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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentInstruments(Moderators: tbone62, slide advantage) Building a BBb Contrabass, a Photo Essay
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Slipmo

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« on: May 26, 2016, 12:12AM »

Hey all, I recently commissioned my good pal and fellow shop mate, Brad Close (Blowero on the forum) to build a BBb contrabass trombone for me. Inspired from the 1901 Conn BBb that was recently here at The Brass Ark and with beer involved, Brad accepted my wacky idea. We're doing a dependent valve version because... why not!  Evil

Anyway, parts are more or less all here now, scavenged from various sources and I thought it would be a fun project to document the process of Brad's build on here for all who are interested. It will probably be a while, as we've lots of leadpipe orders to fill and lots of repairs and other more important jobs in the pipeline, so I can't say how frequent I will update with new photos...but without further delay! Here are most of the slide parts, raw drawn tubing for bending, crooks, valves, bows and bell flare. Brad will fabricate all of the other necessary parts.

The inspiration:


The raw materials:


Hope you enjoy the photo essay!
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2016, 12:19AM »

Very cool, I'm highly interested as to how this will turn out!
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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2016, 05:30AM »

Ohhh..

I've been meaning to do this myself for a while.  Never bothered to plan it, though.

Source for flare and J bends?  Are they existing parts or special fab?

Cheers,
Andy
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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2016, 06:03AM »

DEFINITELY looking forward to the essay!!!!!

I hope it's not beer that you rent....8P


Thanks to you & Brad!!

Eric
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« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2016, 08:10AM »

Can't wait to see it!!
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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2016, 01:33PM »

And some more interesting stuff... measurements off one of the Minick BBb contras (#2, George Thatcher's original BBb). Brad is doing his own design for ours, but cool to see how others have done in the past.



Here's that Minick Contra (which I sold for George a few years ago)



Bell is a very early Miraphone contra prototype bell that I found in a pile of parts here in LA. It was never mounted. The J bends are also parts found in depositories. Slide tubes are from Conn. Drawn tubing is custom X large bore straight pipe sourced from one of my connections  Evil
The rotary valves are from Marcinkiewicz.

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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2016, 01:36PM »

Just hate the thought of that double slide....

Played a Mirafone BBb with a double slide a while back & it was FREAKIN AWFUL!!!!!!!!


Hope you guys can get around that!


Eric
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« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2016, 01:36PM »

We do expect to hear it played when it's all together.
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« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2016, 03:59PM »

Awesome project!  Any plans on making it a product offering?

Looks like you're short s mouthpiece receiver/upper cork barrel.
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« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2016, 07:45PM »

Just hate the thought of that double slide....

Played a Mirafone BBb with a double slide a while back & it was FREAKIN AWFUL!!!!!!!!


Hope you guys can get around that!


Eric


I know, Miraphone slides are terrible, but I think its the tubes they use, not necessarily the 4x slide tubes. Of course 4 tubes are incredibly hard to align and the weight of it makes it slow... but the 1901 Conn had original 115 year old raw brass inner slide tubes and it worked surprisingly well! Hopefully using beautiful Conn slide tubes will yield a decent 4x slide  Good!


Awesome project!  Any plans on making it a product offering?

Looks like you're short s mouthpiece receiver/upper cork barrel.

This one is just a single commission, so no plans to offer any kind of production models.

Good eye, Brad's gonna make that piece  Good! There are actually a lot of little pieces and braces not shown in my original photo (I didn't want to lose anything small while setting up the shot), as well as many parts to still be fabricated.
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« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2016, 12:02AM »

Good eye, Brad's gonna make that piece  Good! 
Guess again. Evil

That's a different part - upper cork barrel assembly with lock ring. So of course Conn/Selmer, in their infinite wisdom, couldn't possibly ship that in the same box with the other cork barrel assemblies that are made in the same factory. Don't know
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« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2016, 12:23AM »

I play a Haag carbon fiber slide on my bass trombone...extremely light outer slide!! It just occurred to me that maybe that would be a great Idea for a BBb Contra.
I realize that  you guys are going for a classic look but maybe someone else could pick up on that for future builds? :)

//Mattis
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« Reply #12 on: Jul 05, 2016, 12:42AM »

Brad has been making some progress. The handslide is almost fully together. Outer slide is done and he's finishing the inner slide soon and the return crook. I'll post a photo when its all done.



