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

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

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Based on my experience with cymbals, where it's less subjective than with trumpet where you introduce a lot more variables when you add the player (each player has a unique sound and embouchure, which plays a large roll in how a "trumpet" sounds and plays, where with cymbals, the results may vary a bit with technique, but not to the same degree) I would say that yes, hammering/peening by a master artisan craftsman would have a positive effect.

    With cymbals, the difference in sound between cymbals that are

    a.) machine hammered, (programmed pattern of hammering done through automation)
    b.) "hand hammered" (where it's a machine doing the actual hammering but it is being guided by hand) and
    c.) true hand hammering where the artisan is beating on the cymbal on a special anvil with an actual hammer in their hand

    is pretty noticible. It's light years between method 'a' and method 'c' - method 'b' gets it pretty close and probably creates cymbals that are consistently more similar between different cymbals of the same size and model, but they don't ever quite get to the same level of character that a cymbal hammered by a master cymbal smith possesses.

    Likewise, I think that a similar thing could be said of hammered trumpet bells - it just seems to me that it would bring out a unique resonant character with more body to the sound, and it would likely be much more repsonsive and resonant - the player wouldn't have to work as hard to play, but it might introduce some other sonic quirks - such is the nature of being unique. :-)

  2. SmoothOperator

    SmoothOperator Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 14, 2010
    I also have wondered about this being cymbal connoisseur as well.

    I personally expect that b would come out consistently better, especially if artisan fatigue is taken into account.

    I think it comes down to weather the artisan can tell a good sounding bell while crafting the bell. I mean does it ring a certain way while beating it that would sound better or not. I am not certain that there would be a connection between this and the sound it would make mounted on a horn and being played.

    Other than that there may be some sort of tensioning of the metal or golf ball type effect (with the divets) that would make such a horn sound a certain way or be louder. But for the latter I don't see how that would be different than just dinging the horn up a bunch :-P
  3. ChopsGone

    ChopsGone Forte User

    Jan 26, 2009
    Northern California
    Based on the horns in my own collection, I'll vote for the hand-hammered approach every time - as long as the hammering is done by a master craftsman. Try a Calicchio some time.
  4. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006
    You can't judge a trumpet on just this factor.
    Your view is too narrow. You are looking at one tiny cog in a large machine. The differences between your Getzen and your Yamaha also occur in weight, metal type, metal hardness, brace shape and placing, leadpipe taper, bell taper, bell flare, mouthpiece receiver size, mouthpiece gap, valve tolerance, bell seam placement, amount of pieces in the bell
    PLUS on top of that, we have personal opinion. I wouldn't call it black magic, but I also wouldn't judge a two different horns based on one factor. Maybe if you had a brand X trumpet with a hand hammered or peened bell, and the other with a normal bell done on a lathe.
  5. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008

    I can't speak to the Mike Vax model, but the videos I referred to were in fact a Getzen video with the bell on the lathe. The hand hammered video was a Blessing 125 student horn. Go figure!:dontknow:
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I think trying to identify the quality of a musical instrument based on one factor is useless.

    The hand hammered bell is part of a complete picture that may or may not be good.

    What types of bells are there? Hammered and spun (on a lathe). Even the hand hammered bell is spun at the end to give it its final shape and material thickness. One could argue that this final spinning even would wipe out any advantage "hand anything could possibly have. I think I even saw a stamped bell once on YouTube the manufacturer was a 4-letter word..........................

    Fact: Monette bells are 2 piece and spun on a lathe. They are of the highest quality. Bach bells are "hand hammered" and considered by some to be very good, by others to be good enough. I agree with both. The ARTISAN picks the characteristics to make a complete statement. We either agree or buy something else. The ad people find a story and the gullible believe it. You don't need a hand hammered to build a fine instrument.

