The two linkages in a rotary instrument connect the valve lever and push rod, and then the push rod and the stop arm of the valve. There are several different types of linkages, such as mini-ball, uniball, and 3B, which stands for Bronze Ball Bearing. This is the longest lasting and most reliable system of linkages, and provides maximum smoothness and quieter action. All Accent German-made rotary instruments feature spring-guided 3B linkages, and the HR952 double horns use the 3B linkages in their change valves as well.
ABS resin (composite) is a plastic made of a combination of Acrylonitrile, Butadiene and Styrene, usually about ½ styrene with the balance made up of the other two materials. It is a material that is lightweight, strong, and can be easily injection molded (shaped into various forms). ABS resists impact and compression, and it is weather-resistant; thus it is ideal for beginning woodwind instruments and for instruments used outdoors (marching instruments). Accent piccolos and student clarinets are made of this very durable material.
Boxed Springs are springs that are inside the upper part of the valve piston, in contrast to instruments such as tubas, where the spring is found underneath the piston. The Accent TR950 trumpet features boxed springs for quicker action.
Simplified, modified and full conservatory refer to the number of keys present on an oboe; the definition of each can vary by manufacturer. Simplified conservatory keywork is used for basic, beginner oboes. It has minimal keywork, often not including a low Bb key or a left-hand F key – both of which are essential for oboists of any age or ability level. Modified conservatory fingering usually includes at least a low Bb, a left-hand F key, and the C# and D trill keys; the configuration you will find on the Accent OB591G oboe. Full conservatory keywork has all the “bells and whistles” – all of the above plus a 3rd octave key, and often low B/C# trill key and double G# and Eb keys. This is the configuration you will find on most performer-level oboes, including the Accent OB791G.
Annealing is a heat treatment in which the microstructure of a metal is altered, causing changes in its properties such as strength and hardness. In brass instrument-making, annealing softens the brittle brass structure and prepares it for all (de)forming processes such as putting a bell on a mandrel or bending a bow. After the forming process, the material structure gets compressed and therefore hardens again, so it may be necessary to repeat the annealing process over and over. An instrument that is oven annealed is put through an oven on a conveyor belt. The temperature is controlled by a thermostat, rather than being determined by the human eye. This process anneals the entire instrument, not just selected parts. The disadvantage of oven annealing is that some parts of the instrument may be subjected to heating and cooling unnecessarily. Eye annealing (sometimes referred to as hand annealing), is done by a skilled craftsman. A flame is put to the metal until it reaches a precise temperature (which makes the metal turn a red-glowing color) and then it is cooled. The benefit is that each specific part of the instrument is heated to its optimal temperature, and only annealed as many times as necessary which allows the metal to retain its full tonal qualities. While an oven can be set to hold a certain fixed temperature, the “correct” temperature and duration for proper annealing depends on factors that can not be programmed in to it. For example:
- The percentage of zinc and copper in brass alloy (plus nickel for nickel silver) is not always consistent;
- The wall thickness of instrument parts varies. Depending on wall thickness, it might be necessary to apply more or less heat to achieve the desired result.
If the annealing temperature is not high enough, the material can crack in ensuing production steps; if it is too high, the zinc can burn out of the alloy. This is the cause of “red rot” on brass instruments, a problem that is often incorrectly attributed to improper lacquering.
When full-rib construction is used in the construction of a flute, the posts to which the keys are mounted are attached to a metal rib, which is then attached to the body of the instrument. This reinforcement of the body provides greater stability for the mechanism, and keeps the flute “in adjustment” more easily. The alternative to the rib is a process which attaches the posts directly to the body. “Post-to-body” construction will, often times, not be as reliable as the more dependable rib-construction.
Running under the long rods on the right side of a quality saxophone, you will find an added piece of metal soldered to the body, called the rib. With full-rib construction, this runs the entire length of the rods. This provides added reinforcement for the rods and the posts (which hold the rods in place), and results in improved stability for the keywork; it also dampens any unwanted vibration in the instrument, which results in a purer sound. Instruments with full-rib construction may not need adjustment as often, and may have better response than those without. For this reason, Accent 710L saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone) all have full-rib construction.
