Rich 2008-04-19 01:11:23
I had the loan of a Conn Vintage One for demo purposes for two days. Already
I feel its magnetism, something I haven’t felt with either of the other
trumpets I’ve recently tried. Firstly I’ll say that I’m not the greatest
player in the world, and I do feel somewhat intimidated by something I’d
have to pay so much money for. I play mostly jazz – lots of big band, and
small group improvisation and my comfortable range is to high-D. In recent
months I’ve tried a Wild Thing in lacquer, silver and gold, a 30 (I think)
year old silver Getzen Severinsen and a Bach Strad C trumpet (I don’t know
why I tried it, but there it is).
I normally play a lacquered Antoine Courtois large bore trumpet – I don’t
know the model, I just know that its design is slightly unusual in that the
lead pipe enters the valve housing at t he end with the third valve slide on
the right hand side. It has a very big sound and is very open to play –
somewhat too open, and that’s why I’m looking for something a little easier
to play long gigs with.
I was looking forward to the Wild Thing so much for so long, and expected to
fall in love with it immediately. I had been on vacation for 7 or 8 days and
had been unable to practice at all. That didn’t help my tryout of the Wild
Thing, but I did find the valves noisy (even on the used lacquered one), and
the playing experience was not much different to my Courtois as far as
blowing is concerned. Don’t get me wrong, the Wild Thing is nice. But to me
it ain’t $4,000cdn different to what I’m playing or anything like.
I played the Getzen because a trumpet playing friend suggested it. It was
his sports model – he normally plays a standard Strad in the symphony and in
his studio. I had real trouble with the Getzen – it felt very restrictive
and couldn’t take all the air I could give it without topping out. I gave up
very quickly… it was a big band rehearsal and I had to play reasonably
I borrowed a silver plated V1 with the standard yellow brass bell and
standard lead pipe. It came with the standard accessory kit – a set of 9
valve caps and extensions, and an alternative tuning crook – so it came with
the standard D shaped one with a standard water key, and a rounded one with
an Amado type water key. There was no water key on the third valve slide…
that’ll take getting used to!
The first thing I noticed when holding the V1 was how much closer I was to
the valves, compared to my current horn, almost like the cornet I used to
play in British brass band. Also, rather less unexpected, were the short
valve throws on the V1. Brand new out of the case the valves were naturally
sluggish. I wiped them and oiled them with good results. Not great – I’m
sure that would take a week or two, but certainly more than playable. The
valve action is silent and smooth – something I wasn’t expecting after
trying a new Wild Thing, and considering there was no felt under the valve
I first tried the V1 with the standard D tuning crook and standard valve
caps because this is how it came. It was nice. Instantly, I felt at home
with it and it was easier to blow than my Courtois. After a five minute warm
up, I decided to try some different combinations before getting into serious
practice. First I tried the round crook. This is better for me. I’m not sure
why, but I definitely prefer it. No need to go back to the D crook at all.
Next I tried some valve cap combo’s – heavy on third, heavy on all, heavy
plus extension on third. There was a definite difference. The heavy/large
bottoms seem to open the horn out. I’m not sure which I prefer – I think it
would depend on what I was playing – for the big band stuff I think I prefer
the standard valve caps.
I went back to the standard valve caps and left the rounded tuning slide in
place, then proceeded with a 45 minute work out starting with the first
movement of Haydn’s trumpet concerto in Eb. The opening was sure and I felt
as though I didn’t have to put as much air through the horn to get a nice
confident note. The trills were definitely easier to play – I guess it slots
better or something. It wasn’t anything to do with the short valve throws,
though these were comfortably nice! Response is instant, and there was a
noticably wider dynamic range than with my Courtois – not quite as loud at
the loud end, but definitely a lot quieter at the quiet end and much easier
to control throughout. It was as effortless to play the higher bits at piano
as it was to play the low bits. There was no feeling that I had to push
towards the higher notes – they just came out… no real difference with the
short fast passage leading to the high Eb… until I got to the Eb. This was
definitely easier. That’s the very top of my range, but it came out easily.
