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Author Topic: Stainless Steel V Titanium  (Read 634 times)
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Matt K

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« on: Sep 10, 2017, 08:10AM »

So I know there have been a few threads on these, but I didn't see anything that was anywhere close to recent.  I just wanted to share with a project I recently did where I bought a Stainless Steel Chinook and a Titanium Chinook and had them threaded for Elliott rims.  Its hard to compare the G&W pieces because the rims are steel and so this was focusing on just the influence of the underpart with the same rim (LB110, lexan).   I tested everything on my Duo Gravis and prior to that a Shires 1YM bell with an Edwards 562/578 slide. Most of these observations were done in a commercial setting, so take it with a grain of salt!

My observations were that the steel closely resembled the characteristics of what we usually associate with red brass and/or lighter weight bells.  The timbral contrast was a lot greater at different dynamic levels.  Louds were easier to get past the redline but were also easier to get past that line and potentially break up.  Lots of color.

The titanium, on the other hand, more closely resembled characteristics that we associate with heavier bells or yellow bells.  Redline happens much more cleanly. It was almost impossible for me to redline on it, actually. Everything was very consistent across the entire dynamic spectrum.  Very even tone.  Took a lot of work, but if I were a full time bass trombonist and had a specific sound in mind or was trying to tame a particularly lively instrument, I'd probably consider experimenting with these logner.

Unfortunately, I don't have a directly comparable brass piece to try. I have an LB L/M8 that I'd been using with the same rim... but its a little smaller.  In general, I actually find brass (again, different brand, different sizes...) to be the middle of the road between the two. Its a nice blend of the color of the steel, although "less" colorful than steel... and the consistency of the titanium.

I know some of these observations are contrary to what I've heard others experiences. For example, I've seen other remarks that the steel sound is a bit dull compared to brass, etc. I think part of that may be due to the sizing of the rims from Giddings and the material. Lexan is very grippy and my rim was a lot smaller than the original rim.   Also don't neglect that I've only really been playing bass for a year now and I'm still getting my own chops in order as well as figure out the size that works best for me. That said, I think some of what we attribute to the material are, in my opinion, due to the size, shape, and slickness of the rim.

Hopefully these comments help! On a two or three piece system, I think there is a lot of potential for giving us more tools in our arsenal for some really interesting and unique colors.

PS: Also really cool, the titanium is super light. Easily as light as a plastic piece.  Blew me away. Especially with a plastic rim on it. Almost weightless.
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« Reply #1 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:06AM »

Once you've cut up both pieces to accept your rim I think the test, the basic test of Stainless vs. Titanium, goes out the window because you've changed the mouthpiece. My 2 cents.
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« Reply #2 on: Sep 11, 2017, 06:20AM »

I tried the nor'easters on my bass trombone in both stainless steel and titanium. I did not cut the rims off like you did but I still had similar results . The part that I did not like about both mouthpieces was as I played softer, the focus disappeared. The titanium mouthpiece literally fell apart below mezzoforte.  the stainless steel mouthpiece can play a mezzo piano and sound good but again it fell apart at softer volume levels.  The focus just disappeared.  I need a mouthpiece that can both play loud and redline and play soft when I work in the studio or in an orchestra
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« Reply #3 on: Sep 11, 2017, 09:12PM »

It's an interesting test. It would have been interesting to compare the titanium and steel with a cup identical made with brass. That would make it possible to tell if the fuzzing sound at low dynamics is due to material or due to other factors. Of course it's expensive to have these custom parts made, otherwise I'd being doing the same thing!
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« Reply #4 on: Sep 15, 2017, 05:59AM »

I take it they fusing sound you refer to is what I called the lack of focus?  These two G&W are the only mouthpiece I have ever played  that seemed to have that issue.  I did try multiple versions of each with the same results. Currently I am playing a Marcinkiewicz 105 ( both standard and Concert version) and have none of these issues.
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« Reply #5 on: Sep 15, 2017, 02:01PM »

I once had a matching pair of G&W bass mouthpieces in SS and Titanium - the titanium felt warmer on the face and slightly less aggressive in overall sound.  The physics of the different overtone responses from one material to the other are above my pay grade ... but the difference was quite clear.  In the end I abandoned that particular size piece all together and landed on another model of G&W in SS.  As a part timer on bass, the only reason I was able to justify the experiment's expense was that I scored the titanium piece for a song and couldn't resist.  I play a SS G&W for tenor and based on my experience with the bass pieces would likely not try out titanium unless I was trying to tame a particularly wickedly bright sounding instrument.

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« Reply #6 on: Sep 15, 2017, 02:51PM »

I once had a matching pair of G&W bass mouthpieces in SS and Titanium - the titanium felt warmer on the face and slightly less aggressive in overall sound.  The physics of the different overtone responses from one material to the other are above my pay grade ...

From an engineering point of view, the stiffness to mass (k/m) of Ti is about the same as steel. https://www.kyocera-sgstool.eu/titanium-resources/titanium-information/titanium-advantages-disadvantages/

That means that the natural frequency (w^2=k/m)is going to be about the same. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_frequency

The big advantage of Ti is in the strength to weight, which has more to do with breaking point than stiffness, which is just resistance to bending/flex. So the steel mouthpiece will wind up being a huge chunk of mass on the horn, and the Ti piece will be less mass. We know horn sound reacts to counterweights being applied, this would be similar, with different placement of the counterweight.

The only other advantages of Ti in mouthpieces are biocompatibility, and resistance to corrosion. Otherwise, it's nasty to mine, and nasty to process, which is what makes it so expensive in the US (and so cheap in China).
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