Walstein Flugelhorn

Anyone who is looking to learn the flugelhorn these days is spoilt for choice and this Walstein Chinese-made horn (above) is yet another example of these excellent Far Eastern products. As always, the finishing and plating quality is superb and you could be forgiven for thinking that you were looking at an instrument three to four times the Walstein’s price point. But of course, as I’ve mentioned before in this column, we’re much more interested in how well the mechanics of the instrument work and the quality of sound that an instrument produces. Unscrewing and detaching the valves immediately suggests that the metal used in the production of this particular Flugelhorn is of a reasonably high quality. The valves are tight and well machined and there is no suggestion of potential cross threading and no rough edges. Springs are however bottom loaded, making the system more susceptible to wear and tear – but this is something that I’d expect from a Chinese-made instrument. Two mouthpieces were supplied with my sample – a conical Fasch F1 and a cupped Bobby Shew.

The former combination produced a brighter sound, while the Bobby Shew model was, needless- to-say harder to drive, and delivered a sweeter, warmer soundscape. The Walstein has good intonation and proved to be an effortless blower and never faltered from top to bottom. The sound it produces is clean, if a little bright, but there is very little flexibility in the sonic palette, which won’t necessarily suit the solo jazz player. However, this horn will sit well within a band setting or in an environment where the sound needs to be clean and controlled. I would expect this flugelhorn to develop a more flexible sonic palette over time, and it’s one of those instruments I’d like to come back to it in 18 months to see what it might have to offer having been “played in”. It comes in the now standard moulded PVA case with a strong zippered denier cover. There is also a lightweight grab handle and straps with caribiner clips for carrying either over the shoulder or as a back-pack. For more go to www.woodwindandbrass.co.uk

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