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Author Topic: My visit with Roy Lawler  (Read 21681 times)
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The Sheriff
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« on: Nov 14, 2015, 05:36PM »

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Hey all,

I just spent a day and a half with Roy Lawler at his beautiful home and shop in Shelbyville (Flat Creek) TN. His new horns are superb; an entirely different design than his early ones.

His design is influenced by the Martin Committee, in fact he showed me the 1947 Committee bell that he used as a pattern for his mandrel. Couple that with Roy's expert knowledge and you have one heck of a small bore (.500) trombone. The new horns are screw bell with a nice variety of options. Stems are available in 70/30 brass in .020 or .022, also 85/15 in .022 or .025.

The flares are available in sizes from 7 1/2 to 8 inches and they have a flat bead that is soldered, though he will do unsoldered too. No rim wire. You can get .020, .022, and .025 in 70/30 brass, 85/15 brass comes either .022 or .025. He will also do a 90/10 brass in .025.

The stem/bell sections he had available for my visit were a .020 70/30 with 70/30 neck pipe, 70/30 tuning slide bow and tuning slide inners. A .022 70/30 with nickel neck pipe and nickel tuning slide inners and a 70/30 tuning slide bow. And a .025 85/15 with a nickel neck pipe, 70/30 tuning slide inners and a 85/15 tuning slide bow.

The three hand slides he had were an all nickel, a nickel with brass bow, and an all brass. The all nickel slide provided you with very fast articulations and fast fluid slurs with a lot of pop. The all brass was warmer, creamier, and slightly veiled. The nickel with brass bow fell right in the middle. Lovely slides with excellent action.They have a very cool water key that is a direct copy of the Committee's from the 40's. Nice!

I brought several leadpipes, a Kanstul S, H6, W6, and a Bach 12. Roy had some 2 piece pipes from his old design horns and 1 one piece pipe with a large .420 venturi.

My everyday pipe in my Kanstul 1606 is the Kanstul H6 so that is what I used for most of the play testing. Though I did use a nice, albeit tight, 2 piece pipe that he had. He is going to re-design the lead pipes and do them as one piece pipes with a variety of venturi sizes ranging from .396, .405, .410, .415, and .420. They will all be approximately 8 inches in length.

Ok, the horns. Well it took Thursday night and all of Friday for me to arrive at the sound/feel I wanted. Every combination I played made me want to play and play and play. There is no better endorsement for a horn than that. Does it make you want to play? Yup. These did, except for one combination, and frankly I don't remember what that combination was. Before I forget, my target was to find a horn that was between my glorious 1935 Williams "L" and my Kanstul 1606 prototype. Both are GREAT horns but the Kanstul blows very big and I have to be in absolute top shape to get the most from it, especially when fatigued. The Williams "L" blows rather tight for a .522 though it has the most glorious sound known to mankind.

Preconceptions can often be misconceptions, and for me that held true. I thought the .020 70/30 stem was gonna be it. But it wasn't. It was nice with an 7 7/8" 85/15 flare but not quite what I wanted. On to the .022 stem with nickel neck and tuning slide inners. Ah, better but still not quite there. Keep in mind this took a long time because I was switching slides, flares, leadpipes, and going to my Kanstul and Williams for comparison. Finally on Saturday after many hours of playing we took a break, walked his beautiful property, something to drink and then back to the shop.

I had avoided the .025 85/15 stem, nickel neck, 85/15 tuning bow because of my preconception/misconception. So......that stem with a 7 1/2" 85/15 .022 flare, all nickel hand slide with H6 lead pipe and.........WOW! It was smack dab in the middle but leaning towards the Williams "L". What? Is this possible? Ok Ok. Lemme try the 7 7/8" flare in the same material. Nice, but didn't get up to speed as quickly as the 7 1/2". Ok, now the 7/7/8" 70/30 flare in .022. Ah, smack dab in the middle again but leaning more towards my Kanstul without the overly big blow required to keep the Kanstul lit up. This is amazing stuff my friends! Whew, I'm tired. I was on the road for nine hours coming home from Roy's before writing this.

Roy's horns are really something else. They are beautifully crafted and designed. I ordered a .025 85/15 stem with nickel neck pipe, 85/15 tuning slide bow, a 7 1/2" 85/15 .022 flare, another one just like it in 7 7/8" and a 7/7/8" 70/30. And an all nickel hand slide. It's amazing what just changing a flare does to the sound of the horn. Really really cool stuff. It will also come with a flat case that holds 2 flares. Okay, going to bed.

