Any Benge players out there?

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tubabone
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Any Benge players out there?

Post by tubabone » Thu Nov 07, 2019 7:35 pm

I have a stable of three Benge bones, the 175F (.525), 190C (.547), and 290 bass.

I really like their sound and response, sort of right between a Conn and a Bach.

Anyone else out there play any of these old horns?

ken k
chromebone
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by chromebone » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:24 pm

I recently bought a 190f. I loved it so much, I immediately put my Edwards in the case and I haven’t looked back. In fact, I bought a second one that came up for sale.
To say it falls in between a Conn and a Bach would be an apt description in some ways, but it is also very much it’s own sound. At least for me, it has vastly improved my articulation and sound and is much easier to play.

I brought both horns to Chuck Ward, the designer of the Benge line, for cleaning and general set up. Basically, he said they are really souped up King 4/5 B’s. They were developed with the Cleveland Orchestra section, who were already playing Kings, and John Marcellus. Ward set out to improve the problems with the Kings, namely enlarging the f tuning to .562 (Kings maintain .547 throughout the f attachment, which can make them stuffy in the low register). He also heat treated the bell section with a unique annealing process, designed a new ported valve and designed a new lead pipe and brass outer slides on the hand slide.
Originally, they were to be marketed as an upgraded 4B, but that plan was stopped when the new owner of King objected, so they branded them as Benge, which King owned.
Unfortunately, the owners of UMI never really took to the Benge brand and didn’t really market as well as they could have. Ward said they had some weird obsession with keeping King exactly as it was. Eventually, he got frustrated and left UMI. UMI phased the line out in the early 2000’s during the transition to Conn-Selmer.
I asked him if the 165 was the same as the 190, and he said that the 165 was designed to be a less expensive intermediate horn, and it does not have the annealed bell and a different leadpipe. He apparently objected to it, but UMI wanted a cheaper horn to market.
It’s a real shame it fell by the wayside. They are truly great horns that are a really great buy if you can find one in good shape.
RConrad
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by RConrad » Thu Nov 07, 2019 9:21 pm

I bought a 175F in the spring. Love it so far. Hoping I can get a 290 when I can afford a bass. Kinda want to send Chuck Ward my horn now.
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dukesboneman
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by dukesboneman » Thu Nov 07, 2019 9:44 pm

I bought a Straight 190 right around the time they first came out. I used it all thru Grad school.
I was the only MM Performance major with a straight horn.
Good solid horn, but with the annealed bell I couldn`t tell how loud I was playing
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Burgerbob
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by Burgerbob » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:04 pm

I just played a 290 and have a friend with another. I'd give them a solid "meh" score.. not bad horns, but not really blowing me away. The sound is definitely not what I'm used to, and both playing it and playing next to it I'd usually prefer something else.
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LeTromboniste
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by LeTromboniste » Fri Nov 08, 2019 1:48 am

If I ever go back to playing more modern trombone and I get myself a bass, I would almost certainly look for a Benge 290 (or maybe Yahama 613). My experience is they are easier to play than a lot of horns, and easy to color with different sounds. Also, I like to use two mouthpieces on bass and choose depending on the repertoire; one big more standard bass mouthpiece as the default, and a small, 4 or 5G-rimmed (but extra deep and open) for when I wanted a more delicate and nimble sound on repertoire that wasn't conceived for a big bass (Beethoven, Haydn Creation, etc. Chopin concertos with only one trombone part, or when there's a lot unison playing in the high range like Tannhauser, for example). Not all basses react well to the smaller mouthpiece, but the Benge does, very well.
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AlexMcMahon
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by AlexMcMahon » Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:50 am

The 175F was my first F-attachment horn. I convinced my mom to get it for me as a freshman in high school. We found it in a Music Go Round for a pretty reasonable price. I used it for two years before moving to a .547 88H and trading it away. Looking back, I wish I would have kept it. Good response, light to hold, .525 bore. I’ve gone through so many large bores since then, but have since come back to playing 525 or 525/547 gear as my main horns.

