Horn for pit orchestra work

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Eunapius
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Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Eunapius » Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:51 am

I am primarily a euphonium player but I still do quite a bit of trombone playing. As I was told by my private lesson teacher in high school, "playing euphonium is great, but if you ever want to get paid for a gig you need to learn trombone."

I primarily use an Olds Standard trombone with dual bore. 495/.510 for my dixieland and klezmer groups, but I've been recently asked to play in a pit orchestra and I no longer have a horn that's really suitable for that. I used to have a Bach Omega which was my first trombone, but I sold it to get the Olds I'm using now when I joined the dixieland group. So I want to get something flexible enough that I can play the wide variety of styles needed for musicals without changing horns all the time. I really like my Olds, but now I want to get something as good or better as that Bach Omega I used to have for pits since I want to get back into that game now. Hopefully with a better low register since that Omega was really stuffy in the basement.

With a budget around 1000 I'm currently thinking a used medium size horn like a King 3B+, Yamaha 640, Conn 78 (if I can find one...), or Bach 36 would fit the bill nicely but some of these would be pushing the upper limits of my price range. Not sure if I should go into the .547 range of horns for this but King 4B's are a lot easier to find for reasonable prices than 3B+'s.

So what are your thoughts? Am I on the right track or have I veered into crazyland?
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BGuttman
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by BGuttman » Sat Nov 23, 2019 7:07 am

Do you still want a straight horn? I like a medium bore with F attachment so you can play the occasional low D or so.

Also, consider getting something used. A Yamaha 645 is a great medium bore straight horn or a 646 is the same thing with F. They are ancestors of the 630 and 640. Or you could go one generation newer and look at the 683 (straight) or 684 (with F).

You may find the Olds plays better in the low register with a larger mouthpiece. I used a Bach 4C with my Ambassador with F to play low parts. It was about the biggest mouthpiece I could find 40 years ago. A Recording with F is a great horn.

Then there is the venerable King 3B with F. At one time it seemed to be the real do-all horn and used ones can meet your price point.

Unfortunately, most of the Chinese horns seem to have ignored the Medium Bore size, but I understand John Packer offers one (as well as Wessex Tubas and others).

Good luck with your search.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by walldaja » Sat Nov 23, 2019 7:24 am

You may want to consider a Yamaha 356R, there are some good deals on these and they are solid horns.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by SwissTbone » Sat Nov 23, 2019 7:27 am

This 645 may be all you need:
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by hyperbolica » Sat Nov 23, 2019 9:32 am

I'd get a Bach 36b. Lots available, reasonably priced. Perfect for that kind of work. Very flexible.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by PaulT » Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:12 am

Regarding pit horns: I've never played in a pit, but I've been in several musicals and have observed several pits over the years... and sometimes the musicians don't have a lot of room. A trigger horn could save you from needing to aim your slide into a 4" window, and save your slide in the process. I would check with some guys that have done a lot of pit gigs to see if this factor should be considered.

Regarding Yamaha 600s. A used 640 (.525 F)would be a wonderful choice. But, if a good deal on a nice 620 (.547 F) shows up (and Yamaha has sold a lot of them), I think you would be pretty darn happy with that as well. I have two 600s, the 620 and the 630 (.525 straight), and I don't feel like I'm playing a bigger horn when I go back and forth between them (same bell/different slides). My horn experience is limited, but my experience so far is that the Yamaha 610/620's have a smaller and more nimble feel to them than the other .547s I have played (and they are lighter).
Last edited by PaulT on Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by paulyg » Sat Nov 23, 2019 12:48 pm

A King 3Bf is the gold standard of pit horns.

I can't see a Bach 36 working that well in a pit. In that setting, you will be neither seen nor heard. Pit instruments need to be pretty darn bright to get out into the crowd.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by DDoghouse » Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:02 pm

I'm playing a 36 in a show tonight, my 10th service in this run. I am dismayed to find out that no one has heard me.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by DDoghouse » Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:03 pm

And all snarkiness aside, a actually bought the horn specifically for pit work. To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a problem with projection.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by PaulT » Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:07 pm

And if you find a good buy on a nice 400 series Yamaha, consider it. With Yamaha, "intermediate" is just a marketing word, not an indication of quality. 400 series Yamahas are built as well as any.

