Welcome to the NEW Buckeye Brass and Winds Website

 

by Lonny Young

June 24, 2021

 

After months of work, we at Buckeye Brass and Winds are happy to have launched our new website.  Not only does this new website have a new look and feel to it, it is far more functional and useful to you, our customer.  As you can see, our new site has more to offer than before.  Below, I have highlighted some of our new features.

Shopping Experience:

  • It is now easier than before to find the merchandise you are looking for.  Navigation has been drastically improved and more logically organized.  The check out process is also easy and secure.  We have also added the ability to have in-store pickup during regular business hours.

Rentals:

  • Our new website has added the ability for our rental process to be more streamlined.  You can now easily create a rental agreement through our website, including your payment information - there is no longer a need to stop in or call us with additional information.  You also have the ability to make rental payments before your automatic payment comes out, safely and securely though our website.  The process is fast and easy.

Resources:

  • The Resources tab contains a wealth of information that we believe the music community will find helpful.  In addition to a link to our YouTube channel, where you can find some useful tips, we have also included fingering charts for beginning and advanced students.  You will also find links and information on many different Central Ohio groups that perform instrumental music.  We have also included links to our vendors and several fine retailers from Central Ohio.

We hope that you find our new website as useful and easy to use as we do.  We will be adding new features and products in the future, so check back often to see what's new.

 


Why is My Instrument Pink?

 

by Korey Saunders

May 13, 2021

 

I get asked this question after customers come and pick up their instruments from being cleaned.  In order to understand why instruments turn pink, we first must understand what happens when instruments turn green.

We have all been there;  we take out the main tuning slide and see just how green and gross our instrument is inside.  This sludge is the result of all the leftover soda, lunch, and candy that gets consumed before we play our horns.  It is a combination of corrosion and calcium deposits on the inside of the tubing from the brass reacting to all of the sugar and food as well as our own body chemistries. 

On a scientific level, what is happening is quite interesting.  Yellow brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.  When brass corrodes, the zinc is actually being pulled out of the material and it leaves behind copper, which we all know has a pinkish hue to it.  We do not notice this because it is covered up by the aforementioned green.  However, when our instrument gets cleaned, all of that green stuff is taken away, along with the zinc, and shows up as a general pink cast on the inside of the instrument.
The exact amount of pink an instrument will turn once it is cleaned is based on the amount of green it is.  I have cleaned instruments that have had very little to no green inside of them and they just looked like shiny brass on the inside.  On the other hand, there have been entire instruments that I have cleaned turn pink because they were just that dirty.

This variety of pink hue on the inside of an instrument is no real detriment to it.  In fact, by having all of the corrosion removed, you are actually prolonging the life of your instrument.  If not looked after, those green spots will show up as pink spots on the outside of the instrument.  This is what is know in the industry as "red rot". It is also seen as bubbling under the silver on a plated instrument.  This is the result of that corrosion eating away enough of the zinc to show up on the outside and, in many cases, result in a hole or crack in the tubing. 

"So what do I do with all of this information?" you may ask.  The best thing to do is get your instrument professionally cleaned at least once a year.  This can be supplemented with the occasional bath in your own bathtub with some light detergent in lukewarm water.  This will help keep the instrument cleaner and reduce the amount of corrosion/calcium deposits,  however, this alone is not enough to clean out all of the green stuff.  The chemistry we use, combined with the ultrasonic tank, is really the best way to clean out all of the green.  There are even some commercially available swabs that can help keep the most immediate parts of your instrument cleaned out and further reduce risk of red rot.

As always, if you have any questions or want more information feel free to ask your local technicians.

We want you to keep making your best music and that is always easier on a well maintained instrument!


I Can Play That


by Lonny Young

May 1, 2021


I began my life’s journey in music thirty years ago much like any other ten year old; “what instruments would you like to try?”  I decided that I wanted to try percussion, saxophone, and trumpet.  I had fun playing all three instruments.  When it came time to decide which I wanted to play, my band director may have inadvertently set me on a path of musical enjoyment and some frustration: “You are good enough to play any of the instruments.”  As it turned out, we had far too many percussionists as it was and he really wanted me to play trumpet (he was a trumpet player himself), so I played trumpet.  

I stayed with trumpet exclusively (officially anyway) until my sophomore year (I did start messing around with electric bass the year before because the band owned one), when I was asked to play quads in Marching Band.  I knew how to play percussion from messing around and I knew all of the cadences.  Our real quad player quit football after about a week, so I was going to go back to trumpet on his return.  Then, my director asked me to switch to baritone “just for football.”  I reluctantly agreed.  Little did I know that I would never return to playing trumpet as my primary instrument again.  Football season ended and my temporary switch turned into a permanent move for the rest of the year.  During basketball season, I played percussion in Pep Band because only the quad player ever came to games.

