Archive for the 'Education/Technique' Category

Photo Album

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

Getzen Display 2006 Musik Messe
Once again, Getzen proudly displayed the full line during the 2006 Musik Messe in Frankfurt, Germany. Long time fans and first time Getzen buyers visited the booth during the 4 day event.
Mike Lekrone and Mike Vax
University of Wisconsin marching band director Mike Lekrone visits with Mike Vax after a jazz performance in Madison, WI this past May.
Music Messe Dinner
Tom Getzen (front left) treated Swiss distributor Peter Marcandella (far right) along with Getzen’s Dave Surber (rear center) and Brett Getzen (far left) to dinner at Claudia’s in Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt. All four were sure to thank owner, Eisa-Mohammed Solaimaukehel (front right) for another fantastic dinner.
Dave Allison
Dave Allison worked with the Brea High School Marching Band during a clinic sponsored by Getzen and Pecknel Music. Dave is a well regarded player/clinician and has worked closely with Pecknel all over South Carolina.
Jack Long and his Getzen 900 Eterna Classic
Jack Long shows off his new custom made 900 Eterna Classic. The trumpet was presented to Mr. Long to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Long & McQuade Musical Instruments in Canada. The trumpet featured hand engraving, custom etchings, and a gold trim kit. As Mr. Long put it, “I can’t think of a gift I would have appreciated as much.”
Tom Getzen and Haim Attias
In Frankfurt, Tom Getzen gladly welcomed Haim Attias from Getzen’s Israeli distributor Hamusica Musical Instruments. Haim wanted to learn more about Custom Series trumpets to meet the growing demand in Israel for quality instruments.

Nickel vs. Monel: The Battle Rages On

Saturday, March 4th, 2006

by Brett Getzen

I suppose a better title would be “Us vs. Them”. Regardless, one of our proudest accomplishments is the reputation we’ve earned for having such great valves. Still, we’re asked why we use nickel plated pistons. Why not follow everyone else and use monel? The answer’s pretty simple. We use nickel plated pistons because they’re the best.

Are they cheaper to make? Nope. You could make a cheap plated piston, and some do, but that’s not how we do it. Are they faster to build? Not a chance. Over the years we’ve made both plated and monel pistons and the extra steps needed to properly make a plated piston almost double the labor time. In a business where labor is the biggest cost, that’s significant. So again, why do we use a more expensive and time intensive product? As I said, they’re the best.

When considering the quality of a valve section there are three factors to look at. First is overall build quality. No matter what material is used, poor construction will doom any valves. Second is the surface condition of the pistons. Ideally, a trumpet piston needs to be both smooth and hard. This determines how fluid the action is, how well it will wear, and even how much affect corrosion will have. The third factor is overall lifespan, which is generally determined by a combination of the first two. A well built valve section made from low quality materials won’t last nearly as long as one built with high grade metals.

I developed three tests to determine the quality of trumpet valve sections. The Getzen trumpet tested was a 390 student horn with nickel pistons I took right off the shelf. The second trumpet was a competitor’s student horn with monel pistons. For obvious reasons, I won’t name names and will just refer to this horn as Trumpet X. I will say many of you have probably had some experience with the manufacturer and leave it at that.

Test No. 1: Build Quality

Simply measuring key points of the valve section gave me a fairly good indication of the build quality. The three benchmarks I used were the outside diameter of the pistons, inside diameter of valve casing number three, and the amount of air pressure each trumpet held.

While the overall sizes were different, the gap on both horns was the same. However, Trumpet X held almost 1/3 lb less air, coming in below our standard for new horns. The low air pressure was caused by the lack of consistency in the piston diameters. Each piston on Trumpet X was narrower at the top than at the bottom. This allowed air in the valve section to escape from the top of each valve resulting in poor compression.

Initial Measurements
  390 Trumpet X
Air Test 1.2105 lbs .8947 lbs
Piston #1 O.D. .6485″ .6695″
Piston #2 O.D. .6485″ .6695″
Piston #3 O.D. .6485″ .6695″
#3 Casing I.D. .6520″ .6730″

Test No. 1 Winner: Tighter fit and higher compression put the 390 on top.

