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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentMouthpieces(Moderators: BGuttman, Doug Elliott) Who in their right mind plays a Bach 1 1/2G ??
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Author Topic: Who in their right mind plays a Bach 1 1/2G ??  (Read 217235 times)
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« on: Mar 09, 2006, 12:49PM »

The poor old Bach 1 1/2G...... it gets a hard time these days.
Ed Kleinhammer can't see a use for it in the modern orchestra...
We call it a starter mouthpiece... a stepping stone to the serious stuff.
I've trumpeted the value of the improved Rath 1 1/2W and how we sorted the low register problems and funny rim that caused constant complaints (which we did)...
Well, the last couple of days, I've been thinking about all this....
Thinking a lot.
I took a few days out to see an old friend who is getting back into trombone after a long layoff from the profession. He wanted to settle on the right mouthpiece before really getting his head down and working...
so we took a couple of days, about forty mouthpieces, dozens of good recordings and a few bottles of wine, so that we were really sure that we had it right.
We played, we listened to old and new trombone recordings, we played some more, we drank, we played, I remodelled a rim, then another, then another, we played some more.
Then he gave me a present......
The finest Mt. Vernon Bach 1 1/2G that I have EVER come across !!
I had the Mt. Vernon 1 1/2G that I had turned into the prototype Rath 1 1/2W with me..... no comparison.
This new Mt Vernon is rich, creamy, refined, vibrant, singing, focussed......
and just as odd on the rim, and hard down low, and unforgiving as any Bach.......but when you work at it... it rewards you SO MUCH.
My Rath works better. Period. BUT ,the Bach is seductive beyond belief.
The sound I just love.... it's George Roberts, it's Tony Studd, it's not what you hear today.
Listening to lots of recent playing (non orchestral) the bass trombone has changed in sound.... almost everywhere.
SO..... perhaps I have been wrong....
perhaps all the kids should buy buckets that blow easy....
instant low register.... of sorts
They should fight for a sound on them for about twenty years....
Then they should try to buy a Mt. Vernon 1 1/2G, and try to play it if they do find one.
Not many will put up with all the problems....
But the few that do will be rewarded.....
It's not a starter mouthpiece...
It's a finisher mouthpiece.
Against my better judgement, I might just blow this quirky, stuffy, thing of beauty for a few weeks.....
I can always go back to the easy route....
but this is so interesting..... yes interesting.
Ask yourself when you play...is this the most interesting sound I've ever made ? It's a shame if it's not.

Chris Stearn.
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 09, 2006, 12:59PM »

Embarrassed!

I play a Getzen 1.5 G!

It's easier to double on, but I haven't yet tried out many other bass bone mouthpieces, so I might not know what I'm missing.
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« Reply #2 on: Mar 09, 2006, 01:00PM »

Truth man, truth....
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« Reply #3 on: Mar 09, 2006, 01:14PM »

Great post!
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« Reply #4 on: Mar 09, 2006, 02:29PM »

Quote
Ask yourself when you play...is this the most interesting sound I've ever made ? It's a shame if it's not.


nicely put

unless its interesting in a bad way (my french horn-playing roommate trying to play my trombone.)
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« Reply #5 on: Mar 09, 2006, 02:40PM »

Great post.  Too bad it's going to disappear shortly when the new forum comes up.  Chris, why don't you save a copy and repost this after the new forum is up and running?

P.S.  I also play a Bach 1.5G on my bass
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« Reply #6 on: Mar 09, 2006, 03:29PM »

Chris, I would like to know where Ed Kleinhammer states that about the 1 1/2 G ( to get it in context).
In an ideal world You would be better off by sticking to one  singel piece of equipment, but it shure is a good learning experience to try out other things. My biggest experience comes from playing some really good old Conn 70 and 72H models which sort of taught me a new way to approach the bass trombone. Unfortunately as with Your 1 1/2G example these models are a bit to much of a challenge if You where to use it for everything.
The big dividend from playing these models however is that I try to emulate the sound  when playing my modern (big) Shires and Monette combo.If a young player goes directly to the big orchestral "behemoths" without testing these oldies they will not get the right foundation to build a sound ideal in my opinion. I actually think that You could sucessfully play a big honker with modern freeblowing valves with the elegance,finesse and crispness of the old timers if You have experienced it by playing "obsolete" equipment.
Almost like history learning by doing!!

tbarh
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« Reply #7 on: Mar 09, 2006, 03:49PM »

Quote from: "tbarh"
Chris, I would like to know where Ed Kleinhammer states that about the 1 1/2 G ( to get it in context).
In an ideal world You would be better off by sticking to one  singel piece of equipment, but it shure is a good learning experience to try out other things. My biggest experience comes from playing some really good old Conn 70 and 72H models which sort of taught me a new way to approach the bass trombone. Unfortunately as with Your 1 1/2G example these models are a bit to much of a challenge if You where to use it for everything.
The big dividend from playing these models however is that I try to emulate the sound  when playing my modern (big) Shires and Monette combo.If a young player goes directly to the big orchestral "behemoths" without testing these oldies they will not get the right foundation to build a sound ideal in my opinion. I actually think that You could sucessfully play a big honker with modern freeblowing valves with the elegance,finesse and crispness of the old timers if You have experienced it by playing "obsolete" equipment.
Almost like history learning by doing!!

tbarh


I totally agree with your point. The Kleinhammer comment was in a recent interview in the ITA journal.
Chris Stearn.
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« Reply #8 on: Mar 09, 2006, 05:03PM »

I have a question that's almost on topic.

