Friday, December 2, 2016

"Post Truth" and how we got here.

The thing about "Post Truth" is that we got ourselves here. It wasn't some alien invasion or a mass mind control exercise. People willingly gave up looking for truth (or as it is sometimes known "the correct state of affairs").
There was a time when politicians, churches, campaigners would investigate a problem, put forward their own proposals for addressing it based on their moral or philosophical position, then try to get the population to support it. This was how trade unions and the Labour movement began and why they then formed the Labour Party - as a way of making that voice heard in parliament.

In 2016 it works somewhat differently. These days campaigners create a narrative, a story, which makes sense as a story, but often has little evidence behind it. They then try and get a "broad cross section of society", in reality usually a handful of spokespeople, to back it and then they lobby the government to introduce laws that force people to address the issue in question. This means that laws are passed that have very little popular support, so we should not be surprised when the public distrusts elected governments and looks for other solutions rather than being forced to comply with laws they do not agree with.

This strategy is used by political parties, campaign groups and religious bodies. It is much less about hearts and minds and much more about influencing decision makers, with little debate on what we want to influence them to do. A simple parable might be that Jesus, having become concerned about the money lenders in the temple, got up a petition to the Sanhedrin to ban the sale of sacrificial animals in the temple courts. He launched it a press conference with the leaders of a number of Jewish sects including Simon the Zealot (showing that this was not a partisan issue). Meanwhile, Peter and Paul arranged a meeting to brief Pontius Pilate on the issues and try and get him to support reform measures. Not a perfect example, but you can see where the early Christians would have been had they been led by "policy wonks".

A lot of decision making is now based on showing that you have a narrative and that people are buying into it.

Is it any wonder then that people have been so easily switched from believing one narrative to believing another? They were never convinced of, or committed to, the first. It was just the way things were being run. The alternative narrative doesn't need much evidence behind it as long as it meets people's immediate desires and concerns. As we have seen with Donald Trump, you can quickly renege on your populist campaign promises.

People now choose the narrative that best fits with their pre-existing values, tastes and prejudices. One way to describe the phenomena might be, to quote Adam Savage:

I reject your reality and substitute my own.

It is now possible to believe all sorts of crazy stuff because it fits within a narrative that is not itself outrageous.

Now to the reasons this has happened. I think it is partly to do with the increasing diversity of "opinion leaders". With mass communication open to the general public the ways that people receive information is changing. We have already seen how fake news websites have influenced people's thinking during the US presidential election. Governments have also used news management to influence behaviour, for example, during the handover of Hong Kong to China and during the Scottish independence referendum campaign. People are now as likely to trust a blogger or a YouTube channel as they are a newspaper or the BBC News. This means that the likeability of a given presenter or opinion leader is likely to be a significant factor in people buying into their narrative. Some of the main sources of these narratives are people like Alex Jones, David Icke and a plethora of "researchers" who speak well on phone in interviews. If you look at some of this "alternative news media" they are actually quite reliant on material originating with Russia Today and other government's news agencies, so they are not that alternative after all. I am not saying they are wrong about everything, but they are largely immature in their understanding of how mass communication works and how easily they can be manipulated into doing the opposite of what they think they are doing.

Another factor has been the dismissal of the scientific method as a way of obtaining the truth. Two examples of this are the adoption of young earth creationism by increasing numbers of evangelical Christians in the UK and the work done to rubbish climate change science. Science has gone from being the accepted way of finding out facts to a way of finding ideas which need to be presented alongside all the alternatives so people can choose their own truth.

These changes mean that politics is in a state of instability. Labour and Conservative used to be able to rely on about 30% of the vote and had to campaign for the other 20% to get a majority. Now, as we have seen in Scotland, people are willing to vote for alternatives. In England that might mean the end of Labour and the rise of UKIP, because one narrative the left has not really caught up with, and it is more of a verifiable truth than a narrative, is that the British population has generally moved to the right over the past five years. A bit like a tectonic plate sticking on a fault line until the pressure gets too much and it suddenly lurches forward a few feet, we could be about to witness further political changes that have not been predicted.

(If you want to look further at the issue of truth try John 18, even if you aren't a Christian you can't help being captivated by verse 37 and 38).

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

35mm Film Processing by Mail Order in 2016

One of the reasons we have fewer independent photographic shops than we used to is that many relied on the profits from developing and printing in order to survive. In the heydey of film photography, a local shop might take in 20 films a day for processing, have them collected by the lab and delivered back next day for around £2, then charge the customer £4. This doesn’t sound like a lot but £500 to £1000 a month is make or break for some small businesses, especially when the mark-up on major brands was slimmer than 5% in order to compete against companies like Dixons and Jessops. Then came the internet price wars and the rise of digital. Both were the final cut for most photographic shops. The latter killed off the mass market developing and printing industry. No more York or Bonusprint envelopes falling out of Sunday magazines, no more Colourcare vans collecting and delivering films to your local shop, no more local photo processing shops like Supasnaps and Klick.

Asda and Boots hung on longer with in-store store processing labs, but these have gradually shut down leaving your choices for getting film processed somewhat narrower. Unless you are very lucky and have a local lab then you will need to get your film processed by mail order.

At time of writing (November 2016) these are some of the companies doing 35mm film processing by mail order at the budget end of the market in the UK. The prices are for developing and scanning either to CD or for download with the negatives posted back to you. They will all provide a set of 6x4 prints for around £6.

The size of scans varies. I have tried to find the prices for medium sized scans that could be used to make digital prints to 6x4. You still have the negatives for conventional printing of enlargements. Most return the scans on a CD. Some upload them to a transfer site which means you can download them before the negatives reach you in the post. This could reduce the effective turnaround time by two days.


Photo Express
Develop and medium scan £5

Develop, medium scan (2988x1722), scans uploaded to We Transfer, negatives by post,  £6

Need special mailers, available on request from this web page
Price unknown.