Test No. 2: Surface Condition

The most important factor of piston quality is the surface condition. Valve action depends on how smooth the pistons are, durability is dependent on how hard the metal is, and corrosion resistance is reliant on both factors. Let’s take a closer look at the three.

First, it’s important to note that nickel plating is very dense which creates a lubricious surface. In plain English, that means the piston surface is so smooth that it feels wet even when completely dry. Now that’s smooth. Monel on the other hand has a very grainy surface once annealed. This graininess causes pistons to drag and provides a place for acids and dirt to take hold, which can cause rapid corrosion.

Second, one of the most time consuming steps in piston construction is the final lapping. This process of working pistons into the valve casings can make or break any trumpet. In an effort to save time and money, many of our competitors cut corners when it comes to lapping. In some cases, student and intermediate level instruments aren’t lapped at all. Proper fit and valve action are sacrificed to cost cutting. Another common trick is to use a low grit lapping compound. The benefit to the manufacturer is that the pistons can be lapped to size very quickly. However, the coarse grit leaves a surface covered with tiny intersecting scratches known as cross hatching. Cross hatching can cause uneven wear, sluggish valve action, and pistons depressed off center to actually bite into the casing wall. Cross hatching can also hold dirt and saliva, again speeding up the corrosion process. To prevent that from happening, we lap our pistons with a fine grit compound. This not only creates a smooth, even surface, but also a tighter fit. While it takes longer to lap this way, the finished product can’t be beat.

Surface hardness is key to long lasting valve action. No matter how tight your tolerances are or how smooth the surface is, if the piston is soft it will quickly wear out. Most importantly, the surface needs to be consistently hard. Varying areas of hardness will cause uneven wear which not only slows the pistons, but can also damage the inside of the valve casings.

The common argument in favor of monel is that it’s harder than nickel. This may come as a shock, but that’s true. Monel is harder… in its original state. However, monel is very susceptible to annealing. That is softening due to exposure to high temperatures. High temperatures like those needed to braze in piston liners. That’s right, a process used to turn a piece of monel into a piston is the very thing that ruins it. You’re left with a surface that’s hard in some spots and soft in others, mainly around the ports. The soft spots wear faster than the rest of the piston resulting in a poor fit and slow, sluggish action along with air leaks and compression loss. Not exactly what you want from a trumpet piston.

Nickel on the other hand is much less susceptible to annealing. The temperatures required are much higher. What little annealing may occur is negated by the extremely hard nickel plating which creates a consistently hard surface. This provides you with even wear throughout the life of the piston. Not only that, but the hardness makes nickel plating an ideal bearing surface and allows it to be honed to amazingly tight tolerances. All ideal attributes for building trumpet pistons.

I had a local metal treater test ssome tubing for me. They tested the surface hardness of raw and annealed monel as well as raw and plated nickel. In the chart below, the higher the number the harder the metal surface. I think the results speak for themselves.

Metal Hardness
Metal Hardness Rank
Raw Monel 64 Second Hardest
Annealed Monel 59 Softest
Raw Nickel 60 Second Softest
Plated Nickel 75 Hardest

Now you may be asking yourself why not just nickel plate monel. Those of you that asked, pat yourselves on the back. That’s the only way to build a decent monel piston. However, nickel plating over monel is not as durable as plating over nickel. Starting with nickel tubing provides a stronger bond between the layers as well as a piston with a built in safety. That is, if and the nickel plating does wear, you’re left with an exposed section of nickel tubing. While it’s not as hard as the plating, the nickel tubing is harder than an exposed piece of monel would be. That means your pistons will still perform and hold up well until you can have them replated.

Any and all pistons can corrode. It’s just a fact. If they aren’t cared for, this corrosion happens sooner rather than later. The key is to prevent corrosion as long as possible, therefore extending the life of your trumpet.

So what causes corrosion? Basically, the answer is your spit. Acids in your saliva combine with dirt in your valve section to form a piston killing mixture of sorts. This mixture most aggressively attacks soft or worn areas on the piston’s surface. As the surface corrodes it becomes rough. The problem grows exponentially as more dirt builds up in these rough spots and causes more corrosion, which makes the surface rougher and so on. This corrosion and roughness can get so bad that, left unchecked, brass from the valve casings will actually begin to deposit on the pistons. Once this happens, the valve section is, for all intents and purposes, ruined.