Sexy crossed crooks (we used some Brassark seamed crooks for this project):

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« Reply #13 on: Jul 05, 2016, 09:05AM »

But you could have made it TIS!!!    Evil
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« Reply #14 on: Jul 05, 2016, 09:23AM »

Here is a question for those who know far more than I do-anyone can answer.

Is there any reason why the cross-over on the hand slide should be at the bottom of the slide?

When Noah started this topic, my mind went into overdrive; how would I go about building this (if I had the cash, the tools and equipment and the time-just remembered, I am retired so I've got the time, damn)(oops, I forgot the skill-I will never have that :( )
My version came up with the cross-over at the hand grip, forming a semi-contoured brace similar to that on the Williams trombones and the Martin Urbie Green.

In the early 1900s, the Salvation Army made some BBb contras with the cross-over at the hand grip as shown in the pictures on Doug Yeo's site:-  http://www.yeodoug.com/articles/trombone_gallery/trombone_gallery.html  I had the opportunity to briefly play one of these in a now, sadly closed shop in Birmingham, UK some years ago. It was remarkably easy to manage but, because of the very narrow bore, not easy to play. I hope that the one Noah is building is bigger than the sub-0.500in bore and 8in bell that this one had. Eeek!

I will continue to follow this thread with interest.

Cheers

Stewbones
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« Reply #15 on: Jul 05, 2016, 10:38AM »

There are actually two,  one at each end.
The top crook, in the photo, isn't installed yet.



Eric
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« Reply #16 on: Jul 05, 2016, 10:57AM »

There are actually two,  one at each end.
The top crook, in the photo, isn't installed yet.



Eric


I think I see what Stewbones is getting at.

There needs to be one "diagonal" connection between tubes to move the path from the left slide to the right slide. Why make the diagonal connection at the end crooks? Why not make it at the handle? That way, the end crooks could be parallel to one another, allowing for more symmetry in the tubing of the outers?
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« Reply #17 on: Jul 05, 2016, 01:00PM »

I think I see what Stewbones is getting at.

There needs to be one "diagonal" connection between tubes to move the path from the left slide to the right slide. Why make the diagonal connection at the end crooks? Why not make it at the handle? That way, the end crooks could be parallel to one another, allowing for more symmetry in the tubing of the outers?

Yup! What he said.

Cheers

Stewbones
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« Reply #18 on: Jul 05, 2016, 06:25PM »

How does jazzbone do it?  I seem to remember he had a different crossover arrangement. 
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« Reply #19 on: Jul 05, 2016, 07:11PM »

How does jazzbone do it?  I seem to remember he had a different crossover arrangement. 
He crosses over at the handgrip with a floating section to allow more compliance.

Cheers,
Andy
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« Reply #20 on: Jul 05, 2016, 08:28PM »

Yup! What he said.

Cheers

Stewbones

Like this 1902 Robert Piering  Amazed

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« Reply #21 on: Jul 06, 2016, 04:06AM »

The Piering contrabass depicted is, if I recall, in 12' F with attachment to 18' B flat.
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« Reply #22 on: Jul 06, 2016, 06:57AM »

Doesn't change the fact that the slide crooks are parallel rather than crossed.

Since the crooks on the old Conn were crossed and that was the model, I don't see why you couldn't use the same pattern.

Crossed crooks will allow the mouthpiece and connector to be closer to the bell.  Is this important?  I don't know.
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« Reply #23 on: Jul 06, 2016, 07:45AM »

IMHO,  crossed or parallel crooks won't matter unless you're REALLY into asthetics.  Then you can have it built to your liking at your expense.

