Gizmos & Gadgets - July 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 this July.

ProhandsProhands – VIA Hand Exerciser
Price: $14.95

Even in these days when the health police keep telling us to eat less and move around more to lose weight and keep fit, it still makes you wonder why so many people keel over and die when out jogging.

For those brass performers who wish to undertake a little less strenuous exercise whilst improving dexterity, strength and coordination in equal measures (something that running 20 miles a day doesn’t seem to do very well, unless you are a budding Olympic runner), then this little gem may just be right up your street.

The VIA hand exerciser mimics hard to press instrument valves in such a way that by the end of a few months your fingers will no longer resemble cold pork buffet sausages, but will be sleek, well defined sculpted phalanxes of steely resolve that an Irish navvy would be proud to have as their own.

They will also hopefully be in the right physical state to help you run through the most testing semi quaver passages of a test piece without succumbing to finger cramp either.

Whether the rest of your tired and worn out body will be in the same shape though is a different matter.

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Dembro mutesDEM-BRO Mute Straight
Price : £37.72 (inc VAT) 

Bulk Buy Prices:
£33.94 per each when you buy 3 or more

DEM-BRO mutes from Holland  have been producing high quality stuff now for quite a while and has gained a reputation for doing the job they are intended to do all at a pretty decent price too.

Horn players on the other hand have invariably built up a reputation of being hard to please, techy so and so’s who always complain about not having bespoke equipment like the rest of the band to play on.

How many times have you had to delve into the mute cupboard to try and file down the corks on a trombone mute just to fit their requests for something to do the job properly.

No longer it seems as these new straight black mutes are highly regarded for their performance by professional players and are made with tenor horn players very much in mind.

They also come supplied with carrying bag too just to keep them happy.

If things carry on like this even baritone players will want their own mutes in future…

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AdaptorVincent Bach 195 Cornet to Trumpet Mouthpiece Adaptor
Price: £6.76 (inc VAT)

With all these young tyro players now emerging from the ABC world of University campus life all thinking they are to become the next Maurice Murphy, it does make you wonder how many of them will actually end up becoming the next Ronald MacDonald in the nearest drive thru’ burger franchise near you instead?  

Most need to get a reality check, concentrate on their playing by joining a decent brass band and then worry about having their names up in lights with the LSO after they gain a bit of experience and pay off their student loans for all those shiny new trumpets and mouthpieces they were told to buy by their lecturers.  

What they could have done to save a few bob though was to invest in one of these mouthpiece adaptors, which allows you to use your favourite cornet mouthpiece with a trumpet without having to mess around with buying yet more ‘bespoke’ mouthpieces just to be able to play the second trumpet part of the local Cleethorpes Workingmen’s Amateur Dramatic Groups latest production of ‘My Fair Lady’.

Cheap and easy – you may not quite sound like old Mo on Star Wars but at least the wage packet from KFC may go a bit farther…  

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Valve OilDenis Wick Advanced Formula Valve Oil
 £5.95 (Inc VAT) from Band Supplies Ltd

Making sure you have a decent valve oil for your instrument makes the mysteries of the alchemy of turning base metal to 24 carat gold seem easy in comparison. 

Over the years players have used everything from the spit in their mouths to old washing up liquid, WD40 to cats urine (OK – made the last one up, but you know what we mean)

For those with engineering degrees however, the solution is much simpler – get a viscous liquid that lubricates between metal in much the same way as oil does in a car engine and bobs your uncle.

Denis Wick’s boffins have come up with the DW4930, advanced formula valve oil with PTFE.

No – it isn’t the kind of gunk women put in their hair to make go all shiny, or the stuff that helps run formula 1 racing cars either, but according to the makers, is a fast, long-lasting oil with a very silky feel that contains microscopic particles of PTFE which carry on lubricating long after other valve oils have evaporated.

PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) is, according to the bumf, the most slippery substance on earth (more slippery than Jeremy Kyle – wow?), virtually odourless, formulated with a special anti-evaporation agent and comes in a special bottle with built-in UV filter to protect from sunlight.

That is special then isn’t it?

Wonder how they are getting on with that lump of lead in the labs this week then?

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CornetRoy Benson Pocket Trumpet
Price: £115.00 (Inc VAT)

What’s red and shiny and can be taken out of your trousers to impress your friends as a party trick?

A pocket cornet of course!

This little beauty by Roy Benson (no – we don’t who he is either) comes with top sprung nickel silver valves, all the right bits and bobs and plays like a small cornet should. 

It also comes with a Woodwind & Brass lacquer cloth, mouthpiece and white gloves (just to add that extra touch of showmanship of course!), and ABS case. It comes in a red or blue lacquer finish too.

You must be able to play the thing of course when you get it out, so no point being asked …’is that a pocket cornet you’ve got in your trousers or are you just pleased to see me?’ if you can’t do the biz when you put it in your hands.

Remember though – size isn’t everything…
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