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1076860 Posts in 71275 Topics- by 18956 Members - Latest Member: StanleyD
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101  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: Michael Rath Trombones - Whats Your Opinion on: May 15, 2017, 05:20AM
Amazing right out of the box - well it happens, but still rarely (if ever) amazing for every situation and still requires some adjustment from the player.

When I came out from the Spada shop with a modular Bach-Spada B flat trumpet with a configuration that I worked on from some 2h choosing many details....everybody loved it, but now I realize that sometime in commercial context it requires quite an effort to be consistent, though soundwise is quite versatile.

The out of the box impression is almost all about feel. Sound can only really be judged in the playing context... your section.. your hall etc.
Response and slot can be made very attractive...but many other qualities are important. I think many modern instruments are far too slotted and leave many players struggling to play in tune as every tiny adjustment has to be made on the slide, not on the face.
Chris Stearn
102  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: Michael Rath Trombones - Whats Your Opinion on: May 14, 2017, 03:09AM
From my rather humble but limited experience I'd say that as far as quality of build, there I nothing better, but hey, you're paying for a high end product so I'd expect nothing less.

Regards the actual instrument, I had a R9 independent made up to 'try' and copy an old Edwards bass I used to own. I got exactly the same things (apart from valves were obviously different)... needless to say, it was/is a pig, a right donkey of an instrument. Sounded great in the shop in a small practice room but out in th open in a band rehearsal it was toss.

I fought with it for a few years until I bit the bullet and contacted Mick direct and explained the problem and that the trombone had never really worked for me...

This is the best bit... And maybe explains why there's not loads of spares flying around 2nd hand? Mick sent me a few bit to try on approval and I just swapped them over in my own time over a few weeks till I got it better. Just sent back my original lead pipe and other bits I didn't want. An excellent service (that's possibly not available to everyone depending on location?) but terrific none th less.

Over all it's not helped so much as I've rather given up hope of ever getting it right. There's just something 'not right' about it that I can't lay my finger on. If anything I'd say there's possibly too much choice, too many options that you end up tangled up in your own mind about what you want, what you think you want versus what you end up with.

I guess a bog standard off the shelf option like the R900 is probably spot on for most players, we just don't realise until it's expensively too late.

Here are many of the issues that worry me with ideas about modular trombones. If you liked your Edwards,you should have contacted Edwards and bought another that was tweaked to do what you want. If you buy a Rath in the hope of getting a better Edwards you will be disappointed. They are very different. I loved my original Rath.... standard yellow brass slide, indi Hagmanns and 9 1/2" pure copper bell. I ordered a second one, this time speced to be a clone of my Holton 169 and it never got to where I wanted it to be.... silly idea. If you put together a balanced instrument and learn how to play it you can end up happy. One of my students got a Courtois a year ago..  he loved it, but I thought his sound had suffered and I was not happy. He worked at it to get his sound out of the bell and now sounds amazing.  People expect amazing right out of the box with no player adjustment. That leads to disappointment. What sounds best out of the box can end up being a poor choice.

Chris Stearn
103  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: Michael Rath Trombones - Whats Your Opinion on: May 13, 2017, 02:13PM
If Chris regards building as being hard what chance do the rest of us have? ......

This is a problem with ANY modular horn with many choices.... witness the number of modular bits for sale here and on ebay.
You see less Rath parts for sale... either they sell far less stuff or customers get it right more often.
The A/B comparison game is dangerous... too many people think duller is darker, and darker is the required quality. You try bell A and bell B and jump in the direction that seems right.... but real choices happen over time in your playing situation. I don't know what the answer is. A great instrument teaches you things... how do you put together your teacher ???

Chris Stearn
104  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: Michael Rath Trombones - Whats Your Opinion on: May 13, 2017, 01:57PM

I apologize if you have already answered this somewhere and I missed it, but what ever became of your Fuchs inspired Rath?

