Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

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funkhoss
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Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by funkhoss » Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:04 pm

I thought I’d share with everyone here a trombone project that I completed recently.

First, a little about myself. I’m primarily a euphonium player, but I’ve dabbled in trombone playing over the years. I’ve owned small tenor, large tenor, and bass trombones, and have gravitated toward instruments with TIS (especially Conns). However, at the time that I started this project I didn’t own any trombones and hadn’t for a while. Also, before starting this project I had practically no experience with instrument building and repair. I basically just bought a torch and soldering supplies, did some research online, watched some YouTube videos, and went at it.

My original goal for this project was to build a large bore valve trombone with a sound and response as similar to a large bore slide trombone as possible. For years I’ve had a unique idea for how I wanted to build a valve trombone “valve section” that I thought could minimize the seemingly inherent deficiencies of most valve trombones—an idea that I had never seen anyone else try before (more on that later). However, once I started buying parts instruments on eBay I got a bit creative and ended up building more than just a valve trombone…

The instruments that contributed parts to this project were:
-An extremely beat up Conn 88H with a 71H slide
-A Blessing B88 with a yellow brass bell
-A Getzen “Super Deluxe” small bore tenor
-A Pan American bell section (Conn 4H stencil)
-An old large bore (.525-.547”) German trombone (made by Hermann Heinel)
-An old (1921) Conn alto horn
-A brand-new Jupiter marching euphonium with a crushed bell

The only new parts I purchased were two Instrument Innovations (Olsen) rotor valves, screw fittings for bells and leadpipes (also from Instrument Innovations), and a TIS bell crook from Rath. I also tried to be as frugal as possible with the project; the total for all of the parts horns and new parts was less than $2000.

When I put all of this together, here’s what I ended up with: I built a large bore TIS tenor that can be also be configured as a "bass substitute," a "small bore substitute," or a valve trombone (in any of those three configurations). You can see more pics of everything here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/ ... fve2NYhrhx

Image

The specs of the primary large bore setup are:
-.547-.562" dual bore slide with TIS
-Edwards T2 leadpipe
-Instrument Innovations rotor with custom open wrap and edge bracing
-Red brass TIS bell crook
-Yellow brass Blessing B88 bell (Conn taper, two piece construction, unsoldered rim)

Image
Image

As a large bore trombone, I am very pleased with the outcome—it plays extremely well (far better than I expected). My understanding is that Blessing B88’s were made on Conn 88H tooling that Blessing purchased when Conn moved to Abilene. So the bell is essentially an Elkhart 88H style bell but in yellow brass (which is exactly what I wanted). I decided to “offset” that bell with a red brass TIS bell crook from Rath. And, the dual bore TIS slide I built using parts from both the 71H and B88 slides.

(TIS mechanism)
Image

The B88 bell can be swapped out with the bell from the “Hermann Heinel” German trombone. This bell is also yellow brass, but it’s 9” in diameter, has a slightly larger throat (like an 88HK or 5B bell), has a one-piece construction with a soldered rim, and is extremely light/thin. With this bell, the horn has more of a “Bach style” sound—bigger and warmer but still quite responsive (probably because of the light weight).

(With German bell)
Image

As a “bass substitute,” both the bell and leadpipe get changed. The "bass" leadpipe is the 71H leadpipe that's been shortened to fit in a .547" tube, slightly enlarged/expanded in the venturi and overall taper, reshaped to accept Morse shank mouthpieces, and fitted with threads. The “bass” bell is from the old (1921) Conn alto horn, combined with a small piece from the Getzen Super Deluxe bell to make it the right length. This alto horn bell is only 8.25” in diameter, but the throat is much larger than either of the two large tenor bells. My understanding is that Conn in the 1920’s used the same tooling to make both their alto horn bell and the bell for the “Fuchs” 70H, with the alto horn bell simply cut to a smaller diameter and shorter length. At any rate, despite the smaller diameter this bell definitely plays more like a “bass” bell than either of the two large tenor bells.

("Bass" setup)
Image

Additionally, I built a removable dependent second valve that fits in the F-attachment tuning slide, also with an Olson rotor. The second valve can be pitched in either E-flat or D using tube extensions. With all of these parts swapped and added, and a bass trombone mouthpiece plugged in, it really does play like a bass trombone!

(Removable second valve)
Image

As a "small bore substitute," the bell and leadpipe also get changed. The “small bore” leadpipe is actually a fairly long piece of the Getzen upper inner slide tube, including the leadpipe, that's been fitted with threads. And the “small bore” bell is the Pan American (Conn 4H) bell with a screw fitting added. Believe it or not, with those two pieces (and a small bore mouthpiece) the instrument plays and sounds pretty convincingly like a small bore trombone! Folks on here from time to time ask about a single trombone that can “do everything.” I think this one is about as close as it gets. : )

("Small bore" setup)
Image

Finally, we come to the valve section (which, after all, was the main reason that I started the project in the first place). I’ve had a suspicion for many years that the reason valve trombones are awful has nothing to do with the valves. After all, I’ve played and owned many other valved brass instruments that weren’t terrible. Instead, my theory has been that valve trombones are “stuffy” because of the overall bore profile, not the valves.

On a slide trombone, when you add tubing—that is, when you extend the slide to different positions—the tubing you are adding is significantly larger than the “primary bore” of the inner tubes. This is because the inner diameter of the outer slide must be larger than the outer diameter of the inner slide (otherwise, the slide wouldn’t function). So, for example, on a .500” bore trombone, the inner diameter of the outer slide is around .547” (depending on the model)—so .547” is the bore of the tubing that you add when you extend the slide, not .500”. Furthermore, the handslide crook usually has the same inner diameter as the outer slide tubes, so even in first position there’s a section of the bore profile that’s significantly larger than the “primary” bore of the instrument. On a valve trombone, however, the valve section is almost always the same size as the primary bore of the instrument. Thus, on a .500” bore valve trombone when you push a valve to add tubing you’re adding more .500” bore tubing, rather than .547” (as you would when you extend the slide on a normal trombone). I’ve theorized for years that this is why valve trombones are stuffy—not because of the valves themselves.

