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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentInstruments(Moderators: tbone62, Greg Waits) Tuning in Slide vs. Tuning in Bell
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« on: Oct 09, 2017, 10:09AM »

Hey all. Just had a question. I'm currently shopping for a bass trombone and came across a few older horns with tuning in the slide. The newest horn I found with this tuning mechanism is the Kanstul 1662 and 1662i. I'll be testing horns out this weekend at Dillon's to get an idea of what feels better on my tenor lips, but after playing on my Mack Brass for a few years, I know I want to stay with inline independent double triggers and a .562 single bore. My question is what is the point of in slide tuning? I found a few posts in random threads talking about how these types of horns have a conical bell, making the tubing leading up the bell having a smoother expansion. Can anybody shed some more light on the differences between these trombones? And has anybody played both as a side-by side comparison and can give first-hand experience about the advantages and disadvantages of each kind?
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« Reply #1 on: Oct 09, 2017, 10:11AM »

As soon as I posted this, I found a great explanation through the Horn Guys. But any other information is still welcome.
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« Reply #2 on: Oct 09, 2017, 12:42PM »

Im one of the few trombonists that dont know much about trombone making, but since I play both designs I feel the TIS is more interesting when it comes to sound. But I learned here there is so many factors involved in trombone design that it is difficult to say what is making a trombone have their different characteristics. My TIS is the famous old Elkhart bass trombones and perhaps its not the TIS but the well made design and workers at that time that made them so good. Maybe some knowledge got lost through the years?

Its best to try a lot then feel and listen what is the difference. Trying to understanding design is not easy.

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« Reply #3 on: Oct 09, 2017, 01:39PM »

I've had both as my everyday bass trombone but not simultaneously for an A/B comparison.

Is there a model of trombone in which everything else is identical except for this tuning scheme?

Whatever difference the option created did not register with me as a deal-maker or -breaker either way.

TIS seemed more of an inconvenience because of the screw that had to be loosened and retightened whenever you wanted to adjust it.
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« Reply #4 on: Oct 09, 2017, 02:06PM »

I've got a newish Kanstul 1662i and an oldish 70h, which are both TIS. I've owned/played a number of other bell tuning basses, but not all TIS are basses. To me, the TIS horns old and new, single or double, have a characteristic warmth in the sound and the feel. I prefer TIS, because you don't have to flip your horn around, and you can be more precise with it. It's slightly heavier, but not much in modern horns.

My two favorite basses are about as different as can be. I like the 1662i because of the velvety sound and the great valves. I like the Olds P24-G (not TIS) because it plays and sounds more like a regular tenor. Materials, bell size, valves, tuning, sound, preferred mouthpieces, you name it, these horns are different. It may be difficult to identify a "best" style, because there are qualities of each one that are attractive. I don't think it means you're a psychological mess if you like conflicting things. Eventually you have to either set priorities, or get one of each Evil
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« Reply #5 on: Oct 09, 2017, 06:59PM »

As soon as I posted this, I found a great explanation through the Horn Guys. But any other information is still welcome.
The hornguys explanation is good but it does have some marketing hogwash in it. If the Hornguys explanation was 100% true every single bass trombone would be TIS.

TIS is fantastic. It does make your sound richer, things are a little more open and slotting for better or worse does change.

The first one can actually cause problems blending with other bones if you aren't careful. Such as trying to use a Kanstul or Conn TIS in a section of Chicago style Edwards or Shires... it's just not going to work. It just sounds too rich. TIS horns do work fantastically in more typical orchestral or jazz sections that aren't using oversized hand cannons.

The second and third points I mentioned can be described by many as a "unfocused horn" which has a very loose slot, which again is a good and bad thing depending on you as a player. A traditional Bach style tuning slide or even a reversed style tuning slide does give you a more defined slot and a nice traditional sound and feel.

I love TIS horns and TIB horns with the Williams style J bend, heck I currently play on one of these styles of horns, but I would try before buying and see if they are for you.
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« Reply #6 on: Oct 10, 2017, 12:53AM »

I have both on all my trombones. But I rarely use the bell tuning unless I'm outdoors...

