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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentMouthpieces(Moderators: BGuttman, Doug Elliott) How to get bright sound with full low register?
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reedman1
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« on: Feb 10, 2018, 10:55PM »

I want to find out what will support me in playing with a bright sound and a full, fat, snappy low register. Judging by what Iíve read in the forums, this seems to be a popular question...

Iíve been playing about a year and a half; Iím an amateur in my early 60s, I play a .500Ē student bone, played trumpet before trombone and reeds before that. Iíve experimented within my limited means, and I find that a Yamaha 46B is quite comfortable for me and gives me a pleasing bright sound - but my sound is a touch weak in the low register and I have real trouble producing pedal tones with it. Iíd like to keep my brightness, which I like for swing and Dixie, but Iíd also like to fill out the low end. I have a Faxx 7C thatís not bad, but the loss in brightness is bothersome, and a 6.5 AL is pretty woofy for me. PS my range is OK - E below the staff to C an octave above middle C, regardless the mouthpiece Iím playing on.

I know study and practice make more difference than anything, but I wonder if a slightly wider, shallower mouthpiece might help... what do you think? Maybe something like. a shallower 7x?  Other than that, suggestions for exercises to develop the low register are very welcome. Thanks, all.
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sirisobhakya
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 11, 2018, 12:41AM »

I think the .500 bore might be one of the reason. Larger bore lends itself better with lower notes.

But that said, the throat and the depth of the mouthpiece might have even greater effect. Today I tried putting a Yamaha 51B on my bass trombone out of curiosity, and my lower range disappear almost altogether, and when it comes out the sound is thin. So I think that is a good proof that throat size and depth matters more than the bore size of the trombone. Of course practice will change everything, but the difficulty is still there.

Unfortunately, easy low note and the darkness of tone usually go together. Deeper cup and you get easier low note, but the tone is darker (relatively, on the same horn). Larger throat also allows easy low notes, but the tone darkens, and can even lead to fatigue because it requires more air. Larger diameter might or might NOT help the range at all, conversely, your range can suffer at both ends if you use a rim that doesn't match your lips.

So you may have to try to mix-and-match, since I don't think the two parameters cancel each other out completely. But that can be an expensive and long journey.

People with more experience in mouthpiece design than me should have better answer, so please stay tuned.
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 11, 2018, 09:15AM »

The .500 bore and a 7C will give you plenty on Zip in the low range if you practice it.
Long tones down there and tonguing exercises from low Bb to low E
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« Reply #3 on: Feb 11, 2018, 09:33AM »

I've found that lighter weight mouthpieces get "excited" more easily, particularly in lower registers. That can translate to "brightness" in the ears of the perceivers.

Just as an experiment, go onto Spotify/Google Music/some other internet radio show and take a listen to Stan Kenton's 23Degrees North 82 Degrees West, and listen to how some of the finest jazz tenor trombonists in the world play the lick (Bass is playing a different line while 1-3 play the lick in question).

  (flat) (flat) (flat)   (sharp) (natural) (natural)

Even for them, the lower register suffers from a bit of "woofiness", compared to how someone on slightly larger equipment might play it. It's not necessarily even a bad thing- that may be the sound Kenton was going for.
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« Reply #4 on: Feb 11, 2018, 09:36AM »

I am thinking two things here. You either have an extremely dark natural tone. OR you have a sound concept that is very different from the typical trombonist.

Practice getting more volume and projection. Lower tones may feel not nearly as bright as your upper register playing, but listen to a bass trombonist playing the same notes. A small bore will be much brighter than you think.
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« Reply #5 on: Feb 11, 2018, 10:54AM »

The .500 bore and a 7C will give you plenty on Zip in the low range if you practice it.
Long tones down there and tonguing exercises from low Bb to low E

Thanks, Dukebonesman. I was hoping someone would say something like that. Now... I wonder if that would carry over to something like an 11x? Not to be fussy, but my face likes that size better.

I've found that lighter weight mouthpieces get "excited" more easily, particularly in lower registers. That can translate to "brightness" in the ears of the perceivers.

Just as an experiment, go onto Spotify/Google Music/some other internet radio show and take a listen to Stan Kenton's 23Degrees North 82 Degrees West, and listen to how some of the finest jazz tenor trombonists in the world play the lick (Bass is playing a different line while 1-3 play the lick in question).

  (flat) (flat) (flat)   (sharp) (natural) (natural)

Even for them, the lower register suffers from a bit of "woofiness", compared to how someone on slightly larger equipment might play it. It's not necessarily even a bad thing- that may be the sound Kenton was going for.

Cool - thanks for the tip. Nice!

I am thinking two things here. You either have an extremely dark natural tone. OR you have a sound concept that is very different from the typical trombonist.

Practice getting more volume and projection. Lower tones may feel not nearly as bright as your upper register playing, but listen to a bass trombonist playing the same notes. A small bore will be much brighter than you think.

Thanks, Full Pedal. I don't think my tone is particularly dark. I do want to match an earlier style of trombone playing, though, in which the tenor tone was pretty bright compared to today's big bore / big mouthpiece approach. Think Ory, Teagarden, Dorsey.