You can see his stuff at www.roylawlertrombones.com

Thanks

=====
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Scott Bentall-Freelance
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Lawler .500 bore
Kanstul 1606 (prototype)
Williams 6 (Bob)
1935 Williams "L" Arrowhead
Conn 71H
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« Reply #1 on: Nov 14, 2015, 05:50PM »


"Preconceptions can often be misconceptions"

Nicely put.
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The Sheriff
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« Reply #2 on: Nov 15, 2015, 06:07AM »

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A couple of things I forgot to mention. These horns are very character filled, easy to blow, easy to play, and easy to color.

The other thing is that Roy has decided to use a date code for the serial number. The day the instrument is invoiced will be the serial number. So if it was invoiced today, the serial number would be 111515. I like that idea because it will make it very easy for future owners to know the build date.

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Scott Bentall-Freelance
No pressure=No sound=No gigs
---------------------------------------------
Lawler .500 bore
Kanstul 1606 (prototype)
Williams 6 (Bob)
1935 Williams "L" Arrowhead
Conn 71H
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« Reply #3 on: Nov 15, 2015, 06:36AM »

The other thing is that Roy has decided to use a date code for the serial number. The day the instrument is invoiced will be the serial number. So if it was invoiced today, the serial number would be 111515. I like that idea because it will make it very easy for future owners to know the build date.

I guess he never plans to sell more than one horn per day...?

Great writeup-- thanks for posting it.  Hi
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The Sheriff
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« Reply #4 on: Nov 15, 2015, 06:39AM »

I guess he never plans to sell more than one horn per day...?

Great writeup-- thanks for posting it.  Hi

=====

Good one!

Thanks

=====
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Scott Bentall-Freelance
No pressure=No sound=No gigs
---------------------------------------------
Lawler .500 bore
Kanstul 1606 (prototype)
Williams 6 (Bob)
1935 Williams "L" Arrowhead
Conn 71H
Matt K

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« Reply #5 on: Nov 15, 2015, 07:03AM »

Wouldn't be hard to add 111515 - 1 and 111515 - 2 or something to that effect to the cork barrel on the off chance something was sold on the same day.
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MikeBMiller
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« Reply #6 on: Nov 15, 2015, 08:20AM »

Wow, those are beautiful instruments. That guy is only a 2 1/2 hour drive from me, but I never heard of him. And the price is no more than an off the shelf horn.

What is the lead time to get one of these?
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boneagain
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« Reply #7 on: Nov 15, 2015, 08:28AM »

Wouldn't be hard to add 111515 - 1 and 111515 - 2 or something to that effect to the cork barrel on the off chance something was sold on the same day.

After 30 years in the business, Mr. Lawler is making these one at a time. Can't see how he'd need MORE than one number per day :)
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Dave Adams
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The Sheriff
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« Reply #8 on: Nov 15, 2015, 01:13PM »

Wow, those are beautiful instruments. That guy is only a 2 1/2 hour drive from me, but I never heard of him. And the price is no more than an off the shelf horn.

What is the lead time to get one of these?
=====

Give him a call! I think lead time will be in the 6-8 week range. He makes trumpets too and they are his mainstay.

I had two of his earlier designs but over time ended up selling them. The 490 bore I had, which was the first one I got from him, I never should have sold. It was a sweet horn.

Roy's prices are very fair. It's just him doing the building and his wife does the books. Roy likes to keep it simple.

=====
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Scott Bentall-Freelance
No pressure=No sound=No gigs
---------------------------------------------
Lawler .500 bore
Kanstul 1606 (prototype)
Williams 6 (Bob)
1935 Williams "L" Arrowhead
Conn 71H
The Sheriff
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« Reply #9 on: Nov 15, 2015, 01:14PM »

After 30 years in the business, Mr. Lawler is making these one at a time. Can't see how he'd need MORE than one number per day :)

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You are correct, sir!

---
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Scott Bentall-Freelance
No pressure=No sound=No gigs
---------------------------------------------
Lawler .500 bore
Kanstul 1606 (prototype)
Williams 6 (Bob)
1935 Williams "L" Arrowhead
Conn 71H
The Sheriff
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« Reply #10 on: Nov 15, 2015, 01:49PM »

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Oh yeah, more stuff. If you look at the pics of the tuning slide cross braces on the opening page of his website, you will notice the braces are soldered with a traditional "foot" attachment. He no longer does this. He now brazes the cross braces and it makes a significant difference.

