Symtoms of a Trumpet That is in Need of a Valve Alignment?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by MiragePilot, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. MiragePilot

    MiragePilot New Friend

    May 2, 2011
    Fort Worth, TX
    I have been searching the forums for discussion topics concerning trumpet valve alignment, and what the typical symptoms are of a trumpt that needs to have its valves re-aligned. I haven't found any answer(s) yet.

    My trumpet (Getzen 300 Series Bb) is approaching 30yrs old. I bought it new and played it for 2.5 years back in the mid-late 80's and then it sat in the box for 25yrs during my trumpet playing "sabbatical". I started my comback just under 2 yrs ago and have been playing it regularly since then.

    While my embouchre has been steadily improving during my comeback, my range is still not where is was when I quit palying all those years ago. It seems that notes within the staff can be played with (relative) "ease", but any notes above the G on the top of the staff do not play as easily/open as the lower notes. In my early days of playing this particular instrument, I don't recall that being the case. Of course, and I'll be the first to admit it, the 25yr break definitely did a number on my embouchre! So, I suspect that is a large contributor to my problem. However, on a whim I decided to check the #2 valve alignment (when depressed)...the valve...not me!;-) and noticed that it was noticeably off (i.e. moving approx 1/32-1/16 past the tube opening.) An inspection of the felt beneath the finger buttons revealed a noticeably compressed/crushed felt, which would explain a large portion of the (valve depressed) misalignment.

    It seems to me that as a minimum I should consider replacing the felt(s) in all 3 valves, but I was also wondering if there are any documented symptoms/trumpet playing difficulties associated with an instrument that had (vertically) misaligned valves? Perhaps some of the difficulites I have been experiencing during my efforts to reacquire my range might be a result of the deteriorated valve alignment on my "old" trumpet? Wishfull thinking perhaps...:-)

    The Getzen 300 seies is a bottom of the line student trumpet and, for sure, I could stand to upgrade to a better instrument. I definitely plan to do so, but until I can play the Getzen as well as I could before I quit, I am having a hard time justifying a new instrument. I'm not there yet, but working hard to get a lot closer. I am hoping a valve felt overhaul on the Getzen might accelerate the process:thumbsup:

    Many thanks for your time and help.

    Fort Worth, TX
  2. BinaryHulledIon

    BinaryHulledIon Piano User

    Nov 23, 2012
    Spartanburg, SC
    The Getzen 300 is one of those horns a lot of people here swear by as far as basic horns go. It's a quality trumpet, far from the bottom of the barrel. You can replace the felts for quite a bit cheaper than you can replace the trumpet, in terms of both money and time, so just go wtih that first. And then you can tack the price of replacing the felts onto whatever your sell price is when you decide to upgrade.

    Edit: when's the last time you gave it a good bath? I mean, fully submerged and going after all of the pipe with a snake brush?
  3. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Definitely, get the felt replaced first. They cost about 75 cents each. Much cheaper than having to buy a new valve and getting in lapped into place.
  4. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    There are different opinions on this topic. Some would say that there is no reason to get a valve alignment. Others would say that every trumpet needs one.

    I'm not saying this to create a debate about valve alignments. Based on prior threads on this topic, it's unlikely that you will find a definitive argument either for or against.

    So I agree with Gary to maybe replace the felts, as part of the normal maintenance of your trumpet. But I would take a more pragmatic approach about valve alignments. If the horn works, I'd leave well enough alone.

  5. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    While I am in agreement with Mike and Gary that if it works leave alone, it has been my experience that most horns that have passed through my hands have benefited from a valve alignment, such as now the first thing I do on a new or secondhand horn is check the alignment.

    The changes are usually very slow and not noticable, my first pro horn was a Selmer B700 purchased new in 1986, after playing for 12 years I gave it a new set of felts, it was almost as I had a new horn the difference was so marked.

    3 recent experiences.

    Purchased a 1941 York Custom from a reputable internet dealer, he included a note to say he hoped I will be happy with it, it did not play very well. He was right it was very stuffy, could not get a clean centered note from it in any register. Checking the valve alignment all 3 valve were around 1/8" out in the up position, correcting made a good horn that I have used in big band.

