Re: How to tell if HP or LP (helicon)?

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Posted by K on May 30, 2003 at 09:52:22:

In Reply to: How to tell if HP or LP (helicon)? posted by Steven on May 30, 2003 at 09:02:26:

If the instrument is not followed by its original neck and bits, then you have two ways to go: Either use modern King or Conn parts (perhaps modified for a fit with the receiver). Or have some skilled repairman make up these parts.

I would hardly ever buy an instrument with too many insecure parameters (but it has happened). Should I at all consider buying the helicon in question, I would demand, that it was tested with modern replacement parts, which surely can be loaned, if one has the right connections.

If the instrument was way sharp, I probably would give up on it, if it was to be exposed to rugged usage like re-enactment bands. street strolling, or tight bar "stages". Tube additions tend to be exposed and vulnerable.

If the instrument is flat, I would make calculations of the length of the required total cut. And then I would compare the calculated result (divided by 2) with the length of the branches of the tuning slide and its receivers. If the construction remained safe with options for adequate pushes and pulls, then I would accept the instrument.


PS: Lengthening works best in more safe situations. I have some loose lengths of tubing allowing to take my Conn 26K Eb sousaphone down to D. Works fine for private fun and practice, but I would never challenge the instability of the construction in crowded performances.

PSII: The instrument with the literally open parameters, is an old British single F piston horn with a body in good shape, but with a banged and leaky crook in Wiener Horn style. I accepted it because there are so many replicas of natural horns on the modern market, that a bit of shopping will solve the problem. Until then I use one of the 4 crooks from my modern Wiener Horn. Even if it takes the 1st piston dangerously close to my nose. Good enough for fun.

PSIII: Sad not to be really helpful. The less standard the instrument to buy is, the more experience it takes to make a buy, that will work.

The really sad story happened openly on this board some 3 years ago, when a quite young guy happily reported on his buy of a real gem from the sousaphone history. Only he missed the bits (and maybe the neck). He asked for help, but nobody could provide the original parts. After a period he dropped off the board. I tried to trace him, to urge him to seek specialist craftsmen's help. Could not find him.

The stellar story is about an old York sousaphone transformed into a helicon by all-York parts. Except for the neck and bits. The re-constructor, a pro-repairman/musician well known from this board, combined these parts into a most beautiful long tapered neck.

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