Accurate Parts Need a Makers Touch.
I'm beginning a series highlighting one aspect of horn building which I feel is extremely important; bending parts and achieving a high level of accuracy in the fit of each and every joint. The community of custom builders may have the advantage over factory horns in this regard because of the time and skill that it takes to execute complex bends. One assumption of these posts is that you believe, as I do, that creating long solder joints between parallel parts instead of using braces increases the pitch stability and helps deepen the tone colors (among other things. I also realize that roughly half of builders and techs out there disagree and would rather remove braces, and "free" up the vibrations. That's a post for another day.) The reason this is important is that the bending difficulty level quadruples when you bend a part to run parallel to an existing part. If you don't believe that it's necessary to bend in this way to make the best possible horn, you could be said to be causing much unnecessary trouble for yourself.
With this assumption clear, dry fitting parts with accuracy is important to keep as much internal tension out of the horn as possible. We've all heard the stories about soldering on a horn and having a neighboring part unsolder itself and fling itself across the room. An exaggeration of course, but this kind of tension can be preempted by simply taking a bit more time to dry fit the part exactly before draining the bending medium. A part doesn't fit if it has to be pulled and wired together before it can be soldered.
The next few posts will be about part accuracy and some ways I get horns together with extremely little internal tension.
June 22, 2012