiki I posted. For that matter, I'm not sure why its ridiculous that you would make a decision "in your head" or why people would be to be unable to play whatever they want to play because of a decision they made "in their head". The point of choice-supported bias is that people choose whatever they want to play.

I have indeed tried many things; less than Prof. Ellefson, but indeed many things. Its a lot of fun to try out stuff. I never claimed anything to the contrary.

I also don't see where someone posted that they've done scans of the shapes. I know Bruce checked the alloy of the metals. I am not aware of anyone posting the scans of the internal contours of pieces or anyone putting that forward. I'd love to hear about it if that has been done. I know Kanstul used to post their contours and I believe even had ones of Mt. Vernon but they only had trumpet pieces afaik.
User avatar
paulyg
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu May 17, 2018 12:30 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by paulyg » Tue May 19, 2020 1:46 pm

WGWTR180 wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 11:25 am

We're past the measurement and metal alloy phase of the conversation here Matt K. People can chose whatever they want to play. I seem to remember you've tried almost every combination known to man. We've all messed around with stuff but to say one choice over another is just "in your head" is ridiculous. I think there's something else simmering here but that's okay. As I said let them stir the pot-it's welcome.
Haha, no we're not.

I agree with you in one respect- the variability of these old mouthpieces leads to quantifiable differences in the way they play, versus the newer Bach offerings. These differences are not selection bias, or figments of people's imagination. However, they might also be characterized as "personal preference."

I think that it's a fool's errand to try and divine some sort of physical explanation for why these mouthpieces play the way they do, as opposed to why they play differently. The question we all really should be asking is not "why are Mt. Vernon/NY mouthpieces better," it's "why do players prefer Mt. Vernon/NY mouthpieces."

The distinction may at first seem minimal, but I assure you it is important. "Better" implies that there is some objective criteria that all mouthpieces may be evaluated against. This simply does not exist. "Preference" places us squarely in Matt K's realm.

The physical (and other) differences between players are at least as important as the physical distinctions between mouthpieces. However, the same player (same physiology, relatively consistent playing approach) may prefer the Mt. Vernon/NY sample. That preference, then, must come down to either a physical difference or Matt K.'s selection bias.

For this reason, I'd say we are not past the measurement phase. If it's not "all in your head," and it's not a measurement/alloy thing, then what is it? Vincent Bach was many things, but a medium/shaman/witch doctor was not among them.
Paul Gilles
Aerospace Engineer & Trombone Player
Doug Elliott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:12 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by Doug Elliott » Tue May 19, 2020 2:13 pm

Collective "choice-supportive bias" vs an individual sample difference. Two completely different things.
WGWTR180
Posts: 361
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:32 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by WGWTR180 » Tue May 19, 2020 2:58 pm

paulyg wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 1:46 pm
WGWTR180 wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 11:25 am

We're past the measurement and metal alloy phase of the conversation here Matt K. People can chose whatever they want to play. I seem to remember you've tried almost every combination known to man. We've all messed around with stuff but to say one choice over another is just "in your head" is ridiculous. I think there's something else simmering here but that's okay. As I said let them stir the pot-it's welcome.
Haha, no we're not.

I agree with you in one respect- the variability of these old mouthpieces leads to quantifiable differences in the way they play, versus the newer Bach offerings. These differences are not selection bias, or figments of people's imagination. However, they might also be characterized as "personal preference."

I think that it's a fool's errand to try and divine some sort of physical explanation for why these mouthpieces play the way they do, as opposed to why they play differently. The question we all really should be asking is not "why are Mt. Vernon/NY mouthpieces better," it's "why do players prefer Mt. Vernon/NY mouthpieces."

The distinction may at first seem minimal, but I assure you it is important. "Better" implies that there is some objective criteria that all mouthpieces may be evaluated against. This simply does not exist. "Preference" places us squarely in Matt K's realm.