Thanks much,

Dan Harris

Oh Dan... there was never a proposal to build a Fuchs copy....
We did talk about making a smaller bell bass like the later 70H, but Mick was snowed under with orders and it seemed pointless at the time.
Looking back, I should recap my involvement with Mick and the team...
I remember trying the prototype bass around 1998/99 and then met up with Mick in Utrect at ITF 2000 and after trying a couple of basses, I decided to buy one of his horns. I started visiting the factory on a regular basis and started to be involved in development. I helped with material development... nickel bells, bronze slides and a lot of things that didn't make the cut. I was a voice in the room when Mick decided to go modular and was part of the TIS development team. I had quite a lot to do with mouthpiece development and then my biggest project was working with Mick to create the R90 contrabass trombone. It was great fun and a steep learning curve. My horns became test rigs for various ideas and went from solid build to modular, indi to dep, bell tuning to TIS and some of it back again.
Mick is the finest brass instrument maker I have met... a real master of the craft and design of trombone in every way. I am proud to be using Rath basses that I have inherited from my dear friend Roger Williams.... the double is number 34 and pretty much the same as my first horn.

Chris Stearn
105  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Instruments / Re: Michael Rath Trombones - Whats Your Opinion on: May 12, 2017, 03:38PM
You can put a Rath together that works for anything... jazz, classical, whatever. They have a distinct character.... I don't think you can build a 'clone' of another make, but then why would you ?
They are very easy to play... helpful... responsive....
The hardest thing is choosing from all the options... the Raths I play now were put together by an old friend and work better than the ones I put together myself... building is hard.
I am on indi Hagmanns and love the setup... I had dependants in the past but I find more advantage in the indis.

Chris Stearn
106  Teaching & Learning / Pedagogy / Re: Mouthpiece Buzzing on: May 10, 2017, 01:43PM
Mouthpiece buzzing is not like drinking beer.... I do both and can tell the difference.

Chris Stearn
107  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Repairs, Modifications and Maintenance / Re: Conn 71H Tuning slide on: May 10, 2017, 10:34AM
I have a tuning slide crook in raw brass, never mounted... couple of little nicks. You would need to have your legs mounted on it and then buffed and lacquered. PM me if interested.

Chris Stearn
108  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Mouthpieces / Re: New Greg Black 1G on: May 07, 2017, 12:32AM
Seems like the owners of MV 1-1/2Gs are always checking out other things too... Evil

Not all of them  ;-)
There is a difference between a great mouthpiece and THE mouthpiece... I've been lucky enough to own many great mouthpieces and now I'm stuck on THE mouthpiece.
It owns me as much  as I own it.

Chris Stearn
109  Teaching & Learning / Schools, Colleges and Conservatories / Re: Paul Pollard to Join IU Faculty on: May 04, 2017, 02:45PM
Bill... what was edited ??? PM me and I will look into it.

Chris Stearn
110  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: How do you get back to playing well after not playing on: Apr 29, 2017, 02:17PM
I've been in a situation in which I haven't been able to play (hardly at all) for the past 2 weeks. I sound pretty bad, and I was wondering if you guys had any advice for getting back to where I was before the hiatus. Thanks!

Stop playing opera...

Chris Stearn
111  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Developing centred notes on: Apr 25, 2017, 10:23AM
What I mean is you have to use your own brain... not rely on other people's brains.
A good teacher teaches people to think for themselves.

112  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Developing centred notes on: Apr 25, 2017, 08:41AM
Okay.... I'll tell you the secret....


Look, listen, learn, practise.

Stop looking for short cuts.

Take lessons when you think you need them.

That's aimed at anybody who wants to get better.

Chris Stearn
113  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Developing centred notes on: Apr 25, 2017, 12:58AM
Thanks Svenne, one thing is sure, I have a very strong concept inside of how I want my sound to be. But the truth is I for many years in fact had equipment that made my sound too big. Maybe unfocused.  I practiced a lot but had trouble getting it the way I wanted. My teacher told it was nearly too big and told I should go smaller. I didn't listen before many years later. Some years ago I read some of Chris posts and I tried some smaller equipment and recorded it. Couldn't believe my ears, sound was suddenly where I wanted it to be!

So I believe right equipment for the player is important. Maybe not big or small, but right for that given player. I didn't have the insight or knowledge and I also refused to listen advices.