What gets me is that a true TIS attempts to solve a problem that doesn't really exist unless you play outside a lot or switch between 440 and some other tuning system. All you need is a slightly shorter bell section. I think a guy on the forum had one made by Rath, with no tuning mechanism at all (it did have a constant taper in the bell). At one point years ago I wanted to see if shires could make me a longer handslide so that I wouldn't have to pull my main tuning slide so far out. What was I thinking?? The slide was plenty long enough -- I just wasn't using all of it.  :(
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« Reply #7 on: Oct 10, 2017, 01:50AM »

I have both on all my trombones. But I rarely use the bell tuning unless I'm outdoors...

What gets me is that a true TIS attempts to solve a problem that doesn't really exist unless you play outside a lot or switch between 440 and some other tuning system. All you need is a slightly shorter bell section. I think a guy on the forum had one made by Rath, with no tuning mechanism at all (it did have a constant taper in the bell). At one point years ago I wanted to see if shires could make me a longer handslide so that I wouldn't have to pull my main tuning slide so far out. What was I thinking?? The slide was plenty long enough -- I just wasn't using all of it.  :(


I'm super confused by this.

In any case, a TiS horn does play and sound pretty different from the average instrument out there today. Is that bad? It can go either way. I like the sound, but it doesn't always work with the people around you... and if you play bass trombone, you're probably playing with other people.

I personally prefer how my Bach/Edwards bass (tuning in bell) plays and sounds, but I do much like my "new" Conn 60H (tuning in slide) in many ways.
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« Reply #8 on: Oct 10, 2017, 02:47AM »

There are so many other variables with horns that people are comparing that any conclusions are meaningless. I have owned and used the same instruments with tuning in bell, then converted to tuning in slide..... yes, there were small differences, but nothing to justify the hype generated from time to time on this forum. To me, a dual bore slide makes more difference to the tonal character. A leadpipe makes more difference. Lots of things make more difference.
If you are selling an old Conn bass, you are very likely to big up the virtues of the system, but it is the whole instrument that makes an old Conn what it is.

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« Reply #9 on: Oct 10, 2017, 05:13AM »

I'm super confused by this.


It was sort of a joke. But sort of serious. Based on what I've seen, every trombone I've played has a slide that's long enough to play B natural, even with the bell tuning completely closed. Thus, every trombone I've played is factory tuned with TIS. The bell tuning is just a bonus when I'm playing outdoors. And I don't have that funky screw thing on the outer slide to deal with. The joke is that, obviously, the bell still isn't conical and it's really a TIH system.

There was a guy on this forum who made this same realization but wanted the change in sound that TIS (conical bell, really) offers, and had Rath build him a TIS style horn with the conical bell section, but didn't actually have a TIS mechanism built into it. I can't find the thread though.
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« Reply #10 on: Oct 10, 2017, 11:38AM »

If you can get a B on an Edwards or Getzen with the tuning slide all the way in...  :-0
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« Reply #11 on: Oct 10, 2017, 12:59PM »

Or an E on an alto...........
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« Reply #12 on: Oct 10, 2017, 11:53PM »

What gets me is that a true TIS attempts to solve a problem that doesn't really exist unless you play outside a lot or switch between 440 and some other tuning system. All you need is a slightly shorter bell section. I think a guy on the forum had one made by Rath, with no tuning mechanism at all (it did have a constant taper in the bell). At one point years ago I wanted to see if shires could make me a longer handslide so that I wouldn't have to pull my main tuning slide so far out. What was I thinking?? The slide was plenty long enough -- I just wasn't using all of it.  :(

It was sort of a joke. But sort of serious. Based on what I've seen, every trombone I've played has a slide that's long enough to play B natural, even with the bell tuning completely closed. Thus, every trombone I've played is factory tuned with TIS. The bell tuning is just a bonus when I'm playing outdoors. And I don't have that funky screw thing on the outer slide to deal with. The joke is that, obviously, the bell still isn't conical and it's really a TIH system.

I'm sorry, but these posts show a real lack of understanding in how brass instruments have developed over the centuries, and how the construction of a TIS mechanism enables many different design choices in the bell section. Pushing your tuning slide all the way in doesn't begin to give you a taste of what TIS might offer.

Have you actually played a TIS horn?

