E102SP W. Nirschl
E-102 Marching F Mellophone Techincal information (from the manufacturer):
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During a visit to the
North American Brass Band Association championships in New Albany, Indiana in
March, an instrument display encountered in the exhibition area offered a chance
to play a unique marching mellophones offered by W. Nirschl.
Gemstone Musical Instruments is a grouping of reputable instrument manufacturers including W. Nirschl. The Nirschl family has been fabricating instruments in Bavaria since 1810 and has carried on their tradition for six generations. The current owner (Walter) offers professional level instruments that are used in several major European orchestras.
Gemstones involvement with Nirschl results from a transaction that occurred in 2002 by Nirschl with a United Kingdom-based firm to modernize a musical instrument factory in India. During the upgrade project, the backers from the United Kingdom backed out of the deal and a partnership occurred between Nirschl and Gemeinhardt. Gemeinhardt is one of the musical divisions of Gemstone Musical Instruments.
Gemstone publicly introduced their new W. Nirschl marching mellophone and marching euphonium (along with a cornet, flugelhorn, euphonium, and tuba offering) at the Midwest Clinic (International Band and Orchestra Conference) in Chicago in December 2007. .
The Nirschl marching mellophone is pitched in the key of F and has a bell diameter of approximately 8” and weighs in at three pounds and six-and-a-half ounces (without a mouthpiece). It’s a compact horn and it is well balanced, resting very comfortably in the performer’s hands.
The stock mouthpiece issued with this instrument is a “W. Nirschl 6DV.” This is a trumpet-sized short back bore mouthpiece with an obscenely large bore and deep cup. I’m not sure what the bore is, but it appears to be at least a 17 size, possibly larger. The combination of mouthpiece’s length and deep cup flattens the pitch enough so that the Nirschl’s middle C plays flat even with the tuning slide fully tucked. This mouthpiece may be a great fit for players who switch between the traditionally styled large mouthpieces and trumpet mouthpieces for their mellophone activity.
The design of this marching mellophone appears to be unique. It utilizes an “over-under” configuration encountered in some trumpet designs from the early twentieth century. The tuning slide is out front and offers a sharp turn at approximately 10.5 inches from the beginning of the lead pipe.
The saddle hook on the first valve slide enables some important pitch corrections. The first valve slide also appears to be pointed downward slightly presumably to offer a little more space for the performer’s left hand. Ample room is available for fingers of the right hand due to a dramatic bend in the third valve tubing.
Fit and finish is excellent. All slides fit tight (in some cases very tight) with no notable gaps. The silver finish is executed very efficiently.
The pistons are top sprung with plastic guides. The first valve on this instrument possessed a bothersome “click” and repeated oiling was necessary to keep the second valve moving freely. The springs utilized on this instrument are rather heavy and resistant.
Pitch overall is generally good from the middle C upwards. The upper register (from fourth space E and above the staff) is clear and the best aspect of this instrument. The low C (below the staff) is significantly under pitched and troublesome to control. The low B-flat slot is only slightly present and the register below the B-flat is rather mushy.
The tone quality is pleasing overall. The instrument is capable of a blatty sound, but it responds consistently from soft through loud dynamics. With the Nirschl 6DV mouthpiece, the slots are secure, particularly in the upper register. In short, it’s a very nimble instrument.
This mellophone does
lack the tonal characteristics of more traditional mellophones with a 10”
diameter flare. The sound produced is reminiscent of the alto bugles that made a
brief comeback in the early 1990s. While not generally thought of as a solo
voice, this background instrument could be used to fulfill mid-voice duties
amply. The reduced flare diameter of the Nirschl would likely be a welcomed
change for marchers who have to negotiate seeing around a large bell in addition
to their other duties.
Where to Buy
This instrument is no longer in production (October 2009).