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Author Topic: Why Coprion?  (Read 2642 times)
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Pteranabone

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« on: Aug 11, 2017, 09:03PM »

Why did Conn experiment with Coprion design?  Why was it less than successful?  (Sam Burris likened it to your crazy uncle off his meds, or something along those lines.  DJ likened it to wrapping a 6H in duct tape).
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 11, 2017, 10:10PM »

Coprion is an electroformed bell.  It is created by plating in a tank.  It comes up fully formed and needs almost no working to get it into shape.  It was thought this might provide a better type of resonance.  It certainly reduces the  labor -- you don't have to beat a flat sheet of brass into a bell shape.

Coprion is pure copper.  You can't plate an alloy like brass easily.

Personally I like the look of it.  Kinda snazzy.

After all, we like solid sterling silver bells also, don't we?

But Coprion never caught on with the pros.  So it's defunct.
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 12, 2017, 12:31AM »

Just to put in a word about Reynolds' Bronz-o-lyte - the bass trombone version of which is more or less copper.

Unlike the tenor trombones and other instruments that maybe had bells of bronze as the word is commonly understood.  Maybe someone has put one under XRF to see if there's any tin in the mix, but it's as red as it could be.

I don't have anything of value to report about it, beyond that the Reynolds bass trombones have big copper bells and seem to play OK.
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 12, 2017, 05:23AM »

Wildly speculating.

Electroforming would allow making bells without a highly skilled artisan spinning them by hand, and they should all come out relatively the same.  (I'm not sure what the tolerances are - I'm sure less than CAD/CAM, but maybe tighter than hand work)

It seems to me there would be some negatives too.  Copper doesn't heat treat, precipitation hardening is not available either for pure or even for the alloys.  The only way to harden it would be work hardening.  So electroforming would leave it very soft, like after a good annealing, and that might be too soft to survive.  If you have to do a final spinning to work harden it, then you've lost your advantage of not needing skilled labor. 

I imagine the equipment is much more expensive than a lathe, and probably produces large amounts of hazardous waste, too. 
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 12, 2017, 06:37AM »

Also going off what Tim said, if you just electroformed a bell and didn't work harden or heat treat it, or buff it, you'd have a uniform thickness and uniform hardness bell. That's pretty lame.

From what I've heard, the coprion trumpets were much more popular.
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 12, 2017, 06:57AM »

THe answer is another question in and of it self: "Why not?" They tried all sorts of stuff we might think retrospectively are a little crazy!  That said, trumpet players still use them today to some degree; Schilke makes them under the name 'Beryllium Bronze' (http://dallasmusic.org/schilke/Bells,%20slides%20and%20finish.html).  If you search Dillon you can place an order for a few models of them. 

One characteristic not yet mentioned is the lack of a seam.  Trombone bells generally are two piece with a seam towards the flare.  Bach bells (and the 'copies' or 'inspirations') are typically one piece with a seam going down the length of the bell.  Electroform bells are seamless.  Its hard to compare the bells for just this characteristic alone but there are differences between the one piece, two piece, and I'd imagine with the seamless.  Evidently trombone manufacturers have either decided this difference isn't something people would generally want or that the cost to get the proper tooling of that size is prohibitive.   Though Rath does offer "bronze" parts, I don't know what the actual makeup is of the material, nor do I believe they are electroformed.  (What we as trombonists call 'red brass' ,90% copper - 10% zinc, is often referred to by other people as bronze in some cases. So he might just be going with the conventional indication.)
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 12, 2017, 07:23AM »

I'm not sure what Conn was after when they made these bells. Their literature is hogwash. They day the sound doesn't break up at high volumes. Anyone I know who has played Coprion trombones will tell you that yes, it does--quite suddenly and forcefully.

What they didn't address, and the reason I like Coprion bells, is feedback to the player. They're very lively. I find that I'm more involved in what I'm playing when I get that kind of feedback. They're the opposite of a P-Bone.

Also going off what Tim said, if you just electroformed a bell and didn't work harden or heat treat it, or buff it, you'd have a uniform thickness and uniform hardness bell. That's pretty lame.