Thank you all for your answers.
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 11, 2018, 12:25PM »

My quest for a sound in that style kept my small bore choices sub-.500 bore. I used a 2BSS for several years and Iím on yet another small horn for when I play lead. Bringing out my Bach or Yamaha, which are .500 I just canít make the same pallete of tones. But my reason for playing those horns is to not sound like I do on another horn. Equipment choice matters in it must fit what you want to do.
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« Reply #7 on: Feb 11, 2018, 01:03PM »

My quest for a sound in that style kept my small bore choices sub-.500 bore. I used a 2BSS for several years and Iím on yet another small horn for when I play lead. Bringing out my Bach or Yamaha, which are .500 I just canít make the same pallete of tones. But my reason for playing those horns is to not sound like I do on another horn. Equipment choice matters in it must fit what you want to do.

That's sensible. Actually, I started trombone because my upper incisors started to hurt when I was playing trumpet; taking time off didn't help much, playing only soft long tones didn't help and was simply frustrating. But trombone didn't hurt to play. I happened to pick up the neighbor's kid's beat up old TR602 for cheap, and that's what I'm still playing. I don't think I've exceeded its capabilities, yet. Are you suggesting that for the sound I want, a smaller-bore horn would do more for me? How about ability to play a full-sounding low register?

So back to the mouthpiece. 11C, 46B, 7C - all very close in size, all different sounds. I sound fine on a 15C, and have good range, but it's not comfortable.  This issue wasn't so tough on trumpet...
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 11, 2018, 04:30PM »

That's sensible. Actually, I started trombone because my upper incisors started to hurt when I was playing trumpet; taking time off didn't help much, playing only soft long tones didn't help and was simply frustrating. But trombone didn't hurt to play. I happened to pick up the neighbor's kid's beat up old TR602 for cheap, and that's what I'm still playing. I don't think I've exceeded its capabilities, yet. Are you suggesting that for the sound I want, a smaller-bore horn would do more for me? How about ability to play a full-sounding low register?

So back to the mouthpiece. 11C, 46B, 7C - all very close in size, all different sounds. I sound fine on a 15C, and have good range, but it's not comfortable.  This issue wasn't so tough on trumpet...

Stepping on the gas with my BAC Olds Super letís me blend pretty effortlessly with a trumpet section. I have facility all the way down to E below the staff. Pedal Bb down to E also just rip through, though I havenít needed to play pedals in a playing situation with the Super. I think a smaller, brighter horn would work very well as long as practice in the lower register keeps going. There are good deals to be had with a King Tempo and also with 2Bs for that matter.
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« Reply #9 on: Feb 11, 2018, 10:28PM »

You have already said that practice is the answer...and it is, many try to avoid this by looking to mouthpiece or horn changes to get a quick fix.......that said it could also be that you need to re-evaluate your whole sound concept in respect to the trombone.....maybe your still thinking and hearing the 'sound in your head' that all trombonist strive for as a trumpet player?

Not wishing to teach you to suck eggs, but who in the way of bone players are you listening too in the idioms of swing and Dixieland?  Also they are very different styles of playing!
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« Reply #10 on: Feb 12, 2018, 08:02AM »

You have already said that practice is the answer...and it is, many try to avoid this by looking to mouthpiece or horn changes to get a quick fix.......that said it could also be that you need to re-evaluate your whole sound concept in respect to the trombone.....maybe your still thinking and hearing the 'sound in your head' that all trombonist strive for as a trumpet player?

Not wishing to teach you to suck eggs, but who in the way of bone players are you listening too in the idioms of swing and Dixieland?  Also they are very different styles of playing!

Fair questions. Last one first: I have listened a lot to Kid Ory, Big Jim Robinson, Eddie Edwards, Bill Rank, Brunies, and early J.C. Higginbotham when he was with Luis Russell. I've listened less to Teagarden, since I just plain hadn't gotten to him yet (trombone's a very late addition in my life). For swing, I'm less familiar - big band swing isn't so much my thing. I've certainly heard Dorsey, Miller and a couple of other guys - Tricky Sam, Juan Tizol, others.  For bop, I'm listening to Curtis Fuller, Cortana, JJ, Kai, and trying to discover more. There are only so many hours in the day, and an awful lot of great trombone players. Also a lot of wonderful musicians who aren't trombonists, odd as that may seem.

For sound concept - no, I'm not trying to sound like a trumpet, not even subconsciously. More like a sax player, if anything. However, I didn't start off being taught the "proper way" to play trombone, and I haven't done marching band, concert band, orchestra, brass choir, or swing big band. You could call me poorly versed in trombone if you like, though I hope you'll be kind enough not so say so to my face. Be that as it may, the sound I am hearing in my head is bright and kind of brassy,, and strong from top to bottom. Outside the Dixie idiom, I just want to sound like... a trombone. A normal, tromboney kind of trombone. For that, a 7C is OK, and a 6.5AL will do if I have to use it.

