Is .547 a catch-all?

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brtnats
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Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by brtnats » Sun May 12, 2019 4:57 am

There were a multitude of threads on the old TTF about .525 horns as chameleons in most situations. I remember there were basically 2 schools of thought: “Yes they are” and “Use the right tool for the job.” I attended a show last night where the reduced pit had 1 trombone and 1 trumpet, and the trombonist was on an 88HCL. It sounded like the book was probably a mix of either a tenor/bass book or a trombone/tuba, and the player did well enough with his 88H. But that got me thinking about my own playing in similar situations.

I’m fortunate enough to have access to a .508, .547, bass, and tuba. I used to be a .525-for-everything player, and I’ve moved towards using the “right tool for the job.” And over and over again, I find I’m NOT reaching for that .547 tenor. I keep it at my school to play demos for my students, because the kind of playing I’m routinely doing just don’t feel or sound good on a .547.

I’m not a high-zoot professional, but I do gig a LOT. I play in a Dixieland group, pit orchestras, churches, play in a large community band, and in a gigging ska band. I have never thought I needed a .547 tenor with an F attachment in any of those situations. Any time a part needs an F, it inevitably works better on a bass trombone. In my gigging trombone life, the .508 and the bass cover everything.

If I were routinely playing in a 100 piece orchestra, then my tune would be different. But how many of us actually do that? Is the .547 tenor simply a catch-all that can adequately cover “most” trombone parts with a single instrument? Do we all play one simply because that’s what we were required to play in college? Have you stepped away from your .547 and not looked back?

Now that I have options, I’m all about using the tool that makes the job easier. In my playing, that’s never a .547 tenor with an F plug.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by imsevimse » Sun May 12, 2019 5:17 am

The Bach 36BO I own can cover most classical situations. It is perfect for Brass Band and Wind orchestra and the times I play in a Symphony orchestra it is an advantage to have a smaller instrument. I think I might think differently if I played in a large professional Symphony orchestra where more volume was requested. It's not. I might use a .547 for second in a symphony orchestra.

For first part in big band I scale down to .500 or smaller but I could see there could be a use for a .525 on the third part. If I play first I prefer all three tenors to be .500 or smaller.

"Right tool for the job"

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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by BGuttman » Sun May 12, 2019 6:09 am

This is a realy schizophrenic topic.

The idea of the 0.547" horn as a "do it all" dates back to Emory Remington in the 1940s. At that time you could use the "547" as a symphonic tenor or bass when neded. More useful when you are in a school situation where you probably can't afford more than one trombone, and you probably should only be playing one trombone to get properly familiar with it.

The do-all "547" has carried to this day. A lot of kids are forced on to it even though it's really too big for some and the sound you get in some situations is rather odd. Add to that the use of F-attachment trombones in the marching band, where they are much more delicate than a straight tenor and you see all those Conn 88Hs and Bach 42s with damage to the valve knuckles.

When I don't know what chair I'm playing, I now use my Bach 36, but if I know what I'm playing I will usually take a more appropriate horn. Especially since my stable has expanded to have alto, small bore tenor (actually several), medium bore, large bore, and bass. I still feel that someone who is a student or a very casual player should minimize the number of instruments, and often the 547 is not the ideal.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by timothy42b » Sun May 12, 2019 6:23 am

I play the group warmups at ATW every year. They're fun, and I always learn something.

Those rooms are pretty full, and there's a mix of ages, but one constant. Everyone has a valve. If I bring a straight horn I'm the only one. If I bring an alto I'm the only one, and my brain hurts from doing partial-centric exercises with slide movement.

I don't know how to tell by looking but a good guess is most of the horns are .547 or basses.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by LeTromboniste » Sun May 12, 2019 7:14 am

I attribute that to the supremacy of winning a symphony job as the only professional outcome being truly presented as a valid "endgame" goal for classical trombonists in many circles and conservatories and schools. This leads to a sound concept for many trombonists that fits in the little box that we think can win an audition and work in a symphonic setting, instead of everybody developing their own sound ideal. That big fat dark tone obsession means everyone ends up sounding more or less the same and playing more or less the same equipment.

If more styles of playing were presented to students and individual artistry was more encouraged, I bet we'd see a lot more variety in equipment as well in college students and in turn on the professional scene.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by harrisonreed » Sun May 12, 2019 7:27 am

I would not use a .547 in any type of pit band / or combo unless I had to.

A better point is to use a catch-all mouthpiece rim size. Then you can play the right horn for the job, no matter what horn you need.

