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  1. #1

    Default Differences between Bronze and Brass?

    Forgive me if it's been asked before, but I couldn't find a thread on it. I'm about to buy my new Bauhaus Walstein Straight Soprano and was wondering what ARE the main differences between the Bronze and the regular Brass? I've always heard the Bronze was better, but why?
    "By seven o'clock the orchestra has arrived---no thin five piece affair but a pit full of oboes and trombones and saxophones and viols and cornets and piccolos and low and high drums." - F. Scott Fitzgerald ; The Great Gatsby

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian paulwl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Differences between Bronze and Brass?

    I have no idea about bronze in wind instruments, but generally, it's copper with ±15% tin. Brass has zinc instead of tin.
    Jazz = a man with a $5,000 horn driving a $500 car to a $50 gig.
    Conn, Buescher & Martin Saxes - Selmer & Conn Clarinets - Woodwind, Morgan, Link & Brilhart Mouthpieces - Alexander Reeds

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    Default Re: Differences between Bronze and Brass?

    Some believe bronze can create a warmer fuller tone. Just go to some websites that sell bronze saxes and/or sax necks and looks at the descriptions. Whether this is true or not is up to debate.

    I figure that if it is true to any substantial extent, it probably matters much more with the neck rather than the entire sax. But I'm sure you're mileage will vary based on the specific make and model of bronze instrument or neck.

    Also, bronze alloys are usually harder (much less bendable) than brass. But the bronze alloys used to make sax bodies may be soft as brass to help facilitate manufacture. But I'm sure this varies too sax to sax.
    Good Luck,

    Enviroguy
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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Differences between Bronze and Brass?

    copper with tin (and other things ) is called bronze, copper with zinc (and other things ) is called brass.there are many types of Brass and of Bronze.


    Some people are intimately convinced that a saxophone has to be like a bell, we all know that hitting a vibrating object produces different vibrations depending on the type of material that the object is made of and the sound if this vibration is influenced by the material the sound is made of. This is why a Marimba has a different sound from Vibes..........but a saxophone is not a bell!

    If you hit a marimba with you hand placed on a bar or you do the same with vibes the sound will hardly vibrate and it will sound like a “ Thud! “ , hit them without your hand placed on the bar and you will hear a nice long vibration , now try this with a saxophone (not too hard) does it make a bell sound? No it doesn’t. Try with your hands on it and without, no difference eh?


    Where does the sound of a saxophone originate? In the reed (which offers the original vibration aactivating the vibration of the air contained in the saxophone) and then this vibration takes shape forming itself in the mouthpiece, then the air column travels out the saxophone the first open hole determining the pitch of the sound.

    The material of the body has no real role (lots of people will disagree but hey! Variety is the spice of life) other than a passive vibration of intensity that is incapable of producing an audible sound (remember when you hit the sax it made a “ thud” sound ) .


    What could play a role in the colour of the sound is the fact that when drawing toneholes the radius of the curve of the base of the tonehole might be influenced by the material that you use. On the other hand if you use the same machines you might want to use materials of similar hardness and resistance so if any, variation will be minimal but it could influence some of the sound.

    On the other hand some saxophones, like flutes, have soldered toneholes so this theory wouldn’t apply to them.


    Having said this, I bought the Bronze AI curved soprano.........because it was cool........Oh yes, it plays great too!

  5. #5
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian paulwl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Differences between Bronze and Brass?

    Quote Originally Posted by milandro View Post
    Some people are intimately convinced that a saxophone has to be like a bell
    What you're assuming we all know:
    Bells, musical ones anyway, are typically bronze.
    Jazz = a man with a $5,000 horn driving a $500 car to a $50 gig.
    Conn, Buescher & Martin Saxes - Selmer & Conn Clarinets - Woodwind, Morgan, Link & Brilhart Mouthpieces - Alexander Reeds

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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Differences between Bronze and Brass?

    there you go..........

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    Forum Contributor 2009 & Mouthpiece Patch Mogul Face Ache Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Differences between Bronze and Brass?