So my goal was to build a large bore valve trombone, but with valves that are roughly the bore size of the outer slide bore, rather than the inner slide bore. Also, I wanted to place the valveset in the same “spot” acoustically as the crook on a slide trombone, and configure the valve section for removable leadpipes (to maintain consistency as much as possible between the valve section and the slide section).

On a .547” trombone, the outer slide bore is usually about .585-.590” (depending on the model) and on a .562” bore trombone, the outer slide bore is usually a little bit more than .600”. Given that the trombone I made is .547-.562” dual bore, I wanted to find a valve set that was somewhere between those two outer tube diameters. I was elated, then, when I was able to snag a brand new Jupiter marching euphonium on eBay with a crushed bell for a low price. The Jupiter marching euphonium has a .592” bore, which was just about perfect—and it came with a factory spring loaded first valve tuning slide trigger as well! My plan was to make a “dual bore” valve section, with .547” tubing before the valve set, and .562” tubing after it. I knew I would have plenty of .562” crooks and tuning slide pieces from the F-attachments of the 88H and B88 to build the .562” side of the section and include a main tuning slide (since the bell section doesn’t have one). However, I knew that I would also need at least one .547” crook to be able to configure the .547” side of the valve section before the valveset. I considered trying to bend one of the .547” inner slide tubes, but instead I did some research and discovered that a Getzen “Super Deluxe” tombone (which can be had very cheaply on eBay) has a .547” crook on the outer slide—which would be perfect for what I needed.

You can see the finished product in the pictures. I reconfigured the factory first valve trigger to be played with the right thumb, and I also modified it to give it a much longer throw. It now extends the slide far enough that the first valve combined with the tuning trigger and the F-attachment gives an in-tune low E-flat (and sufficiently flattens most of the other pitches in the lower register as well, down to and including the low C). You’ll also notice that I haven’t cleaned up the soldered joints on the valve section like I have on the rest of the instrument. The valve section is already “Frankenstein-ish” enough that I didn’t bother.

(Valve section)
Image

So does it play and sound exactly like a slide trombone? No. But it’s very close, and certainly heads above any valve trombone that I’ve ever played before. It’s not stuffy at all, it plays well in tune, and can be played both very loudly and very softly without losing that characteristic trombone clarity (which is something that no other valve trombone I’ve played can do). I wouldn’t hesitate to play this instrument in a “serious” performance (if I’m ever allowed to do so), and I think that I could fool most listeners with their eyes closed into thinking that I was playing a “real” slide trombone.

(Large bore valve trombone setup)
Image

It can also be set up with any of the bells and leadpipes that I’ve described above—so it can additionally be a “small bore” and a “bass” valve trombone.

("Bass" valve trombone with "5th" valve in E-flat and German bell)
Image

I know this has been a lot to read, but I hope it has been interesting. There’s a lot more that I could share, but I tried to keep this initial post brief. : )

Also, once again: there are more pics of everything here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/ ... fve2NYhrhx

I welcome any observations or questions you may have!

-Funkhoss
Last edited by funkhoss on Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
walldaja
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by walldaja » Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:28 pm

I admire all of you effort. Thanks
Dave

Antoine Courtois AC280BO with Christian Lindberg 4CL
Yamaha 421G Bass with Bach 1 1/2G / Christian Lindberg 2CL
Getzen 351 Tenor with Yamaha 48
1967 Olds Ambassador with Christian Lindberg 10CL
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elmsandr
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by elmsandr » Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:35 pm

Excellent Frankenhorning!

Been meaning to do something like this (well, the valve section at least), but I've got a billion other projects in the way first.

Cheers,
Andy
hyperbolica
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by hyperbolica » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:57 pm

I've had the opportunity to play Funkoss' monster in its various configurations. It was really amazing to me to see the results of the various combinations, especially the alto horn bell. There is a lot to learn about instrument design from experiments like this. Plus, it is inspiring the kinds of things you can do without any formal training, just a solid understanding of concepts.

Funkhoss, could you share what you learned in this project?
Kevbach33
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by Kevbach33 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:47 am

This is quite amazing to look at. That valve section should have patent potential! The German style bell would make a great small bass for a downsized section consisting of an alto and small or medium tenor.

8.25" for a bass-type bell? How much core do you think that setup has compared to other known basses with 9.5" bells? And what a cool little tidbit about the alto horn/Fuchs bass trombone connection!
funkhoss
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by funkhoss » Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:27 am

hyperbolica wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:57 pm
I've had the opportunity to play Funkoss' monster in its various configurations. It was really amazing to me to see the results of the various combinations, especially the alto horn bell. There is a lot to learn about instrument design from experiments like this. Plus, it is inspiring the kinds of things you can do without any formal training, just a solid understanding of concepts.

Funkhoss, could you share what you learned in this project?
I guess the biggest surprise in all of this is that I learned that building brass instruments really isn't all that hard. I've always been a tinkerer/DIY kind of guy with pretty much everything else (for example, you should see my cars), but for years I've been afraid to take a torch to a brass instrument. Once I took the plunge, though, I found that I really enjoyed the work involved.

Now I'm beginning to wonder if the "dream" tuba design that I've also had in my head for years would be a feasible build... :biggrin:

In terms of instrument design, this project confirmed a suspicion that I've had for a long time: the dimensions we typically use to talk about trombones (bore size and bell diameter) are actually the least important factors when it comes to how the instrument sounds and plays. Do bore size and bell diameter made a difference? Absolutely. But I would argue that mouthpiece and leadpipe design are far more important than the slide bore, and that the dimensions of the bell throat are far more important than the overall diameter.