The physical (and other) differences between players are at least as important as the physical distinctions between mouthpieces. However, the same player (same physiology, relatively consistent playing approach) may prefer the Mt. Vernon/NY sample. That preference, then, must come down to either a physical difference or Matt K.'s selection bias.

For this reason, I'd say we are not past the measurement phase. If it's not "all in your head," and it's not a measurement/alloy thing, then what is it? Vincent Bach was many things, but a medium/shaman/witch doctor was not among them.
You're late to the game. The measurement issue and metal alloys were talked about on the old Forum at length. Also talked about here at one point but the search function is useless.
However what I'm questioning is not most of what you mentioned it's this statement:

Ellefson wrote: ↑Tue May 19, 2020 9:29 am
"I can't help but chuckle at the perceived value of the words New York, Mount Vernon, Corporation, etc.......If a player believes it is better, it likely will be. Imagination and player preconception both play a huge role in the determination of quality"

That's what I'm disagreeing with.
FOSSIL
Posts: 290
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:41 am

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by FOSSIL » Tue May 19, 2020 4:15 pm

CNC mouthpieces.... more consistent...really ??? Apart from trying twos and threes from various makers that have always varied, I have in the past been able to try batches of 20 mouthpieces supposedly CNC identical that varied widely. Players can detect immeasurable differences and the mere fact that a mouthpiece goes though CNC lathe manufacturing does not guarantee that it is of totally consistent quality.
Are MV and NY Bach mouthpieces superior? Only if you think they are... good and bad there as well, but a lot of the best players seek them out... others don't.
If they are special, what makes them special ? Well, if I do know, I'm sure as heck not telling.... If I don't know, does that make it imagination? Why would that be ?
As usual, there will be no real answers here and ever more questions. People can mock those of us that pay good money to buy these old mouthpieces, but they are way cheaper than new trombones, some of which are an expensive liability....that's where the emporer's new clothes can be found.

Chris
Fairlane57
Posts: 149
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:57 am

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by Fairlane57 » Tue May 19, 2020 5:36 pm

It doesn't matter if you are talking about mouthpieces or instruments, the artisans from the past (Bach, Conn, King, Olds, Holton, Minick, Herrick, Williams and others.) researched and experimented to develop the basics that are the foundation of today's equipment. Some good things have been possibly forgotten or lost and others improved on. The human touch in production sometimes produced gold and other times just a shiny object. The search for gold can be enticing and sometimes very rewarding.
Methods of making mouthpieces have been tremendously improved but the CNC machine is not perfect. The quality of the equipment (not cheap), cutter wear, parameters adjustment for faster production probably have an affect on consistency.

Thanks, Bob
User avatar
Ellefson
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:07 am
Location: Bloomington, IN
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by Ellefson » Tue May 19, 2020 7:29 pm

CNC mouthpieces.... more consistent...really ???
Ok, ok.

Sorry!

Clarification...my post was getting long and so I didn't explain every detail of my claim. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to dig myself out.

Given a "run" on the CNC, my experience is that they are pretty darned consistent, barring a malfunction. I live in Indiana, where the Bach plant resides, which allows me access, a luxury that others might not necessarily have. Has anyone here tested pieces in a run fresh off the CNC (of any manufacturer) that can dispute the consistency of a run? If so, I am all ears and your chops are way more sensitive than mine...and I am always ready to stand corrected. I want to learn. Granted...the buffer might be dozing (a hazard to all) and take off more brass that they should, which would account for a slight variation. I have also had custom work done by a maker you'd recognize on a CNC and piece after piece came out the same. It was fascinating to watch and participate in.

That expressed, CNC from last month to last year? Might be consistent, might not be. There are variables such as tool wear or more likely, slightly altered dimensionals that the programmer inputs. Here is a little secret...(ssshhhh) even those [famous] makers that use the CNC will slightly tweak a dimension here and there for "improvement." The explanation? From the mouth of one of the best, "The Corvette is not the same year to year." There you have it.