The next year, I was asked to move to tuba because our only tuba player quit.  Being a team player, I agreed even though I had never played one and couldn’t read bass clef for tuba.  This same year, my junior, I started playing trombone for amusement’s sake.  I had always liked trombone and wanted to play one.  We had an old Olds Ambassador with an F-attachment that I started playing like a bass trombone.  I was eventually good enough to play trombone in Jazz Band my senior year (I was still playing tuba in Marching and Concert Band and bass for Pep Band and our school’s show choir).  At some point, I learned to play E-flat tuba as well.

I didn’t manage to pick up another instrument until the last quarter of my freshman year at Ohio State.  I didn’t mean to, and I certainly didn’t ask to.  Rather, my director asked me if I knew how to play French Horn.  I answered no, but I would give it a try.  I made it through the quarter lending some extra volume to the other student playing fourth part who actually knew what she was doing.

So, why do I bring up the fact that I have managed to play just about every brass instrument, electric bass (I can also play a really lousy rhythm guitar), and percussion?  It’s not to point out my greatness.  Rather, it’s to point out what will inevitably happen to someone who is more than happy to say “I can play that.”  When I practice for a bit, I am a really good bass player.  I am not a very good trumpet player any more.  I have never performed on horn again and have no plans to.  I am a decent baritone/euphonium player and a decent bass trombone player.  I am pretty good on tuba, but don’t get a lot of practice time.  I can play a lot of instruments, but I never focused on one long enough to get beyond pretty good.  I hear some of the guys play testing instruments in the shop and marvel at how good they are.  I am nowhere near as good as they are on their instruments.  However, despite not having a degree in music education, I can play every part for a brass section reasonably well.  As a gift to the outgoing seniors at my old high school, I was able to record myself playing an all-brass version of our fight song.  At some point in high school, I had actually played all but the horn part.  If I had had access to marching percussion, I could have recorded that as well (I had also played all of those parts).

Being a jack of all trades on musical instruments will allow you to play just about anything you want, but the cost is never being great on any one instrument.  I will never be able to play John William’s Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra, but I am probably good enough to sit in for a really desperate orchestra and cover the tuba part for the finale of the 1812 Overture (I’m still intermittently working on the other parts of it).  I never wanted a career as a musician, so having fun playing a variety of instruments has generally brought me more joy than frustration.  Ultimately, the choice between being great on one instrument or being good on many comes down to what you want to do because it is almost impossible to do both.

 


Instrument Manufacturers are not Reinventing the Wheel (No, really, they aren’t no matter what you heard on your discussion board)

March 16, 2021

by Rob Phillips


When I hear instrumentalists, especially trumpet players talk about instruments like they truly understand how the horn is built, I have to bite my tongue.  Manufacturing musical instruments is a craft.  This craft, be it done by an individual artisan or a large manufacturing company, is relatively the same.  There are no real secrets as to how musical instruments are put together.

Having walked the aisles of manufacturing as a designer, engineer, and musician, I can confidently tell you that how you think instruments are made is generally not true.  The musical instrument industry is not innovative.  Why?  There just isn’t enough capital in the industry to create anything truly new.  Automotive, computer, aerospace (pick your major industry), are vastly different.  These industries have deep revenue streams that allow, promote, and require innovation.  No one’s actual life depends on a musical instrument.  As such, the methods of manufacturing have remained relatively the same for decades.  

Tradition in this industry looms large because no one can risk pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into radically new processes.  A failure to capture a significant market share from that innovation could be the end of that company.  Besides, the characteristics of sounds that we have all come to expect and love are derived from the long rooted traditions of manufacturing; a new process could (and likely would) change the sound of an instrument.  Sure, there are some boutique companies that are making instruments out of carbon fiber and some that are hand-crafting instruments, but their instruments cost exactly what you would expect them to.  The mainstream manufacturers (read those who produce mostly for the education market and weekend warriors without a lot of free money to burn) can’t afford to invest significant amounts of money into a process that they will never be able to see the financial benefits from.  Just like any industry, the big players compete for customers (especially schools and their limited band budgets) on price.  Costs must stay down as much as possible.  

The shrinking of the market for band instruments (and our love of Capitalism) has allowed for, and perhaps actually created, a market space for extremely low-cost, and in some ways, disposable instruments.  That market has largely been filled by Chinese manufacturers, and to a lesser extent, Indian manufacturers.  Some of the instruments coming from these manufacturers are nearly impossible to play and will certainly lead to a young student getting frustrated and deciding to quit Band.  It isn’t hard to find YouTube channels who make a living trying out these terrible instruments.  However, there are some manufacturers who produce instruments of fine quality.  One brand in particular has a growing following among professional tuba players (and their students as a result).  Why?  They produce a musical instrument that is quite good at a much lower cost than European competitors.  

