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Author Topic: Valve bone? Why?  (Read 1422 times)
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NickGrooves

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« on: Feb 12, 2018, 12:42AM »

My first of two gigs this past Saturday was a small neighborhood Mardi Gras parade.

The band immediately before us had a few bones, one who was playing a valve trombone. I can only describe it as looking like a shiny new brass-colored trombone - it even had a trigger! - except with three trumpet-style valves on the top of the hand slide.

When I got home, I looked online out of curiosity. I have seen pictures over the years, but never known anyone who owned one. The only thing I found online were some Asian imports on eBay for super cheap. Like, questionably cheap.

Does anyone own a valve bone? or have any experience with them? or know of an application where it would be beneficial to play one?
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 12, 2018, 12:56AM »

Bob Brookmeyer famously played valve trombone....
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 12, 2018, 01:45AM »

Many manufacturers produce valve trombone. Bach, King, Yamaha, etc.

No stock valve trombone has a trigger, though, as far as I have seen. But it is not a very difficult modification to do. Find a bell section with a trigger and a tenon that is compatible with the valve section, and done, you have 4-valve valve trombone.
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« Reply #3 on: Feb 12, 2018, 04:11AM »

I own 3 valve trombones, one of each style. They were built in 3 main styles over the years.

The first style, with what looked like a slide with valves slapped onto it, is a "traditional" valve bone.
Second style looks like a marching baritone, but sounds like a trombone. This is the "compact" valve bone.
The third style is looks a lot like an upright baritone horn, but sounds like a bone. This is the upright style, often called "Trombonium" after the King design.

They're not too popular nowadays, what with the trend for bigger equipment. For a short time in the late 19th century, there was a time in Germany that the valve trombone almost replaced the slide trombone! Imagine if we were all on valve trombones and were in awe when we saw one with a slide!
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Radar

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« Reply #4 on: Feb 12, 2018, 04:30AM »

I had thought about getting one a few times, a could see playing one for bebop style jazz as being really helpful for me since valved instruments were my first instruments and I'm faster on them.  I've tried a couple models years ago and was under enthused with the ones I tried. I'm sure there are some good ones out there I just haven't found the right one.  I would say try to play them first before you buy one. 
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Dukesboneman

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« Reply #5 on: Feb 12, 2018, 04:54AM »

I`ve owned a couple. My first was a Getzen. It was really bright and felt very tight
#2 was a 1910 Conn - I used it for years but being very small bore it had it`s limitations.
I now have a 2B Valve trombone with a 1953 Nickel Tempo Bell on it. Love it !
Beautiful sound
It`s too bad that Valve Trombones get such a bad rap here.
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 12, 2018, 05:14AM »

My Getzen small bore tenor came with a slide and a valve section.  They both fit in the case and you can attach either one to the bell.

It sounds okay but is not ergonomic, I never figured how to hold it comfortably. 

During the process of learning to play by ear, it would be useful to have a valve instrument handy, because it would force you to think intervals and not get sloppy adjusting with the slide.  Maybe. 
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #7 on: Feb 12, 2018, 07:14AM »

The reason I use a valve trombone is for the sound. It has a quality you get with a valve block only.

https://youtu.be/YfKOLeLdaq4

Here’s an example
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 12, 2018, 07:19AM »

One of the best demonstrations of the difference in timbre is Willie Colon's "Idilio." Not that this is the only sound you can get out of a valve 'bone, but it's certainly related to sound rather than speed of articulation. He starts on valve trombone, then shifts to slide toward the end, when he's improvising. It's pretty clear that Willie Colon isn't choosing valve trombone because he started on baritone.  ;-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohWH6rrrGKA

I have no idea what type of valve trombone or bass trumpet he's playing, but it has that characteristic sound.

I'm interested in the trigger valve trombone you saw. I built one, but it had a thumb-trigger on the valve block. If the trigger is still on the bell brace, that makes for some awkward ergonomics. It's very difficult to use the valves with the right hand unless you're holding the valve block.
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BGuttman
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« Reply #9 on: Feb 12, 2018, 07:40AM »

The King 3B valve block can fit on a 3B-F bell section.  Maybe that's what was being used.

Valve trombones offer the facility and rapidity of valves but at the expense of intonation adjustment (very few have valve triggers like trumpets).
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« Reply #10 on: Feb 12, 2018, 08:31AM »

Sr Colon may be playing a Getzen bass trumpet there.  Not that the distinction really matters, but I think it does point in the direction of "not a trombone", and I expect many players like this who really make "valve trombone" work would not be so happy with the ones commonly preferred by trombone players.  E.g. Olds, or a couple medium bore "marching trombone" models.  Though I could imagine Juan Tizol being in a slightly different category, by himself of course.

Cool that there was a valve trigger.  I wonder how much the valve player's naturally tendency to "lip" for pitch, figures into the characteristic sound - that is, once you have that option (and don't have a slide), your expressive vocabulary is different there.  So to speak.  But it's great to have a slide option on top of that.
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John Beers Jr.