Also,  I don't think the mouthpiece position in relation to the bell would change much with either config.



Eric


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« Reply #24 on: Jul 06, 2016, 09:12AM »

For the sake of comparison of different slide configurations, here's Robb Stewart's page on how he made Bill Reichenbach's contrabass:

http://www.robbstewart.com/OtherProjects/ContraBassTrombones.html
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« Reply #25 on: Aug 05, 2016, 11:00PM »

Hi guys,

Here are some photo updates! Brad's been making some progress.

Quad slide alignment! You could almost play blue bells on it Amazed


Bell mockup:


The big bow is too wide, Brad rebent it to a more friendly shape:


Finished back bow, with ferrule on the bell:


More coming soon!
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« Reply #26 on: Aug 15, 2016, 11:03AM »

Bending the copper tuning slide:



Finished coil and tuning slide crooks:


Finished tuning slide with legs:


Getting closer to hearing what this thing sounds like  Evil
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« Reply #27 on: Aug 15, 2016, 12:23PM »

Why is the tuning slide not in brass also?
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« Reply #28 on: Aug 15, 2016, 01:43PM »

IMHO,  crossed or parallel crooks won't matter unless you're REALLY into asthetics.

I've nothing to back it up, but crossed crooks always seemed more mechanically sound to me; viz. the point of maximum stiffness is out on the floppy-around end of the slide.
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« Reply #29 on: Aug 15, 2016, 04:35PM »

Why is the tuning slide not in brass also?

Brad really wanted to make a seamed copper tuning slide for it, to give a warmer more flexible response. We're planning on having it all silver-plated when finished.
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« Reply #30 on: Aug 15, 2016, 04:38PM »

Mockup of the bell section for testing:


Proud Papa holds up his creation:


It's Alive!!!! Brad plays the first notes:


More soon! To say I am excited about using this thing at work is an understatement. Brad is knocking it out of the park!  Amazed Amazed Amazed Amazed :-0 :-0 :-0 :-0 Way cool Way cool Way cool Way cool Way cool
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« Reply #31 on: Aug 15, 2016, 04:39PM »

That poor tenor on the floor must be absolutely green with envy...
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« Reply #32 on: Aug 15, 2016, 10:43PM »

Why is the tuning slide not in brass also?
The tuning slide was hand made by me from seamed copper. It's a slightly more gradual taper than a normal trombone tuning slide (remember this instrument is twice as long as a bass trombone), so it was necessary to make a custom crook. Since I was making one from scratch, I asked Noah if he wanted it to be copper and he said yes.

By the way, the reason I'm holding it weird in the picture is because it's not soldered together yet, so I was trying to keep it from falling apart while I verified the pitch is correct!
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« Reply #33 on: Aug 15, 2016, 11:03PM »

By tuning slide, do you mean the J-bend?  Because it looks like the tuning slide is in the handslide (a genius idea for more than one reason!!) and is cylindrical.  Or maybe I'm just confused.
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« Reply #34 on: Aug 15, 2016, 11:33PM »

By tuning slide, do you mean the J-bend?  Because it looks like the tuning slide is in the handslide (a genius idea for more than one reason!!) and is cylindrical.  Or maybe I'm just confused.
No, the tuning slide is in the smaller of the 2 loops in the bell section. (The valve wrap has not been made yet; the smaller loop you see is not the valve wrap; it is part of the main BBb horn.) The crook at the top of the handslide does not move.
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« Reply #35 on: Aug 16, 2016, 08:29AM »

Appearances can be deceiving!  That sure looks like a moveable crook on the top of the slide.
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« Reply #36 on: Aug 16, 2016, 08:47AM »

Damn,  that's pretty!!!!!!!

Incredible job Brad!!!!



Eric
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« Reply #37 on: Aug 16, 2016, 01:06PM »

Damn,  that's pretty!!!!!!!