    According to their site, BW say their bronze saxes are 93% Copper/ 5% Zinc/ 2% Tin

    http://www.bauhausdistribution.com/a...originals.html

    What difference does it make? A heavier sax (their bronze "Original" tenor is 3.65kg v their brass T-M2L tenor at 2kg), to my feel it is sturdier, more rigid than brass. I found that out when I removed a dent, it was really tough going. That may be because the bronze sheet was thicker than other brass saxes I`ve experienced (I`m not a tech).

    The keywork, cups etc are all made of brass so nothing to compare there.

    Sound wise, I don`t notice a difference that could be attributed to being bronze.

    They look different, mine is often mistaken for copper, it has that reddish hue.

    Steve Howard wrote an excellent review at his site: www.shwoodwind.co.uk

  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian paulwl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Differences between Bronze and Brass?

    Quote Originally Posted by Face Ache Mike View Post
    According to their site, BW say their bronze saxes are 93% Copper/ 5% Zinc/ 2% Tin
    They should cali it...branze. Or bross.

    An 8 pound tenor would be halfway to a baritone. I'd want a low G bell on that sucker.
    Jazz = a man with a $5,000 horn driving a $500 car to a $50 gig.
    Conn, Buescher & Martin Saxes - Selmer & Conn Clarinets - Woodwind, Morgan, Link & Brilhart Mouthpieces - Alexander Reeds

  9. #9
    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Differences between Bronze and Brass?

    actually, as in may other alloys, people would normally assume that one name means always the same thing, but it doesnt, there are, as I wrote, many types of bronze and bronze isn’t always made of copper and tin ALONE. From wikipedia:


    “..........There are many different bronze alloys but modern bronze is typically 88% copper and 12% tin.[7] Alpha bronze consists of the alpha solid solution of tin in copper. Alpha bronze alloys of 4–5% tin are used to make coins, springs, turbines and blades. Historical "bronzes" are highly variable in composition, as most metalworkers probably used whatever scrap was to hand; the metal of the 12th century English Gloucester Candlestick is bronze containing a mixture of copper, zinc, tin, lead, nickel, iron, antimony, arsenic with an unusually large amount of silver - between 22.5% in the base and 5.76% in the pan below the candle. The proportions of this mixture may suggest that the candlestick was made from a hoard of old coins. The Benin Bronzes are really brass, and the Romanesque Baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège is described as both bronze and brass.

    Commercial bronze (90% copper and 10% zinc) and Architectural bronze (57% Copper, 3% Lead, 40% Zinc) are more properly regarded as brass alloys because they contain zinc as the main alloying ingredient. They are commonly used in architectural applications.[8][9]

    Bismuth bronze is a bronze alloy with a composition of 52% copper, 30% nickel, 12% zinc, 5% lead, 1% bismuth. It is able to hold a good polish and so is sometimes used in light reflectors and mirrors.[10]

    Other bronze alloys include aluminium bronze, phosphor bronze, manganese bronze, bell metal, arsenical bronze, speculum metal and cymbal alloys...)..........”


    Phosphor bronze is used a lot in musical instruments

  10. #10
    Forum Contributor 2009 & Mouthpiece Patch Mogul Face Ache Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Differences between Bronze and Brass?

    ...or Coptinc. It seems a contradiction of physics that something with so much copper should be so sturdy.

    I`d like if they made an unlacquered version of this bronze, the eventual patina would be amazing.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Differences between Bronze and Brass?

    I've always thought that material didn't really affect the sound of the instrument, (Dont tell that to most clarinet players!) which is why I was confused as to why people recommend BW's bronze saxes over brass.

    The brass horns are cheaper than the bronze, which is why I'm trying to figure out the differences. I'm not sure if I would like the colour of the bronze horn all that much, but I'm not one to get caught up too much on the looks of a sax. Bronze just seems like the thing to get with BW horns.
    "By seven o'clock the orchestra has arrived---no thin five piece affair but a pit full of oboes and trombones and saxophones and viols and cornets and piccolos and low and high drums." - F. Scott Fitzgerald ; The Great Gatsby

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