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Taming the Ringing Trombone Bell

Many trombones exhibit a resonance that results in a ringing at a particular frequency.  This is not always a bad thing.  My favorite bells are very "lively" and ring when playing certain notes.  Sometimes the ringing happens on a frequency that is in between two notes and isn't normally noticeable.    When the ringing coincides with a note being played, then the ringing can become very noticeable and is a condition that most players would find annoying. However, a "lively" bell that rings can easily be tamed and will become a superior sounding horn as a result.  Almost all of my favorite bells ring and require some taming.  I have come across ringing bells from most of the major manufacturers and with all size horns.  Keep in mind that bells are mostly hand made and can vary all over the place. as to how they sound. That is one reason that no two horns will sound the same. 

The cause of the ringing can be the result of a problem such as a loose brace, a vibrating valve rotor or a loose tuning slide.  Sometimes it is easy to fix the problem by greasing the tuning slide or lubricating the valve.  Fixing a poorly soldered brace or joint might be harder but should be looked at.  Most of the time the ringing is a result of the bell vibrating at its natural frequency and nothing can be done to the instrument to make it go away except by damping the vibration.  Fortunately there are a few inexpensive ways to do this.  Christian Lindberg developed "resistance balancers" to alter the response of the bell.  Though not specifically marketed to fix a ringing bell they very effectively  reduce the ringing to the point where it is neutralized.  I have used these for several years and they have worked on every bell that had this issue, maybe a dozen of various sizes and manufacturers. Unfortunately they are no longer available unless you can find a store that still has them or on eBay. Fortunately there are other solutions.  The frugal minded can use duct tape.  This is what was used for years and is very effective.  For someone that can spend a couple of dollars, here are a couple of alternatives that work for me.

 

 

This is the larger of the set of Christian Lindberg Resistance Balancers.  They are no longer made but you can sometimes find them on eBay.

This is an athletic wrist band made by Mueller.  I trimmed one end because it was too long.  It is made of Neoprene so there is no fabric to unravel. Just wrap it around and snug it down.  You will be surprised to see how little snugging it takes to eliminate the ringing.

This is a piece of 2" wide Velco strapping.  It works great and you can find many uses for the rest of the roll. It is not easy to find but any size Velcro strapping should work.

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