Custom Phaeton Review #7, Greg Zent...aka...gzent

Discussion in 'Horns' started by gzent, Sep 6, 2005.

  1. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Day 1 day impressions:

    I normally play a custom trumpet built to my specs, lets call it the Forza. Before that I played a Zeus Guarnerius for several years.

    Looks and construction:
    At first look and blow its obvious that this is not an ordinary 'pro' horn. Its certainly a high quality instrument made with attention to detail.

    I was hoping to be 'awed' by the look, but perhaps it was just too darn heavy and starting to tarnish. I don't mind the oversize rings, they're comfortable, but I don't like them on the 1st and 3rd slides - too confining.

    I guess I'm of the less is more school of thought - if it doesn't make the horn play better then all it does is add weight that I have to hold up with one arm for 2+ hours.

    That being said, this horn performs at a much finer level than a new Bach, Yamaha, or, I would guess, any other new mass produced horn you can find.

    Blow (feel):
    So far the feel is pretty good, nice and open like I like. The projection on this horn is very good for a heavier horn, actually for any weight horn - it resonates like crazy! The down side is that its hard to play REALLY soft like my Forza. The slotting is very solid and nice, but not so tight that you can't 'bend' the notes if you want to - a nice middle ground. Actually, the horn feels somewhat like my old Zeus G. which was rather heavy, but with the large bore round tuning slide played fairly open.


    I hate the feel of these valves. Way, way too much resistance for me. I like a much lighter feel, like a good Benge, a Mt. V. Strad or my Forza which has Olds valves.

    They are also rather noisey, but they certainly have the look, speed and feel of top quality valves.

    I haven't noticed anything of 'note' yet - more to come.

    That's it for now. I'll update this thread as I notice new things over the next 10 days. I will play it on a gig this coming saturday and possibly next week and give an update.

    Day 2:

    First, I'd like to gripe. This horn was FILTHY. Whoever the person was that left the leadpipe full of muck ought to be shot! I gave the horn my standard cleaning tonight. I removed the tarnish and I also touched up the scratch finish. Then I gave it a good sanitizing with the steam cleaner.

    However, that buildup on the inside of the leadpipe won't come off without some serious chemicals which I will not use. I can't believe this horn has only been played since May. I've never seen a horn get that filthy that quickly. Geez!

    OK, enough bitching.

    Once cleaned, you can really see the fine workmanship of this horn, even thought it looks like its had 2 years worth of dings already.

    The blow feels about the same as last night, which is pretty good. I will say that it starts to push back around a high C more than I would like.
    In the staff, however, this thing can really put out some volume.

    Upon cleaning I see that the valves are first-rate construction, no doubt about that.

    The sound...hmmm. has a nice mellow sound to it, but not as much edge or flexibility as I would like. With my horn I am able to get a wider variety of 'colors' from dark and rich to bright and nasty. Maybe I just need to play it more, we'll see.


    OK, this is a surprise, because the intonation upon first measurement is not up to my expectations for a custom horn at this price point. I was expecting it to be dead on, but its got a few notes that are 35-40 cents off - OUCH! To be fair, this is very hard to measure, so as I've done on my Forza I will measure it a bunch of times on different days and report my results.

    Lets hope it just takes time to adjust to.

    I'm really trying to capture my impressions as they come to me, so let's not put too much stock in my day to day comments.

    We'll try to come up with trends that I see as I get more time with the horn. That's all for day 2.

    Day 3:


    OK, I took the Phaeton back in the shop and the leadpipe is clean as a whistle now.

    You know, its funny, the more I play this horn the less I seem to like it.
    Maybe because I know its an expensive horn and I am expecting so much. I guess if a person wants a horn that is very finely crafted and attractive then this is one way to go.

    I mean, it is made of the highest quality, has a nice tone, without a lot of edge. It slots well, but is not tight and blows more freely than a Bach or Yamaha.

    Is it worth the extra dough? Maybe to some folks. I think I would get tired playing this horn for very long. It plays like a heavy horn in some ways - you know not that fast response you get from a Benge or a Schilke, for example.

    Of course, I am quite biased since I am comparing it to a horn that I picked out the leadpipe, the tuning slide, the bracing, valve pressure, etc.

    I did some more intonation checking tonight and more of the same story, not so great. It will be interesting to see if Richard can tell what I'm saying.

    That's all for now.

    Oh, one little thing I remembered - when I was cleaning it I looked in the tuning slide to make sure it was clean. Boy, those nickel slides are sure nice! Anyway, I don't know if the builder usually does this or not but I could see a metal burr stick up where the water key was drilled. No big deal, but some people, like Flip Oakes and I guess, now that I've tried it myself, me, believe that removing all burrs, solder and scratches from the inside of the slides improves a horn noticeably, for what its worth.

    Day 4:


    Here's what I do - I play a nice long note with lip vibrato and then let my lip settle (without vibrato) into what feels like the center of the tone and hold it. Then I look at the tuner to see what it says. I know, its not a very scientific method, but, it is what it is.

    So here's the average of several days measurements. The notes are given in cents from high F down to low F#. I tossed in a few other horns
    for comparison. X indicates I couldn't get a solid or consistent reading.
    No alternate fingerings or slide adjustments were used in these measurements.

    Column A is my 50's Olds Ambassador before rebuild
    Column B is my Zeus Guarnerius
    Column C is a Bach Strad 37
    Column D is my Forza
    Column E is the Phaeton Custom


    I'm sorry about the goofy format.

    Day 5:

    I took the Phaeton to a 2 hour outdoor gig on Saturday. I didn't find anything new to report. I will reiterate that it is a very efficient horn that slots very nicely and evenly up ad down the scale.

    I think I'm done testing it now and will try to get with Richard on Monday.

    Thanks again to Felix and Van for giving me the opportunity to participate in trying this fine horn.

  2. NYTC

    NYTC Forte User

    Nov 1, 2004
    Hey Greg.
    What oil did you use on the valves?

  3. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    They weren't dry, so I didn't oil them yet.

    I have Viper Oil and Blue Juice on hand, will either be OK?

  4. NYTC

    NYTC Forte User

    Nov 1, 2004
    They both should be fine.
    Try the Blue first.
  5. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Will do.
  6. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Day 2 comments at the top.
  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Greg, I'm not sure what you used to clean the leadpipe, but if you give it some time with a snake and some dish washing detergent like Palmolive, and I mean really scrub it out for a while, it should come clean for you.

    I once borrowed a horn from a guy to try it out and was almost sickened when I checked down the leadpipe after I had played it. I had to really work on that badboy to get it clean, but I did, and it completely changed the way the horn played - there was THAT much gunk in it.

    I'm also surprised that it has as many dings as you say it does. That disappoints me because I have owned trumpets for quite some time before ever putting any kind of dings in them. Are the folks play testing just not being careful with it? Considering that; 1.) they don't own it and 2.) it's an expensive instrument, you would think that they would have been a little more careful.
  8. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    I tried a couple different scrub brushes and detergent and steam cleaning, which loosens up just about anything.

    If I get time I'll try to clean it some more tonight, but really, I usually don't clean other people's horns for free.

  9. TrentAustin

    TrentAustin Fortissimo User

    Oct 28, 2003
    KC MO
    Even horns that you get to try for free basically? :-?
  10. NYTC

    NYTC Forte User

    Nov 1, 2004
    please ,do me a big favor.
    When you have a chance,would you be so kind as to ship this horn back to me,it looks like it needs some work done before it goes to the next tester.
    I will take care of all your expenses.

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