Max Spielman
They closed a lot of shops after being bought by Timpson in 2008. Some branches of Timpson will take a film in for processing and send it to their central lab with around seven days turnaround. They also offer a mail order service. Scans are thought to be quite low resolution, but you do get a set of prints.
Develop, print, scan to CD £8.50

Develop, medium scan to CD, £9

DS Colour Labs
Develop, Medium scan to CD, £10

Develop and Scan, to Dropbox, negatives by post,  £11

Black and White

If you shoot black and white you have a few budget options too. It may be cheaper to get prints rather than scans.

AG Photolab
Develop and medium scan £8.99

DS Color Labs
Develop and medium scan to CD £14
(compared to Develop and print to 6x4 £10)

Develop and high res scan to CD £18.75

Higher Quality Options

If you are looking for higher quality, professional standard, processing then I would recommend Peak Imaging (who I have used for 35mm and 120 films). The Darkroom UK also has a very good reputation, although I have not used them, as does Karen Willson.

The Darkroom UK
Develop and medium scan to cd £18

Peak Imaging
Develop and medium scan to cd £20.85

Karen Willson
Develop and print to 6x4 £19.85

Monday, November 7, 2016

Lens manufacturers of the 1980s

I entered the photographic trade in 1984. Initially working for Dixons, which was still a pretty serious photo dealer having only just stopped selling processing chemicals. In 1985 I worked for an independent photographic dealer who sold everything from low-end compact cameras to Bronica, Contax and Nikon. We even sold the Zenit Lomo when it was launched, in their little yellowish plastic boxes - just £20 at the time, probably 100% markup on trade price. I should have bought a pallet load of them and put them in storage.

We were also second-hand dealers which allowed me to try out all sorts of lenses and cameras we did not stock ourselves.

This list is based on lenses I handled during the period 1984 to 1986 plus or minus a couple of years. I have tried to order them roughly in descending order of quality, although this is difficult as some made a mix of good and bad lenses.


The Tamron lenses felt well made and looked industrial. Their design was angular, rather like  Leica or Contax. Their quality was above Tokina and with the appropriate “adaptall-2” lens mount their 70-210mm zoom came in at around £129. Their selling point was that you could change mount when you changed camera. This was a faff for dealers though as you never seemed to have the right mount in stock, no matter how many drawers full you had. You could probably find a Fujica or a Topcon mount, but woe betide anyone asking for a lens in Minolta or Olympus fitting.


This was usually the higher end offering at most independent photo dealers in the 80’s. Their Telephoto zooms tended to be around the £99 price point and were reasonable performers. If you went cheaper than this then image quality usually suffered.


Like the Chinon cameras these were sold exclusively by Dixons. Although their SLR bodies  were Pentax K or M42 fitting they made lenses in other fittings too. Dixons stopped stocking these after they introduced the Miranda lenses, except in Pentax K fitting as part of a multi lens kit with a Chinon body. The Chinon lenses were solid performers. They even made a 50mm f1.2 which sells for serious money today.


These were sold exclusively by Dixons following their acquisition of the Miranda trade mark. They were produced in Canon, Minolta, Pentax K, M42 and Olympus mounts. Probably made by Cosina (who also made the Miranda branded SLR cameras for Dixons).


Although Cosina made lenses for lots of manufacturers their own lenses were much rarer and tended to be in Pentax K mount to suit their range of SLR cameras. Some of their telephoto zooms suffered from chromatic aberration, usually evident as green fringing. Others were fine, so test before buying.


Vivitar marketed lenses manufactured by Cosina, Makinon and Chinon amongst others. Some were good, others not so good. Their SLR camera bodies were made by Cosina.


A mixed bunch of lenses from the same far eastern sources as Vivitar. I owned a 135mm f2.8 which was outstanding and probably originated with Chinon.


This was an unfortunate brand. The original Helios lenses were made in Russia (e.g. the 58mm 2.0 made by KMZ and Lomo and fitted to the Zenit SLR’s). The UK importers TOE wanted to import the full range of good quality Russian lenses but the Russians would not allow it. As a result TOE imported mediocre quality lenses from Japan badged as Helios. The 28-70mm was particularly poor, but looked equally spectacular with its huge objective lens and 62mm filter thread.


Sirius lenses were low priced and the quality was not great as they seemed to pander to the “one lens does everything” craze of the later 80’s which saw lenses like the 28-200mm become popular. The Sirius lenses were popular with independent dealers. They were mainly manufactured by Cosina and Samyang.

Sun Actinon

These were budget priced lenses sold through Sangers Photographic Wholesale, who operated the ”Image Photo Centre” brand used by a lot of independent photographic shops.
The 80-200 sold for £49 compared to the Tokina 70-210 which was £79. It tended to suffer from zoom and focus creep.


Another budget priced lens distributed by the filter manufacturer. I never handled these, but they appeared to be very similar to the Sun Actinon lenses and might just be the same lenses marketed to dealers who were not customers of Sangers.


Prinz was Dixons own brand prior to them acquiring the Miranda trade mark. It was designed to sound German. Early Prinzflex  SLR’s were rebadged Zenit’s, later ones were rebadged Chinons. The Prinz brand continued in parallel with Miranda for a couple of years and was used at that time for lower end items like 110 cameras, basic flash guns and a few lower quality lenses, notably the long 400mm and 500mm T mount lenses which were of poor quality. Rating based solely on those T2 lenses as they had stopped making anything decent by the time I was handling them.


These were budget priced lenses sold by Dixons, possibly exclusively. Mostly made in Korea, possibly by Samyang. They were often the lowest priced lenses you could buy. The 28mm was oddly constructed and was almost as long as a 75 or 80mm telephoto. Quality was probably on par with the Sun Actinon lenses but the construction felt poorer.

Monday, October 31, 2016

I am not on a quest for the perfect cornet mouthpiece.