Vincent Bach was a true talent.  But many don’t realize he was using what he had available to him.  He didn’t have the luxury in his early days to custom order brass to make his trumpet bells.  He went to the local brass mill in New York and asked what materials they had available that he could afford.  Those unique trumpet bells were unique because that material was left over from some other manufacturer of, say lamps, not wanting the last remaining roll.  Later on, manufacturers would experiment with different formulations of metals, but nothing that was a radical departure from what was already in existence.  The composition of a trumpet bell from 1920 isn’t much different than a trumpet bell today.  The musical instrument industry just doesn’t have the volume of demand for our products to earn a commanding presence in the metals industry for them to cater to musical instrument manufacturers.  If the music industry wants research into different metal compositions for their instruments, they will have to pay for it themselves.

Getting back to the beginning of this post, the manufacturing of trumpets, trombones, French horns, and saxophones has never been a very disciplined industry.  Tradition, it’s large presence ever hanging over the industry, saw master craftsmen pass down manufacturing techniques to their apprentices, not in the form of extensive written documentation, but by showing them and having them do it.  As stated, no one’s life depended on a clarinet, so documentation and manufacturing certification has never been a necessity (they aren’t manufacturing parts for a Saturn V or the latest airliner).  The need to trace every facet of a part’s creation and existence simply isn’t needed.  If a cork needs replaced, I just grab one out of the parts bin and move on to the next horn.  When musicians say they want to buy, for example a saxophone, that was built in a certain era, they may get what they want within a couple of years.  The big BATs of yesteryear were far less common than today and they were not manufactured on a regular basis, but rather when ordered.  The quality of tuba you ended up with might depend on which artisan was there that day and made your instrument.  If you got a master with decades of experience, you probably ended up with a great horn.  If the new guy was there and made it, well, who knows what you might end up with.  The point of this little diversion is that even an instrument made at the same plant, the same year, using the same tooling, might be quite different sounding and playing based on who made it, and there is no documentation to say who made it.  This contrasts with, say a bolt on an airplane.  Every single part that goes into an airplane has documentation and can be traced to the hour it was produced and the name of the inspector on that shift.  Your life matters when on an airplane and a parts failure could be your end.  Your life still matters when playing your instrument, but it isn’t going to end if a key breaks during a performance.

The point of this is that musical instruments are products of character.  While manufacturing processes have changed drastically over the years, they have fundamentally stayed very much the same.  The designs of clarinets, flutes, trumpets, and trombones are basically the same as they were 75 years ago.  Who makes them and the character that is creatively incorporated into them is what has changed.  You might think you know everything there is to know about your instrument, but chances are, unless you made it yourself, there is still a lot about your instrument’s creation and life that you don’t know.

 

Instrument Blueprinting... Is it what you thought it was?

Feb. 3, 2021

by Rob Phillips

DEFINITION MATTERS


When a professional (whether a technician, musician, writer, or even educator) does not put an emphasis on the accuracy of their words, the customer is being done a disservice. And in the case of performance shops advertising “instrument blueprinting“ services to your average performer, at some point it will more than likely lead to miscommunication and disappointment from the owner of the instrument, the repair shop, or both.

WHAT IS A BLUEPRINT?

A common problem within today’s performance enhancing subculture is that some of the vocabulary being used by the industry no longer accurately reflects the actions behind the word.  This has left many enthusiasts confused and misinformed, with one glaring example being instrument blueprinting.

If you’re an avid brass player, especially trumpet, you’ve more than likely heard the term “instrument blueprinting” thrown around on the web, in the shop, or in the rehearsal room.  Now, it’s important to first point out that the term itself has not lost its meaning to newer technology or instrument assembly practices, and it still has its place in the industry today. Rather, the problem seems to stem from how loosely the term is used by professionals and in how we educate the consumer.

The vocabulary being used by professionals and the education of the consumer is what we need to change as an industry. Without discounting the abilities of the performance shops that advertise this service, but sticking to its literal definition, using the term blueprinting in relation to instrument improvement or enhancement is a dramatic step in the wrong direction. To blueprint an instrument means “to prepare, specify, and document all of the instrument's tolerances, clearances, and materials based on a set standard.” The problem lies in the fact that currently the only standards you will find available to the public are the OE instrument specifications that aren’t even known or available from the manufacturer!

Instrument blueprinting is just showing you how to assemble an instrument, but that’s not the real challenge. The real challenge revolves around the concept of enhancement and improvement and knowing how to make changes and properly evaluate those changes — regardless of whether good or bad — and to be able to continue progressing and moving forward with the development process.

In the end, the important takeaway from this is that blueprinting in the musical instrument industry is a buzz term borrowed from the performance automotive engine building industry. Unless instruments are completely dismantled, accurately measured, documented, and reassembled to the strictest KNOWN standards, this touted process is nothing more than an expensive hunt for manufacturing flaws.

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