 Don't know

I don't see why this would be a problem. I don't think any manufacturer actually works with varying thicknesses of metal to enhance the sound--not even a Bach "Stradivarius."  Evil  Differing thicknesses and hardnesses are a by-product of manufacturing techniques. Some designs--notably one-piece bells--are bound to be asymmetrical in both hardness and thickness because of the amount of stretching that occurs.
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« Reply #7 on: Aug 12, 2017, 07:49AM »


 Don't know

I don't see why this would be a problem. I don't think any manufacturer actually works with varying thicknesses of metal to enhance the sound--not even a Bach "Stradivarius."  Evil  Differing thicknesses and hardnesses are a by-product of manufacturing techniques. Some designs--notably one-piece bells--are bound to be asymmetrical in both hardness and thickness because of the amount of stretching that occurs.


Only because you used the  Don't know emoji:

You can think whatever you want. Some people think that we never walked on the moon. But I don't peg you as the tin foil hat type. No way.

Manufacturers do in fact work with varying the thickness and hardness throughout the length of their bells. Sometimes it's unintentional, but for manufacturers today it's intentional, and usually done to get closer to what the buffers at Elkhart were doing in the 40s and 50s and 60s.

Shires does the T7 treatment:

T7: Treatment 7—thinner in the flare—this provides easier response and lighter, less centered sound than the standard bell treatment

Edwards heat treats and work hardens bells as an option, but also has:

CF treating is a partial heat treating process. This treatment allows the bell to blow more freely and adds colour to the sound.

Double buffing thins the bell slightly. It actually creates a thickness in between any two gauges.

And the 396-A bell is treated so that it is not uniform.

Noah Gladstone's vintage orchestral trombone varies the thickness of the bell:

Two piece bell construction using a "cross braze" similar to pre WWII Conn bell construction.
- Bell stem is constructed from very thin gold brass, the flare is made from yellow brass with a thin rim wire which is soldered

And we all have heard that the way the old bells coming out of Elkhart were made was special. The guys buffing the bells were changing the thickness and varying it in different parts of the bell. That's why manufacturers are doing the same thing today.

so  Don't know right back at ya.  Good!

I only mentioned what you were referring to before because it does seem like having a bell that's thinner in some spots than others is desireable. You try a Shires red bell, and then you try the T7 Elkhart bell, and 9/10 you fall for the T7. I dunno. A bell that has the exact same thickness and hardness throughout the entire length seems like it would be no fun, unless it was just thin to begin with.
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« Reply #8 on: Aug 12, 2017, 09:33AM »

Only because you used the  Don't know emoji:

Right, because I don't see how "lame" defines a practice that's used by every manufacturer with the exception of a few modern boutique builders. So yes, I was unaware that Shires was offering different thicknesses and Edwards was offering work-hardening as an option, but aside from a very few examples, it would seem that manufacturers keep the metal in the thickness it ends up in when it's formed into the shape of a trombone.




And we all have heard that the way the old bells coming out of Elkhart were made was special. The guys buffing the bells were changing the thickness and varying it in different parts of the bell. That's why manufacturers are doing the same thing today.

so  Don't know right back at ya.  Good!

Again, I don't think this was intentional. I think they were buffing out areas that had been brazed and needed to have material removed so that they would be smooth again. And I had no idea that  Don't know was an insult. It wasn't intended as such. I didn't understand how you drew the conclusions you did. I still don't.

A bell that has the exact same thickness and hardness throughout the entire length seems like it would be no fun, unless it was just thin to begin with.

"Fun" is what I like about the Coprion bells. They feel good when you play them. However, since most of them were used on 18H student horns, I don't think Conn was going to any great lengths to thin or anneal specific parts of the bells. It's hard to say, since so many of them ended up in the public school system where they were beaten on until they had different dimensions and hardness than original.
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 12, 2017, 11:25AM »

Euphanasia, I had to just send that emoji guy back at ya, I'm not too much worried about it beyond that. You got me wishing I could try a copper bell now.

That is a bummer about them only being used on student trombones.

It seems like the Coprion was a way of mass producing larger bells, then. It certainly seemed to be touted as a premium option for trumpets though. I have actually heard a coprion trumpet, but not a trombone.

A side question, didn't Yamaha electro form its bells?

as for the boutique vs elkhart, and whether or not the burnishings and buffings were cosmetic or intentionally done  ... I don't know. For Edwards and Shires and Rath (see below), it is intentional, and likely because they really tried hard to deconstruct what made a great trombone great, and then do an even better job.