I have played two. The first, belonging to a former student of mine, was a Kanstul 1662i. It wasn't really my cup of tea, and didn't seem to take advantage of some of the things a TIS instrument can offer.

The second, a Greenhoe Custom, I only played for about 5 minutes, but the resonance, ease of playing and beauty of sound still haunt my dreams...

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« Reply #13 on: Oct 11, 2017, 11:41AM »

The question then is always whether that was due to the trombone being slide tuned, or just to the overall build quality or design.
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« Reply #14 on: Oct 12, 2017, 08:22AM »

The question then is always whether that was due to the trombone being slide tuned, or just to the overall build quality or design.

Both.

All of the truly great slide tuning horns that I have played are Conns from the '50s on back. Also several Greenhoe models as well. Why? Great designers...Jake Burkle and Gary Greenhoe...great workmanship and slide tuning.

Well designed and manufactured slide tuning produces...to my ears...the best of all possible trombone worlds. Sound, power, pitch, flexibility...the works. The only problem is that bell tuning has predominated and slide tuning instruments sound too...rich...in comparison. In a trumpet-dominated world, bell tuning lines up better with the trumpets. That's the long and short of it, in my experience.

So it goes...

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« Reply #15 on: Oct 13, 2017, 08:38AM »

I'm sorry, but these posts show a real lack of understanding in how brass instruments have developed over the centuries,

First, I don't see how this is true or what this means. Trombones didn't use to have bell tuning or any tuning mechanism other than the handslide. It used to only be TIH. The fact that I mentioned bell tuning and constant taper bells with TIS pretty much covers all other developments for the trombone. Oh, before you say it... I do know about valve attachments and leadpipes. So...

Quote

and how the construction of a TIS mechanism enables many different design choices in the bell section. Pushing your tuning slide all the way in doesn't begin to give you a taste of what TIS might offer.


Again, I did mention constant bell taper in the post you quoted so...

Quote

Have you actually played a TIS horn?


Yep. A Rath. I don't think the bell taper had as much to do with the overall playability and sound as other factors would, like how Rath builds their horns in general. Not my cup of tea either.

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« Reply #16 on: Oct 13, 2017, 01:03PM »

I'm pretty sure trombones had nothing other than the handslide not because it was a better way to build, but because it was easier.

I'm not going to argue that we don't have a huge tuning slide in the right hand... But another one on the instrument is pretty necessary.
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« Reply #17 on: Oct 13, 2017, 04:30PM »



I'm not going to argue that we don't have a huge tuning slide in the right hand... But another one on the instrument is pretty necessary.

In the past I would agree, but I think things have changed.  The $20 electronic tuner on every stand has stabilized pitch to the extent we don't have to chase it like previously.  I never move my tuning slide anymore. 
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« Reply #18 on: Oct 13, 2017, 05:52PM »

Burgerbob, I think bell tuning is great. I'm not arguing against having it. Bone Ranger was talking about my lack of knowledge on long history of the trombone as some kind of argument against my joke, which is really weird because originally trombones all tuned the way I have to.

Anyways, bell tuning - I use it outdoors on hot days. I probably would use it if I was playing at 442 if I could, but I can't push mine in any farther. I also don't want to cut down the slide on a $5000 trombone...

I think bell sections are too long. What is the point of having 3.5 inches of pull that I use, at most, 1cm of on a hot day outdoors and none of at normal room temp? Manufacturers should reduce that length by a third or more of the total distance, and add a portion of that onto the hand slide. I cut my alto as well. Not so that I could play Eb in a closed first (I'd have to actually pull out for that) but so I could play long on the slide in a way analogous to my my tenor.

I can play a sharp F in closed first and a flat B at the end of the stockings so it's good for me!

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« Reply #19 on: Oct 13, 2017, 06:11PM »

What Ranger is referring to is that even with your tuning slide pushed all the way in there are two cylindrical sections within the bell taper.  That means the taper is no longer continuous and that this makes a difference.

