Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

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Roberto28
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Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by Roberto28 » Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:17 am

So, I’ve noticed these Schiller trombones, for while. Their price range is the most appealing aspect.

Has any you, fine gentlemen, played them? Can you give me your opinion/verdict?
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Matt K
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by Matt K » Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:57 am

The 'Schiller' horns actually come out of the same factory as many of the other Chineese horns, they just stamp them with different brands depending on who is reselling them. So if you search for information about Chinese horns here, you'll find they've largely been discussed. They basically boil down to this:

Some of them play well; or at least well enough that the typical player is not going to be hindered by them very much and probably not to the extent that the amount you are hindered is worth the extra expense of a "pro" horn. However, some of them are borderline unplayable out of the factory. Buying the same horn through a reseller who has a higher price point like MackBrass means they've gone through the process of sending back the proverbial 'duds', offers some additional level of satisfaction guarantee, etc.

The parts themselves are often fine, it's the assembly that is not so great. However, the exception to this is the slide, which is obviously a fairly important part. Those are more hit or miss than the other parts. So if you get one with a slide, you can probably have someone at least make it playable. However, how much expense it takes to get it in a good condition is variable. (User JGittleson has an Alto that was from Schiller if I recall that he totally took apart and reassembled which would normally be quite expensive, but if you are capable of doing the work yourself, it's a cheap way to get something that is pretty good). I've had several JinBao (same factory) altos... 3 if I recall... and of those 3, one of the slides was actually pretty good, one was okay but not great, and the third was borderline unplayable.

So... are you feeling lucky? Bear in mind that for $1500-$2000 and with a little patience, you can often find a professional level independent, and for a little less, a professional level dependent. Similarly, some of the new horns that are "intermediate" level are around that price point and have a far better reputation than the Schillers (such as Wessex and JP Rath).
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BGuttman
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by BGuttman » Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:00 am

Isn't Schiller the one sold by Jim Laabs? If so, he does some QC on the horns so you won't get a total dog. We've had mixed opinions on him here: some have had some very good experiences and others not so good. Big problem seems to be if you want to return it.
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Matt K
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by Matt K » Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:31 am

BGuttman wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:00 am
Isn't Schiller the one sold by Jim Laabs? If so, he does some QC on the horns so you won't get a total dog. We've had mixed opinions on him here: some have had some very good experiences and others not so good. Big problem seems to be if you want to return it.
Sort of the other way around from what I understand. Jim sells Schillers but not all Schillers come from him. But if someone knows that definitively then that would be potentially useful information one way or the other.
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greenbean
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by greenbean » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:29 am

The Schillers I have handled were crap. I wish I could be more positive...
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by Doug Elliott » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:38 am

One thing that seems to remain consistent among Chinese instruments is lack of repairabilty. I continue to hear from techs about replacement parts that don't fit and metal that melts when you try to solder it. Not specifically Schiller, but many brands come from the same factory. They seem to change the specs randomly, especially on threaded parts like screws and trumpet valve stems and caps.

I also make endpins for upright basses, which are usually 10mm rods. I have seen Chinese basses with endpins that are random diameters not related to any metric or inch size.
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BGuttman
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by BGuttman » Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:42 pm

Lack of repairability usually relates to the alloy, which is often Cupronickel instead of Brass. The proper soldering temperature is different (higher?) than for brass. Also the fit and finish is sometimes lacking making soldering things like braces difficult.

I think the playing characteristics can be good, but sometimes a bit harsh.
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by DougHulme » Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:24 am

I bought one about 4 years ago for one of my students. Quality was fine, durability was good too (but never had to get it repaired). Playability is just as people have described here. It wont hinder you, but it wont help you either. My advice is always buy a second hand professional instrument - even if its got a bit of wear in it, it wont cost you much more, possibly less if you are lucky.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by ghmerrill » Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:42 am

I'm happy with my Schiller 7B clone. It's what I expected for a sub-$600 double valve bass. I made some mods to it and anticipate continuing to use it rather than replace it. I don't think I could have got what I wanted (including the mods I made) for less than about four times the price. Would I recommend it to everyone? No.

Parts are available for these things. Laabs will send you parts if you need them, but there may be some delay. I don't think he stocks many of the parts. But when I had a joint break on my 2nd valve lever, he sent a new one FedEx that arrived in two days.

