I play a Model 37 Bach Stradivarius trumpet, purchased new in 1987. It has seen its share of wear and tear. A wooden rifle once whacked it while I was in high school marching band. It's been dropped many times. Two slides are totally stuck. It also has several small dents and one nasty looking repaired dent that was the result of being stepped upon.
Despite the damage, it actually is a nicely playing horn. The only real complaint is that the valves are a bit slow sometimes. I have to oil them once every couple of days or there is a good chance one might not make it all the way up.
I've thought about buying a newer horn, but it just isn't a priority right now. My horn isn't holding me back. I also like the idea that my horn (in its current condition), which probably wouldn't sell for more than $400 on eBay, is affordable to a fairly wide population of would-be trumpeters.
Update September 6, 2008: I finally had my trumpet professionally repaired by Rich Ita of Brass Instrument Workshop. Check out the photos to see how good the trumpet looks now compared to how it used to look.
Update: I sold this flugelhorn on 12/5/05. I'm keeping this info on my equipment page, however, for informational purposes.
I've played a flugelhorn a few times over the years, but I've never owned one... until now! (August 3, 2004).
I had hoped to find a good used one on eBay. I watched the auctions for a few weeks, but all of the good horns were priced beyond my budget. Eager to make a purchase, I decided to buy a low-cost Jupiter flugelhorn (Jupiter 846RL), as it has some great reviews on music123.com.
As of this writing (September 2004), I've had my Jupiter 846RL flugelhorn for about one month. Following are some comments:
I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm still having trouble oiling the valves on this thing. Just getting the oil in the right position while holding the flugelhorn is challenging; I guess, because I'm not used to its size/shape. Positioning aside, things are still tricky because the valves are very tight in their casing. The tightness causes the oil to spill out (onto the horn, floor, hands, etc?) rather than to drip into the casing. Even a few drops of oil can create a mess.
I am gradually getting better and neater at oiling the valves, which is good since they need to be oiled often. If I let the horn sit for a couple of days without playing and without oiling, the valves seize up. The first time this happened, I thought perhaps I accidentally bumped/dented one of the valve slides. With some force, however, the valves can be unstuck and oiled. After that, they work normally. This stuck/unstuck procedure has occured a few times, so I suppose this is something I'll have to get used to.
Update 12/31/04 - The valves have gradually been getting more and more sluggish, even with the premium red ProOil valve oil. As of a couple of weeks ago, they've been so bad that the horn is unplayable --unless I want to work on bugle repertoire ;-). After doing some research, I decided to buy the Pro-Oil Hybrid 141-A7 (you gotta love the name!). I cleaned my horn per the instructions and am pleased to report that the valves are incredibly fast now. Better than my Bach, even. We'll see how long this lasts...
Update 2/19/05 - After a constant battle with sluggish valves, I sent the horn back for repairs.
The flugelhorn has some intonation problems, especially with low G and F# (two of my favorite notes!). Both notes are quite a bit sharp, requiring a lot of lip adjustment or the use of the third-slide trigger. This really isn't a big deal to me, as I'm used to lipping up or down anyway to fix the *normal* out-of-tune notes. High notes occasionally sound a bit off to me too, but I haven't played enough of them yet to know whether it's the horn or just me.
Despite the negatives, I really enjoy playing this flugelhorn. I'm still surprised at how well the notes slot, at least compared to my Bach trumpet. Interestingly, switching from one instrument to the other during a practice session seems to improve my precision on the trumpet. While trying to match the precision of the flugelhorn, I think my lips are focusing better than usual. Then again, maybe I'm just getting better overall. Who knows?
Update 12/5/05 - I sold this flugelhorn...
I wanted to buy a back-up trumpet to use when/if I get my Bach repaired. Rather than buy a trumpet, I figured it would be more interesting to get a cheap cornet. I found an Olds Ambassador Cornet from the early 1970's on eBay, and purchased it for about $100.
As of this writing (Nov. 19 2004), I've only had the horn for a few days. It's a very solid instrument. I think it's heavier than my Bach, but I'm not sure since I don't own a scale. It has a great sound and performs really well. So far, so good!
I've only played on a few different mouthpieces. I started out on a Bach 1 1/2C. When I went to a music store to buy my first mouthpiece, they were all out of 3C's. Not knowing any better, I bought a 1 1/2C and used it exclusively for about 6 years.
Since then, I've gradually been moving to smaller mouthpieces. The shift started with a Bach 3C that I played during my college years.
When I started playing the trumpet again (I stopped playing for 7 years), I switched to an old Schilke 15 that somebody once gave me several years ago. I really like the way the Schilke plays. To me, it feels like the air is accelerated. It's easier to lock in high notes (my range isn't so great? high for me is a G at the top of the staff). Unfortunately, the Schilke's rim isn't very comfortable on my embouchure.
After a year or so on the Schilke, I switched to a Bach 5C. Yet another free mouthpiece! This one was actually sent to me by mistake in an order from music123.com. When I told them that I hadn't ordered the mouthpiece, they let me keep it.
I found the rounded rim of the Back 5C to be more comfortable than the Schilke 15, but I missed that accelerated feeling. So, I bought a used Yamaha 11C4-7C on eBay... followed by the purchase of a Marcinkiewicz 4/7C.
The Marcinkiewicz has the accelerated feeling that I liked with the Schilke, and it has a comfortable rounded rim. I've come to discover, though, that the rim is a bit too narrow and it causes me to fatigue early. So, I've returned to the Yamaha as my primary mouthpiece.
I may do another mouthpiece trial in the future, but for now, I'll alternate between the Yamaha and the Marcinkiewicz.
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