    Purchased a 1964 Mt Vernon Bach to see what the hype on these instruments was about. Had been overhauled by a local shop for sale. on getting it home it played ok but nothing special I felt, checking alignment, all 3 valves out by 3/32" in the up position, fitting correct sized felts made the horn sing.

    A friend bought a little used 2000 Besson Prestige Cornet, he felt it did not respond as it should, he had his teacher play it and he agreed, my friend was ready to sell it at a loss, I suggested we check the valve alignment, it was out by 1/16", correcting made a great player, we wonder if the origonal owner got rid of it because of the response.

    My method is not precise, I use a No1 dental mirror ($4) and a single LED Book light ($2), Remove the 2nd valve and bottom cap, with the mirror and light the alignment of the 1st and 3rd valves can be seen through the connecting tubes. the 2nd valve from either 1st or 3rd.

    Acording to Dr Richard Smith of Smith Watkins instruments former designer for Boosey and Hawkes, there are 24 points where miss-alignment in the vertical plane in a 3 valve instrument can occur, it is a compromise at the best.

    Regards, Stuart.
  6. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    The 300 is a very good entry level horn and nothing to be ashamed of at all. Horns that sit for extended periods can get their felts "soaked" with oil and water and compress. If the horn lay dormant for 25 years on it's side, upside down, etc. that is likely the culprit. As said, it's an easy fix. You may want to "splurge" and get neoprene pads as these don't absorb and compress like felt. Getzen valves are some of the best in the business (some custom horn makers use Getzen valve blocks!!). While not a PVA proponent, the valves being out as in stumac's case would definitely make a difference in how the horn plays. I can't promise that this will help you with your range, only practice will fix that, but it will make the horn sound better and more enjoyable to play.
  7. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    If the valve cluster was made before the days of CNC machining it might benefit from a "best fit" valve alignment. There is no such thing as perfect valve alignment; if you get the inlet port perfect, chances are that the outlet will be misaligned. Chuck Ward, designer for UMI, once calculated that 1 trumpet in 20,000 would be on specification, due to manufacturing tolerances.

    If the valve cluster was made on CNC equipment, then the original size felts will probably achieve the best result.
  8. MiragePilot

    MiragePilot New Friend

    May 2, 2011
    Fort Worth, TX

    Many thanks for all the help/suggestions. I will definitely replace the felts and continue with my comeback. I have been very happy with the Getzen to date (and the valves, while maybe slighly misaligned, are smooth and very fast...typical Getzen valves so I hear:-)). Looking back at my original post, I should have reworded my statment about the 300 series being a "bottom of the line student trumpet" to a "bottom of the Getzen line of student trumpets". I concur with all of the positive comments here about the quality of the Getzen 300 series "student" trumpet.

    I liked the Getzen enough to go out and buy a nice, NIB old stock, Getzen Renaissance 30S C trumpet last year! :-). Regarding the 30S C trumpet (which is a lot newer and less played/used than my 300 series), I find it a lot easier to play the higher notes (and pedal tones too) on the C trumpet than on my Bb 300 Series. That was the primary reason that made me start suspecting that something wasn't right with my Bb trumpet, btw.

    A qucik reply to "BinaryHulledIon": I took the trumpet to a local music store for a complete clean/service shortly after I started palying again, and have been cleaning it myself since then. Important point, though.

    Thanks again for al the help/suggestions. I'll replace the felts and report back to the group on my progress/results.

  9. bigtiny

    bigtiny Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2005
    Here's what you should do. Take the horn to a good tech and ask them if the valves need to be aligned or other works needs to be done.

    If you not satisfied with the valves, tell them why and that'll give them something to look for.

  10. Brad-K

    Brad-K Piano User

    Jun 18, 2011
    A good cleaning, new felts, and corks, (and MAYBE springs) are a very good thing. It was the best thing I did for my horn and myself after taking it up again after the long hiatus (as in "Night and Day Yippy-yai-yo-kai-yay Difference). Then you can go from there.

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