Alaska Pro Horns

Discussion in 'Horns' started by Tootsall, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    OK folks.... what is the general consensus on these horns? Many of us have seen the website and we've watched the auctions over the last few years. Certainly they seem to do a great job appearance-wise. But what about the playability of their "recycled" trumpets?

    Has anyone actually purchased or at least tried one of their trumpets? Did it play as expected? Was it different from what the "original" would have played? Do you feel that there is good quality for the price?

    How about their overhaul/repair service for customer-owned horns? What are the experiences? Good? Bad? Ugly? Indifferent? How and why?

    I must admit that I've long admired the appearance of their product but wondered if it's good value for the price and how they play.
     
  2. Happy Canuck

    Happy Canuck Piano User

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    Oct 31, 2003
    Toronto, ON Canada
    Ed, my last 2 horns were from Malcolm at Alaska Brass. I got an Olds Ambassador and a Super. He always overhauls the horns and both were impressive. His shipping is excellent and he uses Borodi Music near Cleveland for the overhauls.

    After seeing all the great pics of his finished horns on eBay and his site I sent an eBay Olds Recording to Borodi for overhaul. Great work, excellent job and fantastic price.

    I'm certainly 'sold' on Alaska, but lately his starting prices have been pretty high and not many have had bids. I'd suggest that people who want an Olds keep watching his auctions for better starting prices, you won't be sorry if you win!
     
  3. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Bill, how about the SOUND of the horns? The tuning? Were they affected by overbuffing and subsequent metal thinning? Were (are) the horns in tune with themselves as they should be? Are the valves "what you expect"? (Any idea who does the serious valve work for them?)

    And, on the Olds...did they do that leadpipe conversion that is reputed to be the "greatest thing since sliced bread"? I believe its one of the Bach leadpipes that is reputed to "make magic" with an Ambassador?

    Bottom line...do you seriously believe that you have a pro-quality (in all respects) horn for a decent price? Is the VALUE there? (aside from any "museum" or "collector" considerations).

    Ed

    ps...good to see you again....let's get together in chat sometime when the world has slowed down a little.
     
  4. Happy Canuck

    Happy Canuck Piano User

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    Oct 31, 2003
    Toronto, ON Canada
    The horns sound great! The Super is certainly a lead horn, it has that extra sparkle. I'm still astounded with the Ambassador. An Ambassador was the first horn I ever owned, back in 196X. This one has a great sound, great valves and I got it relatively cheap! Another Toronto Olds collector (starting out actually) came over and I had the complete 'family' out and he adored the '61 Recording, liked the '39 Super and '67 Ambassador, wasn't too impressed with the '65 Special and drooled over my '65 Mendez (his first Olds acqusition) and '62 Opera cornet.

    The thing that impressed me about Borodi is their prep work, all the engraving is sharp and clear no over buffing. And excellent lacquer jobs. The valves on the Super had been redone and are perfect, and Olds valves last well anyway. I just cleaned 5 Ambassadors that my band had purchased in 59/early 60s and most had been 'sleeping' for a number of years. They all cleaned up internally and valve wise and play great, a standard for Olds.

    None of the 'Alaska' horns have had the leadpipe changed, all orginal and in great condition.

    BOTTOM LINE: yes, from the Ambassador to the Mendez they are all damn good horns. The top end horns, Recording, Opera and Mendez are certainly Pro Horns. I consider the others are too but that's just cuz I collect Olds. I got some 'cheaply' and after a refurb they look like new and didn't break the bank. I'd certainly recommend George Borodi, great work, quick turnaround and really realistic prices. With all this Olds selection I don't pick up my Schilke as much as I should, but still get it out every couple of weeks.

    So I guess next I should look for a Custom BUT I had one and it wasn't really a great horn. Poor valves and horrible silver plating. I'd be very very careful of the '75+ Olds horns too.

    Have a great holiday Ed, I imagine that you have lots of snow already. Not much yet in Toronto and it should be >0 for Xmas!
     
  5. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    "Lots of snow"...hmmm...... yellow/brown grass, NO snow, and temperatures of around 50 degrees F. Yeah...sure...right. Come on Bill... you remember Southern Alberta? "If you don't like the weather, stick around 5 minutes 'cause it's about to change. LOL

    (Still, it makes putting lights up outside really easy!)

