System Blue Brass “Wraps” Explained by Top Designer John Meehan

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How we developed the “wraps” of our horns

When designing the System Blue Professional Brass series, we tried to take everything into consideration. One of the big concerns for us, was the way the horn felt in the performers hand. As we went from the initial prototypes through all of the iterations leading to the versions available now, we not only focused on the way the horn played, but the ergonomics of how it felt to the performer.

Marching band and drum corps performers practice a lot, and the horns are almost always in their hands. The instrument is essentially an extension of the performer, so it needs to feel like it’s part of the performer. By slightly moving the valve casing, or the first valve U-hook, or where we bent the tubing on the Hybrid-Euphonium near the left hand, it all played a part in making the instruments look like they do, and how they feel in the performers hands.

Another consideration with how a brass instrument is “wrapped” is the length of tubing.  Many times, instruments will have a long tube, but it is then bent back and forth once, or several times, for myriad of different reasons. You’ll find with the a lot of the System Blue Professional Brass instruments, the tubing is more of a “pure shot,” the actual length of the tube. We do this because, the air then travels in a more singular direction, versus constantly changing directions. As instrument designers, we always try to keep the air moving from the receiver to the bell with the most limited amount of “detours” as possible.

What Are GTG’s And How Can They Help Me?

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System Blue brass instruments have Graduated Tuning Guides.  The guides themselves do not affect the horn while you are playing and performing.  The GTG’s come into play after you’ve started to learn your tendencies in different temperatures and playing environments.

When you are in your practice room, and you have gotten yourself in tune and centered, jot down where the tuning slide is for future reference.

Doing this in every playing environment will get you “in the ball park,” closer to being in tune and centered, so you can get on your way to practicing and performing sooner.

Does The Mouthpiece Really Matter?

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The System Blue mouthpieces were designed to specifically accompany the System Blue brass instruments, but also work on their own with any set of instruments.

Using a matched set of mouthpieces, even if the instruments aren’t matched, can greatly improve consistency in tone, timbre, and intonation on the marching field.

The System Blue mouthpieces were designed to give clear articulation from close and far distances, help performers endurance during long rehearsal sessions, and be somewhat forgiving while marching around a football field.

The System Blue TR1 is more of a lead mouthpiece, while the TR2 is more of a section mouthpiece.

What is Bore Size, and Why Does It Matter?

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SB10 (.459 bore) vesus SB12 (.464 bore)

Trumpets have what is called cylindrical bore, which is when the bore diameter is consistent throughout the instrument until you get towards the bell section when the flare begins.

Cylindrical bores give a well projected and direct sound. Typically, a medium bore (the SB10) may be a little easier to play from an air standpoint, have a slightly sweeter sound, and can benefit younger players. A larger bore (the SB12) may have a broader sound, have less resistance through range and volume, and benefit lead type players.

One is NOT a beginning horn while the other a professional, as many professionals play on medium size bores.

A sports analogy would be size and weight of a baseball bat… One player may like a smaller lighter bat to increase bat speed, while another may prefer a larger heavier bat to increase power.