A while back when the band was considering covering some Cake tunes I started searching eBay for used trumpets. This is not so outlandish an endeavour as you might think; I’m not entirely unfamiliar with the trumpet, having played one for a few years in high school, until my dentist and parents insisted on corrective dental appliances. I ended up with a Tru-Tone trumpet of indeterminate vintage, which the folks at the Scarborough Music Company where I had it fixed up assured me was a decent find.
The next problem with which I had to contend was the fact that 20+ years of disuse renders an embouchure pretty much non-existent. Well, no matter, it’s all about practice, isn’t it? So I dedicated myself to practicing in the car, after the fashion of a sax player friend of mine. But I soon discovered that the RSX is a bit cramped for trumpet practice, even in the passenger’s seat, and I was garnering more than my share of strange looks from passers-by in the underground garage at my place of work. Enter the Yamaha SB79 Silent Brass System.
The SB79 is predicated upon a simple theory: jam a mute into the end of the trumpet to clam it up, jam a microphone into the mute, wire the microphone up to a headphone amplifier, jam some headphones into your ears, and listen to yourself practice in relative quietude. And the SB79 actually works, and works quite well; as if in tribute to the unlamented Rockman, engineered by Tom Scholz, credited by many with doing for the guitar what Kraft did for cheese, the SB79 even boasts an echo effect to further enhance the sound of your private performance.
In an attempt to improve my intonation and fast-track my practice I’ve wired the output of the SB79 into my G5, in order to take advantage of the instrument tuner built into GarageBand. And the most exciting thing about the SB79 may not be how well it works – a note at full volume sounds natural and realistic in the headphones and is entirely inobtrusive (though not, obviously, inaudible) to those in adjacent rooms – but that they make one for the tuba as well.