Just because it is made on a CNC doesn't guarantee consistency from year to year. I get it. I agree. I was more interested in consistency from piece to piece (to piece to piece).

The mere goal of consistency is overrated (especially if the product is poor), unless one is looking to get 2, 3 or 4 mouthpieces that are as close to the same as possible, which I was. I did not care that they were the best ever...I just wanted them to be the same and I'd do the rest. I am not interested in single, great playing specimens---I already have those. I need (well...want) duplicates that are as close to the same as possible. Consecutive pieces off of a CNC has given me that. Maybe I was just lucky?

Mouthpieces from all eras can be good, great, mediocre or poor. I challenge you to find 2 of the same model from any handmade Bach era that are functionally the same in feel AND sound. If so, buy a lottery ticket. Just because they are not the same doesn't make them better or worse...just different. There are some great playing old mouthpieces (and some meh?) to be sure. Grab the great ones! Maybe someone will be able to replicate them in the future. I have not had great luck with the scanning and duplicating but that might just be me. I'd rather not get too hung up on finding the golden ticket.

There are current makers who don't use CNC that are remarkably consistent.

It goes back to, if you like it and it sounds good, it is good. To each their own and I am only relating my experience, not criticizing anyone else's. I understand doing so creates a fine line and apologize if anyone was offended by my first post.

If you paid a premium and you like it..great! I am counting on taking advantage of that premium, when it is time to release my stable.

PE
User avatar
Ellefson
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:07 am
Location: Bloomington, IN
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by Ellefson » Tue May 19, 2020 7:37 pm

...and I was fascinated to learn what Bruce shared about the elemental analysis. I had always wondered about that as well. Now I know. Thanks for the information!

PE
tbonesullivan
Posts: 502
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:06 am
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by tbonesullivan » Tue May 19, 2020 8:09 pm

I would think however that for mouthpieces like a Bach 12C, 5G, Etc, the should be virtually identical in this realm of CNC lathes, unless they let their cutters get dull. Especially from a company like Faxx, who makes mouthpieces CNC machined in Germany by Josef Lausmann's company, which has pretty much made mouthpieces for other companies for generations.

Yes, the CNC is a tool, like any other, so it can have issues. However in the right hands, it will be able to produce a lot of very consistent mouthpieces. It also makes replicating a custom or hard to find mouthpiece relatively easy if you have a laser scanner.
David S. - daveyboy37 from TTF
Bach 39 Alto, King 2103 / 3b, Yamaha YSL-640, Bach 42T, Kanstul 1570CR, Kanstul 1588CR, Yamaha YBL-612 RII, Sterling Perantucci 1056GHS Euphonium, Yamaha YBB-631S Tuba
Livingston Symphony Orchestra NJ - Trombone
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 2236
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by BGuttman » Tue May 19, 2020 8:10 pm

Ellefson wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 7:37 pm
...and I was fascinated to learn what Bruce shared about the elemental analysis. I had always wondered about that as well. Now I know. Thanks for the information!

PE
A lot of us were wondering, and I was lucky enough to have access to an X-Ray Fluorescence system that could do non-destructive tests.

Note that I couldn't find PPM materials, but then again I doubt you could find an effect from such trace contamination.

I would expect a bigger difference from work hardening and/or crystal structure differences (which I couldn't measure with that setup).
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
"Almost Professional"
User avatar
paulyg
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu May 17, 2018 12:30 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by paulyg » Tue May 19, 2020 8:37 pm

Yeah Bruce, unless somebody is willing to sacrifice their MV piece to a destructive test, there's not much chance of figuring out moduli/hardness.
Paul Gilles
Aerospace Engineer & Trombone Player
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 2236
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by BGuttman » Tue May 19, 2020 10:33 pm

paulyg wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 8:37 pm
Yeah Bruce, unless somebody is willing to sacrifice their MV piece to a destructive test, there's not much chance of figuring out moduli/hardness.
We had a Knoop tester, but I didn't want to put tiny indentations into the bowl of the mouthpiece (outside, of course).
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
"Almost Professional"
mrdeacon
Posts: 769
Joined: Tue May 08, 2018 2:05 am
Location: Los Angeles, California

