It’s frankly amazing how quickly time goes by. I logged in to this site today just to see if there were any software updates that needed to be applied. My last posting was in February! Several things have happened, so….
I received the 1957 Olds Ambassador some time back, and started doing the disassembly and cleaning. This involved soaking the whole horn in a solution of white vinegar and hot water. WARNING: This process will remove the lacquer!! In my case, this is fine, since I am going to do a satin finish on it, anyway.
The horn was missing one of the spit valves, and a replacement proved to be a challenge until someone sold a couple of ’50s Olds spit valves on eBay. Yes! I paid a little too much for them (IMHO) but I really didn’t want to do a water key conversion, although I could have for how much I paid.
I bought some generic “Scotch-Brite” pads from Wallyworld, and got started scuffing. It’s not a very difficult process, except for the nooks and crannys (what in the dickens is a “cranny”, anyway?). Those will take extra care and time.
I don’t have the means to remove all of the little dents in the tubing. There’s a particularly big crinkle on the bell, but I believe I can work most of that out.
Now it’s just a matter of spending time polishing the rest of the finish. I would like to find some lacquer I can spray on it eventually.
One distressing item came up as a result of the scuffing. The seam where the bell was connected to the “whatever the rest of the bell is called” at the factory showed up pretty clearly with scuffing. So I’m going to have to go over that part of the horn lightly so that I don’t remove the engraving, and that that seam doesn’t stand out.
In other musical news, for the first time ever in all my years, I “destroyed” a musical instrument. Kazoos don’t count. I think I have mentioned that I was building a desk fountain, and I wanted to use parts of a trumpet in this craft. So, I took my trusty Dremel and cutting wheel, and sawed off the bell of a really-beat-up Chinese Skye trumpet I had gotten from eBay. It was both exciting, and agonizing, at the same time.
My participation in the local community band continues to be a source of great enjoyment for me. What I lack in technique, I make up for with VOLUME!! (LOL). We have a couple of concerts coming up to look forward to.
Admitting beforehand that I really enjoy the hunt more than the actual purchase, I decided to try to upgrade my equipment. I did lots of informal research, browsing websites and forums, trying to find recommendations for a mid-to-pro level trumpet that I could actually afford. I can assure you that there won’t be a Strad occupying my music case, unless something miraculous happened. Despite some expert assurances that I could find a Strad at a yard sale for $50 (I haven’t, yet), I had to shop eBay. All the experts seemed to think that it was worth it to save up for a Strad, instead of something less expensive (I swear they teach that at the trumpet schools… Strad! Strad! Strad!). While I’m sure they’re great horns, even a cheap one is way out of my budget zone. And at my age, it is doubtful that I will achieve enough experience and technique to make a Strad a worthwhile purchase anyway.
There are thousands of student and intermediate line trumpets available just on eBay. I’m wired in such a way that I don’t usually go with the mainstream; I like being different. Based on my research, I narrowed the brands down to Jupiter, Blessing, King, H. N. White, Besson, and Yamaha. These brands offered trumpets that were generally well-liked and affordable. In particular, Jupiter and Blessing were mentioned repeatedly as “under-rated” or “great horn for a great price”.
I watched several auctions for a pro Jupiter trumpet, but they all went above my budget. I also watched a Blessing ML-1 pro horn, but it too went above what I could spend.
Finally I spotted a nice-looking Blessing Artist series silver-plated trumpet at an affordable price. I did some quick research, and couldn’t find any negatives on this model. The price was right at $200, too. So I bid and won it. Subsequent research indicates that I got a good deal on a mid-range trumpet that seemed to be well-liked. It has a 1st valve hook, and no major dents. It’s lighter than the Ambassador, too. I’m still trying to find out what the bore size is, although I speculate it’s close to .460 of an inch.
It plays well for me, although I will need to make some adjustments in my playing style. The Ambassador didn’t mind being slightly over-blown to get a decent sound, where the Blessing made it audibly noticeable when it was over-blown.
I also found that the Blessing didn’t seem to sound as good with the Denis Wick mouthpiece I had been using. So I switched back to the Yamaha 11 mouthpiece I already had, and it seemed to sound better, and play better. So I’m going with that one for the time being.
The deal with my long-suffering wife is that when I buy a new horn, I am supposed to sell one of the other ones, to keep the storage demands down to a manageable size (my closet). After some consideration, I decided to sell the silver-plated ’73 Olds Ambassador, mostly because I figured I could get the most for it. And I still have the ’57 and ’70 Ambassadors to play. So if you know of anyone looking for a nice trumpet, let me know. Otherwise I will have to sneak it into the back of the closet.
Along the same line, the wife keeps wondering why I keep trading trumpets, when I already had a perfectly good one to play. There are several reasons:
- I can’t afford to wheel and deal with automobiles, but I can afford to do this with trumpets.
- I like the hunt.
- I like getting a good deal during the hunt.
- Upgrading makes me feel more like the professional musician that I should have been, had I been willing to study and work a little harder as a teenager.
- Somehow I think that a better instrument equals a better player. I know this is not so true, since a better player can still make the cheapest junk horn sound much better than anyone else. I witnessed this in action at church one time. I play guitar some, and had an entry-level Ovation Applause for 35+ years. I could barely make chords sound good on it. One of my pastors, who had played and sang professionally, picked it up once for a church solo, and it sounded like a high end Martin in his hands. There’s an analogy there about how God can use everyone for His service, if we submit to the Master’s hands.
- I really like the hunt.
So there you have it. I hope it won’t be another 6 months before I write again.