On any double French horn, there is a Bb/F change valve (moved by the player’s left thumb) which gives the player more fingering options, as it gives the player a choice between using Bb horn fingerings and F horn fingerings. Kruspe Wrap The Kruspe Wrap was the original double horn design introduced by Fritz Kruspe around 1900. It was designed to combine the better high register of the Bb horn with the better lower register of the F horn. Together, the two “sides” of the
horn provide the player with a very wide range, without any “missing notes” in between. On a Kruspe wrap horn, the change valve is located before the three main valves. This is the more common style for professional horns, and works well on horns with larger bells, as it results in a larger and darker sound. Accent double horns feature a large throat and Kruspe wrap for fuller, orchestral sound. Geyer Wrap The Geyer wrap was introduced somewhat later, by Carl Geyer, a Chicago horn maker. With the Geyer wrap, the Bb/F trigger rotor is located after the three main valves. This configuration works best on horns with relatively smaller bell, throat and main branch. Also, with the Geyer wrap, the air travels in opposite directions on the F and B flat sides, which some players feel results in an interruption in the smoothness of the air flow.
When grenadilla wood is processed into a finished clarinet or oboe joint, the machining of the product produces a considerable quantity of unused wood, which at one time would have been discarded. Given the rarity of grenadilla wood in the world today, this practice needed to be altered in some way which would enable the manufacturers to become better stewards of the earth’s valuable raw material. Science has now provided us with a method to maximize the use of the grenadilla wood which is harvested. Our OB591G and OB791G oboes, and our PC701G piccolo are comprised of 95% grenadilla wood (recycled from the boring of wood clarinets) mixed with carbon fiber and epoxy. This process produces what we call “Green product” which delivers the sound of wood and the crack resistance of synthetic material.
Grenadilla Wood (scientific name: Dalbergia Melanoxylon) is a “blackwood,” meaning that it is among the darkest of woods. While it is not actually “black ebony,” its color can range from brown through dark purple, to deep violet, or even blue-black. First used by Portuguese musicians for instrument-making, grenadilla grows in the dry forests of southeast Africa, primarily in the east African savanna grasslands of Mozambique and Tanzania. The trees resemble large, knotty shrubs with crooked trunks and branches, growing up to 30′ in height. Grenadilla is especially valuable for the making of woodwind instruments due to its hard, smooth surface, and its strong resistance to absorbing moisture; with a density of up to 1.3g/cm3, it is the heaviest (densest) and hardest wood used in instrument-making, and thus produces the finest, classic orchestral clarinet sound – a sound that is rich, dark and focused. Each clarinet is made out of four different-sized rectangular pieces. The wood is first seasoned, then shaped, polished, and impregnated with linseed oil so that it better withstands the wide range of humidity changes brought about by alternating periods of playing and rest. The dense structure gives it an ivory-smooth and softly reflective surface, which responds well to polishing. Accent intermediate and performer clarinets (CL720W and CL920W) are made of African grenadilla wood.
The final part of the process of making piston valves fit properly into their cylindrical valve casing is the lapping, in which the valves are polished and honed for a smooth, close fit. This can be done by machine, or by hand. Hand-lapping is done by an expert craftsman who performs the finishing work by hand to be sure the valves work smoothly. Accent performer and artist trumpets and flugelhorns have hand-lapped valves to ensure quick, smooth action.
Monel pistons are made of a patented nickel-copper alloy, approximately 65&37; nickel, 33&37; copper and 2&37; iron. It was developed by a Canadian, Robert Crooks Stanley, for his metallurgy company in 1901, and named after Ambrose Monell, president of the company. It is often used to make pistons for brass instruments, but is also used in certain guitar strings. It is a very hard material that is resistant to corrosion, and is commonly used on student brass instruments like the TR510L.
For many years, the inline G was perceived as a more “professional” option, while the offset G was associated mainly with “student” flutes. These stereotypes no longer exist, but there is still some debate over which design is better; and certainly your personal preference is important as well. Although inline G and offset G are the same acoustically, inline G works best for more advanced players, players with longer fingers, or larger hands with adequate strength and control. The offset G provides a more natural hand position, and a growing number of players are now choosing professional flutes with offset G, because of concerns about tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Offset G keys also eliminate potential mechanical problems that can be encountered with inline G flutes. The inline G design has many left hand keys on one rod. This can make simple procedures such as leveling pads, straightening key cups or refitting keys awkward. Also, stress placed on this single left hand rod by the player or during repair can lead to a bowed or bent rod, making it more susceptible to binding than the offset G.