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by mrdeacon » Tue May 19, 2020 10:39 pm

paulyg wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 8:37 pm
Yeah Bruce, unless somebody is willing to sacrifice their MV piece to a destructive test, there's not much chance of figuring out moduli/hardness.
I mean wouldn't be too difficult to test that. There's loads of weird size (12c, 15E, etc.) Mount Vernon and New York pieces that could be tested and wouldn't be a huge loss to mankind.
Rath R1 2000s, Elliott XT
Bach 42B 1977, Elliott XT
Holton TR185 1968, Elliott XB
Holton 169 1960s, Elliott LB
Minick Bass Trombone 1980s, Elliott LB
User avatar
paulyg
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu May 17, 2018 12:30 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by paulyg » Tue May 19, 2020 11:42 pm

mrdeacon wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 10:39 pm
paulyg wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 8:37 pm
Yeah Bruce, unless somebody is willing to sacrifice their MV piece to a destructive test, there's not much chance of figuring out moduli/hardness.
I mean wouldn't be too difficult to test that. There's loads of weird size (12c, 15E, etc.) Mount Vernon and New York pieces that could be tested and wouldn't be a huge loss to mankind.
You really should have a standard coupon (geometry) to do this- my point being that it isn't really feasible.
Paul Gilles
Aerospace Engineer & Trombone Player
FOSSIL
Posts: 290
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:41 am

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by FOSSIL » Wed May 20, 2020 2:30 am

I would put most CNC variation down to buffing post machining. Yes, a couple of companies in Germany make a huge number of mouthpieces with various names stamped on the outside, and it is one of those companies products that I had access to. In terms of feel and sound, there was noticeable variation within a batch.
Anyway, this variability thing is just a sideshow....the OP was asking about old Bachs and what made them better...he said that there was general consensus that old Bach mouthpieces were superior to modern ones.
We can pick his post apart but I would say that the most honest response is that this was discussed at considerable length on the old forum and that there was never a provable reason put forward.

Chris
User avatar
Ellefson
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:07 am
Location: Bloomington, IN
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by Ellefson » Wed May 20, 2020 5:29 am

Sorry for taking the off ramp into consistency. I guess I went there because of the comparison to modern counterparts.

The OP was wondering what made the NY and MV play and sound different, which is a great question, apparently already discussed in great detail.

He did not claim that they were better or superior.

PE
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 2236
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by BGuttman » Wed May 20, 2020 6:19 am

I'm not a metallurgist (although I did play one in past lives), but there are a lot of things that could be at play here.

1. It may be that the old mouthpieces weren't really that great back when they were made. Brass can undergo solid state reactions with oxides forming at grain boundaries, changes in crystal structure, etc. The changes may make the older pieces play better (or not).

2. The buffing technique could make a dimensional difference. Nobody's ever tried to micromeasure a bunch of mouthpieces to see what kind of final product variation there is.

3. Another solid state reaction is interdiffusion of silver into brass if there was no barrier layer. I don't know if older Bach mouthpieces had barrier layers or some other plating artifact like a Stike layer under the build plate. For that matter, there may be differences in silver thickness now versus then. I didn't measure plating thickness in my evaluation because we didn't think to try.

4. The brass composition may not have changed but the way it was made at the foundary may have. Cooling rates of the material after the formulation could be different now versus then. We generally try to minimize cost, and a long cooling period increases cost. The cooling rate affects crystal structure. Sorta like the issue with Pond's cold cream: the basic formula hasn't changed since 1848 but the way it is compounded probably has.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
"Almost Professional"
User avatar
novalvz
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:50 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by novalvz » Wed May 20, 2020 6:27 am

Ellefson wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 5:29 am

The OP was wondering what made the NY and MV play and sound different, which is a great question, apparently already discussed in great detail.