Our pistons are built with this in mind. The hard, smooth surface created by the nickel plating protects the piston. The extreme density and corrosion resistance of nickel plating offers no place on the surface for acids and dirt to attach themselves. Think of the plating as a force field of sorts repelling the piston’s attackers.

Monel on the other hand doesn’t offer this protection. Not only the failings of the metal itself, but also the corner cutting of other manufacturers creates pistons that might as well be sponges. The soft areas caused by brazing quickly wear creating microscopic pits. These pits act as tiny little hooks grabbing on to acid and dirt causing corrosion to spread quickly over the piston. In the end, you’re left with a piston surface that’s more like sandpaper than a bearing. Not exactly what you want from such a crucial part of your trumpet.

Test No. 2 Winner: With harder, smoother, and therefore more corrosion resistant pistons, the 390 is obviously the winner again.

Test No. 3: Life Span

Finally, the most telling test of all was how long monel pistons lasted in head to head competition with our nickel plated pistons. After all, that’s the true mark of quality.

The first thing I did was have both valve sections disassembled and cleaned. Each piston was oiled using standard Getzen valve oil, reassembled, and air tested. The whole point of this was to ensure that each horn was treated the same way and entered the test in the same condition.

The Test
The way I tested the piston life span was pretty simple. Each trumpet was mounted into a machine built for just this purpose. A small bench motor attached to an arm mechanism that moved up and down when turned on. The travel of the arm was set to the exact travel distance for the pistons being tested. When everything was set up, the machine ran the trumpet valves at 300 strokes per minute.

At this point, it’s important to keep in mind that the test was not intended to simulate actual playing conditions. It was more of an overall quality test. I equate it to automakers testing seat cushions. They repeatedly drop a 50 pound weight onto a seat to test its construction. That isn’t a real world test, but it does show the seat’s durability. That’s what this test was intended to do. Also keep in mind that, over the duration of the test, both trumpets were treated the same way. Both were only oiled once and each trumpet was exposed to breath and moisture after 100,000 strokes. As the machine ran, I blew through the horn for a few minutes to introduce saliva in order to test the pistons’ corrosion resistance.

Trumpet X Test Results
  Starting Numbers 128,800 Strokes Loss
Air Test .8947 lbs .7368 lbs .1579 lbs (17.6%)
Piston #1 O.D. .6695″ .6670″ .0025″
Piston #2 O.D. .6695″ .6675″ .0020″
Piston #3 O.D. .6695″ .6670″ .0025″
Casing #3 I.D. .6730″ .6740″ .0010″

At somewhat random points along the way, I stopped the test to take measurements of the pistons, casing, and compression. For the sake of space, the starting and finishing results are shown here.

Trumpet X was stopped after 128,800 strokes. At that point, the pistons were so corroded, that they locked in place while the machine was running. As soon as I pulled a piston, I could plainly see why. Corrosion covered the surface of all three pistons making it impossible to continue the test.

Monel Pistons Notice the wear and corrosion on Trumpet X’s pistons, especially the large amount on No. 2 and No. 3. Also note the yellow discoloration of the pistons. This is brass that has been deposited on the pistons from the valve casings. At this point, all three pistons were ruined and no longer functioned.

It’s very telling to see what kind of wear took place on Trumpet X. The wear not only destroyed the valve action, but it completely ruined the compression of the trumpet. While it wasn’t up to our standards to begin with, the compression was still enough that the trumpet could be played with some success. However, after losing over 17% of its air pressure, Trumpet X was left almost unplayable. At this point, the only thing that could save the horn would be a complete piston rebuild

As you can see, the 390 lasted much, much longer. At the 128,800 mark there was almost no change to the pistons, casings, or compression. In fact, the only measurable difference was .0005″ worth of wear to the valve casing. Where Trumpet X was ruined, the 390’s valve action was still smooth, fast, and showing no signs of slowing down.

