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Author Topic: The right tool for the job?  (Read 776 times)
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pompatus
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« on: Jan 11, 2018, 05:31AM »

With my curiosity finally getting the best of me, I put this question before you, my fellow trombone players...  Which tool is "right" for which job?

A recent discussion of an instrument in a different post has reminded me of these same classifications that I've seen from many previous posts. Oftentimes we see someone talk about an instrument as being good for a specific genre or part.  A big band lead horn is certainly different from a symphonic principal's main horn, but how have we come to the nuances of everything in between?  Is it simply a question of what was in use, and written for or expected, at the time of composition, or is there more to it than that?  I suspect it may be a little of both, but it's impossible to discount the intended genre, as I've seen people classify instruments as "great for salsa" or "wonderful dixieland horn" or "nice big band bass" too many times.  We have artists of specific time periods and styles we can emulate in our choice of equipment, if we know what they used, but what makes an instrument characteristic for any specific style of play? 

With the understanding that almost any instrument can be made to work in a given situation, in an ideal world which instrument would you guys choose for a specific job, whether that be dixieland, swing band, ska, etc...?  What characteristics (bore/material/bell size/etc) make an instrument ideal for that style?  Thanks, for indulging my ignorance and curiosity.
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Matt K

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« Reply #1 on: Jan 11, 2018, 06:36AM »

If for no other reason (and there are), small bores are popular among salsa, commercial, jazz, etc. settings because the gigs can be LONG. A heck of a lot longer and more taxing than just about any orchestral performance.  The size tends to make it easier to keep the sound at the level of intensity required after nonstop playing after a few hours.

Also, this does get hashed out from time to time, but the search function doesn't work paticularly well here, so you probably couldn't find them. You might find these threads useful. (Note the first one is very relevant)

http://tromboneforum.org/index.php/topic,84463.0.html
http://tromboneforum.org/index.php?action=;topic=98090.0
http://tromboneforum.org/index.php?topic=48574.0;
http://tromboneforum.org/index.php?topic=99042.0;
http://tromboneforum.org/index.php?action=;topic=83277.0
http://tromboneforum.org/index.php?topic=76696.0;
http://tromboneforum.org/index.php?topic=84860.0;
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« Reply #2 on: Jan 11, 2018, 07:22AM »

The right tool for the job is like when you need to reseat the bearing plate of your valve. You don't use a metal carpenter's hammer, which is too much tool for the job. You use a rawhide mallet and a drilled out dowel.

Similarly, you don't use a metal carpenter's hammer to blast out jazz on in a jazz band. You use a trombone or perhaps a saxophone. The right tool for the job.
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« Reply #3 on: Jan 11, 2018, 07:41AM »

With the understanding that almost any instrument can be made to work in a given situation...
I think you've answered you own question. If you're having put thought and effort into making an instrument work, it's probably not the right tool for the job. The right tool for the job is one that lets you concentrate on the job, not the tool.
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pompatus
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« Reply #4 on: Jan 11, 2018, 07:42AM »

Thanks, Matt, for the links.  I'd like to think I have a pretty good understanding of the small=jazz and large=legit generality, but I'm really more curious about the nuance of a specific instrument being labelled as specialized for a specific style.  It seems lots of the guys I play with are shying away from really small bore horns like the 2B or the 4H or the super small Bachs, etc. in big bands and my curiosity goes beyond that specific example.  

If a trombonist gets a gig with a ska band, for example, what might be considered an ideal horn to use?  King 3B?  Bach 12?  Yamaha 354?  Why?  What if that same trombonist is offered a job in a rock band?  Same horn?  Dixieland?  I know DJ is the master of matching horns to intention, and finding/selling those horns, so perhaps he might be able to provide some insight.  

I'm not even entirely sure how to ask the question.  Thanks, guys.
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BGuttman
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« Reply #5 on: Jan 11, 2018, 07:50AM »

If you have one trombone you play that all the time.  Sometimes it works really well and sometimes it may not.  Sometimes it's more you than the instrument.  Good players can make anything work.

Still, if you are playing in a top level ensemble you may need to "tune" your equipment choice to match the needs of the group.  When that happens you don't need to ask; you will know.

I've played Dixieland on a King 4B and a Martin Imperial (and everything between).  But my group wasn't Preservation Hall Band quality.  I've played in Orchestra with a small bore down to a Yamaha 682.  I've played every low part on a King 7B.  The 7B works in all situations and the Imperial is better for Dixieland than the 4B.

