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Author Topic: Home made trombones  (Read 7293 times)
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constellations

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« on: Oct 27, 2013, 05:56PM »

A friend and I are beginning to make our own trombones. Nothing too serious, just thought it would be fun. Here are the specs we've worked out so far:

His:
Jazz straight Bb horn
Small shank
.500" bore
7.5" bell
Slide thread, bell bolt
Larger slide width, still haven't figured out specific measurement
Longer conical section

Mine:
Symphonic Bb-F horn
Large shank
.547" bore
8.25" bell
Slide thread, bell bolt
Again larger slide width, probably a bit larger than Bach 42
Open wrap
Custom rotor, design of mine I'm experimenting with

Any tips/suggestions?
We're making these from scratch. Wish us luck!
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BGuttman
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« Reply #1 on: Oct 27, 2013, 06:26PM »

Good luck.  Especially trying to get parts.

Expect the project to cost much more than buying a good horn from a dealer.

And don't expect it to sound as good as one.
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Bruce Guttman
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constellations

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« Reply #2 on: Oct 27, 2013, 06:31PM »

I never said I expected it to sound great. And we're not making it from parts. No, we're buying chrome and brass and steel and making it ourselves, metalwork and all. Overall the projected cost for the jazz horn is $200 for materials if we buy smart. The symphonic horn may be a lot more because of the trigger. Thank, though, we probably will need as much luck as we can get, especially making the water keys and lead pipes.

I have had an issue brought to my attention though. Should we hand spin the bells or shape them on a mold?
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Euphanasia

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« Reply #3 on: Oct 27, 2013, 06:39PM »



I have had an issue brought to my attention though. Should we hand spin the bells or shape them on a mold?

Both. Bells are spun on a mandrel. Do you have access to a large lathe?
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constellations

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« Reply #4 on: Oct 27, 2013, 06:44PM »

I believe I do, I have to check underneath the mountains in my garage :-0
Any idea how to accomplish such a feat using tools accessible to the common man?(I may have a lathe, but I have almost no tools for it.)
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robcat2075

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« Reply #5 on: Oct 27, 2013, 07:04PM »

It has to be possible.  Someone made a trombone for the first time, I wonder what they had on hand for tools?

Beware of flying metal! :-0
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constellations

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« Reply #6 on: Oct 27, 2013, 07:07PM »

Thanks, and I will!
Any idea how to make a lead pipe assembly? I have a bad feeling that's what's really going to screw us up royally...
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BGuttman
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« Reply #7 on: Oct 27, 2013, 07:11PM »

It has to be possible.  Someone made a trombone for the first time, I wonder what they had on hand for tools?

Beware of flying metal! :-0

The first trombones didn't look much like the ones we play today.  What may be technologically feasible for Constellations may not meet his [admittedly ambitious] specifications.

I remember seeing an article on a home-made natural trumpet and it was quite a stretch.

How about starting with a Hose-a-phone (q.v.) before you leap into extensive metalworking?

And I wouldn't get het up about a leadpipe yet.  That's like worrying about premium vs. regular fuel when you haven't even got an engine built yet.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #8 on: Oct 27, 2013, 07:12PM »

I believe I do, I have to check underneath the mountains in my garage :-0
Any idea how to accomplish such a feat using tools accessible to the common man?(I may have a lathe, but I have almost no tools for it.)

Kind of reminds me of when National Lampoon was making fun of the Anarchist's Cookbook. Their recipe for a thermonuclear device was something like "Obtain 6 to 10 pounds of fissionable plutonium. If plutonium is not available in your area, substitute 25 pounds of dark fruitcake soaked in rum."

A bell mandrel is a bell mandrel. If there was something else that did the same job, people wouldn't buy expensive bell mandrels.

A leadpipe would be one of the simplest things to make. Use the lathe to turn a couple of tapered mandrels and use a press to form the leadpipe. I'd be more concerned with how you're going to bend your tubing.
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constellations

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« Reply #9 on: Oct 27, 2013, 07:49PM »

Kind of reminds me of when National Lampoon was making fun of the Anarchist's Cookbook. Their recipe for a thermonuclear device was something like "Obtain 6 to 10 pounds of fissionable plutonium. If plutonium is not available in your area, substitute 25 pounds of dark fruitcake soaked in rum."

A bell mandrel is a bell mandrel. If there was something else that did the same job, people wouldn't buy expensive bell mandrels.

