Stuff that I've Wondered About

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Posted by Joe S. on August 20, 1999 at 20:57:08:

Old tubas and baritones: (King, Holton, et al) I've come across some old instruments over the years that had heavily COPPER-plated pistons. Some of these were in "like new" condition, so I know that these pistons weren't just nickel-plated pistons worn down to the "copper strike". Also, the very old "like new" instruments that I've come across like this had a "like new" fit on these copper-plated pistons. These copper-plated pistons felt "buttery smooth", too (due to the copper, smoother than just about any other valves that I have ever operated). Does anyone know what era this apparent manufacturing process flourished? The appear to be a transition between the very old raw nickel-silver and the (to date) nickel-plated ones.

Materials: (nickel-silver) It seems interesting that manufacturers have never really made very many trumpets nor trombones out of nickel-silver, and NO tubas (MANY french horns, though). The belief that nickel-silver has a "brighter" sound (a belief that SOME have) would seem to contradict its lack of use in trumpet manufacturing (particularly its lack of use in making "jazz" trumpets). The "antithesis" of the "brightness" nickel-silver belief is the Conn 8D french horn (known to be very dark and broad-sounding). Anyway, for whatever reason NO tuba manufacturers have ever experimented with making a nickel-silver tuba, that I know of - bronze/"goldbrass" yes, but not nickel-silver (???).

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