I am not on a quest for the perfect cornet mouthpiece. I only want to find one that is suitable for playing in a brass band, compatible with my trumpet mouthpiece rim and lets me make the most of the ability I have. My trumpet mouthpiece is a Horntrader 3C based on Arturo Sandoval's New York Bach 3C mouthpiece. This is smaller than a current 3C and has a slightly sharper inner edge.

My first attempts at getting a match involved going through some mouthpieces I already had:

Breslmair F1

This is sold as a Flugel mouthpiece, but it is on par with a Wick no letter cornet mouthpiece. Mine has a cornet shank. I tried this with their 3C and G rims. The G was closest to the Horntrader rim, but the mouthpiece was quite hard going.

Lewington McCann

I had used this mouthpiece for a year when I was undergoing dental surgery. It really reduced the amount of effort I had to put in to get a nice sound. The inner edge is a very good match for the Horntrader, but the overall rim shape is too wide and I found it sacrificed my ability to play very  articulated passages or big intervals. It also went in slightly too far and may have created a ridge where the receiver joins into the lead pipe (no step or gap in this design of cornet).

Because neither of these was a serious option I decided to look at other mouthpieces in the same size range. I am currently trialling a Wick 4 and an IP Brass mouthpiece.

Wick 4

This is a well-known mouthpiece, used by a large proportion of brass band cornet players.

Here is an overlay of the Wick 4 rim (in yellow) with a Bach New York 3C, which appears to be very similar to the Horntrader rim.

IP Brass

The IP Brass mouthpiece, designed by Ian Porthouse, has a stated inside diameter of 16.44mm, which makes it fractionally smaller than a Wick 4 which is 16.5. However, mouthpieces are very difficult to measure. The size you read off will depend on where in the cup you measure the diameter. This point varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. I measured it as 16.27mm. What I can say, though, is that the IP Brass mouthpiece is in the ball park area of a Wick 4.

By overlaying a scan of a Wick 4 onto the design of the IP Brass and scaling them to be similar we can see a number of differences to the shape of the rim and cup. The yellow line is the Wick 4.

Rim: The IP Brass rim is flatter and more symmetrical in shape than the Wick. It also has a slightly more defined inner edge which may account for the slightly smaller diameter. This may improve stamina a bit.

Cup: The IP brass mouthpiece is a bit deeper than the Wick. It has more volume in the bottom of the cup, which is something known to aid with articulation.

Blank / Mass: Probably one of the most important features of this mouthpiece is the fairly uniform thickness of material between the cup and the outside world. There is no heavy additional mass anywhere and no scooped out thinner sections like on the Wick.


Rim wise, the Wick 4 is closest to the Horntrader but there is not really a lot in it. The IP Brass  mouthpiece has slightly more bite and has a bit more room in the bottom of the cup which might help with articulation. All three feel similar enough that switching between either the IP Brass or the Wick 4 on cornet and the Horntrader 3/3C on trumpet would be feasible. It is just going to depend on how I feel the two cornet mouthpieces shape up in practice.

The criteria I am judging it on are:
  • Intonation
  • Ability to articulate cleanly in complex passages
  • Uniformity of blow across the register
  • Ability to vary the tone from soft to bright
  • Comfort during long periods of playing

I will report back later.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Some famous cornetists of the music hall era.

There was a time when very few people played the trumpet and the cornet ruled the brass section. This ended in the early 30's when dance band cornet players started switching to trumpet and classical composers phased out writing separate cornet parts in favour of the Bb and C trumpets.

If you went to a music hall in the UK prior to 1930 you might have seen one of these cornet players:

Kittie Stewart

Kittie Stewart toured UK music halls during the First World War. Her unique selling point was that she could play the cornet and piano at the same time.

Captain T Jackellis

Sticking with the "playing two instruments at the same time" theme, Kittie Stewart toured for a while with a band featuring Captain T Jackellis - who billed himself as "King of the Cornets". Jackellis (his spelling, and presumably his surname) could play two cornets at the same time!

Evelyn Hardy

Evelyn Hardy had a long career as a cornet soloist and then as a trumpet player fronting her "Ladies' Radio Band".

Evelyn Hardy and her Ladies' Orchestra. Relayed from The Blenheim Gardens, Minehead
Trained by the late Captain William Short , the King's Trumpeter, Evelyn Hardy has had much success in the music-hall and concert world, both as a soloist and in ensemble. The band has developed from a dance combination into a straight orchestra, and tonight will show its versatility by playing both kinds of music. (Radio Times, 28 July 1933)

Evelyn eventually settled in Teignmouth, Devon, where she ran a music shop (Evelyn Hardy's Music Salon), taught music, and continued to play with her band at least until the late 1940's. Someone wrote a poem about Teignmouth Pier which includes this verse:

While Evelyn Hardy and her All Girls’ Band played
We listened and watched and were sometimes amazed
At the skill of the dancers who took to the floor
There was no way you could get us through the door. (source

Some other interesting cornet players of this period from other web sites

Esperantoj Artisto (a duo, playing multiple cornets and a flugel)
Ruby Corrick (lady cornet player from New Zealand)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Four ways to improve your YouTube Videos

1. Shoot in HD or 4K

With more people watching YouTube videos on large screen smart TV's it is becoming essential to film your videos in HD. If you own a consumer level compact digital camera or a DSLR it will almost certainly have an HD video mode. 1080p is best but 720p is adequate. Your iPad or mobile phone probably also shoots in HD, but the YouTube app may default to uploading in lower resolution. Make sure you actually upload in D.

2. Buy a tripod

There is nothing worse than shaky video, or wonky camera angles, so if you are speaking to camera or interviewing someone use a tripod. I use a Hama tripod from Amazon which cost less than £20 (link). If you are using a mobile device you can buy a cheap adapter that will allow you to fit it to a camera tripod (link to an example).

