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Author Topic: Alternate instruments  (Read 3977 times)
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leahcim

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« on: Apr 19, 2011, 09:22AM »

I currently play a bass bone (Bach 50B with standard (closed) wrap and rotor valve) and I am considering purchase of a tenor horn as an alternative--mostly to add some variety to my practice and have one more option to force my brain out of "autopilot" during practice.  I think it would also be easier to bring along on travel.  I am also thinking about a Bb bass trumpet as well--thinking it would give me yet another set of issues for my brain to deal with when practising with valves vs. the slide.  I figured the trumpet would be easier to manage than a euphonium (thinking travel), but not such a big change in mouthpiece as a standard trumpet.  And I think it would be cool to show up to play with something a bit different...

Also on the bone I am considering a standard tenor vs. a smaller Bb/C trombone such as the Yamaha YSL350C--A "tenor" trombone that is keyed in C, but uses a reversed rotor valve (i.e. the valve is normally open) which keys it down to Bb.  So when you activate the trigger, it actually closes the valve and keys the horn up to C.

With the idea that--from a mental perspective--this should eventually improve the brain's ability and flexibility to play.
But will it have an adverse effect on physical attributes--embouchure, breathing and breath control, anything else?
Is this a recommended approach, or are there adverse effects that may outweigh the benefits?

Thank you!
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BGuttman
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« Reply #1 on: Apr 19, 2011, 09:46AM »

I think for your travel requirement the best choice might be a bass trumpet or marching trombone/baritone.  In fact, you can get a marching instrument that uses your mouthpiece.

If you were a relative beginner I'd caution you away from diluting your efforts with a lot of instruments, but since you have already moved to bass trombone that may not be as much of a problem

Playing a valved instrument will teach you the "lipping" and valve slide adjusting techniques that you now use the handslide for.  Also, it will teach you skills you can use if you want to double on euphonium or tuba.

If you really want a tenor, I'd avoid the Yamaha 350C.  It's an idea whose time never really was.  The concept of an ascending trigger so C and B are in 1st and 2nd positions is a good one for people whose arms are too short to reach 6th and 7th.

Problem is the positions on the ascending trigger are SHORTER than the "open" positions and you can develop bad habits for your normal F-attachment.  Some people change the trigger so the trombone is in C with the trigger to move it to Bb, but then you have to learn a whole new set of positions.  And unlike trumpeters who use C and Bb trumpets, I know of almost NO trombone players using C and Bb trombones.

If you have a teacher, talk it over with him/her.  You may get some good ideas.
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Bruce Guttman
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Torobone

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« Reply #2 on: Apr 19, 2011, 09:49AM »

There is a lot of ground to cover on several topics here.

First, do you want something different to play in a group somewhere, something to enhance your bass trombone playing, or something to take your musical journey in a different direction?

Bass trumpets might be more compact for travel, but adapting your 50B to a screw-on bell, or buying a horn with a detachable bell, is also an option. Also, consider the pBone at www.pbone.co.uk if you want something really light and portable.

Bass trumpets might be a great thing for you, but don't expect to play it out much. Just sayin'. A regular valve trombone might see more use.  Don't know
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leahcim

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« Reply #3 on: Apr 19, 2011, 10:18AM »

Mr. Guttman:  Thank you foe the response.  The primary appeal of the 350 is that it might fit into the overhead compartment on commercial aircraft--otherwise I would just go with a standard tenor trombone.  I figured I would rarely even use the trigger, but I imagine the positions would still be a bit off.  Perhaps the valve route is a better approach to address both travel and learning a valve instrument.

Torobone:  My main goals with this are (1) Enhance my playing by having to learn a slightly different instrument and (2) have something a bit more compact for travel or or that is manageable when I travel by bicycle.  The having something different would be an enhancing feature, but not a requirement.  As for the bass trumpet, wouldn't I be able to play most parts written for tenor trombone?

I will also consider the pBone--they are quite inexpensive.  I am skeptical of the slide, but it sounds like it works OK using the right lube and proper break-in.  I never knew these existed.

Thanks again!
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BGuttman
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« Reply #4 on: Apr 19, 2011, 10:29AM »

The pbone is light, but right now they are having trouble keeping up with demand.  The third build sold out in 15 minutes.  Earlier builds sold out even faster.

I guess a fourth build is in the works since they are planning to exhibit at the ITA which is about 2 months away.  I would bet that one sells out almost from the time the booth opens.

You can fit a gig bag for a standard tenor in the overhead of many commercial jetliners.  The smaller ones used in regional travel probably not so.  But then again on a regional airplane you may also have a problem with the case for a marching trombone or bass trumpet.

Regardless, if you show up with a marching trombone at a band rehearsal they may not know where to sit you.  And if you show up at a Jazz Band you may be asked to sit and listen.

