How to Test a Different Leadpipe on your Horn

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Among horns I have owned over the years I have tried and changed several leadpipes. A change of leadpipe continues to be a popular upgrade for horns and it is not difficult to try a new one. It was a topic mentioned in my article on Friday, where I noted,

One thing I keep in my office is a vintage Lawson leadpipe bent for an 8D. It gives a good idea of what an upgrade leadpipe can do and often I will have students try it in a similar circumstance, to see if the high range is more stable and produced more easily. Often it is, along with improved articulations in general, etc.

Several makers sell leadpipes as custom, separate sale items. Every leadpipe maker will have their own requirements as to trial periods and deposits but most will send a leadpipe out on trial.

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Leadpipes can be bent for any instrument but are typically sold or sent out for trial bent for popular models of horn. So if you have for example a Conn 8D or Yamaha 667 it will be a relatively simple matter to have a leadpipe sent for trial.

This is a leadpipe from a Conn 8D, without the receiver. You can’t test it on a horn in this form, you would need a receiver. This particular leadpipe could not be tested on a horn very well. Makers who sell leadpipes will normally ship them to you with a receiver for testing, one sized for your horn.

With leadpipe and receiver in hand what you need to do is line it up on the horn and plug it in to your main slide, then find a comfortable way to hold it. I like to tuck the leadpipe in the “groove” between the existing leadpipe and the bell tail for a quick test. It depends somewhat on the geometry of the specific instrument. But in this configuration you can get a very good idea of what the changes might be like, of how the horn would play with the new leadpipe.

And what can you expect for changes? Everything can be different; better articulations, tone, high range, intonation, etc. It is something to certainly consider with some horns, to try an upgrade, it can make a huge difference.