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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentMouthpieces(Moderators: BGuttman, Doug Elliott) After Layout Out for 32 years ..... Where to begin...?
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RPA88
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« on: Dec 27, 2009, 11:33AM »

32 years after closing the case of my TR-180 and walking away from it, I've decided to try to pick up playing again... for the fun and challenge of it.
Some of my most cherished memories are tied to battling for control over that confounded instrument.
Back in the day, a larger mouthpiece was a better one. I could never handle playing on a Schilke 60 - and opted for a 59. That was the mouthpiece I used for the last 2 years that I played -- mainly jazz ensemble work (5th book - mostly mid and low register work.) I was never happy with the 59 -- feeling at the time that the clarity of my articulation; upper range; and intonation suffered because of the bad fit. I was a kid at the time and unfortunately let my emotions be my rudder a little too much.

I've read numerous posts here in various threads on the general topic of mouthpieces. What I would benefit from knowing at this point is a sense of process -- how to go about determing the best mouthpiece fit for me - without having to end up potentially purchasing 10 different ones at who knows how much expense. I would appreciate recommendations, particularly from those more experienced in this regard.

I've purchased a more modern instrument just recently. I am very much looking forward to getting back into playing -- and subjecting myself to more of that good old "agony" of the past... :)
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 27, 2009, 11:47AM »

Have you still got the 180 ? They are out of fashion at the moment, but were great horns. I play Holtons to earn a crust and think they are wonderful. What is the new horn ? Choosing a mouthpiece is about finding the best connection between your face and the horn you play. Lots of possible choices... tell us about the horn and the sort of players you like the sound of.

Chris Stearn
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RPA88
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 27, 2009, 12:00PM »

Chris,
I do still have the TR-180 -- purchased it new in 1976. It's a "time capsule" horn -- unmolested original condition (no mods or alterations). It appears virtually new.
I bought an Edwards B454-DE (2007 model, used.)
My sense with the Holton was too much resistance particularly with the F and D valves.
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RPA88
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 27, 2009, 12:07PM »

Concerning the sound of players - I need to get up to speed on that.
The best bass trombone sound that I have ever heard thus far was a player /friend at NTSU (UNT now) back in the mid 70's -- Bill Guthrie. A wonderful bass trombonist and incredible musician.
Bill's left playing -- is a physician now.
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 27, 2009, 12:49PM »

I know what you are saying about the Holton valves... I used to feel that 30 years ago... now, I prefer them to any of the modern 'wonder' products... because I use the right kind of mouthpiece and know how to blow them.
Never sell that Holton... you would regret it.
Holtons usually work best with smaller mouthpieces... there are players that put that statement on it's head, but for most of us, Holton basses need smaller mouthpieces. I could never get a Holton to sound right with a Schilke 60.
The Edwards is, for me, nearest to that Holton feel, at least in the lighter red bell versions (I know, there are thousands of options... I generalize), so you have a good pair of horns. The Edwards can work with anything, size-wise.. so I would choose something that suits the Holton as it will most likely work in the Edwards too.
I've never liked the Schilke 59... and know of no professionals that use it these days... it just didn't work.
I would say start off at the smaller end.... Faxx 1 1/2G is great and cheap. The Rath B2 is a small gem, though not cheap. If you can try a dozen Bach 1 1/2G's you might find a keeper... they vary geatly. The Holton 87 was pretty good, and matched to the Holton... but is rare today... the early Holton 1 1/2G was the same (sort of Remington shape). A lot of people liked the Wick 2AL in the Holton.
At the more expensive end, Greg Black makes a nice 1 1/2G and Doug Elliott makes great mouthpieces of all sizes. Anything tickle your fancy ???

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #5 on: Dec 27, 2009, 01:36PM »

There are many options out there but the Doug Elliott SB or MB 108 with a J8 or J9 shank will maybe save you some money. It works with the Holton and you could ask Doug Elliot to try some options that will fit you as well as the horn. Then you can sort of make your own setup that works with both instruments. I really think that's the way to do it.