And, of course, the other major thing that I learned here from a design standpoint is that valve trombones don't have to suck. :good:
funkhoss
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by funkhoss » Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:38 am

Kevbach33 wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:47 am
This is quite amazing to look at. That valve section should have patent potential! The German style bell would make a great small bass for a downsized section consisting of an alto and small or medium tenor.

8.25" for a bass-type bell? How much core do you think that setup has compared to other known basses with 9.5" bells? And what a cool little tidbit about the alto horn/Fuchs bass trombone connection!
To be honest, I haven't yet had the chance to play the alto horn bell setup back to back with a "real" modern 9.5" bell bass trombone. All I can say is that the alto horn bell definitely has more of a "bass" character (a darker, fuller sound and a more resonant low register) than even the 9" German 88HK/5B style bell. Would I want to play it as my primary horn as the bass trombonist in a major symphony? No. But will it suffice for occasional bass trombone doubling? Absolutely.

As for the Fuchs connection: I seem to remember that there was a discussion on TTF 10-15 years ago about the Fuchs 70H in which Steve Dillon chimed in. Mr. Dillon stated that he had either a bell pattern or a bell mandrel from the Conn factory that was marked something like "Alto/Fuchs Bass Trombone"--confirming the shared tooling between the two instruments. Unfortunately, that discussion (like many others) is now inaccessible...
whitbey
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by whitbey » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:32 am

Good work! And I like your math on the tubing size.
Being a trombonist first, I like the ability to change the horn length as needed for the partials rather then lip it in. So I had a lever put on my main tuning slide to do that. It can be seen in the pic on my profile.
Having a valve section for those times there is no room for a slide will always play better the a slide that cannot move.



I just have to through this in after the french horn thread. Thayers? :biggrin:
Edwards Sterling bell 525/547
Edwards brass bell 547/562
Edwards Jazz w/ Ab valve 500"/.508"
Conn 34H Alto
Bass Bach 50 Bb/F/C dependent.
Cerveny oval euphonium
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Mamaposaune
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by Mamaposaune » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:20 am

This is so very impressive! You had well-thought out theories, took the time to do your research and study the history of what past instrument designers have done, and had the courage to dig in and make it all work. I truly hope you can enjoy the horns that you have created, and possibly even take it to the next level. IMHO you have the unique set of skills and innovative mindset that the great instrument manufacturers must have started with. (and I know you are very accomplished on euphonium)
Plus, it sounds as if you had a lot of fun along the way!
Thanks for sharing all of this with us.
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by Doug Elliott » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:41 am

That is VERY cool. I'd love to try it sometime if I'm in your neighborhood.
funkhoss
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by funkhoss » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:33 pm

Thanks for the kind words, everyone!

One point of clarification: I would have definitely been open to using a "real" 9.5" bass trombone bell on this project for the "bass substitute" setup, had I found one within my budget. The reason I went with the alto horn bell is because I was able to get the alto horn on eBay, shipping included, for $38. All of the "real" bass trombone bells I found would have been 10 times that amount (or more).
whitbey wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:32 am
I just have to through this in after the french horn thread. Thayers? :biggrin:
I don't doubt that such a configuration might play even better. :idea: However, even with the technical difficulties aside (such as the extra length and weight that would come from three Thayers vs. three pistons), just a single Thayer valve would have probably cost more than what I paid for the entire Jupiter marching euphonium. By the time I bought three of them, and tubing, and parts for linkages, my expenditures would have increased dramatically. A set of three Olsen rotors might be a more technically feasible and affordable alternative, but even those would have been well beyond my budget.
Doug Elliott wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:41 am
That is VERY cool. I'd love to try it sometime if I'm in your neighborhood.
I don't know what in the world would ever bring you to SW Virginia, but I'd be happy to give you a test drive if you're ever in my neck of the woods!
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elmsandr
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by elmsandr » Fri Jul 19, 2019 6:15 am

Mounting Thayers and then finding the need to adjust them may absolve you of the notion that this is easy... Although if you are used to getting things fit flush and square to a machinists level they aren't too bad.

As for that Alto pattern... I know it was mentioned that it was 70H, I do not recall that it was 70H "Fuchs" specifically.
DSC00916.jpg
DSC00916.jpg (328.15 KiB) Viewed 2665 times
Cheers,
Andy
funkhoss
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by funkhoss » Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:30 pm

Thanks for that picture! That's exactly what I was remembering. You're right: it does not say "Fuchs," but it does say "large bore" 70H.

The Conn alto horn bell throat is definitely the size of the Fuchs 70H (or Elkhart 62H, which was also supposedly made using the Fuchs mandrel), not the later, smaller throat 70H. I've got a H&B "small bass" cup mute, which fits Conn 7XH series bells, but does not fit this alto horn bell--it's far too small.
LIBrassCo
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by LIBrassCo » Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:58 am

funkhoss wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:27 am
hyperbolica wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:57 pm
I've had the opportunity to play Funkoss' monster in its various configurations. It was really amazing to me to see the results of the various combinations, especially the alto horn bell. There is a lot to learn about instrument design from experiments like this. Plus, it is inspiring the kinds of things you can do without any formal training, just a solid understanding of concepts.

Funkhoss, could you share what you learned in this project?
I guess the biggest surprise in all of this is that I learned that building brass instruments really isn't all that hard. I've always been a tinkerer/DIY kind of guy with pretty much everything else (for example, you should see my cars), but for years I've been afraid to take a torch to a brass instrument. Once I took the plunge, though, I found that I really enjoyed the work involved.

