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Copper Bells


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Mr. Benge
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:33 pm    Post subject: Copper Bells Reply with quote

Sorry if this seems like a noob question but what are the most common applications for horns w. copper bells? They obviously make the sound a bit darker right? Are these more suited for smooth jazz and quiet smoky bar playing or do they work well with high powered lead and rock playing as well?
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sunburstbasser
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my experience, copper bells have a very full, rich sound when compared to typical brass bells. Copper bells have been used in all situations. Many of them do sound excellent for jazz combo, like Kanstul's 1500, but that is certainly not the only sound.

Consider:

Bill Chase played a Schilke B6, with a copper bell. In fact, what Schilke calls Beryllium is a very thin copper bell. The B6 and B5 have copper bells in standard weight as well.

At one point, Kanstul's 1510 C trumpet was being used in a couple different orchestras.

At one time or another, I'd wager that Conn'a Coprion trumpets were used in pretty much any situation you could think of.
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shofarguy
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of the horns I've played with copper bells (trumpets and flugelhorn), the most consistent characteristic has been added ability to respond to delicate nuance. Also apparent is a reduction in carrying power. This is because the higher frequency overtones are less present, compared to yellow brass. The notable exception is the Kanstul 1601 developed by Tim Wendt for his own use.

Tim spec'ed a lightweight copper bell for his horn. The production version has a bell made from .020" copper sheet, as opposed to the normal .024" used on the 1500 and 1525. This restores much of the brilliance and projection the heavier version lacks.

I know of one Hollywood era Calicchio 1S/2 that is "all copper" construction. It sounded wonderful and played just as well as it sounded. I imagine it would be perfect on microphone or in a small venue. More of a solo sound or reserved trumpet voice than commercial bright.

Brian
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trumpaholic
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a Schilke B6 on consignment for sale here on the TH. I am quite impressed with the timbre and projection of the horn. For a small .450 bore, it can really pump it out.
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RogersBrass
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few comments about copper bells..but not in any specific order.

Copper bells can be coprion..or rolled sheet copper..or I imagine formed in any of the available methods that any alloy bells are made.

There are no alloy bells that can be electroformed..as in the coprion process..so copper bells are unique in that respect....but in another way not unique because any pure element metal can be electroformed in theory...and that is just a general statement.

Copper bells never were intended for any special style or application in performance. Some players enjoy copper bell characteristics.

It should be understood that copper bells have a wide range of temper sensitive resonance..and can be annealed and tempered just as the brass bells are.

Beryllium bells are not copper bells...beryllium is a pure element used to produce a copper alloy...just as zinc is used to produce a copper alloy known as brass. Beryllium is used instead of zinc, and with copper produces an copper-beryllium alloy that was in use for decades before Schilke started using it for trumpets. Beryllium bells can have a copper color though.

A related topic of interest that I will mention..without trying to take this thread off course..is how the color of copper can change so much with the use of different elements in producing the wide range of copper alloys.
With 40% zinc..copper has a yellow color..and with smaller percentages of zinc..the alloy goes through gold...rose..and red colors. Nickel silver bells are also a copper alloy...with pure nickel used instead of zinc..or in addition to zinc...but the nickel causes the the copper color to totally vanish, and the bell looks like it is 100% nickel...but it has the same percentage of copper just like yellow brass bells. Then there are bronze bells...but enough said.

One more thing on the coprion bells..these were made just as a cheap way to make bells...electroformed on a mandrel..and be done with it...no wasted cost of labor. The sales pitch about perfectly formed bells made from a pure element metal was just fabricated to explain it away. Eventually the cost of disposal of the waste products from the coprion process passed up the profits from the low labor production methods. Conn could no longer just go out and dump the deadly waste products in the river. Coprion bells are made today..but in a more controlled production setting..and of course at a higher cost than the good old days.