I didn’t feel as though I could soar up the octave or anything, but at high
Eb, the note was definitely easier. The wide range jumps were incredibly
easy compared to the Courtois and once again, I felt very in control of both
the pitch and dynamics. The low notes felt more centered and the high notes
were sure. The short fast passages were not much different to my Courtois,
leading me to think that maybe there’s not as much benefit in the short
valve throws as I was expecting. That said, those 16th notes aren’t exactly
Next I went on to some improvisation with some Bob Mintzer funk and jazz
etudes. Actually I don’t play the etudes – they’re too difficult for me
right now (you can tell he’s not a trumpet player!). I’ll get them, but not
yet! I do enjoy improvising to the chord changes though. Range is confident,
fast wide interval jumps easy and I can easily play a few bars of fast 16th
notes, run up to a high C and hold it for a full 6 bars without feeling the
need to gasp for air afterwards. Now we’re getting somewhere. The whole
experience is one of efficiency and agility – If this was a car it’d be a
Ferrari (or at the cheaper end maybe a Lotus). My Courtois is Rolls Royce or
a Cadillac. The V1 is definitely a sports model. I was able to push the
volume for a brighter sound without topping out – something I did with the
Severinsen (I hope because I was used to playing something much more open
rather than a very poor technique). The V1 has a wide range of timbres,
overall slightly darker sounding than my Courtois (this was another
surprise – I found the silver Wild Thing very bright — the V1 is less so).
I played another twenty minutes of these funk/jazz tunes, just improvising.
The whole experience left me saying a very simple but descriptive “WOW!”.
Next I played some tricky passages from my big band charts – passages that I
usually have to work hard at, more because of difficult intervals than fast
finger work. Again, the V1 felt much more confident handling these passages
and was much less effort to play.
Finally for the first day, I asked my wife – not exactly a trumpet fan, but
someone whos opinion I value anyway. I played both my Courtois and the V1
and asked her which she thought sounded better. To my surprise and slight
disappointment, she thought my Courtois sounded clearer with a more defined
I had to stop after around 45 minutes because I had to go out. I was left
with the feeling that I had barely played at all… much less fatigued than
with my Courtois. This is one of the things I was hoping for.
For day two, I did pretty much the same as day one, except that I was able
to continue practicing solidly for an hour and a half, no breaks and no
noticable fatigue. I loved playing this horn and could easily have gone on
for another half hour without a break.
At the end of my trial, I’m convinced that the V1 is what I’m looking for in
If there had to be disappointments, they would be as follows – 1. The case.
It looks like it wouldn’t survive kicking around inside a bus with a load of
other instruments without getting cosmetically scarred for life. I’m sure
the badge won’t last long either! 2. The lack of a water key on the third
slide. It’s awkward to pull out the end of the slide to empty. I know I can
get one fitted at extra cost, but I don’t get why it doesn’t come with
one… I mean, you get all those extra valve caps, and no third water
key… priorities Conn! …and 3. I don’t much like the first slide saddle.
There’s no avoiding it, and I don’t like having my thumb restricted
permanently inside a ring. I think the 1st valve trigger on my Courtois is a
much better arrangement. I can however live with all of these things as
well as a lack of money for the next few years while I pay it off!
Anyone interested in seeing how different two Bb trumpets can be can take a
look at my photograph showing my current horn alongside the V1.
Dr. trumpet 2008-04-19 01:12:15
This is not uncommon. When one first plays a new instrument, one find
old habits from old horns hard to break. What creates the wonderful
sound on the older horn has to do with your playing style and what you
do to create that sound. It is logical that a new horn might not
respond as the older horn does, and that some period of adjustment to
the new horn would be in order.
And, sometimes women tell you the older one is better so they can have a
new pair of shoes they want instead of you getting another trumpet! :-))
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Timsurr 2008-04-19 06:17:52
Have you met my wife? You just described her to a tee! lol
David c. steph 2008-04-19 06:18:08
Rich, I don’t know the Courtois, but I do know the V1, having played several
over the last few months. From your description, it sounds like the
intonation on the V1 is much better than your Courtois. Much of that ease of
playing comes from the great intonation.
My favorite setup up on the V1 is the 34 leadpipe with the goldbrass bell.
