How I work with horns:
My beliefs about horn have evolved over the years and it's important that potential clients know and understand what I do and how I think before deciding if a horn of mine is right for them. Some things that I focus on when I am building are:
- I work to build a "hundred year horn", that is to say, one which I construct well enough to last at least the first owners lifetime. This includes decisions about material thickness and solder alloy that resist degradation over time. If you decide to purchase a horn of mine, you can expect to never have to buy another.
- I build for the hall. I understand what a horn needs to sound like up close in order to sound beautiful to an audience and use that experience to help players understand how their sound transforms as it matures in the hall.
- As often as the term "horn assembler" is used to deride other makers who simply put together purchased parts, an overlooked fact is that great horn assembly is critical no matter how many parts are made or purchased. I work very hard to identify the best techniques to build horns that are stress free with perfectly parallel slides. This allows the horn to vibrate naturally and maximize the overall efficiency.
- I believe that a horn is much more than a sum of parts and I disagree that lead pipe tapers and bell throat sizes are the key elements to horn design. While I still put time and effort into developing tapers that produce good intonation, I get much more control over my horns by focusing on techniques to incorporate the parts together, such as temper normalization and stress reduction.
- If I believe I've identified a better process or technique, I will attempt to incorporate it into my work, even if it delays the completion of a horn. I make many thousands of decisions every day and always try to make the decision that will increase the quality, even if only by 1%. A commitment to a one percent improvement daily compounds exponentially and raises the potential for doing exceptional work!
How I work with you:
Craftsmanship to me has always been about building character through good, honest work. The quality of your experience is just as important to me as the quality of my work. Here are some things that you can expect when dealing with me:
- You will always get my best work. While I will continue to push my ceiling higher as the years progress, you can be confident that I will alway build to the maximum of my capability.
- I will always represent myself honestly. In the age of social media, anyone looking for an audience can be given to hyperbole or self aggrandizing in the online community. This is contrary to the ideals of the craftsman and does a disservice to anyone searching for honest advice and help navigating the equipment side of the industry. I will always present myself as I am and give good advice that I believe in.
- I am mindful that the player, not the maker will spend the most time with a horn over its lifetime. I listen to players concerns sincerely and make every effort to address any issue that may arise from a horn that I've built.
- I provide good value and protect your investment in my horns by making decisions which consistently reinforce the high standards that characterize good craftsmanship. While you may pay a high price for my horns, my commitment to good work will help that horn hold its value far into the future, should you ever decide to part with it.
- Trust is the most important value in the small horn shop. You will never see everything I do to your horn and its important that you trust my skill and ability. Without trust, there is no benefit to buying from a small shop, only risk. I will earn your trust by continuing to produce horns that perform at the highest level, and continuing to push the limits of possibility in small scale horn craft.
What my horns will do:
Craftsmanship and artistry will only take the horn so far. A commitment to both of these is an outward sign that the internal details are also taken care of. While I do work very hard on my horn craft, make no mistake, these horns are serious players. Here are some of my favorite qualities of my horns:
- Evenness. In the past, players had to choose between horns which favored the high or low range. Using special heat treatments to normalize the metal temper, I have significantly reduced the differences in feel of the extreme ranges, and matched the Bb and F sides of the horn much more closely. Additionally, the extremes of the dynamic range from ppp to fff are more controllable with less effort.
- Purity of articulation. Using sub tones and breath starts, I make sure that all of my horns have the proper amount of resistance to allow for pure articulations. This eliminates the burbles that sometimes occur and even reduces the appearance of spontaneous note chips.
- Clarity of sound. Often horns that are clear up close sound muddy in a hall. This is because the frequencies drop off at certain distances and have different projection possibilities. I try to maximize the frequencies that project and minimize those which do not to give the horn a clear sound in the hall.
- Smooth note changes. I've always believed that jobs are won and kept with the beautiful excepts rather than the technical ones. Smooth note changes remove the bump in between notes when playing lyrical and help the player focus on the music and not the technique for playing lyrically.
- Perfect intonation. The tapered sections of the horn have one job, to correct the intonation issues inherent in a straight pipe of a certain length. I work on my tapers solely for intonation and control the resistance and character of the horn in other places. This ensures that every note is where it is supposed to be and that chop micromanagement is not necessary to pull notes in tune. This reduces the effort to play the horn and extends endurance and efficiency.