Well, it doesn't for me, but I'm not that sophisticated.  And I don't tune my 1st position off the bumpers or my 3rd position at the bell (although the 3rd position on my Conn 40H is in fact at the bell rim (it is a Ballroom model).
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« Reply #20 on: Oct 14, 2017, 05:37PM »

Harrison,

If you truly believe that the only times one would need to move their tuning slide is when one is outdoors or playing in a different tuning system, then further discussion between you and I is probably pointless. It is also awfully hard to have a discussion when you decide, after the fact, that something was actually a "joke"...

My question is what is the point of in slide tuning? I found a few posts in random threads talking about how these types of horns have a conical bell, making the tubing leading up the bell having a smoother expansion. Can anybody shed some more light on the differences between these trombones? And has anybody played both as a side-by side comparison and can give first-hand experience about the advantages and disadvantages of each kind?

Moving the tuning mechanism to the handslide allows an instrument designer a few different options. As you mentioned, it allows a smoother expansion of tubing in the bell section, without adding two cylindrical sections. It also gives a manufacturer different options for placement (or non-placement) of braces in the bell section. On a horn like a Conn 70H or a Greenhoe with TIS, the large opera-wheel mechanism adds quite a bit of bracing and mass to the slide, too. This often necessitates a lighter bell in order to balance the playing characteristics of the horn. All of these things have an effect on the resonance, tone and playability of an instrument.

Not a better way of making an instrument, just a different way. As with any instrument, play a few first and decide whether that style is for you.

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« Reply #21 on: Oct 14, 2017, 06:21PM »

I'm glad this thread had some traffic. Thanks for all of your comments.

Moving the tuning mechanism to the handslide allows an instrument designer a few different options. As you mentioned, it allows a smoother expansion of tubing in the bell section, without adding two cylindrical sections. It also gives a manufacturer different options for placement (or non-placement) of braces in the bell section. On a horn like a Conn 70H or a Greenhoe with TIS, the large opera-wheel mechanism adds quite a bit of bracing and mass to the slide, too. This often necessitates a lighter bell in order to balance the playing characteristics of the horn. All of these things have an effect on the resonance, tone and playability of an instrument.

Not a better way of making an instrument, just a different way. As with any instrument, play a few first and decide whether that style is for you.

I went to Dillon's today and had some fun with the bass trombones over there. I finally tried out a Kanstul 1662i they had with TIS. It played great, and it did feel like the mechanisms were heavy, with a fairly light bell. The slide was not as heavy as I thought it would be. The sound was very hard to place, and like a lot of people said on this thread, it's a completely different animal. Great sound, but not what I was looking for. I had my eyes on an independent Bach 50A3 with Hagmann valves, but it was not a good fit for me. I ended up finally making a choice of dependent Rath R9 with Hagmann valves. I was so used to independent F/Gb/D, but this sounded so great. Just the right amount of warmth, great projection, it can bite great...there were so many great things about it. Probably the big winner, aside from what I liked about the sound, was the ease of playing in the basement with the valves; they were so open feeling, even more than the inline independent version of this horn.

Cliff Notes version: I finally was able to try out TIS firsthand on some different horns. The sound is great, but not what I was looking for. And, I'm happy I finally got a great horn, even though I wasn't expecting to fall in love with first blow from the Rath R9 I picked.
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« Reply #22 on: Oct 14, 2017, 07:16PM »

I'm glad this thread had some traffic. Thanks for all of your comments.

I went to Dillon's today and had some fun with the bass trombones over there. I finally tried out a Kanstul 1662i they had with TIS. It played great, and it did feel like the mechanisms were heavy, with a fairly light bell. The slide was not as heavy as I thought it would be. The sound was very hard to place, and like a lot of people said on this thread, it's a completely different animal. Great sound, but not what I was looking for. I had my eyes on an independent Bach 50A3 with Hagmann valves, but it was not a good fit for me. I ended up finally making a choice of dependent Rath R9 with Hagmann valves. I was so used to independent F/Gb/D, but this sounded so great. Just the right amount of warmth, great projection, it can bite great...there were so many great things about it. Probably the big winner, aside from what I liked about the sound, was the ease of playing in the basement with the valves; they were so open feeling, even more than the inline independent version of this horn.

Cliff Notes version: I finally was able to try out TIS firsthand on some different horns. The sound is great, but not what I was looking for. And, I'm happy I finally got a great horn, even though I wasn't expecting to fall in love with first blow from the Rath R9 I picked.