3. Get an external microphone

The microphone in your camera or mobile device may be OK, but it will never be as good as an external microphone. Mobile phones and iPads can accept external microphones through USB adaptors or directly into the headphone sockets. For music I use a large diaphragm condenser microphone into my iPad (video). For speaking to camera I have started using a Boya BY-M1 Lavalier Microphone (tie clip type). This was £15 from Amazon (link).

Many YouTubers use shotgun microphones. These are great for outdoor filming, but as they are further from the speaker most cameras tend to add noise through the automatic gain control. If you want to try one then the Takstar SGC-598 is an inexpensive microphone that gets good reviews.

4. Edit your videos to give them more pace

Edit out any gaps or gaffs. You do not need to buy any software. The YouTube Creator Studio has a free editor that can handle most basic editing tasks (link). It also has transitions like cross fade between shots plus effects like image stabiliser, slow motion and convert to black & white.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

LaFleur instruments by Boosey & Hawkes

J.R LaFleur & Son were an instrument maker founded in London in 1862 who were acquired by Boosey & Co in 1917. Boosey merged with Riviere & Hawkes in 1930 to become Boosey & Hawkes. LaFleur was maintained as a separate company until the 1930's. Then the brand name was "retired".

Sometime in the 1960's Boosey & Hawkes had the opportunity to buy in budget priced instruments from Eastern Europe - mainly from VMI of the GDR (East Germany) and later Amati of Czechoslovakia.

VMI was based in Markneukirchen and is now known as B&S. This was a collective of factories under communist control making all sorts of brass and woodwind instruments. The people making them were German Speaking Czechs from the Sudetenland who had fled the Russian occupation which happened at the end of the second world war. After they left, the Czech authorities re-established production in collectivised factories using the old names (Amati and Cerveny).

By the 60s, VMI in Markneukirchen was manufacturing student level instruments under the "Weltklang" brand (German for "world sound"). Boosey and Hawkes thought this sounded too Germanic and the word "klang" would make people think they sounded bad so they had them engraved as "La Fleur by Boosey & Hawkes". The same instruments were also imported by Barnes & Mullins Ltd and branded as "B&M Champion". I saw these for sale in an Edinburgh music shop as late as 1994, which must have been old stock. The same instruments were also sold under the Weltklang name by people importing them directly or who had obtained them from bands visiting East Germany who were often part-paid in instruments they could then sell on (Kenny Ball had this arrangement with the East German authorities and mentions it in his autobiography).

From the 70's through to the 90's Boosey & Hawkes moved to obtaining instruments from Amati in Czechoslovakia. Some of them have "LaFleur" engraved on them, but most say "Corton". Then in the 90's Boosey & Hawkes started calling these instruments "Boosey & Hawkes 400 Series". To confuse matters, some of the 400 series instruments were actually made in the USA.

By the late 90's Eastern Europe had collapsed and there was no more subsidised production to earn foreign currency. Boosey & Hawkes decided to establish their own factory in India using tooling from some of their previous ranges of British made instruments. Indian production of the 1000 series trumpet and cornet replaced the previous East European models.

As to quality, well these are sturdily built instruments. Generally the intonation on the trumpets, cornets and flugels are OK. They are as good as the current cheap Chinese ones, and in some ways better as they are more easily repairable and the sturdier construction makes serious damage less likely. It is a question of trying out an instrument and seeing if they are any good. The cheapest trumpet I ever bought was one that turned out to be a Weltklang stencil which I bought recently for £23. It turned out to be OK (video).

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sources of used trumpets and cornets in the UK

If you are looking for a second-hand cornet or trumpet in the UK you have a number of options.

Online Instrument Dealers

Most specialist brass shops have websites and will sell by mail order. Here are a selection of links to the second hand pages of some of these dealers:

John Packer
Hayes Music
Prozone Music
Band Supplies
Phil Parker
The Brass Shack
Dawkes Music
Duchy Brass
Trevor Jones Trumpets | Cornets
The Wind Section Trumpets | Cornets
Gerry Birch Music Services
Bexley Brass
Musical Money
Headwind Music
Play it Again
Sharon McCallum
Hogan Music
Woodwind & Reed
Nightingale Trumpets
The Music Cellar
AT Brass Repair
Hobgoblin Music
2nd Wind

Non-Specialist Second Hand Dealers

Cash Converters
Cash  Generator


Here are links to searches restricted to results from the UK:


Classified Ad Sites

Gumtree, will return national listings so you will need to narrow it down to your area.
cornets for sale on Gumtree
trumpets for sale on Gumtree

Physical Auctions

You need to pay buyers premium and they won't usually post items, you need to be able to collect. There are a few online bidding services used by auction houses. Here are some of them.

Charity shops and pawnbrokers

You might find trumpets and cornets for sale in charity shops and local pawnbrokers. This would require regular visits as their stock changes regularly.

Monday, August 22, 2016

McQueens Dairies ignoring No Cold Calling Zones

Last week I got a knock on my door from a representative of McQueens Dairies* trying to get me to sign up for milk deliveries. The problem is that my street recently became a "No Cold Calling Zone". This came about because a number of pensioners in the street had been conned out of money by bogus door-to-door salesmen or pressured to sign up to things they did not want. It has been pretty effective with only McQueens (this was their second visit to me), and a few bogus charity collectors ignoring it. To become a No Cold Calling Zone 70% of the residents had to vote in favour. Not 70% of voters but 70% of residents so the vote had to have a very good turn out. The vote was administered by the City of Edinburgh Council Trading Standards department and was pretty unequivocal. We even have signs on the lamp posts telling potential salesmen that they should not call. Nobody in the street is likely to buy anything at the door these days.

So enter McQueen's Diaries. On their last visit I had mentioned the new No Cold Calling Zone and given them the benefit of the doubt. This time I pointed out that we had voted that we did not want people knocking on our doors and that they should not be doing so. The salesman then became aggressive, saying that it was only advisory not the law (true), that they had it all "sewn up legally" and there was "nothing we could do about it". Clearly, he had come across this before and had a rehearsed speech. The next thing he came out with was "we are exempt because we already do business in this street" (not true, and he presented no evidence that they do have customers in my street - I have never seen a milk delivery) , and that they were also exempt "because we sell products under a certain price" (not true). When I corrected him he got more aggressive and I had to ask him to leave my property or I would call the police. Fortunately he left, but I was pretty unhappy about his behaviour and did wonder if he might come back and "have a go".