He did not claim that they were better or superior.

PE
Thank you all for your thoughtful posts. When passionate minds congregate, the conversation can get lively in the room!

To clarify, I was simply wondering if the brass used in their production differed from that used in modern production.

Bruce addressed that very early in the thread, and I see now in the preceding post, his most recent detailed analysis!
FOSSIL
Posts: 290
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:41 am

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by FOSSIL » Wed May 20, 2020 7:06 am

Ellefson wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 5:29 am
Sorry for taking the off ramp into consistency. I guess I went there because of the comparison to modern counterparts.

The OP was wondering what made the NY and MV play and sound different, which is a great question, apparently already discussed in great detail.

He did not claim that they were better or superior.

PE
Sorry Peter, you are quite right...different.... I posted first thing before coffee kicked in and failed to check.
Metal can have an effect... this has been obvious with Bill Symingtons mouthpieces...I got to try unbuffed brass, copper and Zirconium...all CNC produced and could feel differences in sound and feel between them all, though feel was simply about how warm or cool and how slippery each felt. I could not tell you if one metal was better...they were simply different and have gotten different reactions from other players since. The big plus for me with Zirconium is that it is not polished or plated and it is very hard wearing. Apart from the cost, it's a very good mouthpiece material. Before the science club beats me up, no, I don't know how and why metal makes a difference, but I think it does....so now the psychology club can hack into me.

Chris
stewbones43
Posts: 44
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2018 5:11 am
Location: Somerset, UK

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by stewbones43 » Wed May 20, 2020 8:48 am

BGuttman wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 6:19 am

4. The brass composition may not have changed but the way it was made at the foundary may have. Cooling rates of the material after the formulation could be different now versus then. We generally try to minimize cost, and a long cooling period increases cost. The cooling rate affects crystal structure. Sorta like the issue with Pond's cold cream: the basic formula hasn't changed since 1848 but the way it is compounded probably has.
Fascinating! It leads onto another question.
Would the time of year and therefore the climatic conditions, affect the cooling rate and could this explain why some of the old pieces are "better" than others even though the label on the box and the engraving on the mouthpiece says they are the same? :idk:

The more we find out, the less we know. :???:

Cheers

Stewbones43
Conn 36H
B&H Sessionair
Besson 10-10
Conn 74H
Yamaha YSL-641 with 8H slide
Conn 88H Gen II with Yamaha Custom slide
Besson Academy 409
Rath/Holton/Benge Bb/F/G or Gb/Eb or D Independent Bass
Kbiggs
Posts: 355
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2018 11:46 am
Location: Vancouver WA

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by Kbiggs » Wed May 20, 2020 9:13 am

FOSSIL wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 7:06 am
...Before the science club beats me up, no, I don't know how and why metal makes a difference, but I think it does....so now the psychology club can hack into me.

Chris
Fascinating thread.

My 2 cents: From everything I’ve read and been told, everything makes a difference about why NY Bach mouthpieces are different. The raw materials, the way they are prepared, the machines and tools, buffing, plating, wear and tear, aging, changes in a company over time, etc., all contribute to why NY era mpcs. are highly valued.

By extension, this also applies to other, newer mouthpieces. For example, Greg Black’s Alessi series is very different from his New York series, and those two are very different when compared to Griego’s Alessi line.

And (apologies to Chris, and thanks to Matt for the initial prod here) the psychology of choice strongly influences what we perceive and why we perceive things in certain ways. Confirmation bias, choice-supportive bias, belief perseverance, memory bias, false consensus, filter bubble, selective perception, and probably a few others, come into play.