A leadpipe would be one of the simplest things to make. Use the lathe to turn a couple of tapered mandrels and use a press to form the leadpipe. I'd be more concerned with how you're going to bend your tubing.

Sorry, I'm a bit of a poor***, but hey, I didn't choose the thug life, the thug life chose me.
I have a cousin who does this stuff for a living. I'm asking him about this stuff and to the best of my knowledge we're gonna have to make a mandrel ourselves. We're bending the tubing by heat softening it and bending it over a mold. The bends and straight tubing are going to start separate, then be fitted together using an outer sleeve and welded on the outside (I also never said it was going to look pretty).

I see the problem with making a mandrel and that is why I think our original idea would probably be best suited to making two completely custom trombone bells: slowly hammering a sheet of brass over a smooth wood mold. For the lead pipe we'll need to make a mold of a Bach mouthpiece.

And yes, I have seen your previous post about how pointless it is to make a mandrel yourself. I just think there's a bit of a problem with paying more for the equipment than the materials and not being able to apply a custom design for the taper of the bell anyway (which is, in this case, what we are trying to do)
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« Reply #10 on: Oct 27, 2013, 07:59PM »

There was a thread about lead pipes where we posted some treated videos of how to make a lead pipe that are available on youtube.  I know I commented on that thread way too much, so maybe in my history if the search isn't working.

The videos are of a guy making a trumpet lead pipe, but it is the same thing.

Also,do a search on google for Carl's (or maybe Karl's) home grown tuba.  Guy does a lot of what you are expecting to do for a tuba.

Hardest part of making it yourself will be understanding e tolerances required.  How tight do you want the valve to the casing?  Without a frame of reference, any maching you will be doing will be try and go...  That can be a little painful, but also fun.

I do however, suggest that you use pitch to bend the tubes.  Heating and bending doesn't work as well as I would like.  Euph above has done a lot more of that than I have, however. 

Where are you sourcing drawn tubes?  I'm not sure how you get to only $200 in materials using good slide tubes.

Cheers,
Andy
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Andrew Elms
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« Reply #11 on: Oct 27, 2013, 08:05PM »

I don't think you will have much success the way you are planning to bend the tubing.  Trombone size tubing is easy to collapse.  The major players used to fill the tubing with pitch in the "bad old days".  I believe you can now get some kind of material that melts and flows out after you do the bending.  Keeping something inside the tubing during bending helps prevent tubing collapse.

Really, this project will cost you an extraordinary amount of time and money.  I worry that you will get partway done and become disillusioned about it and even about the trombone.

Consider some of the shortcuts that have been taken by others.  For example, making a slide "bow" from two plumbing ells and a short length of tube.  Same idea for a tuning slide.
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Bruce Guttman
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constellations

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« Reply #12 on: Oct 27, 2013, 08:09PM »


I do however, suggest that you use pitch to bend the tubes.  Heating and bending doesn't work as well as I would like.  Euph above has done a lot more of that than I have, however. 

Where are you sourcing drawn tubes?  I'm not sure how you get to only $200 in materials using good slide tubes.


Thanks, I will have to try that.

The main tubes look like they'll just be various-sized brass tubes from Hobby Lobby etc. The brass for the outer slide will probably have to be worked a bit and the inner slide will most likely be plumbing pipe. I'm getting to $200 in materials because I only have $200 for materials. If I had money I would walk on over to Dillon Music and pay them thousands of dollars to make it for me. Yeah, RIGHT. Sadly I am limited to this and as long as the slide isn't like the one I played in fifth grade it works for me. Horrors!

As for Mr. Guttman... I think with my intentions now better illustrated it's more likely that it will cost even more time but will not likely break the bank.
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SilverBone
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« Reply #13 on: Oct 27, 2013, 08:22PM »

How about a PVC pipe trombone from Home Depot?  Likely cheaper than $200 and likely will play as well.
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constellations

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« Reply #14 on: Oct 27, 2013, 08:29PM »

PVC was my first though for the straight tubing.
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elmsandr

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« Reply #15 on: Oct 27, 2013, 08:31PM »

Thanks, I will have to try that.