If you are getting paid to play, I see no reason to not have a .508 or .500 AND a .547. Trombones are one of the cheapest instruments. The .525 is what confuses me.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by Matt K » Sun May 12, 2019 7:51 am

No horn is a catch-all to all people. And what might be a catch all at one point in time is unlikely to be a catch all for the entirety of your time playing trombone. You could make a compelling argument for a 525 or 525/547 with large/small shank leadpipes. That allows for a huge variety of playing. I have a 525/547 setup that is just about as close as I think I'll ever get to a 'catch-all' setup. I've played bass on it after a booking error; happened to have my normal bass piece in the case... was fine. Not something I'd do intentionally but certainly passable. Did lead on it too for a similar reason. Swapped out for the small shank and a shallow cup.

That said, I have a YSL356 that I've been taking to most of my gigs. I tend to do more commercial stuff anymore and for that it works great. Plays a little more open than most 500 bore horns but slightly smaller than 525 horns. Works great on any part in the book and the F attachment really helps out with my short arms or for when I'm playing 4th tenor in a 5 part section where it goes below the staff. I had a 3BF which I had the upper swapped out for 500 that I do regret selling. It had a tremendous low register and I wonder how it would size up compared to the 356 I have now.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by Bach5G » Sun May 12, 2019 8:54 am

I’m not sure I agree with the concept of “right tool for the job” as it implies there is only one right tool for the job. Same horn for Mahler 3 as for Magic Flute?
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by Burgerbob » Sun May 12, 2019 8:55 am

Sometimes the .547 is the right tool for the job. Sometimes it's not. :idk:
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by BGuttman » Sun May 12, 2019 9:05 am

Bach5G wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 8:54 am
I’m not sure I agree with the concept of “right tool for the job” as it implies there is only one right tool for the job. Same horn for Mahler 3 as for Magic Flute?
Even worse. Magic Flute on all modern instruments (whole orchestra) or Magic Flute scaled back to simulate period instruments? Or Magic Flute on period instruments? The right tool can change dramatically.

The problem comes in when you are called to play and aren't told anything. Do you want to lug a truck full of trombones so you can pick and choose? Or do you take a wild stab and pick what might be the best compromise?

Of course the situation can change if you go to a rehearsal and find out what the proper horn for the gig is. This gives you a chance to pick the best fit.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by hyperbolica » Sun May 12, 2019 9:33 am

I agree that in academic situations the 547 is considered to be the only size you would ever want, but as usual, the real world is a different story. I also agree that when learning it is best to avoid a lot of changes. I played 88h exclusively from 6th grade until I was probably 40 years old. The consistency helped me develop.

For non-bass playing these days, I spend most of the time on my 79h or an 88h with 525 slide. If I have to go smaller, I get my 508. I'm not afraid to go 508 in an orchestra to blend better with trumpets.

Even within the 547 bore, different horns play bigger or smaller. I think the 88h is more soloistic, better for chamber settings, 42b is heavier, and boutique horns can be configured in a number of ways, but average a bit heavier.

I keep two options for bass. One is a Kanstul modernized version of the Conn 62h which is great for more nuanced chamber music settings. The other is a 547/562 9" bell TIS Olds/King dependent frankenbone that works best when you have to turn up the heat a little, or sound like a trombone. It has the same range as the Kanstul, but it sounds better in the high range, is louder, and more centered.

I play with a guy who plays big band lead on a 42b and wonders why he can't be heard. He has 2 beautiful NY Bach 6 viis, but won't play them due to this prejudice about 547 bore. I play with another guy who only owns a Yamaha straight 547. Plays it for every thing. It works, but it limits him so he won't play high or low.

Beyond the sound, there's the feel, articulation and weight of the horn that makes one different from the other. I will tend to reach for the smaller horn given the option.

Part of the reason I avoided playing multiple bores in the past was the mouthpiece. It took me a week to switch from a 5g to a 6.5al. Getting on Doug Elliott mouthpieces keeps the rim consistent and opens up a lot of options for me.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by MahlerMusic » Mon May 13, 2019 7:53 am

I would still think that the .525 is the catch all. The top symphony player in my city plays on a .525 for 1st (last I heard). I know a few play that have used .525 for all positions in Jazz/Big Band to commercial. The only thing it lacks is low end for covering Bass Parts. I have used my Conn 88h for covering bass parts from jazz to Classical but I think with practice and the right mouthpiece, you can make a .525 work.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by Bach5G » Mon May 13, 2019 7:55 am

I impressed a band leader with my “great bass trombone sound” one evening playing on a .525 Shires and a Schilke 51.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by paulyg » Mon May 13, 2019 10:26 am

BGuttman wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 9:05 am
Bach5G wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 8:54 am
I’m not sure I agree with the concept of “right tool for the job” as it implies there is only one right tool for the job. Same horn for Mahler 3 as for Magic Flute?
Even worse. Magic Flute on all modern instruments (whole orchestra) or Magic Flute scaled back to simulate period instruments? Or Magic Flute on period instruments? The right tool can change dramatically.