With the straight 400s, about the only difference between the 400s and 600s is that the 600's are trimmed out a little nicer (chrome on the wear points). There also isn't much difference in price (about $200 new). But buying used? Who knows, a deal is a deal. The 445 is a .525 and the 447 is a .547

The above applies to the 400 F horns with the exception being that 400 series F horns have a string pull for the valve (rather than mechanical). String pulls aren't real common any more but they work fine and some prefer them. It's not a concern.
The 446 is a .525 and the 448 is a .547.

Oh, and I forgot, the 400s have gold brass bells and yellow brass leads while the 600s are yellow brass bells with gold brass leads.

And one more "I forgot". Yamaha makes a 548, an open wrap .547 F horn that is sold only though full-service music stores (no online sales). I have no idea how many of these are around, but if the right used deal shows up ...?
Last edited by PaulT on Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Eunapius
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Eunapius » Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:27 pm

I'm leaning toward an f attachment horn as likely the better option. The local theater has a tiny pit area so I expect it to be cramped.

Thanks for the tips on additional Yamaha models to look for. I'll keep an eye out for them. I hadn't considered an Olds f attachment horn. I know Olds made good stuff, especially the recording line, but I had always assumed that flat wrap for the f attachment Olds had some kind of issue associated with that. You'll have to forgive my ignorance on that if it's wrong I just remember hearing someone say that once and it stuck with me.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by BGuttman » Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:29 pm

When I bought my 682G it had a one-piece bell. Mine was gold brass and at the same time I tried the regular 682 which was one-piece yellow brass. I suspect the other Yamaha horns are also single material if not single piece bells.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by BGuttman » Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:39 pm

Eunapius wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:27 pm
...I hadn't considered an Olds f attachment horn. I know Olds made good stuff, especially the recording line, but I had always assumed that flat wrap for the f attachment Olds had some kind of issue associated with that. You'll have to forgive my ignorance on that if it's wrong I just remember hearing someone say that once and it stuck with me.
The Olds flat wrap generally tends to be smallish tubing. I'd certainly hesitate to spend a lot of time below the bass staff on one, but for an occasional note or ten they work fine.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:52 pm

My experience with pit orchestra is that it varies from show to show just what kind of trombone an orchestrator expects. Some of them sit very, very well on a "standard" small bore jazz bone. Chicago is a good example. Others sit very well on a bigger "wagnerian" bone - Titanic being a good example. But, the shows that slot better to the small bore seem to be way more numerous - and IMHO with a low price range you'll probably have an easier time finding a good quality triggerless small bore bone than a good medium-bore "compromise" bone with F trigger. This is certainly the case for smaller local theaters that aren't staging shows with bigger budgets and more specific orchestrations, where the very occasional lick with low Cs or Ds can always be played up an octave with no real loss of dramatic purpose.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Cmillar » Sat Nov 23, 2019 3:19 pm

Start with the real NYC Broadway players: Jack Gale (decades of work) I believed played a Bach 36; Bruce Eidem (student of Jack Gales, decades of work) Bach 36; others have used King 3B's (many with Silver finish); Bach 42's have been used; Bach 12's'; Bach 16's; Conn 78H's'; etc. etc.....depends on the shows requirements!

I did several pit jobs in Canada for good touring B'way shows using a Bach 16M and played 'Company' on a nice King 2B.

Horns help, but you have to have the right concept and sound too.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by JohnL » Sat Nov 23, 2019 3:25 pm

Eunapius wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:27 pm
I hadn't considered an Olds f attachment horn. I know Olds made good stuff, especially the recording line, but I had always assumed that flat wrap for the f attachment Olds had some kind of issue associated with that. You'll have to forgive my ignorance on that if it's wrong I just remember hearing someone say that once and it stuck with me.
The f-attachment Recordings are .495"/.510" (.515" through the valve), so the top tube is notably small than the King 3B. There's also the issue of mouthpiece receiver; it's a little undersize, which causes intonation issues for some people when using a non-Olds mouthpiece. That said, I've covered a lot of bass trombone licks on an R-20 using a Bach 3 and later a Curry 3M. If I were you, I wouldn't actively seek one out, but if an R-20 at a good price presents itself, I wouldn't hesitate to give it a try. After all - as long as you don't overpay, you can always sell it on if it doesn't work for you.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by PaulT » Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:44 pm

If you decide to go small bore, the Yamaha 354 is a very well regarded .500 bore horn. It is a student horn with a rock solid build and a pro slide. (and pros will play them).

