Stainless Steel in Trumpet Construction

Discussion in 'Horns' started by tedh1951, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    Considering all the post we have on cleaning trumpets, aluminium foil, baking soda and so on - I wonder if anyone has had a shot at producing a trumpet formed from Stainless Steel - I would think that the sound would be quite bright and could be readilly adjustable during manufacture by annealing and tempering judiciously. Any thoughts?
  2. HSOtrumpet1

    HSOtrumpet1 Pianissimo User

    Nov 28, 2008
    I think some mouthpieces are plated with stainless steel. There must be a reason why things aren't fully made of stainless steel, though. Maybe just it's chemical compound doesn't allow for a good sound? :think:.
  3. godchaser

    godchaser Banned

    Jun 17, 2007

    "I would think that the sound would be quite bright and could be readilly adjustable during manufacture by annealing and tempering judiciously." -Ted


    Never considered that before Ted. You're suggesting by way of ann. & temp. -there would be a distinctive variance of sound-color for the Builder-artiste to paint with, during a Build. That is.. from the material alone. Thereby adding another facet of Build-dynamic in sound-development, not available with a static-material.

    -Although, it's cost and malleability that's forever at point, it seems. Brass is pliable, and cheap. Working with Stainless would be some kickin' and cusin' for sure.


    Which is to say, if i were a Builder, it'd be at the top of the list of materials to experiment with. -Saw an all-alum. Horn for sale here, a good while back. As it was told, it didn't have the pop, that brass does. Wish i had known more about Horns at the time; i would have picked it up. Obviously it was just poorly set-up. I'd have sent that Beauty over to Jason Harrelson, to fine tune.

    Last edited: Dec 27, 2008
  4. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006
    The Stainless mouthpieces are all stainless. Not plated.

    I can't comment on sound, but in terms of cost, stainless is very expensive compared to brass. Even stainless steel compared to cold roll steel is expensive. A flute mandrel made of cold roll steel might cost $40 but one made of 303 stainless would be $150 or more.
  5. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    Stainless steel has been used for some time already in the making of valve pistons by Getzen and Bierfien.

  6. jimshaw646

    jimshaw646 New Friend

    May 1, 2011
    "Stainless steel" covers a large range of alloys: 303, 304,316 monel, hastalloyC, etc. I'm remembering from some 28 years ago when I retired from a govt. radiation lab. I'm really wondering if there would be any tonal difference between the various alloys Does anyone want to guess or comment??
    LA Benge
    Getzen 700SP
    Chinese Flower vase
  7. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    We all have opinions on the properties of stainless steel - it's not just one alloy as already recognised by Jimshaw, nor is it necessarilly rust free - and as it is essentially steel with various percentages of chromium and nickel (normal kitchen sink stainless) then variations in the base steel - the amount of carbon for example could be varied to change the basic malleability, ductility, and heat treatment properties of the finished material. I'm not sure that the difference in price would be too much of an issue (but I'm guessing a bit based on scrap values). Stainless would have different forming properties and may present some weight issues, but in the metal gauge being used in trumpet construction I suspect a good practitioner shouldn't have to much of a problem, nor should a SS horn be much heavier than a brass one. Thanks for your thoughts - just keeping an aging mind active, staving off Old Timer's Disease really. ;-)
  8. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    There really is nothing new under the trumpet sun. Schilke, Bach, and many others have very likely experimented with all sorts of material. If anything worked better than brass and was not cost prohibitive, it would have been done. There were bells made of crystal marketed only a dozen or so years ago and there are wooden bells out there, too.
    Here is a link from The Schilke Loyalist with Schilke himself explaining some effects of various materials on bells alone. It does not mention stainless steel, but he did experiment with regular steel with some surprising results.
    Schilke Brass Clinic
    From what I've read, stainless steel is very hard on tooling. G&W mouthpieces may have more about stainless mouthpieces and their manufacturing on their website.
    Perhaps we have a metallurgist in our midst who can explain more on stainless steel.
    Also note the finish experiment from Schilke. Please remember that this was long before lacquers have been improved.
    As a suggestion, if you don't know of it, Jim Donaldson has two very fine websites with considerable correct information on instruments, mouthpieces, and other trumpet info. He gets his information from the real deals and is dead on. Both are easy to get to from the above link.

  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    The problem with stainless steal is that you would be limited to play them only at a Brillo Pad.

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