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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentInstruments(Moderators: tbone62, slide advantage) Coppergate 'intermediate' Bass Trombone Initial impressions
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TravelingMan
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« on: Jan 02, 2017, 11:36AM »

So, today I just received a Coppergate BTB-500 "Intermediate Bass Trombone" from Gear4Music. Like many companies selling essentially the same horn re-branded to their liking, it is a Chinese built knock-off of a King 5B as near as I can tell. For $350 U.S. dollars shipped from the United Kingdom to my door in Germany I couldn't pass up a potentially cheap way of having a Bass Bone at my disposal.
Until recently, I was dedicated to bass bone playing for about a year in my current military band unit and thought I should have my own to work with in the future. I was playing an Edwards With Dependent Thayers and that is my comparison horn.
Opening the box...
The case was wrapped in a plastic bag loaded in a stiff cardboard box braced by two pieces of styrofoam blocking, of which one was broken upon arrival.
The case itself is very light-weight and comes with 2 backpack style straps. I suspect the case is not much more protection than the average gig bag in an impact situation as the Styrofoam inside can be compressed with my thumb and doesn't recover from the denting created. there are 4 plastic feet on the long side and bell side of the exterior. The One pouch outside won't hold a mute, but a marching band lyre will with room for a few other items. Inside has 2 storage sections with elastic closers. Also included is a cleaning rod, polishing cloth and a pair of white gloves which would be best used as cleaning rags. The zipper quality seems pretty good.
Inside:
The horn sections were each wrapped in plastic and a mouthpiece was included. The mouthpiece is smaller than my Bach 1G but bigger than my Denis Wick Heritage 5BL.

The slide:
It's 'Cupro-nickel', which is used in industry for seawater applications, so I'm hopeful that will translate into long life given the acidity and salinity of my saliva and skin oils. The slide felt scratchy upon arrival, after a thorough cleaning of the inside of the outer (black water came out at first) it has improved. Great, no. But manageable for now. A few more use/cleaning cycles will probably see more improvement. The slide itself feels heavy, and adds to the overall weight of the horn but actually helps the balance.

Slide Faults: I added tuning slide grease to the threads of the slide lock to smooth it out- no biggie. More significant: When cleaning the horn with the tubes full of water I noted water leaking from a weld at the joint between the lead outer slide and the crook above the spit valve. It wasn't under any pressure either, just dripping from the joint. I don't notice it when playing, and with air pressure (blowing on one end/thumb covering the other) air leakage is barely audible but knowing it exists pains me and also speaks to the quality control of the manufacturer and further supports the haters of Chinese makes. A quick torching and solder touch should seal it up but for now it'll remain as is. (It's likely not worth paying for shipping to return it, but may ask the online retailer how they would deal with it).

Bell Section:
I immediately noticed the Gb valve was sticking. I oiled them both up and it was still sticking and just didn't feel right. I began to disassemble the valve by separating the linkage first and found it felt great at the valve. The culprit was a shouldered screw in the ball bearing linkage was poorly manufactured. A file cleaned up the shoulder and after reinstalling feels right. This should have been caught at the factory. With that sorted, I greased up the tuning slides and they all fit well and move with appropriate tension. The excess grease came back with dirt, so the tubes need a good cleaning much like the slide did.

Playing:
My bass mouthpiece is at work, so I used the one included. With that, I'm still very impressed overall with the intonation and response of the horn. I put it to a tuner and it's quite accurate with my tendencies and akin to the Edwards I've been playing. This horn doesn't have as much bite as the Edwards - but, again I need to try the other mouthpiece. Pedal range will be better served by my 1G, but it plays nicely above the staff with the stock MP. The major issue I have is hand comfort. After 30 minutes of play time I have already ordered a hand grip for the horn. The Edwards was not this hard to handle, though it too wasn't super comfortable. This Coppergate is super-awkward to hold. The second trigger arm is way too long and fouls on my ring finger when pulled with my middle finger. I've adjusted the finger pad as best I can but the rod still touches my ring finger when engaged and has caused occasional misfires where the valve isn't fully rotated. Thus, I find this horn very difficult to hold free-handed. I blame this more on the King design this clone emulates, not the Chinese maker unless the trigger arm is made too long?? The built in finger ring is useless for my big hands (I'm 6'3") and gives me nothing to push against to counter rotate the horns weight so it is basically adding weight.