You were trying the 45 leadpipe, I suspect. All the V1s that I tried had a
third slide water key! (Living without one isn’t so hard. My Z-horn has
none). If you’re able to try the 34 leadpipe before you buy, please do.
You’re right about the V1 case, it scars very easily. It’s heavily
constructed and beautiful, BUT the smooth imitation leather is extremely
easy to scar.
Robert desavag 2008-04-19 06:18:29
This is a common DNA factor that ALL women share.
Donovan bankhe 2008-04-19 06:18:53
A couple of minor corrections:
Conn calls this bell “rose brass”. It has a higher copper content than
what is traditionally referred to as gold brass.
That would be the 46 leadpipe, which is the “standard” pipe. The only 3
leadpipes offered are 34, 46 & 50.
This is not standard. The standard configuration is a third pull slide, no
water key (like the strad). There are players that feel the water key on
the 3rd slide affects a node.
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David c. steph 2008-04-19 06:19:01
Well, then I meant to say “yellow brass”. The rose brass is a little dark
for my tastes, but many will love it. To summarize, my favorite V1 is a
yellow brass bell with a 34 leadpipe. I prefer the rounded slide and the
heavy cap on the third valve only. So there… Sorry for any confusion.
Thanks for keeping us straight, Donovan.
Trumpeter 2008-04-19 11:18:42
Donovan do you know what the actual percentages are?
Tim clarke 2008-04-19 11:19:59
I’ve got a standard V1–how would hving the 34 or 50 lp affect the
Mombu 2008-04-19 11:20:15
I actually have an authoritative answer on this from Fred Powell, who
designed the V1. I inquired about the #34, and he responded thus:
— begin quote >
To answer your leadpipe question, the pipes are: 1) different
“shapes”; 2) have different small-end vs. large-end inside diameters; and
3) different “rates of taper”, i.e. how fast the graduation occurs over an
According to those specs, the wave shapes (basically the reflection
points) are altered, which results in the different ‘feel’, or blowing
characteristic. It’s not how much air will go through the pipe, but
rather the shape and length of the wave that determines your perception of
the playing characteristic.
There is also a relative difference in the overall interior “volume” of
the pipe – the correct pipe will help provide a balance of flexibility
vs. stability. What you are likely feeling in the #34 pipe is some
additional stability, allowing you to move more easily and accurately
around the horn. It’s a matter of finding the right balance, and you are
likely detecting a better overall balance with that setup.
—- end quote <
For me, I'm finding that the #34 gives me more flexibility, so long as I
take care not to overblow. The upper register, for me, feels a little
more supported. I am, however, still adjusting to the switch.
Donovan bankhe 2008-04-20 07:14:19
Hi Ed (and everyone else),
I don’t have the exact percentages; I wish I did. Gold brass is a term that
mainly Bach uses. To me, it seems to closely resemble bronze…
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Tim clarke 2008-04-20 07:15:20
Great info–thanks! I have a standard-issue V1 and have been wishing for a
more “bach-like” feel when I start pushing air. It’s hard to describe, but
there’s a certain resonance that I feel with certain (great) Bach horns.
Not that I’m disappointed in the slightest with the V1–just hoping to make
it better for me.
David c. steph 2008-04-20 07:15:54
I’m afraid that the resonance you’ve noticed is a horn-to-horn phenomenon,
at least with mass-manufactured horns. You’ve probably played a Bach 180-37
that was “alive” and beautiful, but then you pick up another and it’s dead.
Conn had one V1 at ITG that stood out from the others. Bob (I’ve forgotten
the last name) the sales rep said “everybody’s going to that one. The braces
must be just right on it” or words to that effect. I played that particular
horn and, indeed, it was very resonant and alive. (Good thing there was no
money in my pocket that day). As consistent as the V1 are (like Yamahas,
Schilke, etc.) they’ll still vary a little from piece to piece.
I think this is one of the main reasons to consider custom horns, where much
more time is spent in assembly. (Blackburn, Lawler, Wild Thing, V-Raptor,
That said, I’ve tried all three V1 leadpipes and I think that the #35 feels
the closest to a good Bach #25, particularly when used with the squared
tuning slide and no bottom weights.