    Read my sticky thread at the top of the general trumpet forum: how a trumpet works. Most everything is in there.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  7. SmoothOperator

    SmoothOperator Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 14, 2010
    I have seen pictures of some aftermarket reshaping. Pretty cool IMHO.
  8. rafaelsatchmo

    rafaelsatchmo New Friend

    Oct 12, 2010
    Nauvoo Illinois
    Hand hammering is so missused. Anciently, brass was hammered into a sheet and then the bell, once cut from a patterned, was hammer welded (brazed?) together. In the baroque era, these were the old natural D trumpets.

    Once brazing was developed, and sheet brass was manufactured, a piece was cut to pattern from the sheet, then put on a mandrel and rough-formed with a mallet. The seam was then brazed and the bell shape gradually formed.

    This is still pretty much what's done today by manufacturers of "hand-hammered" bells. There's a neat video on YouTube showing how Getzen makes bells.

    The bell is still put on a lathe and spun -- "metal shaped" -- to the correct shape.

    It looks as if in the early 1900s that the two-piece bell was developed: the majority of the bell was cut to shape and wraped (and hammered) around the mandrel and bazed together. Then, the flair of the bell would be cut from a flat sheet (it looked like a 45 rpm record) and metal shaped on a lathe. This then would be attached to the main bell piece and bazed on. So there would be two seams: one where the main bell is brazed (lengthwise) and another where the bell flair is brazed to the main bell (around the circumference).

    Horn builders such as F.E. Olds perfected this technique in the 1920s.

    The debate continues as to whether the single seam "hand hammered" bell is better sounding or more responsive than the two-piece variety. I don't think anyone can hear the difference. Or tell the difference in a horn's response.

    The great Mendez played a French Besson (single seam hammered bell) until Olds built his Mendez model (two piece bell). He was incredible on either horn. And I don't think anyone could tell the difference.

    It comes down to this: What feels best for you, the player?

    Forget the "hype" and bragging rights. Leave that for the hot rodders (they love to brag about this piece of equipment or that). If you sound best on an old Conn Director, great.

    If an old Besson or Bach does it, super. Ditto on the Committes, etc.

    For me, it's an LA Olds Mendez, seƱores.
  9. skip77

    skip77 New Friend

    Mar 25, 2007
    As a technical person that has worked in research labs almost 40 yrs my first thoughts about effects of hammered vs nonhammered trumpet bells goes toward metal density. If you have 2 sheets of identical brass alloy but one is twice as thick as the other and you hammer the thicker sheet until it is the same thickness as thinner sheet and form both into bells from same cone shaped anvil, it would seem that the hammered bell in that case might sound differently becuase the brass, although the same alloy, should be more dense. That should have effects on tonal properties. However, since a variety of brass alloys and densities are available today, a maker can just as easily start with denser brass sheet and get the same tonal properties as a previously hand hammered bell that started thicker of less dense alloy, ending in same thickness and density of modern alloy. I'm thinking a specific metal density might be more desirable whether hammered to get it or machine pressed into preformed sheets to get it or simply the result of alloy formulation to get higher density? Bell metal density is what colors tone not hammered or not hammered? Hammered or not hammered is only a way to acheive a specific metal density. A less dense trumpet made from wood would be less brilliant than a typical brass trumpet because resonance is affected by material density? This is my 2 cents.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2010
  10. study888

    study888 Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 22, 2005
    Darlington S.C.
    Have not had time to read all these posts yet. Not many horn companys are making a True hand hammered Bell today.

    You can go to the Getzen Horn Company internet site and get a excellent read about this topic. This may have already been mentioned.

    The Getzen Company does offer a true hand hammered Bell option for their Pro-Grade Trumpets and maybe the the other Horn models as well. Not totaly sure about all other horn model types though. As the ole saying goes,you got the money,we got the time.

    Mr. Getzen will have to post and add any info. or corrections I may have left out. Is a nice option for a Professional horn player. But not needed for a rookie like me.

    If I did walk up on a vintage Olds Horn with the hand hammered bell at a Pawn shop or Garage sell etc. Price was affordable,this rookie would buy it in a New York Minute.

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