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Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by crowmadic, Oct 5, 2007.
Can someone explain with simplicity, the specific benefits of valve alignment?
The goal is to ensure that each piston, in the up and down positions, aligns perfectly with the valve port. This might require changes in the vertical and rotational positioning of the piston. That is why you will see the normal felt pads replaced by non-compressible pads i.e. no wear and consistent control.
If you depress your 2nd valve and remove the tubing, you can see the piston as it travels up and down. If in the down position you see ANY edge of the port, you have an alignment concern. That misalignment will disrupt the air flow and impact the sound wave in a negative way. The finished goal is to provide clean and aligned transitions for the air as it travels through your instrument.
Any sharp edges (even the "gap" that many swear by) in the trumpet cause turbulence. It is not safe to assume that reducing turbulence in a trumpet makes it better. The "sound wave" is not necessarily affected. The waves in a trumpet are "standing waves" covering the whole acoustic length of the instrument. Turbulence could possibly change the acoustic length for specific frequencies.
While it is true that air travels through the instrument - that has little to do with the sound. We can glue a loudspeaker to the mouthpiece and get similar results. Movement of air is necessary to get human lips vibrating AND to keep us alive. The standing waves in the trumpet are not dependent on flowing air. In college, we had a tuba player that smoked, play after inhaling. It took more than a minute for smoke to come out of the bell.
Sound waves move by one molecule bumping into the next starting a chain reaction. The air that you breathe in does NOT project with your sound to the rear of a room. The trumpets "resistance" (actually reactance) needs to be adjusted so that we can play phrases of reasonable length without suffocating or running out of air.
Sharp edges also give gunk a chance to build up!
To answer Crows question:
The benefit is in the ears and chops of the beholder. Some instruments could benefit by a reduction or "optimization" of turbulence in the instrument. Other instruments probably show little if any improvement as log as nothing is too far out. I have been studying horn theory for a while now, and have come to the realization that the minor "imperfections" help us to better play in tune with a more constant tone. A mathematically perfect instrument would be a real "beast"!
Another articulate answer from Rowuk - way to go.
I have had some, but not all, of my horns aligned. I had a large bore Yamaha Bb (6345HG) aligned and it became a much freer blowing horn. So much so, in fact, that I had some trouble handling the difference. Once I got past that, I'm quite pleased with the horn.
This is hearsay because I haven't actually taken any measurements, but I've heard it said that the highly sought after vintage Couesnon flugelhorns actually derived some of their airy sound from really bad valve alignments. Like I said - this may not be true, but it is one piece of data that indicates a poor valve alignment could be a plus in a very specific situation.
The benefits that I noticed on the horns that I had Bob reeves align for were as follows:
#1 better intonation
#2 a little more open feel
#3 a better centered tone.
I had 2 horns done by Bob Reeves' shop, one was a less than one year old
Yamaha Bobby Shew model 6310Z
and the other was a 40 year old Leblanc 707 Sonic . And as I stated the Reeves alignment
improved both horns.
I have a Bach 37, a Bach 229 C, a Schilke P5-4, and my Yamaha 8335G all lined up from Reeves, and I've found that in the case of the two Bachs and the Schilke, it was much easier to get around the horn. The response was much more even from bottom to top. The pitch was a little better, but what I noticed the most is that there weren't any more "hot spots" on the instrument. Before the alignment, there were some notes that just seemed to fly out of the horn and matching tone quality and color with the other notes was a major pain. The evenness of the aligned horns is nice.
I can't say what the difference is with my 8335G since I bought it from Bob Reeves and it was lined up when I got it, so that's the only way I know the horn.
On the flip side, I heard a story from my teacher at UH where he got a pretty good old Benge that was perfect for playing pops style music, and Bob warned him that aligning it would make it play VERY different (apparently the horn was way out in terms of the numbers), and after it was lined up, he couldn't get it to play the way he wanted, so he had Bob put it back to the way it was. I'm guessing that's one of the three or so alignments that Bob ever had to reverse.
I personally like my horns lined up, since that eliminates another excuse for me and gives me more intent when I practice.
I suspect that the benefit of valve alignment is less about air flow and more about reducing unwanted sound reflections inside the horn.
That sharp edge and corner formed when a valve port does not line up can cause resonances in places and at frequencies you don't want.
Bottom line for trumpet players is, if it helps then it helps.
I think the biggest benefit is that gunk does not collect at this VERY sensitive part of the horn!