So am I glad I bought this? at $350 shipped, Yes, definitely! It will serve its purpose and actually plays very well and sounds warm and round in my first go-round test. I look forward to getting my bass mouthpiece on it and the grip I ordered so I can hold it for longer sessions. While it might require a little repair/re-work here and there, I'm certain it will still come at much less cost than a new name brand horn.

The website images on gear4music are pretty good for showing the horn, these are the unboxing:








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gregs70

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« Reply #1 on: Jan 02, 2017, 11:45AM »

Thanks for the review.  Nice to get an independent opinion on the clones.  Seems like a lot of bang for the buck.  I hope you let us know how it holds up under regular use.  BTW, the King 5B was a .547 single valve large tenor/small base.  6B was the Duo Gravis dependent valve bass.  Ghis is probably a clone of a 7B or 8B.
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« Reply #2 on: Jan 03, 2017, 03:27AM »

7B clone.
I bought a damaged stock example because I liked the case when I saw one.... I have been using the case with my no 1 horn for over a year including touring in the orchestra truck and it is holding up fine.... No way would I use it to fly with.... my carbon fiber does that job, but my open wrapped Holton fits perfectly and it is very light.
The trombone was easily fixed up damage wise and actually works very well for what it is. I cut the second valve lever down and it is fine. No build issues on mine. Slide is very good. Would I use it for work ? No.... it is not an orchestral sound, but I might swap over parts from an old King bell I have and see how it blows.
I think I was lucky. Buy for a bit more from Wessex and you take the luck element out and get a workable cheap horn.

Chris Stearn
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TravelingMan
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« Reply #3 on: Jan 03, 2017, 01:52PM »

Thanks for the review.  Nice to get an independent opinion on the clones.  Seems like a lot of bang for the buck.  I hope you let us know how it holds up under regular use.  BTW, the King 5B was a .547 single valve large tenor/small base.  6B was the Duo Gravis dependent valve bass.  Ghis is probably a clone of a 7B or 8B.
Right 7B!!! I knew that but got lost in my head while typing. Thanks for the correction - I might edit my first post.

Follow-up 1 Day later.
So, I put my 1G on today, the horn still shows really good response and intonation, though I'm finding the tuning slide is nearly all the way in for a Bb, hoping that's me not having been on a Bass for some time (3 months) and not the horn. Slide is working-in nicely and I started to get some Phat Big Band sounds out of it.

However, the second valve was still a little sticky... I disassembled the rotor completely this time and cleaned it/hit it with some steel wool all around and reassembled. Upon reassembly the rotor felt great but then realized the actuator arm wasn't completely in line with the rotor and was causing a bind when attached, so a little bending pressure brought it clear of the valve completely and on a better alignment with the rotor. It works brilliantly now. Phew!!

As for grip, I have found that going for more of a tight V-shape vs. my preferred 90 degree angle of the slide and bell section helps a lot. This arrangement bring the weight of the bell higher on my hand requiring less counter-leverage from my index & ring and pinky fingers. I removed the finger pad on the second valve actuator and that gave my fingers some more room but it's still awkward to hold and I find myself over gripping it to stabilize the horn. So Once the grip arrives I'll see if I can't get that settled in, but I can't imagine anyone holding this horn with any joy without a grip. Maybe smaller hands would be better? Once the grip arrives I'll decide if the second valve arm gets the finger pad put back on or cut down.
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musicofnote

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« Reply #4 on: Jan 05, 2017, 04:03AM »

May I ask, what "grip" you ordered?
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ChickSR
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« Reply #5 on: Jan 09, 2017, 07:44AM »

Hi there,
thanks for the detailed report. I discovered it the day my Coppergate arrived. First surprise: it came with a heavily dented bell, there seem to be quality issues with the supplier, as they offer a similarly damaged instrument on eBay. But this is not the reason why I'm going to send it back.
As TravelingMan wrote, the horn is almost impossible to hold. And it feels heavy (2,3 kilos), not well balanced.
I attached a Neotech Grip bushing to the slide so I can hold it. But there is no position in which I can reach both valve actuators.
The guy in the demonstration video doesn't even use it, as you can see at 0:49:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMl3QNx7Mf8
I'll try to upload some pictures myself.
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ChickSR
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« Reply #6 on: Jan 09, 2017, 07:53AM »

This is what it looks like:


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« Reply #7 on: Jan 09, 2017, 08:01AM »

