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New Butler, or Butler mod

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:52 pm
by hyperbolica
I've got a pinched nerve in my left arm, so I'm trying to minimize the effects of the weight of the horn on that arm. The Butler carbon fiber bass bone is tempting, but its $7k.

Several people have spoken of various Butler mods from an outer slide to just a bell, or both.

It seems that a Butler mod would be reversible, in case you didn't like it, your horn wouldn't be trashed.

The difference between a full Butler horn and your own horn with Butler parts is essentially the valve section and inner slide assembly. And hopefully a lower cost.

Any comments on the difference between a modification and a complete new horn? Would they do that kind of work for someone who isn't Doug Yeo?

Re: New Butler, or Butler mod

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:58 pm
by pompatus
I was, literally, just speaking with my tech about this option, for similar reasons, and have been considering looking for a lighter bass as a result. Here’s an excerpt from one of his emails:
...The complete horn has the bell, main tuning slide, F and Gb tuning slides, and outer slide section made of carbon fiber. Unfortunately, it costs around $6950 or so. BUT he will sell you just the bell and/or an outer slide and fit it to your existing horn so it would be a lot cheaper. I think you could even get an F tuning slide for your horn too. I would guess you could be down in the 5 pound or maybe a little less range if you did these things...

...I have been using the carbon bell on big band gigs for the last couple months, and it plays great. Just the bell makes the horn maybe a pound lighter—it is a big difference.
Using their outer slide on your inner may not be as easily reversible as a typical outer swap. It’s my understanding that they’ll adjust the width of the inner to fit the outer, as their crook is what will set that distance, and isn’t as easily adjustable as just resoldering the inner handbrace, if that makes sense.

Reversible? Yes. Hot-swappable? Likely not.

Re: New Butler, or Butler mod

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:55 pm
by Schlitz
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Re: New Butler, or Butler mod

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 7:47 pm
by 2bobone
I have owned the first production Butler Carbon Fiber C-12 bass trombone [#0002] for about six months now and can verify that it has solved a long term problem of mine that caused a long playing career to come to an end. The weight is about half the weight of any of my other horns [a SS King Duo Gravis - a King 8B - a Conn 62H]. I no longer need to rely on my old ErgoBone to make ANY playing a possibility. Even though it is a double trigger bass with a 9 1/2" bell, it weighs the same as a single trigger tenor, like a Conn 88H.
Does it sound like any of my favorite horns ? In a word : NO ! ---- But just being able to still participate in the world of music and musicians that defined my being for so many years is worth the small difference in not hearing myself exactly like I prefer to sound. There is definitely a learning curve with a CF instrument. It is extremely efficient, "slots" like nothing I've ever played, but even so, may not be everybody's "Cup O' Tea" ! Contrary to reports of tenor players not experiencing any adjustment period, I think the bass does require a considerable length of time to be totally comfortable with the difference. YMMV ------. One of the hardest adjustments was learning to play with a totally dry slide ! We no longer need spray bottles, instead, we need a slide swab !
I sometimes think that if trombones had traditionally been made of carbon fiber and an innovator had said, "I think I'll try to make a trombone out of brass" -------- I would have trouble wrapping my head around such a radical idea ! I have played brass bass trombones that make my Butler C-12 seem far superior, but when I compare it to the best brass instruments that I've played, it doesn't quite make the mark. Experimentation with mouthpieces and leadpipes have resolved some of my original misgivings, and so I think I will ultimately be happy with my choice.
If you are on the fence about the price of this new technology, it is understandable, but Dave Butler is a real gentleman, a fellow trombonist and offers a very reasonable trial period on any of his stock instruments. You owe it to yourself and to the inestimable joy of making music with our chosen burden, the bass trombone. Cheers !! Bob

Re: New Butler, or Butler mod

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:41 am
by hyperbolica
@2bobone

Thanks for your input on this. I was hoping you'd chime in. Could you talk more about the playing qualities of the Butler setup? Does it play better loud or soft? How is the low range? Does it have intonation quirks? Could you elaborate on the slotting? What mouthpiece / leadpipe arrangement did you wind up with?

I would primarily want to use it for quartet/quintet, and mainly for soft or very controlled volume, a mixture of pop styles and light classical.

I like the feel of the old Conns, Holtons and Olds. I've adjusted to the Kanstul over the last 4 years. I don't think I'd want to cannibalize that to make a light horn, I'd probably get another donor with a beat bell and/or slide for that purpose.