We choose mpcs.—we make a compromise—for many different reasons, sometimes based on logic, sometimes based on perceived value, sometimes based on what our teachers tell us, sometimes based on...?
I have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.
—Mark Twain (attributed)
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 2236
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by BGuttman » Wed May 20, 2020 10:22 am

A comment on CNC Machining. CNC can be consistent, provided the materials are identical and the tools are identical.

A shape made with the same CNC program on the same lathe can be slightly different for two different materials The reason for this is that metals deform under cutting conditions differently. A skilled machinist knows these differences and can adjust his program to accommodate the different feedstocks. I don't know that the programs for, say, stainless steel and zirconium are different to achieve the same end product. Lots of little things to get in the way of an impartial evaluation.

I tend to take the pragmatic approach that if it works for you it's good. Trying to spec yourself to virtuosity is a fool's errand.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
"Almost Professional"
GabeLangfur
Posts: 282
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:20 am
Location: Boston, MA, USA
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by GabeLangfur » Wed May 20, 2020 12:05 pm

This is entertaining...

I have very little experience comparing vintage mouthpieces to modern ones because there are no vintage mouthpieces in sizes I'm comfortable with. But I have been on the eternal quest for two mouthpieces I like that are identical. It's never happened. Right now I have three Doug Elliotts with the same combination: XB114 rim, M cup in what I think he call medium weight, M8 shank. The shanks are stamped 2015, 2017, and 2018; each of the three mouthpieces is a little different, and each one works best in a different horn I like to play. So I'm quite happy, thanks very much to Doug, though I would very much like another one exactly like the 2017 shank. Not holding my breath.

So I'd like to take the conversation in yet another direction:

Many trombonists, at least in the US, seem to concur that Greg Black's mouthpieces have a certain "something special" about the sound - a life, a depth, a richness of color that's hard to find in other makers. That's not to say Greg's are the very best mouthpieces for everybody from a practical playability standpoint, but the sound has a different character. True? Verifiable in some scientific way? I don't know. I have a custom Greg Black I like, but the playability, pitch center, and tone quality I get from my Doug Elliotts - not to mention the ability to stay in his system for my specialty instruments - is decidedly better for me now.

What is different about Greg's methods from other makers is that he does much more of the process without CNC technology. Most of his blanks are made on a CNC lathe (by Terry Warburton actually), but the actual cup shapes, rim profiles, and backbores are cut using tools Greg makes on a manual lathe (is that the right term?).

I have long wondered if the manual lathe is the key to "that sound." If I understand correctly, an electric-powered manual lathe spins slower than a CNC.

And then I have to wonder, what was powering the lathes used in the Vincent Bach Bronx and Mt Vernon factories? Electricity? Water, like in the old pictures from the Conn factory? How fast were those lathes compared to a modern manual lathe?

And then the final question, which is maybe the first question, is: does the speed the lathe is spinning when the cutting is happening matter? Based on the time I spent in the Shires factory as they prototyped not just designs but manufacturing processes, I tend to think so.

Thoughts? Bruce, I imagine this would have effects on the crystal structures of the metal somewhat like aging does. But I don't have the engineering knowledge to assert that in any meaningful way.
Faculty
Boston University School of Music
Kinhaven Music School Senior Session
Wellesley College

Bass Trombonist
Rhode Island Philharmonic
Vermont Symphony
Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass
DonH
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:24 am

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by DonH » Wed May 20, 2020 12:50 pm

I don't really have answers, but a few observations. I met up with Chris Stearn last summer. He had the Symington ZR along with him. I Already had the Brass version. The ZR version feels different as the rim is not perfectly smooth. It grips but doesn't stick. It seems to have more presence at lower volume, also a little more efficient. The idea of a mouthpiece coming directly off the CNC machine was interesting because of no buffing at all. Does a CNC computer adjust to make the same size mouthpiece as the tool wears? You would think so as when they make engine parts, the tolerances are important. The buffing seems to be a point to examine.
Last edited by DonH on Thu May 21, 2020 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 2236
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by BGuttman » Wed May 20, 2020 2:07 pm

Gabe, at the time Bach went into business new lathes were powered by electric motors and it's likely that his shop used electric motors to power the lathes. Note that electric motors of the 1920s generally had lower power ratings than now and likely did not spin as fast as we do now. The drive was often not direct but instead might be done with a belt. Belts rely on friction to transfer energy and are thus less efficient than other transmissions.