(The Yamaha 200 is the exact same horn. Yamaha only allows the 200 to be sold (new) through full service music stores, allowing them some protection from online competition).

A really nice Yamaha 354/200 can be found for $500 or so without a lot of searching. There are a lot of them out there. I strongly suspect that more 354s have been sold in the last 10 years than the next two best sellers combined. On any given day, forty or fifty of them (or more) will be for sale on Ebay.

Without going anywhere near a grand you should be able to find one that is in really, really nice shape with a near perfect to perfect slide. And with a wide enough cast of the net, $300 could land you a nice one with a dandy slide.

(and if you mash it in the pit or lose it somewhere, you can pick up another one quickly without putting much of a hole in your billfold)
Last edited by PaulT on Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Russjones92 » Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:13 pm

I'd go for the YSL 446/448 the above mentioned open wrap YSL 548GOAL (Allegro) would be a wonderful option as well. The John Parker Rath horns would be worth considering also. Just my .02
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Posaunus » Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:24 pm

I agree with the advice here – most of it is useful.

From my limited (but rewarding) pit experience, I'd suggest that you really should have an F-attachment trombone to cover the range of parts you might be faced with. Medium bore is a good idea – ranging from King 3BF (the smaller range of medium bore) to the various Yamaha models to Bach 36B to (if you are lucky enough to find one) a Benge 175F – perfect horn usually sold used at a favorable price.

Good luck.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by brtnats » Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:44 pm

I use a Yamaha 448G paired with a 6.5AL-sized my for most pit stuff. The closed wrap attachment saves room in the back and lets me not hit the chairs in front of me. I usually don’t like a .547 tenor, but the conductors usually do like the extra weight that the large tenor gives to the brass section. In the pits I’m playing in, I’m usually the lowest brass instrument, to YMMV.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Rusty » Sat Nov 23, 2019 9:36 pm

I’d recommend a 3bf with 6.5 sized mouthpiece as probably the most versatile set up for covering most things. A 36 wouldn’t be bad but I find them a little too mellow to really cut when you have more of a lead type show.

I use a Shires MD+ which is a .508 but real open and quite broad when it needs to be, but can still cut and has plenty of punch.

The 600 series of yamahas would be great too if you can find one.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by fsgazda » Sun Nov 24, 2019 7:12 am

There's an Omega for $500 on the facebook Trombone Marketplace page.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Eunapius » Sun Nov 24, 2019 12:26 pm

Thank you all for such great input. I have a lot I can keep an eye out for and it shouldn't be too difficult to find a good deal in the next few months before I'm going to need it.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Schlitz » Sun Nov 24, 2019 1:22 pm

.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by PaulT » Sun Nov 24, 2019 2:57 pm

Just curious...

What are valve trombones used for? Are they an oddball instrument only used for "special" purposes? Or are they ever, perhaps in "pit regards", an acceptable substitute for trombone parts? I was thinking what an easy double a valve trombone would be for a "primarily" euphonium player in a small pit area?

What are valve trombones used for? Yamaha makes a 354 that has valves, so someone must be buying them for something.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by BGuttman » Sun Nov 24, 2019 3:57 pm

Valve trombones seem to have been made for trumpet players to double.

There was a tine that valve trombones were thought to be the future of trombones but we learned that they are very difficult to play in tune, and many of them have rather small bores through the valve section resulting in a stuffy sound.