In terms of quality, what I've noticed has not obviously affected playability: The tubing for the slides is not drawn with the quality you should expect from the higher-priced standard brands. If you look down the inner tubes of the tuning slides, for example, you can see a bit of wavy reflection. (I recall seeing similar complaints from the Horn Guys a couple of years ago about contemporary Conn/King horns.) This in no way affects functioning. The hand slide has been great (note that I pulled the lead pipe and replaced it with a removable Brass Ark one).

If you open up the 2nd (Gb) valve on mine you can see where one of the knuckles doesn't seat fully and so leaves something of an internal gap. This is not visible from the outside. While you might argue theoretically that this could have some effects on playing, I'm not sure how to determine that empirically and so far have not been tempted to "fix" it. I'd prefer more open valves, but I'm not entirely sure the original King valves were a lot different (though perhaps this thought is heresy).

In terms of smoothness and functioning, the valves are not great, but they're fine for my needs. I've improved them a little (lapping), and may try more of that at some point, but I have absolutely no problem with them. They just don't have the totally smooth/easy/solid feel of a higher quality valve.

Otherwise, the fit and finish (externally) of the horn is impressive. Definitely better than my Wessex Eb Champion tuba. Maybe a bit better than that of my Mack Brass euph (but there's so much less to worry about on a trombone). The main tuning slide has very very slightly not perfectly aligned legs. I'm pretty sure I could fix this in about two minutes with a torch to just lossen up the legs and let them reseat. But it hasn't been worth my effort. Surprisingly, the tuning slides for the Gb and F valves fit perfectly AND CAN BE INTERCHANGED!! (On this horn, that doesn't actually get you anything; but it's interesting.)

I don't feel that I'm being hindered by the instrument (certainly not with the minor mods I've made), but I'm confident that there are more expensive instruments that I'd find a bit easier to play. For me, in my situation, it's not worth what it would cost me to get a horn that's enough better to justify the change.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
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ghmerrill
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by ghmerrill » Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:50 am

Doug Elliott wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:38 am
I also make endpins for upright basses, which are usually 10mm rods. I have seen Chinese basses with endpins that are random diameters not related to any metric or inch size.
This seems to be a general problem that I encounter all the time (and independent of instrument parts). A few days ago I replaced all the trim on a couple of our windows. This required taking the storm windows off and then putting them back on. They were on with short #6 screws (at least 15 years old). At one point (for fitting purposes) I wanted to use some longer ones and found some in my screw heap. I ended up not using them because they were just slightly oversize (and I didn't want to enlarge those holes). They were also Chinese made (almost everything you can get at places like Lowes is now). It's an approach of "Not quite right, but close enough for most people who don't really need exactly the right size." Maybe it's just sloppiness with the dimensions or maybe it's a result of making the products with worn cutters or machinery. But all the labels should now have "Approximately ..." preceding the size.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
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ghmerrill
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by ghmerrill » Sun Jan 13, 2019 10:02 am

Matt K wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:31 am
BGuttman wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:00 am
Isn't Schiller the one sold by Jim Laabs? If so, he does some QC on the horns so you won't get a total dog. We've had mixed opinions on him here: some have had some very good experiences and others not so good. Big problem seems to be if you want to return it.
Sort of the other way around from what I understand. Jim sells Schillers but not all Schillers come from him. But if someone knows that definitively then that would be potentially useful information one way or the other.
Two things ...

So far as I know (and I looked into it in some detail at one point), Schiller is Laabs' brand/stencil. I know of no one else who uses it, although there MAY still be a separate Schiller web site that extols the brand's history as descending from an old (19th century) German instrument manufacturer -- to which it is totally unrelated in any way whatever. Schiller/Laabs used to take a lot of crap about this some years ago on TubeNet.

I do not have any evidence that Laabs puts any effort into anything that you might call "QC". In fact, I don't really believe that any of the Chinese instrument vendors do this in any meaningful way. There is certainly NO evidence for it in the case of my three Chinese instruments (things like Packer MAY be an exception), and there was evidence inconsistent with it for each of them. Some vendors MAY "play test" an instrument before shipping it out (I think Tom McGrady says he does this), but don't count on ANY "inspection" or any results of any inspection. At least that's what appears to be the case based on my own experience.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
Tremozl
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by Tremozl » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:08 pm

They're Chinese horns from a company referred to as "Jinbao". Schiller is one of the many re-brandings of it.

I've heard some users describe them as "75% the horn for 25% of the price." This is generally true. If you get more modern productions, rather than from someone's decade-old stock, the quality will generally be better as well. The best way to do this is to order from Jinbao themselves, or from Wessex; Wessex is usually a good bit pricier but they also have a solid warranty and can probably procure replacement parts better.