I don't have a simple solution for you.  Check out your options and make the best choice.
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« Reply #5 on: Apr 21, 2011, 01:56AM »

It's no problem fitting tenor trombones in the overhead compartment. The LW Bonna will fit in planes as small as Dash 8-Q400 and CRJ-900. Go smaller than that, and you can always deliver hand luggage at the door, and then it is no problem.

I know this doesn't help you who play bass trombone, and I don't think the bass bonna will go on the largest Dash. MAYBE the CRJ.

And I wouldn't deliver a soft bag at the door...

Are those normal regional planes in your part of the world too?
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maxd
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« Reply #6 on: Apr 21, 2011, 03:45PM »

I thought that the way the 350C worked was that the valve was always activated, keeping it in B flat. When you activated the lever for the trigger, the air would blow straight through and not through the extra valve, putting the pitch into C. Like it says on Doug Yeo's site. It's not the same as Conn's Preacher model.

http://www.yeodoug.com/articles/trombone_gallery/trombone_gallery.html
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Here's how it works: The trombone is made in the key of C but when the valve lever is not activated, the valve is "open" so air goes through the valve. The added tubing of the valve makes the trombone in B flat. When the valve lever is activated, the valve is closed so the trombone is in the key of C. As a result, the trombone is shorter than a normal trombone AND when the valve lever is activated, the young player can reach C and B natural which are ordinarily played in 6th and 7th position on a standard trombone. This trombone does have limitations: there is no 7th position on the instrument so a low E cannot be played either with or without the valve. But the compact size and the fact that low C and B can be played with the valve makes this instrument an attractive alternative for the young trombonist. The slide positions relate visually to the bell the same as they do on a standard trombone which makes the transition from this compact trombone to a standard trombone very easy once the players arms are longer. I own one of these instruments because whenever I am on vacation I need to take a trombone to practice. Not always wanting to check my bass trombone as baggage and realizing that it simply won't fit an overhead compartment as a carry on bag, the Yamaha compact trombone is the perfect vacation companion. It has a great, compact case that easily fits in an airplane overhead. It is light and also has a carrying strap for the case. I truly think this trombone is one of the best purchases I've ever made.
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« Reply #7 on: Apr 21, 2011, 04:42PM »

An alternative alternate: Music can be explored from outside of the brass instrument world, often for less money and more convenience. I play harmonica, recorder, mandolin and/or accordion on recreational or day job travel. For me it's a vacation from the horn too, a chance to dig into some other voices for a while.

I think that my progression on trombone has been bolstered by these wider explorations. Lately, accordion has been providing me a space where time and harmony can really be stretched. I just take folk songs, stuff like Home on The Range or The Foggy Dew, and work on building them from bland melody + chords to something meaningful to me. Coordinating the bass, chords, melody and vocals has resulted in a good internal clock. Plus I get full control over shaping lines, the arc of the song, the pauses and vamps between perspectives, the contrast of the lead voices, the balance of melody and harmony, the meaning that variance in time can introduce, ...

Outside of fundamentals like these, I'll sometimes play voices on trombone realized elsewhere: harmonica growls, bongo patterns, etc. That's fun.

(I'm also of the opinion that every bass trombone player should have a tenor of some sort, hopefully appropriate for the types of music you enjoy, because opportunities will arise if you work your stuff up and put yourself out there.)

 ;-)
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« Reply #8 on: Apr 22, 2011, 07:17AM »

An alternative alternate: I play harmonica, recorder, mandolin and/or accordion on recreational or day job travel.
 ;-)
HA! Another mando-trombone combo.  I do that as well and thought I'd never run across another.  Not sure I could tell whether mando or trombone is my "main" or "home" instrument.  But I will say mandolins travel VERY well.  I'm on the road for business like every other week, usually 2 nites out.  I bought a Weber Sweetpea mando for ~$300.  It's an OK sound -- not something you'd take to a gig -- but is a full size fingerboard.  It is tiny- I stuff it down the middle of a garment bag and it just disappears into carryon luggage so I don't worry about what baggage (mis)handlers might do with/to it.  It's gotta have 300,000 air miles on it by now, not a problem.  The body+ neck are cut from a single piece of maple so it's build like the proverbial "brick outhouse." 

I heartily second the suggestion!

As far as travelling with the bone... I take a mouthpiece, and put drone tones and a whole lotta fun tunes onto my cellphone's mp3 player, and buzz my brains out.
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leahcim

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« Reply #9 on: Apr 25, 2011, 12:31PM »

An alternative alternate: Music can be explored from outside of the brass instrument world, often for less money and more convenience. I play harmonica, recorder, mandolin and/or accordion on recreational or day job travel. For me it's a vacation from the horn too, a chance to dig into some other voices for a while.
I have also considered a bass or cello, but I think it would take some serious practice time for me to just get to a decent tone.

