Archive for the ‘Trumpet’ Category

I’ve got a screw loose

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

I opened my closet door a month ago and found that the handle was loose.

Looking closer I see that the screws are a bit loose and need to be tightened. Today I went to open the closet door, as I have every day for the past month, and guess what? It’s still got screws loose. The handle wiggles, and it’s exactly the way it was last month when I discovered this. Maybe it was six months ago, to be honest I’m not sure how long it’s been this way. It’s my own lack of motivation that keeps this problem from changing. I know it’s not going to fix itself but for some reason I can’t bring myself to change the situation.
Two weeks ago I was in Bern Switzerland listening to Ian test equipment I’d hand carried over from Elkhorn WI. Comparing equipment I started hearing a click, or maybe it was a clack. We continued to play test and the click and clack continued from the depths of his 4147IB. It was not going away!

Knowing that I’m the guy that’s supposed to be able to fix things I decided to stop ignoring the sound and I dove in.

Looking over the instrument carefully, I quickly decided that the issue was not from anywhere but the rotor area. Ian was clear in saying that it’s been doing “this” for a while and he’s not sure where the sound is coming from. After two minutes I find a rotor screw that holds down his stop arm has backed out a couple thousandths and is making the annoying noise. After grabbing a screw driver and remembering that old principle “righty tighty” the sound magically goes away.

What was left after this turning of the screw was nothing but music, and resonance. Sometimes all it takes is the initiative to not ignore the problem.
Please don’t tell my wife I wrote this blog, she might make me actually fix that closet door.

Raw Vs Refined

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Man, I can’t get rid of the sugar references but I promise this will be the last…

Yesterday I was picked up by a friend in a Subaru WRX STI which is a small little rocket ship of a car that handles like a modified go cart. As we accelerated onto the interstate I was pushed into the door from the G forces of the all-wheel drive connecting us to the road. The road noise could be heard, and every little road inconsistency felt through the car. I started comparing in my head this ride to a BMW 335D I get to ride in.

Both are capable, performance wise, of doing more than you could ever do on the road legally. They both get the job done quite well, but the BMW is a bit more refined in the approach.

Thinking of instruments that people play, and what they are after brought this full circle in my head. Many times the instruments that people want handle like these sport cars, but how they get there can be quite a difference in experience during the performance.

The handling if a bit tight can lead you exactly where you put the note, for better or worse. If the response is a bit soft in the handling the excitement of the experience can be lost as well.

Maybe it’s time to go for a drive and think about this a bit more…

Decompress

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

When your leadpipe-to-mouthpiece relationship is correct, a couple of magical things can happen.

The lips inside the mouthpiece can actually relax and buzz more freely since the leadpipe and mouthpiece are providing the correct amount of compression for your body.

This allows the resonance to be more complete and relaxed. Imagine if you could just focus on the music and decompress…

No more sugar!

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

I’m a coffee snob, but I haven’t always been. I used to buy my coffee based on fancy labels. I’d load it down with sugar and creamer, masking the acidity, the lack of flavor, or the burnt aftertaste.

Then I started roasting my own coffee beans. I quickly found that I had a better product than anything available to me in southeastern Wisconsin. I now drink my coffee naked. It has flavor without the fillers.

I never knew that what I’d been drinking for decades was of such low quality.

I think a lot of musicians can experience the same thing with their instruments. When a horn doesn’t work for them, they add creamers and sweeteners, trying to overcome their instruments’ underlying problems. Tension creeps in. Intonation suffers. Sound quality and resonance are less than what they could be.

They’ve never experienced what is possible with an instrument that is completely natural for them.

Our main goal is to fine-tune instruments for our customers. We strive to achieve a balance of sound, color, resonance, and clarity. Many times this can be accomplished in a single visit. But we do have customers that visit from more regularly, staying on top of their changing needs.

It might be time to take a look at your horn and everything you’re adding to it to make it work for you. I’m not saying sugar is bad. Well, yes I am.

First Date

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

I see people having their first date with a new instrument, if not daily, certainly weekly.

From the time an individual walks through the Edwards door you can almost sense their anticipation, for that first look .