Incredible job Brad!!!!



Eric

Thanks!
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« Reply #38 on: Aug 20, 2016, 01:48PM »

Got a little bit of work done on the beast this week:

While Brad cleans parts, my daughter helps around the shop after school by providing a boost to morale.


The valves have had holes drilled for stop plate and witness marks added for alignment:




Brad lines everything up in preparation for hot work and assembly of the bell section BBb loop:


Brad's drawing for the valve wraps:


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« Reply #39 on: Aug 25, 2016, 12:02AM »

F wrap is mocked up

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« Reply #40 on: Aug 25, 2016, 03:38AM »

Two valves?! Amazed Eeek!

This is going to be one heavy beast!

You planning to use the bell brace for support?
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« Reply #41 on: Aug 25, 2016, 04:57AM »

This thing is shaping up to be one impressive horn! I can't say I've ever seen a two-valve dependent contra before. Is the second valve going to be in D like on a dependent bass bone?
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« Reply #42 on: Aug 25, 2016, 11:45AM »

This thing is shaping up to be one impressive horn! I can't say I've ever seen a two-valve dependent contra before. Is the second valve going to be in D like on a dependent bass bone?

Yes, D with both valves combined. Minick made 2 dependent contras, I believe, so it has been done.
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« Reply #43 on: Aug 25, 2016, 06:18PM »

Sorry if this is off color but this thread is Trombone Porn. I'm eating it up. I wanna touch it.

Seriously that thing is beauty and the beast all rolled into one. Can't wait to hear it played.
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« Reply #44 on: Sep 08, 2016, 05:24PM »

Hi all!

The contra is all together! The F and D wraps are finished. Next thing to do is fabricate trigger levers, buff and prep and then off to silver-plating! This beastie makes a great noise.  Amazed Amazed





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« Reply #45 on: Sep 08, 2016, 05:28PM »

Aren't things like this banned as per the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty?
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« Reply #46 on: Sep 08, 2016, 07:56PM »

Post a recording.  Please!!!
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« Reply #47 on: Sep 08, 2016, 07:58PM »

Aren't things like this banned as per the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty?
It's allowed under the terms of the North Atlantic Trombone Organization.
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« Reply #48 on: Sep 08, 2016, 08:04PM »

My wife looked at the picture, and she says she believes that Brad and Noah were over in North Korea testing that beast today. The test resulted in the 5.3 "artificial" earthquake. (Flutists have a generally low opinion of trombonists. I still don't know why she married me.)

Apparently we can absolve the North Koreans of the suspected nuclear test today.

Seriously -- nice work, Brad.
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« Reply #49 on: Sep 09, 2016, 09:17AM »

My wife looked at the picture, and she says she believes that Brad and Noah were over in North Korea testing that beast today. The test resulted in the 5.3 "artificial" earthquake. (Flutists have a generally low opinion of trombonists. I still don't know why she married me.)

Apparently we can absolve the North Koreans of the suspected nuclear test today.

Seriously -- nice work, Brad.
I think you've muddled up the causal relationship there.  They have a low opinion of trombonists because they marry them.

Signed,
Husband of a flute player
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« Reply #50 on: Sep 09, 2016, 03:26PM »

Where does the warning flag hang from the attachment tubing?  :)  You're gonna need about 3-4 feet clearance from anything behind you.
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« Reply #51 on: Sep 09, 2016, 06:55PM »

Where does the warning flag hang from the attachment tubing?  :)  You're gonna need about 3-4 feet clearance from anything behind you.
The loop is actually a mute holder for the trumpet player sitting behind you.
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« Reply #52 on: Sep 09, 2016, 10:51PM »

I was thinking it was meant for suspending a triangle.

This is so impressive, Brad! Thanks for sharing this with us, you guys.
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« Reply #53 on: Sep 10, 2016, 09:28AM »

Does that dependent wrap have any tuning?  Can't see where it slides.
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« Reply #54 on: Sep 10, 2016, 10:34PM »

Does that dependent wrap have any tuning?  Can't see where it slides.

