Internal Imperfections and Their Effects

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by J. Jericho, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. J. Jericho

    J. Jericho Fortissimo User

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    To what degree do mouthpiece gap, tuning slide gap, intonation aid gap (1st & 3rd valve slides), water key nipples (traditional water keys, as opposed to Amado design), dents (major and minor), bends/crooks (both shape and quantity), valve/piston alignment (vertically and radially), and water condensation affect sound, response, and playability?

    It is my understanding that mouthpiece gap, which has been discussed elsewhere, is to a degree designed by instrument manufcturers, and yet at times can be adjusted with the result being an improvement. I also know that at least one manufacturer addresses the tuning slide situation by providing inserts to reduce the area of change in tubing diameter when the tuning slide is pulled out. What about when the third and/or first valve slide is extended to flatten low C# or D? Do the holes for water keys in the transition areas of crooks disturb the vibrations passing through the area? I have been told that dents in nodal areas can have a negative effect. Do these nodes occur at different areas for different notes? How large does a dent have to be to make a difference? I definitely notice a change in timbre when different valve combinations are used: the more crooks involved, the greater the change; open tones sound clear, while low Db sounds hoarse, dull, and stuffy. Valves which are optimized to their respective tubing openings are considered desirable, but what if there's a radial misalignment that cannot be corrected by adjusting the valve guides? For instance, if the openings in the valves are slightly out of position because the horn was not constructed perfectly, how much misalignment, if any, is tolerable? What about overlaps in the curves in the valves themselves which prevent a perfect shape? And do water droplets formed in nodal areas have the same effect as dents?

    I look forward to reading your experiences, comments, and informed opinions.
    _____________________________

    Bach Stradivarius Model 72* trumpet
    Yamaha YFH-731 flugelhorn
    King Opus 7 cornet
    King Cleveland 602 cornet
    Parrot Bb field trumpet
    natural trumpet in key of C (frankenhorn under construction)
    Selmer Bundy tenor trombone
    shofar
    Gemeinhardt C flute
    ____________________________

    "There are two sides to a trumpeter's personality: there is the one that lives only to lay waste to the woodwinds and strings, leaving them lying blue and lifeless along the path of destruction that is a trumpeter's fury; then there's the dark side...." -- Michael Stewart, DMA
     
  2. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

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    J.J

    I shall attempt to answer some of your questions based on my own experiences. Mouthpiece gap, the general consensus is that the gap should be between 1/8" and 3/16", however different horns respond to different gaps, I have a Wedge mouthpiece with 5 shanks giving gaps of zero to 1/4 " in most modern horns, I have found that My Eclipse seems to like 1/8" gap whereas my Selmer Radial Bb likes close to zero gap, my Selmer 24A Balanced model which has the easiest and clearest high register of all my horns has a gap of 5/8" and practically no step at the junction of the receiver and leadpipe.

    I suggest reading the article on the GR Mouthpiece site for a discussion on gap and a formula to calculate gap using parameters of mp exit diameter, wall thickness, leadpipe entry dia and wall thickness. R. Schilke designed his horns to have zero gap with his mouthpieces.

    Any discontinuity in the diameter of the tubing will have an effect on response at various frequencies although this may be very small, I have not tried sleeves in any of my horns.

    The same goes for water key nipples and dents of major proportions, the position of nodes will change with frequency, because the trumpet sound is rich in harmonics the nodal structure is quite complex.

    I have seen dents in the rear bell bow reducing the area by 1/3 and not made any difference, dents of similar proportions in the tuning slide have made considerable difference.

    Valve alignment, most of my vintage horns and several new ones have been improved with correcting the vertical alignment both in the up and down position.
    2 recent examples, 1963 Mt Vernon Strad, played ok but not what I expected, down alignment good, changing washers from 0.120" to 0.040" brought the up position into alignment, horn opened up and plays beautifully.
    1941 York Custom Model, played as though a sock was stuck in it, dull and lifeless, down alignment ok, changing washers from 0.250" to 0.050 made the horn really sing with plenty of sizzle and the whole horn vibrates in the hand. Radial alignment I suspect would have the same effect, none of my horns are more than approx .020" out of alignment, I have not been brave enough yet to unsolder the spring cage and reposition to correct.

    Water droplets I think do not make much difference as they would flatten out under the nodal pressure.

    These are some of my experiences and thoughts.

    Regards, Stuart.
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    It depends what we call imperfections. If we built a horn and efficiency was the #1 parameter, it would be very loud but also very out of tune. Dents and bad solder joints are only places for scum to get stuck at. They have to be very major to affect the sound. Remember, resonant frequency is determined by length with tubes, volume for irregular shapes and taper on horns. The dent has to be REALLY major to change the taper of the bell or leadpipe, or change the volume in the valve cluster. There is no practical way to change length through imperfections.

    My experience is that valve and gap alignments are only frosting on the cake. A bad horn is not made good, and good does not turn bad.

    Moisture changes the density of the air, for my chops, a dry horn is a lot stuffier than a moist one.

    Thze biggest effect of defects on a horn are psychjological for the player. If you know that everything is perfectly aligned, you play better. If everything is perfect - EXCEPT - some things become self fulfilling...........................
     
  4. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

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    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
  5. J. Jericho

    J. Jericho Fortissimo User

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    Thank you, Stuart, for your quick and thoughtful reply. I did go to the GR website and experimented with their gap calculations. I found that the closer I got to the suggested gap, the worse the horn played; range and response suffered. I didn't raise the question in my original post about how a dented mouthpiece shank might affect things, but there's another source of discontinuity. As the result of the suggestion of one of my instructors many years ago, I routinely check and adjust as necessary the valve adjustment on a new acquisition, and periodically on all my horns, and my perception is that it makes a difference. Technically, it does make a difference. Is it enough to be percieved? I think it depends upon the sensitivity of the player to that sort of thing. A while back, I saw a video of some guy playing a cornet with a serious collection of dents, but I haven't found it today to post the link. Anyway, he played it just fine. It sounded just fine.

    Robin, while a bad horn cannot be made good, if it is optimized, or close to it, a decent payer can make it sound nice. It'll take more work to do it, but it can be done. I have no doubt that you've done it yourself! Conversely, a horn that is a masterpiece can sound like a flock of geese on the wing in the wrong hands.

    Bob, I'm interested in learning other players' experience and knowledge concerning the degree of effect different imperfections have on how a trumpet plays and sounds. Personally, I want to know that when (not if...) a clam pops out of the bell of my horn that it's me, not the horn. It makes it clearer to me how to correct the problem. As the saying goes, "Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect!".
    _____________________________

    Bach Stradivarius Model 72* trumpet
    Yamaha YFH-731 flugelhorn
    King Opus 7 cornet
    King Cleveland 602 cornet
    Parrot Bb field trumpet
    natural trumpet in key of C (frankenhorn under construction)
    Selmer Bundy tenor trombone
    shofar
    Gemeinhardt C flute
    ____________________________

    "There are two sides to a trumpeter's personality: there is the one that lives only to lay waste to the woodwinds and strings, leaving them lying blue and lifeless along the path of destruction that is a trumpeter's fury; then there's the dark side...." -- Michael Stewart, DMA
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012

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