I usually steer students toward the 165F (or the equivalent Conn or Bach of the same design) for their initial F attachment horns because you can generally get them for $350-500. A little slide work and they’re usually good to go.

I had a 170 Freelance model for a brief period that I didn’t like at all. Slide was more narrow than the 175F, which was already a little narrow for my liking. Very light horn and too easy to over power.
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dershem
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by dershem » Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:53 am

I have a 190 I use for concert band and orchestral gigs. Very nice horn - very responsive, with a beautiful sound.
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greenbean
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by greenbean » Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:23 am

I have owned/played every Benge horn they made, I think. I wasn't crazy about the smaller bore ones, compared with the comparable King models. But the large-bore and bass are very, very good. The 190F is a fantastic horn. I kept a minty example and put a Bach valve lever on it. It is truly great. The 165F is a few notches down, IMO, but still a solid horn. It would probably benefit from a leadpipe swap.
chromebone
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by chromebone » Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:34 am

greenbean wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:23 am
I have owned/played every Benge horn they made, I think. I wasn't crazy about the smaller bore ones, compared with the comparable King models. But the large-bore and bass are very, very good. The 190F is a fantastic horn. I kept a minty example and put a Bach valve lever on it. It is truly great. The 165F is a few notches down, IMO, but still a solid horn. It would probably benefit from a leadpipe swap.
I bought the first of the two Benge 190's I now own from you a couple of months ago. Chuck said it was made about 1998-99. It really is a fantastic horn. I remember you mentioned that you thought it had a different leadpipe from the earlier ones, but Chuck said it had the same leadpipe throughout it's production, except for the very earliest prototypes. That being said, I bought another one made around 1990 about two weeks later, and the mouthpiece goes in slightly further, although I suppose that could be because of wear. That horn plays a bit darker than the newer one. As I said above, however the 165 definitely has a different leadpipe than a 190.
bigbandbone
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by bigbandbone » Sat Nov 09, 2019 2:07 pm

I play a Conn 72H with a Benge 1 1/2G mouthpiece. It's working good for me.
Posaunus
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by Posaunus » Sat Nov 09, 2019 2:37 pm

I purchased a Benge 165F as an inexpensive backup to my trusty old Conn 88H, and found it to be surprisingly good. If you like the Conn sound, you may also be pleased with a Benge. The 165F seems to be well-made, and robust, with a nice rotary valve (better than the 88H's). I don't think I'll go to the trouble of unsoldering and replacing the Benge leadpipe.
hyperbolica
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by hyperbolica » Sat Nov 09, 2019 2:58 pm

I've played the 170, 175f and 290. 175f by far my favorite. Really excellent horn in every way. 170 played well, but not really my cup of tea. 290 I just didn't like at all. I'm a Conn guy, and the 175f is as close as you can come to the really wonderful older 79h, but with a little King zing on it.
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by fsgazda » Sat Nov 09, 2019 3:13 pm

I have always felt that the 290 is an underrated bass. I keep a 165F in the studio for my students who are first switching to large bore/f horns to adapt to before they buy a new horn. 2 students have tried to buy it from me.
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2bobone
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by 2bobone » Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:29 pm

Quite a few years ago I performed the Ezra Laderman "Concerto for 5 Winds & Orchestra" with the National Symphony Orchestra. As we rehearsed, I realized that the instruments that I used regularly in the NSO weren't working as well as I had anticipated for the concerto. For some reason or other, I had at my disposal a Benge 290 which I tried and ultimately used for all of the performances. I went back to my King 8B and Duo Gravis immediately thereafter, but always had a lingering fascination with that 290. The 290 is definitely an instrument that is underrated.
Interestingly, the third trumpeter in the NSO played a Benge B Flat trumpet that had to have the most glorious trumpet sound I've ever encountered. Is my fascination with the 290 coincidental ?
Also, I recall spending at least two hours listening to David Finlayson [NY Phil.} play a Benge tenor with "F" [sorry -- I don't know the Model #] when he was still a member of the NSO, on tour in Toronto. It was the most engagingly beautiful sound I've ever heard come out of a trombone. John Marcellus also flirted with the Benge and worked on improvements.
In my opinion, Benge instruments never got their proper accolades ! Cheers !!
chromebone
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by chromebone » Sun Nov 10, 2019 5:35 am