How one is supposed to operate that side valve? is this the Gb valve?
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hyperbolica
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« Reply #8 on: Jan 09, 2017, 08:05AM »

Yeah, you've gotta bend that second valve lever, and the paddle can probably be adjusted so it doesn't stick so far out. I got a Wessex and had to adjust the second valve lever in a similar way. You might want to take it to a tech if you're not comfortable doing it. It requires some strength, multiple hands, and the ability to isolate the rest of the horn from the stress.
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blast

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« Reply #9 on: Jan 09, 2017, 11:32AM »

The rod for the second lever needs to be cut to a reasonable length, then bent to the best position. Pretty simple stuff. A chore perhaps, but at that price.....
I have held many far more expensive trombones that were less well balanced and easy to hold.... but if you want to dislike it you are free to do so.
It's a cheap trombone... and mine is far too good to sell on considering what it would fetch. It will find a use one day.... an outdoor gig...a dangerous situation.... a loaner for a kid... something...

Chris Stearn
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greenbean
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« Reply #10 on: Jan 09, 2017, 01:06PM »

Hey, at least they are copying a good horn.

And that finger trigger is no worse than what you get with a Bach 50 these days.  You have to customize them yourself.  But Bach charges $4500+ for the privilege of doing so...
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ChickSR
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« Reply #11 on: Jan 09, 2017, 01:34PM »

Thanks for the opinions. Could anyone post a picture of a modified Coppergate?
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TravelingMan
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« Reply #12 on: Jan 12, 2017, 11:39AM »

May I ask, what "grip" you ordered?
The NEO Tech. it arrived today and will go on tomorrow morning.  More to follow. Good to see the notes about bending the 2nd valve stem. I have pretty big hands/long fingers so might not need much. We'll see.
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TravelingMan
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« Reply #13 on: Jan 13, 2017, 04:33AM »

So, I got the Neotech grip installed. Wow! What a difference. This rounded out the purchase of this horn for me. It plays really well and now I am willing to pick it up for long practice sessions. One of my co-workers was stunned at how well it played as well. So, for less than $400 for the package. To me, it's worth it for someone who isn't trying to pay the mortgage with their bass bone gigs.

I ended up using the bracket for the Curved bracing, it simply felt more secure compared to the gusseted bracket (which is how the horn is built.)
After some test fits I found that the only acceptable position for the grip was fully forward and angled 'down' away from the slide. This was for a two-fold reason: a) it truly was the best position for my left hand (thankfully) because b) Otherwise my right hand fingers would bump into the forward edge of the grip in 1st position. Here are far more pics than necessary, I include notes above some to show other things to look for.
The first two images are Just the grip:



These show the Second valve rod clearance to my ring finger. Note that my pinky is locking the slide at the moment. Releasing this position can cause some issues and will cause me to change my natural grip for use unless I cut the rod back about 1.25cm .


You can see here that this grip doesn't work. My ring finger fouls the 2nd valve rod. This is what might drive me to cut the rod down a bit.


This finger grip is suitable, it's not what I'm used too, but I also never had the luxury of a grip that didn't require me to hold the horn with this finger. After playing like this for a bit, it feels pretty natural and now either finger can pull the 2nd valve -or both.


You should also note the 'v-shape' of the slide to bell section, The closer the bell is to the slide the more distance you get on the second valve rod to the slide. As others stated, bending the rod can alleviate this.


You can see where the grip applied the most pressure on my hand after 30 minutes of continuous use. It felt warmish, but certainly not uncomfortable.


I'll finish by saying that I have very long hands. I'm 6'3. From the base of my palm to the tip of my middle finger is 22cm and my middle finger makes up half of that distance. You can see in the photos that my finger is comfortably reaching the 2nd valve rod. Anything below 20cm will likely need bending. Initially the back of my hand was rubbing the first valve arm, but a little tightening of the neoprene grip on that side and loosening it on the opposite seemed to alleviate that issue in good order. Overall I'm really impressed with the grip's quality and flexibility in installation positions, it's a great build/design for the price.

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« Reply #14 on: Jan 14, 2017, 02:24PM »

Thanks! I too am using the NeoTech after having tried a Rath and a Hagmann to no avail. I also do still have an Ergobone but am not presently using it.
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Yamaha 882G with Yeo Replica and rarely Yamaha 58
Rath R400 with ??? (Wedge 4G, Bach 4GB)

Bass Trombone TriRhenum Orchestra

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it."
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