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Opinions on buying a custom horn online


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Brassnose
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 10:47 am    Post subject: Opinions on buying a custom horn online Reply with quote

So, I may „need“ a new piston horn and wondered if anyone has ever bought/ordered a custom horn from some builder far away from home w/o actually play testing it beforehand.

Background: I essentially use my Bach Bb for commercial stuff and big band. I had it redone a few years ago but now it looks like the valves are getting worn and make funny noises. On top of that, the new leadpipe has developed serious red rot in spite of me keeping the horn clean and dry. For the time being the Bach is fine and will hold up for quite a while but there may be a point when it may not be economical anymore to do further repairs.

My beater is, well, a beater, and my pTrumpet is nothing I’ll ever want to be on stage with.

So, I have been looking at local (i.e. German and Swiss) builders and there are plenty of great options. There is also the Edwards X-13, Bach Mariachi or Commercial, and a few other interesting conventional horns.

HOWEVER, I have also been following Brent Peters and Mike DelQuadros work and am especially intrigued by the Puje concept of whole horn tuning - seriously thinking about it (money permitting - must also consider shipping, customs, and tax).

Now, as Brent is faaaar away from where I am, seeing him and playing his horns is tricky.

Which raises the question: has anyone done this? Ordered a custom horn after a few or many email, phone, video discussions? What’s your general impression, experience, and would you do it again?
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

xxx
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Goby
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I ordered a Possegger MAW flugelhorn having only seen photos of it (and having heard some other great players use his horns). The ordering process was fairly straight forward; I reached out to Anton about ordering one, selected the tubing material, slide configuration (dual triggers with waterkeys), and left the rest to the master. I initially asked for an extra large bell diameter, but Anton said intonation was better with the 160mm bell diameter rather than 170mm, so I went with his suggestion. Fast forward a few months and the horn is delivered, and it absolutely blew me away. Build quality, timbre, intonation, all impeccable. This is the only instrument I've ever bought new, and I would buy it again in a heartbeat.
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Jaw04
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't done that, I would not do that unless I had extensive experience playing the builders other horns and ordered one that was very similar to the one I had played, assuming I liked it a lot.
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ECLtmpt2
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To your question(s): No, I have never done that, and never would. Just my opinion.
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khedger
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Talk and do business with a dealer you trust. Someone who knows what they're talking about, is trustworthy, and is reliable. My suggestion is Trent Austin at Austin Custom Brass. Tell him what you're looking for and have him send you something. I'm pretty sure there's a good return policy if the first choice doesn't work out.

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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given that you asked for opinions rather than expertise, I suppose I can weigh in .

There are many unknowns in getting a custom horn compared to going to a store and playtesting them. Most custom builders are passionate trumpet players so the quality of their work is unlikely to be an issue. However, that doesn’t mean the horn you get will be a good fit to you. And if it’s tailored to your specs, resale may be tough. Production horns are a bit more predictable in what you get, have a lot more opportunities to try and have a bigger resale market. On the other hand, it can be a great adventure with the potential for a horn that plays better for you than anything you have played before.
business.

I did get a custom AR Resonance mouthpiece made once, and I found it very scary. I spent months asking questions and searching the web for specs, and spent a lot of time discussing it with the mouthepiece maker. The mouthpiece turned out great (AR really knows their stuff) but to do that for an entire trumpet…not sure I’d want to go through that .
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Brassnose
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone. Yeah, I think it is a little scary, putting that much money down w/o knowing if the horn is going to work for me.

@khedger: As far as going through a dealer - not sure what that would do for a custom horn that would need to be discussed with the manufacturer anyway. It could help with customs and the like, though.

@hibido: yes, I have done this with Klier mouthpieces (which I had played for decades before and exactly knew what I wanted) and am just now doing it with an AR piece. A horn is a different sum, though.

@Goby: yes, I have been looking at the Possegger Flupy, too. But I basically never play flugelhorn, so even my trumpet brain says, I don’t need one at the moment

Let’s see what other opinions come in.
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Winghorn
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No matter whose name is on a horn or how expensive it is, it will not fit everybody. And as stated above, a custom horn may be tough to sell if a player wants a change.