I own two "Jinbao" horns, one a Bass Trombone from Karl Glaser (I think they are generally retailed by musichouse lechrain, and do stay away from him as he has no idea how to pack a horn. It arrived with warped bell.) The other I directly ordered from Jinbao through Alibaba, a Bb Contrabass Trombone. It took a very long time to have it made and shipped but arrived perfect condition and seems to be of good quality build, plus has a newer model "backpack" case that I wasn't aware of being in production.

I can't speak much for the Schiller line but there you can find quite a bit of negative reviews online of the Laab's folks' business, so I'd stay away. Going through Jinbao themselves is a bit of a headache, so my recommendation is to go through Wessex. That's where I'm going to go if I decide to pull the trigger on an Eb Cimbasso.
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by hyperbolica » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:54 pm

Schillers are produced by more than just the Jinbao company. If you research the tubas in particular, you can figure out which factories they come from. And not all the Wessex horns are available to all Jinbao customers. The real story is more complex than anyone is allowing for. Some of the horns you will get out of China generally are totally pro quality. Some are total crap. Most are copies of American or European horns. Some of the Wessex are original designs. Not all Wessex are the same quality, although I've bought 3 horns from them, and 2 were very good and one was excellent.

I doubt that any companies like Mack or Wessex send duds back. I know Wessex checks them in China before they ship. And I would guess that Mack uses poorly assembled parts for repairs/spare parts or reassembles them. Shipping is a huge waste of money, and I'd guess shipping rejected horns back to China is not worth it.

So it really comes down to testing the horn. The horn I bought from Jim Laabs was disappointing because of the customer service. Their return policy is not very good, so make sure to read it over before you buy one.

Always, the best approach is to play before you buy, but I recognize that's not always possible for everyone. Wessex has a great return policy, as does Mack Brass.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by ghmerrill » Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:50 pm

Yes. Often what you really pay higher prices for in the Chinese instrument world is not higher quality of instruments, but higher quality of customer support. This is why some people buy their Chinese instruments from companies that charge substantially more for what is basically the "same instrument". In this arena, currently a big component of the decision of whether or where to buy is your own tolerance for risk.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by Tremozl » Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:00 pm

hyperbolica wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:54 pm
Schillers are produced by more than just the Jinbao company. If you research the tubas in particular, you can figure out which factories they come from. And not all the Wessex horns are available to all Jinbao customers. The real story is more complex than anyone is allowing for. Some of the horns you will get out of China generally are totally pro quality. Some are total crap. Most are copies of American or European horns. Some of the Wessex are original designs. Not all Wessex are the same quality, although I've bought 3 horns from them, and 2 were very good and one was excellent.

I doubt that any companies like Mack or Wessex send duds back. I know Wessex checks them in China before they ship. And I would guess that Mack uses poorly assembled parts for repairs/spare parts or reassembles them. Shipping is a huge waste of money, and I'd guess shipping rejected horns back to China is not worth it.
Interesting; I wasn't aware of all those complexities. Cheers
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by lauriet » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:04 am

I worked for a company that had electronic circuit boards made in China.
My experience: Unskilled workers come from the country side, They are trained by the company and in 6 months when they have earned some money they go back home. Then the next group come in. The quality of the product dipped and rose in a 6 month cycle. Towards the end of the cycle, quality was OK. Then there was a terrible dip in quality.
Japan used to be the cheap rubbish....now they produce good quality (Yamaha)
Maybe one day china quality will be up to scratch.
Take your chances
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by Sweaty » Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:09 am

I bought the Schiller 7B copy a couple years ago. It is OK, but I should have spent a little more for the Mack. I also bought a BrassArk leadpipe for mine, but it will not fit. The Schiller's bore seems to be about .555.
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by ghmerrill » Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:42 am

That's really odd since I've had two Brass Ark lead pipes in my Shiller 7B and they both fit fine. Is it possible that when you pulled the original lead pipe some solder got left in? I haven't mic'd the bore myself, but had no problem with the lead pipes going in and out of the horn -- and I remove mine regularly when I clean the horn.

