Pip Eastop, Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

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Taylor Trumpets’ “Phatboy” flugelhorn

Here’s something exciting!

It’s not a conception or a birth but some siginificant moment halfway between the two. Today, the building of a new instrument began. It’s an Eb flugelhorn. A big fat flugelhorn sounding one fifth lower than a normal Bb one. It’s being built by Taylor Trumpets and it’s going to be based on their amazing Phatboy flugel. Which looks like this:

My Eb tenor Phatboy flugelhorn is being made in this style

My Eb tenor Phatboy flugelhorn is being made in this style

If that is not a thing of great beauty then I’d like to know what is!

Why do I want one?

Well, this is a hard one to answer… Many reasons, I suppose. I’m a french horn player, mainly, but I’m learning jazz trumpet and I love to play the flugelhorn, too. My orchestral french horn is rather special in that it has an Eb alto section to it, a kind of “stealth jazzhorn” – exactly the same pitch as this new Phatboy Flugel I’m having made for me. Why Eb alto? Because it’s perfect for jazz, whereas the Bb of a modern french horn is – in my own personal opinion – not reeeeeeally suitable. It sounds a bit too gloopy for my taste.

So, I like to play jazz on my modern orchestral horn – but only on the Eb side of it. This is great because it’s so handy – I’ve nearly always got it with me – right there on my lap. Most convenient. BUT, it’s not a perfect solution, because, as it’s a french horn, it points backwards and this is not good for jazz. Jazz has to be right “in your face”. That’s my opinion – and it’s only that. Not a religion – just the way I feel about it.  I think jazz needs a horn with a forward-facing bell.

Another thing I like to do is play jazz on the tenor horn. I’ve not done it in public before but it really works as a jazz instrument – almost perfectly but not quite…  And why not? Because it points straight up in the air – not forwards. So, one thing I could so, I suppose, is to get an Eb tenor horn and bend the bell so it points forward. Yes, that would work fine – but it would look AWFUL.

Now look above at that beauty! See what I mean?

So, I’m hopeful that my new Eb “Phatboy” tenor flugelhorn will sound fantastic, play in tune and look fantastic. Fingers crossed!

I’ll try to get some photos of it, while it’s being built, to put here.

8 Responses

  1. I have an Eb horn presumably much the same as you are getting but a standard instrument.

    See it here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZzOPpMITCY

    Its shaped like a flugel but its in Eb, made by Boosey and Hawkes. £35 on ebay…..

    Dec 2, 2008 at 9:27 pm

  2. Pip

    Hi Gordon,
    Thanks for that link.
    Looks like a very nice instrument.
    Are there any more like that around?

    Dec 3, 2008 at 12:29 am

  3. That sounds exactly like the argument I had with myself about playing jazz on the Horn, though that’s what I do for a living. I agree that playing jazz needs that “in you face” kind of approach that is as much visual as it is aural. At least in my opinion. My answer – so far – is the “marching mellophone” but I’m still looking…

    Jan 23, 2009 at 4:59 am

  4. Charlie

    Ive found myself in the same boat. I found a marching mellophone by Dynasty has the best kick! For concert or orkestra amatley traditional mellophone.

    Apr 13, 2010 at 2:58 am

  5. @Charlie: I have a beautiful old Buescher traditional mellophone (built in 1924, I think) that has such a sweet sound! Wish I could find a bell front horn that sounds like that.

    Jul 16, 2010 at 3:14 am

  6. Steve Lawless

    Django Bates is a probably the most high profile jazz musician on tenor horn. He played it in Earthworks. Some great clips on YouTube. Highly recommended for checking out. http://tinyurl.com/3f83bx7

    Oct 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm

  7. BobD

    Hi Mark,

    I had an Elkhart Eb solo alto horn with a forward facing bell like Gordon’s. I believe Gordon and I discussed these horns in a thread at one of the brass sites online, Trumpet Master or Trumpet Herald, I forget which. I sold my Elkhart to a professor in Sweden and I miss it very much. These horns have the Elkhart label but were made by Couesnon. There are Couesnon branded models as well. They come up occasionally on eBay. Some have tuning slides for Eb and F. Very nice horns with a nice mellow tone. I recently bought another Elkhart Eb alto on eBay but this one is bell front. It has the same mellow tone as the solo alto I sold. Keep an eye on eBay and you might come across one. BTW, I absolutely LOVE your Phatter Boy, PIP! Cheers!

    May 11, 2013 at 3:34 am

  8. BobD

    I should clarify, by bell front I meant an upright alto with the bell facing forward. Sorry for the confusion but these instruments are known for it. Here in the US we call them alto horns even though anyone in the UK knows they are tenor horns. 🙂

    There are a couple of photos of the bell front Eb alto I just picked up at this link:
    http://www.trumpetmaster.com/vb/f139/quirky-instruments-69543-6.html#post697697

    I couldn’t find a Bach 3 alto mouthpiece anywhere but I found a Denis Wick 1A at Dillon Music here in New Jersey and I really love this mouthpiece. It has a very deep V cup, unlike the bucket cup of the Bach 3. It produces a more mellow tone. I play the Bach 3 mellophone mouthpiece on my Holton M601 Mellophonium and it produces a much sharper tone.

    Cheers!

    May 11, 2013 at 3:49 am

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