Quote Originally Posted by rowuk View Post
On my C trumpet I now have 2 braces between the leadpipe and valves. My point was more that a quality horn is normally designed balanced. Changing the leadpipe only serves to "unbalance" the horn. Skill can help us get lucky, but it is luck when we call the shots.
In my limited experience I have found that if you have a horn that you like for a number of reasons, but in which there is an aspect you can identify as peculiar to that instrument which you would like to change, something that has less to do with mouthpiece and player than with the horn itself, then you can experiment by researching the characteristics of alternate leadpipes, for example, and try the alternates to discover the effects of the change on the rest of the combination. More often than not the original configuration is the best, and you either live with the perceived shortcoming or change horns.

I have always been able to do comparisons on the basis of cost not being a significant factor. Usually it has been a matter of not having to pay unless the new piece worked satisfactorily. It worked for me once. Once. I ended up with a better horn, and I had the experience of learning to a degree about what the effects of the configurations of different leadpipes were and how they interacted with the horns with which they were matched. Personally, I am no longer interested in such experimentation, but I am more knowledgeable about trumpet construction as a result.

As you say, a lot more thought, research, and planning go into the making of a trumpet than many people realize. Constructors put together the combination that best suits their goal for that particular instrument, but that doesn't necessarily mean that another combination is unsuitable, even one that they have tried and decided not to use. Such combination might be best for a different goal, whether it be timbre, resistance, or whatever, and let's not forget that changing the mouthpiece can get the desired result without going to the trouble of changing parts on the horn itself.

Nevertheless, there are those among us who like to experiment; the process can result in increased knowledge, and, once in a while, with a bit of research and luck, you can end up with a unique, improved instrument.