What does heavier valve caps do ?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Laursen, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. Laursen

    Laursen New Friend

    Feb 4, 2010
    I've read several posts regarding valve caps. That some are better for jazz and some are better for classical music ?

    But how do they affect the sounding of a trumpet ?

    I've a Getzen 390 which I think has a nice bright tone. If I wanted a more warm og full sound would I then need heavier valve caps ? And are they available for a Getzen 390 ?

    Jakob Laursen
  2. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    HI, Jakob!

    In MY opinion (and you know what THAT'S worth) heavy valve caps are good for making you feel better about your horn, and making someone a bunch of money for it. In a word: Placebo.

    I'm sure that changing the mass of the horn, as well as the balance of the horn in your hands, will have some effect on the feel of the horn's response in your hands, and that feedback change may have some effect on your playing, but in my limited experience (playing horns belonging to colleagues who have purchased the weighted caps and comparing the response with and without the caps) shows no discernable (by me) effect whatsoever. I also hear no difference when the colleagues play the horn with and without. I certainly have no statistically valid number of trials, and it wasn't a blind study, but I listened hard, and tried to detect something different and failed.

    I also feel the same way about heavy mouthpieces. I actually own a Warburton 12* heavy trumpet shank which I purchased as an emergency replacement for my original standard 12* shank. After repairing the original, I was able to compare the two and discern no difference between the two. That said, the heavy shank DOES have one advantage over the standard shank: I can grasp the larger diameter shank to remove the mouthpiece from the trumpet, and not end up screwing the cup down so tightly on the shank that I need tools to remove it!! My wife calls it a "muffler" (she cracks me up!)

    I'm sure that others here will jump all over me for these statements, but they're my opinions (as solicited and labeled as such) and I'm sticking to them! ;-)

    Hope it helps!

    Guy Clark
    South Bay Brass
    Silicon Valley Brass Band - A Traditional British Brass Band
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2010
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  3. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Heavy caps reduce what is known as Sympathetic vibration in the trumpet's body.
    Sympathetic resonance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    A perfectly efficient trumpet would transmit all of the energy from the standing wave out the front of the bell to the listeners. Of course, it would be impossible for the player to hear themself without an acoustic reflector. So a good trumpet is a compromise.

    Most of the energy goes out the bell for the listener to hear and some makes its way back to the player's ears via "leakage" of the standing wave energy through vibration of the trumpet body itself, mostly the bell, but also through other less efficient radiators, like the leadpipe and the valve block.

    By adding extra brass in places where the energy is prone to leak away, such as the ends on the cylindrical structures, you prevent the standing wave from exciting those structures and more energy makes it out the bell.

    That's my understanding of the deal and here's my collection of links to trumpet related
    physics articles: Trumpet Physics


    PS - My degree is in electrical engineering, for what its worth.
  4. Jcoffey

    Jcoffey New Friend

    Aug 20, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    In my opinion, listening and imitating is the best way to change your sound. A lot of other things have to do with it, sure, but I have a friend (who went to Juilliard on full scholarship) who would line up what he was listening to with his gigs. For example, if he was playing a jazz lead part one week, he'd basically listen to nothing but awesome lead stuff and by the time the gig came, he was the perfect lead player. Likewise for other styles and sounds. Also pay attention to your posture. A more open, "proper" posture will help with a darker tone and a tighter, more natural posture will yield a brighter tone. Generally speaking of course.
    There are tons of little things you can do to darken your tone; I'm sure the valve caps would work in some way... different ways for different horns and different people, but they could also have some negative effects, too. Have fun experimenting with it.
  5. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    I've done that many times, to get the sound and style in my head. Listening to great music also motivates me to play with more passion.

    As far as heavy valve caps go, they involve an inverse relationship with your wallet. The main effect of heavy caps is a transfer of mass from one place (your wallet) to another (your horn)...;-)

    Seriously, I can tell a slight difference in the "feel" of how some of my horns play with various combinations of regular and weighted caps, but nothing earthshaking.
  6. RichJ

    RichJ Piano User

    Jan 16, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    Spend a couple dollars on rubber orings for the bottom caps and see what you think. This also makes a difference for SOME players and its cheap to try. Home Depot has them.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Not true. Nothing trumpet can be separated "jazz" or "classical". Valve caps do not change the tone. That is only something that some manufacturers of valve caps want you to believe.

    My opinion is that heavy caps on horns not designed for them play worse because the balance that the manufacturer built in is destroyed. The only pimp that produces a BIG audible difference is: practicing more! Pimped lips are where it is at!
  8. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    One of the few times I'll disagree with Rowuk.

    Heavy caps will change how the horn plays. Whether its better or worse is a matter
    of taste.
  9. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    Hmmm... I'd disagree with you on that analysis. :evil:

    By adding mass to a vibrating system, your're simply changing its resonant frequency. Furthermore, a tumpet held in the hands is being pretty well damped of vibration. That's how you can FEEL the vibrations in your hands and against your face (or hear yourself playing by bone conduction). That's energy being taken from the vibrating system and disipated in your hands/face.:-P

    Moving or removing bracing between segments of the trumpet will have much more effect on the trumpet's physical vibration IMHO than adding some weight to valve caps or mouthpiece.

    BTW: My degrees are in bioengineering (and biology before that) with master's level metallurgy after that. I've worked as an electrical engineer for most of my career so far. :cool:

    More fuel for the fire!! :roll:

    Guy Clark
  10. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    Amen, brother Dale!!:thumbsup:


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