I believe it's in the back, behind the majority of the wrap.
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« Reply #55 on: Sep 11, 2016, 08:43AM »

I believe it's in the back, behind the majority of the wrap.

Judging from the bracing and the tubing sizes, I'd guess that that loop in the very back can be pulled out.
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« Reply #56 on: Sep 11, 2016, 10:53PM »

I have a new idea for a contra: design the bell section with three valves and a screw-on leadpipe.  Then produce a valve alternative for the handslide and you have the ultimate doublers tool for unusual low brass parts: a contra, cimbasso, euphonium. 
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« Reply #57 on: Sep 14, 2016, 05:02PM »

I have a new idea for a contra: design the bell section with three valves and a screw-on leadpipe.  Then produce a valve alternative for the handslide and you have the ultimate doublers tool for unusual low brass parts: a contra, cimbasso, euphonium. 

I get the cimbasso and contra part, but how could you possibly get a euph out of that equation? No matter what you put onto the bell section, it will be in BBb. Unless, that is, you were to shorten the bell section significantly (meaning the contra slide had to be way longer) so that one could simply attach a short tube and keep the horn in (tenor) Bb. However, this instrument would be ridiculously unbalanced/back-heavy and the valve tubing in the bell section would be twice as long as needed for a Bb euphonium. So once again, how would you get a euphonium out of it?
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« Reply #58 on: Sep 15, 2016, 12:18AM »

Rework the bell section with three standard valves, or four, don't use the slide, stick a mouthpiece lead pipe where the slide usually goes, and it might come out close to Bb.
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« Reply #59 on: Sep 15, 2016, 01:54AM »

And I never said it would be ergonomic.  It was a joke.
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« Reply #60 on: Sep 15, 2016, 12:37PM »

Rework the bell section with three standard valves, or four, don't use the slide, stick a mouthpiece lead pipe where the slide usually goes, and it might come out close to Bb.

If your thing worked for all of them, it would probably be really bad at all of them.

Cheers,
Andy
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« Reply #61 on: Sep 15, 2016, 06:02PM »

It's a floor wax AND a dessert topping!
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« Reply #62 on: Oct 02, 2016, 09:38PM »

The contra build is nearly done  Pant Good! Amazed and now comes the fun of buffing and then off to final finishing.

Here are some photos of the levers.





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« Reply #63 on: Oct 02, 2016, 11:48PM »

You really made it from scratch? Well done! Good!

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« Reply #64 on: Oct 03, 2016, 03:38AM »

The contra build is nearly done  Pant Good! Amazed and now comes the fun of buffing and then off to final finishing.

Here are some photos of the levers.

Those paddle-ends look absolutely identical to the paddle-ends on my independent converted Holton 169 - really just the same; same-looking metal, same shapes, same curves. I'm told that the conversion work on my trombone was done by Burt Herrick in 1969. Just a coincidence, or is there a connection?
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« Reply #65 on: Oct 03, 2016, 10:29AM »

Your valve levers were modified under Bob Weller's ownership. That might help.

Chris Stearn
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« Reply #66 on: Oct 03, 2016, 12:42PM »

Those paddle-ends look absolutely identical to the paddle-ends on my independent converted Holton 169 - really just the same; same-looking metal, same shapes, same curves. I'm told that the conversion work on my trombone was done by Burt Herrick in 1969. Just a coincidence, or is there a connection?
I model my valve paddles after the way Larry Minick did his, so that's probably the common connection.
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« Reply #67 on: Oct 04, 2016, 09:48PM »

Here is a quick video Brad captured today of our good shop pal, (and tubist extrodinaire) Blake Cooper, demonstrating the BBb contra low register. As you can see, "farty sizzle" is a specialty of this particular instrument  Evil

https://youtu.be/4kQKDPSdCWA

Enjoy!
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« Reply #68 on: Oct 04, 2016, 11:02PM »

