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Better Late Than Never

Time flies, doesn't it? This blog has been sorely neglected over the last few months as I have had numerous changes, events, and responsibilities with which to deal. Primary among these was changing employers and jumping through all of the employment hoops that accompany that sort of thing. Related to that, and my career as a contractor, I also underwent a change of contract and work location. Then there was taxes to deal with, including having to file my father's final taxes. Fun.

However, my trumpet playing did not fall off a cliff this time, and I have been working with a specific set of Schlossberg's Daily Drills and Technical Studies which has been prescribed over the years to help people rebuild embouchures. Why did I start doing it? Well...

As I was progressing in my comeback, I developed a pronounced problem. I suddenly was having trouble playing from G above the staff up to about B. Oddly, everything above that was still there, so I had what is termed a "brea…
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The Buzz: Winter 2018 Edition - Part 2 of 2


Reunion Blues Continental Triple Trumpet Case
qPress Charlier's 36 Plus

After realizing that I was rapidly running out of real estate when it comes to trumpet cases I decided to do some looking around for a more compact alternative. I needed something that would hold at least two trumpets, but preferably three with good protection and without placing a lot of stress on the instruments. Options are all over the map in terms of size, shape, protection, and the factor that many of us really care about most: cost. A quick search and, like mouthpieces, I'm besieged with manufacturers: Marcus Bonna, Torpedo, WolfPak, Protec, Bags of Spain, Gard, Glenn Cronkhite Eastman, SKB... and arguably the very first manufacturer of professional trumpet gig bags, Reunion Blues. After looking at the offerings from all of the aforementioned, I settled on the Reunion Blues Continental Triple Trumpet Case.

The interior is a light blue quilted velvet which is flexibly partitioned into third…

The Buzz: Winter 2018 Edition - Part 1 of 2


Legends Brass Mouthpieces and Backbores
Kelly Mouthpieces

I haven't had the opportunity to post lately due to the holidays, but the last few months have been busy from an acquisition perspective so I will be doing this in two parts. I was able to find some fantastically good bargains over the holidays, so I went a little more nuts than usual. I was also able to pick up some trumpets that I've always wanted to try from Ebay at prices that, frankly, made me feel like I stole them from someone. The horns I picked up were a 1974 Benge (L.A.) 3 ML, a 2016 XO 1600iS, and a 1963 King Super 20 Symphony Balanced Silversonic DB otherwise and more simply known as the "Modified Harry James Model". I'll go into each one of these in separate posts in the future, but for now I will say that I am extremely happy with them all. Now, on to The Buzz...

First up, let's talk mouthpieces for a bit. It seems like there are a million manufacturers out there now, both bouti…

December Surprise

A few days ago I was perusing Ebay when I stumbled across something that caught my eye. Of course, you already know that I am likely talking about a trumpet and you would, of course, be correct in that assumption. Now before I go letting the cat out of the proverbial bag, I should mention that I've never been much of a vintage trumpet kinda guy regardless of the fact that my favorite horn is from the mid-'70s. What I am talking about is something at least 10 years older than me. My fear with a vintage horn is that it might be too vintage: parts that might be difficult to replace, wear that would require installing non-original parts, or a leadpipe that would require an unusual matching mouthpiece configuration.

That's probably why when it comes to vintage that I tend to look at mid-20th Century stuff. Post WWII modernization and industry bridged the gap to what we consider contemporary today, so many things are still in great shape and are perfectly compatible with the mod…

Recovery Update

My bacterial respiratory infection started to finally clear up about a week ago but, as is typical when your immune system is compromised, a head cold decided to take up residence on its heels. I had one day of feeling decent and getting some sleep and then it was right back into not being able to breathe for another 4 or 5 days. However, by the time the weekend came around, I felt well enough to head over to Baltimore Brass to see if they had anything of interest in stock.

This was my first visit to this particular store and they had roughly 50 or so new and used trumpets on display. In particular, their website indicated they had an Edwards Generation II, a 1963 King Super 20, and an Adams A4L, all of which I was looking forward to trying. I walked in, figured out where the trumpet section was and quickly sized up the display.
The first one I tried was the Super 20 and I have to say it made a very favorable impression on me. In fact, I played it the longest of the three. It was in v…

Intonation Tendencies

Everyone knows that certain notes on the trumpet are problematic; it is a consequence of the physics of trumpet design. Much has been written on the topic, but I only recently found a good description of the actual mathematics behind the phenomenon, written in 2003 by Joseph Monzo. I encourage you to read it. It is a generalized model, but it should apply in varying degrees to all Bb trumpets.

One weakness of the otherwise awesome write-up is that the data is never really rendered in a way that is easily digestible for a trumpet player. The following table is my attempt to distill his information into a simplified format. The left-hand column starts with the trumpet-player's "C" above the staff and descends chromatically down to the lowest non-pedal note, "F#". All fingerings for each note are placed in the table relative to the sharpness/flatness for that pitch (slightly sharp/flat, sharp/flat, very sharp/flat) .

Interestingly, based on this information, the m…

Illness Interference

Just what does a brass player do when he's sick? A few days ago, I could tell that something was up: fatigued, not sleeping well, feeling congested upon waking up, headache. It finally caught up to me last night when I got no sleep while dealing with the persistent feeling of a ten-pound weight sitting on my chest. Unfortunately, I've always been susceptible to respiratory illness, and pneumonia nearly killed me when I was age six. As a trumpet player, this kind of thing is really disheartening.

I've been making a lot of progress lately with my rehabilitation after not playing for almost two decades. I'm happy with my tone, although I occasionally have my "airy" days, up to A above the staff. My pedal tones have never been better, so that gives me hope that I can stretch my upper register up to E/F above the staff with power (which was my limit in college). I can reach those notes now, but not with what I feel is a good, full tone. Ascending past the A above …