So I think right equipment is one factor, but more important is practice and a concept to practice towards. If we don't have a concept, we will not get anywhere with our practice. I have in fact practiced a lot, and I like my sound today. I only wish my technique could be better, but it seems to go very slow. But in fact when I listen any trombone I endorse sound before technique.

In the end I have to admit I dont know exactly how to practice to get a good sound. Nor technique. But the more experienced people here have seen and listen more and can give better answers. Im not exactly sure how to practice.


Well Leif, look at it this way.... you are getting a great sound... by general agreement on this forum, so the way you have done that must be a path that can be used. That sound in your head that you want to produce has led you to ways to practise and equipment choices that have worked.
The biggest thing by far is that you (and a lot of the rest of us) love the sound that George Roberts used to make.
Keeping that sound idea and working toward it is central.
It is so simple as an idea that most people dismiss it and layer complexity into their practise.
We had a student, side by side session in the orchestra yesterday. My first year student came in and whilst he enjoyed the session, it was obvious (at least I hope it was) that his idea of sound have yet to develop. In the afternoon the professional player returned .... my ex-student... and his wonderful sound was even more apparent. That sound is the result of years of hard work and a clear sound concept.... it takes time.
Keep it simple.... keep chasing...

Chris Stearn
114  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Developing centred notes on: Apr 24, 2017, 08:27AM
I should clarify.... we are looking for the most vibrant and interesting sound. Playing in tune is part of that. A sound in your head... pitch and quality. Core. There's another word. Talking about sound is like dancing about painting...  
That means we just end up confused. Ah well...

Chris Stearn
115  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Developing centred notes on: Apr 24, 2017, 08:16AM
Do you think they actually play high or low of center?  Or is it a mental image that they use that works for them, but maybe they're really playing in the center? 

Center is not the best word here.

Chris Stearn
116  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Accessories / Re: How long does it take to get a brassark leadpipe? on: Apr 24, 2017, 07:46AM
You order something you get an eta from the person directly. Plain and simple. And FWIW Noah has always retuned my emails and I'm a nobody.
No... you're a somebody  :)
117  Horns, Gear, and Equipment / Repairs, Modifications and Maintenance / Re: How many dents do you tolerate in your horns? on: Apr 24, 2017, 12:34AM
I am careful with the tools of my trade. If I have owned it since new, it will look very good with usually only the unavoidable mute dents in the bell. Used instruments are as they are... lacquer in all states of preservation, some with few dents , others with many.... how they play is everything and they bear the scars of their previous lives, which is fine with me.

Chris Stearn
118  Teaching & Learning / Practice Room / Re: Developing centred notes on: Apr 24, 2017, 12:24AM
Yes, since they are two different players, there must be a difference in how to achieve goals. I don't know how to get a centered sound, but I believe it helps to have a kind of sound goal. Either another player or a style of sound. Anyway it helps me. Understand how to get it is not easy without help. Try everyday and have a goal inside our head?

One question that might help is what can cause an uncentred sound?

Yes, Leif... concept is king... that way the brain controls the face. You should not think about what your face is doing whist you perform and very rarely during practise. The brain is the control system and you have to use it. Concept.

Chris Stearn
119  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: Help with 2nd Trombone Purchase on: Apr 24, 2017, 12:16AM
You guys are great, but you have to understand that my son's preference is not to have a shiny instrument.  He'd actually want to get the lacquer removed.  He has it in his head that a lacquer free horn has a more mellow sound - which is true, isn't it.   Have a Brass Band in our home town, and they are pretty good.  When Wycliffe Gordon is soloing, my kid goes nuts.  Even listens to Gordon on Apple Radio. 

No need for any additional comments on mouthpieces.....he's gonna get a new one.  When we decide on the horn, we can continue the mouthpiece conversation.

You don't strip the lacquer on vintage Conns... that is part of how they play. You can strip a Bach if you want. Lacquer saves a lot of cleaning.

Chris Stearn
120  Teaching & Learning / Beginners and Returning Trombonists / Re: Help with 2nd Trombone Purchase on: Apr 23, 2017, 02:11PM
Bruce, I cannot understand why you call the Elkhart Conn 88H light.... I could sit you next to quite a few players using 88H's who could monster anybody out of the way.
Out of fashion in the US perhaps... but not light.

Chris Stearn
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