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Discussion in 'Trumpet Repair and Modification' started by chet fan, May 11, 2010.
Good point! Having the cryo treatment done to yourself is kind of a chilling prospect!
I have a frozen horn. I never played it before it was frozen, so I don't know how it played then. However, I am very certain that freezing does a lot of good to new horns, because of all the stress that they go under in the factory.
Please don't take this the wrong way, but your statement isn't logical.
Your horn was frozen, but you don't know how it played prior to the treatment. Therefore, you can't know what difference the treatment made to it.
You go on to say the you are certain of the good of freezing new horns because of the stresses of manufacture. I'm not certain from your statement just what stresses of manufacture it is to which you refer!
Bell manufacture involves a lot of stretching of the material over the mandril. To counter the hardening of the material, it is heated repeatedly to anneal the metal and allow it to undergo further stretching without fracture. The bell is then spun against a mandril to take on its final form. Again, this is a process that results in work hardening. At this point some (if not all) manufacturers do some sort of treatment to give the bell the properties they want. I'll concede that there are some residual stresses in the bell at this point. Similarly, stresses are formed when the bell is bent over. These may or may not be relieved by more annealing.
Then there are the stresses caused by the soldering process, assembling the horn. The parts being soldered are heated and thus expand. When the solder cools to a solid, the joint area becomes rigid, and stresses could be formed in these regions. An alternative that is being examined is the use of adhesives instead of solder. Being used at room temperature, the only new stresses that might be added are from any expansion/contraction of the adhesive during its curing process.
There may be other sources of stresses in the manufacturing processes of brass instrument making, but these are those that come to mind. They all have one thing in common: Chilling the material below its solidification temperature will not have any effect on the stress. Only RAISING the temperature sufficiently high enough for slippage of the crystal lattices of the metal to allow deformation to occur will relieve stresses. Cooling has the opposite effect, making the materials more and more rigid.
The Titanic sank, in part due to a phenomenon called "cold embrittlement" where the steel of the ships hull became so rigid and inflexible due to the cold of the North Atlantic Ocean that when struck by an iceberg, it fractured, rather than denting. It didn't help that it was welded together, so that the fracture was able to propagate long distances across the hull, resulting in a catastrophic failure. A riveted structure would have contained the fracture to one plate, and quite possibly the ship would have made it to port. The point being that cold is the wrong way to go, if you're trying to relieve stresses in a metal!
Anyway, I'm trying to dispel the misinformation that surrounds this process. There are people who are selling snake oil, regardless of whether or not they themselves are sophisticated enough to realize it!
Unless you studied metallurgy as part of your musical training, you are susceptable to these marketing claims that have no basis in reality. Alas, even if you've studied instrument repair, you might not have been made to understand the physics that governs the behaviour of metals being repaired.
Then, if the cryo treatment were really effective, and useful, don't you think that at least the professional instrument manufacturers would be doing it to all their products? There are some manufacturers who shall go nameless here who do use some pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo to market their instruments, some of which are really good, but very high priced. They are actually (in my mind) doing themselves a disservice by crediting specious arguments for the quality of their instruments, rather than the factors that really made them good.
Anyway, think what you want, but I for one, am a bit more skeptical than some when it comes to marketing hype like this.
More than my two cents, but hey, I'm still working, so I can afford it!
Been there, done that. My results? If I am honest, I have to say that there is NO WAY that I can fairly compare. If I put my C trumpet away for a week and then pick it up again, I sometimes am impressed how easy it is to play and on other days wonder why I don't play everything on the Bb. With that statistical deviance WITHOUT any changes, how can I remember exactly how an instrument played before treatment (I can't)?
For the hard to convince, consider all of the factors in our bodies that change the experience: hormones, water content, amount of sleep, intellectual challenges, mood, biorhythm, food, BMI, any effect germs may have. We have combined factors of over 50% "playing quality".
The second possible issue is that ALL parts of the horn are treated at one time. Lets assume the bell and valves benefit. What if the braces have a special transmission characteristic BEFORE freezing that gets lost because of the rearrangement of the crystalline structure??
So, I am saying, maybe it works, but you will NEVER know for sure. Even a small dent makes a difference somehow and somewhere. None of my present horns have been treated, they just get played with all of my statistical deviance. Cold winters and hot summers "age" the instruments naturally. That seems to be enough for me.
Maybe I should re-word that. Every playes I KNOW who has had their horn frozen has told me that it plays better. I haven't ever had the privelege of doing one myself, however, I do trust the people I know. No offense, but I think that is the best way to go. As far as companies who do it, there are several now that are using the process. Sonare I know uses it. I met a man who had some 200 horns and he froze EVERY one of them!! He said that some horns had more of a change than others. Also, he isn't clueless, because he used to work for a major trombone maker. Regardless, I don't think it is marketing ploy. Remember, most of this is being done after-market. Are there any physicists who can tell us what the truth might be? You cannot say it makes no change when clearly, many people have detected a change. Why would they do so much of it, then?
Hot Sounds From a Cold Trumpet? Cryogenic Theory Falls Flat - NYTimes.com
Cryogenic Treatment of Trumpets
Above are a couple of links where some folks attempted to scientifically test this.
Personally, I never feel like my horn is letting me down. If I suck, it's me. I chose horns I liked and there's nothing wrong with them. I guess if it takes 50 years for a horn to naturally relieve stresses, my yamaha has 40 of them behind it. I guess I can wait another 10 years until it starts to sound right. My conn vintage one will be prime when I'm like 80 years old.
You ask if there are any physicists who can tell us the truth. I am an engineer/scientist with training in metallurgy. I had several years of college level physics, not to mention a strong minor in chemistry for my first degree (cell biology).
I have explained the process from a physical standpoint, and yet people have a religious "faith" response to hearing the simple, physical truth.
Sorry, but in my educated opinion, you'd be a lot better off practicing another half hour a day on top of your daily regimen than you'd be by being without your horn for a week and having it frozen for a few hours.
I've tried to explain some of the actual science here, and if I've offended somone's sensitivities, I apologise. If someone can provide actual measurable, repeatable evidence for ANY alteration, good or bad to the response of a brass instrument by means of a cryo treatment alone, I'll recant publicly. It would have to be repeatable, and measurable, preferably in a double blind study. I don't think that that's going to happen.
Good posts Guy!
As usual, Rowuk is the voice of reason!
Again, I say: PRACTICE is your best bet towards improvement. There are NO easy fixes!
This is a very interesting topic and thanks to Guy for speaking from a learned standpoint.
I, for one, am not one for tweeks and other magic bullets. The key to a great horn is the original design and the care in assembly. By care I mean careful, deliberate assembly by true craftmen and women who by their skill do not add any additional stress to the instrument.
Everytime I try a tweek such as weighted valve caps or different valve guides, I do notice a difference. It may give something beneficial, but it will also take something that worked away. I put the horn back to the way it was. I am not talking about a different tuning slide or leadpipe. These are not tweeks and can genuinely change a horn/player combination for the better.
The best bet is practice, lots and lots of proper practice with making better music as the goal.