The creation of the pBone, and then the pTrumpet, was an exciting and challenging journey of engineering, design and creativity; none of the materials had been previously used in this way and although on the outside the instruments retained the essential design attributes of traditional instruments, the insides had to differ in order to reproduce the right sound.
Driven by the desire to make quality instruments that make the joy of music accessible and fun we were able to apply this knowledge to other instruments, and are delighted with how many new players have arisen as a result!
pTrumpets in particular are already an excellent tool for young, beginner players. They are also a truly mass-producible instrument with very limited hands-on tasks during manufacture (parts are produced to size and simply glued together) which helps us in keeping the cost as low as possible – a barrier to getting many more children playing that we are always keen to overcome.
What we did find though was that even though we were able to continue developing and improving our instruments, in this case, the pTrumpet, we had become experts in plastics technology, and also experts in the limits of where this technology could take us within reasonable budgets.
We, therefore, got to thinking about how we could blend the lightness and robustness that gives pTrumpet its great accessibility with different material choices to create enhanced resonance and playability. We knew this would create a cost increase, but were keen to explore what the best balance could be; how could we achieve a great leap in playing performance whilst keeping all the benefits of a plastic trumpet?
The first place to look was the valves; better airtightness or compression, beyond what plastic valves could create, would improve the playing performance, but we knew this would come at a higher price and add complexity to the manufacturing process. Our aim was to take the best of both worlds: traditional brass instrument making and our plastic, mass-production techniques.
The hyTech’s valves utilise stainless-steel lined, plastic pistons which run in a hybrid valve block constructed from yellow brass bonded into polymer, matching industry-standard compression, and exceeding standard, cheap, Chinese metal valve systems, to deliver great resonance and response throughout the instrument. They are also far more reliable and are maintained in a similar way to traditional valves.
The next area we paid attention to was the mouthpiece; while our plastic mouthpieces are a great starting point for our plastic instruments, we know how much a metal mouthpiece will improve performance. We therefore created a high-quality 7c made from brass with 3-micron, silver plating that is matched to a mouthpiece receiver, CNC milled from a piece of solid, genuine yellow brass bar.
Great for centring the sound and core trumpet timbre the receiver gives a gentle version of the ‘heavy top’ mouthpiece effect which really suits the plastic resonance. This part also allows greater control of the placement of the end of the mouthpiece shank in relation to the venturi: key for intonation, stacking and resonance. Sticking to our mantra of making sure it remains accessible for all, it does, of course, accept the mouthpieces of leading trumpet mouthpiece makers.
So there you have it; a hybrid instrument that blends the unique acoustic designs for the plastic parts of the instrument with great tolerances and compression. The hyTech is lightweight, durable, and robust and really makes the grade alongside the finest brass student trumpets on the market with its performance and sound. We are so proud to have raised the bar with our pInstrument family, who knows what we’ll turn our hands to next?
As an undergraduate Chris studied Jazz at Leeds College of Music and then became a member of the Advanced Studies, post-graduate performers course at the Royal Academy of Music and Principal Bass Trombone with the European Community Youth Orchestra under Claudio Abbado. He then spent 25 years as a busy freelance performer based in both London and the North of England working with a wide variety of ensembles and artists, including being a member of Grimethorpe Colliery Band, The British Philharmonic Orchestra, Dame Shirley Bassey’s Orchestra and the Creative Jazz Orchestra.
Alongside this Chris has worked extensively in all areas of music education, latterly as a leading deliverer and trainer in informal, large group practice. This included roles as Leader in Wider Opportunities at Hertfordshire Music Service, Leader of Instrumental Development for Derbyshire City and County Music Partnership and as a face to face trainer on the Trinity Guildhall/Open University “Whole Class Instrumental Learning” national training program.
He became a key member of the team that created pBone, the plastic trombone in 2011/12 and has been involved with Warwick Music Group in various roles since then. Chris is currently Director of Creativity and Innovation for the company, a role which includes overseeing product development and improvement, quality and education.