I am not convinced this was an isolated case because the salesman claimed the company had received legal advice and he used very precise wordings in response to me. It was also interesting that although he stated that No Cold Calling Zones were not "the law" he went on to give a list of reasons why McQueens were exempt from the law!

There ARE exemptions to the No Cold Calling Zone rules such as:
  • Everyday traders 
  • Enforcement agencies 
  • Charities 
  • Religious groups 
  • Political canvassers
McQueen's Dairies are not exempt as everyday traders because they are getting you to sign up to a contract, not a one-off sale or a regular casual agreement. Agencies acting for charities are probably also not exempt, especially if they are selling lottery subscriptions.

So, maybe there is nothing I can do to force McQueen's Dairies to respect our No Cold Calling Zone, but I CAN make other people aware of their practices. Have you had McQueens knock on your door?

* I believe this company is McQueens Dairies Ltd of 1 Keppochhill Place, Port Dundas, Glasgow, G21 1HS. The lack of apostrophe in the name is their choice.

Looks like I am not the only person having problems (from Facebook):


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Replacement Case for Selmer Balanced Trumpet

After buying my Selmer 19A balanced trumpet the zip on the case broke. It was not easy to find a replacement case because the old Selmer is longer than most modern trumpets. Most cases are too short so I have been keeping it in a double case with vertical slots.

Then I found a case for sale that seemed like it might fit. It is made by Carol Brass case, and supplied with their balanced model trumpet. I tried my Bach Strad in it and it fitted, but the valve cut out was long enough to take the Selmer and the case itself was a bit longer. I put the Selmer in and it fitted. The end around the bell bow was not a perfect fit so I took a small hammer and reshaped the padding of the case a bit at that point. It is now a perfect fit. It has a retro look too.

Friday, July 29, 2016

New Moody Blues Album for 2016, only on Spotify.

I bet that got your attention, if you are a Moody Blues fan. Well it’s not quite a new album, but it is as close as we are likely to get.

The Album that Never Was (2016) by The Moody Blues

Play Now on Spotify (Premium account required)


The Moody Blues have not recorded a new studio album since “December” which was released in 2003. However, the individual members (and ex members) have continued to write and record during that period, especially since 2010. Because that material is so current I have used it to compile “The Album That Never Was”, which is available as a playlist on Spotify, or you could assemble the tracks yourself if you have them in your library.

Tracks were taken from:

  • Spirits of the Western Sky - album by Justin Hayward (2014)
  • 10,0000 Light Years Ago - album by John Lodge (2016)
  • The Trouble with Memories - single by Ray Thomas (2010)

All of the songs mirror quite a similar theme - looking back on life and career and give a flavour of what the studio album recorded after Strange Times might have sounded like. As a bonus track you could add Simply Magic from 10,000 Light Years as this includes Ray Thomas on flute and Mike Pinder on Mellotron (it is not available on Spotify which is why I didn’t include it).

The rationale for choosing the songs started as:

  • 10 tracks because Strange Times had around 10 full songs, as did Sur La Mer. 10 tracks seems to work. It just seems to be the number that works.
  • Opening with an upbeat Hayward number because most recent Moody Blues albums have.
  • Include 5 Hayward, 4 lodge, 1 Thomas song if they are available
  • Ignoring the re-recordings on Spirits of the Western Sky which were done for the Moody Bluegrass album and the remixes of old recordings as they are not new material.
  • Working with what bits of 10,000 light years were available on Spotify, as the whole album isn’t.
  • Treat it as an LP with two sides needing suitable running orders.
  • End the album with something reflective, but hopeful.

In the end this didn’t quite work out and I opened with “In my Mind” by John Lodge which has a big rock introduction featuring Chris Spedding on guitar. I think this bookends quite well with the extended orchestral version of One Day Some Day which closes the album. The order of the other songs is partly based on key signature and time signature. It doesn't flow perfectly and the instrumentation is quite different between the source recordings, but it is as good as we are going to get I think.

Track Listing

Side 1

In My Mind(Lodge)
Lazy Afternoon (Hayward)
In Your Blue Eyes (Hayward)
The Eastern Sun (Hayward)
Love Passed Me By (Lodge)

Side 2

On The Road to Love (Hayward)
The Western Sky (Hayward)  
10,000 Light Years Ago (Lodge)  
The Trouble With memories (Thomas)
One Day, Someday - extended orchestral version (Hayward)

Play Now on Spotify (Premium account required)


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How to free up space in your Gmail and Google Drive account.


The main issue with Gmail is messages with large attachments. To find large attached files in your Gmail account you need to use a special search like this:
size:5m older_than:1yr
This example will find messages larger than 5MB that are older than one year. You can choose criteria that work for you.

This will produce a list of messages that you can review. Delete any you don't need. This moves them to the Trash where they will be deleted after 30 days. If you would like to free up that space immediately then click on "More" on the left hand side of the screen, click on Trash and at the top of the screen you will see a message "Empty Trash Now"

Google Drive

Fortunately, Google Drive makes finding larger files easy. Just log into your Google account and go to this link:
You will find a list of files by size. You can review these and delete them.
Once again this puts them in the Trash, which for some confusing reason in Google Drive is called the Bin.
To empty the bin click on Bin on the left hand side, then click the down arrow next to "Bin" just under the search box. This displays "Empty Bin Now". Click on this to permanently delete the bin contents.

