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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentInstruments(Moderators: tbone62, slide advantage) Elkhart-made Holton TR181 bass trombone report
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armjstp

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« on: Apr 30, 2016, 03:46PM »

Holton has been completely integrated into Conn-Selmer portfolio for years. The production was moved to Conn-Selmer's Vincent Bach division in Elkhart, IN.  This is a short report, but photo-heavy. Let's see what's changed after Conn-Selmer buyout.

1. No more chrome-plated slide cork barrel. The material has also changed from brass to nickel-silver. Lacquered

2. Slide lock ring is now lacquered nickel-silver

3. Outer slide is interchangeable with Bach 50. The width is exact.

4. New barrel shape inner slide stocking

5. Slide crook guard has changed from Holton design to Bach. Bach crook, too?

6. Bell lock nut is now nickel-silver

7. Model and serial number engraving has changed a bit. The engraving is now deeper and more uniform

8. Rotor number is clearly engraved

9. Finally Holton correctly engrave slide model number. No more slide production sequence, however

10. New Bach-style case with dual handles. New "Holton" logo on bell and case

11. Comes with Bach rebadged "Holton" 1 1/2G with classic Holton logo
« Last Edit: May 01, 2016, 08:13AM by armjstp » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: Apr 30, 2016, 03:50PM »

What will the photos of it be like?
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« Reply #2 on: Apr 30, 2016, 03:51PM »










« Last Edit: May 02, 2016, 07:25AM by armjstp » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: Apr 30, 2016, 04:39PM »















« Last Edit: May 02, 2016, 07:28AM by armjstp » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: Apr 30, 2016, 04:42PM »

















« Last Edit: May 02, 2016, 07:32AM by armjstp » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: Apr 30, 2016, 04:44PM »

Looks good IMO. Of course sad to see more Holton parts going away.
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« Reply #6 on: Apr 30, 2016, 07:47PM »

How does it play?...
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« Reply #7 on: Apr 30, 2016, 08:04PM »

Plays OK with original slide. Pretty tight, focus, and with more resistance. Put Bach slide on...BOOM! XENO slide on...BOOM! Much, much better than original slide and even better than my school's 50B. I bet the original lead pipe sucks. Only big TR181 drawback is not rotor, but leadpipe. Jupiter XO bass use small rotor, too, but not stuffy at all.

Outer slide is Bach exact width, plus new Bach crook guard probably mean TR181 now use Bach 50B crook? Just my guess.

Slide action is amazing. Better than Yamaha. Thanks to the new inner tubes, (and better Stradivarius workforce?)
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« Reply #8 on: Apr 30, 2016, 10:39PM »

Bach and Holton slides are the same width.  The crooks are slightly different shapes, the Holtons are a bit squarer than bachs.

Benn
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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2016, 05:56AM »

Take note that the F attachment left thumb spatula is attached to the brace so that it is operated to the RIGHT of the left thumb.


EXACTLY like the old Elkhart Conns.
If you've ever played an Elkie you'll know that it is effortless to hold, and it plays much better than other horns for a simple ergonomic reason-- when you engage the valve only the tip of the thumb moves. You don't have some long floppy attachment fulcrum shifting the whole horn on your chops.

Thanks for the photos-- they really "take me back". The old plastic/nylon linkages on the valves! WOW! If you wanted those in the day you had to go to the hobby store- buy the correct plastic Revell plastic model of an armoured tank, and salvage the model plastic parts to use on your horn!

I also note that the valves and tubing are recessed BEHIND the head. No bulging into the neck.....like a Thayer valve on the modern horns.

You can hold this horn.
It is a time travel marvel.
Seriously, if I didn't already have a bass I'd short list this one in my top three choices just because you can hold it and blow it with a human body, not a body that has to be painfully adapted to fit some bean-counter's dream up at Conn-Selmer HQ!
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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2016, 06:05AM »

Too bad the horn is still overly braced.
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2016, 06:57AM »

Yes, wgw, I see your point. By modern standards it is. It is convoluted, and would be a nightmare to work on for repair.

That said, it is still a Holton. If you don't want a Holton, don't buy a Holton. hah hhhahha

I'd be willing to bet that if you stuck to the 1 1/2G sized mouthpiece, that is about as large as Holton offered back in the day, you'd find the over-bracing a comfort to you. I owned a TR-180 in a city that had three or four TR-180 players working. This was in the day when Conn had moved to Abilene, so no Abilenes need apply for work, or could be found, and Bach horns were impossible to find.
You had to play a used Holton, because that was what was available.