Congrats on the new purchase!

The Kanstul is a slightly different take on the TIS, as they've tried to keep the slide as lightweight as possible. I think some of the magic of a good TIS horn is the heavy slide/light bell combination, but Kanstul went a different direction.

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« Reply #23 on: Oct 14, 2017, 07:33PM »

I think at this point most of the boutique trombone manufacturers put tapers in the tuning slide legs to approximate the continuous taper of a TIS bell section.
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« Reply #24 on: Oct 15, 2017, 06:52AM »

You're correct Doug, however not all tapered inner tubes are equal! (Just like mouthpieces, or any other aspect of the horn for that matter! Every manufacturer has their view as to what is "right") There are also other design/construction aspects that need to be considered as well that have an influence on this area of the horn.

Even with a "correctly" designed tapered inner slide tube, there will be a section of cylindrical bore profile when the slide is extended. The tuning slide in the bell is a real compromise in design, IMO.

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« Reply #25 on: Oct 15, 2017, 10:40AM »

Harrison,

If you truly believe that the only times one would need to move their tuning slide is when one is outdoors or playing in a different tuning system, then further discussion between you and I is probably pointless. It is also awfully hard to have a discussion when you decide, after the fact, that something was actually a "joke"...


It was a semi joke during the fact, too. If you can't see my saying "my trombone has TIB and TIS at the same time" as sort of tongue in cheek, then you're a robot, or there's some kind of language barrier between native speakers of American and Australian English. So serious! So dismissive!  Guarantee I'm not the only person on here who tries not to mess with their tuning slide, so if that's some kind of bar to communication for you, I don't know what to say.

Glad to hear that boutique makers are sort of having a TIS taper in their bells even if it is TIB. How does that work? Does it actually make my button pushing on Ranger actually less of a joke since my Edwards might have tapered slide stockings?
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« Reply #26 on: Oct 15, 2017, 10:54AM »

Careful, Harrison, one of the mods here has freely discussed their inability to discern sarcasm and certain non-obvious unwritten cues due to a difficulty with reading between the lines.

There are a few language barriers here on TTF.
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« Reply #27 on: Oct 15, 2017, 11:40AM »

harrison, I believe that there has to be some sort of tuning slide on a trombone, whether or not it is the bell or tuning slide is besides the point. You can't make a trombone that is just one size fits all without making some sort of compromise like a tuning slide somewhere in the horn.

Much like burgerbob it is physically impossible for me to play trombone with the tuning slide (in the bell or handslide) all the way in... my arms are just too short. That said I push it out very minimally, but I still have to pull out my tuning slide on almost every trombone otherwise I can't even get all 7 positions.
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« Reply #28 on: Oct 15, 2017, 11:54AM »

Now we are getting to what I was interested in talking about. Better solutions to the current systems of (fine) tuning a trombone. TIS is interesting, but there's some doubt as to whether or not a conical bell section takes away from what makes a trombone sound like a trombone. It's not everyone's cup of proverbial tea. A bigger issue is how heavy the handslide becomes.

Being a very tall person, I want a longer hand slide and a shorter bell tuning section. Not a longer outer slide (TIS), but a longer slide altogether. I want a low B with my F attachment.

Maybe a combo of shorter bell section with no bell tuning, longer slide, AND TIS located at the slide crook would work?
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« Reply #29 on: Oct 15, 2017, 12:03PM »

Ahh I see what you're saying.

My current bass trombone has a long 72H style slide and for the first time I actually have a in tune B natural in the staff and and a low C with the F valve. There is something about the long slide and short bell section that works in my opinion.

I'm not sure if putting the tuning in the crook is a good idea though... seems like it would be pretty easy to damage the crook or the alignment of the slide if you rest it on the ground.

For what it's worth... I think the Williams style J TIB tuning is brilliant. You get the more conical bell section and you the get structural stability of having the tuning in the bell and not having to worry about having any sort of mechanism on your slide. Granted... it is even more expensive to produce then a TIS system but I think it is a avenue that should be explored more since no one has really touched it since Williams and Minick.
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« Reply #30 on: Oct 15, 2017, 12:23PM »

Now we are getting to what I was interested in talking about. Better solutions to the current systems of (fine) tuning a trombone. TIS is interesting, but there's some doubt as to whether or not a conical bell section takes away from what makes a trombone sound like a trombone. It's not everyone's cup of proverbial tea. A bigger issue is how heavy the handslide becomes.