I suppose they have their place, and maybe in cramped quarters could be a way to provide a trombone-like sound. But you will notice how many of us are using them in pit orchestras. :wink:
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Eunapius » Sun Nov 24, 2019 7:52 pm

I have no problems playing with a slide. I took a couple semesters of trombone lessons when I was in college and the dixieland/klezmer music I play on a semi-regular basis keeps me on my toes so I don't feel a need to use a valve trombone. If I was so cramped in a pit I couldn't use a slide, I would probably reach for my Olds Studio baritone before a valve trombone. I've attended shows in this theater before and they've always been able to fit a slide trombone in the pit so I don't think it will be too much of a problem.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Fruitysloth » Sun Nov 24, 2019 9:26 pm

Currently playing a Yamaha 356-R in a pit right now! Dual Bore .500/.525, plays nicely in the low register with a 6 1/2AL, can punch up top when I plug in an 11C equivalent. I’m really enjoying the horn, and I’ve used it for 3 different pit gigs, so it’s payed for itself. Also great for a 3rd bone in a big band if the top 2 are playing smaller horns. Let me know if you’ve got any other questions about it!
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Vegastokc » Mon Nov 25, 2019 10:08 am

Eunapius wrote:
Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:51 am
"playing euphonium is great, but if you ever want to get paid for a gig you need to learn trombone."
Wait - we can get paid to play these things?
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by JohnL » Mon Nov 25, 2019 10:40 am

Vegastokc wrote:
Mon Nov 25, 2019 10:08 am
Wait - we can get paid to play these things?
In some cases, we can get paid to not play them... :twisted:
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Andre1966tr » Mon Nov 25, 2019 11:47 am

An euphonium/baritone can´t substitute a trombone, too mellow, too far away soundwise to blend with trumpets..no punch, no bite, think of Sing, Sing, Sing played by a flugelhorn section...or a Salsa Band with flugels, euphoniums and a bass clarinet..it just don´t work
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by GBP » Mon Nov 25, 2019 12:12 pm

Andre1966tr wrote:
Mon Nov 25, 2019 11:47 am
An euphonium/baritone can´t substitute a trombone, too mellow, too far away soundwise to blend with trumpets..no punch, no bite, think of Sing, Sing, Sing played by a flugelhorn section...or a Salsa Band with flugels, euphoniums and a bass clarinet..it just don´t work
He was referring to a situation if there was absolutely no room in the pit for a slide.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by BGuttman » Mon Nov 25, 2019 1:01 pm

You don't need to go the Euph route to get valves. A Trombonium or English Baritone Horn will be closer in timbre to a trombone.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Leanit » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:38 am

I highly advise against an open-wrap horn. It's common to end up in the back row of a small pit with a wall behind you.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by BurckhardtS » Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:07 am

It completely depends on the pit and the show. I've played shows where it's all doable on one instrument, it be a small tenor or large tenor. I've also done one where I needed two horns, one for the valve notes, and one to fit the style of the high playing. Sometimes you can make it work if you take low stuff up if you really don't have space for a large bore or bass.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by bimmerman » Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:17 am

I used my .525/547 Edwards as a pit horn, and it worked well at everything except bass trombone parts (duh) and lead trombone parts (also, duh). I ended up bringing my 16M also when I had enough space to fit two horns, so in that case a smaller bass to (if I had one) plus a small bore would've been a great setup. The .525/547 was a great all-rounder size for that kind of work, especially when the F valve can pull to E-ish for those low Bs. A bass, it is not, but it was adequate.

I now have a 16 with an F valve (36B conversion). I don't think it'd work well for frequent trips down below the staff, but would be similar to a 3BF for those who prefer Bachs. I think it'd be a great pit horn but I haven't had a pit opportunity since I bought it.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by tbonesullivan » Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:18 am

King 3B F. Honestly the perfect pit horn, IMHO. They generally want more of that type of sound, and with the F-attachment you can deal easier with the close quarters.

Other options would be the Bach 36B, A Conn 88H with a .525 bore slide, a Yamaha 640. Definitely stay away from open wrap designs, as mentioned earlier.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by Mikebmiller » Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:15 pm

My Rath R3F works great in a pit. I even sold by 3B/F after not touching it for a year.
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Re: Horn for pit orchestra work

Post by EOlson9 » Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:18 pm

I will also recommend the model # is 2125fKing 3b, but I prefer the 3b+f if you can find one. Basically the King equivalent of a 36b but with that King sound. Model # is 2125f.
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