Image above: A dismantled Soprano Bugle.
A couple of months ago I decided to dismantle and re-assemble an old Soprano Bugle that had bought on eBay in 2007. At first things were going well. I removed some dents, rebuilt the tuning slide, patched over a hole using a small copper ring and added an Amado water key. When it came to fixing the bell I realised after reshaping it that it was beyond repair. For reasons unknown to me it rings and buzzes in ways that it shouldn’t. As it happened I had a spare old trumpet in the garage and so I took the bell from that and put it onto the body of the bugle. To my surprise this bell made the old instrument sound much better so my project evolved into something else.
After making this trumpet I wrote a long list of reasons why using a lower-pitched trumpet in G is a good idea and I think I may refine and publish that at another date. When I started to write that blog post it turned out that I needed a series of other blog posts to already exist to explain the concepts that I mentioned in the list. That’ll just have to be a work in progress for now.
Since making this instrument I have tried playing a wide variety of music on it. I practised Bach’s B minor mass for a few days. Music written for trumpet in D or C end up in comfortable keys (G or F major respectively) when transposing on a trumpet in G. Upon realising that I needed to build my stamina a bit I began instead to playing from a French horn tutor book. I was transposing in a way such that a written middle C would be played as the 3rd available open note, thus meaning that the fingering would be the same as in the tutor book. Essentially this is how you would read music for a natural trumpet in G (a high key for a natural trumpet and not an instrument that existed historically), except you also have the facility of the valves to add chromaticism. Doing this really helped to develop my ear for this instrument as well as develop some familiarity with the harmonics being closer together at the lower pitch.
Below: some photos of the finished instrument.
In the last few days I have made some recordings of myself playing some orchestral repertoire using this trumpet. I don’t believe it would be appropriate to play music written post-1900, but anything before then is fair game. I chose the Leonore calls by Beethoven, because they are ideal for instantly hearing the different tonal qualities of this trumpet, and I also chose excerpts from Chabrier’s España, which has parts for both B-flat Cornet and Trumpet in F. I played the trumpet parts on the trumpet in G and the Cornet parts on the trumpet in B-flat (my Rudy Mück). I hope you enjoy listening to them. As always I welcome comments. ~iii<0
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I used GarageBand for these recordings and a Shure SM57 microphone.
This week I decided to upgrade my Rudy Mück trumpet a little more. If you haven’t read about this instrument in the past then take a look here for more info.
A reversed slide is one that is configured so that the smaller internal tubes are reached first along the path that air takes through the instrument. The result of this is that the internal gradient is smooth. If the air passed through a larger outer tube first and then into a smaller inner tube and then out again then, as it does in a non-reversed slide, then this can have a negative effect on the feel and intonation of the instrument. In my experience it tends to be that you feel reversed slides as an improvement in the blow of a trumpet and smoother in transition when you press the valve – but not necessarily something you first notice before the change has been made. Most beginner-model trumpets do not have reversed slides (at least not for the first valve or tuning slide) and professional models do (not always the tuning slide).
On my Rudy Mück trumpet I have reversed the first valve slide and added a hook so that it can be moved whilst playing. I have also shortened the tube by about 3mm because it has always played slightly flat on a couple of notes and I now have better control over that. The process is fairly straight-forward and only required that I had a hook to place on the tube after it was reversed. Everything else is done using pre-existing parts of the instrument. Firstly I needed to remove the top tube from the valve casing and the stay that was in between the two outer tubes. I then had to remove the inner tube from the top of the removable slide. The tricky part of the operation is making sure that the tubes are straight when replaced in the opposing position. I used a digital calliper to measure the gap between the tubes accurately to a few hundredths of a millimetre. This is necessary for the slide to be moveable whilst playing. Its remarkable the things I can now do having learnt to solder brass properly.
On the Schilke Loyalist website there are some very interesting articles, particularly one (link) that highlights why reversed tuning slides are better for over all intonation on a trumpet. At this stage I don’t intend reversing the tuning slide on this trumpet because I would have to remove a brace that I feel helps with the slotting. When this brace was removed in the past the trumpet did not sound as good as it currently does. Seeing as this trumpet is conical from the receiver to the end of the tuning slide anyway I think the change would be of less value than it would on another instrument.
Happy trumpeting! ~iii<0
I thought it would be nice to post some photos of my Rudy Muck trumpet. It is a 65M Super Six trumpet that I bought last November. And since buying it I have made a few adjustments to it. The real story is that I had some ideas of how to make it play better and lacking the knowledge of how to apply these ideas I managed to break the instrument beyond playability. Since attending a brass instrument repair course with Trevor Head in the summer (link to Trevor’s Website) I have been able to reconstruct and even improve the trumpet. I now use this instrument for the majority of the playing that I do.
Just for you geeks out there: This trumpet has a extra large bore size (0.470″ at the valve section) with a small leadpipe (measuring 0.453″ at the start of the tuning slide) and a conical tuning slide. I would speculate that this is one of the earliest examples of what is now referred to as a step-bore or multi-bore instrument. Rudy Muck may well have been the first trumpet manufacturer to have this idea.
This is one of the later instruments to bear the Rudy Muck name and I believe it could have been constructed in France because of the similarity in appearance to some Buffet Crampon trumpets (including the style of the leadpipe and receiver, the stay on the tuning slide and the engraving).
Update since writing: There was a balanced-model Citation that looked more like a Buffet Crampon than mine, but the similarities are still there.
Rudy Muck is known to have outsourced the construction of some instruments in order to maintain high standards and avoid the pitfalls of mass production. I’ve seen Muck be described as the “Kanstul of his day”, and this goes a long way to explain why various parts of the trumpet resemble various vintage horns but no single instrument in particular. The valve block is (at least externally) quite similar to Olds trumpets and the first valve slide is very much like a NY Bach Stradivarius (pre-thumb hook design).
For more information about Rudy and his trumpets I would recommend visiting www.rudymuck.info. Although this site hasn’t been updated for a while it is still very interesting.
Above: The trumpet in the condition that I bought it.
Above: The trumpet as it is now.
- The first change I made was to remove the stop bars from the tuning slide and 3rd valve-slide. These looked old-fashioned and were completely unnecessary.
- I have swapped the right-hand finger ring for a circular ring, purely for aesthetic reasons! (Well actually I happened also to put it in a place that fitted my hand much better than before)
- When I took the trumpet on my repair course the 3rd valve-slide was in nine pieces. I rebuilt it. Notice that there is now only one brace whereas previously there were two. I have also removed the water key and patched over the hole. In order for the slide to function correctly the two tubes had to be perfectly aligned (It is accurate to 0.01″).
- Also whilst on the course I refitted the stay between the leadpipe and the bell, which had come off in a previous experiment. This really helped to stabilise the sound of the instrument. Although not always the case, it turns out that this trumpet needs it.
- I have replaced the water key on the tuning slide with an Amado water key. For more info about water keys read this interesting blog post that I found.
Thanks for reading! ~iii<o