Right Tool can sometimes be any tool.  Or sometimes you have to choose between tools.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #6 on: Jan 11, 2018, 08:33AM »

This involves so much generalization, and generalization is just about tendencies, you can't really derive any hard and fast rules from any of this. Taste is highly personal, and then you have to consider economics - you can't afford one of each, and each person's playing tendencies vary somewhat from the norm, so all of these generalizations you have to take with a heap of salt.

As the bigger horns get more standardized, the extreme end of the small horns falls out of favor. There's a certain sound you want with dixieland/trad jazz that only a really small horn can give. For salsa, you need paint peeling power, fat sound, articulates on a dime, and endurance to play all night (think 48h). Lead big band you have to cut through the rest of the band plus give that characteristic bright sound (2b). Jazz combo you can go with a mellower sound (3b), if you're the only bone, you can get away with almost anything.

Even on the legit side, the "perfect" sound is up for debate, and you can cut it pretty fine. For tbone quartet I find getting 4 distinct voices makes the sound more interesting, so we use a range of instruments from 500 bore to bass. A lot of quartets use one bass and 3x547, which to me sounds dull. In quintet with only one bone, I use a bigger 525 (88h w/525 slide). For the small orchestra I play with, I actually use my small 525 (79h) to blend with the trumpets, and a single valve bass because you rarely if ever need a double valve for that.

Bass bones are just as bad. You want more bite, a brighter, more barking sound in a big band, without necessarily all the volume that would take on say a big Edwards. For some books, you can even get away with a single valve bass in big band. That's why horns that are smaller through the valve section like the duo gravis or smaller in the bell like the P24g are great for that. You don't want to sound like a bari sax, bass bone can play lower than the sax. You want to be able to get a big presence when needed, and sometimes to rip the hell out of a note to cut through everything else on stage.

You can chop this so fine it will drive you mad. For example, Conns with the red bells can get pretty bright when you push them hard, whether the horn is big or small. Shires and other boutique horns tend to play a size or so bigger than their vintage counterparts. Thicker bells have different characteristics than thinner bells. Heavy/light slides. Narrow/wide slides. Big/small bells. It can be very tempting to start collecting horns.  I'm still getting that monkey off my back.

And then some people just ignore it altogether. I know One guy who only plays on Bach 42 and 36, even though he owns others. Even in big band. With the people who I play with, the one common size is the 525 bore. Whether its 36b, 78h, 79h, 88h w/525 slide, its the one horn that covers the most ground.

I personally have a 562, 547, 2x525, 500 and a 485. I kinda wish I had a 508 w/F, but I recently sold my Bolero, and it was so similar to my 79h that I've got that covered.

When it comes right down to it, it's all about the group you're playing with and what you have available. It's better to hit the right notes at the right time on the wrong horn than the wrong notes on the right horn.
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« Reply #7 on: Jan 11, 2018, 08:45AM »

It's better to hit the right notes at the right time on the wrong horn than the wrong notes on the right horn.

There's so much truth in this statement, in regard to equipment chasing and hoarding.  Thanks, hyperbolica.

I've always been primarily on bass trombone, so I don't have a lot of experience on small tenors.  I apologize if I'm trying to make it too tedious.  At the opposite end of the spectrum from my original question...What's the most versatile small horn that you guys have played?
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« Reply #8 on: Jan 11, 2018, 08:59AM »

I'm going to generalize: 0.525 with F.  I play a Bach LT36CG generally with the F-attachment in.  It's the horn i take to a gig or rehearsal when I don't know what I'm playing.  I've played 1st in Orchestra and anything in Band/Jazz Band on it.  Others?  Conn 79H, Yamaha 684.  I had a 79H which I sold when I got the 36C.  Sometimes I wish I hadn't.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #9 on: Jan 11, 2018, 09:08AM »

There's so much truth in this statement, in regard to equipment chasing and hoarding.  Thanks, hyperbolica.

I've always been primarily on bass trombone, so I don't have a lot of experience on small tenors.  I apologize if I'm trying to make it too tedious.  At the opposite end of the spectrum from my original question...What's the most versatile small horn that you guys have played?