And yes, practicing thoughtfully helps a lot. Thanks again to Dukebonesman for his suggestions.
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« Reply #11 on: Feb 12, 2018, 08:09AM »

Would never say you or anyone s poorly versed , you are clearly a very experienced musician, just trying to either make you aware of , if you were not already of considering your sound concept...and also who you are trying to sound similar too? That was all I was trying to get too..... When you think of a trombone sound who do you hear in your head.... For me it's Don Lusher and TD that is the sound I try to find....

A couple of names too listen too..... You said Kid Orry... Add Miff Mole ..... And the trombonist trombone player Urbie Green. !
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« Reply #12 on: Feb 12, 2018, 08:13AM »

Have you recorded yourself?

I've found that in the low register, my recording doesn't sound like what I hear from behind the bell.

(actually the recording sounds better to me, which is strange.  the reverse is true up high.) 
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« Reply #13 on: Feb 12, 2018, 09:30AM »

You've been playing a year and a half?  It may be a bit soon to decide that you have reached the limit of what your embouchure can do and that it's time to investigate a new mouthpiece.

That said... the small mouthpiece you are on seems less than advantageous for developing low range.

"Bright" isn't a term I think of in low range. Maybe "edge" is a better description.  When I started bass trombone, my teacher had a one-word concept of the sound... "pop!"  The first semester was spent getting every note to pop.
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« Reply #14 on: Feb 12, 2018, 09:44AM »

Would never say you or anyone s poorly versed , you are clearly a very experienced musician, just trying to either make you aware of , if you were not already of considering your sound concept...and also who you are trying to sound similar too? That was all I was trying to get too..... When you think of a trombone sound who do you hear in your head.... For me it's Don Lusher and TD that is the sound I try to find....

A couple of names too listen too..... You said Kid Orry... Add Miff Mole ..... And the trombonist trombone player Urbie Green. !

I will have to check out Don Lusher - never heard of him before. Miff Mole - definitely. I love his playing.

Have you recorded yourself?

I've found that in the low register, my recording doesn't sound like what I hear from behind the bell.

(actually the recording sounds better to me, which is strange.  the reverse is true up high.) 


Thatís an interesting thought - I havenít. I do play into the stand for a close listen, though.

You've been playing a year and a half?  It may be a bit soon to decide that you have reached the limit of what your embouchure can do and that it's time to investigate a new mouthpiece.

That said... the small mouthpiece you are on seems less than advantageous for developing low range.

"Bright" isn't a term I think of in low range. Maybe "edge" is a better description.  When I started bass trombone, my teacher had a one-word concept of the sound... "pop!"  The first semester was spent getting every note to pop.

Oh, no, embouchure is a work in progress. Iíd say I have a ways to go before Iíve really gotten a handle on it. You know, I get it about small mouthpieces vs. low range (with the exception of the NY 15C, go figure).

Edge and pop are great terms for low register! When I say ďbrightĒ, though, I mean throughout the range.

Thank you all. Your answers are very helpful!
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« Reply #15 on: Feb 13, 2018, 08:43AM »

Lots and lots of face time on all your notes, top to bottom.  Pay intense attention to everything about every note.  They're all a little different in not only pitch but how you play them.  The simpler you can do this the better, the reason so many people do long tones, often with no tongue, breathing through the nose to minimize changes.  Over weeks, months, years, things will show up about how it works, things no one can tell you.  Let everything you do be a slave to the notes.  What you do will migrate to ways of doing things you've never thought about.  Over time you won't be able to remember how it used to work.  Hopefully you'll get those bright lows.  But you will certainly get all the notes better. 
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« Reply #16 on: Feb 13, 2018, 01:06PM »

Thanks, Dukebonesman. I was hoping someone would say something like that. Now... I wonder if that would carry over to something like an 11x? Not to be fussy, but my face likes that size better.

Bach 11C is a great mouthpiece and sounds plenty bright. I never cared for the 7C and I don't know why. Just feels "weird" to me.
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« Reply #17 on: Feb 13, 2018, 03:20PM »

Bach 11C is a great mouthpiece and sounds plenty bright. I never cared for the 7C and I don't know why. Just feels "weird" to me.

I do kind of like the 11C, and I also find the 7C a bit weird. Maybe I should be asking how to control my timbre regardless equipment? (Not to say that equipment doesn't have an influence, it obviously does).
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« Reply #18 on: Feb 13, 2018, 09:35PM »

I do kind of like the 11C, and I also find the 7C a bit weird. Maybe I should be asking how to control my timbre regardless equipment? (Not to say that equipment doesn't have an influence, it obviously does).

Sure, but if you're playing the wrong equipment it's going to make it much harder. I'm not familiar with the 46C but I looked up the specs and it seems like an awfully small rim size to be using if you want to improve your low register.
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« Reply #19 on: Feb 14, 2018, 05:47AM »

Sure, but if you're playing the wrong equipment it's going to make it much harder. I'm not familiar with the 46C but I looked up the specs and it seems like an awfully small rim size to be using if you want to improve your low register.

Thank you. I'm taking all these suggestions to heart, and spending a lot of my practice time on improving low register. I suspect you're probably right about rim size, even though there are many notable exceptions. But with the support of the TF community, I'll get it sorted out.

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