Eclipse Medium Yellow - a month later

Discussion in 'Horns' started by RichN, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. RichN

    RichN Pianissimo User

    Sep 25, 2004
    UK (Mids)
    Now that I've been playing on my Eclipse Medium Yellow for a little over a month, I thought it would be worth passing on a few thoughts and impressions about it. This is going to be a long one, and certainly not a well structured review, so if you're going to read it, I suggest you get a cup of tea first.

    For background and so you can put my comments into context, I'm a classically trained player rather than a jazz player. I'm not a great player, I'm a decent enough 'local' standard amateur player. But I'm getting better!

    The buying experience:

    I first went to the Eclipse factory at its old home in Dunstable about a year ago after a few weeks trying lots of other pro-level trumpets in a bid to find something to replace my old Getzen. I was guided through the different models by a very friendly and helpful Leigh McKinney then largely left alone to play them for a couple of very enjoyable hours. A couple of weeks later, I bought a used Bach Strad 37 because it was cheap, and took it to First Class Brass to get the tuning slide rebuilt. I played Eclipse trumpets whilst Leigh rebuilt the slide.

    Earlier on this year, I'd saved up enough money to actually buy an Eclipse, so I went down to the new factory in Luton to choose one (I think this was my 7th or 8th visit!). I won't repeat what I've said in a previous thread about this, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable process, the Eclipse team were great, even changing the bell on one trumpet as an experiment 'on the spot' (this was the one I eventually bought). I was very lucky to have not just Leigh McKinney guiding me through the process but also Noel Langley. You can't get much better help than that.

    After I'd picked the horn I wanted (I was very lucky and had picked a horn that didn't already have an owner; most of the time they are specifically made for the individual customer and have a longer lead time), I sat down with Leigh and we talked through the various options. He's willing to consider any requests, but only if he thinks they'll work. I took the view that given the amount of time and expertise that went into the development of these instruments, I'd stick pretty much to standard. I ended up with a brushed gold plate finish with polished highlights which seems to be fast becoming the Eclipse 'signature' finish, stops on the first and third slides and a protective strip round the back of the tuning slide. I also chose to replace the braces on the first and third slide with my initials, and that still sometimes grates slightly with my excessive English conservatism. I'm getting used to it though ;-).

    About the only things I can criticise about the process are that the coffee was pretty average instant (soon to be rectified I understand with the addition of a decent coffee machine), and I wasn't able to directly compare the Elcipse line with some of the competition e.g. Conn V1, Xeno, Schilke B, Stomvi. I was, however, able to do an indirect comparision using my own Bach Strad, and also anything from their part-ex stock, which included little gems like Olds Recordings, a Callet Jazz and Conn Connstellation, a Schilke S-something and a few others.

    Fit and finish:

    Absolutely superb, at least on a par with anything else I've seen, and a mile better then my Bach. The valves are even better than my old Getzens, and in a different league from the ones on my Bach, and only needed a week or so to bed in. I really can't fault the quality of the workmanship. All of the slides move perfectly, the first and third slides move almost as well as the valves on my Bach.


    After having played literally dozens of Eclipses, I have to admit to being a little bit disappointed over the first week or so, including the first couple of rehearsal nights. It wasn't that it was a bad instrument, it was just that I seemed so clumsy on it, and it was punishing mistakes harder than my Bach did. At first, I was worried that it wasn't the step foreward that I'd thought, and I'd paid all that money for something about like my Bach, just prettier with better valves.

    Since then, I've learned a lot. As I played it more, I started to realise that the response and immediacy of the Eclipse meant that I really needed to relax and let the horn do its job rather than having to force it. I was used to having to work harder for my music, and playing in that way on the Eclipse just comes out as coarse and lacking in sophistication. I've also found that my endurance has improved, I think because I'm just not having to work as hard any more for the same output.