Re: New Butler, or Butler mod

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:14 am
by 2bobone
I'm glad my comments were informative and I'll gladly elaborate as clearly as I can.
As I mentioned, my reference horns are my King Duo Gravis and 8B and my Conn 62HI [the Conn is presently up for sale --- yeah, a lousy commercial !]. The Butler C-12 is incredibly responsive and even throughout all registers now that I've found a mouthpiece / leadpipe combination that are more to my liking. The C-12 comes with a stock Bach 50B leadpipe and inner slide tubes and is equipped with a bi-thread receiver. The Bach pipe didn't stay in very long and was replaced by an Edwards / Getzen #2 pipe. It was better, but still not what I was looking for. I wasn't happy at all with the lower register so I took a leap of faith and ordered a M/K Drawing & Bending GR leadpipe in sterling silver that has been working quite well for me and opened up the bottom end considerably. For the past several years I've been using Dr. Dave Harrison's WEDGE mouthpieces, specifically the 1G in Delrin. He recently made a 1G with a flatter rim profile which I've always preferred and it is another step towards my ideal setup.
So far as "slotting" is concerned : You always have a sense that you are locked in on any note with no worries about being insecure. Using alternate positions such as 1st position B Flat in 5th position, 1st position D in 4th position and 1st position F in a sharp 4th position are remarkably easy, fluent and solid and don't seem to have that slightly different "color" we are accustomed to on most horns. Those notes are, after all, different partials and would be expected to have a different tonal makeup, but on the C-12 they seem almost exactly like the base note which they are effectively mimicking. Go figure !
Dave Butler made a comment to me about the C-12 in regards to the point from which the horn begins to project. He said that most instruments begin to project almost immediately at the end of the bell, but that the C-12 begins that point of projection about a foot beyond the bell. Evidently, the stiffness of carbon fiber has something to do with this characteristic. That stiffness probably also contributes to the sensation that your sound is more "in the room" than "in the horn". It is very difficult to explain and really has to be experienced by playing a C-12 yourself.
To sum up, the C-12 has neither the chunky weight of my 8B nor the laser-like focus of my Duo Gravis and seems to be somewhere in between, pretty much like I thought it might be. My greatest appreciation is in the lightness of weight which is a total delight ! If I were a strapping young dude with all my faculties in top notch shape, would I choose a C-12 as my primary instrument ? No, I most likely wouldn't, but as I am now well into "Geezer-Dom" I find it better suited to my present status and will acquiesce as gracefully as possible. There is nothing about the C-12 that is undesirable, it is just different and takes a bit of familiarity with its strengths to bring out its best.
Perhaps my old teacher at ESM, Donald Knaub, put it best when he said, "Practice -- practice -- and then practice some more" ! Therein lies the solution to almost every trombone-ing obstacle we encounter ! Cheers !!

Re: New Butler, or Butler mod

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:38 pm
by elmsandr
As I noted in the other thread, I have some things I am still working through on my slide to see if I really like it, but in all reality my experience is about the same here... the sound is at the very least “quite acceptable”. It may, in time, prove to be even better than that, but it is taking some getting used to.

My original thought had been to go with another ~$1500 or so and get a bell, main tuning slide and screw bell setup to go with my slide. I may still do that, but I am going to work with the slide and see if I decide to stay with it longer. I would, however, go with the mod route rather than the whole thing. I am not sold on their total design and execution yet, but that may just be me being an old stick in the mud.

Short answer; I would recommend, Dave’s great to work with, but it is different enough that it might not be for you.

Cheers,
Andy

Re: New Butler, or Butler mod

Posted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:52 am
by timothy42b
2bobone wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:14 am
Dave Butler made a comment to me about the C-12 in regards to the point from which the horn begins to project. He said that most instruments begin to project almost immediately at the end of the bell, but that the C-12 begins that point of projection about a foot beyond the bell. Evidently, the stiffness of carbon fiber has something to do with this characteristic. That stiffness probably also contributes to the sensation that your sound is more "in the room" than "in the horn". It is very difficult to explain and really has to be experienced by playing a C-12 yourself.
I haven't played one, and I've only heard them playing in a noisy situation.

This is an intriguing comment though. If I think about two sounds: the wind column sound that the audience hears, and the bell vibrations that give the player a different feedback, then there may be "projection" from the bell flare that is different. A pBone for example sounds much more different to the player than the audience.

I run a handbell choir, and I teach my ringers to have the bell vertical at strike point, because the sound comes out of the side of the bell, not the ends. If they've tipped the bell forward their sound goes to the floor and doesn't balance. (also they get carpal tunnel) Bells ring mostly at the fundamental and the 12th, and this sound splits. One comes from the rim and the other from the flare point. A trombone bell is not too dissimilar from a bell, in having an area where flare accelerates, and a rim. Maybe even a kranz.

Re: New Butler, or Butler mod

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:55 pm
by Harpcat
I have no bass bone experience. However, I own a Butler Lemondrop. I like it so well that I sent my 1965 King 3B [nice player but lots of cosmetic issues] to Butler. He replaced the bell with a CF bell and built a CF outer slide. I really like both horns. I find it amazing that the 3B still has that iconic 3B sound! I found that I originally had a little learning curve in listening to myself on a CF horn. The sound seems to develop a little further away from the player than with a brass bell. i no longer even notice the difference. Dave Butler is a good guy and very passionate about the trombone. I suggest you contact him and chat about your needs and concerns. I’ve gotten asthma later in life and I bought the original horn because CF horns don’t require as much air [my opinion]. My two horns have put some of the fun/joy back into the trombone.

All the best on your journey!
Jay