As you must know, Finlayson won the NY Philharmonic job playing that Benge.
I was told that the 290 was based on the 8B with modifications. You are probably one of the few players with experience on both. We’re there any similarities?
Jbeckett
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by Jbeckett » Sun Nov 10, 2019 7:50 am

Played, and have owned, multiple 190’s, 190f’s, and 290’s. I recently sold the last 190f (best one ever) and 290 (also best one I’ve ever touched). I had exhausted Chuck Ward for parts and wasn’t going to play King pipes on my tenor, and something else on my bass. If you find a closet queen out there, buy it. Chances are, it’s a great playing horn. I wish I had kept every single one. But, everyone has their own preferences. Slotting was great, didn’t have to worry about leadpipe changes, and they seemed to play well with just about any mouthpiece.
2bobone
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by 2bobone » Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:16 am

chromebone wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 5:35 am
As you must know, Finlayson won the NY Philharmonic job playing that Benge.
I was told that the 290 was based on the 8B with modifications. You are probably one of the few players with experience on both. We’re there any similarities?
My recollection was that Dave was "put on the spot" when the NSO principal trombonist was ill and unable to play. We were performing the Mahler 3rd Symphony with Zubin Mehta [NY Phil.] on the podium. After Dave's positively stellar performance, Zubin went to the NSO management and told them he was going to "steal" Dave away for the NY Philharmonic ! I would bet a dollar to a donut that he was playing his trusty Conn 88H on those Mahler performances. As to there being an actual audition for the gig, I can't say, but that Mahler performance should have been enough to tell Zubin what he wanted to know.
So far as similarities between the Benge 290 and my King 8B : The 8B had an early and huge bell flare, which the Benge did not. My 8B was yellow brass with a 10 1/2" bell, the Benge a rose brass bell and a 9 1/2" bell [?]. The 8B would take everything you could put through it and have room left for more --- the Benge had a limit to it which was realistic but not limitless. The Laderman concerto had a lot of low register B Naturals and some pedals. I found that the Benge handled them with total ease despite not being as large as the 8B. Quite a beautiful instrument, though I returned to my comfort zone with the 8B and Duo Gravis after the concerto performances. There exists a promotional photo for the Laderman performances in which I'm holding my Duo Gravis, but I did not use it for those performances ---- it was the Benge 290.
I hope this answers any questions. Cheers to all ! Bob
imsevimse
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by imsevimse » Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:37 pm

I have a 170 freelance, straight 175f, one 175f with valve, a 190c and the 290 bass. I've bought all but the 190C from ebay. The 190C was owned and played by the solo trombonist in the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Mr Jörgen Johansson.

I have always preferred the 2b and 3b Kings and used them for jazz but I have never liked ther larger ones (4B,5B) that much. The larger Benge (175f, 190C) is the best of Conn and King and they are what the King should have been. I don't understand why they named them Benge. They could have used the King name instead.They have a lot of the King characteristics in the sound.

The 170 freelance is great as a jazz horn. The 290 bass is an underrated inline bass. My 290 has a 10" bell (not 10 1/2) and can be tuned Bb/F/G/Eb or Bb/F/Gb/D.

