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E102SP W. Nirschl




E102SP Marching Mellophone

W. Nirschl



Technical Data

E-102 Marching F Mellophone Techincal information (from the manufacturer):

  • .460" bore

  • 7" bell

  • 3 stainless steel pistons

  • 6V mouthpiece

  • Available in electrophoretic lacquer, silver plate or satin silver

  • Durable woodshell case

  • A unique, powerful instrument with unusual projection.

Visit the W. Nirschl Web Site for more information (click here)


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.

The Nirschl marching mellophones is distributed in the United States by Gemstone Musical Instruments. Tim Brewer is the manufacturer representative in the Indiana area and offered me a chance to play test this instrument. A mid-May rendezvous at Paige’s Music at Indianapolis’ north side resulted in a temporary transfer of a shiny Nirschl marching mellophone for an extended test drive.

A partially disassembled W. Nirschl E102SP Marching Mellophone in F (silver plate). Reprinted from gemstonemusical.com

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 W. Nirschl E102SP Marching Mellophone in F (silver plate).

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 W. Nirschl is equipped with an interesting mouthpiece. The 6DV features a very deep cup and "ginormously" large throat.

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.

  Plastic guides are utilized with the Nirschl's stainless steel pistons.

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.

High C—Under
A - Slightly sharp
G - Very close
F - Very close
E - Flat significantly
D -Flat significantly
Middle C - Tuned to this pitch
A - Sharp (slightly)
G - Very close (slightly high)
F - Very Close
D - very close
Low C - significantly flat
B – Significantly flat
A – Significantly flat
G – Significantly flat

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).