History of King bass trombones

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History of King bass trombones

Post by BflatBass » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:15 pm

I'm not sure if this is the right place for this but I'll give it a try.

For those that know about King trombone history, my question is this. Was the Duo Gravis the first two valve bass trombone for King? If not, what came before it and since the Duo Gravis is also a 6B, was there ever a 6B that wasn't a Duo Gravis and visa verse? I'm sure that the distinctions here may not be clearly defined but at the least maybe I can learn something from those in the know.

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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by BGuttman » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:21 pm

The 6B was the first dual valve bass made by King.

The Symphony (dual 0.536/0.547) was considered a single valve bass, but by today's standards is way too small.

The 7B and 8B were introduced in the mid 1970s as independent dual valve basses (the difference being bell diameter).
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by imsevimse » Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:31 am

BGuttman wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:21 pm
The 6B was the first dual valve bass made by King.

The Symphony (dual 0.536/0.547) was considered a single valve bass, but by today's standards is way too small.

The 7B and 8B were introduced in the mid 1970s as independent dual valve basses (the difference being bell diameter).
Not a King but very close to it and as I've heard built on the King tooling is the Benge 290 indi dual valve bass. It is a better version of the 8B. It has been said "Benge is the best of King and Conn" and that is indeed true. From what I've heard Benge was a successful trumpet brand and did not build trombones before they were bought by King and later when King, Conn and Benge were under the same roof they used King and Conn parts to build their best indipendent double valved bass ever, the Benge 290. Unfortunately the Benge brand was abandoned and the bass model was put into the grave. Not because it was bad but because of tactic and strategic reasons. The company decided all basses and large bore trombones should be Conns and small bores should be King. They kept some popular models but all the King basses were abandoned and all the Benge instruments. The Benge bass is more of a symphonic King than close to a Conn when it plays.

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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by BGuttman » Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:30 am

Tom, the question was "which was the first". The Benge 290 came much later -- after I bought my 7B.

I agree with your assessment. Benge trombones were excellent. It's a shame they didn't sell better.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by Bonearzt » Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:00 am

BGuttman wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:30 am
Tom, the question was "which was the first". The Benge 290 came much later -- after I bought my 7B.

I agree with your assessment. Benge trombones were excellent. It's a shame they didn't sell better.
Agreed!!!

Benge are WAY underrated horns!!! Just sold a 290 to a local high school, and the assistant, also a trombone player, was amazed at the playability & sound!!


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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by imsevimse » Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:35 pm

BGuttman wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:30 am
Tom, the question was "which was the first". The Benge 290 came much later -- after I bought my 7B.

I agree with your assessment. Benge trombones were excellent. It's a shame they didn't sell better.
The question was the "History of King Bass trombones". I know the Benge 290 is not a King and I also know it came after the King 8B. Still I think it is related to the history of King bass trombones because it feels and plays very King like and it is built on King parts and with King tooling. All these trombones are now history and the Benge 290 got in the mix a while before the end of all the King basses and all the King basses and the Benge 290 were put in the grave by the same company at the same time. That's also history they share.

Since the Benge are underrated and people don't know much of them they go under the radar. They do deserve better on the after market. I have a King 6B and a Benge 290 and at least one of each of the Benge tenor models. I can compare them with a 2b, 2b+, a Silvertone 2b, and a couple of 3b's and the memory of 4b's and 5b's I've tried. The Benge share essentially much the same characteristics with King. The large bore Benge, 547 and bass are a tad more symphonic and the triggers and valves are much better. That's the main difference.

/Tom
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by Burgerbob » Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:38 pm

Was the 6B called the 6B at first? I was under the impression it was just the Duo Gravis for the first few years.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by sungfw » Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:30 pm

imsevimse wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:35 pm
BGuttman wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 7:30 am
Tom, the question was "which was the first". The Benge 290 came much later -- after I bought my 7B.

I agree with your assessment. Benge trombones were excellent. It's a shame they didn't sell better.
The question was the "History of King Bass trombones".
Eh, not so much: the TOPIC is "History of King bass trombones"; the QUESTION(S) was (were):
Was the Duo Gravis the first two valve bass trombone for King? If not, what came before it and since the Duo Gravis is also a 6B, was there ever a 6B that wasn't a Duo Gravis and visa verse [sic]?
The relative merits of the Benge and this Conn/King/Benge history are interesting tangents (and probably worthy of their own threads), but they're not really relevant to the OP's question.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by DougHulme » Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:29 am

I personally dont have any knowledge of a double valve king before the Duo Gravis. But what do i know!
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by greenbean » Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:38 am

I have never heard of a King double-valve bass marketed before the Duo Gravis!...

