The new Commercial trumpet from Yamaha is a very traditional looking instrument that’s solidly built and beautifully finished. It’s well-balanced and relatively lightweight and comes with nicely engineered ergonomic tuning slides and a reverse lead pipe. Mother of pearl finger buttons sit atop the Monel valves in a slightly smaller than normal one-piece valve casing. The bell, too, is a little slighter than that of the house Taylor.

Fitting the supplied Yamaha mouthpiece, we were treated to an extremely free-blowing horn with minimal resistance, due in no small part, we suspect, to that reverse lead pipe. Though the sound was quite tight, the overall tonality was warm and mellow. However, the Commercial is easy to push and when challenged emits a classic big, brassy tone. The intonation was spot on, too. This instrument has a good range and handles dynamics well. It sits comfortably in the hand and the Monel valves are a dream to play through.

The Commercial comes in a denier covered rigid case with a quality YKK three-quarter zip. Within is a pre-formed, plush-lined interior featuring a large accessory compartment and a separate mouthpiece pocket. It has a full-face zippered score pocket and carries tough, hinged nylon grab handles to both the top and side panels. There’s a padded harness in the rear zippered compartment and a shoulder strap secured with heavy-duty nylon ‘D’ rings. Hard-nylon feet to the base and side panels complete the picture.

We were amazed to discover this model retails at a street price of around £1,700 (our original guesstimates were in the £2,000-plus bracket), which in our book makes it incredibly good value for money. So, if you’re looking for a horn that can hold its own in both small combos and big bands, try the Commercial. We think you will be pleasantly surprised by what it has to offer. David Gallant

Further information www.uk.yamaha.com

We reviewed the PTrumpet’s sister PBone back in our February 2013 issue and loved the fun and functionality of the instrument. Like the PBone, the PTrumpet is very light sporting a utilitarian design and comes with a 5C mouthpiece rather than the standard trumpet 7C. All the tubing follows straight through (for ease of manufacture), apart from the crooks that are formed at a sharp right angle, rather than the usual curved profile.

There is a single sprung spit-key on the main tuning slide but interestingly there’s no way of adjusting the first and third valves, although this shouldn’t present any serious problems. The valves are of a traditional design: unscrewing at the bottom and there is good resistance to the springs. Clearly plastic doesn’t react the same as brass when it warms up. Our sample didn’t leak, was in tune and played well with the fingers sitting nicely on the valve heads.

We did however find that when two valves are down, there is more obvious resistance than with just the one depressed. Like the PBone, we were once again pleasantly surprised by the mellow tone of this instrument – although it was a little quiet. Fitting the house 3C brass mouthpiece livened up the session! All round the PTrumpet is great fun and we have to say – perfectly giggable.

For more info go to www.ptrumpet.com

This trumpet felt good the moment I took it out of its rather snazzy, leatherette coated, “old style” rectangular box case with its brass catches and corners. The Supreme is a hand-made to order instrument that is remarkably lightweight and beautifully balanced and comes with what can perhaps best be described as a floating bell. The bell is rimless and interchangeable and there are a number of different sizes and styles from which to choose, but the great thing about these bells is that when you tap them, they “ring” like crystal. Which immediately tells you what sort of response you are going to get from this horn.

The instrument is solidly built, with one of the best sets of pistons that we’ve had the pleasure to play through in a long time – very smooth, with a good press action and just the right amount of resistance. Abalone insets to the valve tops is also a nice touch. Sonically we were expecting a lot from the Supreme – and it didn’t disappoint. You could almost feel the bell vibrating. This instrument is so easy to play it’s untrue! Using a 7C mouthpiece the Supreme produced a very immediate, bright sound with a lovely warm tone.

Dynamics are excellent; you can get a lot of punch from this horn and really drive the sound – it’s a true soloist’s instrument. And it’s very consistent at the bottom, while you can soar up to top C with ease. We tried a 3 mouthpiece just to see what the Supreme might produce and sure enough, there was the same brightness and warmth to the sound but with a lot more body and depth. For more go to www.rawbrass.co.uk

Made with a seamless construction and a wooden base for extra resonance, this fibre straight mute from Dennis Wick packs pro credentials and sound into a student price. It’s super lightweight and because of its conical fibre construction, it shouldn’t suffer from any dings or dents. The corks have also been contoured to avoid ‘chipping’ – a rarity at this price point.

Attached to the house horn, we found it easy to play in any part of the range with good intonation. It is definitely more mellow than similarly spec’d aluminium or metal mutes and has a clean, round sound, particularly at the top end. We really liked this sweet side to it’s character. What it doesn’t have is a rawness and a hard, gritty edge to it’s sound, as when you do it still retains that inherent warmth.

We reckon that this fibre mute would work really well in an ensemble situation, but can’t imagine it behind a full big band brass section. An excellent product, with the Denis Wick stamp of quality written all over it. Every horn should have one! For more go to www.deniswick.com

Flugelhorns are few and far between when compared to the prevalence of their trumpet cousins. So when a clutch of new instruments appears on the market, our ears are pricked with anticipation. Yamaha have produced two new models – the Custom 8315 and the Custom 8310Z, of which there are a number of options. We chose to look at 8310ZS (silver plated) and the 8310ZG (Gold Brass) along with the 8315 with its laquered gold brass bell. The obvious difference between the Custom 8315 and the Custom ZS and ZG models is that the former carries a two piece bell, while the ZS and ZG have one piece bells that come with a noticeably bigger flare. Both new model lines also come with new leadpipes and upgraded triggers.

The Custom 8315 model is very light, very playable and has a very clean sound, although we felt it was sonically somewhere between a trumpet and a flugelhorn rather than the alto/counter tenor of the flugel. With this in mind, we decided to change the supplied, standard 7C Yamaha mouthpiece for something a little more interesting, to see if we could coax a change in tonality out of the instrument. Sure enough, a Taylor 3 immediately made the Custom sound much more mellow and warm. The Custom ZS instrument, like the Custom ZG comes with a Yamaha ‘Bobby Shew’ mouthpiece and this produced an indentifiably sweeter sound from these two horns. Both the ZS and the ZG models are a breeze to play, with the ZS having a true, tight sound with a definite edge, whereas the ZG has a fuller and richer sound, with a slightly more complex set of tonal characteristics. We can see the Silver Z cutting through nicely in a Big Band scenario, having the clarity rather than the depth. By contrast, the Gold ZG with it’s mellow tones would sit perfectly in a small combo and is very much a soloist’s instrument. As you might expect, each instrument is supplied with a quality semi-hard case.

For more go to procustom.yamaha.com

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