Trumpet Bell Materials

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Sethoflagos, Sep 10, 2015.

  1. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    There seems to be a lot of confusion around regarding what trumpet bells are actually made of and what difference this makes to the musical qualities of the instrument. Confusing terminologies abound but from what I've read, all 'normal-ish' materials fall somewhere within the following sequence (roughly in order of increasing 'strength')

    Silver
    Copper
    Low zinc brasses (<16% Zn)
    Intermediate brasses
    High zinc brasses (>24% Zn)
    Beryllium Copper
    Phosphor Bronze

    My impression (not understanding) is that this trend equates approximately to dark and flugelly at the top to bright and trumpetty at the bottom.

    Clearly, other factors are in play. I've read that thinning the material drives it down the scale (eg can make a silver bell sound bright) as does work-hardening, while annealing tends to send it in the other direction. Bell shape, yet another issue entirely.

    Do I have this approximately correct?
     
  2. Sterling

    Sterling Mezzo Forte User

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    I have a Bach 43 Sterling bell that has much more projection than a normal brass 43 bell. I also have a Silvertone made in 1938 that also has the same kind of focus and projection. My Conn 10 B Victor from 1960 has a Copper bell that is much more mellow than brass or silver. I have a gold brass rotary that is similar to my Conn. This could also be because they have a larger than normal bell. Hope that helps?
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Big subject. I will contend that the bell material influences what the player hears more than what the audience hears. If I change what the player hears, their brain changes the sound, so it is hard to prove.

    Annealing makes the material pass energy more easily - the player gets more feedback. In addition to the list I have also tried lead, steel and glass bells. Lead was the most brilliant and easy to control. Glass was completely unpredictable in the point where distortion lit up the sound.

    More thoughts later......
     
  4. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    Absolutely. This is one of the basic premises I use in trumpet design.
     
  5. Dennis78

    Dennis78 Fortissimo User

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    Wow! What's a lead bell weigh in at?
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    So, a bit more about bells and materials.

    I have mentioned the effects that the bell has on what we hear and consider this to be THE MAJOR FACTOR. Generally the harder the metal (temper) the easier sound can pass through to increase feedback to the player. The opposite effect is when we use a softened bell or thicker material - we get less feedback which also means that the audience/room gets more. If we are in a good room, we hear what the sound does and can use that information artistically. If an artisan is after a "house signature" for the sound of his/her instruments, they will adjust other factors like bracing to compensate.

    Certain materials are not suitable for thin bells (silver, copper), other materials work very well if the artisan wants an extremely thin bell that "lights up" early (beryllium copper for instance).

    If I wanted to build a dark sounding trumpet, I would use standard gold brass (maybe a Bach 72*lightweight bell?) - soften it after forming it, add a crown for more control and adjust the bell braces to taste. I would use a "well braced" leadpipe that is very "open" and minimal bracing on a "round" tuning slide. I would use standard water keys with very soft springs. I would not use heavy valve caps or a massive mouthpiece receiver but there are other locations that woud get strategic mass. I probably would experiment with ML bore first.
     
  7. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    Which bell(s) would you say typically give the most accurate feedback to the player of what's going out to the audience? Or is that another "it depends"? And what about the worst?

    Btw I understand that most Schilke 'beryllium bronze' bells have for many years been electroplate copper (=coprion) and some of them are/were very thin gauge. Also vaguely remember reading that some silver bells in the past have been pretty lightweight.
     
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I would say that my Bach 72* that I played from the mid 70s until I got my first Monette in 1997 sounded closest in my head to the recordings afterwards (what reached the main microphones, not the close miked sound). The Monette does not have as much local feedback, but the room sound is denser and gives me what I need. Sometimes I am too loud however.
     
  9. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

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    I guess my own idea of a good sounding bell is one that will hold a controlled mellow broad tone from pppp to ff+ without breaking up, but which can be flipped into a brighter fanfare mode with a reasonable sharpening of attack.

    I don't have much of a population size to go on but the extremes in my own stable (neglecting the copper belled bass) would be the extremely light yellow brass Sovereign Studio that is pretty much full-time fanfare mode through to the 'gold brass' belled B&S rotary that I currently cannot shift out of mellow at least with the Breslmair G2 piece I have for it. It does however liven up a fair bit with the DW 2W I use on the rest.

    My comfort zone seems to be with the heavier high brass bells of the Yamaha and Inderbinen, along with a more than honourable mention for the Schilke S22 HD that really impressed me when I tried it a few weeks ago.

    Not that I don't enjoy the lighter belled instruments, I do very much especially for non-classical stuff, but it's horses for courses.

    I sense that I'm falling into a mindset that wants an instrument to have a low brass or nickel-silver front half (at least in part for corrosion concerns) and a weighty high brass back half. But it might just be a prejudiced viewpoint.
     
  10. Bochawa!!!

    Bochawa!!! Forte User

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    Me too, at least according to the saxophones. I never really thought about it being related to bell composition. I do prefer a gold brass bell, and I like Coprion for how it looks, but not so much for the sound.
     

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