But I do remember reading on the old TTF that the Duo Gravis was designated the 7B for a brief period. Why?... Just to confuse future generations, I am sure!

EDIT: I just confirmed (an early 70's King catalog) that the Duo Gravis was introduced as:

1490 King 7-B Duo Gravis
1490S King 7-B Duo Gravis with sterling silver bell (no mention of "Silver Sonic")
Last edited by greenbean on Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by imsevimse » Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:42 am

sungfw wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:30 pm
The relative merits of the Benge and this Conn/King/Benge history are interesting tangents (and probably worthy of their own threads), but they're not really relevant to the OP's question.
I should maybe apologise to the OP and start a new thread then? 🤔 I know people get ideas for new threads by reading old threads. I have personally picked up a lot of things that is interesting in threads besides the first question. Anyway the title got me inspired to write about the 290 for anyone interested in the fate of the great King basses and their relationship to the Benge bass. There is not much more to add about doubled valved King basses before the 6b and not much to add about their relation with the Benge 290 either, if not some guy who knows specific details adds to this thread and that's when this thread could become interesting. Oh, wait he should make that note in another thread started by someone asking that specific question. Either that or be forever quiet 😃 You can be annoyed about anything apparently even thoughts shared for free in the wrong context

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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by sungfw » Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:16 am

imsevimse wrote:
Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:42 am
sungfw wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 4:30 pm
The relative merits of the Benge and this Conn/King/Benge history are interesting tangents (and probably worthy of their own threads), but they're not really relevant to the OP's question.
I should maybe apologise to the OP and start a new thread then? 🤔
No, just recognize/acknowledge that it's tangential to the question under consideration.

Tangents within a thread can be useful and informative, but, out of courtesy to the OP (which, on another occasion may be you or I), they should remain that: tangents. When they derail a thread to the point that they become a primary focus of discussion (like this is threatening to do, if it hasn't already done so), they probably should be forked to their own thread.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by flotrb » Wed Nov 13, 2019 9:11 am

Your Honor: I would like to enter Exhibit A
DuoGravis Patent.pdf
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by flotrb » Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:06 am

Exhibits B & C:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=11265&p=92222&hilit=flotrb#p92222
1971 King catalog.JPG
1971 King catalog.JPG (21.94 KiB) Viewed 18503 times
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by flotrb » Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:21 am

...and in; summation, King Symphony Bass trombones 1924-1964:

http://www.hnwhite.com/Trombone%20Page.htm#Bass

Thank you for your attention, I rest my case.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by JohnL » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:08 am

flotrb wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 9:11 am
Your Honor: I would like to enter Exhibit A
DuoGravis Patent.pdf
Not exactly a Duo Gravis patent, as the linkage described was never actually used. It does bear a resemblance to what's now called the Haynor (sp?) grip.

The fact that George McCracken went to the trouble of developing this design suggests that there were complaints about the DG linkage.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by SwissTbone » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:47 am

Another tangent: are there more desirable periods of Duo Gravis than others?
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by BGuttman » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:56 am

flotrb wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:21 am
...and in; summation, King Symphony Bass trombones 1924-1964:

http://www.hnwhite.com/Trombone%20Page.htm#Bass

Thank you for your attention, I rest my case.
All the models mentioned were single valve instruments. Original question was whether the Duo Gravis was the first double valve bass from King (it was).
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by flotrb » Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:49 pm

"A picture is worth a thousand words."
Attachments
King 6B Model #2106 Bb-F-D dependent.jpg
King 6B Model #2106 Bb-F-D dependent.jpg (138.68 KiB) Viewed 18341 times
1981 King 7B Model #2107  Bb-F-Gb-D inline.jpg
1981 King 7B Model #2107 Bb-F-Gb-D inline.jpg (107.17 KiB) Viewed 18341 times
1985 King  8B Model       # 2108    Bb-F-Gb-D inline.jpg
1985 King 8B Model # 2108 Bb-F-Gb-D inline.jpg (184.45 KiB) Viewed 18341 times
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by flotrb » Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:56 pm