Now I'm beginning to wonder if the "dream" tuba design that I've also had in my head for years would be a feasible build... :biggrin:

In terms of instrument design, this project confirmed a suspicion that I've had for a long time: the dimensions we typically use to talk about trombones (bore size and bell diameter) are actually the least important factors when it comes to how the instrument sounds and plays. Do bore size and bell diameter made a difference? Absolutely. But I would argue that mouthpiece and leadpipe design are far more important than the slide bore, and that the dimensions of the bell throat are far more important than the overall diameter.

And, of course, the other major thing that I learned here from a design standpoint is that valve trombones don't have to suck. :good:

Cool work man. I think it's important to clear one point up. Amateur instrument work its not extemely difficult, no. Doing it to a level where every joint is fit perfectly, everything is aligned correctly, and the finish work is done precisely, is a different matter all together.
hyperbolica
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by hyperbolica » Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:05 am

funkhoss wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:30 pm
... You're right: it does not say "Fuchs,"...
The orange tag does say Fuchs, as does the little shred of paper next to the tag. If those belong to the templates and/or the mandrel, then there is some association.
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ExZacLee
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by ExZacLee » Sat Jul 20, 2019 12:53 pm

I wish there were more people doing this kind of thing! A large bore valve bone would definitely fix a lot of the issues with small bore valve horns - and it'd be a lot easier to do the Ellington stuff right with a large valve horn on 3rd.
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by Bone2Bwild » Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:57 pm

LIBrassCo wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:58 am
funkhoss wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:27 am


I guess the biggest surprise in all of this is that I learned that building brass instruments really isn't all that hard. I've always been a tinkerer/DIY kind of guy with pretty much everything else (for example, you should see my cars), but for years I've been afraid to take a torch to a brass instrument. Once I took the plunge, though, I found that I really enjoyed the work involved.

Now I'm beginning to wonder if the "dream" tuba design that I've also had in my head for years would be a feasible build... :biggrin:

In terms of instrument design, this project confirmed a suspicion that I've had for a long time: the dimensions we typically use to talk about trombones (bore size and bell diameter) are actually the least important factors when it comes to how the instrument sounds and plays. Do bore size and bell diameter made a difference? Absolutely. But I would argue that mouthpiece and leadpipe design are far more important than the slide bore, and that the dimensions of the bell throat are far more important than the overall diameter.

And, of course, the other major thing that I learned here from a design standpoint is that valve trombones don't have to suck. :good:

Cool work man. I think it's important to clear one point up. Amateur instrument work its not extemely difficult, no. Doing it to a level where every joint is fit perfectly, everything is aligned correctly, and the finish work is done precisely, is a different matter all together.
I agree with Jeff on both points. Great work funkhoss - really interesting project and lovey pics :) , but putting a professional quality instrument together to a professional standard is not easy. I’ve been working today on a custom cimbasso (a long running project) that has to be top quality - it’s been the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. Thankfully, it’s nearly finished. It has been played on a few film soundtracks, so it’s heading in the right direction. :good:

It’s definitely fun to do a bit of “frankenboning” every now and then. :wink:

Andy
funkhoss
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by funkhoss » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:35 am

Bone2Bwild wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:57 pm
LIBrassCo wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:58 am

Cool work man. I think it's important to clear one point up. Amateur instrument work its not extemely difficult, no. Doing it to a level where every joint is fit perfectly, everything is aligned correctly, and the finish work is done precisely, is a different matter all together.
I agree with Jeff on both points. Great work funkhoss - really interesting project and lovey pics :) , but putting a professional quality instrument together to a professional standard is not easy. I’ve been working today on a custom cimbasso (a long running project) that has to be top quality - it’s been the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. Thankfully, it’s nearly finished. It has been played on a few film soundtracks, so it’s heading in the right direction. :good:

It’s definitely fun to do a bit of “frankenboning” every now and then. :wink:

Andy
OK—maybe I should have used some different words than I did. :clever: Completing this project wasn't "easy," per se. It took a considerable amount of time, planning, study, preparation, and trial and error. But the point I was making is this: the work that I did was unexpectedly achievable, and had excellent results, despite my inexperience.

I must admit that I'm a little disappointed by the comments you two have made. My goal here was to encourage others to be creative, and to not be afraid to try new things and learn new skills. It seems as if you all are doing the opposite.

There is nothing "mystical" about brass instrument construction. It certainly isn't rocket science, either. It's simply a skill, like any other, and as such it can be learned with time and practice.

Soldering brass parts together is a very forgiving process. If something doesn't turn out right, you can just heat it up, pull it apart, wipe it down, and try again. It's not at all like welding, which requires that joined parts be cut apart and grinded before welding again, and which has the potential if done incorrectly to burn holes in the parts and ruin them.

Furthermore, we live in a time in which we have unprecedented access to information and resources. If someone has the time and desire to learn a new skill—whether it's brass instrument repair or anything else (like auto mechanics, or cooking, or sewing, or gardening, or welding, etc.)—then there is a wealth of information at one's fingertips, online and in print, that can aid the acquisition of that skill. We also live in a time with unprecedented access to goods and services—for example, eBay and online classifieds for used instruments and parts, and manufacturers with online presences (such as Instrument Innovations) to provide valves, fittings, tubing, etc. that would otherwise require expensive machining, bending, and drawing equipment. Given all of this, it is not at all unreasonable for a person of average intelligence and resources to set up their own trombone for interchangeable leadpipes, or replace their old rotor with a modern valve, or install updated levers and linkages, or make a bell removable—and to do so with excellent results.