Also, look at what the top pros are playing and you will usually see mainstream brand instruments that have stood the test of time. There is a reason these instruments have remained popular and preferred over the years.

It may fun to own an expensive, custom horn to wow your friends and bandmates. But most would rather "wow" with their playing abilty, in which case a thorough tryout of any potential purchase would seem to be in order.

Steve

P.S.- Just because someone is a good player and/or fine craftsman does not mean they know how to design a horn.
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HaveTrumpetWillTravel
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd keep an eye out for custom trumpets locally and try to try some. I'm not even in one of the ten biggest cities in East Asia, but still have seen Monette, Taylor, AR, etc., show up on the local market. You must get some of the great European builders where you are. Trumpets are also nice in being relatively inexpensive. You probably could buy a used Puje and on resale you'd maybe lose a few hundred dollars, but that's not really that much. If you've got the cash, I'd buy what you want and resell when you no longer want it.
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delano
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe you got the answer here:

Re: Wer baut die besten Perinet Trompeten in Germany?
Ungelesener Beitrag von Blechnase » Montag 13. September 2021, 20:11

Wenn ich eine neue Perinet bräuchte: Martin Schmidt. Seine Trompeten passen mir einfach wunderbar.


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dstpt
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting thread.

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Irving
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would only order a standard horn from a custom builder that I could return and get a refund. It would have to be a model that I already tried out for a while. I wouldn't order a horn from Europe if I lived in the USA (and vice versa) since returning the horn might be a problem with customs. I would never order a custom horn as there is a good chance that I wouldn't like it. And then I would be stuck with it.
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OldSchoolEuph
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 6:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sight-unseen, and with the builder not really having any knowledge of you by direct observation, is simply inconsistent with the concept of a custom build.

1) Ture custom will never be returnable/refundable (even before you consider shipping).

2) The advantages in custom are subtle, though often significantly experience-changing for the player they fit. This sort of tuning requires a builder understand how the player benefits so as to adjust his/her approach - which will be unique to his/her work

3) Given both the complexity of the system and the uniqueness of a custom builder's approach, any given tweak may not have the effect that you expect - sometimes not even the effect the builder expects. There should be some recursive review-and-adjust to a true custom horn

4) Since you will never sell the horn for half of what you invest in a true custom, it better be perfect for you. You are paying for the experience of playing it. Its asset value is minimal.

So, considering this, I would say don't do it.
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Dayton
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had custom horns built with mixed results. It isn't a process I would repeat again for a couple of reasons: (1) What I mean by bright/dark, open/tight...wasn't necessarily the same thing as what the builder meant, and (2) I wasn't as sure of what I wanted as I thought I was, perhaps because I couldn't try the things I thought I wanted....

I'd also note as an aside that if the custom horn doesn't work out for you, it isn't necessarily easy to sell a horn with a set up that isn't widely known. You'll likely find a much bigger depreciation on a custom horn than on one with a standard set up.

Good luck!
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delano
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is not that clear what is meant by a custom horn here. Is it a horn completely built to your imigination and your specs? That is possible, extremely expensive and I think then: Andy Taylor.
So I have the vague notion that the OP thinks more in the direction of a boutique horn with possibilities in options, like materials, bore, material thickness, leadpipes and that sort of things. Like a Build-A-Bach, or the options of Adams. Or the (former?) possibility of Edwards to build a trumpet in a modular system. In fact the Schilke B and X models do the same with the choice of different bell tapers, bore and bell material. If we think along that line a lot of objections here lose their ground: in the end we have a quite a regular horn of indeed a certain construction that's not that difficult to sell, if needed. I mean: it's possible to resell a Schilke X3 as well as a Schilke B6 though they have not much in common.
I think Goby gave here above quite a good description of the process of buying such a horn.
And I think you can leave a lot to the builder himself, he (or she) has to make the instrument balanced.
And I have a suggestion, relatively cheap, not very far away from you, top notch craftmanship and lots of options:

