Pip Eastop, Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Pip Eastop, hornplayer, teacher, horn, trumpet, jazz, sessions, London, soloist, orchestral, improvisation etc....

Posts tagged “PhatterBoy

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.

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

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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.

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Phatterboy on monopod

PhatterBoy on monopod

This horn is quite heavy, and it’s going to take some time to get used to it – by which I mean many hours of practise. And this means stiff neck, shoulders, back-ache …PAIN. 

I’m not all that keen on pain. I believe in “No pain = GAIN”. So I asked Andrew Taylor, of Taylor Trumpets, the maker of this marvellous horn, if he would make an adaptor for me so that it would sit on a camera monopod. This he has done and you can see it in the photo. The adaptor is basically a highly elongated bottom-end valve cap with a screw-threaded hole at the bottom which is the same size as those found on the underside of cameras. 

So now, whether I sit or stand, I can have the “Phatterboy” floating weightlessly in front of me. I’m not sure if I’ll use it for actual gigs any time, but it makes practising very comfortable.


Zak playing the PhatterBoy

Here’s a lovely picture of my son, Zak, playing the PhatterBoy.

Zak playing the PhatterBoy

Just how cool is that?

And what’s more – it sounds as good as it looks. He’s a very good trumpet player.


Eb Tenor Flugelhorn – soundclips

These are clips from a recent live performance of improvised music at St. James’ Church, Piccadilly, 9th October, 2008.

Gabbi Faja (piano) and myself (mixed brass instruments).

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In these two clips you can hear the new “PhatterBoy” Eb Flugelhorn.

I’d only had the new horn for three days so it was a bit of a risk to air it in public. I’m glad I did, though, as it has turned out to be an amazing instrument.

Next, here are a couple of trumpet and piano extracts:

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Here’s an extract from some of the horn and piano bit: 

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“PhatterBoy” Eb Tenor Flugelhorn

Here’s a picture of my amazing new toy.

I’m not quite sure what I think it sounds like. But doesn’t it look absolutely amazing?

I’ve got three mouthpieces which work with it and they all sound very different to each other – they all work, though, so maybe I should keep them all going for the time being.

One is a straightforward Besson 15 – a pretty normal sort of tenor horn mouthpiece which gives it a mellow and fruity voice with not much edge to the sound.

Another is the mouthpiece which Andy Taylor made for it (shown in the picture) which looks the best, has the rim dimensions of my (French) horn mouthpiece and the internal shape of some kind of Yamaha tenor horn mouthpiece. This is a harder, higher temperature sound which seems to have a more interesting colour in the high register.

The third is a Stork Vacchiano 1.5B trumpet mouthpiece – the biggest I’ve ever seen and might be quite good with the PhatterBoy. It makes it scream when loud – quite a hot and raucous sound. A bit like a flugelhorn with masses of electric guitar distortion pedal.

I blew the PhatterBoy into my portable digital recorder (a Zoom H2) and recorded direct to mp3. I wanted to hear what it sounded like in an acoustic space so I added some reverb.  I used it with the mouthpiece shown in the photo. I think it sounds very promising. Not too much like a flugelhorn – not too much like anything, really – perhaps a bit like an alto-flute.

Click to listen to a clip of my new PhatterBoy!