So today you can select whatever bell material you like..and come up with your own reasons.
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Archie Sawyer
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="shofarguy"]Of the horns I've played with copper bells (trumpets and flugelhorn), the most consistent characteristic has been added ability to respond to delicate nuance. Also apparent is a reduction in carrying power.This is because the higher frequency overtones are less present, compared to yellow brass. The notable exception is the Kanstul 1601 developed by Tim Wendt for his own use.

Tim spec'ed a lightweight copper bell for his horn. The production version has a bell made from .020" copper sheet, as opposed to the normal .024" used on the 1500 and 1525. This restores much of the brilliance and projection the heavier version lacks.

I know of one Hollywood era Calicchio 1S/2 that is "all copper" construction. It sounded wonderful and played just as well as it sounded. I imagine it would be perfect on microphone or in a small venue. More of a solo sound or reserved trumpet voice than commercial bright.

Brian

WHAT! Seriously, I think we'll have to agree to disagree here, on carry power. This is the first I have ever heard anyone make this statement. I play lead on a horn with a copper bell and I assure you, I have no problem with carry power! If anything, I have always heard, that a copper bell will actually carry even more. Just my opinion I guess.

Archie
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FDC05
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

my horn has a copper bell and is has a big sound, lots of highs AND lows, which of course can be magnified by your mouthpiece choice. I also have NO problem carrying.... AT ALL!
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RogersBrass
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeh....on the carrying power issue. The perception of carrying power by the player has been said to be less...but the perception of carrying power by those out in front of the horn say it is greater. So less is coming back behind the bell..and more is going out in front. Also it has been said that that projection is greater with copper bells...but the dynamic range drops off suddenly.....but maybe they are talking about carrying power..I'm not sure what anyone else is talking about.

You have a wide range of opinion..just like with brass bells.
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Adam V
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I strongly agree with Archie on the issue of copper-bell carrying power.

I've compared the projection of horns (from behind the bell and on recordings) that are nearly identical, only differing in bell material, and I can say that copper produces a sound with a much denser core, that doesn't spread or break up like yellow brass can. This result is a more focused sound with much more meat/body/guts that will carry over a big band with no problems at all.

I've always played on lightweight, yellow brass horns because I was always told they were better for commercial/jazz settings because of their quicker response and more brilliant sound. I found over the years that these horns actually have a tendency to spread the sound out more, which sounds great from behind the bell, but makes it easier for your sound to get lost in everyone else's sound. Playing lead is more difficult when you have to put in extra effort to fight the sound/projection tendencies of your instrument...

There are other factors such as metal thickness, bell flare, bore size, bracing, etc. that can further assist (or destroy) my observations, but I'm just comparing apples to apples here.
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shofarguy
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As RogersBrass said, there are numerous techniques for producing copper bells. I listed the horns I've played. They are, with one exception, Kanstul made horns. As I stated, the "denser core", as one of you put it, is lacking the extreme high overtones of yellow brass with the exception of the lightweight 1601.

So, I have no doubt that what any of you have written is true, but in my experience with the horns I've mentioned, what I wrote is true to my experience.

I had the opportunity to A/B my brass belled 1025 with a copper belled version on more than one occasion. The 1500 is also made in bronze, but not yellow brass, so the nearest comparison there is Kanstul's 1504. The 1601, as I wrote, is full of razzle-dazzle overtones, due to its lighter weight. So, no, I'm not kidding.

Brian
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tommy t.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My avatar is me improvising a solo on Night Train over a 65 piece concert band. I'm standing in the trumpet section -- 3rd row about 1/3rd of the way around. The horn is a 100% copper bell Kanstul 1525; the mouthpiece was an Oakes F3. The venue was a large church sanctuary that probably seats 600 with high ceiling. I have a recording of that performance. There is no problem hearing me at all.

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gbdeamer
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shofarguy wrote:
Of the horns I've played with copper bells (trumpets and flugelhorn), the most consistent characteristic has been added ability to respond to delicate nuance.


