Friday, December 30, 2011

Big Wave Dave and the Ripples NYE

     It's been quite some time but I remembered I have a blog and figured I'd use it!  The funk/soul/R&B group I play Bari in called Big Wave Dave and the Ripples is playing at the Rex Bar, starting around 10 pm tomorrow night!  A $5 dollar cover gets you through the door to funk in the new year!

Check us out on Facebook!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


  A brief side note from the nerdy and exclusive world of BIR...

  I was lucky enough to record with the lovely Bowerbirds this past weekend in Justin Vernon's Studio in Fall Creek, WI!  It was inspiring to say the least and best of all, I got to hang out with the ever debonair Dan 'Yan' Westerlund!!! 

Pretty poor quality picture but it makes it seem as though it was a sighting of Yan... Making it mysterious and whimsical!

I was INCREDIBLY lucky (Thank you 'Flash' Johnson) in scoring the use of a contrabass clarinet that I did some work to and made some noise on it! I had a blast playing it, along with clarinet, bass clarinet, bari, and alto sax!  Mostly the clarinet realm was touched, something I haven't dealt with in a while... But I think it turned out great!  Mostly thanks to Brian, super-wicked-awesome-sound engineer! 

In the midst of a p.c.  Note the rubber band fix as both an experiment to figure the workings out and later on, necessity!

The overall setting of the live room

My personal space

The Captain's Chair

A close-up on gear

More gear!

The Gang minus Beth!  She was sleeping and rightfully so... And yes, I like it when Phil looks at me this way.

  The good times were in large portions as this 13 1/2 hour recording session took place!  This was easily one of the most memorable moments in my time back in Minnesota/Wisconsin territory!  Life is sweet...

Tuba: Stuck Slides and Fireballs

  What started out as a seemingly routine issue of stuck slides in a middle school tuba strayed briefly from the standard and produced an adrenaline rush tributary.

   Without a time restraint in the beginnings of this project, I simply followed a system of applying Corrosion Cracker to all four of the stuck slides of this Yamaha YBB 105 tuba, after using a drift punch of appropriate size or a slide hammer with heat applied to the relevant areas to attempt to remove the steadfast tubes. This went on for a month and then I switched to the woodwind lab for a go at saxophones.  I continued to visit the tuba with, at the very least, applications of the Cracker and the occasional go with the slide hammer for the next 8 weeks.   

Ol' Driffty tryin' to work some magic

  Upon returning to the brass lab and at the request of the customer, I began to concentrate harder on this stubborn character.  I began a vigorous return to the old system and, clearing it with my boss and the customer, I introduced a dip in the ultra sonic cleaner, hoping to provide more encouragement in the unstuck direction.  I'm sure it helped, although initially nothing was moving towards completion... 

Tough to see, but the smokey looking areas are gunk and Corrosion Cracker

   I cycled through many helpful classmates assisting me in bracing the tuba or heating the slides while I attempted to pull them.

Jesse and Kyle having a go!

 Little by little, day by day...

At last, the first slide came undone!
And in consecutive days to follow...

Hazzah! 1st and 2nd! (main tuning slide pulled but not pictured)

And the last slide remaining was not the least bit surprising.  This goofy design for the 3rd slide to keep it condensed for the player proves to be a worthy advisory.  Issues include: Lots of braces that can break, 2 crooks to deal with, lots of surface area, and a slight dent in the outer tuning slide of the one closest in the picture below.

First step was un-soldering and moving the brace into a non-obstructing area

   In the video above is an example of what happened when I removed the first crook from the slide.  What is pictured is literally about a 10th of the actual size of the fireball produced from the penetrating oil being applied for months on end...  It was awesome!!!  And it singed my hair.

Who knew working on a tuba would make you feel so alive!

Back to the biz...

Un-solder and re-solder the crook to to isolate the inner tubes
The brace was also removed

There wasn't enough force from the crook to get the inner tube to budge so I took it further

Turned a chunk of brass down to fit inside the farrel


  After the removal of all the inner slides, it was time to rebuild and spot lacquer!

Almost there!
  Alas, in my excitement of the success, I neglected to get a final picture of the slide...  HA!  It turned out great and all were happy.  Go ahead, call Stephanie.  I tell no lies!

  I also discovered rebounding with the Magnetic Dent Remover and the magic it brings to abundantly difficult dents in those hard to reach places!  I just centered the ball where it needed to be, lifted the magnet away from the dent ball (obviously not removing it from the scene, just creating space and tension), and struck the back of the magnet with a mallet.  It worked beautifully!  I have no pictures because it is strongly advised to leave your phones away from the MDRS system or bad things may happen...

This tuba got me thinking... Maybe being a low brass tech could be sweet!?!?!  As long as the explosions keep coming, I'll consider it... Safety first!

King Legend: A Trumpet for a Horse...?

  Excitement continues as I work on a friend and working musician's trumpet through the days!  Amongst the usual dent removal and porting, here are some of the highlights of the endeavor!

  The beginning cleaning stages of this King Legend found themselves in something just short of a science project.  The trumpet's interior was coated in a slime green crust and accented with the sprinkling of red rot throughout the lead pipe.  It was so dirty, the hole in the knuckle of the casing to lower 3rd tuning slide was sealed just fine until I cleaned it.

At least the corrosion has a sense of humor with the heart shape around it...
  A patch was constructed, first from a dead flute head joint and then from a spare silver plated knuckle.  The flute head joint patch shriveled almost instantly as the lead free solder began to flow in the tinning process...

