Wild Thing in South Lake Tahoe

Discussion in 'Horns' started by W Scott, Dec 29, 2004.

  1. W Scott

    W Scott Piano User

    488
    4
    Dec 8, 2003
    Carson City, NV.
    Well, it was a very interesting Christmas as the Wild Thing was here to play around with. I've really been looking forward to having a chance to try out the horn for two reasons. The first is I was curious to see what effect bore size has on resistance. The Connie I play has a very small bore and the WT has a big bore. The Conn Loyalist web site has an interesting article on bores and how it affects the feel of a horn. The article is at:

    http://www.xs4all.nl/~cderksen/ConnArticle8.html

    I was also curious to see how my Connie stacks up against a very customized horn. The Constellation is now forty to fifty years old---how does it stack up against a horn that makes use of the improvements that have happened in recent years? How does the sound compare? Ease of playing?

    The Constellation that I have has been restored to better than new condition. The metal was replated and the valves were replated, hand lapped and precision aligned at the Brass Bow---who also checked it internally for any other problems. So, like the WT which has also been 'tweaked' and had it's valves aligned, my Constellation is in a similar condition.
    Both horns are a very original design---they aren't Bach clones or Besson copies.

    As for me, I'm a (mostly) comebacker who couldn't play on a regular basis until about six years ago. (I have asthma and had to get away from smoggy SoCal). I'm in my early forties, I play in a community band and solo in churches in the area. I've been playing, off and on, since I was ten. My 16 y/o daughter plays trumpet in her school band, along with an ensemble group. She also had a turn at trying out the WT.

    My first thought on pulling the WT out of the case was 'wow, what a huge bell!'. My Conn has a 5 1/8 inch bell, but the WT bell is bigger yet! The WT has a big bell flare and is designed for a very broad sound, helped along by the big .470 bore. The fit and finish is beautiful. The aforementioned dent is really just a small dimple and Flip will easily fix that. The Kanstul valves were interesting. They feel 'fragile'--it's the only word I can think to describe them. They work well and they are quieter than the Conns, but something about them feels fragile. Maybe it's the short valve throw or the thin valve stems, but it was a very different feel from the Conn. The other difference was the weight of the horns. The Conn is right at 44 oz's and I'd guess the WT is about 10 oz's lighter.

    The feel of the WT when playing is interesting. According to the Conn Loyalist article the resistance of the WT shouldn't increase much as you head into the higher register. I agree that it doesn't increase much, but for me it was noticeable. My daughter, who plays trumpet, didn't find the resistance to increase and thought it was easier to play up high---go figure! (BTW, the horns were both played with a Kelly 5c and a Schilke 15C4)

    The sound of the WT is bright, sweet and fat. The sound would blend very nicely with Bachs and Xenos'. Compared to the Conn though, the sound is thin and doesn't have a lot of power when it's played within the staff. The Conn has a much denser core of sound and is dark/rich when played within the staff. In the higher register (F at the top of the staff and above) the two horns sound almost identical. The only difference is the power and projection, which the Conn takes hands down.

    After playing the WT for four days, I took it to a friends house who has a recording studio. This friend is a very good sound engineer with good equipment. In recording the two horns, the Conn consistently recorded at a higher level than the WT. I sort of expected this because of the huge bell and flare of the WT which gives it a very diffuse sound.

    The other thing that my daughter and friend noticed that I didn't (at least at first) is that I had problem with 'clams' and 'cracked notes' with the WT. I would guess that this is because of the big bore and is probably something anybody would have to get used too.

    I tried both the #1 and #2 slides and didn't really find much difference in resistance. The number 2 slide sounded brighter and more like the Conn so I left it in for comparison. I really liked the Walt Johnson case, but there's no way the Constellation is going to fit in that case! :-(

    Bottom Line: The WT is a very good horn that is well worth the bucks. It would make a great Jazz horn or horn for small ensemble work and most school bands where it would blend well. The WT would make a great solo horn for working churches where it would fill a room nicely without peeling the paneling off the wall as the Conn can do. But, I can't see using it for lead playing with a big band though. It just doesn't have the power and projection to cut through or play over a 50 piece band. The Conn would just bury the WT for sheer power and projection. I also wouldn't want to use the WT for studio recording as the sound is just too thin.

    I should have the recordings of the two horns up sometime early next week. My friend has to take the recording, dump it on his computer at work and then download it to a CD.

    The two horns are different designs that do different things well. For some folks the WT would be the horn of choice. For me, well, I'm not trading my Constellation in any time soon. What would be interesting is a smaller bore WT, big bell flare and a heavier weight---say 44 to 48 oz's. Now that might be interesting! :D

    Thank you Tom and Flip for setting up this tour!
     
  2. W Scott

    W Scott Piano User

    488
    4
    Dec 8, 2003
    Carson City, NV.
    I shipped off the Wild Thing this morning in a wild blizzard with avalanche cannons booming closeby---seems an appropriate sendoff!

    Before sending the horn off I gave the horn a really good bath. My daughter and I were both sick or getting sick Tuesday night when we recorded the two horns playing---so we didn't want to make anybody else sick.

    Anyway, taking the horn apart revealed some very interesting things. The attention to detail on this horn is incredible. The saddle on the 1st slide has a small, screw type stop under the slide. You can adjust the stop up or down to just the right amount of 'stop' that you want. The slide also had a tiny number '40' on it. I'm wondering what the reason for this is? The 2nd slide stop has the most intricate little nut to stop the slide that I've ever seen. Very detailed and plated with the same finish as the horn. This slide also has a broad 'x' brace that is so well matched to the shape of the slide that I missed it for the first four days!

    The valves are also interesting. I admit, the valves I'm used to looking at are Conns, Bachs and Kings. All of these have valve ports where the inside of the port is smooth. The WT has little 'blisters' inside the valve ports of different size and position from valve to valve.

    I have to say that I was really impressed with the attention to detail on this horn. The fit and finish is just amazing. :worthy:
     

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