Now fast forward to 1,000,000 strokes. At this point there was some wear to the valves. However, the valve action was still smooth and fast. Most importantly, the trumpet still tested at over one pound of air. This means that the 390 trumpet still had enough compression to meet our new horn standards. Also, while the pistons looked used, they were still corrosion free with all of their plating intact.

There are two key factors to note about the test results. First, the nickel plating stayed corrosion free during the entire test. This is important because corrosion is like cancer for trumpet pistons. The monel pistons in Trumpet X quickly failed once corrosion started. All it took was a small amount of acids via saliva to expose the weakness of the monel.

Nickel Pistons At first glance, the 390 pistons appear to show almost no wear at all. It wasn’t until the pistons were measured that the minimal amount of wear was shown. At this point, the 390 pistons had been run for just over 1,000,000 stokes on one oiling and still performed almost like new.

The second thing to note is where the wearing took place. With Trumpet X the vast majority of wear was seen on the pistons themselves. Each piston lost .002″ – .0025″ from their diameter, but Trumpet X only lost .001″ from the valve casing. The majority of wear on the 390 occurred on the casings themselves while the pistons stayed relatively intact due to the hardness of nickel plating compared to yellow brass. With a bearing surface, it’s ideal for one to be surface be much harder than the other. This leads to consistent wear of both pieces and longer overall life. Harder pistons are preferred because worn casings are easier to repair. In the case of nickel pistons, it’s relatively easy to replate them slightly oversized and relap them into the worn valve casings to repair the valve section. Repair would be more costly and time consuming with worn out pistons. Your only realistic option would be to start again with brand new pistons refit to the trumpet.

Finally, I was amazed by the performance of our pistons. I knew they’d win, but I had no idea just how much longer they would last. The actual count on the machine was 1,009,100 strokes, which is no small feat. It’s difficult to put that into real world terms, but the fact that the nickel pistons lasted 10 times longer than the monel is very telling. In fact, the 390 could be run even longer. I only stopped the test because my point was made and it had to stop some time. Based on the amount of wear between 500,000 and 1,000,000 strokes I have a good feeling the 390 has at least another 500,000 strokes in it and that’s still with only one oiling.

390 Trumpet Test Results
  Starting Numbers 128,800 Strokes 1,000,000 Strokes Loss
Air Test 1.2105 lbs 1.2105 lbs 1.1579 lbs .0526 lbs (8.7%)
Piston #1 O.D. .6485″ .6485″ .6475″ .0010″
Piston #2 O.D. .6485″ .6485″ .6470″ .0015″
Piston #3 O.D. .6485″ .6485″ .6475″ .0010″
Casing #3 I.D. .6520″ .6525″ .6545″ .0025″

Test No. 3 Winner: Obviously, without a doubt, the clear winner is the 390.

So what does this mean to you as a player? One million strokes on a piston may not be regularly achieved, but it’s nice to know that you could do it. The real lesson is that, despite what the “big boys” tell you, monel is not the superior piston material. It may function well for some manufacturers in the short term, but the overall quality is sub par in comparison to nickel plated pistons. In the case of some trumpets, you’re faced with low quality materials built with little or no craftsmanship leaving you with slow valves that may corrode in place overnight.

Another lesson to take away from this is that nickel plating is not the end all answer for piston performance. It’s possible to build cheap, inferior nickel plated pistons. Generally speaking, these pistons are made from monel and covered with a very thin or “flash” layer of nickel plating. As with anything, time and care must be taken to ensure the right materials are used and worked in the right way to create a superior finished product.

That’s the kind of quality and craftsmanship you’ll find in every Getzen trumpet. From student cornets to professional trumpets, every Getzen valve section is built from the same quality materials, using the same skilled techniques, and tested to the same high standards. After all, there’s a reason why we have the courage to cover our horns with a lifetime valve warranty while other companies only feel comfortable with a year.

News from the Road

Saturday, March 4th, 2006

Goteborg Brass Band in Elkhorn
Tom Getzen (far right) welcomed the Goteborg Brass Band to Elkhorn in October. The band members toured the factory and spent time play testing Getzen and Edwards instruments. The band and its members purchased several 3850 Bb and 3892 Eb cornets and 3895 flugelhorns to add to their impressive inventory of Getzen small brass.