    As for the sound, when I bought it I really couldn't decide between the red and yellow bells, and went for the yellow bell because the response seemed a fraction better. Again, for the first two weeks or so, I was worried that I'd made the wrong choice. The sound, whilst really good, was a little too bright and commercial for my tastes. Since then, as I got more used to it, the tone just kept getting warmer and richer, and now it's got to that wonderful point where it sounds exactly as I want it to. It's that magical thing where the sound in my head = the sound coming out of the trumpet. I also now find it fairly easy to modify the tone between warm and bright without having to change mouthpieces. It's not just me that's noticed this either; the people that I play with have, and so has my wife (a really good oboe player). My range has also improved. I can't get any higher than I could on the Bach, but the higher range is now much more accessible and my tone above the stave has improved no end. I'm not sure whether this can be attributed directly to the trumpet though; it may just be that because I enjoy playing it so much, it's the extra practice doing the work!

    I'm finding it really difficult to describe the feeling of playing this trumpet properly. Everything that I do seems to go directly from my brain and chops to being sound, without the trumpet getting in the way. It's almost like the immediacy of singing (although I'm a terrible singer). In comparison, the Bach seems to dampen everything out a bit and feels a bit lifeless. I hope that makes some sense.

    On the subject of mouthpieces, I currently play a GR 66MX, which is a relatively deep 'orchestral' mouthpiece with a #3 (quite open) backbore, and the perfect match for my Bach. I think, from my experience and others' comments, my Eclipse would pair better with a slightly smaller backbore because it's so open, and I think I'm compensating by artificially creating resistance. I'm soon going to try out the Warburton line and experiment with backbores. I think for someone used to large bore horns with an open blow, the set-up I've got would probably feel completely natural. I think what I'll end up with is an all-rounder like a Warburton 4MD or GR 66L#2, and something with a little more 'bite' for the more jazz-oriented end of repertoire.


    As you may have guessed, despite some early reservations, I'm completely delighted with my Eclipse MY trumpet. I think what it needed was an acclimatisation period, where I could get used to how it played compared with my Bach, adjust to it, and just let it do its job. Now, I really wouldn't want to go back. Slotting's better, but strangely so is flexibility. Response is incredible, intonation is excellent, and the tone is, for me, perfect. Unlike any trumpet I've ever played before, I kind of forget that I'm playing it and can concentrate on the music without having to make allowances or adjustments for the equipment. I doesn't even annoy me that I have to partially remove the third valve to clean the leadpipe out.

    I know it reads a bit like 'why an Eclipse is great and a Bach Strad is rubbish' but it's really not meant to. I like the Bach, it's a very good trumpet, it's just that it suffers in comparison. Neither can I claim that it's the best trumpet in the world because I've never played a Taylor, Destino, Monette, Blackburn, Lawler etc. and, to be honest, I don't really care, because I'm happy. My biggest problem now is that amongst my many visits to the Eclipse workshop, I was given the opportunity to play their flugels, an opportunity that I was too stupid to turn down. I really should have known better :roll: ...

  2. Dan Millheim

    Dan Millheim Pianissimo User

    Sep 4, 2004
    Fort Worth ,TX
    <--------This brushed 24K Harrelson 965 TritonII is for sale for $2500 write me if interested.

    Hey Rich N,

    Thanks for the great post! I am very happy that you are enjoying your new Eclipse and that it is working for you. I wish you all the best in your playing! I am still waiting from Leigh on my custom XLR. I'll post here once I hear anything new or when I take delivery. Everyone tells me it will be worth it... oh well, "good things come to those who wait" or they die of "anticipation anxiety" in the process ha.
  3. FreshBrewed

    FreshBrewed Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Houston, TX

    Glad to see you like the horn. I went thru sort of the same thing when I bought my MHY a few years back. Now I won't(refuse) to play on any other horn. I also bought the flugel earlier this year with a red bell and scratched gold. I'm glad to have a VERY understanding wife.

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