In terms of the difference between "amateur" and "professional" work: all "professional" means is that the person doing the work was paid to do it. It is not in any way an indicator of quality. Likewise, all "amateur" means is that the person doing the work does it because he/she "loves" to do it, and does it without remuneration. In the past, all of the instrument repair and modification work that I've had done by local, "professional" technicians (regardless of where "local" was at the time) has been mediocre at best, but more often outright terrible. Conversely, the best brass bands in the UK play at the level of a major symphony orchestra—but their members are not paid, and are thus "amateurs." Just because someone does something without pay that does not necessarily mean that they do it without great care, skill or attention to detail.

In terms of this project: leaving aside the valve trombone section for a moment, the large bore TIS tenor trombone did in fact turn out very, very well. I did make sure that slides were aligned correctly (straight and parallel). I did make sure that parts were fitted precisely, and without stress. The handslide and tuning slides move freely. Every joint is solid, well-fitted, and airtight. Excess solder is minimized. And most importantly: it plays great! It's in a completely different league than the stock B88 that I started with (which wasn't a bad instrument to begin with). It also plays better than the Kanstul 1688ST that I owned several years ago. It has many of the great qualities of the 1920's large-bore Conn TIS trombones that I've owned in the past, but with a more modern feel. It is undoubtedly a "professional quality" instrument, and built to a "professional standard." And, given that the basic large-bore trombone itself only took about half of my stated budget for this project, I was able to build this instrument for about what a good used 88H or 42B would have cost—and I had a lot of fun doing it, as well!

Now for the valve trombone section—yes, I'll acknowledge that that part of the project is a bit more haphazard in appearance. It's a unique design, and I combined valves, tubing, braces, ferrules, etc. from half a dozen very different instruments in a way in which they were never intended to be used. And as I stated above, I made no effort to clean up the solder work, burned lacquer, etc. to make it look a bit more "presentable." But nevertheless, I did make sure that joints were fitted as well as possible, that everything was air tight, that braces were solid, etc. And it plays well. Did I put it together for a paying customer? No. Do I intend to sell it? No. Do I intend to produce more of them? No. Had those been my goals, I probably would have taken a different approach. But as a usable "proof of concept," I got exactly what I wanted.

I think the biggest difference between doing this project myself, versus someone else doing it who does this sort of work for a living and has a full shop with the proper tools, is that it probably took me much, much longer to do. But I do not agree that the finished product from an "amateur" like me must necessarily be lower quality than what a "professional" would do, nor do I agree that doing work like this is out of the reach of the average person.

And I still would encourage anyone who has a desire to try something like this: just do it! :good:
hyperbolica
Posts: 886
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:31 am

Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by hyperbolica » Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:17 pm

funkhoss wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:35 am

I must admit that I'm a little disappointed by the comments you two have made. My goal here was to encourage others to be creative, and to not be afraid to try new things and learn new skills. It seems as if you all are doing the opposite.
Funkhoss,

Don't take Gittleston (LIBrass) too seriously. He's a self promoter, and part of how he does that is tearing others down. We've seen it in other threads. Just for reference, he's been on my ignore list since I found that this board allowed such a thing.

What you've done has really helped my understanding of what are the driving characteristics in brass design, and has put some energy behind my ideas to light a torch myself one day.
FOSSIL
Posts: 135
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:41 am

Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by FOSSIL » Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:51 pm

I think what you have done is excellent in every respect. Great work. I am rarely that tidy with my own personal projects, but when doing work for others, I try to reach a professional standard, for my own peace of mind if nothing else. Your basic TIS trombone looks VERY professional. Time and care ....and a brain.... use those and good stuff follows. I have maximum respect for those that do high end work every day for money, but those that merely dabble CAN do good work with time and care.

Chris
imsevimse
Posts: 620
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:43 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by imsevimse » Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:55 pm

funkhoss wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:35 am
Bone2Bwild wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:57 pm


I agree with Jeff on both points. Great work funkhoss - really interesting project and lovey pics :) , but putting a professional quality instrument together to a professional standard is not easy. I’ve been working today on a custom cimbasso (a long running project) that has to be top quality - it’s been the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. Thankfully, it’s nearly finished. It has been played on a few film soundtracks, so it’s heading in the right direction. :good:

It’s definitely fun to do a bit of “frankenboning” every now and then. :wink:

Andy
OK—maybe I should have used some different words than I did. :clever: Completing this project wasn't "easy," per se. It took a considerable amount of time, planning, study, preparation, and trial and error. But the point I was making is this: the work that I did was unexpectedly achievable, and had excellent results, despite my inexperience.

I must admit that I'm a little disappointed by the comments you two have made. My goal here was to encourage others to be creative, and to not be afraid to try new things and learn new skills. It seems as if you all are doing the opposite.

There is nothing "mystical" about brass instrument construction. It certainly isn't rocket science, either. It's simply a skill, like any other, and as such it can be learned with time and practice.

Soldering brass parts together is a very forgiving process. If something doesn't turn out right, you can just heat it up, pull it apart, wipe it down, and try again. It's not at all like welding, which requires that joined parts be cut apart and grinded before welding again, and which has the potential if done incorrectly to burn holes in the parts and ruin them.

Furthermore, we live in a time in which we have unprecedented access to information and resources. If someone has the time and desire to learn a new skill—whether it's brass instrument repair or anything else (like auto mechanics, or cooking, or sewing, or gardening, or welding, etc.)—then there is a wealth of information at one's fingertips, online and in print, that can aid the acquisition of that skill. We also live in a time with unprecedented access to goods and services—for example, eBay and online classifieds for used instruments and parts, and manufacturers with online presences (such as Instrument Innovations) to provide valves, fittings, tubing, etc. that would otherwise require expensive machining, bending, and drawing equipment. Given all of this, it is not at all unreasonable for a person of average intelligence and resources to set up their own trombone for interchangeable leadpipes, or replace their old rotor with a modern valve, or install updated levers and linkages, or make a bell removable—and to do so with excellent results.

