Calicchio Bells - Which one is right for me ?

Discussion in 'Horns' started by Larry Gianni, Jan 15, 2004.

  1. Larry Gianni

    Larry Gianni Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Here are a couple of questions I get asked a lot:
    "What Calicchio bell would be the best for this kind
    of playing situation ", or "For my first Calicchio,
    what bell would you recommend?"
    Well, what I usually respond is to describe what I
    think the different Calicchio bells are best suited
    for and let the players make up their minds as to what
    kind of playing they do most.
    > As you well know, every part of a trumpet is a
    > compromise when trying to get the best playing
    > trumpet for your primary playing situation. (The
    > goes for a mouthpiece when trying to match up rim,
    > cup, throat, backbore and gap.)
    > If one trumpet did everything from classical to
    > lead to jazz to rock to section playing extremely
    > well, then most of us wouldn't have more than one
    > trumpet in the closet (and a drawer full of
    > mouthpieces.)
    > Here's my take on the different Calicchio bells and
    > what I think they do best. I must also say this
    > description is using a either #2 or #7 leadpipe.
    > Using a #3 or #9 leadpipe will magnify the playing
    > even further. I'll try to describe how the
    > different alloys affect the bells as far as how they
    > play in the customary brass setting in another
    > topic.

    > #1 Bell -
    > The #1 bell is fashioned after Dominick's first
    > bell design in the 40's which is the found on the >
    "Superior " trumpets that pop up time to time on
    > action sites and trumpet forums. This was modeled
    > after the Besson brevete bell of the 40's, as were
    > most of the other trumpet brands (Bach, Benge,
    > Martin, Conn, Selmer,etc.) of the day. It has the
    > traditional narrow flair at the bell (like the
    > French-made Bessons and Selmers) which give you a
    > very concentrated sound. In this day and age, this
    > kind of commercial sound is a little dated unless
    > you are using a large leadpipe , large bore or
    > mouthpiece backbore that would compensate for the
    > directional sound it gets.
    > After the late 60's, when Calicchio went to the bell
    > numbering system, this bell model was mainly used on
    > there " C " trumpet which it worked great on, giving
    > the Calicchio " C " trumpet a very picturesque and
    > majestic tone quality. Mostly all the Calicchio "C"
    trumpets were sold to the major orchestra players
    > of Europe who were willing to break the traditional
    > " Bach " type-cast that the American players were
    > not.
    > 1s Bell -
    > As most commercial players well know, this is the
    > bell that is synonymous with Calicchio and Calicchio
    > trumpets. It was developed in the very early 60's
    > for getting a larger sound than the #1 bell that was
    > better suited for the recording industry and the
    > large Hollywood contract orchestras that wanted a
    > wider, larger sound, but still needed to cut thru
    > the everyone to get picked up by the microphones
    > that were usually situated at the front of the
    > recording halls. This bell is what gave the
    > industry what came to be known as the "West Coast
    > trumpet sound". It was bigger and brassier. It had
    more overtones and great presence. It was also easier
    to bend and manipulate to get the intensity necessary
    to play diverse music in the same score ala Henry
    Mancini or Lalo Schifrin (sp?).

    > Then when the age of " Rock and Roll and R and B"
    > took hold, and electrified bands started to use
    > trumpets in small horn sections, as in the case of
    > " Phil Spector's Wall of Sound ", The Beatles (and
    > similar bands ) or Motown and players like
    > Chuck Findley , Paul Hubinon , Ollie Mitchell ,
    > Steve Madaio, etc., these small horn sections really
    started to put the "sizzle " into the trumpet
    sound---all using Dominick's now famous 1s bell---they
    realized that the 1s bell not only projected extremely
    well in live circumstances, but produced a huge range
    of overtones that the microphones loved and that could
    also counter the ever-increasing use of electric

    > The 1s bell is still the dominant bell (sound) in
    > this type of recording situation, not only on the
    > West Coast, but internationally. Japan is still a
    > huge market for Calicchio trumpets with a 1s bell
    > even though Yamaha , a Japanese company, puts out a
    > fine product at probably half the cost of a
    > Calicchio on their own soil.