The problem comes in when you are called to play and aren't told anything. Do you want to lug a truck full of trombones so you can pick and choose? Or do you take a wild stab and pick what might be the best compromise?

Of course the situation can change if you go to a rehearsal and find out what the proper horn for the gig is. This gives you a chance to pick the best fit.
Other instruments can compromise too, without going full "period performance." When I did magic flute a while ago, I used a modern-ish alto, and noticed that the flutes were using wooden headjoints. Principal horn used a descant. Our bass trombone player used a .553 Courtois tenor/bass trombone.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by Finetales » Tue May 14, 2019 12:44 pm

.547 is the least versatile tenor size IMO.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by Bach5G » Tue May 14, 2019 2:11 pm

Finetales wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 12:44 pm
.547 is the least versatile tenor size IMO.
I think there's something to be said for this.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by MahlerMusic » Tue May 14, 2019 3:20 pm

Finetales wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 12:44 pm
.547 is the least versatile tenor size IMO.
I was thinking the same thing. The more you move to the extremes the less you can do with it. You get closer to being a one trick pony and less at being a jack of all trades.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by harrisonreed » Tue May 14, 2019 8:23 pm

Finetales wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 12:44 pm
.547 is the least versatile tenor size IMO.
Image

Hit me, Fred!

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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by pedrombon » Wed May 15, 2019 5:56 am

harrisonreed wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 8:23 pm
Finetales wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 12:44 pm
.547 is the least versatile tenor size IMO.
Image

Hit me, Fred!

A couple of years ago Fred Wesley played in my city and if I remember correctly, he told me he was playing a .525" with a 8" bell.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by harrisonreed » Wed May 15, 2019 8:05 am

The video is not from a couple years ago
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by MahlerMusic » Wed May 15, 2019 8:42 am

Both the picture and the video look like small bore/small shank horns. I'm a large 300 pound guy with large everything and my hand is nowhere close to my bell on my 88H. Fred's is practically touching the bell, he in fact could use it to damping his sound... maybe that is what happened as 0:55 sec.

Fred seems to be showing off how versatile a .525 horn is. :shuffle:
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by Finetales » Wed May 15, 2019 12:33 pm

harrisonreed wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 8:23 pm
Finetales wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 12:44 pm
.547 is the least versatile tenor size IMO.
Image

Hit me, Fred!

There are exceptions to everything...Barry Rogers is another one. Not to mention Slide Hampton with his straight .562. Doesn't change my opinion.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by greenbean » Wed May 15, 2019 12:34 pm

Few people can be FRED!
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by greenbean » Wed May 15, 2019 12:36 pm

Raul de Souza is another. Used a Bach 42B for a lot of his jazz playing... And sounded great.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by RJMason » Wed May 15, 2019 4:16 pm

Fred played a 3B for most of his time with the JBs, soon after a 88H, and Yamaha (medium I think??)

Greg Boyer played a large bore Amrein for a long time with Prince and Maceo parker and now plays a .508 DaCarbo.

I believe Barry Rogers played a 34B for most of his work (need to verify).

.547 in my opinion is the least versatile horn. There are those that can make it sound great (those players can make any horn sound great), but they are tiring to play for most people that aren’t Slide Hampton or Big Sam Williams (both play on straight bass trombone bore sizes).

They are the standard for orchestra, but most future pros won’t be doing these gigs—sitting in a chair, counting hundreds of bars, then playing for the finale. They will be constantly playing with amplified instruments (and poor stage sound) where a small bore that cuts or a versatile .525 with a trigger for low notes on sessions can be used. And a Bass trombone as a double. Professors should encourage players to learn these instruments as well so they can actually be prepared for the professional world.

Most professionals I know in NYC keep their .547s in the closet until Easter or the occasional symphony gig. Or take them out in a gig as a challenge for blend and endurance. If you end up being committed to the difficult yet inspiring journey of becoming a professional symphonic trombonist, by all means play the .547 Edwards you bought for college. But when you walk into the brass band or salsa band gig, unless you play with the same spirit as those mentioned above you are going to get buried.

