based on the picture by Hans Memling (c.1435-94)
My slide trumpet was made by Gerry Birch. He constructed it from pieces of narrow bore tenor trombone and the bell section from a fanfare trumpet. I obtained the information for the design from Instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance by David Munrow. Oxford University Press ISBN 0 19 321321 4
Jerry made the instrument in C, slightly sharp of concert pitch. He did this for two very good reasons – to facilitate tuning, and to allow the player’s hand to be used as a cushion, to prevent the instrument slamming back into first position and damaging the player’s front teeth! An added refinement would be to put a spring on the slide. Another refinement, though inauthentic, might be to have a water key, as the only way to remove the accumulation of “condensation” is to remove the instrument from the slide, and then rotate it like a horn player does.
Gerry tells me he’d be happy to make more slide trumpets, and “anything unusual”!
DIMENSIONS: The overall length of the instrument from mouthpiece to bell is 237cm. The two bends are 6cm wide. The central loop is 65cm long. The bell is 11.5cm in diameter and the bore is 1.2cm diameter. The mouthpiece is an old design alto trombone mouthpiece, 2cm internal diameter.
PEASHOOTER: The British military band tenor trombone, known to long-suffering bandsmen as the “peashooter”, has an extraordinarily narrow bore. This gives it a bright, trumpet-like tone, especially when used in conjunction with its original mouthpiece. The bottom notes are practically impossible to reach, however. The instrument is in military band pitch – somewhere between concert c# and d. They were in use until after the second world war, and until recently, there were large numbers of them about. They are becoming rare now, though they turn up on eBay from time to time. You will need at least two of them to make your slide trumpet. return to top of page