Leif
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RPA88
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« Reply #6 on: Dec 27, 2009, 01:47PM »

Chris,
In thinking back about the Schilke 59, the key attributes that I think consciously affected me negatively were:

1) the inside cup diameter (too large for my embouchure)

2) the narrow rim width bothered me

3) the rounded inside rim shape did not instill a sense of confidence when playing

Based on that, I would be looking for a mouthpiece that had a smaller inside diameter; a wider rim; and a rim with a more articulated or sharper inner rim edge.

I would be curious to know your opinion of the following mouthpieces (how you perhaps might rank them) that I have been reading about:

A) Rath 1 1/2 W
B) Greg Black 1.5G
C) Griego 1.5
D) Doug Elliot 108
E) Wick 0AL

Thanks for providing a perspective - I sincerely appreciate it.
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« Reply #7 on: Dec 27, 2009, 02:09PM »

RPA88,

Leif has been entertaining us with some very good samples of how variations around the 1 1/2 G size do (or do not) change his sound.  He also reports quite a bit about relative ease of getting his sound with different combinations.  Chris is a great resource here (largely responsible for the Rath B1 1/2W I use on my Duo Gravis now) but I think you'd find it worthwhile to check out Leif's experiments in the "Who in their right mind" thread.

Aside from sound, it would help to have an idea of what you think of as key indicators that the combination is working for you. For example, on my King I found that only one of the drawer of mouthpieces I have would let me match tones effortlessly playing from Db below the staff to F to Ab to C in 6th position. On the King being able to do that means that everything flows very nicely for me.  On my Schilke 60 and Bach 1G (the one I made the most money on when I was in the business) the horn felt like a pig.  ALL the 1 1/2G variants worked much better (again, for MY chops.)  The Rath made me wonder what I was worried about.  It just worked.

If I had NOT had that "acid test" I would have taken much longer working through the mouthpieces.  Too many variables.  And then there's the "honeymoon" where ANY mouthpiece seems to showcase what it best about it... for the first week or so.  Then things seem to fall back to where they were before.

If you can find a couple particular facility checks that would indicate TO YOU that things are working the way YOU want (maybe you like having the arpeggios over pedal G very fluid?)  that should cut the testing time.  Even with your short list you would have a tough row to hoe.  Those are such good mouthpieces you'll almost certainly keep them longer than the trial period from Hickey's Dillon's or Hornguys. Unless you have some things you can really test against.

Might I suggest you splurge on the Faxx 1 1/2 G and get your chops more or less back up to snuff on that, THEN check out the high priced spread?  Right now there's a good chance that you won't pick up the difference between an MP that works better and a day when your chops are getting back up to scratch.  That Faxx is supposed to be a faithful copy of a Mount Vernon 1 1/2G, so it's not slouch, even though it is a price leader!

Good luck!!!
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Dave Adams
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« Reply #8 on: Dec 27, 2009, 02:28PM »

What Dave says makes a lot of sense. The only thing I would say about the Faxx is that the rim is quite thin and quite round.
Still a good start point, as Dave says.
The mouthpieces you ask about....
The Rath B1 1/2W... this is based on my own wide rim Mt Vernon Bach. I like it. Easier down low than most in the 1 1/2G size.
Greg Black 1 1/2G... well made classic 1 1/2G. Thinner rim than the Rath. Close to a good old Bach.
Griego 1.5... massive... the 2 is the 1 1/2G equivalent... not tried one long enough to comment.
Elliott 108 J ?... Doug's mouthpieces are very fine. I prefer the wide rim option on this model. 3 piece design is most flexible.
Wick 0AL... again, too big.. and very deep. The 2AL is still the most popular bass model for many. Wider, flatter rim style.

Chris Stearn

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« Reply #9 on: Dec 27, 2009, 02:38PM »

boneagin,

Thanks for the reply and great suggestion about the Faxx 1 1/2 G.
I think back when I played throughout college, and it occurs to me now what a blockhead I was. This time around I will be far more sensitive to the more subtle nuances of my sound and playing - with the objective of developing as a better all around bass trombonist.
When I played in school, I played in a jazz band -- the 5th trombone part -- that was highly specialized, perhaps even more specialized at the specific college I attended.
Music we played there was written in large part by students (then current and former) - and often very challenging.
I allowed too much focus on that, and not enough on becoming a stronger overall player.

I am determined to get it right this time - if for no other reason than to do it for myself.

Thanks again for the helpful information you provided. I'll make a point of checking out Leif's "Who in their right mind" thread -- looking forward to that...