In terms of the difference between "amateur" and "professional" work: all "professional" means is that the person doing the work was paid to do it. It is not in any way an indicator of quality. Likewise, all "amateur" means is that the person doing the work does it because he/she "loves" to do it, and does it without remuneration. In the past, all of the instrument repair and modification work that I've had done by local, "professional" technicians (regardless of where "local" was at the time) has been mediocre at best, but more often outright terrible. Conversely, the best brass bands in the UK play at the level of a major symphony orchestra—but their members are not paid, and are thus "amateurs." Just because someone does something without pay that does not necessarily mean that they do it without great care, skill or attention to detail.

In terms of this project: leaving aside the valve trombone section for a moment, the large bore TIS tenor trombone did in fact turn out very, very well. I did make sure that slides were aligned correctly (straight and parallel). I did make sure that parts were fitted precisely, and without stress. The handslide and tuning slides move freely. Every joint is solid, well-fitted, and airtight. Excess solder is minimized. And most importantly: it plays great! It's in a completely different league than the stock B88 that I started with (which wasn't a bad instrument to begin with). It also plays better than the Kanstul 1688ST that I owned several years ago. It has many of the great qualities of the 1920's large-bore Conn TIS trombones that I've owned in the past, but with a more modern feel. It is undoubtedly a "professional quality" instrument, and built to a "professional standard." And, given that the basic large-bore trombone itself only took about half of my stated budget for this project, I was able to build this instrument for about what a good used 88H or 42B would have cost—and I had a lot of fun doing it, as well!

Now for the valve trombone section—yes, I'll acknowledge that that part of the project is a bit more haphazard in appearance. It's a unique design, and I combined valves, tubing, braces, ferrules, etc. from half a dozen very different instruments in a way in which they were never intended to be used. And as I stated above, I made no effort to clean up the solder work, burned lacquer, etc. to make it look a bit more "presentable." But nevertheless, I did make sure that joints were fitted as well as possible, that everything was air tight, that braces were solid, etc. And it plays well. Did I put it together for a paying customer? No. Do I intend to sell it? No. Do I intend to produce more of them? No. Had those been my goals, I probably would have taken a different approach. But as a usable "proof of concept," I got exactly what I wanted.

I think the biggest difference between doing this project myself, versus someone else doing it who does this sort of work for a living and has a full shop with the proper tools, is that it probably took me much, much longer to do. But I do not agree that the finished product from an "amateur" like me must necessarily be lower quality than what a "professional" would do, nor do I agree that doing work like this is out of the reach of the average person.

And I still would encourage anyone who has a desire to try something like this: just do it! :good:
This was one of the most inspiring read at this forum so far. Your pictures of those instruments are inspiring as well as your explanations about what you have done, but this read was best. Amateur and professional is the difference of doing things of love and doing things for a living. I agree it has less to do with quality. I have trust in people who do what they do because they want to, not because they get money. :good:

/Tom
My profile on facebook with new videos from concerts: https://www.facebook.com/tomas.hillerbrant

My webbpage: https://sites.google.com/site/brazzmusic

"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
Bone2Bwild
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:34 pm

Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by Bone2Bwild » Mon Jul 22, 2019 2:58 pm

funkhoss wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:35 am
Bone2Bwild wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:57 pm


I agree with Jeff on both points. Great work funkhoss - really interesting project and lovey pics :) , but putting a professional quality instrument together to a professional standard is not easy. I’ve been working today on a custom cimbasso (a long running project) that has to be top quality - it’s been the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. Thankfully, it’s nearly finished. It has been played on a few film soundtracks, so it’s heading in the right direction. :good:

It’s definitely fun to do a bit of “frankenboning” every now and then. :wink:

Andy
OK—maybe I should have used some different words than I did. :clever: Completing this project wasn't "easy," per se. It took a considerable amount of time, planning, study, preparation, and trial and error. But the point I was making is this: the work that I did was unexpectedly achievable, and had excellent results, despite my inexperience.

I must admit that I'm a little disappointed by the comments you two have made. My goal here was to encourage others to be creative, and to not be afraid to try new things and learn new skills. It seems as if you all are doing the opposite.

There is nothing "mystical" about brass instrument construction. It certainly isn't rocket science, either. It's simply a skill, like any other, and as such it can be learned with time and practice.

Soldering brass parts together is a very forgiving process. If something doesn't turn out right, you can just heat it up, pull it apart, wipe it down, and try again. It's not at all like welding, which requires that joined parts be cut apart and grinded before welding again, and which has the potential if done incorrectly to burn holes in the parts and ruin them.

Furthermore, we live in a time in which we have unprecedented access to information and resources. If someone has the time and desire to learn a new skill—whether it's brass instrument repair or anything else (like auto mechanics, or cooking, or sewing, or gardening, or welding, etc.)—then there is a wealth of information at one's fingertips, online and in print, that can aid the acquisition of that skill. We also live in a time with unprecedented access to goods and services—for example, eBay and online classifieds for used instruments and parts, and manufacturers with online presences (such as Instrument Innovations) to provide valves, fittings, tubing, etc. that would otherwise require expensive machining, bending, and drawing equipment. Given all of this, it is not at all unreasonable for a person of average intelligence and resources to set up their own trombone for interchangeable leadpipes, or replace their old rotor with a modern valve, or install updated levers and linkages, or make a bell removable—and to do so with excellent results.

