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Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Worth » Thu May 09, 2019 7:42 am

Can anyone shed some light on the intonation and tendencies of C Valve trombones? I know, a wide open question considering the many brands and vintages. Seems a nice comfortable alternative in smaller settings for many when the need arises. I'm in a C/Eb mindset lately (both TC and BC) and although I can deal, I've had issues for years with BC Bb fingerings. That separate issue aside, obviously there are a few different Chinese versions (even one with a Bb C tuning slide on the end of the "slide" which isn't a slide). Also there is the infamous Chinese Bb/C rotary euphonium with the two different length MTS that some like and others have had issues with.

Sometimes older American ones like this Conn Pan American on EBay come up for sale. These offer a different cool factor and I wondered what the experience out there is, mostly intonation and sound quality produced of vintage American (or European) vs modern-day Chinese offerings.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Conn-Valve-Tro ... Sweg1cp-es
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Art Hovey » Thu May 09, 2019 11:08 am

Last time I looked, Weril was still making C valve trombones, still popular in Brazil.
Juan Tizol played a C valve trombone in Ellington's band.
I sure that they must have the same intonation issues as any other brass instrument and the same variability from one make/model to the next, so generalization seems pointless.
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Worth » Thu May 09, 2019 12:03 pm

Art Hovey wrote:I sure that they must have the same intonation issues as any other brass instrument and the same variability from one make/model to the next, so generalization seems pointless.


Understand and thank you. I get where you are coming from but suppose I was hoping for some generalizations, as it’s very hard to find a place to try such a small niche instrument like this before buying. Then to possibly get wowed with a diamond in the rough, or just as likely get stuck with a dog.... such is how things change hands. I do thank you for those cool side notes on players and Weril. I didn’t know that was another option.
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Doug Elliott » Sat May 11, 2019 2:51 am

Yamaha sells C valve trombones in Europe. I'm sure it's possible to order one.
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Davidus1 » Sat May 11, 2019 9:07 pm

Yamaha and Jupiter are making them as well as some Chinese made models. They are popular in latin bands. Seeing more of them on eBay than in the past.
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Ace » Sun May 12, 2019 12:26 am

I have a Jupiter valve trombone in C and it is my favorite horn to play here in my own home. It's more fun than my tuba, slide trombone, French horn, or trumpets in various keys. As would be expected, the low notes fingered 1-2-3 and 1-3 (F# and G) are quite sharp as are, to a lesser degree, the C# and D above. To cope with this, I leave the third valve slide extended all the time by one and a quarter inches. This, of course, forces me to lip up all the notes that are fingered 2-3, but this is easily done with my Schilke 40 mouthpiece. The pedal notes on this horn are outstanding but, sadly, there is no usable low F which is a note often called for in the quintet literature. It would be great if someone would design a way to get that low F---------fourth piston valve; rotor assembly; trigger to kick out the third valve slide several inches. (?)

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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Worth » Sun May 12, 2019 7:03 am

Thanks to all for your responses. Ace's review is exactly what I was looking for, and I thank Bloke for the top cover in helping solicit it. The two best asian import C Valve Trombone options out there seem to be Jupiter and Yamaha. This info from someone reputable who owns and plays the Jupiter is very helpful. The special order Yamaha YSL-354VC runs 2K ballpark new and a new Jupiter about 1K. Offerings from Berkeley Winds and Rossini on EBay come in sub $500. I would assume that Jupiters are made by KHS (Taiwan or China) which is another plus vs. the other Chinese offerings. Trying to save that $500. doesn't seem worth it, nor does paying 1K additional for the Yamaha, unless it's light years beyond Jupiter (Antares?). Now a used Jupiter, Yamaha or mint vintage would be sweet.
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby greenbean » Sun May 12, 2019 8:33 am

I think the best C valve trombone is not a Yamaha or Jupiter but a King 3B valve trombone CUT to C.

