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Thread: valve make?

  1. valve make?

    I've noticed how trumpets have their springs built at the top and euphoniums are sprung at the bottom, is there a distinct reason?
    this question popped up in my head after reading some random "composers wiki" i found when i was bored, which talked about the qualities of the euphonium and said something about not being able to play fast and delicate passages easily and mostly blamed it on the size of the valves.


  2. #2

    valve make?

    That's a very good question! I don't have an answer for you, though. Certainly euphonium valves are more massive than trumpet valves, especially the valves for a compensating euphonium. Perhaps that is a consideration, but I have not heard of any maker trying it yet.

    Maybe one of our members with more of an engineering or repair-shop background can opine on this.

    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
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  3. #3

    valve make?

    Well, there are some top-sprung larger valves such as some makes of valve trombone, etc. -- although these aren't as big as euphonium valves. And there certainly have been some small-bore piston valves that have been bottom sprung as well, as with many flugelhorn designs.

    I've heard that it's difficult to machine the long groove in the valve casing for a bottom-sprung design in a small diameter casing such as you'd find in a trumpet. A top sprung design just needs two short notches in either side to hold the guide.

    Also, bottom-sprung valves can be made lighter because there is no need for the whole spring retaining mechanism to move. On lower brass instruments where the valves are necessarily larger and heavier to start with (because of the bore size) this may be a factor.

    Tradition, also. Most of the brass instruments we have today look very much like instruments that were developed around 100 years ago. All modern trumpets look a lot like the old French Besson trumpets. Today's French Horns mostly are made in the image of a Kruspe or a Geyer. Today's euphoniums mostly look like Boosey & Co. instrument developed in the late 19th century. A lot of tubas look like an Alexander or like a JW York, although there certainly is a LOT more variation with tubas than with most other modern brasses. There are some variations and experiments, but designers and manufacturers have largely stuck to these templates even if they have experimented in more subtle ways with materials, bore profiles, bracing, etc.. 19th century brass instruments had A LOT more variety and it wouldn't be unusual to see them with different wraps or different valve technologies.

    I think the biggest factor, though, is just the geometry of the instrument that they are fitted to. On a trumpet, where the tubing enters the valve down at the bottom and the valve needs to extend past the leadpipe and the stem of the bell to reach the players fingers, it makes sense to put that dead space where the spring needs to be at the top. Many flugelhorns are made bottom-sprung. Why? With the layout of the instrument, the valves can be placed higher against the bell so not as much space is needed there, and because the wrap is larger it doesn't matter much if the valves extend down further.

    Now, as to why a euphonium needs larger valves than a trumpet, with a longer throw? The bore is larger. If the 4th valve compensating loop bore is, say .630" -- and you need a little extra to make a sealing surface around the ports of the valve, the valve throw (that is, the distance you have to push the valve down) needs to be somewhere around .8" to .9". On a trumpet, a bore of .459 is very common let's say you might only need .6" to .7" of throw. In theory you should be able to go faster because you don't need as much time or as heavy springs to move the valve that distance. I don't think that difference is insurmountable, though, and there are lots of euphonium players who can play just as technically as any trumpet player. On tuba, this means the valve throw can be HUGE and this can really be a factor for those guys.

    --
    Barry

  4. #4

    valve make?

    If the "composer" in question really thinks that: (a) fast, delicate passages can't be played on a euphonium, he/she has obviously never listened to Melody Shop, Pineapple Poll, We'll All Shout Hallelujah, or any of the standard air & variations that are part of the traditional virtuoso euph repertoire; and (b) it's because of the size of the valves, he/she doesn't understand the physics of sound.

    Mid- and low brass (and many, if not most flugelhorns, for that matter) use bottom-sprung rather than top-sprung valves for mechanical, ergonomic, and economic reasons.

    Top sprung valves have the spring sitting on top of the valve, usually in a metal sleeve, with a tab on the bottom of the valve that sits in notches on the inside of the casing. When you press down on the valve it compresses the valve between the top of the sleeve and the tab across the bottom, so that the valve body is moving away from the spring. This requires a much longer valve bodies and casing--roughly the additional length of the spring--because you need space at the top of the valve for when the spring is uncompressed, in addition to the space at the bottom for the valve body to move into, which would add significantly to the weight of the valve and the length of the valve casing. With a bottom sprung valve the space above the valve can be minimized.

    A top-sprung valve would require a heavier spring to offset the additional weight, which means that a player would have to exert more force to depress the valve.

    Longer valves, longer casings, and heavier springs = more material used in construction; more material used in construction = higher cost to manufacture; higher cost to manufacture = higher price and/or less profit per unit.

    Instrument design is probably a factor as well: on trumpets and cornets, the airstream enters the LOWER holes of the piston, whereas on mid- (flugels, tenor horns) and low brass (baritones, euphs, tubas, valve trombones) it enters the UPPER holes, so, barring a major redesign, bottom-sprung valves on a trumpet or cornet would require the valve casing to protrude significantly below the bottom bow of the instrument body, whereas top-sprung valves on mid/low brass would require them to protrude significantly above or below the body (which would particularly be a consideration in valve-front instruments)--a configuration that would expose the the valves to a greater possibility of damage than the current in-body configuration.

  5. valve make?

    Originally posted by: pam

    If the "composer" in question really thinks that: (a) fast, delicate passages can't be played on a euphonium, he/she has obviously never listened to Melody Shop, Pineapple Poll, We'll All Shout Hallelujah, or any of the standard air & variations that are part of the traditional virtuoso euph repertoire; and (b) it's because of the size of the valves, he/she doesn't understand the physics of sound.
    I can find this in textbooks. Virtuosi are exceptions to the rules. Euphonium music is generally melodic and counter-melody based. Trumpets are usually primary melody. Yes, any instrument could do either, but familiarity in writing style is often encouraged or nobody will play your music (try arranging a string quartet where the first violins have a more static line without melody like what violas often get... You'll have a happy violist, but nobody cares because frankly, people came to see the violinist).

    The difference in speed of the valves is negligible.
    Euph and tuba valves are designed to be as small as possible, as bbocaner pointed out.

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