I am a composer, trumpet player, repair and salesman in a Sydney brass shop. I loved the horn so much that I became the Australian agent (in conjunction with the Sydney shop “Sax and Woodwind”). I hold a degree in music technology and composition from the University of Western Sydney. My chosen area of study was the physics of the trumpet and I wanted to talk about the WT from a design point of view as well as that of a player.
Most players I imagine are looking for two things in an instrument. A beautiful sound for the audience and an instrument that is easy to play. These two things however do not go hand in hand. The response to the player is governed by how much energy is trapped inside the horn. The sound heard by the audience is governed by which frequencies escape the instrument.
The WT has the most even response of any trumpet I have ever played, while radiating the warmest sound at high volume.
How is this possible? First some physics background.
In a conventional trumpet the energy trapped rises until the 5 harmonic (open G on top of the staff), then drops off sharply. The frequencies that radiate the most however are the extreme high ones (Beyond the 16th). This is why the high notes are relatively hard to play while the trumpet generally has such a bright sound.
In the case of Flip’s horn, he has discovered a rare combination of pipe and bell (not to mention the tapered bore) which actually leaks energy in the midrange. This makes the horn sound much warmer to the audience while at the same time, to the player, the horn seems more even to blow because the normally strong notes are now as weak as the higher harmonics. This would make the instrument very quiet however, so by increasing the bore to .470 (and using a taper) the total volume of the instrument can be increased to a sufficient amount for the loudest gigs. If less volume is required the smaller slide can be used. Brilliant eh?
A by product of the WT design is that the area of the tuning slide critically affects the performance of the horn. The darkness of the sound, the resistance and the loudness of the instrument, can be changed to suit the players gig without having to resort to different mouthpieces, backbores or even horns. (There are currently two more slides under development).
I just love the design. It really appeals to the physicist and engineer inside me. To me the WT represents a leap forward in trumpet technology that has not been experienced since Vincent Bach designed the Stradivarius 80 years ago.
At the brass shop where I work I spend a lot of time doing valve alignments. Most pro players know valve alignment is critical to overall performance. I love how beautifully the WT aligns both vertically and rotationally. Flip uses a special rubber that gives extreme accuracy and stability. He adjusts the rotational alignment post factory. This means that every horn is a winner not just one in 10. The valves are very quiet and with a fast short stroke.
Even if I did not play I would own a Wild Thing as an object of engineering art. As a player I just love it. It is the most easy to play and most easy to listen to horn ever. It does take some getting used to and this is my impression of the adaptation period. I played the smaller slide for about 10 days. I found that I had to learn not to force the sound in the high register as I was used to doing on the old Calicchio. After about a week I found that I was playing effortlessly. To me it feels like the horn is playing itself and I am just along for the ride!
My range on this instrument has increased also. I found myself playing loud double Cs where previously I was lucky to play a squeaky G. I did find however that the small tuning slide was not loud enough for some gigs so I have been working with the large one for a week. On the larger slide I can get a much louder dark sound which is great for acoustic jazz particularly with a drummer on a small stage. It definitely takes more air however. The smaller slide can be used to great effect with a microphone and also when more attack is required such as the Steel Pan band I play with. The other thing I have noticed is that the WT blends so much better with trombones and vintage saxes
such as the Selmer MkVI
I’ve fallen in love with the horn so much so that I convinced the management of the store I work for (Sax and Woodwind, Sydney) to become agents and importers for Flip’s horn. One was sold to within an hour of its arrival. I have been taking the horn around to as many pro players as I can think of and everyone agrees that it is just magnificent and a blessing to have them here in Australia.
Thanks a million Flip.
Composer and performer of Jazz, Latin and World music
Proud owner of a silver Wild Thing (# 4145).