    > #2 Bell -
    > This bell is really the most overlooked bell in
    > the commercial trumpet industry. It's a sleeper that
    > should get greater recognition. The bell has a
    > slightly bigger flare than the 1s and is what I like
    > to call the "live trumpet", Vegas-type sound. It has
    > the same gorgeous characteristics as the 1s---it's
    big and brassy yet still compact enough to cut
    > thru the band. It's perfect for live shows, with
    > minimal amplification where you might have to fill a
    > hall, play a Broadway show or live musical revue,
    > play with a gospel choir or acoustical performance
    > or just like to play farther down in the section at
    > times.
    > . Noted players who preferred the 2 bell are Walt
    > Johnson, lead player for Elvis and Frank Sinatra,
    > Tony Farrell, lead trumpet for Andy Williams and
    > Johnny Gans, Bobby Findley, Bobby Bryant, etc. Also,
    > if you use a tighter than average backbore and
    > shallow cup, but still wanted a large volume of
    > sound with wider coverage and great projection, then
    > this bell would work perfectly.
    > I have a Walt Johnson set-up of a 3 leadpipe and 2 B
    > bell,(along with others ) and the sound is big,
    > fat, and projecting without being overly directional
    > and cutting. This is the perfect trumpet for the
    > times you need to really "sing" through the
    instrument and blend with your surroundings, but still
    have that great Calicchio sound presence. If you like
    Wayne Bergeron's trumpet, then a #2 bell may be your
    answer in a Calicchio with a #3 or #2 ldp ( Bach 25 ish ) or a #7
    or #9 ldp. ( Bach 43 ish )
    > Word on the #3 bell and the different alloys and what they do to the sound ( overtone series ) next time,

  2. Trumpet Player

    Trumpet Player New Friend

    #3 Bell?

    Hi Larry:

    I'm interested in learning about the Calicchio #3 bell
    (classic/standard weight- or lightweight bells).

    You gave such great descriptions about the 1s and 2 bells.

    Can you give us your take on the #3?

    And please compare it to the others. I know it's described as a larger darker sounding bell, but you seem to really know how to describe the fine specifics and details.

    It doesn't seem to be as popular as the classic 1s.

    Can you suggest the leadpipes that you think work good with the #3 bell and why.

    Whenever you get a chance, maybe my post will bring this to the top.

  3. Trumpet Player

    Trumpet Player New Friend


    Here is the thread Larry.
  4. Larry Gianni

    Larry Gianni Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Calicchio #3 bell

    OK trumpet player , here’s round one:

    The #3 Calicchio bell

    I have to say, for me personally I love this bell. When you play it, there seems to be no way to make this bell play , on any bore trpt or with any leadpipe , large or small, sound nasal, tight , constricted , small or piercing.
    The gorgeous sound holds together when playing at a " whisper " or " full, boost vertical " in a horn section or Big Band. That’s why I love this bell. The sound you get when you play is always full, broad, commanding. “This bell just can’t help it self “

    This bell has been used by top pros in every commercial trumpet capacity.
    Here's a list off the top of my head , I know I'm leaving some player out, but here goes:

    Freddie Hubbard – Jazz Artist – Large Bore #3 bell / #9 pipe

    Lee Thornburg - Trumpet Player on “ The Tonight Show “ - Medium Large Bore #3 bell / #7 pipe

    Eric Mirashrio – Lead trumpet Extraordinarie – Large Bore #3l bell / #9 pipe ( this was during his tenure with the Buddy Rich and Woody Herman Bib Bands – Ld. Trpt. )

    Jason Carter – Lead trumpet “ Gloria Estefon and the Miami Sound Machine “ - Tulsa Calicchio exclusive designed trumpet … #3L Bell / # 3 leadpipe

    Don Ellis - recording artist - ML bore #3 bell / #2 leadpipe ( before his signature Holton line )

    Don Fagerquist
    – Jazz Artist – Medium Large #3B bell / # 2 leadpipe

    Steve Reid – Lead trumpet Maynard Ferguson, KC and the Sunshine band – Tulsa Calicchio Medium Large #3 bell, 3 pipe

    Conrad Gozzo – LA Studio player - LB #3B / Custom leadpipe

    Johnny Coppola – Lead player for 50’s Herman and Kenton big Bands – LB #3B bell / Custom leadpipe:

    Arturo Sandoval was actually coming to the Hollywood shop at the time Duda and I were there and did play a Calicchio LB trumpet with #3 bell / #2 and #9 leadpipe for a while in-between his Schilke X3/B1 days and the his now signature Leblanc trumpet.

