High Note Back-Bore Experiment

November 9, 2018

Recently I have engaged in considerable discussion both online and on gigs about the impact of the mouthpiece and lead pipe when it comes to playing the extreme upper register. You can go back and re-read my blogs if you are interested in a more detailed discussion of what is driving my experiments. I will re-iterate some primary details as they pertain to this little blog for this week.


As I've discussed before, when you get much above a high A (G concert, for you purists out there!) the trumpet is pretty much 'done' resonating. However, the so called doubles (B, C, D, in that neighborhood) do have a fairly distinct slot. I using some basic physics ideas I have rationalized that some re-design of the back-bore and lead-pipe could be used to enhance this register. As to why, if you have to ask, you're probably not a trumpeter. That's ok. You're welcome to read on for more amusement. 


The first quarter wave of a resonating DHC puts the first pressure node right smack in the middle of the back bore. Extrapolating out to 3/4 of a wave puts the next one in the early portion of the lead pipe. So, a true extended range altissimo trumpet should be addressing the coupling of the mouthpiece and lead-pipe and less so on the bell section. My experiment with back-bores is the first step in this experiment. I wanted to get an ULTRA TIGHT back bore with a very modest taper almost like a miniature sackbut bell. 


I went to my mouthpiece designer/manufacturer, Dave Harrison of the Wedge Mouthpiece Company in Vancouver, British Columbia (or rather near there on a beautiful remote island on Canada's beautiful west coast) and exchanged some emails. He suggested some folks who might already have extreme designs in there line, thereby avoiding the expense of having to go to a machinist to design and build a new custom bit for a lathe just for one back bore. After doing some research, I reached out to Derek Saidak of Legends Brass. From our discussions, his Manhattan Model Back Bore customized with a 25 hole seemed to fit the description. I now, have two of them for the experiment. 


Just as a quick "pre-review" I was instantly struck at how these back bores caused the notes right around DHC to just speak better and with much more power and less effort. It would seem this back bore really helps stabilize the little standing wave that is getting set up. Want less technical commentary? I just LOVE these things!! They are amazing.


Here is the equipment used in the video:


Mouthpiece 1: Stainless Steel Wedge Upper Part - Custom Drozdoff Lead Model with a G2 rim threaded onto a HEAVYWEIGHT  Manhattan Model Back Bore with a 25 hole. 


Mouthpiece 2: Acrylic Wedge Upper Part - Custom Drozdoff Lead Model with a G2 rim threaded onto a LIGHTWEIGHT Manhattan Model Back Bore with a 25 hole.


In slapped together a little video demo of these rigs. It is probably hard to tell much difference between the two. I popped out a little G over DHC with Mouthpiece 1, that didn't readily speak with Mouthpiece 2 (though I hit the E over DHC). However, overall, I feel that I can generate much more power with Mouthpiece 2 and this is what I have been using to GREAT effect on gigs for the last week and a half. 



Here is the video:



I hope this all makes sense. 


The next step in this grand experiment is that I am meeting with an expert horn machinist up in Appleton, Wisconsin next week to work on a lead pipe stunt. More on that later.


Thanks for reading. 

Now, if you are reading this, you made it through the post. Thanks! I hope you'll consider subscribing to my blog. If you found this interesting, please read the blogs in the archives. I also hope you'll consider supporting my work. As the blog evolves and as I get ready to launch my podcast later this year and as I continue to record audio and video, please remember, I am totally self funded. If you enjoy my music and have benefited in some way from reading the blogs and or watching the videos, please consider a donation to the cause. I am seeking advertisers and backers, but every individual can contribute in some way. No donation is too small, and no donation is too large! ;-) This is tantamount to digitally passing the hat on a no cover gig, but so be it. If you wish to make a contribution, just use and send your tip/donation to me via Paypal. 


Finally, I am in the process of developing a series of a few concerts at jazz clubs in the Chicago and Green Bay areas as well as at school (college or high school) auditoriums. They will feature my big band version of the Variable D Postulate Ensemble. I am seeking one off sponsorships to help keep the price of admission down. If you or your company provides a small donation, I'll make sure you are amply credited both during the performance and on every promotional post leading up to the concert. If you are interested in participating, please reach out to me at or at 847-476-1210. 


Respectfully submitted:

Nick Drozdoff















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