I think that if you play "time machine" with a Tr-181 it would work. Nothing bigger than a 1 1/2G on it. When Van Haney was still doing the R&D for both King, and Holton, he eventually adopted the BENGE 1 1/2G as his personal mouthpiece, because they were a smidge larger than a stock Bach model. The 1 1/4 hadn't been invented yet, and the Benge 1 1/2G was a clone of a Mount Vernon 1 1/2G....which can be sometimes larger than a modern 1 1/2G.
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2016, 07:06AM »

In regards lever geometry, there is no inherent improvement in simply having the lever go under your thumb, like the Elkhart Conn's, as opposed to over. Good lever action is dependent and good lever geometry and execution. Have you ever played a Mt Vernon-very early Elkhart Bach? They had a lever that goes under the thumb, just like Conn and this Holton, but the lever was so poorly designed that the throw was extraordinarily long, and the instrument was very difficult to hold. Sure people made it work, but ergonomics were not really much concern back then....
FWIW.
M
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« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2016, 07:22AM »

The advantage, to my way of thinking, having switched from Bach, after 25+ years, to Elkhart Conn 15 years ago, is that the left hand can remain closed when using the lever to the right of the thumb.


Throw distance aside----instead of having a fulcrum floating in mid-air( Bach style), and having the balance point of the horn shift on the chops, and in mid-air, with the Conn system the tip of the thumb shifts forward and THE HAND REMAINS CLOSED IN A FIST.

Now, I'll admit that I have not used a double valve with the Conn system, and the left middle finger in play on valve #2, but it has to be a mechanical and ergonomic bonus to keep as much of the left hand in a fixed position, WITHOUT that fulcrum in mid air.

Again, Horn Builder, I haven't used one personally, so I defer to your experience, but I have always enjoyed more having the left hand remain as fixed as possible, to reduce the shift, and reduce the shift on the chops.
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« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2016, 08:23AM »

In regards lever geometry, there is no inherent improvement in simply having the lever go under your thumb, like the Elkhart Conn's, as opposed to over. Good lever action is dependent and good lever geometry and execution. Have you ever played a Mt Vernon-very early Elkhart Bach? They had a lever that goes under the thumb, just like Conn and this Holton, but the lever was so poorly designed that the throw was extraordinarily long, and the instrument was very difficult to hold. Sure people made it work, but ergonomics were not really much concern back then....
FWIW.
M

Matt, the Mt. Vernon 50B2 had two under-the-thumb levers which was even more cumbersome.
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« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2016, 08:35AM »

Yes, wgw, I see your point. By modern standards it is. It is convoluted, and would be a nightmare to work on for repair.

That said, it is still a Holton. If you don't want a Holton, don't buy a Holton. hah hhhahha

I'd be willing to bet that if you stuck to the 1 1/2G sized mouthpiece, that is about as large as Holton offered back in the day, you'd find the over-bracing a comfort to you. I owned a TR-180 in a city that had three or four TR-180 players working. This was in the day when Conn had moved to Abilene, so no Abilenes need apply for work, or could be found, and Bach horns were impossible to find.
You had to play a used Holton, because that was what was available.

I think that if you play "time machine" with a Tr-181 it would work. Nothing bigger than a 1 1/2G on it. When Van Haney was still doing the R&D for both King, and Holton, he eventually adopted the BENGE 1 1/2G as his personal mouthpiece, because they were a smidge larger than a stock Bach model. The 1 1/4 hadn't been invented yet, and the Benge 1 1/2G was a clone of a Mount Vernon 1 1/2G....which can be sometimes larger than a modern 1 1/2G.

FYI I play a MV 1 and 1/2G. I also play a TR 180 with a 9 and -/2 inch bell. The original 181 is overbraced. This one looks overbraced. I bet if I use my trusty 1 and 1/2G it will still be overbraced. There is NO comparison between a good 180, 185, or 169 and any 181.

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« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2016, 08:43AM »

FWIW, I don't have experience with that many bass trombone valve mechanism designs (just three), but I found the Elkorn (really a shame to have to actually clarify that) levers on a 1993 TR181 were very easy to hold the horn and operate both valves.  However, I have had great success in making Bach 50's easier to hold and operate using Mike Olsen's (Westside Machine Tool - Instrument Innovations, located in good ol' Elkorn, Wisconsin) "Trombone Ax Handle."  Similar to an Edwards Bullet Brace but less expensive.  Using the Ax Handle the instrument can be supported by the hand while leaving the fingers operating the valve levers positioned comfortably with no responsibility for carrying weight. In addition, Mike is a pleasure to work with and a true professional with plenty of inventions and great ideas for the future. When I paid him a visit a few months ago, he asked me to bring my Holton TR181 so he could verify the support column diameter measurement, even though the Handle i was picking up was for a Bach, so he knows the proper bracket, at least for the Elkorn 181s.
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« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2016, 08:48AM »

Take note that the F attachment left thumb spatula is attached to the brace so that it is operated to the RIGHT of the left thumb.


