Harrelson Bravura review

Discussion in 'Horns' started by EdMann, May 24, 2010.

  1. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

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    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    By request, what follows is my humble review of my 1 leadpipe, 6 bell Bravura. I unwrapped it like a Hannukah present and made some immediate observations-- it's not winter, but I like unwrapping things. Oh, the horn... Sottering and finish work is excellent. Slides fit tight and are not so slippery as my 8310Z, my main axe for big band and commercial. It's heavier than any horn I own. The Buescher 400 I had for a minute was heavy, but not like this. Doesn't bother me. I work out. (AAARRGHH)

    I've got two mpc's I like to use most, a Yamaha Shew Jazz and a Curry 60M, although I've now tried a number of others, including an array of Al Cass classics, but as others have posted loud and clear, using a mpc that fights the characteristics of a horn doesn't always work for the ear. This is a dark horn and seems best to use something other than a lead piece-- not that it can't be used for that purpose, but as Darth Vader would say, that's not its destiny (Star Wars was on Spike over the wknd, sorry)

    With the Curry, it has a honking quality that I don't particularly like, but with the 3Cish Shew piece and other larger cups and backbores, the sound matches its 'destiny' IMO. With the 3x4 Cass, it CAN be a lead animal, but since I don't often play lead and gravitate to solo work, I'll use this as a go to small jazz horn alongside my Committee (which by the way, can do it all). For brass quintet,, I don't think it will match. Our other trpt player has a pretty bright Bach and Eb (and C for that matter), so we'll see.

    Intonation is excellent, better than most any horn I've tried. Very even scale up and down. The efficiencies that are allegedly built into the horn are apparent in its projection. I play tested it the day I got it at a big band gig for one set, and the leader did not think it matched up well, and I agree. Bill Lamb, our lead player did a couple of charts on it, but he/we didn't think it worked for him, just not bright enough on his Schilke 6A (not a match). Our friend, shofarguy, loved it, and while those of us in the trpt section, including me, thought the horn sounded broad at first, I feel that this is not correct. The Bravura in this configuration is a darker horn that projects. Never heard anything like it. Never got that until I got home and then played it again in a deader room and then with another band in a moderately live room. Jason H. asks that a new Harrelson owner spend more time in a live room, but I don't think that's necessary, in fact it was deceiving to me as a player in my efforts to hear what the horn can do. One should playtest in a few different rooms, settings, bands, etc. I can see using this as a go-to solo horn in a big band, or as a small jazz horn, but it sounds too unique to fit most sections I'm in.

    It slots very well and is an easy blow. The .459 bore feels almost smaller, but that may be the 1 pipe at work, like a 25 Bach pipe. High range is not easier than most other horns. The Committee I've got beats every thing I've tried in that department. Finger action is a bit sluggish, but the short stroke makes up for it, and I'm sure it'll break in. Ergo fingerrings are cool, but larger than I'm used to. Shoving the third valve slide is more of a chore than on my Yamaha. The biggest drawback from a utility standpoint is the valve tops, smooth and difficult to move, and the threads are somewhat uneven... getting better now, but I'm packing Playtex gloves just so I can effectively oil the beast. Gets some laughs.

    A friend is offering me a blow on his 3 bell, which I'll take him up on to see if I should switch out bells, but I do dig this horn, and with the eBay deal, it was cheaper than a new Bach, by far. And it looks quite impressive. The 8310 still wins for big band and frankly has a sound that can vary from warm to starbright and has better feedback to the player, but as my 8 year old says, "the new one sounds smooth." I like that!

    ed
     
  2. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    8,182
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    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Good review, THANKS!
     
  3. andrewoc15

    andrewoc15 New Friend

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    May 23, 2010
    New Jersey
    Very nice review! Any chance of some pics? :D
     
  4. ewanmains

    ewanmains Piano User

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    Jun 9, 2009
    Kilmarnock, UK
    (Caution - lengthy post with apologies for hi-jacking!!)

    Hi Guys,

    Like Ed, I have just taken delivery of my new Bravura on Friday. Not much time to blow it, but 2 gigs later & I really like it.

    The spec is LP1, Bell6, medium round slide with medium (1/2") caps, amado keys & brushed raw brass.

    I play mainly bigband lead stuff, with some jazz as well, so need a versatile horn that can change character quite quickly. First thing is that feedback from behind the horn is less than a 'normal' one, this is pretty much in line with most heavy horns & to be expected. What has been said previously about not overblowing goes double for the Bravura I feel. The sound doesn't break up or sound 'blatty', but it definitely doesn't sound it's best when overblown (does any trumpet?).