/Tom
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chromebone
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by chromebone » Sun Nov 10, 2019 5:30 pm

imsevimse wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:37 pm
I don't understand why they named them Benge. They could have used the King name instead.They have a lot of the King characteristics in the sound
Chuck Ward said that at least for the 190, when they would go to various conferences and had the prototypes out for trial, or sent the prototypes to orchestral players, people wouldn’t try them or didn’t like them as much when they were branded as Kings. Kings didn’t have such a good reputation in the legit world at that point, which was the whole point of the 190, to get King back into the orchestral market. Originally, the 190 was simply going to be the upgraded 4B. He said when the exact same horn was branded as a Benge, the approval was almost unanimous. That and the owner of UMI wanting to keep King as a separate brand is why they are branded as Benge. Then as now, people often hear with their eyes.
Basbasun
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by Basbasun » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:53 am

Jörgen and I played 190c and 290 in the Swedish Radio orchestra for some years. Still for me the 290 is the best inline bass I played.
trombonedemon
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by trombonedemon » Wed Nov 13, 2019 7:15 pm

Played a 190 F with Marcellus lead pipe all throughout college. Imho, the horn, or my horn; wasn't open at all, but the valve was the best part of the horn. It played better w/the F attachment then with out. My professor had an earlier Benge 190 F, and was way easier to blow through. Could the brand quality gotten worst with age. Engraved Benges vs. the horns without. Couldn't afford a new horn, so stuck with the one I had bought back in 1996.

In my opinion the horn could have been saved if it had more options like lead pipes, and bell sections so on and so forth.The horn was starting to phase out when Shires and Edwards were getting popular, I've always thought were way better blowing horns. :idk: So I bought a Conn 112 H Bass, and it was waaaay more responsive than my Benge.

The design was stagnant in my opinion and changed very little from the first to the last, Unlike Conn, Bach, and King. Even King had more options than the Benge . Now this is one mans opinion based off of my own personal horn; My college had some medium bore Benges, but they had an ok response with my practicalities. The Valves were top notch though.
youraveragebonist117
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by youraveragebonist117 » Sat Nov 16, 2019 7:28 pm

My first large tenor was the 165F. I do like it, I think it's a good horn for someone in high school or in undergraduate school, but the 165F, or at least my 165F, has limits. If pushed too hard, it can sound really forced, and you begin to lose all benefit in the red bell. I can kind of agree with some of the earlier posts on this thread saying it's like the 190 but a cheaper intermediate version. My least favorite part about it is definitely the valve wrap, I find it to be pretty stuffy. After I bought my Shires, I started using the Benge for marching band at UofM, and it fits that purpose pretty well if you don't care a whole lot about projecting YOUR sound to the crowd in the football stadium, but instead just being able to play something that's sort of like your concert horn you use on stage in your school's concert hall, but not worry about banging up your nice horn.
mbarbier
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by mbarbier » Sun Nov 17, 2019 9:04 am

I've got a Frankenhorn from my old teacher that's basically a 190 with a Lindberg valve. I use that with a conn slide as my daily driver- those bells are amazing.

I got the horn cause there was a time in the early 2000's when Rick Stout and Steve Witser were working with them on variations of that horn for Cleveland (right around the time DeSano retired). It's a shame that they never got made cause they're really great playing horns- kind of a combo of new music director and changing sound concept/hiring Massimo instead of Steve....but that's a whole other thing.

Rick still uses one of them at in the orchestra here and there- mostly at Blossom.
trombone faculty at CalArts and LA City College
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tbonesullivan
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Re: Any Benge players out there?

Post by tbonesullivan » Sun Nov 17, 2019 6:45 pm

I had a 190F for a while, and it was a great horn. I also remember fondly going down to Dillon Music in the late 90s and seeing the glorious Benge 290s hanging on the wall. They were definitely something special, though as noted in this thread, they really were never used by UMI to their full potential.

As many may know, Benge was a brand of TRUMPET that UMI purchased in 1985. They were GREAT trumpets, and very consistent. Unfortunately like the trombone line, they got rid of it after the Conn-Selmer merger. The primacy of the BACH line can never be questioned in that company, just like how the KING line could not be changed from what it was when it was really popular and used by many top pros.

It's possible that Benge made bass trumpets before their 1985 acquisition. Also Kanstul made a "Burbank" line of trumpets after 1985, based on the original designs.
David S. - daveyboy37 from TTF
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