Robert
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« Reply #10 on: Dec 27, 2009, 02:51PM »

Robert,

Actually, you will find that the "Who in their right mind plays a 1 1/2G" was started by none other than... CHRIS!!! Idea!

And I think the correct term might be "bone head?"   :D  If so, you'll note I fell into the trap too.  With that 1G bathtub on the near end of a B50-2GL I could play so quietly you'd have to stick your ear in the bell... or loud enough to be heard OUTSIDE the closed lobby doors in Jordan Hall.

For reference, what Chris says about low on the Rath is true for me.  I hold my own quite well on the bottom part in the Crespo Bruckner etude (you can find recordings on Youtube, but not of the choir I play with..)  Doesn't get much lower than that.  The mouthpiece REALLY comes into its own from just below the staff to somewhere in treble clef (depending on chops, day, phase of moon, etc.)  If I have to STAY upstairs, though, I use the Faxx.  And I have used the Faxx in the pedal range with success... just not as much success as with the Rath.

Keep us posted!  There are folks like Chris who have incredible backgrounds here, and like Leif who is very methodical in his experimentation (which is nice to have on top of a refined musicality.)
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Dave Adams
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« Reply #11 on: Dec 27, 2009, 03:08PM »

Robert,

Actually, you will find that the "Who in their right mind plays a 1 1/2G" was started by none other than... CHRIS!!! Idea!

And I think the correct term might be "bone head?"   :D  If so, you'll note I fell into the trap too.  With that 1G bathtub on the near end of a B50-2GL I could play so quietly you'd have to stick your ear in the bell... or loud enough to be heard OUTSIDE the closed lobby doors in Jordan Hall.

For reference, what Chris says about low on the Rath is true for me.  I hold my own quite well on the bottom part in the Crespo Bruckner etude (you can find recordings on Youtube, but not of the choir I play with..)  Doesn't get much lower than that.  The mouthpiece REALLY comes into its own from just below the staff to somewhere in treble clef (depending on chops, day, phase of moon, etc.)  If I have to STAY upstairs, though, I use the Faxx.  And I have used the Faxx in the pedal range with success... just not as much success as with the Rath.

Keep us posted!  There are folks like Chris who have incredible backgrounds here, and like Leif who is very methodical in his experimentation (which is nice to have on top of a refined musicality.)

Dave (boneagain) seem to always have the big perspective. To the original poster I say the same as Dave. Read the beginning of "who in the right mind". My post are about trying and are not so interesting.

I have made a tread about my Doug Elliott mouthpieces here:
http://tromboneforum.org/index.php/topic,49051.0.html

And I suggest you read Chris Stearn and Dave's post about this. Mine are full of bad English and are only about trying and failing.  And never sell that Holton. I have one from the same year: 1976. I love it.


Leif
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evan51
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« Reply #12 on: Dec 27, 2009, 03:17PM »

I see this has become an equipment discussion------well, what does one expect of bass bone players, after all?  ;-)

Nevertheless, I would take a survey of:
1. What you have in the way of goals?
2. What are your expectations for what kind of music you want to play?
3. What performing groups are around? (ensembles, symphonic bands, orchestras, big bands)
4. Who are the teachers in your area who might be able to assist you in transitioning into a regularly playing/performing bass bone player?

I believe you're in a good location for all of the above. There is some tweaking w/family life, work, and private time that can sometimes be tricky.

This furry lot should have lots of advice in all these areas. Best of luck and success in your return to God's instrument.
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« Reply #13 on: Dec 27, 2009, 03:20PM »

Dave, Chris, and Leif,
My sense after reading your comments is that the Rath B1 1/2W may be the best place to begin -- and perhaps that's the one that will be right in the end.
The real challenge will be for me to optimize this choice, and I intend to do that.

It appears that the Rath mouthpiece is manufactured in the UK. Hopefully there's a dealer in the US that stocks this particular model.

Leif and Chris - thanks for the heads-up about not letting go of the TR-180. Perhaps my work on the right mouthpiece will help me get more out of it - as well as the newer Edwards.