C valve trombones are used by a lot of Latino players here in California. Most of these guys are playing banda or other types of popular Mexican music. They typically buy King 3B's and have them cut. Great playing horns! You will have an easier time selling a 3B in C than the others, too. And... you will have a 3B bell section that you can use with a 3B slide... You could even sell the King valve section and bell section separately. Easily.
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Worth » Sun May 12, 2019 9:32 am

Horn Guys web site has a JP-134C listed in stock new for $749. Another idea, thanks!
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Worth » Sun May 12, 2019 2:05 pm

Just as an update, Bloke networked with John Packer, on a Sunday, and found a singular brand new unopened JP-134 C Valve Trombone in the warehouse and beat The Horn Guys' price hands down. I'm taking the plunge and will report back for whomever is interested after it comes and the honeymoon, etc. Oh and I did it all via PM and email... thinks of other thread. Bloke is quite the model of efficiency on-line as well, and a pleasure to deal with, but quite scary to even think about talking to! :shock: :lol: Seriously, service just as personal on-line, convenient and efficient. Thanks very much to Bloke, a special mention of thanks to Ace, and to Tubenet!
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Ace » Sun May 12, 2019 4:16 pm

[quote="greenbean"]I think the best C valve trombone is not a Yamaha or Jupiter but a King 3B valve trombone CUT to C.

C valve trombones are used by a lot of Latino players here in California. Most of these guys are playing banda or other types of popular Mexican music. They typically buy King 3B's and have them cut.

Exactly what the famous Bay area craftsman, Dick Akright, told me some years ago; i.e., he often cut valve trombones Bb to C for Latin players. My guess is that they may have been trumpet players and didn't want to learn Bb bass clef fingerings.

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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby MaryAnn » Fri May 17, 2019 9:41 am

Ok since the answers to this thread seem to have covered it all, maybe I'll steal the thread and ask does a valve trombone sound any different than a slide, other than the slide-y-ness you might want sometimes? I jump around in bands on whatever instrument they need but don't know slide positions well enough to do tbone although I do fine on euph. Key doesn't matter to me, but I'd want to sound like a trombone. ??
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Donn » Fri May 17, 2019 10:50 am

Reasonably like a trombone. You might check with the trombone players. There are opinions, usually not favorable and sometimes hating beyond all reason - at least one trombone player I've played with was uncomfortable with the idea of playing in the same band with a valve trombone. It is not a type of trombone, more of a big trumpet. I didn't do much with it, but in my uneducated opinion it's at its best when played like a trumpet.
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby MaryAnn » Fri May 17, 2019 2:26 pm

Hokay....you have me at "played like a trumpet." I'm also uneducated but have an ear....and this statement is baffling me as I can't figure out what you mean!!! And I don't think I'd ever be in a band where someone's shorts were so tight that they had a problem with someone playing a valved trombone in tune and on time.
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Worth » Fri May 17, 2019 2:38 pm

The JP C Bone came yesterday, drop shipped from JP in the UK unbelievably fast. I have to say, what a blast to be an instant trombone player. No wonder some slide masters are haters, I get it. Spend a lifetime mastering the slide and some tuba or blowhard trumpet player (LOL) thinks they have it covered. I've got a lot of ground to cover before a real review, but suffice it to say that it seems to play best with a smaller tenor shank piece (comes with a generic 12C and I'm using a Bach 12C for now). Of note, you can definitely sing and wail on it gloriously like a trombone, and it has that trombone punch when you drive it, way unlike a bass trumpet (a piston Lidl) I had at one time which was stuffy and quite unsatisfying to play. It definitely sounds like a trombone, no doubt. The C key is super convenient for me, and intonation is workable. I must say that the JP pistons are smooth, fast and quiet out of the box, unlike what I dealt with (even after cleaning) with a Schiller (Jinbao) 3 valve baritone I got 4 years ago and have sold. I'm not sure which factory these JPs come out of, but the quality is excellent for the price. Strangely though, the counterweight has no logo so you can get creative or leave it be. A funny thought, EBay sells King adhesive domed medallions for the counterweight, but that's sort of like filling a Patron bottle with Montezuma tequila, not too classy. I found a Bach Mount Vernon 11C on EBay and the next review will have more on that. I've also worked on intonation with some play-along worship CDs and will take it to quintet tomorrow AM (where two will be absent and I can give it a whirl hopefully in this small ensemble). Having fun, and that's what life is about when you can. More to come... thanks Joe!
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Donn » Fri May 17, 2019 4:06 pm

MaryAnn wrote:Hokay....you have me at "played like a trumpet." I'm also uneducated but have an ear....and this statement is baffling me as I can't figure out what you mean!