A workpiece going at a slower rate requires a different cut profile, probably creating a slightly different degree of work hardening. Maybe a Mechanical Engineer would be able to explain better (I'm a Chemical).
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
"Almost Professional"
User avatar
paulyg
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu May 17, 2018 12:30 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by paulyg » Thu May 21, 2020 12:56 am

Belts are actually more efficient than gears or similar transmissions, as they are lighter- provided there is no slippage. Belts slipping on a cutting machine is bad news.

"Speeds and feeds" are basic machining techniques/fundamentals. It's conceivable that a manual lathe built in the '20's may have had a different effect on the work piece- however, brass is pretty soft, and I think unless the machinist was REALLY slamming pieces through the machine, the difference was probably negligible. It would take a lot of elbow grease (and a dangerous indifference to loud screeching noises) to appreciably deform a mouthpiece blank on a lathe, even with a dull tool and an underpowered chuck. There would be a much larger effect observed with machine wear (inability to hold a zero/datum or tolerance).

Gabe, to your point about speed- there's cutting, and cold-working. These two distinct processes are fundamentally different, and practically inseparable. An "ideal" cut would result in no cold-working, or inelastic (permanent) deformation* of the workpiece. Deforming and cold-working of the workpiece (a bell, mouthpiece, or tube) will harden the workpiece. Electron machining may actually be able to achieve material removal without deformation (excluding thermal deformation), but to my knowledge that technology has not been leveraged to make instruments or mouthpieces.

Sort of to both of your points, many materials (including brass) are strain-rate sensitive- i.e., the force required to deform (strain) the material depends not only on the material, but also on how rapidly the force is applied. It is possible that by "rushing" parts through machining, a different result (dimensions + hardness + stiffness) will be obtained compared to a part that was "eased" through spinning, machining, or bending.

*even elastic deformation of the tool and/or workpiece can affect the dimensions of the final product.
Paul Gilles
Aerospace Engineer & Trombone Player
GabeLangfur
Posts: 282
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:20 am
Location: Boston, MA, USA
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by GabeLangfur » Thu May 21, 2020 6:51 am

Thanks Paul, that's exactly the kind of information that interests me about the process.
Faculty
Boston University School of Music
Kinhaven Music School Senior Session
Wellesley College

Bass Trombonist
Rhode Island Philharmonic
Vermont Symphony
Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass
biggiesmalls
Posts: 151
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:52 pm
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by biggiesmalls » Thu May 21, 2020 8:03 am

I've heard speculation that the substantial variations in cup depth, rim profile etc. that can be found in different examples of any given Bach mouthpiece size from the NY/Mt. Vernon eras might be attributed to Vincent Bach's frugality: the mouthpieces used as lathe tracing patterns were perhaps used well beyond their "expiration dates." As the tracing patterns were progressively worn down, the cups got deeper, the rim profiles became softer, the mouthpiece mass became lighter, etc., until the patterns were eventually replaced.

Again, this is purely speculation that I have received second-hand. I am not familiar with the manufacturing processes Bach used during the NY/Mt. Vernon eras, so I'm curious to hear what the experts have to say about the plausibility of this theory.
Visit my studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA!
User avatar
Ellefson
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:07 am
Location: Bloomington, IN
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by Ellefson » Thu May 21, 2020 8:12 am

Next question...

What about aging (of the material, not the player :hi: )? I already know about that!

For example, I have been told (at a place of manufacture, not Bach) that brass has to sit for a while before being drawn into slide tubes, ostensibly so the bass molecules can "settle" and not "warp" after being drawn.