For more information on the band visit

ike Vax, Tom Getzen and Johnny Brit
Mike Vax (left) and Tom Getzen (center) listen on while Getzen artist Johnny Brit test drives the new 3001MV trumpet during the 2006 NAMM show in Anaheim, CA.

Battle of the Bands

Saturday, March 4th, 2006

Battle of the Bands
Click image for larger view

On January 2, the University of Wisconsin Badgers faced off against the Auburn University Tigers in this year’s Capital One Bowl. Not only did the game bring together a Big Ten powerhouse and an S.E.C. force, but it also showcased two of the nation’s premiere marching bands. What made this game in Orlando, FL different from any other bowl game is that both bands performed on Getzen instruments. While the Badgers came out on top, both bands gave their fans something to be proud of.

The University of Wisconsin has used Getzen trumpets and trombones for years. Most recently, they purchased one hundred 900S Eterna Classic trumpets and seventy-five 351 trombones all in silver plate. This year, Auburn University purchased sixty-five 700S trumpets.

Both Wisconsin and Auburn purchased custom cases for their instruments. The cases feature each band’s logo embroidered on the outside and show off each of the school’s colors. Anyone seeing a member of the band on their way to practice will have no doubt where they play. Auburn also had the band’s logo etched on the bell of each trumpet adding that extra touch of school pride.

Both the custom cases and etching are available to any school looking to upgrade their marching band program. Not only does it provide the band with top notch, Getzen instruments, but also with that special touch on and off the field.

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.

A Closer Look at Custom Series Bb Trumpets

Saturday, March 19th, 2005

In the world of professional trumpets there are a lot of great names to choose from. However, it’s not just the name that matters. What’s most important when picking a professional trumpet is finding one that suits you as a player. One that fits your playing style and needs as well as giving you the highest possible quality is the key. The only way to find this perfect fit is to go into the buying process armed with an open mind, a set of chops ready to play, and as much information on trumpets as you can find. In the spirit of this information gathering, the following is a detailed breakdown of the entire Custom Series Trumpet line intended to give players an idea of what to expect from each, an idea of what kind of player each was designed for, and to demonstrate why they should easily be at the top of anyone’s wish list.

With six models of professional Bb trumpets and a long list of available options and accessories to choose from it can be difficult to find a starting point within the Getzen Custom Series. After all, within the 3050, 3051, and 3052 trumpet lines there are more than a dozen different options to choose from. Players have the ability to change the basic model with anything from different bells, reverse leadpipes, and six different finishes just to name a few. A musician can even have almost any design or text they choose permanently etched onto their trumpet by taking advantage of our Custom Etching system. When all of this is considered, there are more than 1000 different Custom Series Bb trumpets to choose from. Combine that enormous list of professional trumpets with the three different tuning slides (round crook slide, square crook slide, & round crook jazz slide) available to choose from and you’ll agree it is safe to say there is a Getzen Custom Series trumpet that meets the needs and styles of almost every trumpet player out there.

When taking a more detailed look at Custom Series trumpets, it should be noted that each and every one is hand crafted by the highly experienced artisans of the Getzen ProShop. Each model is built around a world famous Getzen valve section with a heart of nickel plated, nickel silver pistons. What does this mean to you? It means you will have a lifetime of lightening fast and trouble free action from day one. There is no mythical “break in” period for Getzen pistons like those found with competitors’ monel pistons. Precision brazing, precision honing, and hand lapping ensure this. Also, every Custom Series trumpet is built with a hand hammered, one piece bell of either yellow or gold brass sheet. This allows for exceptional tonal production and superior acoustical efficiency within the bell thanks to the lack of a radial seam seen on standard two piece bells. In addition to these great features found on every Custom Series trumpet, each model also carries with it a few specific design attributes that make it ideal for different playing levels, styles, and needs. Don’t forget that this entire package is backed by more than 70 years of family tradition and is covered by the Getzen Platinum Lifetime Warranty against manufacturer defects guaranteeing you a top of the line, world class trumpet for years to come.