Longer Term Storage Management

There are a number of options if you continue to use a lot of disk space in Google Drive. Most expensive is to buy additional space from Google. This varies in cost depending on whether you haave a free account or whether you are using Google Apps for Work. Cheaper solutions include archiving to physical media like DVD's or external hard drives, but if you want to store it in the cloud you could possibly store those archives in Dropbox or on the free online storage space provided with a n Amazon Prime account. None of these options is going to make the files easy to access though, but they might provide an option for emergency recovery of old archive files.

Friday, July 8, 2016

3C Trumpet mouthpiece size variations

I originally posted this on Trumpet Herald, but putting this here to keep an easy record of it:

There was a discussion about Curry vs Horntrader and other mouthpieces based on versions of the Bach 3C rim. As I play on a variety of these I decided to measure all of the 3C variants I have plus a couple of others which feel of similar size, but do not claim to be 3C copies. I measured at the point where the rim ends and the cup begins. I measured three times and took the average of the three measurements. They won't be the same as the manufacturers sizings but they are like for like.

Here is the list (Outside diameter in mm first then inside diameter):

Horntrader       27.16   16.04 (based on a 3C MountVernon belonging to Arturo Sandoval)
Breslmair 3C   27.29   16.39 (rim believed to be copied from a MV 3C)*
Wick 3             26.84   16.64 (rim believed to be copied from a MV 3C)
Curry 3            27.38   16.65 (rim believed to be copied from a MV 3C)
Gewa 3C         27.23   16.62 (believed to be copied from a MV 3C)

*Breslmair modify their rims to make them match the interface diamter for the screw rim which means the "alpha angle" has likely been changed.

And some that are not claimed to be 3C copies, but are in that area:

McCann           27.63   16.08
Breslmair G     27.52   16.27
IP Brass           26.89   16.27
Kelly 4B          26.99   16.33
Alliance 2A     26.80   16.63
Sonata 4B        26.54   16.70
Wick 4.            26.74.  16.43
Alliance RM3  26.71  16.64

And some other sizes for reference:

Alliance RM1  27.04   17.26
Wick 2             26.86   16.98

What I can see from this is that the Horntrader rim is smaller than any of the 3C copies I have. As far as rim shape is concerned the Wick and Gewa (manufactured by Arnold Stoelzel in Germany) are very similar with quite a narrow rim with a flat top. The Curry rim feels wide but it is rounded and quite comfortable.

The Horntrader rim is most similar to the McCann cornet mouthpiece, both in diameter, profile and bite, but the McCann is slightly wider on the outside edge. The Breslmair G rim does not feel far off either the McCann or the Horntrader although it measures larger.

For comparison, Curry's published specs for their 3 rim is 16.9mm. I measured it as 16.64mm using my criteria, which are likely to be closer to the lip/mouthpiece interface or bite point.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Cheap Eb/D Trumpets

Is it possible to get a cheap Eb/D trumpet that works? I guess this is the same question as I posed a few years with piccolo trumpets. My answer then was “yes” but prices have risen a lot since those days. A trumpet that was selling for under £200 then can cost as much as £600 now. With the recent drop in the value of the pound all imports are going to get more expensive. Today the pound is worth 15% less than it was four months ago which means potential price increases of 15% on imported instruments.

I decided to have a look at fixed bell Eb/D trumpets to see what cheaper options there were than the market leading (for music students at least) Yamaha YTR6610S which sells for around £1800.

For comparison, the specifications of the Yamaha 6610S model are:
  • Bell: 120mm, yellow brass (4-3/4")
  • Bore: 11.3mm (0.445")
  • Finish: silver plate
  • Three slides for converting from Eb to D (i.e. no second valve slide, just the main, first and third).

Second Hand Options

Used Yamaha Eb/D models can be bought used for £900 to £1100. Cheaper second hand options around at the moment are the Yamaha 651D at £700-£800, but this is in the Key of D only. There are often older Selmer Paris Eb/D trumpets on sale, but these can have intonation issues, as do some of the older Bach’s.

Cheap Eb/D Trumpets

These second hand prices means that for a new trumpet to compete on price it needs to be £700 or less. Manufacturers seem to have recognised this. There is even a Chinese made tuning bell Eb/D available from Thomann which is in this price range.

This is a list of all the cheaper fixed bell Eb/D trumpets currently available in the UK, listed by price. These are either based on recent Yamaha models or the 70’s Yamaha models designed by Schilke which had a larger bore size but smaller bell throat. They are all made in China or Taiwan. Prices were taken from main retailers in June 2016, but they are often available in sales.

Coppergate £299

This is only supplied by Gear4Music.
Looks very similar to the now discontinued JP 175
Hexagonal valve caps
Three slides for converting to the key of D.
Adjustable first and third valve slides with fixed ring and saddle.

  • Bell Diameter: 120mm (4.72") 
  • Bore Diameter: 11.5mm (0.45")
  • Body Material: Yellow Brass
  • Leadpipe Material: Rose Brass
  • Slide Material: Cupronickel

These specifications are very close to the Yamaha 6610S so it seems to be an attempt at a direct copy although the bore is slightly larger. Surprising to see a rose brass bell on such a cheap instrument.

Rosetti Series 7 £365

I have seen this selling for as low as £295 recently from some online retailers.
Three slides for converting to key of D which fit in a special section in the case.
Fixed third valve slide ring. First valve slide is not adjustable.
Valve block is two tone and apparently an upgrade from previous versions.
Valve material: Monel
Other than that I can not find any information on bore size or bell material.

Odyssey OTR1250 Premiere D/Eb Trumpet £399

Designed by Peter Pollard.
  • Bell Diameter: 120mm 
  • Bore Diameter: 11.3mm
  • Body Material: Rose Brass
  • Leadpipe Material: Rose Brass
  • Slide Material: Brass
Again, based on the current Yamaha design but with the inclusion of rose brass. The Odyssey Bb trumpets have a good reputation for quality and value so this instrument might be worth trying.