I'm thinking of expressive effects that happen purely on air - affecting pitch, tone and volume all at the same time. Where a trombone player might take notes a little differently. The blow on the two instruments follows - valve trombones typically have a very small bore, relative to the slide trombone. Where that's less true, like some of the marching trombones, then it seems they're less obviously distinctive (and can be pretty nice sounding.)
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Donn » Sat May 18, 2019 2:51 pm

If I remember right, in the particular case, it went back to a bad experience with someone who showed up with a valve trombone.

The other slightly more rational side of the second might be "if you weren't willing to go through the learning curve that everyone else was fine with, maybe you don't care all that much about what you're doing."
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby aqualung » Tue May 28, 2019 4:38 pm

The best VT has always been the Elkhart 5G (with the angled braces). Although it has the same .500 bore as the 6H/10H/48H slide, it plays differently. The convolutions of the airway going through a cluster make the lowest overtones less responsive. But what comes out of the bell sounds pretty much the same. I've been switching between both for over 50 years, and nobody has ever commented on the TQ.
I cut a crappy Euro VT to C, and it still plays just as crappy.
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Worth » Wed May 29, 2019 6:06 am

One of the reasons I started this thread was whether this C instrument would just be a cut down Bb or actually designed as a C.
First off, the John Packer C Valve Bone is a blast to play in the smaller setting. If you are comfortable reading BC above the staff, for a C player it's an effortless read. Although I've brought it twice, I've used it just once so far out in a quartet setting as the trombone player couldn't show that day. I passed my tuba to the horn player who plays most everything, and picked up the trombone folder. This specific group can be unpredictable, and we each often bring a few different instruments for contingency. I'm not a trombone player so I am unable to comment on the relative stuffiness of the valve cluster vs the open slide bone, but what came out of the bell made everyone smile as I was able to control the pitch through careful listening. You can play it sweet and soft or brassy with punch, sounding very much like what it is intended. My one comment is that concert D and C# just below the staff are well in tune WITHOUT kicking out the third slide (there's a ring to do that) or the first (no saddle or trigger which I knew and expected). This, and the fact that first valve only and third valve only notes are slightly flat, leads me to believe that the valve slides are the same length as its Bb counterpart. Very convenient for a no slide manipulation low concert C# or D, but requiring careful listening and tuning to lip other notes into place. I think that with a slight shortening of the valve slides, the intonation would be spot on. Of note there are two main tuning slides, the upper counterweighted one, and one on the end of the "slide" where the spit valve is. That one is really long too, and if you want you can have a great B instrument as well (if anyone really wanted) with manipulating each. Almost long enough with both out to get it to Bb, but not quite. The relatively small bore mates up well with an 11 or 12 mouthpiece IMO so nothing plays flat up high. The bottom line is that the fit and finish of this instrument is excellent. Even the third valve slide (quite a long one) is aligned well and smoothly enough that you can kick it out easily, but with the slide length (presently) you don't have to. My thought is that if I were to cut off a bit of each valve slide and use the third slide the way it's intended (for notes which are supposed to be slightly sharp) it would be perfectly in tune. The way it is is easily playable, but you have to understand what's going on, listen carefully, and roll with it. Overall a great way to be a fill-in trombone player and keep the rehearsal alive and fun when someone can't show up and there are other multi-instrumentalists. The show must go on and it's fun to have the flexibility to make that happen.
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Re: Intonation of C Valve Trombones

Postby Worth » Wed May 29, 2019 7:24 pm

SteveP wrote:I don't understand how a player who usually plays a Bb instrument would find it easier to read the same music when playing a C instrument. If I were playing a C trombone (valve or slide) I'd be thinking about playing each note fingered (or slide position) one full step lower than usual. How is this effortless? What am I missing?


It's OK I probably didn't explain it well. I don't usually play a Bb instrument reading BC, so in that situation I am like you dealing with reading everything one step higher than usual (backwards to your deal). I can do it, but the mental exercise takes away from the enjoyment of it all. I came into the C Tuba world from TC trumpet via TC Euphonium, but as a piano player I read BC and TC fluently. This allows me just read the notes for what they are at concert pitch and just think of it all like left and right hands playing piano. The C Valve trombone therefore uses the similar fingerings as everything else keeping this beautifully flawed system working. Not ideal, but it is something I can wrap my head around and enjoy myself with less introduction of error, especially when sight reading.
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