https://www.mgtrumpets.com/perinet-instruments.html

Do I have experience? Yes, Mark made me an excellent trumpet, we only discussed bell size, water keys, hooks and leadpipe if I remember well. Only there is now a looong waiting list, I think something like (at least) 16 months or so.
And though the German and Austrian rotaries are top I never had much fun with their perinet trumpets but I admit: there are lots of them and I have only experience with a few of them. BTW some years ago I had the opportunity to play all the Schagerl perinet trumpets but though they were built quite well, they were not my cup of tea.
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Halflip
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have had a few custom horns made for me by Robb Stewart and I liked the way they played, but they were more along the lines of novel experiments (pocket conversions, etc.) to be added to a collection as opposed to functional tools for use in section playing with performing groups.

However . . .

I also own a Puje made by Bobby DeNicola, and I can tell you that the Puje as Mr. DeNicola designed it was not intended to be usable as a total replacement for a conventional B-flat trumpet. It might be good as a solo instrument in a small group setting, but I wouldn't rely on it to blend well in a commercial or big band section. Perhaps one of the variations that Brent Peters advertises would be more suitable as a 100% substitute for a regular B-flat trumpet -- you would have to ask him. I looked at his website a while ago, and I couldn't find any verbiage explaining the intended use of each of the different variations he offers.

If the main reason you are considering a custom horn is "whole horn tuning", you should be aware that many skilled techs can modify a conventional horn to add a "pitch finder" that allows you to adjust the main tuning slide via a trigger. For example, Charlie Melk used to offer this customization as a specific product on his website. He no longer appears to call it out specifically, but he still has a picture of this exact modification on the "Services" page of his website under "Custom Work":

http://charliesbrassworks.com/services.php

It might be better for you to buy a standard high-quality horn that meets your needs (perhaps with options you can choose as delano describes) and have a "pitch finder" added. You would probably be able to try it out before you buy it, and it certainly would be easier to resell.
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Brassnose
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to clear up the muddy waters a little bit. I specifically asked because no one in Europe builds Pujes (obviously) but I like this concept with its whole horn tuning feature. As a result, in this specific case if I wanted a Puje I would have to order unseen. And - as I have never done that - I wanted peoples opinions and experience.

If I am going for a traditional piston horn, it will certainly be from someone I can visit and test the horns beforehand. There is no point in ordering a standard horn unseen.

So suggestions like Taylor may be interesting but again I won’t fly to the UK just to test horns. I’ll be in Switzerland quite soon and may have time to check out Inderbinen - they are over my budget so I don’t really find it fair to take away much of their time.

@ halflip: I find the one comment on the actual use of the Puje interesting. Obviously that is a big point - if the Bach really needs to be replaced I would be looking for a true replacement. I’m not a soloist but would use it in soul/funk/big band sections with the occasional few bars of soloing thrown into the mix. So cutting through against guitars and what not is of serious concern.

@ Delano: Martin Schmidt is at the top of my list for regular piston horns - nice guy, too. There are a few German and Austrian builders that I think make brilliant piston horns but I have to agree on the Schagerls.
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austincustombrass
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't forget Martin Bohme and his amazing work! I love his trumpets!
-T
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royjohn
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read thru this thread and I don't think I saw this spelled out anywhere. If you buy a horn off the shelf, you can probably return it for a refund after a trial period if you don't like it. If you buy a custom horn, you might be able to return it for tweaking, but I don't think you can return it for a refund if you don't like it. You are stuck with it. If you resell it to someone else, it is as a used horn with particular specific features, so your potential list of buyers is small and your price is maybe 50-75% of what you paid for it. So you could easily lose $1000 just for the privilege of trying out the horn. I myself wouldn't do it. You could probably fly to the makers location during a vacation to try one of their horns, have a vacation, too, and spend less than that.

Of course, if the horn works out well, you will be happy, but who wants to gamble like that?
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