Gizmos & Gadgets - January 2008


From the latest high wonder products to the simplest little bits and bobs and a few that are truly weird and wonderful. 4BR has been out shopping and testing out what's on offer at Woodwind & Brass this January

Brass Instrument Cleaner
Price: £3.98 (inc VAT)

If you are looking for an idea to get kids (and adults for that matter) thinking about the benefits of personal hygiene then why hasn’t anyone in the beauty industry come up with a product like this before. 

The fantastically named ‘Spitballs’ are a great idea. Stick ‘em in one end, blow hard and out they pop at the other with the entire accumulated gunk attached. Your tubes are as clean as a proverbial whistle. 

The ones we looked at come in a size (18) that can be used for trumpets, cornets, french horns and small bore trombones

Instructions read as follows:

“The moist "balls" are inserted 6" into the leadpipe, the mouthpiece replaced and then the instrument blown "hard" to send the spitball through the instrument. The ball should then be discarded.”

Simple as that really, although they should not be used by the type of bandsmen who sit in the second and third cornet ranks having fun pinging the euphonium and baritone section with a saliva encrusted balls of goo.

 At £3.98 that’s a snip.  Or should that be a spit?
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StrapsBaritone/Euphonium/ instrument straps
Natural leather/Black leather/Goat skin
Stamp leather Tuba – Tan colour: £27.99 (inc VAT)
Black goatskin leather Tuba: £26.99 (inc VAT)
Black goatskin baritone/Euphonium: £14.99 (inc VAT)

There are times in a brass players life when the most cruel punishment that can be handed out to them is a form of physical punishment that would see members of the SAS buckling in pain – the Whit Friday march.

For those players of the bass end who have to lug around their plumbing leviathans for mile on end with little hope of rest or recuperation between renditions of ‘Knight Templar,’ then these little beauties could mean the difference between an enjoyable day out or the possibility of two weeks in traction. 

Every band needs them (although most can only be found once a year at the back of the librarians cupboard) for those special occasions when you have to imitate the Coldstream Guards on Parade.

They come in a very fetching black or tan goatskin and there are even ones for baritone players too.  All have either nice buttery soft suede or leather insert and natural rubber insert for added comfort as you sling your instrument around your neck, whilst loop fastenings and buckles mean that they tied you up better than an English batsman facing Shane Warne on a dodgy Brisbane ‘sticky dog’ wicket.  

Not to be issued to irate parents who wish to restrain misbehaving kids, although they may appeal to those odd customers with a penchant for a bit of S&M after band practice finishes. 

More Information: 

KorgKORG TM 40 Digital Metronome and Tuner
Price: £22.99 (inc VAT)

Those clever chappies at KORG are well known for making all musical things that go bleep, ping, pop and look like heart monitor machines in your local A&E ward. 

Their tuners and metronomes are regarded as being some of the very best in the business too and have more features, buttons and dials than can be found on the control panel of Apollo 15.

This new TM 40 is a combined metronome and tuner that can be used independently or together and has all the bits and bobs you need to see and hear that you are playing in tune and in time.

Built in speaker, LCD display, sensitive to low pitch, built in speaker, adjustable calibrated range (410-480 Hz), beat and tap modes and preset patterns.

All this and it looks the biz and it comes in a lovely shiny silver finish too. 

It won’t change into a transformer monster however and you may be advised not to put it in your hand luggage if you are flying to America…

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Sound BackSound Back Adjustable 2.0 Acoustic Monitor for Trumpet
Price: £30.00 (inc VAT)

Ever played brilliantly in a recording only for all your efforts to have counted for nothing as the engineer tells you that your efforts sounded as if you were playing in the ceramic confines of the gents toilets?

With these Sound Back acoustic monitors, sound is reflected back so you can hear yourself better in all situations with less effort, whilst they also increase the volume and capture more of the core sound of the instrument through the PA system, and eliminates feedback.  They easily attach to most types of microphones, and are particularly suitable for the high-level sound pressure and output of trumpeters who enjoy giving it a bit of welly every now and again.

The makers state they can be adjusted to suit the playing conditions and the reflected and projected volume – so you can save your lip when the going gets tough.

All this and by all accounts they have been used by the Blues Brothers and even Earth, Wind and Fire – although John Belushi is no longer around to attest to just how good they were on the trumpet backing when he sang ‘Mustang Sally’.

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WalsteinWalstein Euphonium case with rucksack straps.
Price: £88.99 (inc VAT)

Even euphonium players need to keep two hands free on their way to band practice or a contest (mostly for pints of beer or meat pies), so this euph case will come in handy then. 

Made with a solid wooden frame covered in black cordura, it has a retractable handle on top with wheels underneath for easy on-road travel.

The all important rucksack straps are padded and attached via hefty carabiner fastenings and leather fittings. Inside it’s fitted with black plush fabric and mouthpiece holder and even has a large external padded pocket for other accessories (such as test piece music etc!). 

At £88.99 it’s a very big case for a not very big price and when worn will allow the player to get to the bar to buy his round without recourse to the age old dodge excuse of can’t leave my instrument around as it may get nicked.

That makes it almost priceless.

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