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Author Topic: Horst Moennig Low C bass  (Read 2608 times)

Offline windydankoff

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Horst Moennig Low Eb bass
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2021, 02:49:13 PM »
Here's a pic of my Horst! I got it playing basically, but it needs tone-hole repair to stop some leaks. It already sounds gorgeous in the chalumeau, in spite of weaknesses. Intonation checks out good, though I can barely play anything in the clarion yet.

It has been used a LOT. It shows many signs of amateur repairs (besides mine!). Tone holes are the biggest problem. Some are slightly chipped or worn, and some have been flattened off probably too much. I need a more up-turned neck. My ear tells me it's worth the continuing investment (my own labor).

The keywork is unplated German silver, and VERY rigid. It is crudely hand-engraved "LA City School" on the bell. It doesn't say Baxter-Northrup like yours, Dave. Logo on the wood is identical to yours.

I'd like to know more of its history!

Have a look:
« Last Edit: May 22, 2021, 10:08:44 PM by windydankoff »
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Horst Moennig Low C bass
« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2021, 09:16:41 PM »
What a lovely instrument! Do you know what that belly button does? I have a bass clarinet somewhere with that thing and I'll be darned if I can tell what it's usage is.

Interesting how yours has unplated German silver keys. Mine appears to have some sort of yellowish, vaguely gold looking plating on it. I feel like German silver is really the way to go. Kudos on the pickup!
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Horst Moennig Low Eb bass
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2021, 02:44:49 PM »
I have Old Horst playing now, at least enough to say that he intonation is quite good in general, and the tone is seductive ... urging me forward in this project. I have spent probably 5 hours/day for 3 weeks now, so I'm betting on a good result!

It has two register key vents with a good automatic mechanism. The upper vent is in the upper joint, rather than on the neck like modern basses. A hole in the neck tenon lets it vent through. The upper joint is longer than usual, to place the upper vent correctly. The neck is made shorter, to compensate.

The "belly button" is a vent that presumably corrects the 12ths, like some clarinets that have a small hole drilled in the bell for that purpose.

S/N 89244 - Maker history is too sketchy to guess the age. The case holds a clue. It has far less wear than the horn, so safe to assume it is not the original case. Due to the horn’s unusual dimensions, it had to be customized for this instrument, so it clearly belongs with it. The plastic handle is molded to look like stitched leather. That, and the appearance, may indicate circa 1960. If the original case had lasted over 20 years, then the a good guess is pre-1940.

Dave – you say yours is 100 years old? How do you know? and what is your S/N?

The metal is not typical German silver. It is equally tough, but more silvery looking, with none of the typical gray oxidation. The bell looks like cleanly polished silver. Again, a mystery metal. Some of the key shapes look very German. Although it's had a rough life, there is only insignificant mechanical wear, except on the long L4 keys that have been stressed.

A reason for its rough life? Note the crude hand engraving next to the label on the bell. It says "LA City School"! It was probably donated, because it must have been an expensive instrument originally. After that, I'm told it was owned by a repair man now deceased, with a shop called Woodwinds West. He had played it professionally for years before passing it on to a helper who sold it to me, after doing some really awful "repairs".
« Last Edit: June 09, 2021, 09:07:42 PM by windydankoff »
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Horst Moennig Low Eb bass
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2021, 03:52:39 PM »
Here he is, posing for the camera. This is not a historic restoration. Keywork was modified in the past, in some useful ways. I'm continuing to customize it to my own preferences and to overcome some weaknesses.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2021, 06:49:07 PM by windydankoff »
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Horst Moennig Low Eb bass
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2021, 04:20:17 PM »
The original mouthpiece angle is unworkable for me. For my anatomy, I need to have a steep angle. My solution is based on a Vito replacement neck that's commonly available (and the bore is the same). Because Horst's upper joint is longer than usual, his neck needs to be shorter. I removed about 20mm from the Vito neck to bring its pitch up to the same Hz as the original. I made two cuts in the neck to shorten it, and to make the angle even steeper. I tested my results with electrical tape until it felt and tuned just right. I tried to solder one joint, but it wasn't practical. Epoxy allowed me to round off the corners on the INSIDE before I joined the parts.

I used JB Weld, Steel Stick, and a wood filling epoxy putty. I read that some people add weight to the neck to influence vibration. I observed vibration in the neck strongest near the MP (where it originates). I reason that the added weight reduces vibration, which equals energy loss. So I wound copper wire around the tube along with epoxy, in the section near the MP, then I finished the coating. I then decided to coat the whole thing, for a balanced appearance. I'll show a photo when it's done.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2021, 03:26:15 PM by windydankoff »
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Horst Moennig Low Eb bass
« Reply #20 on: May 26, 2021, 02:50:19 PM »
... and finally, the new neck! The steep angle is right for me. It behaves acoustically the same as the old one (when I hold it to produce same MP angle) but with the added weight and rigidity, it vibrates much less.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2021, 10:33:02 AM by windydankoff »
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Offline windydankoff

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Re: Horst Moennig Low Eb bass
« Reply #21 on: June 11, 2021, 03:27:25 PM »
MORE progress:  That modified neck had the instrument placed too low, and hurting my right wrist. I made another angle-cut above the tenon, to lower the mouthpiece (and raise the instrument), and now it's fits me.

I got a Fobes Debut mouthpiece, and it seems really good. I tried tenor sax reeds but a real b.cl. reed (Fibracell 2) works much better all around. I discovered however that it needs pressure near the shoulder (the beginning of the heart of the reed) – It spoke much better if I pressed my thumb against it just in front of my lip. So I replaced the fabric ligature with a metal one (my favorite, VD Optimum). I bulked it up with leather so I could place it closer toward the tip, to press on the shoulder/bark area. I'm so happy now, I can actually play this thing!

And WHAT a SOUND! Its low notes are pure, throat tones also clean, with a passionate crying undertone like a baritone sax at its best (think Gerry Mulligan). That undertone carries over the break. At clarion D E F, I need extra force to keep a fair sound because some slight leaks remain at funky tone holes. Altissimo sounds good. The chalumeau range seems immune to leakage.

This has been painful for my wrists and fingers, until I add extensions to several keys to bring my hands into a normal position, like large woodwinds normally have. I made a custom thumb rest from epoxy putty.

With over 200 hours into this project, I still have work to do, but I've stopped contemplating failure. I had declared failure three times ... until I got this mouthpiece-reed-lig thing worked out. Suddenly, I could overcome its leaky nature and my faith is restored.

I still have some mechanical fixes to do, and will have to remedy some irregular tone holes.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2021, 03:37:17 PM by windydankoff »
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Horst Moennig Low C bass
« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2021, 09:03:43 PM »
Windy, I have no idea why I figured the bass was 100 years old.

The case style points to the 1940s (fake reptile skin); I have what I believe to be the original case as it's form-fitting inside. Serial is 29129.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages
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