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« Reply #11 on: Feb 12, 2018, 09:59AM »

The reason I use a valve trombone is for the sound. It has a quality you get with a valve block only.

https://youtu.be/YfKOLeLdaq4

Here’s an example

That's the thing, it's really its own distinct instrument and the sound doesn't blend the same way that a slide trombone might (something about how the overtones line up or having to lip pitches up or down to be in tune, particularly on a cylindrical bore instrument, rather than moving the slide and minimizing the amount of lip correction used).
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« Reply #12 on: Feb 12, 2018, 12:23PM »

I’m going to throw out an idea for more experienced people to comment on. In some of Brookmeyer’s playing, I feel like the valves let him solo in a lower register at high speed while other trombonists were heading up high with shorter slide movements for greater agility.  I’m sure people can do anything on either but that’s just a thought I had while listening one day a few years back. Can’t remember which album it was, though. Thoughts?
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davdud101
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« Reply #13 on: Feb 12, 2018, 07:04PM »

Haha. A good friend of mine plays a small bore trigger horn for which he has both a straight slide fromt he original horn, and a valve-'slide' section of anothger brand custom-fit to his horn. The primary horn is, I wanna say Thompson and the valve section is a Reynolds or something (I'm probably wrong here)
I haven't had the chance to really mess around much on it, but it plays pretty horrendously out-of-tune in the lower register with no valve rings or anything to help.



Really cool and insightful thread, btw!  Good! Good!
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« Reply #14 on: Feb 13, 2018, 06:36AM »

bobby   had two  58   conn 5g    modified  with  triggers  on 1 &3
  corky  meyers   does similar  mods  for a doctor  in  wisconsin CCC  i  think [????]
 ----------
bob  wanted a  screw  bell  for airlines  --but i  didnt  have  the  connects  i have  now
 and  when i  tried  to get him a conn[conn selmer  artist status ]the  punk there  never heard  of  him
---------
i sent  him  a  bird  haus --something i could  do
============================================================
 from time  to  time i acquire  and find homes  for  v bones most  of the time  happily 
but  with  reluctance and attachment   let go of  one  of my  most treasured  ones
----------------
  lipping  notes in tune  is  possible  --but  will  stress and wear  out  the chops  very  fast
trombonists  do this  with the  slide   and  besides  the resistance  of the  air col um
a bach  blow --its  the slightly[lot]   off pitch  quality  that  bothers bone  players
/////// EXAMPLE = baritone/euph  player  -switching  to v bone  for jazz  band  --then taking up slide
 AWFUL -TIN EAR  --OUTTA  TUNE --DREADFUL  from not  listening  to pitch -relying  on valves
-----------
  adjusting  and or trimming the  valve slides is  a  compromise -a friend [denny garrels ]bought  a  60s  trombonium  and had  the v slides  trimmed  -
----------------------
 the  rarely  encountered  bach  --most  closely  resembles  a  trumpet --i think   had moveable  v slides
cousenon -and other french  are  very lightly  built  and very zippy
------------------
  last springish  i sold for 100  a  forlorn -lonely  valve  to  the   ITF  jazz  winner  on the  memorable
visit  by  3  in GMO  --  they  were  trying  everything --then hit  the  valves  -a blizzard  of bopping
-------------------
 if  i havent  played  one  for  awhile  i like to  noodle around  on something   like a  yama baritone first
to get  into  the  note  placement -easier  air flow
----------
bore size--485=king 2b/3b--same v section -diff receivers
conn -500 ---many  bells   fit the v/////olds  smalller down tube  from mpc  to  v block  then  larger like  slides  ///// most others  are  500  bore  --while reynolds  built  a  larger --was 515 or 520 
-----------------------
tommy  z   visited  a few years  ago  and  pplayed    every one  i had  here
=====================
  one  of my  best  frenz///JACK GAAL//  played  a smaller  bell on his --a genius onreeds
a collector  --deep intellect --rare --
--------------
 recently  sold  a pristine late 60s  king  2  b  combo
a  few  summers  ago   both  5g  combos  57/58   went --these with the  undertube  brace on block
------------------
 the flugabone --blows  pretty  nice  --marching  baritone is BIG
A good BASS TRUMPET is  hard  to find  !!!!!!!![rich willey]
----------------------------
 one  must  accept  and embrace  the characteristics  of these  beasts  --and not fight  them
once   the  player  gets  past  thinking  about equipment  can the  music  begin ........
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« Reply #15 on: Feb 13, 2018, 07:51AM »

A good Conn 5H...a 6H with a valve section...is the most commonly used valve trombone in jazz idioms. A 5H valve section works great on any Conn .500 bore bell. Just plug it in and play.

Pitch? That's up to you. Pitching a 3 valve brass instrument w/no triggered tuning slide is an exercise in compromise. Maybe more like an exercise in futility. First you need to learn how to play it in tune with no valves depressed...a chore for most slide trombonists because the resistance is so much greater. Then you need to tune the 2nd valve so it's in tune in the 4th partial, and ditto the 1st valve. Then you can try 1+2, and...if you've done it right on the 1st 2 valves...it will be sharp. UH oh!!! My own solution? Tune the 3rd valve so that it works as a substitute for 1+2. Then you only have to worry about 2+3, 1+3 and 1+2+3. Uh oh squared!!!

