Bell Size Tonal Characteristics

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Dutchie, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. Dutchie

    Dutchie New Friend

    Apr 11, 2010
    P.E.I., Canada
    Hey guys,

    couldn't really find anything on this, didn't really look all that hard however. I'm looking to hear from players who have first hand experience playing horns with big and small bell sizes. I'm wondering what and if there are any tonal characteristics that distinguish one from the other.

    My reason for this is purely aesthetic. I think a big bell looks really cool on a horn however I'd like to know the potential advantages/disadvantages


  2. Dutchie

    Dutchie New Friend

    Apr 11, 2010
    P.E.I., Canada
    Cool, thanks!

    Anyone else? Again, hoping to find someone with direct experience.

  3. abtrumpet

    abtrumpet Pianissimo User

    Nov 14, 2009
    But again, you should try it for yourself before you buy it (and that one is from experience)!
  4. lakerjazz

    lakerjazz Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 10, 2006
    Just a thought based on how trumpets have been historically designed: I remember reading somewhere on here that cornets didn't project enough in loud bars and what not when jazz started becoming popular. That's around the time when those small bell pea-shooters with super-edge and projection started coming out. I'm sure there's more to it (something about the way the bore is shaped), but I'd say that small bells would focus the sound a little more- in other words, they'd be more directional with their projection and "laser-like"
  5. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    I have just done a comparison between my 1931 Conn 58B with a bell of 4-1/4" dia and 1957 Conn 38B with a 5-1/8' dia. Both have a bore of .438"
    The 58 weighs 2lb 3oz and the 38 2lb 8oz and a completely different build between the two.

    The test was done in the largest room in the house, 15x 25' with a sound level meter to hold a constant level of 100 db throughout the test. Played the range low G to G above high C. ( could not achieve that sound level above high C )

    The 38B seemed louder, ie giving more feedback to the player and in the middle register brighter although from G on top of the stave they sounded the same to me ( considerable high frequency hearing loss ).

    Hope this makes some sense.:play:
    Regards, Stuart.
  6. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Stuart provided some valuable insight. I hope you will pay very close attention to his results. That is the first time I have seen any sort of analytical study of the differences that he notes.

    The conventional wisdom - AKA guesses - is that the placement of the braces, the radius of the tuning slide, the distance of the valve cluster from the player's face, etc. all make a significant difference to the amount of feedback that comes to the player.

    Also, the shape of the bell pipe as it tapers into the flare and the bell (i.e, "fast taper" vs "slow taper" will have a significant effect on the tonal quality. One reason (but only one of many) that flugelhorns have the sound they do is because of the slow taper going into a very large bell. But, that doesn't mean a trumpet with a slow taper and big bell will sound like a flugelhorn.

    I hope this makes things clear.
  7. nieuwguyski

    nieuwguyski Forte User

    Aug 9, 2004
    Santa Cruz County, CA
    It sounds like you're talking about how large the final bell diameter is, which has nothing to do with the bell taper. Calicchio has made six-inch diameter trumpet bells in the past, and I'm sure they can put that diameter on any bell they make.

    I remember reading something John Duda (owner of Calicchio) wrote on the subject a few years ago. To paraphrase: all other things being the same, the final diameter of a trumpet bell affects the projection pattern. A smaller diameter has a narrower projection pattern -- think "laser beam." A larger diameter has a wider projection pattern.

    Duda mentioned a trumpet Calicchio had just made for a player in a rock band, with a six-inch (1S) bell. He commented that many players would probably find that diameter too big, and the resulting sound too "spread," but that the particular player the trumpet was made for was a very big guy and a very powerful player with a focused sound, so it worked.
  8. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    This is the worst possible use of the internet!

    Information is not knowledge.

    In another thread I wrote:
    We must be certain that we make judgements based on the current situation, and our own experience, rather than broadcasting the possibly out-of-date comments we have overheard.

    What are the qualifications of the unidentified person who wrote this quoted answer?
    What evidence is given to support this claim?
    What was the experimental method?
    Can anybody else duplicate these results?

    Come on guys, let's get real. If this question has any validity, it must be answered from experience working with several identical bells on identical horns. The bell diameter is just where the bell maker has decided to trim the bell before installation of the bell bead. The bells can be made on the same bell mandrel. You want 5" you get 5", you want 4 3/4" you get 4 3/4". From my experience as a trumpet builder, this dimensional choice makes very little difference.

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