Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Trumpet Gear History

My horns(L to R): Bach 72, Bach 43, Kanstul 1525, Old Couesnon

Blog# 59: My Trumpet Gear History

I thought I'd take a second to share my thoughts and history with different trumpet gear. I usually avoid talking about gear because with trumpet. It really is the player making the sound, the horn is just the microphone(it amplifies the sound of your lips). Searching for the perfect horn is pointless; you'll never find it. I just try to find something that works and go with it.

I have to admit, I have certain fear when it comes to trumpet gear, mouthpieces etc. My chops are pretty sensitive, so when I switch trumpets or mouthpieces, I feel off and like I can't get my sound together like I want. Even if I start playing too much flugelhorn, that can make my trumpet chops feel off. This has been the case ever since I started playing trumpet when I was a kid. I'm a one horn, one mouthpiece kind of guy. And the few times I've changed gear over the years, I usually have a fairly long adjustment period(I usually have to find where all the notes exist on each horn). So to some degree, I've tried to avoid learning too much about mouthpiece throats and trumpet bore's, and I try to keep my mind on making whatever instrument I'm playing work for me.

My Gear History:

I started playing trumpet(though I had no desire or motivation at the time) at age 6. The first instrument I owned was a Conn Director trumpet(you can find them on ebay for $25!) with a Conn 4 Mouthpiece. I think this trumpet was my uncle's when he was a kid. I played this horn and mp all the way into high school. Sophomore year my parents bought me a brand new silver Yamaha 6335 and a 11C4 mouthpiece(that came with it). (11C4 was yamaha's version of a Bach 7C). This was a REAL horn compared to the Conn Director. I played the Yamaha for 4 years(last 2 of high school, first two of college).

Junior year of College I was studying with John Swana and he let me play his old Bach trumpet during a lesson. This was an incredible horn so I decided to sell my yamaha and buy a Bach(which I purchase used from John's friend who buys hundreds of trumpets on ebay). I got a used Bach 43 (made in the early 90's). It also came with a Bob Reeves Valve Alignment, and the fastest valves I've ever felt. Around this time I also was involved in my first 'Mouthpiece safari'. I tried tons of mouthpieces and settled on a Bach 5C, which I really liked, and still think is a great mouthpiece. I played this Bach 43 trumpet and 5C for the last 8 years. I also bought a Couesnon Flugelhorn on Ebay that I played during my college years which I played during that time. I had an awesome repair guy in Philly, Bret Gustaffson, who put a trigger on the 3rd valve slide. Unfortunately, Bret moved to Australia :(

The exception during that 8 year period was I bought a new Bach 72. I felt this horn was a bit darker and had better projection. The downside is it required more effort to play. I played it for about a year until I took it to a repair guy in NYC to clean and he offered a discount on a valve alignment that ended up pretty much ruining the horn, at which point I went back to the Bach 43. Also for those 5 years in NYC I started playing a Kanstul 1525 Flugelhorn(which was the sound I was going for on Flugel at that time). Plus I also found it annoying that the Couesnon leaked oil on my hands. I played the Bach 43 and Kanstul Flugel on my first Album, 'Connections'.

Two years ago my trumpet friend Eric gave me a Monette B6, which I've been playing since. Occasionally I play my old Couesnon(I got a plastic thing online to keep from getting oil on my hands). Recently I've been playing my Bach 72(the one the repair guy messed up). The valves still suck and I'm not in love with it, but It still projects better than the 43 and is a bit darker. Hopefully I can get used to it, I don't want to have to try out trumpets again. (In fact, even when friends want me to try out their new horns, I usually pass.)

So that's my gear history!

Written out, it sounds like a lot of equipment, but it pretty much boils down to:

Conn Director w/ Conn 4 --------------- 10 years

Yamaha 6335 w/ 11C4--------------------4 years

Bach 43 w/ Bach 5C------------------------8 years

(Monette B6 mp for 2 of those years)

Bach 72-------------------recently(we'll see if I go back to the Bach 43)


Couesnon w/ Bob Reeves 43.5DF-----3 years

Kanstul 1525 w/ Bach 5A-----------------4 years

I dunno, a horn is a horn, you still need the person to play it.

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