(I'm also of the opinion that every bass trombone player should have a tenor of some sort, hopefully appropriate for the types of music you enjoy, because opportunities will arise if you work your stuff up and put yourself out there.)
So would I encounter any problems going between the two instruments?  Would the smaller tenor or using a different mouthpiece cause any potential negative effects on the bass bone?
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mwpfoot
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« Reply #10 on: Apr 25, 2011, 02:38PM »

So would I encounter any problems going between the two instruments?  Would the smaller tenor or using a different mouthpiece cause any potential negative effects on the bass bone?

All I can say for sure is that plenty of people do it. Some even venture further out, to trumpet or tuba, and they do what they need to do to make it work: practice. "How" varies depending on the individual and their approach.

There are other threads here about approaches to using different mouthpieces with lots of opinions in them. Maybe folks while chime in here too.

 Good!
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« Reply #11 on: Apr 25, 2011, 03:33PM »

If I didn't double, I feel like I would be a very bored brass player.
Pick up a tenor! or a valved instrument. High brass is a little harder to pick up and play, even if it's smaller, but can still be fun!
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« Reply #12 on: Apr 25, 2011, 03:59PM »

I vote for a chord instrument. It's good for wind players to learn to think in chords instead of notes...
I know I would be a much worse trombonist if I didn't know how to play guitar, piano, banjo, ukulele. I don't play every of them good to get paid for it, but I can play on an after paty level.

Then trying to play pop songs by ear (start with just the chords) is extremely good for you!
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« Reply #13 on: Apr 25, 2011, 09:12PM »

As to looking at a second instrument to learn a bit about, I strongly believe that every musician, no matter what their style, home instrument, or professional level, should learn at least the basics of the piano (or anything resembling a piano). Besides drastically improving your sight reading (Hey, reading 10 notes at a time makes reading 1 look easy), it will greatly increase your understanding of musical structure and harmony, and make you better at every instrument you play.
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« Reply #14 on: Apr 25, 2011, 11:53PM »

An alternative alternate: Music can be explored from outside of the brass instrument world, often for less money and more convenience. I play harmonica, recorder, mandolin and/or accordion on recreational or day job travel. For me it's a vacation from the horn too, a chance to dig into some other voices for a while.

I've thoroughly enjoyed branching out in several directions.  I started on tuba, added trumpet a couple of years later, then trombone a couple years after that, and switched to bass trombone as my primary instrument while in college.  Since then I've taken up pretty much all the brass and woodwinds (including not just the standard ones, but recorders, crumhorns, shawms, dulcians, and more), violin, drum set, and more.  While not all that great on many of them, they have allowed me to compose and arrange for them more effectively and made it possible to "fill in holes" in various groups over the years.
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« Reply #15 on: Apr 26, 2011, 04:40AM »

As to looking at a second instrument to learn a bit about, I strongly believe that every musician, no matter what their style, home instrument, or professional level, should learn at least the basics of the piano (or anything resembling a piano). Besides drastically improving your sight reading (Hey, reading 10 notes at a time makes reading 1 look easy), it will greatly increase your understanding of musical structure and harmony, and make you better at every instrument you play.
+1 on this.  I started on the piano and got the basics of harmony, music theory, chords, etc.  Having all the intervals laid out visually on a keyboard is a big-deal good thing too.  A yr or 2 with a decent piano instructor is a high-payback investment.
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BGuttman
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« Reply #16 on: Apr 26, 2011, 05:01AM »

But there is a problem getting a piano into the overhead bin on any airplane Evil

Even a full size keyboard.

But I did have a "travel piano" which was a piece of cardboard with the layout of the piano keys on it.  Kinda wimpy substitute for the real thing.
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« Reply #17 on: Apr 26, 2011, 05:38AM »

But there is a problem getting a piano into the overhead bin on any airplane Evil

Even a full size keyboard.

But I did have a "travel piano" which was a piece of cardboard with the layout of the piano keys on it.  Kinda wimpy substitute for the real thing.
Roll up piano keyboard  Amazed $30 check it out.  Prolly not the best feel or sound but it'll solve the overhead bin thing sure nuf.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004EBJW2S/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_2?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B0027G7KNA&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0HJQAE8AASZN3CAK2EEE
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« Reply #18 on: Apr 26, 2011, 03:46PM »

Or if you really want to start playing with sound and understanding overtones and waves and how they relate to various timbres, the amazing MicroKorg http://keyboards-midi.musiciansfriend.com/product/Korg-microKORG-SynthesizerVocoder?sku=702244 easily fits into a carry on.
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« Reply #19 on: Apr 27, 2011, 06:13PM »

But there is a problem getting a piano into the overhead bin on any airplane Evil

Even a full size keyboard.


Yeah, but...........that's because of the anachronistic linear design.

Pianos have all their keys side by side.  That's dumb, but necessary because of the leverage needed to swing a hammer at a string. 

When you go digital you no longer have that constraint.  There is no reason to have keys side by side, and many reasons to alter this.  Like Dvorak vs Qwerty, the Wicki-Hayden has significant advantages over the piano.  And fits in the overhead. 
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