What does heavier valve caps do ?

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

  1. nordlandstrompet

    nordlandstrompet Forte User

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    Norway
    Adding mass to a horn does make a difference. Sometimes the difference is to the better,
    and sometimes to the worse. I have done a lot of experiments with different horns,
    with adding mass to the mouthpieces, and to the bottom valve caps.
    None of these experiments have been done scientifically correct, as I have
    not used any equipment to measure the result.
    Just used my own and other peoples ears.

    Adding mass to the mouthpiece:
    As some of you might have discovered already, I have invented my own interchangeable mouthpiece sleeve system,
    (TRSS), which allows me to use my “converted to threaded, standard stock, off the shelf, Schilke 16 mouthpiece”
    with a lot of set up options.
    The picture shows Taylor's threaded mouthpieces.

    [​IMG]

    Lately I did an experiment with a “non-believer”, who is a very experienced player and conductor in the British brass band society.
    I used a Taylor Chicago Lite and an Olds Recording, which are two very different horns.
    The mp set ups were: No sleeve, brass sleeve, aluminum sleeve and aluminum/wooden sleeve.
    I played the same melody line, with the same effort with all the set ups with both horns.
    His immediate reaction was: “I don’t believe it, but I have to, because I can clearly hear the difference between the set ups. Amazing stuff”.

    I also did a test with my Yamaha YCR 731 cornet.
    Set up: No mp sleeve, brass sleeve, brass sleeve and heavy bottom cap.
    He was able to hear the differences clearly here too, and the best set up was
    with brass sleeve and heavy bottom cap on third valve!
    The bottom cap is massive brass, diameter 23mm and height 30mm.

    [​IMG]

    The most unexpected experience I have had by adding mass to a horn is when I made a prototype
    for a left handed flugel player from polyamide. It is made from massive polyamide
    with a hole drilled through the whole device.
    When doing some adjustments on the device, I noticed that the horn had
    changed to a fatter sound.
    The device was mounted high on the valve casing, so it shouldn’t affect much in theory, but it did….

    [​IMG]
     
    tedh1951 likes this.
  2. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

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    The Wide Brown Land
    Hmmmm, I reckon Jason Harrelson will be thrilled to know what it actually is that makes his heavy caps work. Why the little extra weight in the Bravura (12 ozs heavier than my Getzen 900) works for so many of us. Isn't it strange though that so many Bravura owners/players rely on the placebo effect to create lovely sounds from Harrelson's Trumpets? Go figure? :dontknow: (I use Ultra Pure rather than Snake Oil BTW ;-)).
     
  3. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

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    The Wide Brown Land
    Ahhhh haaaa, the famous "Nordlands Mk I Earhole". When inspecting stuff I too use my own tools, in my case my "Mk I Eyeball". ;-)
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    As usual, scratching the surface does make for arguable points. Getting back to the original post: heavy caps on horns not designed to be heavy will not give a darker sound. On a student model it is questionable if everything else is sensitive enough to really let a bit of mass on the valves change much of anything.

    As far as heavy horns go, I can speak first hand. My Monette Ajna 2 (and to a certain extent my Prana 3) does qualify as representatively heavy and it is obvious when you remove the valve caps (or replace them with lighter ones from other Monette models) big things happen to the focus and intonation, not so much the "sound".

    If you want heavy, then the horn has to be designed around that concept, otherwise the results are not "holistic". Check out the Monette website. There is a story about the Elysion Trumpet and you see the table with many valve caps just a couple of grams in weight apart. It is not BS when Dave explains that even differences that small can make a difference when the horn matches.

    None of the lighter horns that I have played ever benefitted from adding weight (Schilke, Yamaha, Bach, Selmer, B&S). On some there were differences as I previously described. Spada Tuning Bell Bach trumpets seem to benefit from heavier valve caps. There are quite a few contructive changes in them vs a standard Bach instrument though.

    Acoustic impedance "MAY" have something to do with it. My personal experience shows that the primary difference is what "leaks" through the metal. Bracing and mass do affect how much energy is NOT broadcast to the audience, rather transmitted off of the outside of the bell. That "ringing" introduces a "distortion" into the sound that gives each model a characteristic "sheen". Monette uses a two piece bell to better control that ringing. That of course changes the bracing requirements.

    My "proof of concept" for leakage is when you play your instrument in a nice sounding hall, it feels free blowing and has a pleasant sound. Take the same horn outdoors and it is stuffy and much brighter. The only real difference is what the player hears................. There are no changes in impedance or anything else.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2010
  5. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

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    Rochester, MN
    Every horn I've experimented on played better after adding weight in certain places.

    Most obvious were the two Piccolo's I tried it on.

    I think its telling that some of the biggest skeptics have never attempted what Jason, Monette, Norlands and myself have - fabricate heavy components and see how they affect the playability of a "normal" trumpet. [!!! Note, I am in no way saying I possess the same skills as those other fellows, I am simply using them as examples of successful trumpet builders that are using heavy components on their products!!!]

