History of the "Z" Horn.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by dbacon, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    From Bobby Shew, the story of the first "Z" Horn. This email is about two years old.


    Since there are so many rumors flying around about the "Z", here's some REAL info about the "Z"and its' history. From what I HEARD, Bob McCoy gave YAMAHA / KENZO KAWASAKI the specs on one of his old Martin Committee (ML) models. I don't know whether or not he lent them the horn to copy but I'd imagine so, knowing the way they work. Some years ago, I tried to get together with Bob McCoy to ask him about the early beginnings of this horn but he wasn't too interested in talking about it. He wanted me to pay him a fairly decent amount of money to ask him questions about it. Personally, I've always felt a great debt to Bob for initially giving YAMAHA the first configurations or at least for loaning them the horn. I guess he might justifiably feel "slighted" in this but I can assure you, there was never any evil intention happening with this. I should've booked the time with him and paid him, I guess. people think I'm making money off of this horn but I don't get one cent for any horn that is sold nor did I ever receive any monies for the development of it either.

    Anyway, I tried the 2 prototypes of that horn in Japan during a Toshiko tour in 1978 and sorta liked the fact that if I backed off of it, it played better and easier than my large bore Olds P12L. SInce I had just started having some emphysema problems, I wanted to try it. Kenzo gave me the horn to bring home and play. After awhile, I found some 'things" about it that didn't feel quite right. I don't recall what they ALL were exactly but one was the difference in feel from low to upper register as well as rhe sound not being quite warm enough. I couldn't seem to center several of the notes here and there especially the upper stuff. In spite of all that, many friends, students, and pro players were trying it and liking it alot. They asked about getting one so I contacted Kenzo and he had several made for them. We sold them thru Dick Charles Music in Glendale, Calif. They had the ID "636". Eventually they made some with a different bell, i.e., standard was the "A" bell (yellow brass and a wider bell diameter and quicker flare) and the "B" bell (red brass with the smaller bell and tighter flare). Diffent players preferred different versions of the horn, either a 636 or a 636B as they were called. Since the horn was starting to become a bit "in demand", they decided to do a production of it rather than one at a time by hand as the first few dozen or so were made. After awhile, I had Kenzo try another version of the bell plus we started messing around with other braces, different lead pipes, tuning crooks, etc. We came up with some revisions to the 636 and the 636B and Japan supplied me (thru Charles music) with replacement bells, crooks, etc. Lots of people who had bought the initial 636 went with the changes and purchased the new parts. After another time, YAMAHA reconfigured their method of IDing the horns. They renamed it as the 6310 but with the revisions as part of the new production horns. The 636's were no more. The 6310 (and the 6310B) was related to but considerably different than the initial 636 horn. This new horn went into mass production and did quite well for them. After another period of my playing the 6310, I started spending alot of time talking with Bob Malone about the horn. Kenzo, Bob Malone, and I started experimenting with some other revisions which after about a 2-year period of constant testing on the road and re-vamping things here and there, we finally came up with a horn that was extremely efficient and that had the sound I was looking for. This was then put into production around early 1996 as the 6310Z. It was mostly a marketing director by the name of Johhny Woody who came up with the "Z" identification. When we in final testing, I kept commenting on the siZZle in the sound if the air velocity was done just exactly right...and he said it really Zinged. The letter "Z" kept showing up so he cleverly grabbed onto it. I loved it (being an old ZORRO fan).

    As for the difficulties in getting one to play correctly, it's not that much different than any other company's horns. The fact that this horn has an extremely thin bell and is very lightweight, the differences that exist in ALL horns really become much more apparent than on a heavier walled instrument. The extra weight can mask some of these differences but not on a horn as light as the "Z". YAMAHA has always had a great reputation for consistency in production and they ARE extremely precise about this but in this world, it is physically impossible for ANYONE to manufacture everything to be exactly the same. There are too many variables that can occur in metal, soldering, brazing, annealing, lacquering, etc. The average person who is not playing at the highest professional level does not usually have problems with these differences but a more sensitive professional MIGHT react to tiny differences. Almost any player who is even at the slightly advanced staged of development MIGHT start noticing them as well. I have personally noticed these differences and along with the help of Bob Malone, we have tried to "correct" these things with some adjustments to various "spots" in the horn. Bob's genius allows him to be able to know where to look and with the help of bore gauges and some other special tools which he has designed, the two of us together can get ANY horn squared away in a very reasonable time. I play, he adjusts. Since the horn is to some degree associated with me , I want them ALL to play as well as they can. Sorta like the old violins...each one was a little different and each had it's own "personality", as does each person who plays the instrument. When this instrument is properly adjusted, it is one of the most efficient horns ever made. The balance of ease-of-playing and sound quality are exceptional. THAT is why so may people have bought them and continue to play them. I have picked up various "Z"s at trade shows or in music stores here and there and have run into some very "stuffy" ones. It's easy to see why people can be turned off by it when they pick up one that is "out of tweak". I wouldn't buy it EITHER!! But, just to let you know, when you blow one of these and it feels tight or stuffy, it is merely an adjustment problem and can be changed in a "flash". We have tried to get HAMAMATSU production to be aware of this but I really don't know (nor do they) what we can do about it. MOST of the horns that come off of the production line are fine or at least "close" to what I feel it should be. Some need a little tweaking and others need alot more. Bob and I are both determined to keep the standard as high as possible on this instrument.

    I hope this sheds a little light on the rumors that fly around about this instrument. I think it basically applies to OTHER companies horns as well, to varying degrees.

    Bobby Shew


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