Some beautiful time was spent shaping and forming this lovely little trinket...

Only to have it do this after some heat was applied!

  The jury is still out, meaning I just moved on and have yet to research the incident, on why this happened but nonetheless, there was a successful patching!

Success! It was a trip worrying about the surrounding solder joints but heat control paid off!

Shiny and relatively inconspicuous...

Valve work... 

1st and 3rd posed the greatest resistance
  After talking more in depth about Patrick's hand position, further detail was pressed into lapping the pistons in a way to cater to his uneven depression issues... of the pistons... Pat is doing just fine as far as I can tell.  If you are concerned, I'm sure he'd let you buy him a beverage of choice and talk about his feelings.

In the process of lapping, I applied pressure to the piston to simulate the path it was destined to take. 

  This approach was done because Pat informed me he was not going to break this habit anytime soon. 

Spot plating was also done to the waterkey to preserve the shiny, royal look of this lovely noise maker.

It goes on looking very smokey and black, but shines up real nice-like

Only a decision on replacing the lead pipe or to patch it is left.  It has red rot, or the dezincification of the brass,  throughout most of it so the full replacement would be the best long term solution...

It's all coming together...

  Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Project Cornet

     In all of it's glory, this transposing Conn cornet was full of excitement!  Well... As exciting as one can be...  The learning that occuered was a treat, anyway!

The scent of this ol' Conn was... prominent

The transposition slide that brings it to the key 'A'

     After inspection, a buckled bell, stuck valves, stuck tuning slides, a missing draw nob, and lots-o-dents was the diagnosis.

It's not a circle... But at least it's not a triangle

Old fashioned knuckle dents.  Still made like they used to be

Before I could do the full chem flush, I discovered a stuck hinge rod in the main tuning slide waterkey... A screwdriver, some Corrossion Cracker, and a center punch later, nothing happened.

One of the battles in this war

     To get it out, I was forced to drill into the hinge rod and counter drill it out!

The counter-drilling never happened due to the breaking of the hinge rod, right before the threads 
That seemed to shake the threads free enough to allow me to unscrew the rest via pliers

     After a well needed chem flush, dent work commenced.  I started with one I could use a technique that was new to me.

I missed getting a picture before I soldered the piece onto it... 

It does accent the rich contour of the dent, almost as though they were made for each other

An extremely 'high-tech' process!  Seems primal, but effective!

With a 'ping,' so lifts a bit of the dent

After two more rounds and some hammering, it's round again!

     Onward to tackling the buckle, I managed to do this relatively quick... Thank you extensive work on the trombone bell

It stands on it's own!

      Many more tales of dent work followed these and many mistakes were made and fixed, and forcing much learning to be had... So goes the tale; crawling, walking, tripping, and falling, only to do it again.  The stories we create for ourselves...

To be continued... 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Trombone Bell Buckle

And I'm back!!! (for as long as technology will allow me...)  

     This was one of the first projects done on the brass side: unbuckling a trombone bell.  It was a lovely experience getting to know the different dent removal tools and the methodical happenings of brass work.  It all started when my instructor picked out a bell for me and proceeded to throw it on the floor and against the table repeatedly.  I was handed this warped piece of brass and this is what happened....

An average encounter?  Let's hope not...

     After assessing the condition of the bell, I began slowly tackling this ripple, by ripple.  I started by rolling out the more pronounced areas gently, to avoid enhancing the scars to follow.  

Rollin' 'em out...

     As time goes by...


And a progression!
(Some day I'll figure out the 'Slide-show' idea)

     It is frustrating to know that this bell will never get fully back to its former glory (ie: scars left behind from the creases and material scratched and/or chipped away).  It was fun and mildly therapeutic to restore this as close as I possibly could to its former self though!  It'll be a good day to feel comfortable making the call when enough's enough.  I felt like I could have spent months on this thing to bring it back!  Alas, I was instructed to move on and that All was done in the situation that could be...

Finally getting the throat as round as it'd go

     Bell dent work 101.  Feel pretty confident about it and enjoyed it much!  Time to move on to other brassy things...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Apprentice, a Fried Motherboard, and a Break...

  Hail Folks,
     Just checking in after a month of absence...  I have been working hard in the repair realm, but a fried motherboard has since thwarted my electronic efforts!  Of course, as soon as I come to grips with the electronic world my computer betrays me...
     As the record stands, I now have a clarinet, flute, and trumpet overhaul done, 7 trumpets have been chem flushed, and many other minor repairs on clarinets and flutes. 
     In the beginning of December, I begun to work with Stephanie Reller at Noteworthy Repair and Studio in Duluth, MN on the weekends and breaks that I'm up there.  She's a graduate of Red Wing from a few years ago and a really skilled tech (she used to fix my horns when I lived up there).  She had me flush 5 of the 7 trumpets I've completed so far and I changed a few pads on a clarinet our last meeting.  It's awesome to apprentice with her in addition to school and I'm excited to be surrounded by skilled techs!

     I have finished the first half of the intense and remarkable BIR Program at Red Wing and am back in Portland to relax for a bit.  A plan has been mapped out for the disbursement of my resume and  I hope to enjoy a few delightful meals and beverages this fair city has to offer along the way!  As I try and relax with the lady, the dog, and the cat, I am anxious to return to school and begin saxophones!

          Happy Holidays!