Pip Eastop, Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Pip Eastop Hornplayer Photographer Trumpetplayer

Gale Lawson – instrument technician

Here is Gale Lawson, a wizard with horns (and also a halo, if you look carefully). The valves of my Phatterboy Eb Flugelhorn had been sticking and no amount of cleaning or drowning in valve oil seemed to free them up. Also, the main tuning slide and the first valve slide were too free-moving. The combination of valves that didn’t come back up again and tuning slides which kept falling out was driving me ABSOLUTELY NUTS so I took the thing to Gale to be healed.


Gale was very keen to show me his new machine for deep-frying instruments:


It’s not really a deep-fryer. It’s an ultra-sonic cleaning machine. It contains 90 gallons of a liquid with magical properties. You submerge anything from a trumpet to a whopping great tuba into it, making sure that the instrument is completely filled with the liquid, and then press the ON button for a minute or two. The machine hums, the magical molecules in the wizard’s liquid jiggle at an ultrasonic frequency and clouds of colourful dirt emerge …even from a relatively new instrument like my Phatterboy. Gale is very proud of his new machine, particularly of the fact that nobody else in the UK has one.

My Dad used to do what Gale does. He had a lovely workshop full of wonderful specialised tools and machines. When I was growing up I spent many happy hours watching my Dad working on all manner of wind instruments. He was considered a bassoon specialist but was equally at home with brass instruments. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t inherit any of my Dad’s patience, dexterity or methodical nature. Some people are destined to make or repair instruments, others to damage and destroy them – I fall into the latter category. Until his Parkinson’s Disease stopped him from working my Dad used to do all the repairs to my instruments, including a lot of customisation. He was a genius. He once made a complete set of detatchable levers for my Alexander so that I could play it the other way around – with the bell over to my left.

Gale Lawson is also a genius, and I very much like watching him work. His workshop looks and smells like my Dad’s used to, so I think when I am there I get somehow transported back to some very happy times.


2 Responses

  1. Pingback: My wonderful Dad – instrument technician :: Pip Eastop – Hornplayer

  2. Nick Holme

    Hi, I came across your site by chance when I was doing some aimless browsing. I read with interest your comments about learning to play jazz trumpet whilst maintaining your horn playing. I come from a musical family (don’t know if you’ve heard of my sister Barbara Maclaren in the horn playing circles) and I currently play trumpet/cornet in a couple of local concert bands (http://www.baxendenconcertband.com is one of them) and I’m trying in a small way to have a go at jazz trumpet, so many of your comments are interesting. Barbara also organises an ensemble called Guild Horns who meet every month with often 12 or so local horn players turning up. I’ve inherited an Alexander horn from my father but whenever I try (I find after a few minutes the pitching starts to settle in) it takes much longer for my trumpet pitching to come back to normal. It’s never been fantastic so I’m worried that if I play the horn too much, it will have too detrimental an effect on my trumpet playing. Maybe having read your blogs, I’ll give it another go.

    A friend of mine loves to mess around with brass instruments and frequently cuts down Bb trumpets to make C or D trumpets. He recently cut down an Eb tenor horn to make it an F horn for concert band work and also completely reversed it to left hand fingering for one of our trumpet players who has MS and has lost most of the feeling in his right hand. I’ve sent him a picture of your phatterboy horn, I’m sure he’ll love it.

    Regards, Nick Holme, Preston Lancashire

    Jun 11, 2011 at 7:32 pm

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