The music played in orchestra hasn't changed since it was written and the human body hasn't changed since it was written, but brass instruments have changed and it most cases quite drastically.  

So have we:

a) Changed the sound we want to make, either in tone or volume
b) Changed the way we make the sound we want to make
c) Some combination of a and b to greater or lesser extent of either option

So if we are changing the sound we want to make because we like it better or it makes playing easier why should it be such a big issue that some players are using huge mouthpieces if they feel that it makes an improvement to their playing?

I know that the horn sounds different two feet behind the bell in a music store than 50 feet from the front or side in a concert hall, but I can't believe that a conductor or musically savvy audience member hasn't noticed a detrimental effect on the player's sound or flexibility in all the years that horns have been getting larger and informed that player.

I'm not an advocate of the idea of larger is better, but I don't see how it could have continued like it has if it is bad for the music.
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« Reply #9 on: Mar 09, 2006, 05:51PM »

Quote from: "Swimbo"
The music played in orchestra hasn't changed since it was written and the human body hasn't changed since it was written, but brass instruments have changed and it most cases quite drastically.


Not to nit-pick, but I heard a news story on the radio recently about how the average shoe sizes for both men and women have increased dramatically in the last few generations - so have heights, widths and other body dimensions (cmoe on' guys - no jokes here, please!!!). And certainly, life expectancy has changed, too, in the last century or so (and will continue to do so?)

So the body is changing.

I'm not arguing for bigger mouthpieces because of our bigger bodies, mind you, I'm just thinkng out loud - trying to add some perspective to this discussion.
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« Reply #10 on: Mar 09, 2006, 07:44PM »

That is a good point, people are in better condition physically today than they used to be and usually most people reach their full growth potential.  That might have allowed bigger equipment to become more manageable.
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« Reply #11 on: Mar 09, 2006, 08:59PM »

Swimbo, there is a big difference between bigger and too big.

Bigger means you play a larger mouthpiece, but you can play all the notes you need to and can play them in tune.  All the way up as high a parts go.  For a tenor trombone this is F atop the treble staff.  For a bass trombone this is C inside the treble staff (6 ledger lines and 4 ledger lines above bass staff, respectively).

If all the notes in the upper register are out of tune and fairly flat, the mouthpiece is probably too big for the player.  The player can work on embouchure to improve performance of the big mouthpiece, or just go back to a smaller mouthpiece.

Many conductors may not like the "tuba on a stick" sound, but they don't know why you have it.  Some will just reject you in an audition, but if they have to use you they will just not like it.  And they can't figure out what to tell you to fix the problem.  Others may think it quite appropriate and for them, bravo.

Sometimes you discover by accident that the larger equipment is contributing to a problem.  I remember playing a Dvorak symphony (I think the 8th) where we had a problem with the blending of the chorale at the beginning, which was solved simply by my switching to a smaller bore trombone; in my case an original model Olds dual bore.  Suddenly the lower voices of the chorale blended with the upper voices.  Magic!

I think I'm going to dig out my Mt. Vernon 1 1/2G again.  It's sitting in my Euphonium case as a backup to my Warburton 3/3B mouthpiece.  I should give my old friend (it was the first bass mouthpiece I ever bought, and it was Mt. Vernon because that was where Bach was at the time) another go.
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« Reply #12 on: Mar 10, 2006, 01:10AM »

I think the major driver of bigger mouthpiece use was initially contempory music being written for bass trombone... both shows and big band... it became harder and harder to get round some of this stuff in the 70's (I remember it well). So people started to try bigger... I think Schilke was first to respond, then others followed.
Then the big gear found it's way into local music shops and kids found a way to an instant low register..... but as has been said, the youngsters were hitting this stuff without the sound concepts of the pro players....
so things change, and a duller, big horn type sound becomes more the norm.
I'm not talking of the fine players in the profession here, but of a mass of young players that just do things in a different way.
I know pro players who are brilliant using big mouthpieces.... some of them ex-students of mine, that I put on the big mouthpieces... because it worked for them. Interesting sounds... that's the key.
What is happening in professional orchestras, at least around these parts, is that more and more conductors are asking for 'smaller bores' for music that is not of the largest scale...... so we often end up playing smaller trombones then we would have 40 years ago.
It's funny, I am just sharing my joy at how wonderful a really good old Mt. Vernon Bach 1 1/2G is... and I've never played anything better than a really good old Bach, but it seems to naturally lead us into the whole sound thing and where we have gone in the last 40 years.
Chris Stearn.
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« Reply #13 on: Mar 10, 2006, 04:46AM »

Chris, you'll like this.

Jose from Dillon's and I (who both play bathtubs) have a running joke: whatever mouthpiece we're playing, it's a 1 1/2 G in our minds...