For context I mainly play a Bach LT36BG (when I’m not sure what I’m walking into musically on a gig this will work 99% of the time), Williams 7 (studio sessions only), Conn 88H (to get a more “classical” or “Fred” sound—great for rich brass overdubs), and a 6H or 3BSS for live pop gigs depending on how loud the band gets.

Estimating that the Bach is used 40% of all my gigs. Williams 20%. 3BSS 20%. 6H 10%. 88H 10%.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by Bach5G » Wed May 15, 2019 4:40 pm

".547 in my opinion is the least versatile horn. There are those that can make it sound great (those players can make any horn sound great), but they are tiring to play for most people that aren’t Slide Hampton or Big Sam Williams (both play on straight bass trombone bore sizes)."

Or Big Jay Friedman.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by RJMason » Wed May 15, 2019 5:18 pm

Yes, another player who uses a bass slide and plays wonderfully in their stream of performing in the world. Cool. And out of the hundreds of thousands of students in the world-who will get his job, the dream job, one day? ONE. And so they will play a .547 in a practice room and in the concert hall. Then put it in the case and pick up a 3B for the bar gig up the street, the out of town festival show, the wedding band, the big band gig at Andy’s, the broadway pit, the recording session, the hip hop jam session, to survive until that day comes.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by Burgerbob » Wed May 15, 2019 5:53 pm

I have used my .547 plenty, sometimes in commercial settings. Now that I have a good 3B and a 36B I think that will happen a lot less on that side.

I still think having a good large tenor is pretty essential for a professional.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by Posaunus » Wed May 15, 2019 6:08 pm

Burgerbob wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 5:53 pm
I still think having a good large tenor is pretty essential for a professional.
Essential for sure. But apparently not a "catch-all" for the versatility required of most modern pro trombonists.

I am NOT a professional, but I play a lot - and no longer very much on my beloved 88H! :(
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by brtnats » Thu May 16, 2019 5:04 am

Posaunus wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 6:08 pm
Burgerbob wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 5:53 pm
I still think having a good large tenor is pretty essential for a professional.
Essential for sure. But apparently not a "catch-all" for the versatility required of most modern pro trombonists.

I am NOT a professional, but I play a lot - and no longer very much on my beloved 88H! :(
And this is what I was originally wondering. I have one too. It sits in a different zip code most of the time. My daily drivers are a small tenor for everything that isn’t an orchestra, and a bass for everything bass. That large tenor that I played for 12 years in college and beyond? Sold it a long time ago, because it just didn’t do the job. I think it’s interesting a lot of you guys have had the same experience. By catch-all, I think I mean “this is the one horn I have so I’m going to play it everywhere.”
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by Fidbone » Thu May 16, 2019 5:25 am

RJMason wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 5:18 pm
Yes, another player who uses a bass slide and plays wonderfully in their stream of performing in the world. Cool. And out of the hundreds of thousands of students in the world-who will get his job, the dream job, one day? ONE. And so they will play a .547 in a practice room and in the concert hall. Then put it in the case and pick up a 3B for the bar gig up the street, the out of town festival show, the wedding band, the big band gig at Andy’s, the broadway pit, the recording session, the hip hop jam session, to survive until that day comes.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by Goodgig » Thu May 16, 2019 9:43 am

I tend to favor vintage bones. Currently have a 1940 Bach Mercury, ‘57 6H and recently picked up a great 1971 88H. I have a busy teaching schedule and play everyday. The 88H is my favorite for teaching and shear pleasure. With my 1930’s New York Bach 12 mp, it covers a lot of ground. Lovely horn!
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by TimBrown » Thu May 16, 2019 10:03 am

I don't believe either Slide Hampton or James Morrison got the message of the inversatility of a large-bore horn. Lol. There are always the exceptions!

For my own personal use as an amateur hobbyist, I find a large-bore horn works very well for jazzy pop tunes from all decades. As I would with any sized horn, I try to let the music dictate to me how much of a laid-back or razz-a-ma-tazz attitude I try to put into the music. I find I can cover a lot of latitude in musical styles with changes in attitude. Would it be enough in the competitive world of pro playing? Maybe not, where a keen edge is what separates the player who gets the occasional call from the player who is sought after and in high demand.
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Re: Is .547 a catch-all?

Post by harrisonreed » Thu May 16, 2019 11:45 am

3B .525 .508. You gotta be working hard on a 2B in a dive bar under a bridge before you earn the right to play what you want. I don't like big horns. How you gonna eat your pudding if you don't play on a hollowed-out carrot ocarina first? My first instrument was a tissue and a comb, and I did OK. Hundreds of thousands, maybe even one billion people, playing combs and wax paper for peanuts, though these days it's chocolate espresso beans, waitin for the big break.

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