Like Brian, my experience with a copper bell is the noticable ability to respond to extremes. I can play VERY loud and VERY soft without losing tone quality.

I haven't noticed any reduction in carry power, but I have a rimless copper bell (from DQ's custom shop) on my Lawler, so maybe that has something to do with it. To me the copper bell projects as well as my other (brass) ones.
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Adam V
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shofarguy wrote:
As I stated, the "denser core", as one of you put it, is lacking the extreme high overtones of yellow brass with the exception of the lightweight 1601.

Denser core doesn't mean the sound lacks any of the overtones, it just means the fundamental is more pronounced and that the sound is held together more (more compact).

However, since your experience is based mainly on Kanstul horns I can agree with what you're saying regarding that statement. All of the Kanstul horns I've played with a copper bell seemed to have been lacking some of those higher overtones you speak of. I've never been a fan of the Kanstul #7 bell in copper...

A couple great examples of this copper core sound I'm talking about are the Schilke B5, and the copper solo Calicchio 1s2 at Ferguson Music (which I believe you've played before, Brian)...
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uglylips
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I play a Schilke B5L which has an electroplated solid copper bell. I use it in all settings, Orchestral, Big Band, and Combo. Projection is great, and sound is bright when I lean on it. When I back off the sound gets darker. This horn resonates with a rich full sound. I hear a full range of overtones. It works really well.

With the tuning bell model I can easily change bells. If I want yellow brass, silver, or beryllium (by the way, Schilke now uses a thin solid copper for these) I can just slide on a bell made of a different material or the same or different bell flare. The hard thing is finding justification to spend the extra money when I have something that is working really great for me.
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shofarguy
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Adam, the copper Calicchio you mention is the same one I mentioned. The person who ends up with that horn will have bought a treasure, to be sure. If I had the money, I'd certainly buy it. I have no idea what that horn would sound like in a live situation because there is no real room at Ferguson's to hear how it really sounds. Honestly, the same is true of the Kanstul showroom, but not quite as much.

Tommy, I imagine your 1525's ability to fill your sanctuary is a characteristic of the bell design more than that of it being copper. I have heard the same or similar bells in brass and there are noticeably more trumpet-like highs in the timbre. I imagine this is why Kanstul chooses heavy copper for this horn. It tones down the highs and gives that horn its characteristic smoky sound.

I have read a number of people state that it is the low frequencies that carry and that highs dissipate faster, but I have never been able to relate to that. Lows are far less directional, to be sure, and so you can hear them off-center more readily, but at center it is the highs that persist to the greatest distances. They are simply the most directional, so they disappear quickly if one is not in line with the projection pattern.

With these brass instruments, I am thinking in terms of hundreds of feet outside, not within a resonant hall that seats under 1000. I am also thinking in terms of comparison, so I don't mean to say that copper belled horns can't be heard in a large venue.

I think, if you guys will stop and consider each designer's choice to use copper on a given horn, you will likely agree that it is to reduce the presence of severe highs and bolster the low and midrange harmonics compared to the same design in yellow brass. This means the sound will have broader projection with less cut than the same horn in brass.

The example of the bespoke Calicchio is how a 1S/2 in copper ends up sounding more like a Benge 5X than the brass version could ever hope to sound.

Brian
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Capt.Kirk
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Wendt then because I have often said that a thin bronze or copper bell will give back the feedback and brilliance a lot of guys think are missing in standard and heavy weight bronze and copper bells!

I would imagine a copper bell would have plenty of annealing going on because it work hardens in it's pure form so darn easy. I once made a Death Mask in High School Metal shop from it and I had to keep heating it up so I could work it on my shot filled bag because it would get hard in a hurry with the mallet and shot filled bag! If you do not keep annealing it it will crack and split. You could probably get away with not annealing as much ifyou where lazy or wanted a harder bell by using brass. I do not think I have ever hammered on brass sheet before????? In fact I often figure that the softer nature of copper is why notes crack or break up less on a copper belled trumpet??? In fact I figured the need to constantly heat the copper up is why so many companies do not make hand hammered bells out of it they do two piece and electroformed mostly because it is a pain in the rear to work with compared to 70/30 brass.....Brass is a pussy cat compared to Copper Copper will bite you in the rear and split or crack the second you disrespect work hardening and try to rush anything so not the ideal substance if an MBA is running a company!

