Schilke Trumpet World Tour and Review?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trickg, Jun 24, 2005.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Recently (within the last year or so) there have been a couple of horns that have been sent around for play testing and road testing. Tom Turner and Flip Oakes blessed us with the opportunity to test the Wild Thing, and currently the Stage 1 California is finding it's way into the hands of some players, and I'm on the list to try out the Phaeton when my turn comes around.

    Recently, I have really been enjoying my Schilke that I picked up a couple of months ago, and although I know that Schilkes have been around a while, is there anything that really makes them any different from the other "custom" hand-made trumpets out there?

    The fit and finish of my Schilke is flawless. When I was cleaning it the other day, I noticed that the valve caps, top and bottom, are NUMBERED! This would explain why when everything is together, all of the hex facets line up with the horn and with each other. All of the solder joints are extremely tight and I read somewhere that the excess solder from those joints is painstakingly scraped and hand strapped, rather than removed using a de-lead solution.

    Schilke, like many of the other new custom horns, also start from the valve block and are built outward from there. And you have to admit, the Schilke valve block is a valve block to be envied. All braces are hand fit, which means that there is probably very little internal stress on the instrument to impinge resonance. I'm not sure about brace placement though - I think that this was something that was worked out long ago on the original prototypes and I don't know if braces are attached custom, horn by horn based on the response.

    Schilke also has very unique bells which I have read are fabricated by a secret process where a cylinder of brass is somehow stretched over a mandrel, creating a truly seamless, one piece bell. The beryllium bells are fabricated electrolytically over a mandrel.

    These trumpets are truly custom, yet these days, while I do hear from a Schilke loyalist or two, it seems that they are largely overlooked and for the most part, are not placed in the custom horn or "superhorn" category. It would be interesting to see how a B1 or a B5 (or even a B6 like mine) would fare on a testing tour. I wonder how they would stand up to the other current custom horns such as the Stage 1, Lawlers, Blackburns, Eclipses, and the Phaeton.
     
  2. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Patrick, I believe the original beryllium bells were electroformed but the "newer" beryllium bells are the ones formed from a "tube". (I'd like to know if anyone is dead certain on this).

    Certainly Schilkes are "handmade" but in a plant which has more than the number of workers that one would normally associate with a "custom" maker. They are still a superb instrument and I agree that they don't get the recognition they deserve. Their price isn't all that bad neither.

    Not too long ago I decided to put my Eclipse down for about six weeks and play my B1... "just because". The transition back to the Schilke was easy but I noticed a couple of notes that were "different". I also found that the B1 was a tad quicker in response than the MR (not surprising given the different material & weight of the bell... the MR is noticeably heavier) and design of the bell (with the B1 being of the "large throat" design). The sound of the B1 was on the 'brighter side' of the envelope as well. Valves didn't feel any different... they are fantastic on both horns.

    Anyway, two days ago I went back to the Eclipse and after a full band rehearsal of some music that we are premiering in October (honoring Charlie Russell, the western author and artist), the following were quite noticeable:
    1) the MR is heavier.... almost as heavy as an ML37S
    2) the MR has a bigger sound with less effort.... the volume just rolls out the bell. At the same time, ppp just whispers out the bell of the Eclipse.
    3) lower notes are much easier on the MR... it was only when I went back to the Eclipse that I noticed that I'd been working harder to play below the staff with the B1.
    4) valves are still fantastic. Slides ditto.
    5) I think the Schilke does respond quicker but the MR is certainly no slouch.
    6) When I use a mute the Eclipse stays right in tune... none of that "mute in/slide out" business. Not surprising since I believe that I "adjusted" the corks on my mutes to suit the Eclipse but the larger bell of the B1 meant that they (the mutes) were no longer tuned correctly for it.
    7) As much as I love the Schilke the Eclipse is still the "main axe".

    Please note: This is the Medium Red bell Eclipse, not the Medium Yellow nor any other. I suspect that there is as much variation between "models" of Eclipse as there is between models of Schilke so I'm kind of comparing "apples" to "oranges". (Both pretty darn nice "fruit" though!)
     
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Right. My post wasn't meant as a slam on any of the other custom horns out there. I made it to point out that Schilkes, although some of them were designed 30-40 years ago, are still VERY good, and compare favorably to the newer superhorns out there.

    (Edit: About the electroformed bells, I think that although there really is no beryllium in the "beryllium bells anymore, I think that the lightweight copper bells are still made electrolytically.)

    While you may have had a sound or volume difference with the B1, what about a B5? An X3? Also, is the volume thing noticed all around, or is it merely your perception due to a difference in feedback? I played a gig with a guy one night who was using a Schilke X3 to play the lead book. He never sounded very loud back in the section and there were times where I was wondering if we (the rest of us in the section) might not be over playing him. Apparently, he was just killing it out front and if anything, he was over playing us. We just weren't getting the feedback from the side - all of the projection was out front.

    Schilkes also seem to have a very unique sound - it seems that more highs are present in the resonance of the sound and they are very brilliant sounding trumpets. In the hands of some players, this brilliance is too much and the sound comes off as edgy or brittle. I don't seem to have a problem with this, but I know that some do.

