If it’s not Baroque…

We recently set out on the task of copying a unique style of mouthpiece. This particular piece is for use on a baroque trumpet. When copying and producing a custom mouthpiece, we create a digital image of the rim and interior profile. We save that image as a file that our machines can read and work from. This process is called digitizing. Once a mouthpiece is digitized, that file can be used to make any number of copies.

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The exterior is somewhat of a different story. Typically we use one of our blanks, a raw brass mouthpiece with its interior profile yet to be defined. But with this particular mouthpiece, there’s so much character in the exterior that we had to copy that as well! It may have required a little extra work, but the end result came out exactly how we wanted.

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The price of duplicating the exterior on a custom mouthpiece varies on a case-by-case basis. So if you have a unique looking mouthpiece you want copied, including the exterior, bring it by the shop or email us some pictures and we would be happy to give you our assessment.

 

Measuring Rims

Measuring Rims
Here’s a Lawson B23G705 rim. Its inner diameter is either .705″ or .683″, depending on where you measure it.

We’re often asked to compare the diameters of rims from different makers. Whether a rim measures 17.5 or 18 mm depends on where it’s measured. There’s no “right place” to measure a rim and unless the maker tells you where a rim has been measured it’s impossible to compare.

The Lawson rim shown above was measured at a point .025″ down from its high point (crown). That’s where the “705” number comes from. We think that’s a less-than-ideal place to take a measurement because it’s in the middle of the curve.

Osmun mouthpieces are measured .050″ down from the crown because at that point the rim blends into the cup. So, in our measuring system the diameter would be .683″.  That’s .022″ (.56mm) different.

Other makers may use different measuring points and unless they tell you where they’re measuring, it’s impossible to compare.  So, take rim measurements with a large grain of salt.

 

 

 

Lawson Replica Horn Mouthpieces

Since releasing our line of Lawson replica mouthpieces, we’ve received a number of questions from customers trying to order these components. So I would like to take a moment and dispel some of the confusion surrounding these Lawson mouthpieces.

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For starters, the Lawson cups and rims are not on the same thread pitch as the rest of our standard mouthpiece line. That means that a new R10G700 rim will not be fitting on your beloved Osmun Chicago cup, but, our Lawson replicas will fit with any original Lawson mouthpiece components that you may already own. We have, in the past, done custom work for customers looking to use a Lawson rim on one of our cups and vice versa. So it can work but will require a bit of custom work to be done. If you’re looking for something that will fit a standard cup but don’t want to get into custom work, the P1 and P1+ are copies of Lawson’s P10G and are made in both standard and metric threads.

The second major point of confusion is rim size and their cup compatibility. The cups come in two different styles. Lawson cups come in two different sizes. The narrower .660 cup and the wider .670. The .660 cup will fit the .690 and .695 sized rims and the .670 will fit with .695, .700, and .705

This should clear up any major points of confusion, and if not, we’re only a call or email away.

Keeping Your Horn Clean at Home

Recently, we’ve had quite a few customers asking what they can do at home to keep their horns clean. One trick that comes as a surprise to most brass musicians is to oil your valves after playing your horn. Of course, it is important to oil your valves before you play so as to keep pistons and rotors moving smoothly and quickly. But the little-known secret of oiling after play helps to coat the instrument in oils protecting the inner-workings of your horn from corrosion. After a session of playing, empty all spit from the instrument and put a few drops of oil on pistons, rotors, and even down the mouthpipe. This should help coat and protect the instrument before going back into its case. This is especially beneficial if you plan to leave your instrument for an extended period of time without playing. Oiling before being put in the case will help to prevent taking out your horn weeks later to find frozen valves and slides. casings-before

The next thing you can do to keep your instrument in top shape is to use a snake tool to remove dirt and other gross objects from your instrument. Most snakes have a brush or sponge-like object at the end of a bendable tube, for getting around corners and bends in your instruments tubing. One thing you want to be certain to do before using a snake tool is to remove your valves from the instruments before snaking. We recently encountered a situation where a customer left the valves in while snaking and the brush section became lodged inside a valve piston. In order to remove the foreign object, the trumpet had to be dissembled. It was not pretty. brush

Another simple and easy trick you can do at home is to give your horn a bath. Fill your bathtub up with warm water (not hot!) and use a little bit of dish soap. We prefer the blue dawn dish soap. Use your snake or other cleaning equipment to wash out the inside of the instrument. This will remove any bio-film (the food, plaque and other gross stuff left behind while playing). Cleaning your horn in the bathtub will not remove any corrosion, that will have to be removed through chemical cleaning treatments. But this method should help remove any undesirable crud inside your horn. After the bath, be sure to dry out your horn and oil it up before putting it back in the case.

