Wisemann FGL550 Flugelhorn

If there were marks for quality of finish, this flugelhorn would be up there with the best of them. It also handles well and has a good balance. But although it’s good to see a well turned-out instrument, needless to say, I’m really more interested in the sound it produces and the quality of the various parts and fittings. The supplied generic 7 mouthpiece is clean with a standard cup and no surprises. Playing the instrument produces a straightahead, brassy sound that is easy to control, but at the same time, not very subtle. There is no smokiness here. I even tried an alternative mouthpiece, but the 550 still produced the same sonic characteristics. Interestingly enough, driving the bottom end proved to be a real pleasure, as the 550 sailed through the lower register.

Tuning was accurate and there was clearly a good vacuum. The valves however were a little disappointing. Having played as well as it had I was looking for springs built into the top, but instead found a basic valve design with bottom springs. I was also concerned that there was a possibility of cross-threading when taking out or inserting the valves, a sure sign of cheaper tooling in manufacture. Overall however, the 550 projects well and would undoubtedly have a presence in an ensemble setting, but sadly leaves little room for tonal and timbre interpretation from the individual player.

Coming in a tough nylon Denier zippered case with a sumptuous preformed PVA interior, it has a large exterior zippered pocket with multiple pouches, a backpack harness, a shoulder strap and two comfortable leatherette grab handles. An excellent straightahead or starter instrument, but ultimately not tonally flexible enough for most jazz musicians.  www.bandbandm.co.uk

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