Valve Caps

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpet520, Nov 13, 2006.

  1. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    Slotting is how well-centered on pitch notes are when you play them. A horn that slots well requires very little, if any, compensation to play in tune (assuming the player is up to the task!). You play a note and WHAM! - the note is right-on, dead center on pitch and timbre. Some prefer a loose-slotting horn for jazz, so notes are easy to bend. I mainly play music that would fall into the "classical" category, but when I need to, I don't have any trouble bending notes on a tight-slotting horn. It may have something to do with using a larger mouthpiece. I prefer tight-slotting horns because I can largely forget about intonation issues and concentrate on other aspects of making music.
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Very good points! I am sure there are many "success" stories like yours! The problem is always the same though. We do not hear ourselves the way our audience does and every change to the "system" changes more than one factor. I firmly believe it is not possible to objectively figure this stuff out alone. That is why I recommend another pair of ears that you can trust, or recording the difference and then making a decision.
    My experience has shown a correlation with heavy valve caps on horns designed with light caps between slotting and change of tone in the various registers as well as "projection". Slotting you feel yourself and the tone quality and projection change is more apparent at 30-50 feet. I think anybody considering a change could benefit from this info. I will try your suggestion of only one cap (I did in fact change all 3 for my tests in addition to heavier mouthpieces and bell weights). I'll document any objective change and if interesting, post it here.
  3. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    I'd love to see your report of the "objective change" in projection. That would be very useful. Thanks for offering that.

    Another element of concern is the response of the trumpet as perceived by the trumpeter. If the slotting is too loose for personal taste and say one weighted cap tightens that up just enough, then a small loss of focus or projection might be a worthwhile compromise. Adding mass typically reduces brilliance, which by definition will reduce the "carry" or "projection" of the tone, all other things being equal. So long as the "penalty" is not too large, many players will select a trumpet that "feels good" to them, over an otherwise equivalent trumpet that doesn't feel quite as secure to them and yet projects slightly better.

    OTOH, sometimes the player is better off adapting to the trumpet. My .453" bore K-Modified #20 is an example of a trumpet with a blow that's entirely different from what modern players expect from a Bb trumpet. It's much tighter and less free blowing, but with very solid slots. The reward is a brilliant, singing tone with incredible projection. It doesn't "want" any more mass, with the maker having hit on a "magic" balance that I cannot improve on. However, if I don't adopt my technique to suit the K-Mod, it will not sing as freely as it can. When I back off and listen, playing in its sweet spot, then it's an incredibly low effort trumpet to play.

  4. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004

    Forgive me but I must somewhat disagree with your assertion that adding mass cuts down on brilliance or deadens the sound.

    If one approaches the addition of mass to an instrument by merely adding it willy-nilly, without a sense of balancing the instrument in a complete or organic way, then I agree with your statement. I was present when this whole phenomenon started with Dave Monette and his idea of creating horns with more mass. If you're looking for documentation that support what the ears hear at a realistic distance, Dave provided that early on by using one of those machines that measures how much fundamental in the sound. Somewhere in the bowels of my studio do I have that study.

    I was living in my home in North Minneapolis when Dave called me to share what he'd figured out about bottom valve caps and realized that it was the missing component in adding stability and more presence via brilliance to the sound.

    Now, what is brilliance? For many, I believe it is that buzz around the sound that most people associate with the sound of the conventional trumpet. I have a recording of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" wherein there is a lick that spans from a low G to two octaves above, in the first section. It's a famous orchestra and when you hear that lick all you really hear is that buzz around the sound, not so much the core of the notes.

    When I was a young trumpet jock, that buzzing was fun to hear and we referred to it as "brilliance" also because it just seemed like the right term. In conversations early on with Dave Monette he redefined brilliance as a combination of clarity, fundamental, and presence. I have to agree. What good is all that buzzing if it gets in the way of the sound.

    Also, when one considers that the majority of trumpeters (a very large population) plays with tightness, the advantages of a heavier, more stable instrument won't be appreciated. Enter all the talk about proper body use. The heavier the horn, the more relaxed you have to be because of the less forgving nature of the instrument, etc., you've heard the rap.

    So, long story short: yes the heavier bottom valve caps will make a difference but arbitrarily putting them on some horn that didn't have them as part of the overall design is a hit or miss situation and will only be as successful as the ability of the player to allow it to work, not make it work.