Most sterling silver bells are electroformed today as far as I am aware only Getzen hand hammers a sterling bell as a production option?

I do not have a problem with electroforming I just hate how you are stuck with a really heavy bell that has to be radically thinned if you do not want a bell built like Tank! Have you seen how thick the bells are that Anderson makes???? I bet I could hammer in some small nails with it and not hurt it I should try that?LOL The one I have siting next to me right now measures out with a wall thickness of .034 that is .010 thicker then the thickest thing most people have ever played. I am betting that combined with most of the ones I have seen having no bead it would tend to have intirley different feed back then most people are used to so the method, material, thickness and heat treat all matter in the end! Like Brian likes to say " Everything effects everything!"!!!
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J_Mase
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know a lot of people who love playing on copper bell horns, but if we're talking about application of such for me, there isn't any. Granted, some people sound fantastic on copper, and love the way it responds, but I always get the sensation of walking through mud on them.

I've tried to see if there was any downside to how they sound out front, and brought a portable recorder with me when I've tried out horns with copper bells. On the tape, they sound very nice, which leads me to to believe the problem isn't the design or materials, but rather me.

I'm a person that can't deal with a lack of feedback from the instrument, and I seem to get that with all copper bells, save for the ones where I feel like I'm missing chunks of my sound. You can take this all with a grain of salt, though. I complain about gear and sound conditions a lot, and I may just be splitting hairs more than the next guy. If you sound good on a horn, and it plays well for you (nobody else's opinion of this should matter), play it.
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Paul.Trumpet
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The shape and bracing on a bell can affect it more than the material its made from and how it couples to the resonances inside the rest of the trumpet body. Maybe copper bells warm up into pitch faster than brass to. Simply be glad you have a metal bell on your horn. Maybe copper is more uniform in its resonance than a brass alloy which varies across the sheet.

I'm more worried about the number of Bach 37 bell copies that play nothing like an old Bach. Even Bach don't make the bell the same way anymore.

As an engineer, I always wonder why people just buy brass wind instruments and never ask "what alloy is it made from? is it recycled?" etc as "yellow brass" describes a massive variety. Or for older horns "how much lead is in the brass (and solder)?"

So you can't say its the copper that makes it sound less bright. A waterkey in the wrong place can make it sound dull to.
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gbdeamer
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul.Trumpet wrote:

As an engineer, I always wonder why people just buy brass wind instruments and never ask "what alloy is it made from? is it recycled?" etc as "yellow brass" describes a massive variety. Or for older horns "how much lead is in the brass (and solder)?"


Not to stray too far off topic, but what would someone do with that information (assuming it was available)? From a practical standpoint isn't the sound produced by the horn more important than the composition of the brass used in the bell?
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shofarguy
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gbdeamer wrote:
Paul.Trumpet wrote:

As an engineer, I always wonder why people just buy brass wind instruments and never ask "what alloy is it made from? is it recycled?" etc as "yellow brass" describes a massive variety. Or for older horns "how much lead is in the brass (and solder)?"


Not to stray too far off topic, but what would someone do with that information (assuming it was available)? From a practical standpoint isn't the sound produced by the horn more important than the composition of the brass used in the bell?


A sensitive player can tell the difference in how the horn plays depending on the metal's resonant characteristics. The eye opener for me was discovering that a flugel mouthpipe made with nickel tubing felt different, while playing, from the same pipe made with yellow brass.

Brian
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Last edited by shofarguy on Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:55 am; edited 1 time in total
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