...and the winner!
I do not recall any of the King bass trombones models having the designation "Duo Gravis" (on the bell), with the exception of the 1490S 7B Duo Gravis Bb/F/D, which first appeared in the June 15, 1971 catalog.
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1971 King Duo Gravis 7B Model #1490S  Bb-F-D dependent.jpg
1971 King Duo Gravis 7B Model #1490S Bb-F-D dependent.jpg (2.78 MiB) Viewed 18341 times
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by euphobone » Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:29 pm

George McCracken, who designed the Duo Gravis, and I think the 4B and 5B as we now know them (both .547, the 5B having the Larger "Symphony Bell"), is still alive, building custom French Horns. I have contacted him before, maybe I can get him to give me some information on the 6B development. I know for sure the valve attachments on the 4B, 5B, and 6B maintain their respective bore size. And that's how Mr. McCraken believed it should be, a true straight bore size. I read somewhere that his counterpart, who I think helped design the 7B/8B but definitely the Benge Bass, disagreed about the bore size, and maintained the standard .562/.580 was the best design.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by elmsandr » Fri Jun 19, 2020 6:54 am

flotrb wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:56 pm
...and the winner!
I do not recall any of the King bass trombones models having the designation "Duo Gravis" (on the bell), with the exception of the 1490S 7B Duo Gravis Bb/F/D, which first appeared in the June 15, 1971 catalog.
Oh, there are a LOT of Duo-Gravis engraved dependent '6B' type horns (if King had a consistent definition of 6B and 7B, that would be convenient here).

I would wager most engraved that way are the Dependent version rather than the independent version.

Cheers,
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by BGuttman » Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:33 am

As far as I know the Indy 7B was never engraved "Duo Gravis". I have one from 1980 and I think it's early in the model run. Mine simply says "2107".

I think the Duo Gravis label was only applied to the Dependent model(s).
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by elmsandr » Fri Jun 19, 2020 2:21 pm

BGuttman wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 7:33 am
As far as I know the Indy 7B was never engraved "Duo Gravis". I have one from 1980 and I think it's early in the model run. Mine simply says "2107".

I think the Duo Gravis label was only applied to the Dependent model(s).
I have a picture saved of at least one early independent horn engraved Duo-Gravis. It is on a USB hard drive and my USB socket is out of commission or I'd post it..

Cheers,
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by boneagain » Sat Jul 11, 2020 5:28 am

euphobone wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:29 pm
George McCracken, who designed the Duo Gravis, and I think the 4B and 5B as we now know them (both .547, the 5B having the Larger "Symphony Bell"), is still alive, building custom French Horns. I have contacted him before, maybe I can get him to give me some information on the 6B development. I know for sure the valve attachments on the 4B, 5B, and 6B maintain their respective bore size. And that's how Mr. McCraken believed it should be, a true straight bore size. I read somewhere that his counterpart, who I think helped design the 7B/8B but definitely the Benge Bass, disagreed about the bore size, and maintained the standard .562/.580 was the best design.
George is, indeed, building horns. And repairing all kinds of brass. And inventing new stuff.

The attached PDF is something I did after talking to him, Alan Raph, and the widow of Art Benade.

The patent noted above was not because of defects in the paddle system. George tried several things, and Alan LIKED (and STILL likes) the side-by-side. The revised triggers were for someone who could not hold a trombone the regular way. And this was not the first mod George made to accomodate a physically challenged player, whether on trombone, or horn, or whatever.

And his counterpart is the emminent Chuck Ward, who George brought into King. Since ALL the work on Benge horns was from a King designer, and on King equipment and tooling, with King employees, I don't understand how a discussion of the Benge 290 is a tangent to the history of King bass trombones :)

I'm pretty sure Mr. McCracken would enjoy chatting with you about the Duo Gravis. He came up with that name before King decided EVERYthing had to have a number + letter "name." He still has a print of his drawing of the bell mandrel. And tons of great stories about this horn and the business!
Attachments
The Duo Gravis Trio.pdf
Story of the King Duo Gravis bass trombone
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by euphobone » Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:35 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this! It's a shame King no longer makes basses, and doesn't really meet the "market standards" anymore beyond their smaller "jazz" horns.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by BGuttman » Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:42 pm

euphobone wrote:
Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:35 pm
Thank you so much for sharing this! It's a shame King no longer makes basses, and doesn't really meet the "market standards" anymore beyond their smaller "jazz" horns.
This was due to the Conn-Selmer consolidation. The smaller bore Conns were dumped, the larger bore Kings were dumped. some of the Bach models were dumped. It's just C-S trying not to compete with itself too much.