Andreas Eastman ETR540S  £699

Hexagonal valve caps. Only available in silver plate. Reputed to be made in Taiwan. Larger bore and tighter bell than the Yamaha 6610S
  • Valve material: Monel
  • Bore: 11.88mm (0.468”)
  • Bell Material: yellow brass

Arnolds Terra £799

Available from Trevor Jones in Bristol. Seems similar to the Andreas Eastman i.e. larger bore and smaller bell than the Yamaha.
Adjustable first and third tuning slides with fixed ring and saddle.

JP257SW £829

Leadpipe designed by Richard Smith of Smith Watkins.
Adjustable first and third tuning slides with fixed ring and saddle.
Set of four slides to convert to the key of D.
  • Bore: 11.3mm (0.445")
  • Valve material: Monel
  • Bell material: Described as “80:20 brass”
Specifications are very similar to the Yamaha 6610S. The description of the bell material places it somewhere between yellow brass (70:30) and gold brass (85:15). For comparison, rose brass is 90:10.


There seem to be two trends in these cheaper Eb/D trumpets:

  1. Those who follow the current Yamaha 6610S design with its narrower bore and larger bell flare (Coppergate, JP and probably Rosetti)
  2. Those who go for a larger bore and smaller bell combination (Andreas Eastman, Arnolds Terra) which is similar to the Schilke E3 fixed bell model and the Yamaha 651/751 D only trumpet, which was also designed by Schilke.

I have not played any of these so I can’t really judge them. I have played the Yamaha and it was very good indeed. I prefered it to the Schilke E3L-4 I was playing at the time. Reports on the Eastman are good. The JP is a fairly recent replacement for an earlier model which was highly regarded for young players needing an Eb for exams. Either of these are probably fine.  I just don’t know about the very cheap ones on this list. With Eb/D trumpets intonation is the main problem. You don’t want to be forced into using alternative fingerings.

My suggestion would be to look for a second hand Yamaha. If that fails then try out the JP or the Andreas Eastman. If you are on a really tight budget look out for the Odyssey. The inclusion of rose brass may tame the tone somewhat and they do have a reasonable reputation. The others may be worth a try, especially if you can get them second hand for £150 - £200.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Stirling Bible Baptist Church

This was an American funded church which operated in the St Ninians area of the town during the late 70's to the mid 80's. The pastor was Gerry Young. They were known for operating a minibus to take people to services which, I think, took place in schools before they bought the former Free Church hall in St Ninians (next to Lidl) now a chartered accountants office.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Scherzer 8218W Rotary Valve Trumpet

This is currently my main orchestral trumpet. I have two tuning slides - one with the single water key and one with two uberblasenklappen, or Vienna Keys for C and A. The cost of the second slide was less than what most makers charge for adding keys to the standard slide.

The Scherzer 8218W is based on the Monke design which is why they call it their "K├Âlner Modell". Te bore is 11.5mm (slightly larger than most rotary trumpets). The bell is made of gold brass and has a diameter of 140mm. It has a trigger on the third valve slide and four interchangeable lead pipes (supplied in their own case).

I have owned a Scherzer before, one of their lightweight models and this one is significantly better. It still has an annoying issue with the leadpipes extracting when you remove the mouthpiece. Some players get a ligature clamp (as found on a flugel horn tuning shank) fitted to prevent this. I think I might do this as I will not be changing leadpipes now I have selected one that I like.

I am using a leather hand guard on the bell as I find this makes a rotary trumpet much easier to grip. The leather guard came from Leather Specialties.

Here are some photos:

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Using AA size NiMH batteries in the Yaesu FT-817ND

The FT-817ND is normally supplied without a rechargeable battery pack, but with an 8 cell AA battery tray. This is a similar arrangement to the old FT290R which had an 8 cell C size battery tray, although the FT290R allowed for fitting and charging of NiCAD cells in situ, something that can’t be done safely within the FT-817 (see safety issues below).

Alkaline cells are not suitable for use in the radio because they can not cope with high current loads and will run down more quickly than their capacity would suggest. NiMH cells are much better at handling the load so Yaesu manufacture a special pack that replaces the cell tray. This is quite expensive so I have been looking at utilising existing AA cells which I have a good stock of. These are Vapex low self discharge rate NiMH cells rated at 2500ma/hr.

Eight of these particular NiMH cells give a total voltage of 12V, but this drops to 9.6V very soon after they start to discharge. The FT-817 will operate at low voltages and is actually at its most efficient on receive below 10V (see On transmit, with internal batteries, the power is restricted to 2.5W. Again, there is some efficiency saving at lower voltages (see

Calculating battery life

Our pack of eight NiMH batteries will deliver 9.6V at 2500ma/hr. Assuming we were able to utilise 80% of this capacity before the voltage dropped below the radio’s workable voltage this would give us a real life capacity of 2000 ma/hr

Current drain at 9.6V:
TX: 1400 ma @ 2.5W (on 5W this would be 1900 ma, but the radio restricts itself when running from internal batteries)
RX: 300 ma

Current drain at different transmit/receive ratios:
1:5 ratio = 520ma/hr
1:3 ratio = 662ma/hr

This equates to 3.8 hours at a 5:1 transmit/receive ratio, or 3 hours at a 3:1 ratio. On receive only you should achieve 6.6 hours. This means we can assume that two to three hours of portable operation is possible using internal AA NiMH batteries in the supplied battery tray. Because these batteries are very light we could carry a second set and double this time. Carrying one spare set would allow operation for five or six hours.

Safety issues

There may be a risk of short circuiting to the battery door as the outer of the battery is metal and connected to the negative terminal. For this reason a plastic sheet will need to be fitted between the batteries and the battery door.

It is not possible to charge these batteries safely inside the radio as the charging circuitry is not correct and there is no charge protection circuit. I have a Vapex 8 position AA smart charger  that can charge a set in a maximum of eight hours (usually faster as the cells are never fully discharged).

Monday, March 7, 2016

How much can you make from Google AdSense on YouTube?