EXACTLY like the old Elkhart Conns.
If you've ever played an Elkie you'll know that it is effortless to hold, and it plays much better than other horns for a simple ergonomic reason-- when you engage the valve only the tip of the thumb moves. You don't have some long floppy attachment fulcrum shifting the whole horn on your chops.

I don't think most players hold the horn that way. Normally, the receiver would rest against the pad at the base of your thumb, and the last 3 fingers wrap around the slide brace. The thumb does not bear any of the weight of the instrument; it is able to move freely so that it doesn't matter on which side the thumb lever is hinged. The movement of the thumb is completely independent from the ergonomics of holding the horn up. When I play, I can lift my thumb completely off the lever so that it isn't touching anything at all. If moving my thumb made the whole horn shift on my face, that indeed would be a problem. Amazed But everyone's different, so what works for one person may not work for another.
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« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2016, 09:35AM »

I'd say the horn ergonomic is very good, at least to me. Especially when compare to TR180 or Bach 50. Triggers throw are surprisingly short and I like the slide braces position. Bell section is heavy probably because of all those braces, but the side is very light, so the balance is great. Bach 50B has overly light bell section but heavy slide, so it is harder to hold.
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« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2016, 11:14AM »

Quite so, Blowero.

Personally, myself, I never even considered it until I owned a single valve olds-school Elkhart Conn. The old Elkhart 88H is the same as the 72H/70H/60H/62H.

The difference comes into play when you do have the three spare fingers wrapped around the slide braces. On a double valve horn there are only two fingers involved there-- one remains free to activate the second valve.

I guess what I was trying to get at, is that if you just hold your hand in the air-- without the horn on you-- just the arm in the air so you can see it clearly, do the following experiment.
1. Rapidly move your middle finger and thumb in a crazy pattern violently, without pattern.
2. Watch your bare forearm....you can see the tendons going like mad.
3. Repeat the experiment and look for motion in the wrist-- it might be there.
4. Repeat the whole thing with a horn in you hand and look for motion in the wrist, that motion will indicate pulling on the chops.

Now-- do the experiment with JUST THE TIP of the left thumb rotating forward a bit-- like on an Elkhart Conn:
1. Watch the forearm tendons. See? Almost nothing. Almost no motion.

Regardless of throw distance on the valve, the less motion you do with the thumb, or fingers, the less motion there will be in the forearm.

da footbone connected to da ankle bone..and so on, until the footbone is connected to the embouchre bone.
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« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2016, 03:50PM »

Quite so, Blowero.

Personally, myself, I never even considered it until I owned a single valve olds-school Elkhart Conn. The old Elkhart 88H is the same as the 72H/70H/60H/62H.

The difference comes into play when you do have the three spare fingers wrapped around the slide braces. On a double valve horn there are only two fingers involved there-- one remains free to activate the second valve.

I guess what I was trying to get at, is that if you just hold your hand in the air-- without the horn on you-- just the arm in the air so you can see it clearly, do the following experiment.
1. Rapidly move your middle finger and thumb in a crazy pattern violently, without pattern.
2. Watch your bare forearm....you can see the tendons going like mad.
3. Repeat the experiment and look for motion in the wrist-- it might be there.
4. Repeat the whole thing with a horn in you hand and look for motion in the wrist, that motion will indicate pulling on the chops.

Now-- do the experiment with JUST THE TIP of the left thumb rotating forward a bit-- like on an Elkhart Conn:
1. Watch the forearm tendons. See? Almost nothing. Almost no motion.

Regardless of throw distance on the valve, the less motion you do with the thumb, or fingers, the less motion there will be in the forearm.

da footbone connected to da ankle bone..and so on, until the footbone is connected to the embouchre bone.

Don't see what Elkhart Conn has to do with how many joints you use to move your thumb. Don't know Like I said, the weight of the trombone rests on the fleshy pad at the base of my thumb, and the bottom fingers that are wrapped around the brace, and I believe this is how most, but certainly not all, players hold the trombone. For purposes of how the grip works, the lever may as well be floating in mid air, because it is not bearing any of the weight of the instrument against my hand. Doesn't matter which side of the thumb it is hinged on. I think how much of your thumb bends when you operate the lever is a function of the throw, and Elkhart Conns do seem to have a slightly shorter throw in front (MUCH shorter when compared to a Mt. Vernon Bach), and the pivot point is further toward the mouthpiece, due to the way the hinge is soldered onto the bell receiver.