Bb Trumpet Bells

#137 Bell: Standard throat providing great projection and response with a more compact sound.
(available in standard weight yellow brass or heavy weight gold brass)

#172 Bell: Larger throat than a #137 with a darker, richer, and more rounded sound.
(available in either light weight yellow brass or heavy weight gold brass)

Trumpet Leadpipes

#125 Leadpipe: Some moderate resistance to lean against with exceptional tonal centering and slotting.

#125R Leadpipe: Reverse leadpipe construction providing great slotting, but with a more open, less resistant feel.

3001 & 3001LE

The 3001 & 3001LE Artist Model trumpets were designed with a very specific type of player in mind. Each trumpet features a #125 mouthpipe and a #137 one piece, hand hammered bell of yellow brass mounted to a .459″ bore valve set. Both the bell and the mouthpipe undergo a special heat treatment and annealing process. This combination works to create a brilliant tone with outstanding projection. The Artist Model trumpets provide a responsive feel along crisp articulations making them very attractive to players from the jazz, commercial, and lead arenas of play. For those players seeking a more open feel, the addition of the round crook tuning slide will open up the horn adding more freeness to its blow without comprising the trumpet’s responsiveness.


3003 Genesis

The 3003 Genesis is built around a solid design that produces a very powerful, round tone. Heavy bracing, an ovate tuning slide crook, a .464″ valve set, and a large throat bell all combine to make it perform evenly and responsively throughout the entire register while maintaining a free and open feel. In addition to those great features, the Genesis includes our ground breaking Interchangeable Leadpipe System (ILS). The ILS allows players the ability to switch between a Standard or Open leadpipe depending on their specific needs. In essence, giving players the ability to have two trumpets in one. All combined, these great features make the 3003 one of the most versatile trumpets available.



The 3050 trumpet is designed for the serious high school or collegiate player. With it’s standard #125 mouthpipe and #137 one piece, hand hammered yellow brass bell it produces a full, brilliant tone with excellent intonation from low to high. The standard .459″ bore and square tuning slide provide moderate resistance allowing a player to “lean” against the horn. The addition of a round tuning slide will open the horn slightly. If even less resistance is desired, going with the optional .462″ large bore or #125R reverse mouthpipe or both will open it up even more. If the standard bell is too bright, the optional #137 gold brass bell will add warmth and darkness to the sound.



The 3051 trumpet is designed to be a great “all around” trumpet that will sound well in all settings from jazz to classical. The #125 mouthpipe and #172 one piece, hand hammered heavy gold brass bell combine to produce a very broad, rich, and warm tone with a great sense of freeness to the blow. The 3051 also provides a smooth, even play with excellent intonation and slotting from low to high thanks in part to the square tuning slide. As with the 3050, the addition of a round tuning slide, reverse leadpipe, .462″ bore valve set, or a combination of the three will allow players the ability to achieve the resistance level they desire from moderate resistance to a very free blow.



The 3052 features a .462″ large bore, a #125R reverse leadpipe, and a round crook tuning slide in addition to a #137 one piece, hand hammered yellow brass bell, providing a trumpet ideal for commercial and big band players that like a very free blowing instrument. The optional #172 light weight, yellow brass bell will significantly brighten the sound and increase the trumpet’s responsiveness. Adding a square tuning slide will allow the trumpet to slot tighter and add more stability in the extreme upper register without jeopardizing its freeness. For those wanting a bit more resistance, the options of a .459″ bore or a standard leadpipe setup are available.

How to Choose the Right Student Instrument

Saturday, March 19th, 2005

Adapted from NAPBIRT publication

At Getzen, we understand the early years are the most crucial in the education of a young musician. The availability of a quality instrument is key to the development of their skills. However, it is unrealistic to expect parents to spend several hundred or thousands of dollars on an instrument for a child that may or may not stick with it. There are several things parents need to consider before making the decision to purchase a new instrument for their son or daughter. Here are just a few questions and answers that may help you with this decision.

Q: My 12 year old decided to join the band. Should I buy a brand new horn or rent one from the local store?

A: Rental or lease programs are often great choices for many parents. With low initial investments, flexible payment plans, and included maintenance plans a rental program is very attractive for equipping the beginning player. They are a great way to get started until your student advances to the point of knowing that he or she is going to stick with the band. Also, many dealers offering rental programs work side-by-side with the local educators ensuring that you will be receiving a quality instrument that is approved by the school’s band director.

