Convertable horns? Interchangeble slides . . .

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by jdostie, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

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    Recently there was a thread about converting a Bb cornet to C, and there was some controversy about this. But I have often wondered:

    Pic's often have a different lead pipe to allow either Bb or A, why would not a trumpet have different slides (a full set to make the horn in tune with itself) to make it interchangeable from one pitch to another (most obviously Bb to C). I know there are interchangeable bells, but some (most?) of the posts I have read about this seem to indicate the preference for having a dedicated horn(s). This, obviously, can become a very expensive venture.

    I'd love to have a cornet in the future, and a C horn as well. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to have one horn . . . Kanstul makes both a Bb and C cornet, but it appears as if the wrapping is different (maybe the british style comes close to the C Cornet).

    Cornets

    Please educate me - is it just about bell length - or has it just not turned out very well when tried in the past?
     
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    The difference between a Bb and C IS more than just the bell. In the case of Bach for instance, the bell length is the same, but the leadpipe is MUCH shorter and has a faster taper. This also means that the C trumpet is almost completely tapered - like a member of the horn family.

    Looking at the differences:
    the sound expectation from a C is different so the bell/leadpipe braces are positioned differently
    the length of the valave slides is different. Higher pitched horn means SHORTER
    Bell flare is different to influence the evenness of blow and projection

    Honestly, the only part that is the same is the valve block

    In the case of the picc, almost always, the horn works better in one pitch than the other. Changing the leadpipe does change the pitch (albeit the half step in that octave is MUCH smaller than changing from Bb to C on a big horn) - the individual valve slides are not changed and the picc bell is braced differently than a big horn.

    I know of no "successful" converting Bb/C horns. A great horn is the sum of many tiny adjustments which are impossible when comprimizing pitch.

    A converting horn is actually less practical. There are many conceerts where I need different horns - and don't have the time to pull out the box of Lego on stage and then retune.

    There is a reason that lumberjacks have an axe AND a chainsaw................
     
  3. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

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    Ah well, any purchase is a ways down the road as a reward for myself if I reach some kind of milestone or something (currently undefined), and to provide different needs of course. I like the idea of a Bb cornet for "New Orleans Jazz," which I really like (I heard Wynton M. talking about his, and others distaste for the term Dixileland, so I'll call it New Orleans Jazz). I also like the idea of a C cornet (or trumpet, but I think I'd like a cornet for the timbre), for Church music in the future - not that I have a church that has trumpets at the moment . . . I know I could transpose, but that of course would be another hurdle to overcome.

    We'll see what wins out (C trumpet/cornet, or Bb) when the time comes. Right now I just think about this for the future as a kind of carrot on a stick if you will. It would be my first "new" horn, not that I don't appreciate my Benge . . .
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    What usually wins out is learning to transpose and playing just about everything on the Bb horn.

    The C makes most sense when the color of the sound needs to be different, or the fingerings easier. This often happens in an orchestra where there are pieces written with a lot of sharps and where the trumpet have to match the strings - and not vice versa.
     
  5. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

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    In years past this has been done by major instrument makers. An example comes to mind; one of the Conn long cornets, that had a slide that converted the horn from Bb to C. If this had been musically and commercially successful Conn and several other smaller makers would still make such horns available. I used to own a Conn 11A which had a slide permanently installed to convert the little horn from Bb to C the C tuning was horrible and I soon learned to transpose on the fly, leaving that slide to get stuck in the Bb setting.


    OLDLOU>>
     
  6. B15M

    B15M Forte User

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    I have seen Bach C-B flat trumpets. Everybody does it with E flat-D

    Every time you do something that changes the trumpet, you take a chance that it won't play well. Just a little change can make a huge difference.

    A couple of years ago I went to ITG with a friend. He wanted me to try a trumpet. We went to the booth and the guy in the booth was putting together a trumpet with interchangeable parts. I was thinking, "This thing is going to play like ..."

    I played the trumpet and it played great. How can that be? it couldn't go together the same way every time. It played so well that if I needed a trumpet I would have bought it.

    The brand was Edwards.
     
  7. vntgbrslvr

    vntgbrslvr Piano User

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    Hey Lou,

    The 11A was designed to be used with two different slide sets, to compensate for when you switched the horn to the key of C. If you weren't switching slides, it would be terribly out of tune. I found this out by buying one without the extra slides and had the same problem as you. After further research and some simple physics I realized the real problem was the missing slides.

    I'm hoping to make a set of "C" slides for the 11 A someday....but have enough other projects in front of that one. Like Rowuk said...it seems silly to have to change all slides when the idea seemed to be the simplicity of the changeover valve....but physics requires the shorter slides for the key of C to be in tune if you intend to use any of the valves.
     
  8. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

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    This is an interesting set of answers. Rowuk always says "play before you pay," and the diversity of answers here suggests that while it's possible, few manufacturers (if any) have gotten it right.

    To be honest, I had wondered if it was in the horn manufacturer's interest to do this because it could cut down the number of horns they sell. That's the cynical side of me.

    To continue with "being honest," buying a C cornet appeals to me for the "lazy" factor. I am poor at reading music as it is, (I am working to improve it of course), and transposing on the fly just seems like it's overly daunting. Maybe as I approach the yet undefined milestone that won't be the issue, or maybe that will be the undefined milestone . . . who knows.
     
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I firmly believe that a Bb and C horn SHOULD sound and play differently. That requires different parameters and would rule out a combo horn.

    Believe me, transposition is not as tough as it seems and can be learned playing the same stuff you do every day. Like a diet, one just has to earnestly start. Unlike a diet, there is no yoyo effect when you get off the "diet".
     
  10. B15M

    B15M Forte User

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    What are the differences
     

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