    Everything about my Schilke is lightweight, but I have contemplated picking up some heavy caps made by Curry to see what effect they would have, but truthfully, I'm not sure that I would want to change the playing characteristics of my trumpet.

    Nice comments Toots. Thanks for chiming in. I was going to ask you about the price difference between the Eclipse and the Schilke and ask if the Eclipse played that much better than the Schilke, but in comparing the price difference between my Schilke and my Bach (well, "retail" price difference anyway) the difference is worth every penny!
     
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Ok, I guess the lack of response to this thread (35 views, and 1 response that wasn't me) suggests that Schilkes simply aren't considered "custom" anymore. After owning my first Schilke for only a short time, I'm just surprised that they don't get talked about more than they do. I can't believe how mine plays. It plays head and shoulders better than my Bach, and it's a pretty good Bach.

    Is it because they just aren't new like the others, or do they just not play up the same level as the others?
     
  5. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    I would have thought that the Schilke actually presented MORE of it's sound back to the player on the basis that the bell is thinner, lighter, and more "rigid" (yellow brass vs red brass) and therefore should resonate more strongly. Kind of like the claims that the super-heavy trumpets (Monette, Taylor, Harrelson) don't feed back to the player as much as, say... a Bach.

    When I purchased my B1 I had a chance to "side-by-side" with an X3, a B5 and an S32. My impressions were that the X3 required more than I could give it so the notes tended to be "unstable". The B5 sounded quite similar to the B1 but with a slightly "smaller" sound (much like a "little brother")... if that makes sense. The S32 produced a sound more like the B5 than the others but with more solid "slotting" to it. All four of the Schilkes had been built within about a two week period (just a couple of months before Andrew purchased the firm). My impressions of the sound were agreed to by the vendor... a guy who plays trumpet with the Edmonton Symphony and has a high-end stereo, CD & instrument shop who deals Schilke.
     
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    The B6 uses a copper bell - not red brass, but actual copper, however it really isn't advertised as such although from the Schilke Loyalist site I read that Schilke's philosophy was that the sound had less to do with the material of the bell than it did with the shape and flare. Here is an interesting paragraph, quoted from the Schilke Loyalist website:

    "Schilke could have chosen better terms to describe the size and shape of each bell, which can be misleading. They differ in shape, not so much size. Generally these bell size labels apply to the shape of the bell, with the "larger" bells having flares that are more gradual and conical, i.e., that open earlier so that there is a wider cross section at a spot 3 inches, say, from the bell bead for the L bells than the M bells, very roughly along the lines of a flugelhorn. This tends to give the larger belled horns such as the B1, B7, and X3 a slightly darker sound. In addition, the larger bell horns do tend to have slightly larger diameters at the end of the flare, at least the L diameter is just a tiny bit bigger than the ML (I've compared a B1 and B5) and I'd bet the same is true for the ML and M bells. The more significant difference, however, is in the shape of the flare rather than in the ultimate diameter."

    I have found the for the most part, Schilke bells are very close in terms of diameter at the bead - my B6, listed as having the "B", or ML bell, is a full 5" at the bead, which is considerably larger than my Bach's 25 bell.
     
  7. old geezer

    old geezer Pianissimo User

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    I played a S32 for a number of years and really liked the horn, intonation and tone was what I liked. It slotted very well and blended very easy in every venue. I started playing in a quintet and for some reason that horn just wore me out, I had no trouble with in other type of music but quintet stuff just killed me. I switched to a L.A. Benge 2MLP and had very little problem with quintet music after that. I will say that I could not find any issues with the S32 - every thing fit - the finish was perfect - intonation was as good as any horn that I've played - in other words a very good horn. Maybe the part about the horn wearing me out was all in my head [there is not much up there anyway] or it may have been that I switched to a more shallow mouthpiece so that sound matched the lead player had more to do with me wearing out than the horn did. In all I would have to say that experience with Schilke was very good, you would have to look really hard to find a better horn. old geezer Dave :cool:
     
  8. Heavens2kadonka

    Heavens2kadonka Forte User

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    Schilke is a horn I have always wanted to try out! Something about how their bells are described as sounding have always picqued my interest! :D

    If such a tour were to happen, I would definitely ask to be a part of it.

    Van
     
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    I can't speak for the other Schilkes as I have not played them, but the word that I feel best describes the sound of mine is that it sparkles. It has a dark, solid core to it, yet it is brilliant at the same time. It's a smooth sound too, and it records really well.

    Again, I'm not trying to take anything away from any of these other custom trumpets - I'm chomping at the bit for my turn with the Phaeton, but it's going to have to be danged good to match or beat my Schilke.

    I'll tell you what, if I ever happen to win the lottery and have more money than Midas, I'll buy a couple (for me! :D) and I'll send them around on a tour. Otherwise, you'll just have to take my word for it that this Schilke that I lucked into is a great playing trumpet.
     
  10. davidjohnson

    davidjohnson Piano User

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    mine's fine & i'm not changing. i love it (C7).
    i don't think the new owners make that model anymore.

    dj
     

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