Q: Before I decide what to do, what should I look for in a student horn?

A: When considering what qualities to look for there are two things you need to remember. First, this is a tool for your child’s education. Making a decision based solely on price could be a considerable handicap to your youngster. The second thing you need to consider is that this instrument should be able to last at least three to four years. This is due to the fact that after that long, most students have advanced to the skill level that they are ready to move up to an intermediate or even professional level instrument. There are three basic issues that need to be addressed to determine the quality of an instrument.

  1. Playability – This is first and foremost on the list. The most important thing your child needs is an instrument that he or she can actually play… and in tune. Unfortunately, there are some “instruments” on the market today that are built so poorly that they cannot be played at all. It is unfair to expect a student to learn how to play if they are learning on an instrument that even a highly trained professional couldn’t perform on.
  2. Durability – As every parent knows, if it can be broken a child will find the way. This is true with musical instruments as well. When you consider the daily trips to and from school, rehearsals, concerts, parades, and pep band performances there is a never ending stream of potentially dangerous situations. That is why it is important to put an instrument in your child’s hands that is built to stand up to this. Strong bracing, tube joints, and solid bell construction are all key points to look at.
  3. Fix-ability – As mentioned above, kids will be kids and their instruments will need repairs. However, some low end instruments out there are so poorly built that repairs cannot be made. In fact, there are some instruments that reputable repair shops won’t even touch. The key question to ask when looking at a new instrument is “Can it be fixed?” You want an instrument that can be easily repaired at your local music store using parts that are readily available from the manufacturer or a company such as Allied Supply. Ideally, you want an instrument that is backed up and covered by a comprehensive manufacturer’s warranty. Something hard to find on professional instruments let alone student horns.

Q: I decided to buy a horn, now where should I go shopping for it?

A: While some parents find internet auction sites attractive for finding good deals on used instruments, a great deal of caution should be taken. It is difficult to determine the actual condition and quality of a used instrument without actually touching, playing, and looking it over in person. If you do decide to go with a used horn, have it looked over by a quality repair shop in your area. When shopping for a brand new instrument parents have basically three options. They can buy from their local music store, from an internet retailer, or from a discount store. There are pluses and minuses to all three. The least expensive of the three is generally the discount retailers. However, often times they lack any kind of service and only offer low, low end student instruments. When considering quality as well as price, online retailers are very attractive. Great deals can be found online for quality student horns, however, they lack some of the service advantages found at local music stores. At your local music store, your child can hold and play test the instrument before you buy it. You can also take advantage of the knowledgeable sales staff for advice and recommendations. The local store is also the ideal location to take the horn for future repairs and maintanence. In the end, parents have to weigh all three options and decide what is most important. Price, quality, service, or a balanced combination of all three.

If you’re looking for a brass instrument that meets these criteria, look no further than the Getzen 300/400 Series line of trumpets, cornets, and trombones. Our student horns are built by the finest American craftsmen to the highest possible standards while keeping retail prices low. With features not found on other student instruments such as hand spun bells, precision honed nickel pistons, hand lapped slide tubes, and manually straightened handslides it’s plain to see why they are slightly more expensive than some import “instruments”. However, as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for and every Getzen 300 & 400 Series instrument is built to last and is backed by our 5 year Gold Warranty and legendary Lifetime Valve Warranty. Most importantly though, each is built to perform and to grow along with your young musician.

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The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair – A Shining Time For Cornet Soloists

Friday, July 2nd, 2004

by Patricia Backhaus

In 1893 the world came to Chicago to party. Why? It was time for the World’s Fair, or more correctly, the World Columbian Exposition to celebrate Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. The people of Chicago did everything possible to get the fair in their city. The bragged so much that the selection committee started to refer to the board members as coming from “the windy city” and that nickname has stuck to Chicago to this day. By all accounts, it was an incredible fair that included extraordinary architecture and a railway system that dropped people right at the front gates. Chicago proved to all of those in attendance that the bragging of the city was more than justified.