When I wiggle my fingers, my arm does not move, unless I want it to. I see tendon activity whether I bend my thumb at the first joint or the second joint. Personally, I get more fatigued playing my Elkhart 88H than playing my Bach. The odd short throw and the placement of the lever so far to the right isn't as comfortable to me as the Bach design. Different strokes for different folks, I guess...
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« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2016, 05:33PM »

Again, it is all determined by where things are. Where the pivot point is in relation to the joints in your thumb, is a "big" influence on how the lever works. The length of the lever on both sides of the fulcrum is also crucial. If there is something "off" in any of those items, the lever will not work at it's optimum.

Of course, not everyone has the same hand geometry, and I have seen some pretty weird ways of holding a trombone...

M
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« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2016, 07:38AM »

That's strange. No one got excited about lacquered nickel-silver cork barrel. Easier to service.

 :D
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« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2016, 08:12AM »

Quite so, Blowero.

Personally, myself, I never even considered it until I owned a single valve olds-school Elkhart Conn. The old Elkhart 88H is the same as the 72H/70H/60H/62H.

The difference comes into play when you do have the three spare fingers wrapped around the slide braces. On a double valve horn there are only two fingers involved there-- one remains free to activate the second valve.

I guess what I was trying to get at, is that if you just hold your hand in the air-- without the horn on you-- just the arm in the air so you can see it clearly, do the following experiment.
1. Rapidly move your middle finger and thumb in a crazy pattern violently, without pattern.
2. Watch your bare forearm....you can see the tendons going like mad.
3. Repeat the experiment and look for motion in the wrist-- it might be there.
4. Repeat the whole thing with a horn in you hand and look for motion in the wrist, that motion will indicate pulling on the chops.

Now-- do the experiment with JUST THE TIP of the left thumb rotating forward a bit-- like on an Elkhart Conn:
1. Watch the forearm tendons. See? Almost nothing. Almost no motion.

Regardless of throw distance on the valve, the less motion you do with the thumb, or fingers, the less motion there will be in the forearm.

da footbone connected to da ankle bone..and so on, until the footbone is connected to the embouchre bone.
Still doesn't explain how for the same motion (turning a valve 90 degrees or so) with the same length lever arms (or close enough), that you come up with radically different motions for the tip of the thumb.  Maybe some pictures would help your cause here.

I have several horns in several configurations.  A well placed lever is vital to your point.  Over or under the thumb is not (in my experience).  Heck, I even really like the Hagmann option that is anchored above and below.  Much better to keep side load off of the assembly, as an engineer.  Of course it also increases the moving mass, but that is a different problem.

Cheers,
Andy
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« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2016, 05:19PM »

I used the Elkhart analogy mostly because likely all of us have seen one, or played one.
On a Bach the fulcrum works forward and DOWN, because it is located to the left of the thumb.
On a Conn the throw is shorter and still forward, and down, but it is smack upside the slide, so it is easier to close the interior of the left hand ( a fist?)and still operate it with just the tip of the thumb.

The problem, as with all double valve modern horns, is that the left middle finger does not hold the horn... hence my experiment to show how flopping both thumb and finger will cause more movement.

Yes, if you concentrate on keeping everything as still as possible, and having as little motion as possible, it isn't a problem..but in "the heat of battle" things do move more. Watch in a large mirror for movement of the bell while you play a prepared memorized orchestral except for example.

And, of course, no two thumbs are the same, no two hands are the same, and every horn is built with some long lost player the R&D was done for long gone.
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« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2016, 05:45PM »

I used the Elkhart analogy mostly because likely all of us have seen one, or played one.
On a Bach the fulcrum works forward and DOWN, because it is located to the left of the thumb.
On a Conn the throw is shorter and still forward, and down, but it is smack upside the slide, so it is easier to close the interior of the left hand ( a fist?)and still operate it with just the tip of the thumb.

The problem, as with all double valve modern horns, is that the left middle finger does not hold the horn... hence my experiment to show how flopping both thumb and finger will cause more movement.

Yes, if you concentrate on keeping everything as still as possible, and having as little motion as possible, it isn't a problem..but in "the heat of battle" things do move more. Watch in a large mirror for movement of the bell while you play a prepared memorized orchestral except for example.

