How to know if valve alignment is needed ?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by acebone, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. acebone

    acebone New Friend

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    Dec 26, 2006
    Copenhagen, Denamark
    I own and play a silver coated Bach Strad 180ML with a 37 bell. According to the serial no. this trumpet is from 1981/82.

    It is a LOVELY horn - Other trumpet players (even rather accomplished ones) has commented that it has a beautiful sound (that's funny when you think of it - it is not ME who has a good sound - it's the horn).

    HOWEVER - it is very difficult to play the horn with good intonation. All of the natural 'off-pitch' tendencies seems to be somewhat exaggerated. Eg. the E on the lowest staff line (valves: 12) is rather high. The A a fourth over (also 12) is slightly high. The G on top of the staff is high, and so is the A above that. NOTE: When I say sligthly high, I mean compared to other horns I've tried.

    I realise that there could be a plethora of reasons for this - I usually play a Getzen 5C mouthpiece, but recently acquired a Bach 3C. The 3C seems to eliminate some of the problems, however I don't like the feel of the 3C and my teacher is not too keen on me changing MPC right now.

    Does this sound like my horn is candidate for a Valve Alignment ?

    Is there any way for me to test if it should be aligned ?

    I live in Denmark (Scandinavia), Europe. The idea of shipping my horn to the States is not a very attractive one. Does anybody know where in Europe you can get your valves aligned?

    Thnx in advance for forthcoming answers!
     
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Acebone,
    Any pitch with more than one valve depressed can be a bit high. It is not unusual for e and a in the staff or high a above to be a bit high. That is what the first valve saddle is for. The G on top of the staff is common with a mouthpiece/backbore/throat/gap/horn mismatch.
    Of course this could have something to do with the valve alignment, although my experience has been that the horn is much freer blowing after adjustment. The intonation never changed that much.
    To get first rate attention to your horn, the Brasserie in Hamburg, Germany has their repairs done by Hans Kromat - one of the best there is! He should adjust the gap of YOUR mouthpiece and horn and check the valve alignment. the telephone number is: +49-40-243728.
    I can't imagine Danmark not having a trumpet building guru however. Maybe you should call someone at the Copenhagen Symphony. I have always gotten a good response from professionals when I asked (and some very good lessons too!).
     
  3. acebone

    acebone New Friend

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    Dec 26, 2006
    Copenhagen, Denamark
    Thnx for the answer Rowuk!

    Hamburg is relatively close, and I will call them for details. Also I'll take your advice and talk to some of the players here in DK. Actually I already did talk to one of our best lead trumpets (big-band) a guy called Benny Rosenfeldt, and he told me that he had an alignment done in the US and that he was very happy with it. He also told me that he knew of no danish workshop who performs this operation.

    I actually did talk to a few brass-shops here in Copenhagen, but when I mentioned (and explained) valve-alignment, I got a somewhat blank stare.

    For the purpose of clarity, let me reiterate that I am fully aware that it is normal for a trumpet to be high on certain notes, mine is even HIGHER than most other trumpets I've tried.

    Yesterday when practising, I was thinking "Man I need to tie a string to my 1st valve slide so that it won't come off". Next thing was that the whole slide popped off and flew in a nice high trajectory and landed BAM on the floor. It got bend, and even though I was able to carefully bend it back, it now sticks very easily and is very hard to use.

    With no time to repair it before next weeks 'wind-instrument course/camp' I am looking forward to some pretty high low E's :-(

    At a certain point I even looked into buying another horn, but gave it up - I like my Strad too much.
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    This may bring me some heat, but I think the classical guys spend more time thinking about this stuff than the jazz guys do. The jazz musicians are too busy practicing scales and shedding tunes. The classical guys focus a lot more on sound and slotting (maybe they have more time on their hands.........).
     
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    In defense of the jazz guys -- what do they have to tune to? In the classical orchestra we get a lot of exposed fourths, fifths, octaves and thirds that are relatively easy to hear. In a big band, lots of C7#9 #11 chords with saxophones! :cool:
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Jerry,
    I was only talking about the need for valve alignment. Most of the jazz trumpet players that I know can play other instruments too - like saxophones or bass............
     
  7. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

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    Denver
    The benefit you're most likely to notice from a Precision Valve Alignment is easier resonance and more evenness in all registers. Certain notes will come closer in tune, but not necessarily the ones you're expecting.

    My Stomvi picc is the only horn I've ever owned that didn't benefit from a PVA and I suspect that's because Cambrass (Bob Reeve's shop) may have aligned it before US distribution. (My tech measured and said it was spot on. Another friend has the same model picc and it was in serious need of alignment, so I think somebody had Cambrass PVA mine since that is an option for Stomvi in the USA).

    Your problem is where to get it done. You need a tech that understands the concept and has the right tools and material to complete the job correctly. We're not talking about blindly putting replacement felts into the trumpet. Good luck with that.

    Dave
     
  8. acebone

    acebone New Friend

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    Dec 26, 2006
    Copenhagen, Denamark
    Judging from your answers, I am beginning to suspect that the mouthpiece gap may be more of a culprit in this.

    Luckily I seem to have a minor sum of money coming my way - maybe I can submit my trusted baby-in-b-flat to an 'all and everything' overhaul :)
     
  9. Richard Oliver

    Richard Oliver Forte User

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    Has anyone ever presented a horn for alignment, and heard "Nope. Dosen't need it?"

    Just asking.
     
  10. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

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    Yes. Last Friday I took my newly acquired Stomvi Master Bb/A/G picc to Mark Hammelev in Colorado Springs. Mark worked at The Brass Bow for a number of years and has aligned most of my other horns. He took measurements on my picc and discovered that someone had apparently already done an alignment. (I suspect Reeves, because Cambrass imports Stomvi and the Reeves alignment is listed as a Stomvi option on some US sites).

    Mark is a fantastic brass tech that I highly recommend.

    Dave
     

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