Happy Anniversary, Getzen!

Posted by Getzen on March 4th, 2006

by Milo Greene

Happy Anniversary
1991: Bob Getzen (right) and his son Tom (center) celebrate the purchase with Tom’s sons Brett (left) and Adam (center)
(Click image for larger view)

March of 2006 marks a great achievement for the Getzen family. That month they will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of the family buying back the company bearing its name.

In 1991 the Getzen Company’s production and financial troubles finally came to a head as the company filed for bankruptcy. Finally, after 31 years, there was an opportunity for the Getzen family to once again own the company. After a few months of negotiation Allied Music Corporation, owned and operated by the grandsons of Getzen’s founder, purchased the Getzen Company’s name and assets. “It was a lot of work and a long hard process,” recollects Tom Getzen. “At times, it seemed like the purchase would never get done. When it was finally over though, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

Immediately after the purchase, things began to change. First, the majority of Getzen’s employees and equipment were moved from the facility on Centralia Street to Allied Music’s building on the other side of town. This doubled the size of Allied Music. In order to accommodate the sudden increase, an 18,000 square foot addition was built. The addition included a new bell department, buffing room, water treatment center, dent department, and several offices. As the Getzen employees moved into their new home the skilled Allied Music staff met them with open arms. They were also met with new and repaired equipment along with improved working conditions. It didn’t take long before they realized the general philosophy of the company had changed as well. “One of the first things we did was let the employees know that things were going to change,” says Tom. “We wanted to turn things around to make the company a leader again and we needed their help to do it. We couldn’t stress that enough.”

Reestablishing the company’s place in the industry was difficult. “For years, the overall quality of Getzen products had slipped,” Tom notes. “Our first priority and biggest obstacle was to change public perception about the Getzen name.” The new Getzen Company wasted no time as the entire product line was reevaluated. Models were closely examined with some being eliminated all together. Design tweaks and corrections were performed to improve the remaining instruments. New models were also added to incorporate instrument designs previously used by Allied Music. At the same time, every aspect of production was evaluated to improve not only labor time, but also finished instrument quality. As Tom says, “It wasn’t a smooth process by any means, but it had to be done.”

The drive to push the Getzen Company back to the top continues today. In the last fifteen years, the company has designed and offered several different generations of professional instruments. Although some didn’t make it to production or last long as models, they all taught their own valuable lessens. Lessens that allowed the company to make improvements across the board and brought the product line to where it is today. “Since buying the company back we have gone through a lot of R&D looking for the ‘right’ designs. Especially with our professional trumpets.” says Tom. “It took us awhile, but the pro horns we’re putting out now are better than anything the company has built in the past. Now when players think of Getzen, quality and craftsmanship are the first things that come to mind and we are once again an industry leader.”

“The last fifteen years definitely did bring along a lot changes,” remarks Tom. “Hopefully, the next fifteen will be even better for the family, the company, and our customers.”

Nickel vs. Monel: The Battle Rages On

Posted by Getzen on 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.

Smoothness
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.

Hardness
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.

Corrosion
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 intensive 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.

Pre-Test
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

Posted by Getzen on 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 www.goteborgbrassband.org.se.

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.

Mail Bag

Posted by Getzen on March 4th, 2006

Dear Getzen,

Here are pictures of my son, Will Parker, playing his American Heritage Field Trumpet for the first time at a funeral.

Will has been playing Taps since the seventh grade for local funerals. He is now a tenth grader. The field trumpet was my gift to him this past Christmas. Up until then, he had been playing a Bach trumpet. The field trumpet sounds awesome.

Thanks for offering such a fine instrument to the Bugles Across America bunch. It will always be special to him.

Sincerely,
Gina Parker
(Will’s mom)

Will Parker
Will Parker (fourth from left) pictured with a United States Marines funeral detail. Will is a member of Bugles Across America and has been performing Taps for over three years. This was the first of many to come using his new M2003S American Heritage Field Trumpet. Thank you for all you do, Will.

Battle of the Bands

Posted by Getzen on 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.

News From the Road

Posted by Getzen on 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

Posted by Getzen on 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

Posted by Getzen on 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

Posted by Getzen on 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

Posted by Getzen on 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.