And, of course, no two thumbs are the same, no two hands are the same, and every horn is built with some long lost player the R&D was done for long gone.
Take some pictures. I don't get it. I have two horns next to me, one over one under the thumb. My hand is in the exact same place on both. The center line of the fulcrum of the levers is probably within 1/8" of each other relative to my hand position. The throw is longer on my under thumb one, but that is due to valve style.  I just don't get your description of the geometry.

Cheers,
Andy
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« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2016, 06:39PM »

If I hold a 70H a certain way, I can kind of see what Bonesmarsh is saying. Of course, that's all negated by the horrible balance of a TIS with no counterweight.
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« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2016, 06:51PM »

"On a Bach the fulcrum works forward and DOWN, because it is located to the left of the thumb.
On a Conn the throw is shorter and still forward, and down, but it is smack upside the slide,"

????

No, A Bach lever throw is longer because the proportions of the lever make it so. Also why a Conn lever throw is shorter. It has NOTHING to do with over or under the thumb!!

M
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« Reply #28 on: May 02, 2016, 08:39PM »

There is no doubt that the Holton is a 'sexy' looking horn.  I love the look of it, with all that complex looking tubing bends and the lovely color of the bell.  Irresistible eye candy for sure.  And the price is not bad at all.

When I played one in September '15 I disliked 2 things about it.  First and by far foremost, while it sounded really decent straight, it got a bit stuffy on the triggers, especially in D.  I personally could get better response and sound from several other horns in the trigger and double trigger ranges.  Second, and this is admittedly just a nit pick, but how the heck do you lube' those vinyl covered ball joints effectively?

Out of 10 instruments I tested, it came in 4th.

It is beautiful though, isn't it?

Just a note on the trigger thing.  I have played (for reasonable lengths of time) various Bachs, Conns, Kings, Blessings, Olds, and now Jupiter with 'F' attachments (and more) and for the life of me, I can't really see what all the fuss is about.  Yeah, they are all a bit different, but it is really incidental to playing the trombone.  Adapt!  When I'm in the middle of a musically impressive section, a complex piece or playing a solo, the fulcrum of the trigger is the furthest thing from my mind.
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« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2016, 08:57PM »

Delete, SVP.
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« Reply #30 on: May 03, 2016, 06:56AM »

That stuffiness you felt is not uncommon on the 181. My previous points still stands. Every 181 is overbraced. Removing some of the bracing and moving others makes a huge difference. If The manufacturer actually did R&D they could make the changes and actually make them better and sell some horns.
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« Reply #31 on: May 03, 2016, 06:57AM »

I wonder how well aligned the valves were? Did all the solder joints seal in the valve section??

M
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« Reply #32 on: May 03, 2016, 07:01AM »

I wonder how well aligned the valves were? Did all the solder joints seal in the valve section??

M

I am happy to check those for you, but you have to tell me how  :D
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« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2016, 07:41AM »

I wonder how well aligned the valves were? Did all the solder joints seal in the valve section??

M

If your talking about the one I tried last September, it was nearly new and was being used by the bass trombonist of a large Chicago area concert band.  Not sure on the alignment of the valves, but if that is a concern on new Holtons, then that could have been a problem.  I'm pretty sure no leaks had developed yet, unless that too is a concern with new Holtons.  If those are two going concerns with new Holtons, then I'm doubly glad I decided to buy the XO and not the Holton.
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« Reply #34 on: May 03, 2016, 10:20AM »

That stuffiness you felt is not uncommon on the 181. My previous points still stands. Every 181 is overbraced. Removing some of the bracing and moving others makes a huge difference. If The manufacturer actually did R&D they could make the changes and actually make them better and sell some horns.
Yeah, the number of braces on the horn is almost comical.  I thought my YBL-612 RII had a lot of braces, until I saw the TR181. There have to be 9 braces, not including the attachment points to the gooseneck and bell. The brace with the holton logo is completely superfluous, and there are two braces holding together each valve slide, and two braces holding them together.
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« Reply #35 on: May 03, 2016, 11:03AM »

The brace with the holton logo is completely superfluous

That logo always used to remind me of those plastic model kits where they mold the parts with little tabs connecting them.
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« Reply #36 on: May 03, 2016, 11:12AM »

I've got a TR181 from 2013 that is very similar if not identical to this.  I bought it used.  I would not buy one new.  They need some tweaking to make right.  It has a great sound, though.

Like for example, the rotor stop bumpers... If you look close, you'll see that the stop arm pin hits the bumpers not in the middle but on the outer edges, so it will chew up the bumpers.  I had to stretch and grind down the stop plate so things would line up better. (Thanks to Eric for the idea!)

