Archive for September, 2005

News From the Road

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

LTC Steve Florence

LTC Steve Florence, a surgeon with the US Army, proudly displays his new American Heritage Field Trumpet and BAA flag in front of a Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad, Iraq. Hooah!

Mike Vax Joins the Getzen Team

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

Tom Getzen welcomes Mike Vax to the Getzen Family Tom Getzen welcomes Mike Vax to the Getzen Family

For more than forty years Mike Vax has wowed audiences with his trumpet playing, performing lead and solo work with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, the Clark Terry Big Bad Band, and the United States Navy Show Band. He’s had the chance to perform and/or record with such greats as Art Pepper, Al Grey, Freddy Hubbard, John Handy, The Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey Orchestras, and the list goes on and on. Through out all those years and during all those shows Mike has learned one major lesson. A great player needs a great trumpet and that is what he has found with his new Getzen Custom Series.

Together with Byron Autrey and the dedicated staff in the Getzen ProShop, Mike put into effect the design ideas that he thought would make a great trumpet. What he came up with is the all new, 3001MV Custom Artist Mike Vax Model trumpet.

This new trumpet is based off of the tried and true 3001 Artist Model with a few tweaks. The first, and biggest, is the new #172 hand hammered, one piece bell made of light weight gold brass. This combination creates a wonderfully rich and colorful tone with outstanding response and projection. This makes the 3001MV perfect for anything from solo work in small settings or lead play in large concert halls. The second new feature is the addition of a lower tuning slide venturi tube. This helps focus and concentrate airflow before it enters the valve section reducing turbulence and adding response.

Mike Vax at TMEAMike at the Getzen booth at TMEA

During his week long visit to the factory in Elkhorn, Mike had a chance to watch the skilled Getzen craftsmen at work. The most impressive thing to him was the people. As Mike put it, “It’s great to see instruments being built by hand again. To see actual people doing the work.” Mike had a chance to see the fruits of this labor himself when he play tested the entire Getzen line of small brass instruments. From top to bottom, the entire line of small brass impressed Mike, especially when he found out they were all production horns taken off the shelf. He was particularly surprised with the quality of the 390/490 Student trumpets. During this play testing, Mike decided that in addition to the new trumpet, he needed a new cornet and flugelhorn. After trying them all, Mike went with an 800 Eterna and prototype 3895 small bore flugelhorn with a gold brass bell.

All in all, Mr. Vax was very pleased with what he saw, heard, and played during his visit. And now that he’s had a chance to perform on the new trumpet, his audiences and band mates are pleased as well. Often taking the time to comment on Mike’s fantastic “new” sound. A great player has indeed found himself a great trumpet.

Mail Bag

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

Dear Getzen,

I am the director of the Clovis High School Trombone Ensemble from Clovis, CA. I enjoyed meeting Tom Getzen and the rest of the team at the Getzen booth during this year’s NAMM show.

I have included a picture of the kids with their trombones and a little info on the choir and myself. All the members of the choir are playing Getzens including myself and we really love them. It would be great if the kids got their picture in the Getzen Gazette to show them off with their great horns.

Thank you so much for your wonderful trombones.

Les Nunes
Clovis, California

Clovis High School Trombone Ensemble
The Clovis High School Trombone Ensemble is under the direction of Les Nunes. The group was formed in the fall of the 2003-2004 school year. Since its beginning, the Ensemble has received Superior ratings at the FMCMEA Solo and Ensemble Festival and has performed all over the state of California with several well known professional musicians.

The Birth of a Handslide

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

Learn more about Getzen slide production by viewing our factory videos.

Have you ever wondered how we earned the reputation of manufacturing the finest trombone handslides? It took years of experience, extremely high standards, and countless hours of handcrafting. We’ve also thrown in a few trade secrets for good measure. It’s a process that has taken decades to perfect and now you can get the inside scoop on exactly how it’s done. Just keep it between us.

Step #1: Proper Material
This is where it all begins. In order to end up with quality finished products, you have to start with quality raw materials. We use only the finest nickel silver tubing available for our inside slides. The raw tubing is milled to our exacting standards and to our precise specifications. Each piece of tubing is inspected before use to ensure there are no inclusions or other imperfections in the tubing. Even the tiniest nick will spell disaster later on down the road.

Step 1

Step #2: Drawing
After inspection, the raw tubing has to be drawn down to the proper size. This is the trickiest part of the process. If the tubing is not drawn correctly the finished pieces will be curved or “banana-ed” as we call it. If this happens, the tubing is thrown out and we start over again. As the tubes are drawn they are inspected in batches to ensure they are up to par. This may sound wasteful, but if you don’t start straight, you won’t end up straight and that is the key to a smooth slide.

Step 2

Step #3: Straightening
This is the first time the tubes make their way to our slide room for treatment. Each drawn tube is hand checked for straightness. This is done using a large piece of flat steel and a backlight. When a tube is placed on the steel plate any light that shows between the tube and the plate indicates a tiny bend in the tubing. These bends need to be removed and are “massaged” out by hand. A time consuming practice that takes years to master.

Step 3

Step #4: Plating & Buffing
After being straightened, the loose tubes head back to the plating room for a healthy layer of chrome plating. This creates an incredibly hard, durable, and slick surface. Hard plus durable plus slick equals years of lightening fast, trouble free action. From there, the tubes make a stop in the buffing department where each is polished to a high shine. This is done to reveal any surface imperfections as early as possible, when the tubes can still be easily repaired or replaced.

Step 4

Step #5: Mounting
This, like every step before it, is crucial to ensuring a top quality handslide. The slide tubes and other parts are mounted together using special fixtures designed to hold the various parts of the slide square and true while the mounter solders them together. It is very important to be certain that all parts fit together correctly with as little tension as possible. No matter how well the individual parts are built, they are useless if not put together just so.