Having had the chance to look at the stats for a medium sized YouTube channel the news is not good if you are thinking about making money from YouTube videos.

The bad news about adsense on Youtube is that 1000 plays brought in only £0.67(GBP). This equates to or £00.00067(GBP) per play or put it another way £670(GBP) per one million views.

The average annual wage in the UK is £25,600 so to earn this amount from YouTube would require 38.2 million views per year. It might be that other people are doing better than this example channel, but it also explains why YouTubers are getting into other commercial tie-ins in order to make money. It also explains why there are so many click-bait type videos on YouTube at the moment.

P.S. "Charlie bit my finger" has had 832M views which would be worth £557,000 in AdSense revenue.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


My QSL Card by Tony/LZ1JZ  QSL PRINT

This page is being set up to hold information about my amateur radio station. This page can also be accessed at

Visit my profile on here.

I was first licensed in 1982 as GM6NRE before passing the morse test and switching to GM4SVM in 1984. It's hard to believe that I have been licensed for 34 years, but it is true. Even before this I was an active short wave listener as ARS 50828 (the ARS rather than BRS indicated that I was under the minimum age for joining as a full member of the RSGB).

My main interests have been HF. Mainly CW too because of my limited ability to have big antennas. Although I did have a monoband yagi for 10m for a few years. I have generally stuck to resonant antennas for one or two bands e.g. Extended double zepp for 12m; 3 ele yagi for 10m; dipole for 15m made from aluminium tubing and mounted at top of roof; off centre fed dipole for 80m; 40m dipole with short centre matching section to improve its match on 15m.

At the moment I have an FT450D feeding into a dipole in the attic. Unfortunately, I live in a bungalow cut into a hillside so I can't get a wire antenna up high enough to be much use. I intend moving to a vertical antenna outside as oon as practical. On VHF and UHF I have a Baofeng UV-82 handheld and in the car a SainSonic VV-898E (25W model, same as Leixen  VV-898S). I like the programmability of these Chinese radios and have them set up to only cover the frequencies I need to use.

I am a member of RSGB and RAOTA (#1947). I hold DXCC and many other awards. My son, Ross, is licensed as MM6NRE.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Vivaldi Double Trumpet Concerto RV537 PDF

Here is a PDF of the first and second trumpet parts for the Vivaldi Double Trumpet concerto RV537, transposed for piccolo trumpet in A.

This is my own part, the way I play it. You may disagree!

Click here to download the pdf.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A problem with Christianity that you will rarely hear mentioned.

A number of years ago I wrote articles about my move away from Christianity between October 2007 and January 2008. I think these would prove useful background to this article so you can read them here:

Following on from this I found an equilibrium where I could accept the teachings of Jesus, try and follow them, but avoid the potential hurt and difficulty of making a commitment to a church. I simply could not put myself through all of that again.

In recent months this has become a less workable solution as some more fundamental issues with Christianity have come into focus. Something you don’t often hear from atheists is the effect that Christianity has on the individual’s psychology. Sure, they will claim that religion causes wars or that religious people do bad things, but they can’t really address the personal psychological aspects, as I suspect not many of them will have experienced it themselves. So here is my explanation of what I think Christianity does to some people.

The problem with Christianity is that the process of strengthening your own faith consists of telling yourself that you are not good enough and that you need to be punished. The only relief  from this potential punishment is the offer of someone else (Jesus) taking the beating for you. But there is no objective way of determining that he has, and regardless of whether we can be sure or not, it does not leave us in any better a state. We are still bad, and still deserve that punishment. If we want to feel more redeemed then we have to feel that we are more bad. This is why Christians love stories about people who have led very wicked lives and then “come to know the Lord” because this makes them feel more redemmed. If you examine what happens in worship in a lot of evangelical churches the emotionalism is about “what Jesus has done for me”. In other words being "saved from sin" is really about being saved from punishment.

I think that this need to keep feeling redeemed and pursue continual evidence of redemption can become a sort of spiritual “Stockholm syndrome”.

Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.

The church becomes the mediator of your own redemption because that redemption is only real when someone else recognises it. Where else are you going to get that confirmation, but from other Christians?

This constant feeling of not being good enough, and being undeserving, can either result in mental health issues or willing acquiescence to cult like practices in the church to which you belong - because it is the only forum through which you can get ongoing confirmation of your redemption. You will not want to be separated from that confirming community so you will out up with behaviour you would not tolerate in any other area of life. This explains why people inside the church can't recognise the problems outsiders see in the excesses of the TV evangelists or the fantastic palaces and robes of bishops and popes.

This brings us round to the core of the issue - not being good enough.

When it comes to not being good enough, Christianity goes one step further than other religions by not blaming you for what you have done, but for what you have thought about doing, even if you have stopped yourself from doing it. If you speak to a Christian about this they will glibly talk about “original sin”. In other words, the sins of the fathers need to be visited on their children, starting with Adam and Eve. We need to pay the price for Adam’s disobedience.

Yet, even within Christianity it is clear that some people have fallen less far than others. Original sin is not the great equaliser it might appear to be. Whether it is official saints of the Roman Catholic church or the unofficial saints of the evangelicals (Spurgeon, Hudson Taylor, Smith Wigglesworth et al) some appear to be less bad. And should we be surprised? It is clear from speaking to people of all faiths and none that human beings view certain types of sinful acts as more serious than others. In the Christian church issues relating to sexuality and abortion are likely to be considered more serious than fiddling your taxes. Killing someone in battle is OK, but “causing death by dangerous driving” is not.

Perhaps the lies that we tell ourselves and tell each other, in order to function as a society, are not a bad thing, or not as bad as murdering someone? Maybe we are not that bad after all and we need a new gospel? But still being caught up in the existing one we are left in a stark position: If we are not good enough, and we need to be punished; and the only way out is for Jesus to take our punishment;  and the only way to get that confirmed is by people in the church; then we have the makings of a machine which will hold people captive in guilt, depression and anxiety till kingdom come.