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Thread: The Sound and feel of an unplayed instrument.

  1. #11
    Certainly there is a "player" aspect to the break-in process. One of the hardest times in my professional life was in the early days of the Sterling euphonium development. Sterling would send me a new prototype a few times a year, at which point I would return the one I had and play the new one to evaluate the changes. I was constantly getting used to new playing characteristics, even though I was not changing brands.

    However, horns DO break in. My best example was when I was buying my first Sovereign 967. Besson sent me one, and I simply could not make notes speak lower into the 4th-valve register (like the C, C#, D below the bass clef staff). But after a few weeks I was getting the notes to come out reasonably comfortably. At that point you could have convinced me that it was the horn or that it was me. But I didn't like the over playing of that one and asked for a second sample to be sent to me. The experience was identical regarding the low notes! On the new sample I could not make the low notes speak, but after a few weeks they got better. So at the point when the 2nd sample arrived, I was used to the characteristics of the 967 in general (different from my New Standard), and yet the 2nd sample was not "ready" for me.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
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    Because you'd been broken in by the first one?
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    Because you'd been broken in by the first one?
    When the second horn arrived I had the same problems with it as I had with the first horn. But after playing it for a few weeks, it responded better in the low register. This is when B&H was using the monel valves that weren't lapped, so that may have played a part in needing a breaking-in period.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    Because you'd been broken in by the first one?
    Gary, it's no fair to have two RPI grads ganging up on anyone!!

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    1,964
    Long ago and far away ... (Especially right now. I'm sitting in Seattle. )
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  6. #16
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    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    1,964
    Dave's remarks on breaking in are perfectly reasonable. Machines do "break in" -- which generally has something to do with friction or with lubricating substances reaching areas that they were unable to without a certain amount of use. What always interests/puzzles me is how anxious we sometimes are to attribute to machines some sort of mysterious "properties" or "potentials" that are either mystical in nature, anthropomorphic in nature, or related in the most tenuous, unclear, and unsupported ways to our genuine knowledge.

    When I was riding motorcycles, a rather constant and continuing debate was how you should "break in" a new bike. One school of thought was that it should be done according to the manufacturer's instructions (no higher than x mph for the first 100 miles, then no more than y mph for the next 500 miles, etc. ... -- or something like that). The other was that you should "ride it like you stole it". Each side had some reasonable basis for holding its view -- based largely on how friction and heat affected the machine during the process. But at least it didn't attribute any peculiar properties to the bike. I favored a minor variation: ride it carefully for a few miles to ensure that everything worked and nothing blew up or fell off; then ride it like I stole it. However, we all do know that if you leave a motorcycle sit for any length of time (certainly months or years), you are genuinely looking at trouble when you manage to crank it up again. The same may well be true of euphoniums, for similar reasons, at a lower speed.

    Perhaps brass instrument manufacturers should offer the same sorts of recommendation for "break in" that motorcycle manufacturers do: play slow etudes for the first 100 hours of use, then move to some moderato pieces for the next 50 hours, then onto allegro pieces with a higher degree of ornamentation and broader range, ... etc.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Sturgis, South Dakota
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    872
    Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    Perhaps brass instrument manufacturers should offer the same sorts of recommendation for "break in" that motorcycle manufacturers do: play slow etudes for the first 100 hours of use, then move to some moderato pieces for the next 50 hours, then onto allegro pieces with a higher degree of ornamentation and broader range, ...
    Now that, Gary, is genuinely funny!!

    I'll chime in on breaking in new instruments because I have had many more new ones "probably" than your average Joe. Dave and others like him are clearly exceptions as they have gone through many instruments in their capacity as artists for various instrument manufacturers. I have probably owned at least 15-20 different euphoniums over the years, plus I played on several others while in The U.S. Army Band (they always kept you outfitted with a nice horn).

    I remember one Besson in particular that I purchased while in the Army in Germany (think I was a Captain in a MEDEVAC unit in Grafenwöhr at the time). That was in the 1985-6 time frame. I picked the horn up at a German music store in Amberg. I remember the sales man who I had placed the order with handing me the horn. I played a few notes and sounded horrid (I had been playing, but only sporadically and on a German style baritone). He then added to my own disappointment by saying he really didn't like the sound of these type of instruments. Off to a good start with this one. So I took it home and worked with it, and pretty soon (days) had it sounding like I thought it should. This moment in time was about 10 years since I had left The U.S. Army Band. I got more used to the horn over the next few weeks/months and it ended up being a pretty good horn and me sounding fairly decent on it. I can't say that the horn broke in, I clearly think in this case I got used to playing on this size of horn with a larger mouthpiece than what I had been using, and got serious about practicing and really getting my chops back. Once I got used to the horn, it pretty much played the way it played till the end of time (well, at least until I unloaded it once stateside for a Hirsbrunner, I believe).

    It has always "seemed" to me to be more me getting used to the horn and its quirks and finding the right mouthpiece and practicing and listening, than the horn actually changing its characteristics as I played it and "broke it in". Now, of course, the valves truly do get broken in and should work better over time given that they receive the proper maintenance and care. I just never quite felt that the horn, the metal that is, went through some sort of slow transformation over time, or that things filled in, or the inside of the tubes and pipes got smoothed out or anything of the like....

    UNTIL, I bought my Adams E3 a couple or so years ago. This horn sounded great right out of the box, in part because I had been playing consistently and my chops were in pretty good shape. However, after a few months, the horn did actually seem to have more body and resonance in its tone. Now it is true I had to get used to this horn just like any other new horn, but that happened rather quickly. The sounds that are coming out of the horn now seem better than they were a year ago. My band director in one of my bands has remarked that the horn is sounding better and better the longer I have it. I am fairly convinced this is not due to more practice, which has stayed pretty consistent for me over the past several years, but rather to this horn's aging and breaking in. I am now a believer.

    I may actually listen better now than I did back in my "heyday", which I am a little surprised at. But I also think I have perhaps a little more musicality now, and that might be because I have nothing to prove, no auditions to take, just my own self to please and to enjoy playing solely for just playing, so my ears might listen better without the other distractions. What I am saying here is that perhaps all of my horns did actually break in and change over time, but I just didn't notice it or if I did, thought it was me getting used to the horn (which in any case is somewhat the case).

    So, a lot of gas here to say that I do believe horns break in. And also that players get used to their horns. Both are factors in how you and your horn sounds over time.
    Last edited by John Morgan; 08-22-2018 at 10:37 PM.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone, Edwards T396-A Tenor Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

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