Walking into the room can be a bit intimidating at first, until you realize that it’s not a big deal to have this first date. You can always walk away without any emotional or bank account scars.

Now it’s time to play. First instinct is to push the boundaries and see what this new relationship can be, but alas first the customary warm up to find the boundaries of sound and partial feel. Too wide? Too narrow? Too much Compression? Too little and all of a sudden you’re falling into the horn wondering if you’ve wasted your day travelling to all places, Elkhorn Wisconsin.

That is until, you find something that’s intriguing.

“Wait, this feels so natural my face is relaxing”. There’s depth of sound in the low register, while my face is not aching with fatigue in the upper register. Where have you been all my life? Why haven’t I had you in my arms before today?

One of the saddest things, is to see the look on the player’s face once this moment has happened. Often, they will glance sadly at their previous relationship sitting on an instrument stand as it has, so faithfully, in the past. The two try not to look at each other knowing it’s for the best, that this new relationship, that started with this innocent first date, has turned into something more. More that was never possible in their previous relationship.

Paul Tynan Fitting, Part 2

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

We recently posted the first video in a series featuring Christan and Paul Tynan in a fitting session. In part two, they work on matching the tuning slide to the valves and leadpipe. Part three is coming soon.

Acidity and Your Horn

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

In our latest video, Christan discusses ways to prevent your horn from needing costly repairs caused by high acid levels in your skin. Really. We aren’t making this up.

Christan and Paul Tynan Demonstrate a Fitting

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

The fear of the unknown can keep us from trying new things. I can remember worrying about algebra when I got to high school. I’d heard so many people complain about it that I was sure it was going to destroy me, but it didn’t. My son is afraid of new vegetables. The first time he tried spinach was in a spinach and cheese dip (we fooled him). He loved it so much that he has no problem eating spinach by itself now.

The idea of buying a custom instrument can feel like eating spinach or taking an algebra test to some of you. I’ve been in the booth at many shows where someone will pick up a horn, play a note and put it back down. At that point I usually ask if I can help. “No thanks. These horns have too many options. I wouldn’t know where to start.” Those of you that have gone through the fitting process know better. We don’t just throw a pile of parts at you and ask you to choose. Instead we ask a lot of the same question: “Better or worse?” We don’t tell you what you’re playing. Ideally, we’d turn off all the lights or blindfold you so you’d have to rely entirely on your ears. But we’re worried about those of you with less-than-awesome coordination or vertigo.

To better demonstrate the fitting process, Paul Tynan agreed to be our lab rat in this abbreviated session. Thanks to Michael Clobes for filming and editing the video. Christan did some stuff, too.

Superbrass CD Now Available

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Superbrass has just released Under the Spell of Spain, a CD of Spanish-inspired music for brass and percussion. Roger Argente is the executive producer and also the group’s bass/contrabass trombonist. Other musicians include Mike Allen, Philip Cobb, Roby Coles, Mike Lovatt, Jim Lynch, Paul Mayes, Brian Thompson, Adam Wright, Chris Parkes, Matthew Gee, Mike Hext, Phil White, Andy Wood, Kevin Morgan, Andy Barclay, Paul Clarvis, Michael Doran, Matt Perry, Frank Riccott and Mike Smith.

We’ve heard the CD, and our unbiased, objective opinion is that you need to own it. The brass (and percussion) playing is phenomenal! Watch the video below and we’ll think you’ll agree. And be sure to follow Superbrass on Facebook.

Graham Ashton Travels, Records

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Trumpet artist Graham Ashton just returned from France where he performed and recorded with
Michäel Matthes, organist at Troyes Cathedral. The resulting CD – In Recital – features the following works:

  • Musique pour Le Vent du Nord
    Josquin des Prez, arr. Ashton
  • Parts Upon a Ground
    Henry Purcell, arr. Ashton
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor
    J.S. Bach
  • Sonata in F
    G.F. Handel, arr. Ashton
  • Carillon de Westminster
    Louis Vierne
  • Sonata for trumpet and organ
    Roger Steptoe (premiere recording)
  • Toccatas in g minor and e minor
    Johann Pachelbel
  • Fantasia Upon a Ground after Purcell
    Graham Ashton (premiere recording)

Matthes and Ashton

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