I also had to have the valves reseated by my tech so they were less leaky and have less wiggle.

My next two mods are: swap in a shires B62 slide and get the rotor valve ports opened up.  Should have all of that done this month.  At that point, it should be a real playing machine and without a ton of money into it.
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« Reply #37 on: May 03, 2016, 11:25AM »

The brace with the holton logo is completely superfluous

I love that thing to death, though. It instantly make the horn "look" more expensive and special  :D
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« Reply #38 on: Sep 22, 2016, 03:48AM »

I've dug this thread up while researching cheaper bass bones to add to my stable, possibly. No Shires and Theins for me.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like new Selmer/Steinway/UMI/Holton/The Borg hasn't corrected long-standing criticisms of the 181 design. Roughly in order of importance:-

1) The leadpipe is a load of crap, hence the slide swap for a Bach 50 being a big improvement.
2) The valve design was obsolete decades ago and they still haven't changed it.
3) Bracing on the bell and valve section is ridiculous. You could and probably should lose 5 or 6 of them, and move two others, by my count.
4) A 9.5" bell would be better.

The horn doesn't have charm or character in the sound to make up for the problems, like you'd find in a King DG or old Conns. So buying one used that's already had the mods is the only sensible way to go. Is this a fair summing-up?
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« Reply #39 on: Sep 22, 2016, 04:50AM »

I've dug this thread up while researching cheaper bass bones to add to my stable, possibly. No Shires and Theins for me.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like new Selmer/Steinway/UMI/Holton/The Borg hasn't corrected long-standing criticisms of the 181 design. Roughly in order of importance:-

1) The leadpipe is a load of crap, hence the slide swap for a Bach 50 being a big improvement.
2) The valve design was obsolete decades ago and they still haven't changed it.
3) Bracing on the bell and valve section is ridiculous. You could and probably should lose 5 or 6 of them, and move two others, by my count.
4) A 9.5" bell would be better.

The horn doesn't have charm or character in the sound to make up for the problems, like you'd find in a King DG or old Conns. So buying one used that's already had the mods is the only sensible way to go. Is this a fair summing-up?

Yes!
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« Reply #40 on: Sep 22, 2016, 04:58AM »

I've dug this thread up while researching cheaper bass bones to add to my stable, possibly. No Shires and Theins for me.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like new Selmer/Steinway/UMI/Holton/The Borg hasn't corrected long-standing criticisms of the 181 design. Roughly in order of importance:-

1) The leadpipe is a load of crap, hence the slide swap for a Bach 50 being a big improvement.
2) The valve design was obsolete decades ago and they still haven't changed it.
3) Bracing on the bell and valve section is ridiculous. You could and probably should lose 5 or 6 of them, and move two others, by my count.
4) A 9.5" bell would be better.

The horn doesn't have charm or character in the sound to make up for the problems, like you'd find in a King DG or old Conns. So buying one used that's already had the mods is the only sensible way to go. Is this a fair summing-up?

Well, all of that is just an opinion.  A well researched, thought out, and commonly held opinion.

Cheers,
Andy
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« Reply #41 on: Sep 22, 2016, 09:10AM »

From the line on the bell shown in the photos, is this a one-piece bell?  Didn't Elkorn Holtons always have a two-piece bells?

Despite the negativity some have toward the TR181, it has plenty of fans and is a classic design.  The more it is messed with, the more it becomes part of what is becoming a growing amorphous set of new designs lacking character and pedigree.  I think would be interesting is hear more of the specifics of mods that have  brought improvements.  For example, I have heard that replacing the lead pipe with a BrassArk replica is bank.  What specific changes to the bracing has been tried successfully?
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« Reply #42 on: Sep 22, 2016, 02:28PM »

Well, all of that is just an opinion.  A well researched, thought out, and commonly held opinion.

Cheers,
Andy

Some of that, though, would require large amounts of retooling and completely change the character of the trombone, to a new model. Especially the bell... if you were to put a Conn or Bach 9.5" bell on it, a Bach slide (part of HOLTON is the nickel silver slide) and swap out the valves for a Bach or Conn set... do you really still have a Holton?

Swapping around the bracing is one thing, but if what you really want is a 50B3O......... buy a 50B3O.