In terms of the difference between "amateur" and "professional" work: all "professional" means is that the person doing the work was paid to do it. It is not in any way an indicator of quality. Likewise, all "amateur" means is that the person doing the work does it because he/she "loves" to do it, and does it without remuneration. In the past, all of the instrument repair and modification work that I've had done by local, "professional" technicians (regardless of where "local" was at the time) has been mediocre at best, but more often outright terrible. Conversely, the best brass bands in the UK play at the level of a major symphony orchestra—but their members are not paid, and are thus "amateurs." Just because someone does something without pay that does not necessarily mean that they do it without great care, skill or attention to detail.

In terms of this project: leaving aside the valve trombone section for a moment, the large bore TIS tenor trombone did in fact turn out very, very well. I did make sure that slides were aligned correctly (straight and parallel). I did make sure that parts were fitted precisely, and without stress. The handslide and tuning slides move freely. Every joint is solid, well-fitted, and airtight. Excess solder is minimized. And most importantly: it plays great! It's in a completely different league than the stock B88 that I started with (which wasn't a bad instrument to begin with). It also plays better than the Kanstul 1688ST that I owned several years ago. It has many of the great qualities of the 1920's large-bore Conn TIS trombones that I've owned in the past, but with a more modern feel. It is undoubtedly a "professional quality" instrument, and built to a "professional standard." And, given that the basic large-bore trombone itself only took about half of my stated budget for this project, I was able to build this instrument for about what a good used 88H or 42B would have cost—and I had a lot of fun doing it, as well!

Now for the valve trombone section—yes, I'll acknowledge that that part of the project is a bit more haphazard in appearance. It's a unique design, and I combined valves, tubing, braces, ferrules, etc. from half a dozen very different instruments in a way in which they were never intended to be used. And as I stated above, I made no effort to clean up the solder work, burned lacquer, etc. to make it look a bit more "presentable." But nevertheless, I did make sure that joints were fitted as well as possible, that everything was air tight, that braces were solid, etc. And it plays well. Did I put it together for a paying customer? No. Do I intend to sell it? No. Do I intend to produce more of them? No. Had those been my goals, I probably would have taken a different approach. But as a usable "proof of concept," I got exactly what I wanted.

I think the biggest difference between doing this project myself, versus someone else doing it who does this sort of work for a living and has a full shop with the proper tools, is that it probably took me much, much longer to do. But I do not agree that the finished product from an "amateur" like me must necessarily be lower quality than what a "professional" would do, nor do I agree that doing work like this is out of the reach of the average person.

And I still would encourage anyone who has a desire to try something like this: just do it! :good:
I really had no intention to criticise your work. I genuinely love things like this and I think your project is interesting and inventive. Also, considering you had no previous experience with this - it’s very impressive. It’s nice to see a post with lots of juicy pics as well. I’d like to hear more about the dream tuba. :) :) :)
LIBrassCo
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2019 5:34 am

Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by LIBrassCo » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:00 pm

First of all, no one is discouraging people to try this kind of stuff. Second, no one is being negative. Dont be butt hurt because someone had criticism of what they took as your words being of poor choice. You implied this stuff is easy. Its not. That's mildly insulting to people who have dedicated themselves to perfecting this kind of work. I didnt criticize or tear apart your work in any way, and I genuinely love seeing people try stuff, thats how i started myself. I get you comment about welding, I'm certified on Tig and Mig. One isnt easier that the other, its just different.
timothy42b
Posts: 530
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Location: central Virginia

Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by timothy42b » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:25 pm

I am impressed.

It actually looks like it might balance. I have a valve setup for my Getzen but it is so unergonomic I get carpal tunnel in about 5 minutes of trying to play that beast - haven't figured out how to hold it. Were you deliberate about that, or did you luck out?
Basbasun
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Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2018 3:03 am

Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by Basbasun » Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:47 am

A beautiful idéa! I wold love a 562 bore valvetrombone with 4 valves!
funkhoss
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by funkhoss » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:40 am

Bone2Bwild wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 2:58 pm
I really had no intention to criticise your work. I genuinely love things like this and I think your project is interesting and inventive. Also, considering you had no previous experience with this - it’s very impressive. It’s nice to see a post with lots of juicy pics as well. I’d like to hear more about the dream tuba. :) :) :)
So--about that dream tuba... :biggrin:

In the past, most of the tuba doubling I've done has been on four-valve (3+1) compensating E-flat tubas. I was able to borrow a Besson 981 with the straight leadpipe and 19" bell for a while, and then I also owned a 15" bell B&H Imperial for a time, too. These instruments work well for me as a euphonium player. The layout is the same, and I can read bass clef music like it's E-flat treble clef and use the same fingerings as I would on euphonium. They are also versatile enough to be useful on almost any repertoire. As a bass tuba, they work well for solos and small ensemble literature, yet they're also big enough to cover most symphonic music, too. Tuba players in the UK have used compensating E-flat tubas as "do it all" instruments for many years.

Some people will complain about the stuffiness in the lower register on a compensated instrument, but I've never found that to be an issue--as long as the valves seal well (i.e., aren't worn), the instrument is well constructed (as 1960's-1970's B&H/Besson instruments usually are) and the valves are well aligned. For example, I've used my medium-shank 1970 Besson New Standard euphonium to play tuba parts in brass quintets on several occasions in the past, and I've never had difficulty producing enough volume in the lower register to support the rest of the ensemble. A compensated E-flat tuba works much the same, just bigger. I think the technical (simplified fingering patterns in the lower register) and ergonomic advantages of a compensating instrument far outweigh any deficiencies inherent in the compensating system itself (weight, more complex construction, etc.).

There are, however, two drawbacks that I found with trying to use a compensating 3+1 E-flat tuba for everything. First, the bell points the "wrong way" for what most people are accustomed to (in the US, at least) for symphonic settings. And second, the sound in the lower register isn't quite round/dark/weighty/etc. enough for the heaviest symphonic literature.