Bells are either single-seam (one-piece), or a two-piece bell which is composed of a flare and a stem that have been plasma-welded together. The one-piece bell has an easier response and fuller sound than the two-piece bell, and is preferred by professional trumpet players. A crucial part of the bell-making process is dove-tailing, a process where metal is fastened together by hand, with the dove-tails less than ½” apart all the way up the bell, rather than just in two or three places along the seam. This means less of the seam is made up of solder since there is more overlapping of the actual metal. Once the bell seam is soldered, a one-piece bell is almost trapezoidal in shape with one side straight and the other flared. The bell is then stretched, hammered and spun (and annealed in between) so it is of even thickness all the way around. This process is unique to our German factories; many other manufacturers simply stretch the straight side until it matches the flare of the opposite side. Hammering and annealing are then alternated until the piece is the proper shape. Bell-making is an art unto itself, requiring a separate apprenticeship and Master Craftsman certification from that of instrument-making. A few Master Craftsmen are certified in both arts, but most specialize in one or the other.
Brass instrument bells can be made from one or two pieces. A two-piece bell has a separate bell flare which must be welded to the stem. A one-piece bell has only one welded seam, and will therefore resonate more evenly throughout. After a one-piece bell is cut out of a sheet of brass, it is then folded over, and dovetailed. Then the brass smelter is smeared over the seam, and the two edges are fused together. The closer together the dovetails are, the less smelter has to be used, and the better the resonance of the bell. Once the seam is soldered, a one-piece bell is almost trapezoidal in shape, one side straight and the other flared. The bell is then stretched and hammered and spun (and annealed in between), so it is of even thickness all the way around. The bells of all German-made Accent brass instruments are made by ma
ster craftsmen who are certified in the art of bell-making; they dovetail, solder, shape and anneal the bells by hand to ensure maximum consistency and resonance of sound.
Normally found only on upper-line clarinets, a poly-cylindrical bore is tapered through both the upper and lower joints to produce better intonation and continuity of tone between registers. It improves focus, eliminates throat tone sharpness, and improves intonation in the higher registers. Machined or cylindrical bores are those that run straight through the instrument from upper to lower joint. Because the distance between the chalumeau and clarion registers of a clarinet is a twelfth rather than an octave, tapering of the bore is vital to keeping the two registers in tune.
In stress-free soldering, the pieces to be soldered are first shaped to fit together so that each piece is bent for a specific instrument and not pre-formed and held together only by the soldering material. No fixtures are used for bending or assembling; all pieces are soldered without pressure so that there is less stress on the solder points. This is a process used in our German brass factories by the Master Craftsmen. Master Craftsmen have completed a state-run apprentice program including three years of classroom and factory work (alternating every two weeks) and then an additional two years in on-the-job experience and training. Our factories in Germany have over 300 Master Craftsmen.
On any brass instrument with rotors, the “linkage” refers to how the finger levers (which are pressed by the player) are attached to the valves (the parts on the instrument itself that open and close to create the different pitches). String linkages String linkages use a long piece of string, which is wrapped around a post that connects the valve to the lever. When the lever is pressed, the string rotates the rotary valve to change the note. It is a very silent mechanism, though the string does require periodic adjustment and sometimes replacement. Mechanical linkage Mechanical linkage uses metal arms with ball and socket joints that connect the levers and valves. While it can require less maintenance than string linkage, it does produce a slight “clicking” noise when played.
On euphoniums and tubas, the pistons can be found on the front of the instrument, where they must be pushed inward (front-action), or they can be found atop the valve section, and be pushed down vertically (top-action). While some feel that young players can reach front-action valves more easily, it’s hard to be sure each valve is being pushed straight inward, and not pressing against the side of the valve casing each time it’s depressed. Top-action valves are usually easier to operate, as they push straight downward. Accent euphoniums and piston tubas offer top-action valves.