I have been playing a great Blessing 1580 for about a year, since it is in raw brass I've been using a Leather Specialties valve guard. Tonight for our outdoor concert I took of the valve guard and the horn seemed to speak out easier and just come alive. I wonder if this was just my imagination or could removing the valve guard actually make a difference in the way the horn plays and/or sounds. I'm going to leave the valve guard for awhile and see if tonights finding holds true. Anyone else have a similar experience?