Step 5

Step #6: Straightening Part Two
That’s right, after all the pieces of a handslide are put together, they head back into the slide room for a second visit. This is to true up both inside and outside slide assemblies. Both are checked for absolute straightness using the same technique mentioned earlier. However, this time a specially ground granite block is used instead of the steel plate. The granite is ground, polished, and measured to be as flat as humanly possible guaranteeing a perfect straight edge for creating perfectly straight slides.

Step 6

Step #7: Slide Prep
After the second straightening, outer and inner slide assemblies are paired together before undergoing slide prep. The outside assembly is treated with a process known as trip and lap. Basically, a two step technique that polishes the inside of the tubes to a mirror finish. The smoother the better. Both inside and outside assemblies are then cleaned. The final prepping step involves lubricating the slide and giving it a final check for proper action. The slide is then corked and stored in the slide room until needed.

Step 7

Some Secrets Revealed
Specially designed mandrels\dies are used only for drawing slide tubes. While more expensive than standard mandrels\dies, these precision tools draw much straighter tubing. 2) Before plating, each inside tube is barrel shaped at the stocking end. This reduces the amount of metal on metal contact between the inner and outer slides resulting in less friction and smoother action. 3) At the end of the prep stage, inner tubes are sprayed with non-aerosol Pledge furniture polish. This creates a thin layer of lubrication without any build up. Best of all, as the Pledge dries it can be easily reactivated with a simple spray of distilled water.

A Valuable Air and Breathing Exercise

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

by Mike Vax

The most important aspect of playing any wind instrument is getting air through that instrument. I believe that one of the best ways to practice proper use of the air is to do it away from the instrument. When you are practicing with your instrument there are too many other things to do, therefore you don’t concentrate enough on your airflow.

I have some exercises that I really believe will improve the student’s conception and use of the muscles of the diaphragmatic area. These exercises are designed to make the student completely aware of how to obtain the best use of the air column.

Please remember that when breathing, we make use of the diaphragmatic area to facilitate the in and out of the air. The diaphragmatic area includes the muscles of the upper abdomen, but not really the lower abdomen. The diaphragm muscle is located just below the center of the rib cage. It follows around the contour of the rib cage and connects with the back muscles. This is why a player who is breathing properly will have their back expanding when they inhale. When doing the exercises discussed here, I try to think of the center of my diaphragmatic area. This is the area just below the sternum. I try to center all my thought and feeling right in this area. Also remember that the lungs don’t do anything by themselves. The diaphragm makes the move. You should not think of breathing from your chest area. The lungs are only reservoirs that hold air and filters to clean the blood, not the means of getting air into the body. The only sensation you should feel in your chest is that of “filling up” with air.

Now that we have learned how we breathe, let’s work on how to control the air to make it work for us as wind instrumentalists. The following exercise must be done with complete concentration. Forget everything around you and just concentrate on proper breathing.

There are five steps to this exercise. I call one time through all five of these steps one cycle of the exercise.

  1. Lie down on the floor on your back with your legs straight out and your arms at your side.
  2. Concentrate on isolating your diaphragmatic area from the rest of your body. At first, you can put a heavy book on it or have someone apply light pressure with his\her foot over the center of your diaphragmatic area. Later, you can just put your hand over the area and use that to push against. Work toward the point where you can really feel the location of the center of the muscle. When you can feel this area and have it isolated, you are now ready for the third step.
  3. Take air in slowly through a small hole in your mouth by raising the center of the diaphragmatic up towards the ceiling. With your hand on it you can actually see the movement. Keep taking air in slowly until you feel as if you are full, and then make yourself inhale even more air. In essence, stretching your lungs. Another way to think of raising the center of the diaphragmatic area is to pretend that there is someone standing above you with a string attached to your diaphragm and they are pulling on the string.
  4. When you are completely filled up with air, don’t hold this air in for a long period. Start slowly pushing it out through the same small hole in your mouth. You need to do this by keeping the diaphragm muscles flexed. Even though you have raised the center of the area to take the air in, you still keep the raised sensation going. Still think of raising it up toward the ceiling as you push the air out. Try to stay flexed and remember that flexed does not mean tense. Try not to tense up during the exercise. You flex the muscles for control, but try not to over do it and overtax your muscles. The only difference in the exhaling process is that you should now get a feeling that the upper abdominal wall is pushing in to force the air out. After you think that you have pushed all the air out that you possibly can, make yourself push out even a little more. Really empty your lungs. When you have done this you are ready for the final step.
  5. This is another relaxation step. It is not the deep relaxation of the first step, but simply a relaxing of the diaphragm as well as the whole body to let your diaphragmatic area rejuvenate itself and get ready for another cycle of the exercise

When you start this regimen, go through only 4 or 5 cycles at any one time. Doing any more may strain your muscles. As you progress, gradually increase the number of cycles. You will get the most out of the exercise if you do it twice a day. Ideally doing five cycles in the morning and five at night. Since the technique gives you a greater amount of oxygen than regular breathing, you’ll notice a nice energy boost in the morning and you will actually wake up faster. No more need for the coffee kick start.

If you do this exercise faithfully everyday, it will help your sound, endurance, flexibility, and even your range. Don’t be too impatient with the exercises since improvement will not happen overnight. Nothing worthwhile comes without hard work and constant practice. Remember too, your diaphragmatic area is always there with you so there is no excuse to skip the exercise. Also remember that your breathing while playing will not match exactly the way you do during the exercise. However, aspects of it will creep into your playing making your use of air much easier and more efficient as well as expanding your overall lung capacity.