Oh...and I forgot to mention...that's just in the 4th partial. 3rd partial will tend sharp, as will 6th partial. 5th partial will tend flat; 7th partial will basically be unusable and on up? YOYO!!! Y'on y'own.

That said...Bob Brookmeyer and Juan Tizol played impeccably "in tune," just for starters. So it can be done. At one time Brookmeyer was thinking of getting a valve section made with a triggered 3rd valve slide like those used by trumpet players. I hooked him up with Shires, but I never knew if it happened.

In the 1800s and early 1900s, valve trombones...often in C...were the dominant trombonistic instrument in southern Europe and also in South/Central/Caribbean America. Juan Tizol played a specially built C valve trombone...larger bore than .500...made for him by King. He was so good at playing in tune in the lower ranges that Duke Ellington wrote most of his 3rd parts for him. Why? Because he had greater mobility down there.

Like I said...it can be done.

Later...

S.
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« Reply #16 on: Feb 13, 2018, 08:00AM »

Valve trombones have a different sound as a result of the differences in articulation on valves vs a slide as well as the extra resistance through the valve block. It also produces a psychologically different approach to playing the instrument. I have one of those chinese superbones which I use as a valve trombone sometimes. Usually I'll use it when emulating a sound (e.g. Bob Brookmeyer), or when playing in large crowds who seem to think that they can sneak past the end of my slide whenever I move back in to first. They're also a quick way to get other brass players to cover trombone parts, since they don't need to worry about learning how the slide works.
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« Reply #17 on: Feb 13, 2018, 08:06AM »

With the above suggestions that a valve trombone is a bit harder to play due to increased resistance vs a slide trombone, I am now wondering if practicing on a valve trombone might have the benefit of increasing tone saturation when playing a slide trombone (long sentence; short post).

...Geezer
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« Reply #18 on: Feb 13, 2018, 08:38AM »

A good Conn 5H...a 6H with a valve section...is the most commonly used valve trombone in jazz idioms. A 5H valve section works great on any Conn .500 bore bell. Just plug it in and play.

Pitch? That's up to you. Pitching a 3 valve brass instrument w/no triggered tuning slide is an exercise in compromise. Maybe more like an exercise in futility. First you need to learn how to play it in tune with no valves depressed...a chore for most slide trombonists because the resistance is so much greater. Then you need to tune the 2nd valve so it's in tune in the 4th partial, and ditto the 1st valve. Then you can try 1+2, and...if you've done it right on the 1st 2 valves...it will be sharp. UH oh!!! My own solution? Tune the 3rd valve so that it works as a substitute for 1+2. Then you only have to worry about 2+3, 1+3 and 1+2+3. Uh oh squared!!!

Oh...and I forgot to mention...that's just in the 4th partial. 3rd partial will tend sharp, as will 6th partial. 5th partial will tend flat; 7th partial will basically be unusable and on up? YOYO!!! Y'on y'own.

That said...Bob Brookmeyer and Juan Tizol played impeccably "in tune," just for starters. So it can be done. At one time Brookmeyer was thinking of getting a valve section made with a triggered 3rd valve slide like those used by trumpet players. I hooked him up with Shires, but I never knew if it happened.

In the 1800s and early 1900s, valve trombones...often in C...were the dominant trombonistic instrument in southern Europe and also in South/Central/Caribbean America. Juan Tizol played a specially built C valve trombone...larger bore than .500...made for him by King. He was so good at playing in tune in the lower ranges that Duke Ellington wrote most of his 3rd parts for him. Why? Because he had greater mobility down there.

Like I said...it can be done.

Later...

S.


I wasn't trying to imply that they couldn't be played in tune, just that one aspect of the timbre difference may be that you're not playing in the "sweet spot" of the pitch as much as you would be on an instrument with slides. For some reason, I also find it easier to bend the pitch to my liking on a horn like a euphonium than I have on the one valve trombone I've tried (I think a Getzen?) but that's probably an insufficient sample size.

That comment about the 1800's reminds me, though. Apparently, Dvorak's trombone sections similarly used valve trombones for orchestral work, which is commonly cited in relation to that fast and awkward scale at the end of Symphony 8.

http://tromboneexcerpts.org/Excerpts/Dvorak8/Dvorak8_Trombone2_4_5.gif
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« Reply #19 on: Feb 13, 2018, 11:26AM »

For a long time in the 19th/early 20th C, it wasn't clear whether slides or valves would win. Valves were the hot technology of the time. Certainly, Verdi wrote for piston valves, and I still see them in Italian wind bands today. I've also heard claims that German low brass were valves in Wagner's day, which suggests a whole other sound world.

In the end, slides won, and Simone Mantia was forced by the Brooklyn Opera to switch to slide within a week.
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