Regarding the "valve design" (I'm guessing you mean valve wraps)... meh. There's major tradeoffs with both the open-wrap and closed-wrap layouts, and I'm not convinced that the supposed benefits would justify the retooling cost. Open wrap looks more open, but in my experience... that's about it.
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« Reply #43 on: Sep 22, 2016, 03:29PM »

Some of that, though, would require large amounts of retooling and completely change the character of the trombone, to a new model. Especially the bell... if you were to put a Conn or Bach 9.5" bell on it, a Bach slide (part of HOLTON is the nickel silver slide) and swap out the valves for a Bach or Conn set... do you really still have a Holton?

Swapping around the bracing is one thing, but if what you really want is a 50B3O......... buy a 50B3O.

Regarding the "valve design" (I'm guessing you mean valve wraps)... meh. There's major tradeoffs with both the open-wrap and closed-wrap layouts, and I'm not convinced that the supposed benefits would justify the retooling cost. Open wrap looks more open, but in my experience... that's about it.

Fair points. It's the Ship of Theseus again.

There are 9.5" red brass bells made by Holton aren't there? One of those might work nicely, but a half inch difference right at the end of the instrument isn't going to make a dramatic change.

Much more important in the design is the leadpipe. I have very little experience with Holtons, although I have played a 181 for a bit, years ago. Others will know more than me but apparently there is some design flaw in the leadpipe that throws the whole blow of the horn out of whack.

I didn't mean the valve wraps, I meant the rotors. Leaving aside Hagmann and Thayer valves, progress has been made on rotor valves. Greenhoe, Yamaha, Kanstul and others make rotors with a few design advantages. The latest Holton has the same stone age rotors as it (and old Bach 50s) always had. And others have pointed out design flaws that result in wear, need for new parts etc.
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« Reply #44 on: Sep 22, 2016, 03:56PM »

I didn't mean the valve wraps, I meant the rotors. Leaving aside Hagmann and Thayer valves, progress has been made on rotor valves. Greenhoe, Yamaha, Kanstul and others make rotors with a few design advantages. The latest Holton has the same stone age rotors as it (and old Bach 50s) always had. And others have pointed out design flaws that result in wear, need for new parts etc.
You might be interested in knowing that the late Mike Suter, when working with Kanstul to design a signature horn in the mold of Holton, convinced them to go to the effort to fabricate "old-style" non-vented rotors, because the lack of them, to his mind, sank the horn. He felt that the distinct "pop" when hitting the valves was an important part of the sound.
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« Reply #45 on: Sep 23, 2016, 01:20AM »

Fair points. It's the Ship of Theseus again.

There are 9.5" red brass bells made by Holton aren't there? One of those might work nicely, but a half inch difference right at the end of the instrument isn't going to make a dramatic change.

Much more important in the design is the leadpipe. I have very little experience with Holtons, although I have played a 181 for a bit, years ago. Others will know more than me but apparently there is some design flaw in the leadpipe that throws the whole blow of the horn out of whack.

I didn't mean the valve wraps, I meant the rotors. Leaving aside Hagmann and Thayer valves, progress has been made on rotor valves. Greenhoe, Yamaha, Kanstul and others make rotors with a few design advantages. The latest Holton has the same stone age rotors as it (and old Bach 50s) always had. And others have pointed out design flaws that result in wear, need for new parts etc.

Half an inch at the end of the bell can make a HUGE difference... especially with Holtons.... blow and sound change. There is not a lot wrong with Holton rotors apart from the cheapness of the construction and materials.... there is a lot of BS talked about rotors. I can get 181 rotors to blow much better, mostly with stay modification.... the details of which I will keep to myself. I have blown some very good early 181s and I have a student with a very good late Elkhorn example.
I have tried one Elkhart built modern 181 and it was dreadful.... a 181 shaped fraud of an instrument.... the owner was more than happy to 'upgrade' to a TR180 that I had modified to play very well.
Leadpipes.... early ones were fine. Later ones variable. Holton made some good pipes.... My daily drivers are both Holton 169 bell sections with late 1960's Holton 180 slides... both with their original pipes..... I tried about 20 aftermarket pipes in them and the originals were best.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #46 on: Sep 23, 2016, 05:01AM »

Half an inch at the end of the bell can make a HUGE difference... especially with Holtons.... blow and sound change. There is not a lot wrong with Holton rotors apart from the cheapness of the construction and materials.... there is a lot of BS talked about rotors. I can get 181 rotors to blow much better, mostly with stay modification.... the details of which I will keep to myself. I have blown some very good early 181s and I have a student with a very good late Elkhorn example.
I have tried one Elkhart built modern 181 and it was dreadful.... a 181 shaped fraud of an instrument.... the owner was more than happy to 'upgrade' to a TR180 that I had modified to play very well.
Leadpipes.... early ones were fine. Later ones variable. Holton made some good pipes.... My daily drivers are both Holton 169 bell sections with late 1960's Holton 180 slides... both with their original pipes..... I tried about 20 aftermarket pipes in them and the originals were best.