He had me play one that was soldered and then play one that was brazed. The brazed one had a much quicker response and the sound was more immediate. It was very obvious.

The counter weight is built into the tuning slide sleeves. They are machined from brass bar stock, honed and fit. Good stuff! Balance is excellent too. I love the un-knurled nut that he uses for the connector of hand slide to bell section. You don't miss the knurling and it's easy to cinch or un-cinch, not to mention that it adds to the very clean look of these simple and elegant looking trombones.

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Scott Bentall-Freelance
No pressure=No sound=No gigs
---------------------------------------------
Lawler .500 bore
Kanstul 1606 (prototype)
Williams 6 (Bob)
1935 Williams "L" Arrowhead
Conn 71H
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« Reply #11 on: Nov 15, 2015, 03:19PM »

I like the serial number scheme, except there will be a Y2k+100 problem.  :)
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The Sheriff
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« Reply #12 on: Nov 15, 2015, 04:17PM »

=====

And yet again.............More stuff.

Roy told me he will be coming out with a .508 hand slide in the very near future.

-------
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Scott Bentall-Freelance
No pressure=No sound=No gigs
---------------------------------------------
Lawler .500 bore
Kanstul 1606 (prototype)
Williams 6 (Bob)
1935 Williams "L" Arrowhead
Conn 71H
boneagain
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« Reply #13 on: Nov 15, 2015, 06:04PM »

I like the serial number scheme, except there will be a Y2k+100 problem.  :)

You are SO right!  He should be prepared... and use FIVE digit year numbers  Evil

That would save future musicologists SO much heartache :)
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Dave Adams
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« Reply #14 on: Nov 15, 2015, 08:52PM »

Good lord!

His prices are ridiculously low for hand-made custom instruments!

He must be doing this for the love of it, a true craftsman.  Has he any interest in doing a large bore with an F attachment?  I think the world would beat a 4 lane highway to his door.  (maybe a slight exaggeration)

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MikeBMiller
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« Reply #15 on: Nov 16, 2015, 05:58AM »

They don't have 4 lane highways in the Smoky mountains. Just gravel roads :D
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TromboneMonkey

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« Reply #16 on: Nov 16, 2015, 06:37AM »

Fascinating stuff!  What are your initial impressions about the horns' power and blend?

With such a unique horn I'm always wary about how it will fit into a section, but my Williams has no problems.  I've been pursuing a Williams-ish horn from which I can get some additional volume.  Could this be it?  I've recently played 3bs and like .508 horns but find that they don't sound nearly as pleasant as my Williams, but I need something for rock bands...
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« Reply #17 on: Nov 16, 2015, 06:45AM »

Fascinating stuff!  What are your initial impressions about the horns' power and blend?

With such a unique horn I'm always wary about how it will fit into a section, but my Williams has no problems.  I've been pursuing a Williams-ish horn from which I can get some additional volume.  Could this be it?  I've recently played 3bs and like .508 horns but find that they don't sound nearly as pleasant as my Williams, but I need something for rock bands...

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Depending on how a Lawler is set up you can get a huge palate of sounds/colors. The combination I am choosing has some of the qualities of my Williams "L" model which is nothing like the numbered models that Earl made in later years. I have no doubt that it will blend beautifully in the trombone sections that I play in.

====
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Scott Bentall-Freelance
No pressure=No sound=No gigs
---------------------------------------------
Lawler .500 bore
Kanstul 1606 (prototype)
Williams 6 (Bob)
1935 Williams "L" Arrowhead
Conn 71H
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« Reply #18 on: Nov 16, 2015, 07:13AM »

The Williams "L" blows rather tight for a .522 though it has the most glorious sound known to mankind.
I have one of those early "L's". TIS  Good!

T.
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« Reply #19 on: Nov 24, 2015, 11:08AM »

What does the nickel gooseneck do to the feel and sound as compared to brass gooseneck?
I am a big fan of Martin Comittee trombones. I am going to talk to Mr. Lawler about a custom small bore trombone
in the near future. I love to support persons with unique vision. The removable flares creates a lot
of flexibility! Congratulations to Mr Lawler!
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