Being a very tall person, I want a longer hand slide and a shorter bell tuning section. Not a longer outer slide (TIS), but a longer slide altogether. I want a low B with my F attachment.

Maybe a combo of shorter bell section with no bell tuning, longer slide, AND TIS located at the slide crook would work?

I think it certainly would be interesting to try this.  ALthough as a vertically challenged person, low B is out of the question anyway.  With some of these valve systems being as uncompromising as they've came to be and actually not even all that expensive, it would be interesting to see a 'right arm tuning only' horn in a dependent configuration. Would give you access to the B more easily. Referencing the Kanstul pictured earlier, it may even be possible to make a tenor that doesn't weigh all that much more than a single rotor instrument.  My dependent tenor has a long, Conn 88H (closed wrap) tuning slide as its D attachment which functions as a pseudo-counterweight. So even though it is heavier than a normal attachment, it doesn't feel particularly difficult to hold up when in the playing position. 

The advantage of attempting it this way would be that TIS mechanisms are in and of themselves not as cheap as a regular slide and do require a little more effort to get aligned.  Over the life of an instrument, I wonder if it would even be less expensive to get a rotary valve to give you the lower notes and keep the other proportions relatively similar.
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« Reply #31 on: Oct 15, 2017, 01:14PM »

Well, wouldn't hitting low C be EVEN HARDER if my single-valve bass didn't have a tuning slide, once the horn warmed up?

All horns are different, of course. My Bach 42 and 50 play quite flat and I can play with the tuning slides pulled out very little (if at all).  But other horns need to be pulled a good inch.  I would be hard pressed to extend my 7th position another inch.  Slide action stinks way out there, and my arm is only so long...

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« Reply #32 on: Oct 15, 2017, 01:22PM »

All horns are different, of course. My Bach 42 and 50 play quite flat and I can play with the tuning slides pulled out very little (if at all). 
This phenomenon isn't even intentional with their design, they were designed with smaller mouthpieces in mind then the toilet bowls we use now. When I use a 1 1/2g on a 50B I pull out an inch, with my Doug Elliott Schilke 60ish piece I can only bump it out a couple of centimeters before Bb in first is unusable.
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« Reply #33 on: Oct 15, 2017, 01:29PM »

So that's the other thought I had. Many trombonists cut their slides as it is, so just make a trombone with a bell tuning slide already cut .5 - .75", or whatever would put what we think of as "long tuning" directly in the middle of the range of the bell tuning slide. Then make the handslide longer by half this length.
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« Reply #34 on: Oct 15, 2017, 02:14PM »

This phenomenon isn't even intentional with their design, they were designed with smaller mouthpieces in mind then the toilet bowls we use now. When I use a 1 1/2g on a 50B I pull out an inch, with my Doug Elliott Schilke 60ish piece I can only bump it out a couple of centimeters before Bb in first is unusable.

Gee, I use a Bach 1.5G or a Hammond 19BL and pull out only 1/4" or less on my 50B in a comfortably warm room.  I guess the player is part of the equation, too.
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« Reply #35 on: Oct 16, 2017, 07:01AM »

Re making a "one size fits all" instrument. I have had customers all over the spectrum. 2 very high level players in the same orchestra being polar opposites in that regard, with one pulling the tuning slide out @ 2 inches, with the other player having to have the tuning slide cut so that there was barely an inch of telescoping tubing.

If we were to look at the history of trombone construction, they did not have a "tuning slide" as we know today. Instead using the handslide bell tenon as a tuning mechanism. So extrapolating, a trombone ideally would have a constant taper from the handslide receiver to the bell flare, with no cylindrical sections at all. This is what TIS does, with the added benefit of having a tuning slide in the handslide. However, this has fallen out of favor, with bell mounted tuning slides being considered the "norm" for some time now. TIB and TIS sound different. Some say TIS sounds "Old School" and doesn't blend with "modern" instruments. Everyone has their own opinions in that regard...

FWIW.
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