The main tubes look like they'll just be various-sized brass tubes from Hobby Lobby etc. The brass for the outer slide will probably have to be worked a bit and the inner slide will most likely be plumbing pipe. I'm getting to $200 in materials because I only have $200 for materials. If I had money I would walk on over to Dillon Music and pay them thousands of dollars to make it for me. Yeah, RIGHT. Sadly I am limited to this and as long as the slide isn't like the one I played in fifth grade it works for me. Horrors!

As for Mr. Guttman... I think with my intentions now better illustrated it's more likely that it will cost even more time but will not likely break the bank.
That's not really going to work for a slide.  At all.  It will be fun to build and try, but it ain't gonna work.  So, just go forward with that in mind.  So, seriously, find the home grown tuba article from the T.U.B.A. journal, the guy built a tuba from a bell flare and a valve set.  Tell you step by step how to do it.  He does buy tools, however (draw rings are your friends).

Check this thread for the lead pipes. (Can a mod fix this to a link, I'm on a mobile):
http://tromboneforum.org/index.php/topic,70996.0/all.html

You will find that most commercially available hobby lobby and home despot material will be almost completely unsuitable for adequate musical instrument fabrication.  That's why places like Allied and Ferree's make a living in this stuff.

Best advice, if this isn't just a goof off experiment, get a job, or volunteer at a music store in the summer.  Lots of rental horns that need to be fixed and cleaned.  You will learn a lot about how to make a horn there, but still only scratching the surface.

And please, ask more questions.  Several of us here have made horns.  Some of us have even been paid to do it.

Oh, and I'm not sure you want to weld any of the joints.  Soldering is probably a better technique.

Cheers,
Andy
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Andrew Elms
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« Reply #16 on: Oct 27, 2013, 09:39PM »

I think it would be more fun to dissemble several old beat-up horns and reassemble the reconditioned parts in new combinations and finishes.  That way, you will learn a lot of metalworking, how trombones are made (correctly), and will ultimately be more rewarding.  You have horns that play well.  Starting from scrath, you most likely won't...

Just my 2 cents.
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« Reply #17 on: Oct 27, 2013, 09:56PM »

I'm all for the DIY attitude, but it's like trying to make a working TV without a kit.

If you're making them more or less for fun, then go for it!

If you're looking to make a trombone you can legitimately play, save your cash and buy used.
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« Reply #18 on: Oct 28, 2013, 01:56AM »

From your profile I see that you are a relatively youthful member of the forum and that should constructively colour the responses people make to you. Let me be the first to congratulate you for wanting to try to be so constructive, for having a goal and working towards it.  Good! You'll certainly learn something along the way.

 Clever A trombone is a relatively simple instrument in concept, in practice a lot of clever people over many man hours (man years even) have researched and experimented to get that simple instrument to sound good. Whilst having a go in the workshop still research and try to understand what they did to produce reasonable sounding and playing instruments.   

If I was doing what you are doing (which I think could be fun) I'd look at the project differently. Break down what you are trying to achieve into smaller goals that you complete as you work through the project, be prepared to change your end goal a few times and have available several different routes towards that end goal.

Start off by progressively building practical instrument making skills through repairing them. Get hold of some cheap old trombones. Knock out the dents, straighten the slides, refurbish the stockings (what did we use before plated slides?), resolder leaking joints and polish the trombone up before deciding whether to lacquer or not. See if you can build something decent from a few (preferably identical) 'worn out' trombones. Then see if you can split a gash trombone into its parts (individual tubes), reform or replace what's damaged and rebuild the trombone with all the parts in alignment. (To do just that would be one hell of an achievement!) Keep any parts left from your repairs/experimentation as, in some way, they'll come in handy sooner or later.

Next, look at the original sackbuts' manufacturing methods. It will have been low tech and they got something to work. See how that translates to making a basic trombone. See what skills you can transfer from plumbing (pipes are bent on/in a hand powered former and collapse is stopped by inserting a flexible sprung support) and tin plate / sheet metal work.

After that go back to the gash trombones but this time with valves. See what can you salvage and build into something more playable. Eventually you will be able to build something to play, you might not have taken the most economic route to that goal but the experience and knowledge you gain on route could, in several ways, also serve you well. Good luck.  :)

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« Reply #19 on: Oct 28, 2013, 02:20AM »

i  built a  trombone  in metals class    from copper sheet
  brazed  the  tubes length wise  drew thru  a  wooden draw  block
   bell flare not spun  -bows  pitch filled and bent
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mouthpiece --made from sterling sheet
---------
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