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Author Topic: Willson Trombone  (Read 3733 times)
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Location: Miami, FL
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« on: Jun 17, 2005, 11:14AM »

One of my teachers went to a midwest clinic in Chicago a couple years back and claimed to have tried a Willson trombone, and liked it.Anyone else out here tried one? just curious

some sort of trombonist.

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« Reply #1 on: Jun 17, 2005, 11:32AM »

Never played on a willson trombone. However the rotax valves are very nice. The machining is precise and the action is fast and smooth. It blows very well, even on both sides of the horn with very little resistance (just enough for me) and it is vented well so it does not pop.

I know Denny has some Willsons and some rotax valves and can probably elaborate more.

Noah Gladstone
Trombonist, Los Angeles

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« Reply #2 on: Jun 17, 2005, 12:32PM »

As Noah stated, Denny Seifried wrote some very informative articles on Willson Bass trombone prototypes. You might do a search through the archives. They may still be available. If I recall correctly, they were a mixed review.  Hopefully Denny will see this post and follow up.

Galen McQuarrie

  "Some days you get up and put the horn to your chops and it sounds pretty good and you win.  Some days you try and nothing works and the horn wins. This goes on and on and then you die and the horn wins."  Dizzy Gillespie
denny seifried

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« Reply #3 on: Jun 17, 2005, 01:19PM »

I couldn't find a copy in the archives; so here is the original of two proto-type Rotax valve bass trombone I played for a week or so. Will also sent a proto-type axial flow bass, that played very nicely, also.

Willson Rotax Inline Bass Trombone

Model 2555L-Shires/Greenhoe/Getzen style wrap

TAW551 slide

Willson Rotax Inline Bass Trombone

Model 2551L-Bach style wrap

TA 551 slide

551TA is the standard Willson Bass Trombone

As promised, after giving the new Willson Axial Flow Bass Trombone a couple days of testing, two, new, Willson Rotax (standard rotor) bass trombones were also shipped, along with the prototype axial bass. The two models received were titled Model 2555L, which has valve wraps shaped much like a Greenhoe or Shires inline wrap; whereas, the companion model is the Model 2551L, which has tubing wrapped much in the shape of a Bach 50B3O wrap, as the tubing bends are more squared-off and not a graceful as the #2555L.

I have, as with the axial flow model, put numerous digital images over on my Photo Page, under my profile. I tried to photograph both sides of both horns; so, you can see the tubing details and the valve linkage details.

Now, to some of the construction details of these two horns. First of all, I was very impressed with the build quality of these two bass trombones, as both are finished horns and not in raw brass, as was the axial bass. You will not find quality, like is displayed on the Willson horns, on very many standard production instruments. The solder joints were immaculate all over the horn, with no visible solder blobs or wipes at all. These horns have some beautiful ferrule work, along with beautiful lacquer (epoxy?) and NO acid bleeds anywhere on these horns! As stated, these horns are equipped with Will’s answer to the contemporary rotor valve, called a Rotax valve. They are a very free blowing rotor and are not an oversize rotor, like a CL. They are very close to the size of your standard Conn or Bach rotor, and not quite the size of a Greenhoe rotor (Rotax about 1.25 inch diameter—Greenhoe about 1.375 inch diameter). They sure play as if they may be ported, as you get no “pop” out of the valve in legato playing, using the rotors. The linkage is a mini-ball set up and works very free and light. I might prefer a little heavier spring set-up, on the rotors, as I am used to the Greenhoe springs. I did find quite a bit of valve bounce, as the rotors contacted the bumpers, on the release. Maybe some stiffer springs might cure this?