    Calicchio could not offer Arturo what a "Leblanc / Holton "could at that time. ( or any other time for that matter ) and he told Irma he sadly had to stop playing his Gold Plated Calicchio anymore in public.That also hold true for Phil Driscoll and his now deal with Leblanc.
    Phil played a Calicchio for many years.

    Sidenote: Johnny Coppola – Trumpet Player extraordinaire

    While playing lead trumpet for Stan Kenton in the 50’s, a young trumpet player by the name of Maynard Ferguson who was on the band, gave John one of the trumpets he had just got from the Martin Factory. John was playing lead trumpet at the time and Maynard the 3rd ( or scream ) chair.
    It was the now famous Martin Committee (Deluxe) Large bore #3. , a very sought after trumpet today. Maynard had pick out a couple from the factory ( he was looking for a replacement for his Conn 38B which seem to “ lock “ in the notes in the upper register to hard and wasn’t giving him the fluid sound he need in the high register for his now “ Kenton / Maynard features “ that required him to play long melodies in the upper register infront of the Kenton band as features… remember the tune “ Maynard Ferguson “ on the 195O’s Ed Sullivan show that featured “ The Boss “) and was kind enough to give John one.

    Growing up in San Francisco, I had the pleasure of taking lessons with John (in the late 70’s) and he still had that Martin #3 in his possession and played it beautifully. He relayed the story to me himself of Maynard generosity. Now in the year 2004, I’m told John still plays this trumpet with patches on top of patches and gets the most beautiful big, wide, full, gorgeous sound out of it. He also still plays the Gozzo Copy Bert Herrick mouthpiece with it.

    He’s the type of guy that when you took a 1 hour lesson with him, it would last closer to a 3 hr lessons and then he took you out for lunch after. Real “Old School “, Mentoring Charm. This would happen week after week without fail. He also taught another one of SF’s young trumpet players , Jon Faddis ..Hummm, I wonder what ever happened to him?

    Back to the #3 bell

    Why I brought up the Martin Deluxe Committee #3 LB bell was the Calicchio # 3 bell was fashion after this legendary bell. (Dominic Calicchio was part of the legendary “Committee “that brought the Martine Committee Deluxe and it revolutionary stepped-bore design to market for the Martin Company in the 40’s. The others in the 4 man Committee were V. Bach, E. Binge and F.E. Olds …. Behold “ The Committee “ ) I’m told by players that were pro’s in that era , that so many legendary players came to Dominic and asked for a trumpet that had this and the Besson Meha bell design, with it’s unique power and sound , but played and responded like a Calicchio , that Dominic copied the Martin #3 bell plus the Besson Meha taking the best from both in a combined design and then slightly improved on the design using the top studio / lead players of the day as his testers. Maynard’s Holton is also fashioned after the Martin LB bell.

    The Calicchio #3 bell’s sound is a very fluid, lyrical, yet commanding quality to it. You can even say somewhat “ French Hornish " “ the way it lets you connect the notes in both the lower and upper register so easily together, in fast flourishes and runs, with great a big sound quality to every individual note. The slots in the upper register are very close so moving around is made very easy so a singing quality comes to your playing when called upon got play long phrases in that arena.

    The best way to describe it sound is to imagine a beautiful, long expensive “String of Pearls “. Each pearl is a beauty to behold as an individual creation with its intense color shining effervescently and intensely, yet strung them all together, it becomes even more magnificent, yet different than the one individual pearl of the impact it makes on the beholder. That is how I can describe the sound of a #3 bell, holding one big beautiful whole note is a strong, intense, powerful auditory experience, but when you string together a climactic run from middle C to Double C, or things of that nature musically that also has a gret impact on you ears because you get the intensity of the flurry, yet the impact of each and every note, just like the expensive “String of Pearls†gives you visually.

