Saturday, August 28, 2010

ITF Reflections #5: It isn't always snake oil


Whenever I go to a trombone convention showroom, I carry with me a good dose of skepticism. I've seen some pretty ridiculous things.

However, I had a pretty mind-blowing experience at the Edwards booth when I spent some with Christian Griego and their new model, the "Alessi" model T396-A.

Now you might think that, given my last name, I play an Edwards. Wrong, I play a Shires and absolutely love it.

Here's the thing, though....
This new Edwards trombone is what they call an acoustically-tunable fixed instrument. Basically, if I understand correctly, this trombone doesn't have a removable lead pipe (I could be wrong about this, though). What it definitely does have, though, are these three threaded holes near the tuning slide (I think they call it an "harmonic bridge"). The horn comes with a variety of small bolt-like pieces made of different metals which can be screwed into these holes.

At the outset, I felt pretty confident that I was about to have another 'snake oil' experience. However, as Christian began to add or change these metal pieces I was amazed by the difference in the instrument.

He would make the smallest adjustment and it was as if he had handed me a different instrument. One time, the change was the same piece/same hole but he screwed it in from the opposite side. Even this caused a big difference in the way the instrument responded.

Am I ready to leave Shires?
No, but I'll admit that, if my horn were destroyed or stolen, I'd have to look closely at these new Edwards trombones before I automatically go back to Shires.

This time, it isn't snake oil. I think he's really onto something here.


2 comments:

Hoyt said...

I played the same horn at the ETW a couple of years ago when they first came out. I was AMAZED at the difference just adding or taking away those little metal screws could make.

Definitely not snake oil.

john said...

It would seem there's an opportunity for someone to create clamp-on screw mount thingies like this for attachment to braces. Doesn't seem like a difficult project.

One must ask, though, why it is to the braces these things are soldered but not anywhere to the other 99% of the available area. Potentially better places could be found. Who knows?