My dream, then, has been to build an "extra large" compensating E-flat tuba with front action valves. My thought would be to start with one of the older American "monster" E-flat tubas for the body of the instrument. These tubas were significantly larger, especially in the bottom bow and branches, than the British-style instruments, and thus have a correspondingly bigger and weightier sound. I'd ideally find an old Martin, as they were probably the "biggest" of these type of instruments (compared to Conn, York, King, and Holton) and are also known for having decent intonation. I'd then find a B&H/Besson compensator from which I could harvest a valveset, but re-route the tubing of the three-valve block for front action use. Then, for the fourth valve, I'd either use the original B&H/Besson fourth valve and mount it so that it can be played with the left hand, or use a rotor for the fourth valve and rig up a linkage that can be actuated with the left hand.

That's my idea of a "dream" tuba. As to whether or not I'll ever get around to trying it... :idk:

I had always assumed that I would need to pay someone to do the work, which in the past has kept me from seriously considering it. However, now that I've done this trombone project, I'm tempted to think that doing it myself might actually be feasible.
funkhoss
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by funkhoss » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:46 am

timothy42b wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:25 pm
I am impressed.

It actually looks like it might balance. I have a valve setup for my Getzen but it is so unergonomic I get carpal tunnel in about 5 minutes of trying to play that beast - haven't figured out how to hold it. Were you deliberate about that, or did you luck out?
I did try to keep ergonomics in mind when I put the valve section together, and yes--it is quite comfortable to hold. The left hand stays in the same position as with a slide trombone, and the right hand goes with the valves. It's a bit heavier than a slide trombone, but I've been able to play it for extended periods without any stress or pain in my hands, wrists, or arms.
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elmsandr
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by elmsandr » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:53 am

Oohh.. If you want to practice, I have a 1908 Holton Monster Eb that I've wanted to do something similar to. It is a 3V top action and I want to make it a 4V/5V maybe front action do-all horn.

Side note, this Martin Eb is the horn I most regret passing on:
d0_1.jpg
d0_1.jpg (26.35 KiB) Viewed 2151 times
It was only $3K and a half hour away from my house.

Cheers,
Andy
funkhoss
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by funkhoss » Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:08 am

elmsandr wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:53 am
Oohh.. If you want to practice, I have a 1908 Holton Monster Eb that I've wanted to do something similar to. It is a 3V top action and I want to make it a 4V/5V maybe front action do-all horn.

Side note, this Martin Eb is the horn I most regret passing on:

d0_1.jpg

It was only $3K and a half hour away from my house.

Cheers,
Andy
Thanks for the offer on the Holton! I think I'd hold out for a Martin, though. And I'd need to get approval from my CFO first, anyway. :wink:

That is definitely a beautiful Martin, and exactly the model that I was speaking of. However, I'd probably try to find one with three valves and in rougher condition--with a pricetag more like a tenth of that. That one's too pretty to frankenhorn.
imsevimse
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Location: Sweden

Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by imsevimse » Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:49 am

I think this project is real interesting and I've also sought for a horn that could do everything (small tenor, large tenor, bass).

Tangent: I found such a horn on ebay a couple of years ago. It is a Martin .536 bore bass trombone with 9" bell that takes large shanks. With an adapter and a small shank 11C I can use it as a small bore tenor. Not as a lead horn in a big band because it is rather mellow but as second and third it would work. It is quite fluent as a solo horn too and it responds well in the normal upper register of a small bore. It becomes a large tenor if I use a large tenor mouthpiece. Then it gets a sound that is symphonic enough to blend with .547 bore horns. If I use a bass trombone mouthpiece it becomes a bass and can absolutely fill the chair off a bass trombone in a big band or in a trombone group. It will be a small bass trombone sound but the feel is a bass and definitely more of a bass than any of my .547 tenors.. a good thing that helps is that somebody has added a second valve in Eb that slots in the tuningslide of the f valve. It is an interesting trombone. It can be used with all those mouthpieces without intonation issues other than the horn needs to be retuned to compensate for a more shallow mouthpiece compared to a deeper bass mouthpiece. The response is good on any size of mouthpiece which is not the case when I have tried the same on my other full sized bass trombones.

The drawback is it is not my best trombone for anything. I have several small bore tenors better than this horn. I have several large bore tenors better than this horn. I have several bass trombones better than this horn. I have no other horn that can fill all chairs as good as this but as you have guessed it is not used in public because to have just one single horn that can do anything is not the case when you are a collector without limitations. I have a large box of horns. I'd rather bring two horns to the gig before I bring this horn, but it is a playable horn for everything and it is fun to own and play at home.

Now back to topic. I think you have great ideas. I'm looking forward to more of your posts. :hi:

/Tom
My profile on facebook with new videos from concerts: https://www.facebook.com/tomas.hillerbrant

My webbpage: https://sites.google.com/site/brazzmusic

"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
jorymil
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by jorymil » Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:35 pm

This is a beautiful horn! It's encouraged me to think that I might be able to do some of my own work as well in the coming months.
funkhoss
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by funkhoss » Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:45 am

jorymil wrote:
Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:35 pm
This is a beautiful horn! It's encouraged me to think that I might be able to do some of my own work as well in the coming months.
Go for it!
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Backbone
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by Backbone » Tue Nov 05, 2019 6:50 pm

Awesome! After reading this thread I attacked a project on my horn that I have wanted to do.
funkhoss
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Re: Large bore valve trombone/"do everything horn" project

Post by funkhoss » Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:47 am

So...I thought I'd let you all know that I ended up tackling my "dream tuba" project too. It turned out a little differently than what I described earlier in this thread, but I'm still very pleased with how it turned out.

I posted a writeup about it on Tubenet. You can read it here: http://forums.chisham.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=95316

Happy Tinkering!

-Funkhoss
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