    More to come on the # 3 bell and its special qualities.
  5. Trumpet Player

    Trumpet Player New Friend


    Thanks so much Larry for your description. I'm gonna look into this bell myself. Very interesting.

    Thanks again, much appreciated. :D

    Take care,
  6. Trumpet Player

    Trumpet Player New Friend

    By the way...

    What does the "L" stand for in model configurations like the 3L bell?

    "Large"? I guess "B" is for bronze bell but it doesn't say on the Calicchio web site. It just calls a #3 bell a #3 bell. No descriptions for a 3L and such. I do see the descriptions for the light weight and heavy bells.

    Just wondering. I know you have described in the past that the "L" on the leadpipes are the marking point that the mandrel is used in making the pipe to make the opening tighter or more open, so say a "2L" will have a different cut and feel than a stock #2 pipe.

    Are the bells like this to?

    Also regarding Phil Driscoll, I thought he was playing a Calicchio for awhile.
    What model configuration was he using?

    Just curious. Thanks.
  7. Larry Gianni

    Larry Gianni Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Los Angeles

    On Calicchio Bells the " L " stands for lightweight. The original ( flat brass sheets ) material used for the bell is quite a bit thinner than the one's used for a normal Calicchio bell - roughly .010" . Dominic made these as a " Special / Custom" bell , like the " B " bell when ordered by a speciic person. Remember, when Dominic was alive an running the Hollywood shop, it was mainly " walk-in " traffic and orders. No music stores or " internet " sales.

    I think I mentioned that he had dealers only in certain parts of the country who distributeed about 3 - 4 Calicchio at a time in their area.
    dominic had Jerry Callet in New York ( I love that guy, he is so passionate and energetic about the trumpet and trumpet players and had the " balls " to bring his fine line of trumpets and pieces to the market in '86 I believe, no small feat to accomplish), I believe Don Thomas in Texas ( a top studio quality lead trumpet player also the father of legendary John Thomas ) , Jos Klief in the Netherlands , Simeon Christoff in Australia and a man by the name of Nonaka in Japan.

    On Calicchio leadpipes , the " L " stand for "Large ". The opening on the leadpipe is .004 " approx. larger than the normal cut. This is not " swedged " or " reamed " larger but actually cut at a different mark on the mandrill that Dominic had set for the " L " cut. There is also an " S " cut - small .

    Each individual original mandrill ( 1 thru 10 ) have these " Dominic Calicchio " marks/lines to signify the cut of the finished leadpipe and it's venturi opening as designated by a " S " cut , normal and " L " cut after the leadpipe number.

    So in essence 10 different, original Calicchio leadpipes , 3 openings possible for each taper ... making 30 different leadpipes in all that are possible.

    " S " cut - small
    " L " cut - large

    The 3L and the 9S are some of my favorite pipes. The 7s and 2s were also popular pipe's in Dominic's time.

    John Harner ( famous Kenton lead trumpet featured on the" Fergusonish " trumpet solo on Stan Kenton's rendition of " Send in the Clowns " - 1974 ) plays a 2S pipe ( so does Bobby Findley - " The Gong Show , Tijuana Brass) on their 1s/2s Med. large Calicchio's.


    PS - I'll call Phil and ask what configuration bell/leadpipe he ended up with after some changes he made thru the yeas. I'll get back to you on that.
  8. Trumpet Player

    Trumpet Player New Friend

    Thanks Larry...

    Thanks Larry for your time.

    Take care. :D
  9. Larry Gianni

    Larry Gianni Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Los Angeles
    More on the #3 bell

    More on the #3 bell;

    what I described about the #3 bell and what it can is I think an accurate description of this bell. Now , say all that , the #3 bell , because of the large flair, with be able to give you a great deal of volume and expression, but it will not project like the 1s or #2 bell.

    Every part of a trumpet ( let's add mouthpieces to this also ) is a slight compromise of another factor. What the player has to do is figure out whats the most important feature he/she needs in equipment , and it's subsequent parts, and what the player is willing to give up or work harder to achieve.

    As far as a modern day lead trumpet sound , the 1s would give you the best projection and cutting power thru a big band or pops / variety band situation, especially if your in an acoustic situation.