    If you come to the ITG next year in Amherst, find me and maybe we can get ahold of a large room so you can hear for yourself. I'll borrow a 937 (a medium heavy horn) from Dave or someone and I'll play horns back to back for you.

    Until then, be well.

  5. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    I want to be in the room too, please!

  6. Eclipsehornplayer

    Eclipsehornplayer Forte User

    Sep 14, 2005
    Metro Detroit

    I'd kill to be in the room!
  7. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    Thank you for your thoughts Manny. I may just take you up at Amherst. I've heard you play with "brilliance" on the Monette site and in other instances, but I'd love to hear that glorious sound in person. Yes indeed, you my friend do play with "brilliance."

    My definition of "brilliance" relates to the overtones we hear and the relative strength top to bottom. Brilliance must include an abundance of overtones and not just high overtones, lest we perceive the sound as thin. When you use the term "presence", I assume that you use it as electric guitar players do when referring to added high overtones. You say presence is there, along with clarity and a strong fundemental. By clarity I think we're thinking of an alignment of even overtones that add to rather than detract from the strong fundemental. For brilliance, the tone is loaded with a wide variety of strong overtones. Thus, two of us can hear Herseth play and one might say he's got a "dark" tone and the other will say he's got a "bright" tone. Both are right, in a way, but each is focusing their hearing on a different part of the sound spectrum. He's actually producing both dark and bright tones at the same time.

    Now, back to "ordinary" trumpets and their response to mass. I'm not suggesting "arbitrary" changes in mass. If we focus on the third casing we find a very sensitive area that responds to fine tuning. I think that the main slide and third valve are particularly sensitive because of the high acoustic energy focused in this area of the trumpet. Nodes can be accentuated or dampened in this area causing a great impact on the response of the trumpet. I suspect, as evidenced by ovate slides, etc., that Dave focuses a lot in this area. Wayne Tanabe told me that his involvement in development of Yamaha's "Chicago" C revolved mainly around the developing the optimal mass in the valve, where he focused particularly on the third.

    Changing mass changes the structure of the harmonic overtones produced, perhaps dampening a particular overtone while strenghtening another. Here's where I perhaps oversimplified in my use of the term "brilliance". The perception of the overall blended tone is changed. If a trumpet is brilliant and the mass added or subtracted it will change the relative strength of the harmonic series. If there's excessive energy loss in the third valve, then adding mass may damp that loss and actually add to the fundemental by passing more energy thru the valves and, thus the bell.

    Unless these weights are designed for a specific trumpet or have a means for adjustment (such as weighted shims) then the process will be somewhat arbitrary. It seems to me that the mass change can be optimized in relation to the overall mass of the trumpet, such that it impacts particular harmonics. If the mass added is changing energy between the even harmonics, then the exercise might be undetectable or subtractive. Perhaps this is why I only use a weighted cap on the third valve of one of my four trumpets. The impact on the other trumpets seems indistinct and ambiguous, while on my Concept TT the impact is very clear to me, as determined by the response that I feel.

    Best regards,

  8. Dan Millheim

    Dan Millheim Pianissimo User

    Sep 4, 2004
    Fort Worth ,TX
    I have had really enjoyed the sound that is created by using a heavy cap on the third valve and medium caps on one and two. I then discovered "O-rings" and use them on all my horns. Osham has a fasinating article on the effects of O- rings. You can buy them from them but you will pay a big mark up (there are still cheap) or you can go to a Loews or Home depot and buy an entire bag of them for a few dollars. I first bought Osham rings and them matched them at Lowes for a cheaper supply!

    I have found that when using "O-rings" you can dial in the slotting to some degree. Call me crazy but heavy caps and "O-rings" are awesome. Apparently high end custom builders agree in that they are included with the horns they build (I'm talking about the O-rings). Try O- rings!

    P.S. I am fasinated by the style of the Galileo "Jooleo" horn (third pic) "slanted caps" as seen on Felix's site. They are works of art and funtion well with my preference for a more weighted third cap. I have contaced him to see if I could order some for Bauerfine valves and am waiting to hear from him?
  9. dannac

    dannac New Friend

    Dec 4, 2006
    Just purchased a Sonare TRC 800.

    Has the heavier valve caps, o-rings, and a great sound.
  10. gregc

    gregc Mezzo Piano User

    Apr 5, 2004
    New York, U.S. of A.
    I had a heavy valve cap on one on my Lawlers. I tried moving it around/taking it off/etc... All I found it to do was make the horn heavier in weight.

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