Saturday, July 30, 2011

History: Conn "The Big Round Sound" Dec. 1959 Popular Mechanics

above: left- Conn's First Sousaphone (according to the article) right-Snorklephone

Conn was once one of the greatest innovators in the band instrument world. This article is from the December 1959 issue of Popular Mechanics.  Thanks to Michael Riepe for getting me this article. This is a fascinating look at what Conn was doing in the late 1950's. Click on the images to get a closer look and to read the article.

And just for giggles, a Conn stockroom requisition and parts bag from 1974...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

EVENT: Outer Banks Low Brass Retreat

September 12th - 18th
Outer Banks, North Carolina
This is a great opportunity to work with Adam Frey, Matthew K. Brown and Wycliffe Gordon. It is a unique experience that you should take if you have the opportunity. Details are posted on the poster above. You can also find further details on the website below:

In Progress - Miraphone 186-4U CC Tuba with the "Presto" levers

above: in progress Miraphone 186-4U 
A new project rolled in the shop this week, a great Miraphone 186-4U CC Tuba from the mid 1980's.  It has the "Presto" lever system which has tension screws on each lever spring and decorative covers for the stop arms. I want to smooth out the bell, bottom bow and 1st branch as much as possible so apart she goes...
Here are some photos before any work has taken place (including the photo at the top).
  The above photo has the dent I call the "karate chop."  Many used 186's have this damage.
Below is a close up image of the levers.
The photo below shows the rotor without the decorative cover:

As you can see, the disc is held on by the stop arm screw and turns with the stop arm. The stop arm bumper plate holds down the cylindrical metal cover.

I will post more photos as I tear into this thing. Let's see how it goes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sousaphone in the media: Capri-Sun's Sousaphone Simon

You don't frequently get to see Sousaphones on television but when you do they always seem to be the but of the joke. I am OK with that. In reality the Sousaphone IS a funny thing. I wouldn't be surprised if people confused John Philip Sousa and Dr. Seuss when thinking about who might have had something to do with creating this creature. 

Capri Sun, my favorite drink in a pouch, has a recent ad campaign showing children "disrespecting the pouch" and the adverse consequences of those decisions. The latest is "Sousaphone Simon." A short version of the commercial is posted below:
You can find Capri-Sun's website at the link below to play games and see alternate endings to this scenario.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dabbling Elsewhere: Arranging Music

above: Pavel Chesnokov

In college I took a few classes on orchestration and arranging. It was a really great experience not only for the knowledge that I gained but also because we analyzed one of my favorite pieces, Ravel's orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.

The final project for the advanced class was to orchestrate another piece of music. I chose one of my favorite choral pieces; Salvation is Created by Pavel Chesnokov. 

The video below is the U.S. Army Chorus rehearsing Salvation is Created:

Below is a link to my arrangement being READ by the Kansas State University Orchestra. This recording was a sight reading by the KSU Orchestra and is the first time they are seeing it. 

The music is a bit repetitive, so I tried to focus on dynamics and clustering the instruments into interesting colors. Let me know what you think!

FUN FACT - Salvation is Created is in the public domain in the US. 


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tips and Tricks - salvaging old Miraphone plastic linkages

above: the typical split linkage

Here is a useful trick that I stole from my friend Michael Riepe. Some models of Miraphone/Mirafone Tubas have linkage arms that connect to the lever and stop arm via these gray or white ball sockets. They seem to break regularly, and they aren't cheap to replace. You can modify the horn to take uniball linkages, but that isn't cheap either, so we have figured out a way to fix them. 

This is really easy. All you need is a Fox L15 water tube for a bassoon. You cut the water tube to length so that it just covers the cylindrical shank of the linkage. It is a very tight fit, and you will probably need a plastic mallet to gently tap it on. 
Here is a picture of the water tube cut to length:
Here is the final repair all assembled:

NOTE: When tightening down the plastic set screw in the end of the "bulb" be careful not to overtighten it as this will split the bulb.

What do you think?

Auditions: The President's Own Marine Band!

This is a big one: The President's Own Marine Band! The audition is on December 19th, 2011. Please visit the links for more details. This is a wonderful opportunity for any musician. The Marine Band is one of the finest musical organizations in the country.

Career Information - Marine Band
Auditions - Marine Band
Marine Band Home Page

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Facebook page: Cork Dust and Brass Shavings

This is a new Facebook page called "Cork Dust and Brass Shavings." It is a band instrument repair page that focuses on strange and unique instruments, historical instruments, tips and tricks of the trade and other such stuff. 

You can find the page here: BIR - Cork Dust and Brass Shavings

We want users and viewers to contribute, so if you have any interesting stuff, POST IT!
Let me know what you think!


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Updated Inventory: New Tubas and Sousaphones!

above: Yours truly modeling a Conn 20K Sousaphone - serial 401,927 - 1952

Recently I have finished some more Tubas and Sousaphones. They are available for sale at Wichita Band Instrument Company. There is a link to the website on the left hand side of this page and at the end of this listing. If you want any detailed information not provided in this blog post you can call (316) 684 - 0291 any time Monday through Friday 9am - 6pm and Saturday 9am - 2pm. 

Click on the images below to see the items listed on eBay and see a detailed list of ALL my inventory at the link at the end of the page.

  Conn 20K Sousaphone - serial 401,927 - 1952

Conn 22K Fiber Sousaphone - Serial - E60345 - 1965 (Elkhart) (SOLD!)

 King 2350 Sousaphone - Serial - 40-354503 - 1990 (SOLD!)
Demo Meinl Weston 451 Compensating Euphonium
Beautiful Used Yamaha YBB-641 - Serial - 006669

We also have in stock:
3 - Conn 36K Fiberglass Sousaphones
2 - Yamaha YBB-321 4 valve Tubas
1 - Yamaha YBB-201 3 valve Tuba
1 - Yamaha YBB-103 (labeled Holton) 3 valve 3/4 Tuba
2 - Conn 5J 4 valve Tubas
1 - Conn 24J 4 valve Tuba
1 - H.N. White King 1250 satin silver Sousaphone (circa 1940's)
1 - Besson 3 valve compensating Tuba with detachable recording bell

We also carry replacement parts for Tubas and Sousaphones including necks and bits. 

All instruments sold at Wichita Band come with a full 2 year service warranty covering all repair costs (excluding parts). 
If you know anyone who needs an instrument other than the low brass family, Wichita Band also carries woodwinds, timpani, brass, strings, guitars and amplifiers.

Weekly Diversion - Reno 911 - Terry blows another Tuba sale...

From the brilliant comedy Reno 911, Terry (Nick Swardson) is having a parole issue. He is supposed to have a job and is obviously lying to the Reno Sheriffs Department (Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant) about working at a music store called Talk to the Band. 

This really has nothing to do with Tubas except that Terry claims to sell them and I think it's funny.