Is this a thing? Are there molecular (maybe an incorrect term) changes that take place in brass over time that would affect the the older pieces?

Thanks.

PE
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 2236
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by BGuttman » Thu May 21, 2020 9:20 am

Absolutely there are things that can change.

We know that solid state reactions occur in metals. There is some crystal growth in the alloy. Also, oxides move in along grain boundaries and can change the apparent hardness. Surface plating can migrate inside the substrate. Note that these reactions are quite slow -- taking years, decades, and even centuries.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
"Almost Professional"
GabeLangfur
Posts: 282
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:20 am
Location: Boston, MA, USA
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by GabeLangfur » Thu May 21, 2020 11:04 am

biggiesmalls wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 8:03 am
the mouthpieces used as lathe tracing patterns were perhaps used well beyond their "expiration dates." As the tracing patterns were progressively worn down, the cups got deeper, the rim profiles became softer, the mouthpiece mass became lighter, etc., until the patterns were eventually replaced.
To mu understanding, that's not the way the non-CNC method works. For making a copy of a mouthpiece, yes, I believe a skilled machinist would have a set-up to trace the original as the new piece is being cut in real time.

But to go into production, they make a cutting tool for each cup and rim profile. It's those tools that wear down over time, which makes the interior dimensions of later examples smaller, not larger.

Steve Shires told me bell mandrels have to be replaced periodically for the same reason. Over time a mandrel gets worn down, which makes the tapers of the bells made on it tighter.
Faculty
Boston University School of Music
Kinhaven Music School Senior Session
Wellesley College

Bass Trombonist
Rhode Island Philharmonic
Vermont Symphony
Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass
User avatar
elmsandr
Posts: 255
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 2:43 pm
Location: S.E. Michigan
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by elmsandr » Thu May 21, 2020 8:22 pm

For example, an old school cutting tool could look like this...
91FA313F-45CE-44D8-8751-B11969537E06.jpeg
91FA313F-45CE-44D8-8751-B11969537E06.jpeg (1.6 MiB) Viewed 810 times
Though I should also point out, there are things called tracer lathes that use a cam profile to have a single point tool make a known profile and those could also be used, though way more likely on the exterior profile than the interior.

I made a LOT of SN95 Mustang front spindles on a tracer lathe.

Cheers,
Andy
Doug Elliott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:12 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by Doug Elliott » Thu May 21, 2020 9:25 pm

Jet-Tones were made by tracing but I think they were the only ones. I think way too much is made of the worn tools theory. Reamers don't always cut the same way every time. There was just a lot of inconsistency for a lot of reasons, as there still is in some makers... CNC or not.
baileyman
Posts: 421
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:33 pm

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by baileyman » Fri May 22, 2020 5:38 am

I have 11Cs of all eras squirreled away around the house. One of these days I hope to be able to tell the difference between any of them. That helps motivate me to get up early and make some noise in the garage.
GabeLangfur
Posts: 282
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:20 am
Location: Boston, MA, USA
Contact:

Re: Bach NY era mouthpieces

Post by GabeLangfur » Fri May 22, 2020 6:21 am

baileyman wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 5:38 am
I have 11Cs of all eras squirreled away around the house. One of these days I hope to be able to tell the difference between any of them. That helps motivate me to get up early and make some noise in the garage.
:lol:

Once I was staying with a friend, a trombonist I won't name who works in the retail side of the business, known to everybody in the industry as a great guy and a true mouthpiece junkie. There were mouthpieces everywhere I went in the house. There was a gym bag full of mouthpieces in the closet of the guest room. At one point I picked up a mug and had to take a mouthpiece out to pour coffee in it.
Faculty
Boston University School of Music
Kinhaven Music School Senior Session
Wellesley College

Bass Trombonist
Rhode Island Philharmonic
Vermont Symphony
Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass
Post Reply

Return to “Mouthpieces”