I would have never believed that placement of braces on a horn would make much, if any difference in the tone and playability of a trumpet. I now have no doubt.
A few weeks ago, some of you may recall, I received my '46 Vega Power Model back from restoration without the vertical "S" brace installed to the leadpipe. This was not requested, rather, it was an error in restoration. I didn't notice this was missing for several hours. The horn looked incredible and that's all I saw; a beautiful trumpet. I slipped in my Vega Fred Berman B-1 mouthpiece and... what's this? ... What's the matter with my horn? The sound was bright, slotting was way too close, bending notes was impossible!!! Prior to being sent out, the horn's tone was warm and slotting was loose, just the way I like it. Because I didn't notice the brace was missing, this knowledge did not color my opinion at the time. As nice as the horn looked, I sent it back to get the brace installed; even though I liked the brace-free look. I also knew it may not be as pretty (does anything look as good after it's been "re-worked"?).
My Horn arrived back home today. The S brace is back and so is the tone and playability. The lacquer is a little hazy in certain area from additional buffing, but; it's tone is warm and soothing, it whispers and cries once again. You can bend a note beyond the breaking point. It reminds me of Billie Holliday's singing. I was a new horn guy, prior to this horn. It's the horn that made me realize that these "old gals" still have much to say.