    Thanks for the response on the Alaska horns...thats the kind of info I was looking for. Question: You have to ship your horns "back and forth" across the border.... what method do you use and does it allow you to avoid any unnecessary duty? (I presume that you would have to pay duty or at least GST on the invoice for the repairwork?)

    Ed
     
  6. djm6701

    djm6701 Pianissimo User

    I'm the fellow that went to see Bill's horns. The fit and finish on the Alaska Brass/Borodi work appears to be excellent and the horns play wonderfully. I was most surprised with the Ambassador and how well it played. I agree with Bill's earlier post that some of the prices are currently a bit over the top. Alaska Pro Horns beat me out in an ebay auction for a 1940's Super (Serial #20976) with the brass tone ring for $411 so it will be interesting to see what happens to the price when the horn reappears for sale.

    Dave M.

    1959 Olds Recording
    1959 Olds Studio
    1960 Olds Mendez
    1968 Olds Ambassador
     
  7. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

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    Nov 27, 2003
    Denver
    Anybody got an URL for these people?
     
  8. Happy Canuck

    Happy Canuck Piano User

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    Oct 31, 2003
    Toronto, ON Canada
    Alaska Pro Brass http://home.gci.net/~ercoilcorp/index.htm
    Borodi Music http://www.borodimusic.com/

    And Tootsall, When I won the Recording it was in the states so I had it sent directly to Borodi. When finished Borodi had it hand carried by one of their regulars to Buffalo and I just drove down to get it. There is no duty on the horns, only GST (unless you go to Shelby and send/receive it there??!! :wink:)
     
  9. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    Nope, no duty there either. To tell you the truth, however..the difference in the price between expedited courier to Canada, and regular "US to US" courier to Shelby and then having to drive down, cross the border, pay the $5 "warehouse fee", then reclear the border and drive all the way back is virtually negligible. On the Getzen cornet which I bought off Ebay from a vendor whom I'd dealt with in the past located in Florida, I think I paid $40 for expedited courier (that fee INCLUDES customs brokerage service fee which can be as much as $20 or so by itself) so it worked out OK for me.

    On top of that, the courier depot where I picked the horn up happens to be "on my way" home from work as well. I figured the extra few bucks were worth the convenience.
     
  10. W Scott

    W Scott Piano User

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    Dec 8, 2003
    Carson City, NV.
    My new horn from Alaska Pro Horn is here. I bought a Constellation 38B and it arrived here yesterday. So, here are my impressions of the horn:

    Fit and Finish:
    Overall, very good. The engraving is clear and crisp, the plating overall is good. I just have two problems with the finish. On the leadpipe brace to the second valve, there is a blemish. I think it's lacquer, but it might be solder. It's quite noticable and about the size of a girls pinky fingernail. The tuning slides top collar (the side facing out) has a dent in it also about the same size as the other blemish. If you get the horn in good, strong light you can see very tiny, pinpoint size 'dips' in the finish. I wondered if it would be possible to restore a horn back to 'new' finish and I'm beginning to think that it's not. Anyway, Alaska said I could send the horn back to have it fixed.

    The only other noticable faults are a very sticky second valve, which might be fixable with more playing and more lubricant. I also noticed that the spring for the spit valve on the tuning slide is rather weak and probably should be replaced to keep the horn from leaking.

    Playablility----
    I'd describe it as 'very good'. I've always heard how big the bells were and how heavy these horns are. So, I found it surprising that the bell on my Director Cornet is bigger, and the cornet seems to be just as heavy. The Constellation has more of the weight in that long bell, but on the whole the two horns feel about the same.

    I was also surprised to find that the 'feel' of playing the Constellation is much the same as for my Director. The Constellation doesn't get tight as you go above the staff and has a really good high register which the Director doesn't.

    The sound is just beautiful. Rich, solid, slightly dark and sweet. The bell resonates very well and projects beautifully. What surprised me is that although the feedback is good, there is still more sound coming out of the bell than what is coming back. I was also surprised that there isn't much sound going to the sides---the sound seems to either 'wash back' or project out the front of the horn.

    As far as I can tell, using a tuned piano, the Constellation plays in tune. I tuned it to an electronic tuner for 'Bb', which it matched easily.

    So, am I happy with the horn? Basically yes, although I'm still not sure if those two, small blemishes are worth quibbling over. It's a beautiful horn with a great sound and for just under $700 with shipping/handling, it seems to me to be a really great value.

    Bill
     

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