Horn Philosophy, Yamaha Edition.

Horn building philosophy #1: Absolutely anything is possible. Today I did some work for a friend on her aging Yamaha 861; a discontinued custom model that is increasingly difficult to find. She decided that she would like to open up the high register by trying a new leadpipe and, rummaging through my box of pipes, found one she liked. Before installing it, I suggested that we try to work (read: cut into and recklessly modify) the original pipe and try to get it more open without replacing it.

When I build a new horn, I make a general skeleton using my design plans and then spend a few days playing and tweaking it until it has the  ease and sound that I'm looking for. I applied that same ideas and experience to my friend's horn, pretending that I had a new skeleton and trying to figure out what it needed to play better.

She was shocked with the result. Using her same leadpipe, I was able to open up the high register and improve the stability in the low register in about 3 hours of fussing. I opened up the leadpipe venturi and balanced it with some longer, more resistant, solder joints on the mouthpipe to get a truly remarkable result.

The lesson? Anything is possible. Rather than build a single stubborn design of horn, I prefer to focus on the sound production and playing characteristics of each individual instrument. If I have to slightly modify my design to achieve a desired result, that's okay! That's what makes it truly a custom horn!!


September 21, 2009