For me, the absolute most versatile horn has been my 79h. It has a red brass bell, so it can get bright when you need it to, but it can also play warm and fuzzy when you want it to. And of course it has a trigger, so you can fake bass parts when necessary. Great solo horn, perfect section horn, passable lead horn, "can play the notes" for bass. The Selmer Bolero w/F would be the nearest thing that is more readily available. 36b is good too, but I don't think it brightens up as much. 3B w/f would also be good. Of course the most versatile would be a Shires 508/525 w/dual bore valve. That can become just about whatever you want with a component swap.
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« Reply #10 on: Jan 11, 2018, 09:15AM »

I have a .508 that I use for all jazz bands, combos, commercial, pit, ska, rock, whatever that I can get away with.  I keep 2 different mouthpieces in the case, and that combined with 2 leadpipe options gives me the flexibility I need to stay on one horn. 

I have a .547 with an F for when only a big horn will do.

I have a double valve bass, again with 2 mouthpiece options. 

Sometimes the best tool for the job is a toolbox full of other tools.
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« Reply #11 on: Jan 11, 2018, 09:43AM »

For years I got along great with a Bach 16M and a .525/547 Edwards. I've since added a .547 slide, and a bunch of smaller Bachs (8, 9, 16M Sterling) and Kings (2B Brass/SS), but to be honest most of the additions were for fun and trying new things out (OOH SHINY strikes again!). The .525/547 has worked great for me as a do-nearly-everything-except-jazz horn, with the 16M filling the jazz-and-quintet-and-sometimes-more void nicely as well.

I don't play specific genres enough to specialize my equipment beyond using the appropriate bore sizes.
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« Reply #12 on: Jan 11, 2018, 09:47AM »

Hi!

I think hyperbolica said it all. That was a good post. A lot of experience behind those words probably.

The most versatile?

I would agree with those who choose a 0.525 horn with F-valve but to make it more versatile you could just change mouthpiece. I'm thinking of my latest gig with a Symphony orchestra where I had to play all kinds of styles, from standard classical symohony lead parts to big band charts and a jazz solo. I had two mouthpieces just in case but never needed the larger one. The lead big band parts needed the smaller mouthpiece and if the symphony orchestra had been larger I probably had changed to the larger/deeper mouthpiece on most of the classical rep, but I felt I needed to scale down the ff nuances and therefore the smaller mouthpiece was used the whole evening.

/Tom
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« Reply #13 on: Jan 11, 2018, 10:35AM »

The right tool for the job is like when you need to reseat the bearing plate of your valve. You don't use a metal carpenter's hammer, which is too much tool for the job. You use a rawhide mallet and a drilled out dowel.

Similarly, you don't use a metal carpenter's hammer to blast out jazz on in a jazz band. You use a trombone or perhaps a saxophone. The right tool for the job.

I would absolutely love to take a metal carpenterís hammer to a soprano saxophone...... Itís not cost effective, but I can dream..... If I used a sledge......
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« Reply #14 on: Jan 11, 2018, 10:49AM »

I would absolutely love to take a metal carpenterís hammer to a soprano saxophone...... Itís not cost effective, but I can dream..... If I used a sledge......

Thank god. Don't let the joke flames die out.
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« Reply #15 on: Jan 11, 2018, 11:32AM »

I would absolutely love to take a metal carpenterís hammer to a soprano saxophone...... Itís not cost effective, but I can dream..... If I used a sledge......

How about this one?

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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #16 on: Jan 11, 2018, 11:39AM »

Ahahahaha
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« Reply #17 on: Jan 11, 2018, 03:21PM »

Great thread fellahs!!!!  :D Good! Good!
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« Reply #18 on: Jan 13, 2018, 01:45AM »

Heidegger would suggest that the best tool for the job is the one that we experience as "ready-to-hand" - its potential opens up to us through out physical use of it. We know it tacitly. If we have to analyse a tool or approach it intellectually in the first instance rather than intuitively it's the wrong tool.


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« Reply #19 on: Jan 13, 2018, 06:50AM »

I saw the Preservatin Hall Band one time and the trombone player was playing an 88H with trigger and putting a huge amount of sound through that thing. Sounded great. I am kind of like Bruce, having gravitated towards using a Bach 36 for just about everything except playing lead in a big band and the rare occasion when my local orchestra gets desperate and calls me. Even then, my "big" horn is a Rath with .525 slide and 8.5" bell. But the cool thing about that horn is that you can put a large shank lead pipe in it and nobody knows it's not a .547. Unless they bring their calipers to rehearsal.
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