Chris Stearn

I've heard plenty of good bass trombone playing on 181s, which is, according to many, a "bad" horn. And I've heard lots of awful playing on expensive Edwards and the like. So errrr... hmmm.

Will you share your thoughts about the braces? It's not a secret is it?

And the 169 had a 9.5" bell, I believe. It is possible to make any comparisons with the 10" on the 181, or is the rest of the horn too different to be able to tell?

Do you think that some designs do better with this or that kind of valve because they are conceived with a particular valve section in mind? I'm thinking particularly of balancing the resistance and blow-feel between leadpipe, slide bow and valves, not forgetting the various sizes of mouthpiece the player might choose.
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« Reply #47 on: Sep 23, 2016, 05:07AM »

Half an inch at the end of the bell can make a HUGE difference... especially with Holtons.... blow and sound change. There is not a lot wrong with Holton rotors apart from the cheapness of the construction and materials.... there is a lot of BS talked about rotors. I can get 181 rotors to blow much better, mostly with stay modification.... the details of which I will keep to myself. I have blown some very good early 181s and I have a student with a very good late Elkhorn example.
I have tried one Elkhart built modern 181 and it was dreadful.... a 181 shaped fraud of an instrument.... the owner was more than happy to 'upgrade' to a TR180 that I had modified to play very well.
Leadpipes.... early ones were fine. Later ones variable. Holton made some good pipes.... My daily drivers are both Holton 169 bell sections with late 1960's Holton 180 slides... both with their original pipes..... I tried about 20 aftermarket pipes in them and the originals were best.

Chris Stearn

Chris I know we've talked about this at length: Most 185 or 180 pipes I have played on are not very good. I've played a couple of 169s with original pipes that I thought were great. The pipe that came in the 180 I play now was dreadful. However I know we're all different. Hopefully when we come to Scotland next year I'll get a chance to blow your wonderful instruments-if allowed!!!
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« Reply #48 on: Sep 23, 2016, 05:33AM »

Just to add some color from a non-pro but avid player...

I have a 181, from 2013.  Yes, it has some quirks, but on average, it plays well.  I got many compliments while it was my daily driver. Sure, I had the valves reseated by a tech so they were less leaky and I've pulled the leadpipe, so yeah, off the shelf, it's not as good as it could be, but I think it's just fine.  I also had to make some adjustments to the linkage so things wouldn't hit each other (the rod for the Gb valve would sometimes hit the rotor arm on the F valve if it was engaged before the Gb valve)

My main horn is a Shires now, and obviously it's 'better' in just about every way, but I still have no reservations taking out my Holton.

FWIW, my teacher preferred my playing on the 181 over my then previous horn, a Getzen 1062FDR w/ single bore slide.
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« Reply #49 on: Sep 28, 2016, 06:53AM »

Holton has been completely integrated into Conn-Selmer portfolio for years. The production was moved to Conn-Selmer's Vincent Bach division in Elkhart, IN.  This is a short report, but photo-heavy. Let's see what's changed after Conn-Selmer buyout.

1. No more chrome-plated slide cork barrel. The material has also changed from brass to nickel-silver. Lacquered

2. Slide lock ring is now lacquered nickel-silver

3. Outer slide is interchangeable with Bach 50. The width is exact.

4. New barrel shape inner slide stocking

5. Slide crook guard has changed from Holton design to Bach. Bach crook, too?

6. Bell lock nut is now nickel-silver

7. Model and serial number engraving has changed a bit. The engraving is now deeper and more uniform

8. Rotor number is clearly engraved

9. Finally Holton correctly engrave slide model number. No more slide production sequence, however

10. New Bach-style case with dual handles. New "Holton" logo on bell and case

11. Comes with Bach rebadged "Holton" 1 1/2G with classic Holton logo

SO...ACTUALLY, IT'S NOT A HOLTON !!!!!!!
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« Reply #50 on: Sep 09, 2017, 11:18PM »

Hi there.
I've just bought a tr 180.......
Amazing nick and a traditional flat e tuning...I won't be parting with it ever,
Could do with a d slide though.....made in 1977.
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« Reply #51 on: Sep 11, 2017, 10:37AM »

Hi there.
I've just bought a tr 180.......
Amazing nick and a traditional flat e tuning...I won't be parting with it ever,
Could do with a d slide though.....made in 1977.

Great! This thread was about the new 181. Totally different animal.
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