    If you notice , the power and volume you get with the #3 bell usually is best suited when you have some form of amplification to help cut and project either in a small goup in a club, rock-type horn section where volume is necesarry , or when your mouthpiece will give you more core ( tighter backobre , shallow cup , etc. ) to your sound and ofset some of the spreead you get with a large belled trumpet.

    Mic Gillette of Tower of Power fame , used a Martin Committe Largebore #3 trumpet , which is a bell comparible to the Calicchio #3 , ( Bill Lamb did also ) for the broad sound ,volume and comfort that the Martin bell could give him. In his playing situation , projection ,cutting thru other acoustic instruments or filling a room accoustically, was not a part of his erformances he had to worried about. Volume , a big, broad sound, and ease of playing in the upper register ( he used a Jet Tone studio D - 24 throat ) on the long musical lines that seemed to repeat and repeat was Mic's cryteria for an instrument sound and feel. Mic played a Burbank Benge 3x plus on the first 3 albums by the group before his Martin LB switch ( he also had a 6" bell custom made and installed by Dick Akright of Bel-Canto fame. The Burbank Benge also had a 6" holton bell installed on the Burbank Benge)

    Now, if your playing a large ballroom, both in a section or playing lead, and the music is more geared for dancing and easy listening, then a #3 bell would allow you to sign over the band , or support the lead player ,with a lyrical, fluid sound, but not be too penetrating or out of character.

  10. Trumpet Player

    Trumpet Player New Friend


    Thanks Larry:

    So based on your golden info this is what I have distiled from it,
    tell me if I'm on the right track:

    So with or without amplification, if I use a Calicchio trumpet with a #3 bell and a mouthpiece that is shallow and has a slightly tighter taper in the backbore, and not too big a throat (say like drill bit size 25-27) would this help me project to the back wall in the same manner as if my Calicchio horn had a 1s on it, and still give the #3's sound along with the projection to the back wall?

    Basically what I'm asking is will a higher compression mouthpiece equalize or as you say "offset" the biggness of the bell and give me the cut projection and far throw that a 1s would have?

    Also from my reading about the Calicchio leadpipes: will my choice of lead pipe that I marry to my #3 bell have an effect on "projection" and cutting through like a 1s?

    Say like a #7 which is a bit tighter and I think a bit more concentraited and focused slotting than the #2 or #9 pipes, or even the #3 pipe would help with the big bell to help in the far throw projection department.

    So far Larry I'm leaning towards a standard weight horn (Calicchio calls it the classic or regular design or weight), medium large bore,
    a #3 bell with a #7 or #3 pipe.

    I know it's like well if you want a 1s like projection then just get the 1s, but is there a closer middle ground with a #3 and a tighter pipe or mouthpiece?

    I know you mentioned a lot of lead players like Miashiro, who have played that bell and had very demanding lead parts that they also had to cut through and project as well as blend and deliver a powerful singing, lyrical, core sound at the same time on the same set up. You posted that Eric Miashiro was using the wide and free #9 pipe with the #3 bell! He is a monster player though and very physically gifted, I'm certainly no Eric Miashiro but I'm just using him as an example. Jason Carter on Miami Sound Machine was using a #3 bell too, I'm sure he had to play in big arenas with that set up, but yes I'm sure he was playing with a great sound system and a great soundman behind the system to. Maynard has played on wide horns most of his carear, (I believe he still does) those MF Holton horns are labeled "large bore" (.468) I understand the throats on his mouthpieces are very very wide (19-13 range) he sure can hit the back wall and project, but then again he is Maynard! He can get a focus and cut too but I'm not sure if his mouthpiece backbore and leadpipe are very tight to balance things. Maybe using Eric Miashiro, Maynard and Jason Carter as an example because of their talent and physical stamina, I just think if the wide bell bell is a factor in these guy's too.

    You mentioned Gozzo and Johnny Capolla as having leadpipes "custom" tapered, was this mostly to deal with the wide bell to sort of offset or compliment it?

    Just wondering if you think I'm on the right track?

    Sorry looks like a simple question gets into other stuff!

    Thanks again Larry, it's very much appreciated, :wink:

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