It has been four weeks since my Patterson-converted Yamaha 667 arrived in a little brown truck at my doorstep. I had sent it away earlier in the summer for a major overhaul at Patterson Hornworks.
The list of upgrades was extensive – you can read about it in a previous article, The Americanization of a Yamaha – and the horn that arrived was a vastly different animal.
It was lucky too that the horn had been well-crafted to begin with. Most of its interior ports, external braces and slides lined up as they should.
First, and perhaps most notable with the conversion is the new lead pipe.
Compared to the stock lead pipe, the horn has opened up significantly. While I am a fan of resistance in a horn, the stock lead pipe was too constricting.
The sound is focused and warm with the Patterson pipe but I needed to play a little mouthpiece roulette in order to get the right feel I was looking for.
The mouthpiece on the far left is a MegaMoose D6. I used this mouthpiece for about 10 years on this horn. I absolutely love the thick sound it gets, but with the new lead pipe the high range ceases to be as easy as before.
I liked what the heavier mouthpiece did for my sound, but for me I felt like I had to work just a bit too hard…”
I have a colleague who had a D8 tooled – slightly smaller – and he swears by this in combination with his Engelbert Schmid double. This might be something that I will be ordering to try out.
RB12Y and Stork C12W
My next option was the Moosewood RB12Y. It too has a warm sound but I have finally settled into an old Stork C12W.
The “W” stands for a wide diameter rim. In my older age, this extra millimeter or two helps a great deal with keeping a fluid, flexible sound in all ranges and dynamics. While it does not have the same rich sound as the Moosewood mouthpieces, I found that adding some Moosewood DNA in the form of a stem weight made a difference.
This circular brass ring fits on the stem of the mouthpiece and it adds some density to the mouthpiece throat. Beyond that simple description I am not exactly sure what it does, but there is a noticeable difference in sound and feel – the sound gets warmer and the feel is more focused and locked-in.
Along these lines, it wasn’t until about day 8 or so that I noticed this – an extra weight in the thumb valve.
Even though I had oiled this spot many times before, I did not notice it at first. Not wanting to tamper with its magic, I leave it place.
The F horn side has improved significantly.
This I noticed right away – that the F-side of the horn had been liberated. Gray zones of my own fault in that range have become less gray.
The first valve
I am not sure what was done but it took me a while to become accustomed to first-valve F horn fingerings. Something had changed and my old setup was not landing on it. However, after 4 weeks I can say that this was a good thing and it has all settled into place.
Before the conversion, the first-line F was always a problematic note for me and I often resorted to the B-flat fingering. This is no longer the case.
Improved consistency in all ranges
Besides opening the horn up, this conversion has also evened it out. By this I mean that the tone and articulation is much more even and consistent throughout all chromatic and dynamic ranges.
A worthwhile investment
Of all the horns I have ever owned or remember playing this one I can honestly say is absolutely the best.
While one cannot guarantee the same results with all stock instruments, I am extremely pleased with my Patterson/Yamaha conversion. For any horn player wanting to improve their stock horn – for under $1500 – this is a worthwhile investment to give strong consideration.