Now, if you were going to throw a party for the world, you would need to have the very best of entertainment and in 1893 that meant brass bands. It was a much simpler time then. After all, this World’s Fair gave many people their first look at things like electric lights. There was new technology on display everywhere including wireless telegraphy, kinetiscopes, telephones, new fangled phonographs, cameras and (could it be true?) flying machines! Even with all of these new and exciting items there was yet to be developed what we would call today a sound system. Musicians needed to be heard outside over all the commotion and, naturally, brass band music was perfect for the job.

Hundreds of bands performed at the fair. Leading the list was John Philip Sousa and his band. At the time, Sousa’s band was still a young group having only been organized about one year earlier, but they were an extraordinary musical ensemble and were fast becoming favorites of the crowds wherever they traveled. Of course at the fair though, they were just one of many.

All of the bands played for huge crowds and featured superstar soloists. There were trombone and euphonium soloists and the occasional piccolo player could be found, but it was the cornet soloists that captured the crowd. Why only these instruments? Why were the cornet soloists such a big deal? Since there were no microphones, the cornet was a natural leader. It could be heard above everything else going on during normal fair business. With their frequent performances, cornet soloists captured the hearts of the people. There is no single reason for this. Perhaps it was just because they were being featured so much or because their sound could cut through everything else. What ever it was, the cornet was the hit of the fair. And what about the trumpet players? Well, at this time in band history, the cornet was considered to be the artist’s instrument. Trumpet parts tended to be used for filling out harmonies or for playing fanfare figure. They weren’t seen as suitable for solo work.

We know many of the great soloists who appeared at the Chicago World’s Fair from newspaper accounts, concert bills, and programs. T.H. Rollinson will be remembered for Columbian Fantasia, a solo he wrote and played at the fair. The fair was centered around a huge fountain surrounded on all sides by the great, white exhibition buildings. This area was known as the Peristyle. Soloist W. Paris Chambers celebrated this central area with his Peristyle Polka. “The World’s Greatest Cornetist” Jules Levy appeared at the fair, as did P.G. Lowery, better known as “The Black Herbert L. Clarke”. The list of great players in attendance is endless and includes literally every great American cornet soloist of the day as well as quite a few outstanding European soloists.

Since buildings in 1893 didn’t have air conditioning, a good part of the performing sessions were spent outdoors in bandstands or park pavilions. That was just part of the life of a professional musician so they felt right at home during the fair. They appeared on bandstands and stages throughout the grounds. Hype was the watchword of the day and each small stage created glittering promotional prose to lure crowds in to hear and see the great soloists. The organizers of the events became very aware of the crowds coming to hear the musicians. Sometimes they would arrange to have two ‘rival’ performers appear at opposite ends of the exhibition buildings. Performances were scheduled in such a way that audiences would gather at one end of the hall to hear the first performer play after which the audience would have ample time to walk to the other end of the hall before the next performance began. This way, the people not only attended the concerts and had a chance to compare each band against the others, but they also had time to visit the exhibits throughout the hall.

Crowds loved this atmosphere of comparison. It was also an outstanding venue for the musicians giving them steady employment for weeks and a feeling of an “almost home” because they could stay in one hotel room or boarding house without having to pack up and move on every day. The fair also provided them with great exposure thanks to the huge crowds attending their concerts everyday. This was very important for their futures as professional musicians guaranteeing them more business after the fair ended. As I interviewed old timers who knew some of these great players, they were quick to point out that all of them were making their living performing. They performed for people anywhere and everywhere and did not have a “concert hall” mentality. If there was work somewhere, they would play. This is not to suggest that they were not great artists, but they were working artists in the truest sense.

Through their performances these musicians inspired many youngsters, and some adults, to practice hard in the hopes of becoming a celebrated cornet soloist themselves. Dreams to one day attain a high level of artistry associated with cornet playing at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair were a common phenomenon among cornet players of the era. After all, the cornet soloists were the rock band guitar players of their day. As time went on though, the shine of the cornet player or brass band player in general, began to fade. Unfortunately, popular musical trends change quicker than the weather. However, we are in the midst of a renaissance of sorts today with the popularity of brass bands again beginning to climb. As this happens, the cornet soloist will undoubtedly be the leader of the pack once again.