Monday, September 1, 2008

O The Horror

I acquired a cool old German trombone a few weeks ago, actually a VERY old (100 years?) trombone that had evidently been sitting in someone's attic or barn for a few decades. I'd been looking for a good example of an instrument like this, at a reasonable price, and finally found one. Big bell, wide bore, no modern features like tuning slide or spit valve or leadpipe, just a long sliding tube with solid nickel ferrules and some snakey decoration. They are reputed to have a unique sound, appropriate for Wagner, Brahms, Mahler, and other romantic-era orchestral works. If not to actually perform on, an instrument like this at least gives a valuable insight into a certain repertoire.

It arrived in a giant box full of packing peanuts, completely assembled in the state it was recovered. I couldn't help myself, as soon as I had it removed from the packing I wiped off the mouthpiece and blew a note. Kinda stuffy. Try a different note. Still awfully stuffy. I pushed out the slide (awful), blew through it, checked both inner tubes, looked fine. Then I looked into the bell. Something was stuck in it, looked like a rag or some leaves. I ran a brake cable backwards through the bell section and this popped out:

ARRGGH! PTOOEY! BLECH! PFFT! PFFT! Wiping my mouth on my shirt, spitting, horking, ack where's my toothbrush?! YUCK! PTOOEY!

There are actually two mice in that blob. Count the legs and tails. Evidently the horn was stored bell-up, and some hungry little guy went snooping around where he shouldn't be, fell in, and couldn't get out. So his friend comes over to see what happened, and he falls in too. And here they are, decades later, dead, rotten, and mummified, exhumed from their brassy tomb. What a way to go.


Craig said...

Wow...just stumbled on this. Not a fun thing to find in a trombone. Do you still have it? If so, what's the brand? Looks similar to a Kruspe...

paul said...

Unknown brand. Plays nicely, after the cleaning and slide tuneup! Completely handmade, this one has a large bore, approximately .550, and a huge bell throat. Even without the quart valve, I think it would be considered a bass trombone. It also has a lyre fixture, so it's likely a military horn for outdoor use.