Warming Up

Warming Up

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cool Horns Are Cool But…

So yesterday’s post had a picture of Ibrahim Maalouf and his custom trumpet – a four valve horn that, when the fourth valve is depressed, allows him to lower a pitch by a quarter tone. According to Maalouf’s website, his father designed (“invented”???) the quartertone trumpet in Beirut back in the 1960’s. An interesting aside: Don Ellis had Holton make him a quartertone trumpet in 1965. Which came first? Who knows. Whatever. Maalouf plays a nice looking horn. I’m not sure who makes it. Might be Selmer of Paris where Maalouf has lived and studied since he was a boy (his family fled Lebanon when Maalouf was young because of civil unrest there).

Maalouf's horn:

Don Ellis' horn:

Checking out Maalouf’s trumpet (the fourth valve is at an interesting angle), I started thinking about other new designs for trumpets. A buddy of mine, guitarist Richard Somerville and I were having a discussion last week about guitars. Richard knows a lot about various makes, models, designs, etc. He asked me if there were any new developments in the design of trumpets. I immediately sent Richard some pictures of Dave Monette’s horns – in particular the Prana Decorated and the flumpet:

Then I thought about the horns that Edwards makes. They appear to be great horns too. Perhaps Monette rip-offs by appearance, but they are certainly a bit cheaper than the Monettes.

Then I remembered seeing a picture of Roy Hargrove’s trumpet and flugelhorn which are made by the Swiss company, Inderbinen:

I went to the Inderbinen website and checked out some of their trumpets. Some of these look pretty nice and some are starting to get a bit carried away. Check these out:
The Alpha:

The Studie:

The Toro:

The Inox:

And the blingy-est trumpet around, The DaVinci:

My buddy and bandmate in several ensembles, Adam Hershberger remarked/joked about Inderbinen’s descriptions of these horn: “the horn has a huge, dark sound, and a relaxed upper register. Lots of volume.” As if the horn can play itself! Another trumpet player friend, Chris Aschman also commented on the Inderbinen pictures I sent him: “why do they feel a need to keep reinventing the wheel?” A good point. Made me think a bit.

I didn’t even send them this crazy looking trumpet “The Mutantrumpet”:

Or this one – “The Shew Horn”:

All of these horns certainly look a lot cooler than my 1972 LA Benge:

But will I really sound any better if I played one of these as opposed to my horn? Would most people be able to tell a difference in a blindfold test? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. I guess if a horn feels easier to play, then perhaps the player will feel more comfortable and therefore perform at a higher level. But I still feel like the old adage must be true: it ain’t the horn (or the mouthpiece); it’s the player. So the good news is, it doesn’t matter that I cannot afford an Inderbinen Inox. I just need to practice more. And speaking of……


  1. Don't forget this one:

  2. Well, of course the Dizzy horn is a cool horn. Guess I should have included it. Here's a link which has a picture of the modified "Dizzy" horn that Edwards made for the talented young trumpet player Christian Scott: http://www.concordmusicgroup.com/artists/Christian-Scott/

  3. Nassim Maalouf, Ibrahim'father, didn't made his quarter tones trumpet in Beyrouth in the back 1960', but in Paris (with Selmer Company) at the end of 1970' with the help of Maurice André. But you are right, Don Ellis made his Holton quarter tones trumpet in 1965... I know Nassim who is somebody very honest, and I m quiet sure that when he made his trumpet with Selmer, he didn't know anything about Don Ellis and his music.