To hammer, or not to hammer......

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpet Dreamer, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. Trumpet Dreamer

    Trumpet Dreamer Mezzo Forte User

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    To hammer, or not to hammer, that is the question.

    How large of an impact does hand hammering of bells have on the sound of the horn? Everything else being equal, does a hand hammered bell have better tone than a non-hammered bell? And, what is the difference...warmer, darker, brighter, more resonance, feedback, etc.?

    It seems that nearly every manufacturer employs both methods of manufacturing and they are quick to point out which models are hammered as being better constructed from the standpoint of sound quality.
     
  2. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

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    I think this is like your other post on brass types. When you hear someone play trumpet, do you think, "Now that's a hand hammered bell"! "Hand Hammering" has the Old World mystique of lost artisanship. It's as much marketing as anything else. I've watched you-tube videos of hand hammering and the horn being hammered was a student level horn known for inconsistent intonation. Another video shows a bell on a lathe. It was a pro level horn known for it's consistency and quality. Makers offer both because market forces require them to do so.
     
  3. Trumpet Dreamer

    Trumpet Dreamer Mezzo Forte User

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    I believe you're correct in your reference to marketing. I recently purchased a new trumpet from a respected name and was given a lot of info about the hammering by in house artisans and how this was the best way to make a bell. They even claimed that while many advertise hand hammered bells, not all hammering is done equally.

    Hype - Ingenious or questionable claim, method, etc., used in advertising and/or promotion to intensify the effect.

    Is it possible then that "Old World Hand Hammering" could fall under the above category?
     
  4. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

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    Absolutely! Before the industrial revolution, everything was hand hammered. That's why I said "old world mystique". It doesn't mean it is better or worse than a lathe made bell. So much more goes into the building of a quality instrument than just a hand hammered bell. Not to change the topic, but the valve block is the most important part of the whole. If the rest of the horn is genius, and the block is bad, it's a terrible horn that you won't play. I have seen some hand hammered bells that are truly works of art and cost 5 figures. Does it play appreciably better than a top of the line pro production line horn? I don't know, yet! ;-)
     
  5. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    --------

    This is a good question and rowuk might be a good person to shed some light on this. While I have no data to support this claim, I'd suggest it would depend on the individual craftsman doing the work, work shop standards, metal weight and the type of metal used, etc..
    As you know, generally, warmer, darker, brighter, etc. are components of the player. I just don't know if the actual act of hand hammering has a significant effect on those variables mentioned when compared to other means of bell manufacturing.
    I'm pretty sure if I put a Martin Committee in the hands of Maynard Ferguson, the sound will not be dark. If I put an MF Horn in the hands of Miles Davis, it won't sound hot.
     
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  6. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

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    Excellent point about Maynard and Miles.
     
  7. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

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    Going back to the O.P's question about hand hammered bells; In my 'accumilation' I have an Olds Military Model trumpet from back in 1930. My experience with that horn with an obviously hand hammered bell is that it is not only flexible per intonation, and can sing very sweetly at low volume, but, can also scream and peel paint when pushed. It is quite difficult to force it hard enough to make it break up, even slightly. I don't know if all of these attributes are the result of the unique bell, or Olds overall fine quality of manufacture. I do know that my elderly Olds draws more than its share of compliments from knowledgable audiences and fellow band mates. It is an absolute joy to observe and to play and I have turned down many high offers for it. As far as I am concerned, it has found a home for the balance of my life.


    OLDLOU>>
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  8. ChopsGone

    ChopsGone Forte User

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    +1 on the Olds Military Model, it's a great horn.

    But I'm curious as to how the term "hand hammered" is used in the OP's question. Traditional bell-making requires hand-hammering, shaping on a mandrel, and turning to thickness on a lathe. So far, I haven't run across many memorably good bells which were made any other way - Conn Coprion, the occasional Olds "Ultrasonic", and such, but by and large those stand out more as being good bells, not as the very best bells.

    The other way the term could be used is the same as the process often referred to as "hand-peened". In the case of the Olds Military, I'd hazard a guess that the bell was hand-hammered, shaped, turned on a lathe, then hand-peened. And the little I've been able to learn about that final process is that it's usually thought to add a bit of brilliance to the tone. That does seem to be the case with my Olds Military Model as well as with a custom-built Calicchio with hand-peened bell. Oddly enough, my Military Model cornet seems to have that same touch of brilliance, and it has the plain bell. Go figure.
     
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Interesting point about Maynard - didn't he actually play a Martin Committee for a while?

    The whole "hand hammered" thing is a selling point with cymbals and folks like to try to point out the vintage sounds of people using old Zildjian turkish hand hammered cymbals (Such as Max Roach or Elvin Jones) as being "proof" that hand hammered, old world craftsmanship is somehow better. What they fail to realize is that when these guys went to Zildjian to get their cymbals, they had stacks of cymbals that were rejected in their search to find the ones that they felt best matched their personal sound concept for how they wanted their cymbals to sound.

    But on the flip side of that, there are guys out there, true masters of the craft, making decent money with a niche market skill of re-hammering and re-lathing commercially machine hammered cymbals to bring out the voice of the bronze for a particular cymbal.

    Bringing this back around to trumpets, without that personal masters touch, it's possible that hand hammering a bell is a hit or miss proposition.
     
  10. Trumpet Dreamer

    Trumpet Dreamer Mezzo Forte User

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    "Hand Hammered" is used in the context of what the folks at Getzen and Yamaha use in their ads, on their websites, and in some videos - see Used Trumpet - Reviews, tutorials, books and videos about Used Trumpet.

    So your claim is that all trumpets are essentially hand made, whether is be "peened" or "hammered", and eventually turned on a lathe.

    My teacher (lead trumpet - 1 O'Clock) actually likes my Yammie 2335 better than my Mike Vax Getzen. The Getzen has the hand hammering black magic applied, whereas the Yammie is just machine made.

    The whole point is to dig into the claims (hype?) surrounding this issue, and to make a determination if there is any genuine value in this Old World technique.
     

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