Hey Gang! This will be my first post, but certainly not my last. After a looong time of being a trumpet player, I switched to Euphonium. I had incredible endurance, range, and facility on the euph coming off of trumpet, which I was always limited with. As a jazz musician living in Asheville, NC, I was able to use the euph for gigs and ppl would get real interested, but I always felt like I couldn't get the sound I wanted from a sweet Besson 967. I met Rich Wiley, a jazz trumpet player/professor at UNCA, and discovered the world of Bass Trumpets!
At first I bought an old Lidl-Brno piston valve horn. It had a mean dent in the tubing leading to the bell, but as a brass repair tech I was able to bring it out nice and clean-like. It's a great entry level horn, but I wanted something nicer. Yes, a Bach or Getzen would be terrific, but I can't afford the $3700+ just yet (I spent that on my tasty 967!).
After poking around the net, and reading many reviews of poopy horns, I decided to take the plunge with the Schiller American Heritage. For $500, I must say that I am impressed. As a $500 horn goes, you would expect some flaws, but the good stuff is plentiful, and worth the purchase.
- It's a little stiff from low C# to low F
- One water key for lead pipe drool, but the majority of the condensation collects by the 3rd valve pipe, where there is a removable slide. You need to depress the valves, and blow like a mofo, over and over and over again. You will eventually get it all out. After that, you do a little circle manuver to get the rest of the moisture to roll out the bell. It's a process, but I don't think it's any easier on other bass trumpets. <shrug> small price to pay for saving thousands!
- The lead pipe is cut very sharp-like, not in tone, but in feel, where you would put the mouthpiece in. You need to really kinda wedge your mouthpiece into the leadpipe for a sealed fit. Even the noname 12C mp the horn comes with is jiggly, and needs a squeeze.
- The case it comes with has no extra storage. You fit the horn and mp in there. That's it, but again, whatever... small price to pay to save thousands of dollars on a decent bass trumpet.
- There are some natural intonation problems that will stand out. Low D and C# (but to be expected) though you can use the 1st valve slide to help tune it up. Middle Bb (in the staff) is just strange. It's out of tune, and sounds stuffy. I don't like this note at all on this horn, even more than some of the others that are off.
- Looks great! Nickel plating, shape, the whole kit-n-kaboodle!
- The construction is pretty dang good! Very surprised here, folks. It doesn't feel flimsy, or weak, and has a good weight to it. You feel it after a long while of holding it when playing.
- The tone is pretty dang good as well! The lower register, from low C to low F# is beefy, clear, and free blowing. The middle register can get a little wonky, and feel stiff, but the more I'm playing it, I believe it's just something to get used to... like new shoes. The upper register is beautiful too! It's very free blowing from the upper middle register to high E. You can feel it punching back a tad when going to High F, but you can nail High F to G with little to no trouble what-so-ever. After High G the G# will start feeling like it's kicking back a lot more. A solid High G is cool with me on a horn like this though. Enough heads will turn when coasting up there with a bright, clean, and clear sound.
- This horn only costs $500!!!
I immediately put the noname 12C in a drawer, and will never look at it again. I popped a bach 12C in there at first, and it was zippy, but I wanted the lower register to speak more. I took out my bach 7C, and have settled on that for now. It seems to give me the best of all the worlds I'm looking for at the moment. I may get a mouthpiece conversion so I can use my large bore yamaha 48 - I love that mp!
Anyway... that's my two cents. This horn will be used mostly for jazz/funk/rock but I am going to try to apply it to some classical playing too. It sounds nice during adagio/legato playing, but the intonation may just upset that applecart too much. We'll see if I can tame it to work for this playing as well.