Brass Instrument Repairs – The Weird and Wonderful!

28th April 2010

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