So, you’ve decided to cut your bell. Now what?

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Sep 21 2007 002 300x225 So, youve decided to cut your bell.  Now what?You’ve asked dozens of people IF you should cut your bell, gotten all that contradictory advice, and finally decided to go for it.   Now what?

Decide who should do it

You probably shouldn’t cut your own bell, so you’ll have to find someone to do it.  How do you know who is competent to do it?  Ask others who’ve had their bells cut whom they have gone to and whether they were satisfied.  There is a somewhat short list of competent repair technicians who have done this work before.

Don’t trust it to someone who “has always wanted to cut a bell.”

Talk to the technician and feel comfortable about giving your horn to him or her before you hand it over.  Ask how long they need to do the work, and whether the price includes the bell ring set.  You may have to ship your horn, so feel comfortable about doing this as well.

You have other decisions besides the technician

The next decision you must make is which bell ring set to use.  You may be surprised to learn it (maybe not) but you actually have choices as to the ring set, and there is no such thing as a “standard” ring.

A ring set consists of male and female threaded sections.  The main variables among rings are (a) the threading convention, including thread pitch and diameter, (b) the inside diameter of the opening between the two sections, and (c) the taper of the opening.

For example, Gebr. Alexander make several rings all of which have the same threading convention, but vary the inside diameter and taper.  Englebert Schmid makes rings which have the same threading and inside diameter conventions so that all his various-sized flares will fit on all his horns.  Yamaha makes a different ring set for each type of horn.   Paxman makes the largest ring inside diameter, allowing them to fit the horn body and bell in an extremely flat case.  And the list goes on.

This will be a dizzying decision, but a competent tech can help guide you as to which ring set makes sense for you.

Cutting the bell costs more than the price of the work

You must also buy a case to hold your newly cut horn.  The array of case choices eclipses the range of ring choices.  There are so many cases for detachable bell horns that a survey cannot be made here.

Again, consider all the choices and your needs.  Do you need to fly on an airplane with it, and if so what kind of airplane?  Do you need to carry extras, such as mutes, a music stand, etc.?  And, how much do you want to spend on this case?   A top-notch cut bell case can double the cost of getting the work done.

Converting a fixed bell horn to a detachable bell horn is pricey, but it should increase the value of your horn if done properly.

Dave Weiner is a repair technician in Lutherville, MD, and owns Brass Arts Unlimited, specializing in horn repairs, and sales of instruments and related accessories. Do you have a technical or repair question? Ask Dave!