The mouthpipe of a trumpet is generally the first place we begin to see red-rot occurring. This makes sense as it is the closest component of the instrument to the source of moisture (your mouth). After playing, try using a leadpipe swab to remove moisture and other liquids built up in your mouthpipe. These tools are similar to the swabs you may see a clarinet player or other woodwind friends using to clean out their instruments. They generally feature a soft cloth, sometimes made of silk attached to a weighted string. Pull out your tuning slide, drop the weight down the leadpipe and pull the cloth through. continue the process until the mouthpipe is sufficiently dry.

Through proper care, you can keep your brass instruments sounding great and playing awesome for many decades. As always if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.

Introducing the Osmun Visualizer

Use your own rim! Our new embouchure visualizer features a Giardinelli-compatible thread so you can use it with your regular rim. It fits our rims as well as Giardinelli, Moosewood, Houser, and most other American screw rims. Also available: models for Paxman Halstead-Chidell, Lawson, and others.

 

Allergies a problem? We can duplicate your rim in Delrin or Lucite. Call 978 823-0580 or email for more information.

Cleaning Schmid Horns

Osmun Music has been servicing fine horns for almost fifty years. The chemicals and processes we use have been exhaustively tested and are safe and effective. However, we do adhere to Schmid’s repair protocols when servicing Engelbert Schmid instruments. That means no chemical baths are used on rotors and corrosion is removed by mechanical processes. We will be happy to explain the process in detail and respect your wishes.

Chem Clean or Ultrasonic: Which is Best?

Brass instruments have traditionally been cleaned with a combination of soaps and chemical baths, accompanied by a good deal of hand scrubbing. In recent years ultrasonic cleaners have come into the picture, offering a different cleaning method. Which method gets your horn cleaner, which is safer for the horn (and you)?  How do you choose?

valves-beforeAs a brass instrument is played, deposits build up on the inner surfaces. These include old grease and oil, food particles, dental plaque and bacteria, calcium, and copper carbonate, the material formed by the reaction of the acids in your breath and the copper in the alloy. Copper carbonate builds up green, rock-hard deposits. It’s the primary cause of sticking and other action problems in rotary valve instruments. If the mouthpipe is brushed out once a week or so and the instrument is oiled frequently enough, a brass instrument can go for years between Chem/Ultrasonic cleanings. In actual practice, however, this rarely happens and a cleaning is needed every year or so.

A Chem Clean starts with a scrub with brushes and detergents to remove old oil and grease. The instrument is immersed in a mildly acidic solution  which dissolves the calcium and copper carbonate. Areas of heavy buildup can be addressed with acids on a
q-tip. Then the instrument is scrubbed again with detergent to remove any residue and is re-assembled.

Ultrasonic cleaning replaces the hand scrubbing with sound waves. The disassembled instrument is put into a tank of cleaning solution and bombarded with sound waves. The sound waves cause microscopic bubbles to form in the fluid. These bubbles immediately collapse, converting the sound waves into kinetic energy. This process, called  “cavitation”, creates the scrubbing action that cleans the horn. One of the big advantages of ultrasonics is that that scrubbing action reaches all through the inside of the horn, even into areas unreachable by brushes.

valves-afterWhen using ultrasonic cleaners it’s important to be aware of their power and potential for damage. The microscopic bubbles are very good at finding their way into the pinholes left by dezincification and opening them up. So, older instruments and instruments that show any signs of dezincification (red rot) should not be ultrasonically cleaned. Ultrasonic cleaning can also remove some lacquers. So, it’s important to use the least power and the shortest time that will do the job.

Some people have the misconception that ultrasonics replace acids in the cleaning process.  This is not the case. The acids are needed to dissolve the calcium and copper carbonate deposits. The cleaning solutions we use are mild enough to be handled without gloves. We have tested samples for up to four hours of immersion with no measurable loss of metal. (Repair shops and manufacturers used to use Chromic acid to produce a bright brass surface. This material did remove metal and is also a carcinogen. It has been banned by the EPA although, amazingly, you can sometimes still find people using it.)

In our shop, a typical cleaning may involve both ultrasonics and traditional techniques. We choose the combination that’s safest and most effective for the instrument.

Schedule a Cleaning