OK, it was funnier at the time.

George Flynn sounds pretty amazing on a 1 1/2 G, and he gets around pretty well on the stupidest low register show book of them all, The Lion King. Not to mention Maria Schneider and John Fedchock's crazy big band books.

If you've never heeard it, it's certainly worth the shock value to hear George play Jaco Pastorius' Teen Town on the Fedchock New York Big Band CD.

Oh, and Dave Taylor. He doesn't play a 1 1/2 G anymore, but I think his current pieces are still around that size.

If I could play as well as those guys, I'd play a 1 1/2 G too.
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« Reply #14 on: Mar 10, 2006, 05:11AM »

Swimbo:

I thinkl an important part of the equation is that the world in general has gotten louder.
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« Reply #15 on: Mar 10, 2006, 07:20AM »

There are just enough people who sound great on any particular piece of gear (2G's, S 60's etc) to confuse those of us who don't sound good on any equipment.
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« Reply #16 on: Mar 10, 2006, 08:53AM »

Quote from: "tbonegeek07"
Embarrassed!

I play a Getzen 1.5 G!

It's easier to double on, but I haven't yet tried out many other bass bone mouthpieces, so I might not know what I'm missing.


I HAVE tried out several other bass bone mouthpieces, and I still perfer my Getzen 1.5G. It just sounds sweeter.
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« Reply #17 on: Mar 10, 2006, 10:32AM »

Quote from: "Gabe Langfur"
Chris, you'll like this.

Jose from Dillon's and I (who both play bathtubs) have a running joke: whatever mouthpiece we're playing, it's a 1 1/2 G in our minds...

OK, it was funnier at the time.

George Flynn sounds pretty amazing on a 1 1/2 G, and he gets around pretty well on the stupidest low register show book of them all, The Lion King. Not to mention Maria Schneider and John Fedchock's crazy big band books.

If you've never heeard it, it's certainly worth the shock value to hear George play Jaco Pastorius' Teen Town on the Fedchock New York Big Band CD.

Oh, and Dave Taylor. He doesn't play a 1 1/2 G anymore, but I think his current pieces are still around that size.

If I could play as well as those guys, I'd play a 1 1/2 G too.



Thanks for that Gabe....
I've heard both you and Jose play a bit (in a crazy room) and you both play it as you say it..... nice compact, rich sound.
I heard some other guys swimming around in need of rescue on their big mouthpieces at that event.

Have musical situations gotten louder ???
Orchestras ? No..... some were VERY loud 40 years ago.
Big Bands ? don't do enough to say, but I played in some very loud groups when I was younger... so I doubt it.
Brass bands ? Yes..... a lot of these groups are silly loud
Shows ?  most are electric mix today, so they may be easier as a blow.
There is other stuff unique to the U.S. that I don't know about, but overall I don't buy the  life is louder idea.
Lotta guys still using 2B's/11c's and similar on tenor, but basses are big, and mouthpieces bigger.
Funny.

Chris Stearn.
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« Reply #18 on: Mar 10, 2006, 10:58AM »

Quote
but overall I don't buy the life is louder idea.
Lotta guys still using 2B's/11c's and similar on tenor, but basses are big, and mouthpieces bigger.


And I would say that GENERALLY, in the places you find tenors playing 2B's with 11C's, you also find bass trombone players using 59ish or smaller mouthpieces.

Life IS louder now...we crank our ipods, traffic noise is much worse in alot of places than it was even 10 years ago, and musical theater, for example, is often cranked to deafening levels.  You see much more plexiglass spread around orchestras (other than the big boys and girls) these days because even with small string sections, some orchestras play way too loud.  Bigger is better is louder...

Was it a different thread where Gabe was talking about a Bruckner 4th run with the Rhode Island Phil where the conductor had them play much more compactly and roundly than they expected?  I like the idea of that, and I think it can be applied, to some extent, to many other composers as well.  The last time I played Bruckner 4th, the orchestra, a mix of symphony professionals, university teachers, and some advanced students, was blowing the crap out of it, and more than a few of the players weren't always able to control their sound or pitch at that volume.  I suggested to the 1st trumpet player that we play one section (big Gb major chorale) in a much more round and relaxed manner...he just looked at me and said, "MY part says fortissimo there!"   Great! Good!    No wonder nobody wants to sit in front of his bell.

To me, THAT also falls under the category of " the world is louder".

I wish I could go back to a smaller mouthpiece.  Sam Pilafian's words "Play the smallest mouthpiece you can stand" make alot of sense to me.  So far, the smallest I can stand is a Yeo.


Dan
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« Reply #19 on: Mar 10, 2006, 01:03PM »

Dan, I can see your point, and hi-fi sytems cranked up at home and cinema systems reaching uncomfortable levels in public tend to lead to greater sound expectations in other places.....
but I think things in orchestras have peaked, and are on the way down in many places.
In a professional orchestra, you NEVER play at your volume limit. You always work within, so as to have real control..... anybody on a volume ego trip is heading out of the door.... but that said... when did this relationship between mouthpiece size and potential volume become accepted wisdom ? I don't buy into it... I can see no relationship between those two in the players I know.
Chris Stearn
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