    For very high lead stuff, I use a Bobby Shew lead with a permanently attached Denis Wick booster. This piece really does scream on the Bravura. First song of the first gig I did with it on Saturday, we played Blue Birdland. I played the cleanest double A on it on the last chord, so much so, that I was very surprised that with a bit more air on the double A, a very clear, audible triple A came out (highest note I've ever played in public).

    The only slight issue I have with using the Shew lead all the time is that when I start getting a bit tired on it, the sound becomes slightly brittle. (again- me getting carried away & overblowing) I also use a Monette MFIII for lead, which has a far richer sound, but isn't quite as bright as the Shew. The MFIII is a good match for the Bravura, and the horn balances perfectly in the hand as well.

    For Jazz, I've been using a standard 3C. With this, the horn takes a different character & sounds very much like the medium weight Monettes. There's a lot of body to the sound & an extra richness that I haven't heard from other horns barring Monette. Once you start to push some air through the 3C, it keeps taking it, the sound becomes slightly edgier (brighter) & the sheer volume & tone just takes over the room (middle C made my ears ring in a large ballroom).

    The valves, after a good clean are really nice, although one thing I noticed is that the vertical alignment is off due to the felts. I contacted Jason about this & he said that the felts need some time to 'bed' in. I'm an impatient guy, so I'm getting these switched over today to a harder felt with an option of rubber by a great tech over here. (Bryce Ferguson www.brassandwoodwind.co.uk). The valve springs I find are nice and firm, with a very positive feedback.

    Intonation with all 3 mouthpieces is excellent, very little compensation required as long as you blow down the centre of the horn. It's one of those horns that really rewards relaxed, non-tensioned playing with a huge, rich sound. As soon as tension creeps into your playing (as it sometimes does with mine), the horn seems to tense up along with it. It's a good marker as to how your physical approach is working throughout a gig.

    Got another gig tonight with it on the new felts/rubbers, but I'm looking forward to getting into the practice room with it as well to really get to know it. Build quality/workmanship is fantastic - no solder splats etc., & very cleanly finished. As for the value, like Ed, I bought mine from one of the Ebay auctions last October. I would previously never have been able to afford/justify a 'custom' horn like this, so I'm very, very happy. Yes it's been a long wait, but as my very good friend says. "Good, fast or cheap - it can only ever be any two of these at any one time".

    A very happy Teddy. :play:
     
  5. ewanmains

    ewanmains Piano User

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    Jun 9, 2009
    Kilmarnock, UK
    some pics...
    :-)

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  6. Wildman

    Wildman Pianissimo User

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    0
    Jun 23, 2005
    How long did it ake to get these horns? Has Harrelson improved his customer relations since his troubles on TH? As of today he still has not issued a refund that he promised weeks ago on a horn that took someone months and lot of pressure to have delivered and finally arrived with defective plating.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2010
  7. ewanmains

    ewanmains Piano User

    285
    50
    Jun 9, 2009
    Kilmarnock, UK
    Hi,

    It's really not up to me to comment on other people's situations Wildman, but here's my details.

    Ordered end of October (30th or thereabouts). Received Friday 21st there. (took 9 days shipping/customs etc to UK.)

    Comms were 'sporadic' at the beginning, but I'm not easily frustrated. I have to say though that communication in the last few months has been dramatically improved - all questions/emails answered in a very timely & courteous manner from Paul. I think the wait was well worth it, especially in comparison to Monette et al. which I would directly compare the quality of the horn to.
     
  8. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

    740
    145
    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Took me five months to get mine, but it wasn't unexpected. No worries. I know enough pros and amateurs who buy his horns to know that quality takes a minute.

    ed
     
  9. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    3,725
    755
    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    I have just about had it with the negative crap.

    If you want a truly custom built horn its going to take months.

    And if you change your mind in the middle of the process, you
    can't seriously expect the builder to cancel your order at no charge.

    People who can't live with that should just stick to buying Bachs and Yamahas
    and stop bitching about waiting to get a custom horn built.

    Greg
     
    DaTrump likes this.
  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    6,520
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    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    QFT.

    Anything custom takes time. Custom drum orders, even from a company with a sterling reputation like Pearl, can take 6-9 months, and even longer in some cases.

    (Sorry I keep bringing up drums here on a trumpet forum - that's due to not needing to change or alter my horns or mouthpieces, and I'm not there yet with my drum kit)
     

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