Any clips yet of this thing being played normally?
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« Reply #69 on: Oct 05, 2016, 02:07AM »

"farty sizzle"

I will certainly continue to keep my eyes open, but I've yet to find a chart marked with performance instruction.  Evil
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« Reply #70 on: Mar 14, 2017, 12:54PM »

Got the instrument back from silver-plating! Final assembly this week and she'll be ready for the front lines  Amazed



I'll post final shots when all the parts are on the horn.
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« Reply #71 on: Mar 14, 2017, 01:40PM »

Holy cannoli, that is one gorgeous contra. The slanted braces on the valve tubing look really slick. I look forward to the day that I can make one of my dream horns a reality, just like you've done here.
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« Reply #72 on: Mar 16, 2017, 05:52AM »

Wow, that is absolutely gorgeous!  Amazed  Amazed  Amazed

You guys did a fantastic job with making that horn from scratch!  Good!
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« Reply #73 on: Mar 16, 2017, 06:33AM »

That's just freakin gorgeous!!!!!!




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« Reply #74 on: Mar 30, 2017, 12:45PM »

well, it's been about a year since we started this project and I'm happy to say that the instrument is finally completed! A real beauty too! So much fun to play. Brad did an amazing job, stunning work and design. I couldn't be happier with how it all turned out.

I'll have this contra at ITF in Redlands this year at my Brass Ark booth, so feel free to stop by, take a photo and have a blow on it!

Without further delay, final photos:




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« Reply #75 on: Mar 30, 2017, 01:57PM »

Shoot, I need to book a flight to Redlands. :-0

I've been following this project quietly since you first started it. What an absolute work of art it turned out to be. Kudos to Mr. Close on his stunning work!
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« Reply #76 on: Mar 30, 2017, 02:14PM »

Beautiful horn. But I have to ask: why the double slide? I thought that was the kiss of death with contras last.
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« Reply #77 on: Mar 30, 2017, 02:20PM »

Beautiful horn. But I have to ask: why the double slide? I thought that was the kiss of death with contras last.

Wanted to do this one in BBb, and that means double slide (or really long arm extensions  Pant)

Actually, the slide action turned out to be quite good on this horn!
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« Reply #78 on: Mar 30, 2017, 03:20PM »

Wow! Absolutely gorgeous!!!  Amazed

Nice job!
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« Reply #79 on: Mar 30, 2017, 05:38PM »

What are you using for a case?!
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« Reply #80 on: Mar 31, 2017, 03:05AM »

What are you using for a case?!

An undertaker's reject Evil

Cheers

Stewbones
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« Reply #81 on: Mar 31, 2017, 07:22AM »

An army surplus missile launcher case might do. Might be hard to travel with on an airplane though.
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« Reply #82 on: Mar 31, 2017, 05:50PM »

An army surplus missile launcher case might do. Might be hard to travel with on an airplane though.

Jeff Reynolds actually had his minick BBb contra in a surplus bazooka case, no joke!

This one actually just fits in a large Cronkite double case with the divider removed in the slide pouch and the long tuning slide removed.

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« Reply #83 on: Mar 31, 2017, 11:33PM »

An undertaker's reject Evil

Cheers

Stewbones

Now THAT would be cool!


And good heavens, she looks AMAZING!!! Care to upload some audio in the near future?
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« Reply #84 on: Jul 01, 2017, 11:09PM »

I got to hear the Contra played in an ensemble today at the ITA festival. Benn Hansson played it on the bottom part in an all bass trombone ensemble. Benn did an amazing job, and he only had about a day to get used to the beast!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10MBVxDTFvY
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« Reply #85 on: Jul 02, 2017, 12:09AM »

Benn did an amazing job, and he only had about a day to get used to the beast!
I'm afraid it pretty much consumed his life for a little while. He was using a corner of my exhibit room to practice.
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