I have a feeling Conn and it's staff knew exactly what they were doing in the 30s through the 60s. When you're buffing out the area where you've connected the flare to the stem (or whatever kind of bell you're working on) and accidentally overdo it, but then put it on a horn anyways, you'd notice pretty fast that your mistake was a stroke of genius, even if you don't know why, and unfortunately even if you don't write it down or tell your replacement in abilene what your trick was.

Rath on its bells:

All Michael Rath bells are constructed in two pieces, a flare and a spout, allowing us to select the most appropriate gauge (or material thickness) for the bell flare and spout independently. They are produced entirely by hand in our workshop and are finished in clear lacquer as standard, although various other finishes are available.
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« Reply #10 on: Aug 12, 2017, 11:31AM »

There were pro horns made with Coprion.  Problem is the mandrels only worked for the smaller bores.  So there is a 10H that is a 6H with a Coprion bell, and a 12H that is a 4H with a Coprion bell.  I also saw a seventy-something with a coprion bell.

Never saw a larger horn with Coprion though.
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 12, 2017, 12:04PM »

How does it compare to a silversonic? I can't overblow my silversonic,  but besides that little feature, I imagine it would feel and sound similar to silver?
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« Reply #12 on: Aug 12, 2017, 12:41PM »

I have a Rath R9 with a copper bell. Mick offered that in the early days. I like it a lot. Not at all like silver. Very warm at low dynamics and gets interesting when louder. Great feedback to the player.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #13 on: Aug 12, 2017, 02:20PM »

I have a Rath R9 with a copper bell. Mick offered that in the early days. I like it a lot. Not at all like silver. Very warm at low dynamics and gets interesting when louder. Great feedback to the player.

Chris Stearn

... But that was made from sheet copper.  I don't think Mick had access to any electroforming equipment.  The difference would be the amount of work hardening the copper endured.

Still, all copper is VERY different from either Sterling Silver or pure Silver (SGX).
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 12, 2017, 02:42PM »

... But that was made from sheet copper.  I don't think Mick had access to any electroforming equipment.  The difference would be the amount of work hardening the copper endured.

Still, all copper is VERY different from either Sterling Silver or pure Silver (SGX).

It was indeed formed from sheet..... by a forum member.... these bells are still very soft, though not electro formed. I was answering a question from Harrison about comparing sounds.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #15 on: Aug 12, 2017, 03:47PM »

Just was surfing eBay - there's a beautiful 1957 Conn 10H with the coprion bell (same horn as the 6H except for the bell material) for sale there.

Looks to be in great condition - just thought I'd pass the info along since people are talking about these horns.

Jim Scott
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« Reply #16 on: Aug 12, 2017, 04:02PM »

Also going off what Tim said, if you just electroformed a bell and didn't work harden or heat treat it, or buff it, you'd have a uniform thickness and uniform hardness bell. That's pretty lame.

From what I've heard, the coprion trumpets were much more popular.
Not so sure about all this.

In electroplating/forming, you can very accurately control the deposition rate and uniformity.  This leads me to 2 possible conclusions.

1) The thickness could very well be much more uniform that a hammered and spun bell.  If anyone has access to one of these bells it might be interesting to put this to the test.

2) If the deposition rate was consistent and slow enough, the copper would tend to form in it's crystalline structure (face centered cubic) and might be harder than normal un-worked copper.

Now, I'm not saying this is what Conn did, but these are possibilities.
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« Reply #17 on: Aug 12, 2017, 07:47PM »

From the Anderson silverplating website:

Anderson plating offers electro formed bells for trumpet, cornet, and trombone. Besides being consistent, these bells have controlled distribution of metal. The throat and flare are made thin for excellent response and projection, and the stems are left heavy to give strength at the braces and to facilitate bending.

A few years back I picked up one of their electro formed copper trombone bells for a project I was doing. The project never got off the ground so it has been a planter ever since.
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« Reply #18 on: Aug 12, 2017, 08:30PM »

I guess we know where Conn's mandrels wound up...
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« Reply #19 on: Aug 12, 2017, 09:30PM »

Now does "made thin" mean they do it during the electro forming, or are they made thin afterwards, I wonder.

Being able to control the thickness at the flare during the formation of the bell would give incredibly consistent results.
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T-396A - Griego 1C
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pBone (with Yellow bell for bright tone)
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