Brass Instrument Repairs – The Weird and Wonderful!

Here at Dawkes we get a broad range of brass instruments coming to our workshops for repair and improvement. Two instruments have been in recently that caught our eye and are certainly worthy of wider mention. Firstly we had a request by a football mad Trombonist: He wanted his Bach 36 Strad Trombone relacquered in the colours of his beloved West Ham Utd (good job they stayed up – ed), so always keen for a challenge we worked with the relacquering team to match the colours faithfully.

The white and blue sections you see were not done with a traditional coloured lacquer, they were instead done in a solid colour coating with a clear lacquer over the top. This was necessary as a coloured lacquer of blue did not sit well over the brass, in went more green than blue! The maroon shade was however achieved with a standard coloured lacquer as it sat comfortably over the original brass without discolouration. Upon receiving back his trombone the customer was delighted with the job and even spotted the waterkey that we also had coloured!

These jobs all vary in price so if you’re interested please contact us for a quote. We can match and create any colour combinations on instruments or mouthpieces, but we will often require a sample colour. So, whatever your team, favourite colour or band requires…we can probably do it! This includes matching the darker amber lacquer colours of the old Conn/King/USA instruments which is a popular style at the moment, or matt finishes, sandblasts etc.

Secondly, this beautiful (and very rare) Boosey & Co ‘Echo Chamber’ Cornet came in for a full service. This instrument had extremely impressive decorative engraving all over it, and we mean all over it…even the waterkey was engraved! We put a rough age on this as circa 1890, most likely produced for a professional player of the time this instrument has the most unique attribute: an echo chamber. This cone shaped ‘chamber’ was activated by a small valve just next to the main valve casing, when opened the chamber gave the cornet a muted sound, not dissimilar to a modern day straight mute (see all trumpet and cornet mutes).

The condition of this instrument when serviced was quite remarkable bearing in mind its age. The echo chamber was used for a piece (that we know of) called Alpine Echos. Interestingly there was a production run in the 1990’s by Besson (previously Boosey & Hawkes) of modern day echo chamber Sovereign instruments. Around 100 were made as there was a demand for this feature in parts of Europe, presumably a well regarded professional performed the Alpine Echos work and it caught on!

Adrian, Brass Technician – 28/4/10

Brass Instrument Repairs – The Weird and Wonderful!

Buffet B12 Clarinet – Years of Service

The Buffet B12 has, for as many years as I can remember, been THE student clarinet that we all refer to as the industry standard. The recent passing through our hands of one of the limited edition clear perspex models got us thinking that it may be time to pay tribute to this great instrument and its heritage.

Throughout its life the Buffet B12 has been through some changes. Some of you will remember the first models produced with a shiny black plastic finish. These instruments were born from the original Evette & Schaeffer model clarinets and whilst being good student models they do look a little dated now when you see them. The fact is though, you do still see them in use! So, they must have been doing something right, German engineering usually guarantees that. Yes folks, German engineering, of course the French company Buffet are the B12 ‘owners’ but the manufacturing has always been done away from the Buffet Paris factory where they concentrate on the wooden models. As the B12 matured the introduction of a different manufacturing process and advanced finishing techniques made the instrument look and play more like a wooden instrument. But why has it been the top selling instrument for so many years? Well,you have to admit it is very easy for beginners to play, the bore design, key layout and mouthpieceall combine to make a free blowing instrument with decent tuning. Also the keywork seems to stand up to child useage. Sure, there has been some technical points they’ve had to improve over the years but most teachers would agree the Buffet B12 is a safe place to start.

However, everything changes and this time is an important one for Buffet and their B12…The market is changing and with the emergence of cheaper student instruments can the Buffet hold its own and continue to provide a step-above in quality of build and sound? The vast swathes of kids starting on the B12 must have helped with Buffets intermediate and pro[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8mOAwEy5Cw[/youtube]sales as people find them the most natural step-up. Should Buffet lose any student ground would this be affected as well? Not significantly in our minds, after all the Buffet Intermediate and Professional series clarinets take some beating.

So, as this very special clear model passes through our hands we salute you B12, years of service to the industry and most importantly, years of good beginnings for student clarinettists.

Sam 24/4/10

– The Buffet B12 in the video clip is a clear model made some years ago as a demonstration/limited edition to show the inside workings of a clarinet etc.

Buffet B12 Clarinet – Years of Service

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