Regarding the Mack, I'm sure it's a fine horn and perhaps a bit higher quality than the Schiller. But it's not the same horn since it's a copy of the Yamaha. I tried one several years ago at the Army tuba workshop and could have had it used for a very good price. But I just somehow didn't care for how it played. I like the 7B clone better.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by Doug Elliott » Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:16 pm

Basically...
You get what you pay for.
If you want problems, buy a cheap horn.
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by JohnL » Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:38 pm

Brands like Schiller put some effort into obscuring the details of where and by whom their horns are made. Among other things, that gives them the flexibility to "shop" manufacturers. They can even divide production between multiple suppliers. It's entirely possible that Sweaty's 7B copy and ghmerrill's 7B copy weren't built in the same factory.

It's nothing new - Carl Fischer was doing it a century or so ago.

Jinbao is the pretty much the only name a lot of us know, so we tend to assume that any China-built instrument (excepting Eastman - I think they have their own facilities) came from them - but that's not necessarily the case. There's lot of companies in China building instruments.

You pays your money and you takes your chances.
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by BillO » Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:58 pm

Doug Elliott wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:16 pm
Basically...
You get what you pay for.
If you want problems, buy a cheap horn.
YES!!!

I tire of these threads that turn into China bashing threads. It's not that the cheap Chinese trombones are junk because they are Chinese, it's that they are junk because they are cheap. If you want to pay Jinbao $5,000 to build a trombone, they will build you a trombone worth $5,000. I also keep trying to point out that the nickel-silver we love so much in our favored name-brand American/UK/Euro trombones IS a cupronickel alloy!! However, it seems no one listens and y'all keep using the word 'cupronickel' like it was a profanity. :idk:

End of rant.

Actually, I have been very interested in the Schiller F contrabass. They are made by Jinbao too. Has anyone tried or bought one of these? How do they play?
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by BillO » Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:13 pm

JohnL wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:38 pm
They can even divide production between multiple suppliers. It's entirely possible that Sweaty's 7B copy and ghmerrill's 7B copy weren't built in the same factory.
In fact, the Chinese government does this. They control who produces what and they enforce multiple sources for everything. They know how to keep a market supplied.


JohnL wrote:
Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:38 pm
Jinbao is the pretty much the only name a lot of us know, so we tend to assume that any China-built instrument (excepting Eastman - I think they have their own facilities) came from them - but that's not necessarily the case. There's lot of companies in China building instruments.
Yeah, you got that right.

In addition to the stencil industry Jupiter and Yamaha also have facilities in China. I wonder who Shires use for their Q-series work? Also, I would not be surprised if some of the Conn-Selmer components come from off-shore suppliers. Then there are the JP-Rath horns...

The Chinese can and do produce quality of arbitrarily high level.
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by BGuttman » Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:45 pm

Shires is tied to Andreas Eastman (who owns them).

Eastman also owns Haynes flutes.
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by BillO » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:00 pm

Ah, yes! Right you are Bruce. That is most probably where the assembly of the Shires Q instruments is handled.
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Re: Schiller T-Bones: Give me your thoughts

Post by Leisesturm » Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:30 am

75% of the horn for 25% of the price. That sounds about right. If you are very lucky you might find a used pro horn and get 75% of the horn for 50% of the price, but with the condition of used brass instruments being so dependent on how they were treated by the first owner, there are 2nd owners getting 50% of the horn for 50% of the price. What hasn't been said by those who think the obvious takeaway is to seek the pro horn by any means necessary is "how did we come to this?".

How many of us stop to think that that screaming deal of a $1500.00 pro horn ... that was what the horn cost new! It has now had 30 years of wear and tear (possibly more, maybe much more) ... deal? And that is not taking into account what $1500 meant to a person 30 years ago. There isn't a single American, no matter what they do for a living, not doctors, lawyers ... nobody. If you WORK for someone else, you are underpaid in 2019. Period. End of story. The cost of living and inflation has steadily increased over the last five decades and many. MANY of the things we buy, especially those not essential to survival ... like musical instruments ... the prices for these have increased beyond what a strict indexing to the COL would indicate.

$4K for a pro-horn or ~$2K for a current example of that horn used (if you can find it) still represents a much larger dip into a musicians discretionary income than it would have to one 20, 30, or 50 years ago. We are reaching the limits of how much more can be done with less, and the Chinese ... actually Americans using the Chinese cheap labor infrastructure, have stepped into the breach. It was inevitable. Something had to give. And if you want even more perspective ... do some research on American and German Bassoon prices vs Chinese Bassoon prices. Do we even need to mention string instruments and what the Chinese have done there? I don't hate them. They are saving our musical lives. Literally.
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