Thanks again for the help. :)

Robert
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« Reply #14 on: Dec 27, 2009, 03:35PM »

Evan51,

Your questions / comments are right on and I need to think through them (and do some research locally). Over the past 30 years, I have let my career control my life, so some of my efforts to refocus on the instrument are first steps in getting better control over what I want to do and accomplish for myself.

First steps for me right now are to get my equipment in order and then bring my chops back from the land of the lost. That will not be a short journey to be sure...

Thanks for taking time out to reply. I appreciate the perspective.

Robert
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« Reply #15 on: Dec 28, 2009, 04:53AM »

Robert,

The "cloud" of 30+ years out has a silver lining which Evan and the rest of us have been pointing to.  The REASON we are recommending starting off with a very middle-of-the-road mouthpiece is that you can get your chops restarted while you work on the really important bits: getting your EAR restarted!

You mentioned something about "blockheaded" a post or two ago.  Many young players get that way... cart before the horse sort of thing.  It is VERY difficult to develop a good sound if you don't know what sound you are aiming for. 

The most important investments right now aren't in the horn itself or the mouthpiece or slide lube or mutes.  The investments are in performances and recordings that help you build a sound inside your head.  Knowing what you want to emulate directly, or improve on, in the recordings and performances of others will do FAR more than the mouthpiece.  Leif has such a strong sound concept that someone without considerable background in the instrument probably wouldn't hear the differences in the equipment he's tried (and pay no attention to his comments about language or content... if only I could write ANY Scandinavian language half as well as he writes English...) 

So, WHILE you are getting instruments reasonable, the REAL first steps should be on the input side.  You have a chance here to re-form your entire concept.  You don't have a schedule of gigs to fight while you do so.  You have obviously opened your mind to quite a lot of new thought enhanced with the wisdom of a decade or few. 

I think if you read what Chris wrote carefully you'll see he was pretty much suggesting ways of getting the mouthpiece out of your way (for now... perhaps even for long term) so you COULD avoid the equipment trap.

BTW: www.dillonmusic.com carries Rath.  They have an excellent trial policy.

PPS: greatly relieved to hear you are keeping the Holton!
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RPA88
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« Reply #16 on: Dec 28, 2009, 08:07AM »


The investments are in performances and recordings that help you build a sound inside your head.  Knowing what you want to emulate directly, or improve on, in the recordings and performances of others will do FAR more than the mouthpiece.

Dave, I think there is great wisdom in this advice. I will search this site for any threads that may illuminate the path on where to find the right recordings to reinforce my sound concepts. Back in the 70's in school, I was completely immersed in this stuff and over five years had the opportunity to listen to some great players during performances and rehearsals. Some of that stuff never leaves you, even after decades away from it. I definitely need to get up to speed however - there are well established great players out there that I have never even heard before. Once the sound is in your head you know precisely what to chase.

Thanks again for the feedback and advice.
Robert
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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #17 on: Dec 28, 2009, 09:38AM »

I would be happy to send you one of my pieces to try out.  PM me if you're interested.  My MB 108J8 fits your interests; rim not too thin, very comfortable, easy to play; and you can return it if you end up liking something else, but I'm betting you won't.  And you can easily move the rim a size up one or more sizes if needed in the future. 
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« Reply #18 on: Dec 28, 2009, 10:25AM »

Two years ago I did go from Schilke 59 to the 1 1/2g size. So I have tried many, many in this size category. Therefore all my ramblings here and there in the forum.

When I speak about this its always very subjective from me. But there are many options with Doug Elliott's pieces. It can save you money and it also can prevent you from trying and failing like I have done the last two years. Music and fun is the goal not equipment of course. And you just change a rim, cup or shank to make adjustment for you and your trombone.

Anyway this is subjective from me but I think you understand. The MB 108 is everything in one for me. Sound, comfort and for me easy both low and high. The Holton likes it and the low  trigger notes C and Bb is better than before. They are not easy for me on any horn. But of course that's me.

Make it fun and easy.

Leif
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RPA88
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« Reply #19 on: Dec 28, 2009, 07:43PM »

Leif,
Thanks for your comments and recommendation. I plan on contacting Doug Elliott about the MB 108. The interchangeability factor makes practical sense.
I definitely agree with your comment about the equipment not being the ultimate consideration -- just a means to a desirable end goal.

Thank you for taking time to reply. I appreciate the help.

Robert
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