Full disclosure: I play a 1980 vintage King 7B.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by Bach5G » Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:47 pm

When were the King basses discontinued?
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by Posaunus » Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:00 pm

boneagain wrote:
Sat Jul 11, 2020 5:28 am

George is, indeed, building horns. And repairing all kinds of brass. And inventing new stuff.

The attached PDF is something I did after talking to him, Alan Raph, and the widow of Art Benade.

Attachments

The Duo Gravis Trio.pdf
Boneagain,

Interesting narrative. Thanks. Is this something you wrote recently?
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by chromebone » Sat Jul 18, 2020 2:56 pm

Bach5G wrote:
Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:47 pm
When were the King basses discontinued?
The 8B was out of production by the late ‘80’s, the 7B and 6B continued until the late ‘90’s, maybe a few 7b’s were made in the very early 2000’s. The Benge 290 continued on a little longer, but that was gone by the mid/early 2000’s.
And his counterpart is the emminent Chuck Ward, who George brought into King. Since ALL the work on Benge horns was from a King designer, and on King equipment and tooling, with King employees, I don't understand how a discussion of the Benge 290 is a tangent to the history of King bass trombones :)
Chuck Ward told me the Benge horns were originally going to marketed as new King models, but they decided to use the Benge name because Symphonic players had a pre conceived notion about Kings. He said when they took the first King branded prototype of the 190 to the ITA, players wouldn’t even consider trying it or didn’t like it when it was branded as a King. But he said when the exact same horn was branded a Benge, they liked it. For all intents and purposes, Benges are Kings. Same tooling, 90% same parts, designed on the same patterns as the King, same designer, same factory, same workers building them.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by Bach5G » Sat Jul 18, 2020 5:14 pm

Thanks CB.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by JohnL » Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:25 pm

chromebone wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 2:56 pm
For all intents and purposes, Benges are Kings. Same tooling, 90% same parts, designed on the same patterns as the King, same designer, same factory, same workers building them.
They're more a King product than a Benge product, certainly. At the same time, I don't think any Benge model is identical to a King model. The 290 is clearly a sibling of the 8B, but it's not a twin.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by Bach5G » Sat Jul 18, 2020 7:18 pm

It’s interesting from the perspective of King, realizing its bass trombones weren’t particularly popular in orchestral circles, designed a horn it thought would appeal to that market. Big bell, increased bore through the valves.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by chromebone » Sat Jul 18, 2020 9:39 pm

They're more a King product than a Benge product, certainly. At the same time, I don't think any Benge model is identical to a King model. The 290 is clearly a sibling of the 8B, but it's not a twin.
I think the question was, “how do we make a King 4B and a 7/8B that can hold up in a modern orchestra“?
The answer was: “The basic design is good, but it needs a few tweaks“: Anneal the bell, brass outer slide tubes, redesign the leadpipe, open wrap/increase the bore of the trigger tubing, open the neck pipe. Viola, a horn that holds up.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by JohnL » Sat Jul 18, 2020 10:51 pm

Bach5G wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 7:18 pm
It’s interesting from the perspective of King, realizing its bass trombones weren’t particularly popular in orchestral circles, designed a horn it thought would appeal to that market. Big bell, increased bore through the valves.
That was the thought process behind the 8B. A bigger instrument, but still with a lot of King design aesthetic.
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by sithlord666 » Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:02 am

I am searching for a benge 290 myself, as it was my 1st bass trombone in music school. I found one, but it looked like it was beat pretty badly from HS players. The search continues...
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by Vegasbound » Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:13 am

sithlord666 wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 5:02 am
I am searching for a benge 290 myself, as it was my 1st bass trombone in music school. I found one, but it looked like it was beat pretty badly from HS players. The search continues...
There if one for sale (not mine) in the classifieds
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Re: History of King bass trombones

Post by torobone » Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:36 am

DG2.JPG
DG2.JPG (1.63 MiB) Viewed 12554 times
flotrb wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:56 pm
...and the winner!
I do not recall any of the King bass trombones models having the designation "Duo Gravis" (on the bell), with the exception of the 1490S 7B Duo Gravis Bb/F/D, which first appeared in the June 15, 1971 catalog.
I bought a brass Duo Gravis in 1990. The original owner bought it about 10 years earlier, then he set out to destroy it in a college marching band. This picture shows Duo Gravis on the bell, without a model number designation.

While I kept and played the horn for over 20 years, its condition led me to replace it with a new Xeno.
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