Bells on both horns appear to be the same, as they measure around 9.75 inches and are two pieces, as you can see the seam where they were fused together. Both are in rose brass, which appear to be the color similar to Conn rose brass. I would assume they may have soldered rims and the bells are not removable, on this model. The Gb valve has a fully adjustable paddle, very similar to the shape of a Bach 50B3 (traditional paddle). I have really gotten used to the round trigger linkage of the Greenhoe and really appreciate the ability to not only move the paddle in-and-out; however, it is nice to be able to turn the paddle, on the shaft and adjust how it meets my finger. The thumb trigger has a shaped metal paddle, which feels very comfortable, to my thumb. Please take a look at the photos, to see further detail of the valves and trigger systems. The F-valve is also canted in the goose neck, to allow for the F-attachment tubing to get on its way. I might also add the F-attachment tubing is on the outside of the bell, away from your neck; whereas, the Gb tubing is on the inside of the bell, closest to your neck. This is just opposite of the Greenhoe attachment placement of the tubes.

Now for the most unique design of the Willson, that being the slide. Will’s most creative addition to the trombone is his slide release system. Will uses a “button” to lock and unlock the slide. If you look at one of the close up photos of the slide, you will see a black button, right at the end of the top slide tube, near the mouthpiece receiver. That’s it!
Punch that button and the slide is unlocked and just reverse, to lock it: nothing to twist and turn, like the rest of us have done, for years. This is just the beginning of Will’s slide technology. I have NO idea what Will is plating his inner slide tubes with? If you will look at my photo of the slide’s inner tubes, you will see this gold/bronze color of the inners. No, my digital camera didn’t die, as I was snapping that photograph, as that is the true color of the inners! The outer slide is fairly light weight and looks like nickel silver outer tubes, with no over sleeves present. I treated both slides to a quick clean and lube job with some Reka, and they were very fast, quiet and smooth. Also of interest, the inner slide does not appear to be soldered together, as all of the connectors are spit in half and held together with Allen set screws, recessed into the slide. Also looks as though the lead pipe is held into the top, inner slide tube, by this method, also. Looks as though the inner slide can be adjusted by loosening and re-tightening the Allen screws, for accurate alignment?  The outer slide is traditional, as it is soldered together, like other manufactures slides. The two horns came with different ID numbers on the slides, as the 2555L came with a slide model TAW551; whereas, the 2551L came with a slide model TA551. I have no clue to what the difference is as both are a Bach-width of around 3.5 inches between tubes. I did look at the Willson web-page and saw the current production bass trombone has a model # of 551TA; so whatever that means, I am not sure.

Both models were very nice to play, as both were very nicely balanced and easy to hold. Trigger throw is short and valves move very fast; however, as I mentioned already, I would prefer a little heftier spring on both valves. I checked both horns on my Yamaha tuner and both needed maybe .25 inch of pull, which is about where I play my Bach. I didn’t try either with a smaller cup bass mouthpiece, like a Bach 1.5G; as, this might require some more pull, to the tuning slide.

Normally playing a yellow brass bell, I found the articulation not quite as crisp, as with my Greenhoe/Bach or the Willson axial bass. Both horns blew very nice and free, down in the valve range and in the pedal range.

Now,comes the “big question,” if Willson can discount price these two, very high quality bass trombones, to compete with horns like the Getzen 1052/1062 instruments or a Gen 2 Conn 62H? There are a lot of good playing horns produced in this slightly below $2000-$3000 price range; so, Willson will have a lot of competition.


Denny Seifried
Bass Trombone
Dayton Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Central Big Band, Mojo Brass & Springfield (OH) Symphony
BBb Tuba Ohio Valley British Brass Band (OVBBB) & Western Ohio Tuba Quartet
Adjunct Trombone-Wittenberg Univ. Dept. of Music
Slush Pump
« Reply #4 on: Jun 17, 2005, 03:19PM »

I tried one of their tenors years ago at the NAMM show.  It played great.  They had a discussion about them a few years ago on the email list.  I think I recall someone saying that the slides are "TINN" plated, which is some kind of acronym, I guess.  Anyway, I do remember the strange orange color of the inner slide.  Also, some of the joints were pressure-fitted; they had a joint with a screw rather than being soldered.
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