    To me, its like telling Bose that his ideas on sound reproduction are all phony.

    PS - My Bravura and other horns I have "beefed up" all played better independently of the environment.
     
  6. Keith Fiala

    Keith Fiala Pianissimo User

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    Feb 21, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    I agree with Rowuk... a lot of what a manufacturer will tell you about this that or the other (mouthpieces and exercise tools included) is nothing more than a cleverly disguised marketing ploy.

    My horn (Austin Winds Stage 470) feels more balanced in my hand with the heavier caps that were designed for the horn... but it does NOT change the playing characteristics. A great horn plays great and sounds great by a great player who has done the work... end of story.

    Keith Fiala
     
  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    Clarksburg, WV
    Guyclark sez:
    Even a placebo sometimes seems to work!
    ------------
    I don't think heavy caps = placebo. Why?
    Most trumpet players are equipment junkies. They're always intrested in something new. It can be a new way to make trumpets (Monette, Harrleson) or sleeves on mouthpieces, nitogen dipping, non lacquered, bent up bell, and the list goes on.
    However, placebos generally do not stand the test of time. Just like any snake oil, time usually shines the light on the fraud.
    A good question to ask is how many people who bought heavy caps are still using them on their horn after a year?
    As for me, I've used them consistantly for probably 7 years on my primary horn (MF Horn). For me, the heavier caps help clean up the precision of execution which in turn makes me more comfortable which leads to a better sound.
     
  8. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    2,156
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    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Guyclark sez:
    Even a placebo sometimes seems to work!
    ------------
    I don't think heavy caps = placebo. Why?
    Most trumpet players are equipment junkies. They're always intrested in something new. It can be a new way to make trumpets (Monette, Harrleson) or sleeves on mouthpieces, nitogen dipping, non lacquered, bent up bell, and the list goes on.
    However, placebos generally do not stand the test of time. Just like any snake oil, time usually shines the light on the fraud.
    A good question to ask is how many people who bought heavy caps are still using them on their horn after a year?
    As for me, I've used them consistantly for probably 7 years on my primary horn (MF Horn). For me, the heavier caps help clean up the precision of execution which in turn makes me more comfortable which leads to a better sound.
     
  9. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

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    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Good observation.

    I don't see Monette's mouthpiece sales dropping, so maybe ...
     
  10. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

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    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    Nope! The air column inside the instrument is the primary (by far) mechanism for sound production. It is the frequency of that vibration, which is determined by the length of the column and the node pattern of the standing wave (the harmonic) that determines the primary frequency of tone.

    Of course, a trumpet tone is more complex than a single frequency. It is made up from a large number (nearly infinite sequence up into the ultrasonic as well as inaudible amounts) of harmonics. The proportion of different harmonics is what gives a particular player/mouthpiece/horn system it's characteristic sound.

    In an aside, there is a fairly inexpensive app for the iPhone called Signal Scope that is a fairly good audio spectrum analyzer and oscilloscope. It was about $25 when I bought it a few months ago, but it shows, clearly the harmonic spectrum of a trumpet or other instrument, and even visually lets you compare sounds. It's not as sensitive to differences as the ear, but it can help one understand what's happening.

    The vibrating air DOES couple energy into vibrating the horn. The lighter weight it is, and the less well braced it is, the more it will vibrate. That vibration DOES indeed couple back into the air column, and add back the energy of vibration, which will not likely be harmonically related to the primary harmonic series!! This also adds "color" to the sound, although it is a secondary or tertiary effect. The more well damped the horn is, the less vibrational energy will be there to couple back into the air column, and the "purer" the sound will be.

    Another contribution to the sound is the quality of the vibrational stimulus applied to the air column by the lips vibrating in the mouthpiece. If the lips can move back and forth without bottoming out or colliding with the inside of the mouthpiece cup, you will get a purer sound than if your lips are hitting the sides of the cup on each excursion (or interfering with one another as they swing back to their near closed position. This is apparent to anyone who has looked at the waveform of a trumpet (or especially, trombone) sound while editing a recording as I often do. The louder one plays, the less symmetrical the waveform, and it appears to me that this is due to the lips hitting the inside of the mouthpiece cup ("clipping" to you who understand the operation of audio amplifiers).

    Anyway, I still stand by my observations and understanding of the physics, and deny that heavy valve caps have any significant effect on the SOUND. I admit, or agree that they MIGHT have some effect on the tactile feel of the horn vibrating in one's hand, and that or just a simple placebo effect will make the horn appear to be playing better.

    I'm also completely in favor of people doing what ever works for them. After all, I have chosen to play a particular type of trumpet (rotary)over another type (piston) due to my personal perceptions of sound and ease of performance. I may be as deluded as those that believe in other things, like heavy mouthpieces or valve caps!

    Back to playing (well, tonight, anyway... opening night of La Boheme. I hate lots of ledgerlines!!!)

    Later!

    Guy Clark
    www.southbaybrass.com
    www.siliconvalleybrassband.com
     

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