I am about to purchase a new Conn V8D for my son, and wonder if there is a sound difference between the fixed bell and the detachable bell? He thinks he might prefer a detachable bell, but not if it detracts from the quality of sound. He is a senior in high school and we would much appreciate the opinions of experienced players. (We will also talk to his teacher.)
I've done some reading but I haven't found an article comparing the sound quality of each. If any of you know of one, please let me know, but if not, please, your opinion would be very helpful to us. Thank you.
There does seem to be a dearth of objective data on the issue of the sound of fixed versus detachable bell. However, everything I've read and heard from fellow horn-players suggests that there is little, if any, difference. My own feeling is that, on a very light horn, the addition of a bit of weight might beef up the sound a little. On a Conn 8D I doubt anyone would notice. I have three professional-level horns, two of which have detachable bells.
There is much to be said for the more compact case of a detachable-bell horn, but there are risks of damage to the threads if the bell is not carefully mounted and demounted.
Some young man is very lucky to be able to get a brand-new top-quality horn!
Thank you for your thoughtful reply, and the information about potential damage to the threads--I had not thought of that.
Yes, he's lucky! I remember when my parents bought me a good used professional instrument at about the same age, what a difference it made from playing on the school model. It was like the difference between croaking like a frog and suddenly singing with a beautiful voice. It made practicing a joy.
I would just like to give you my two cents as someone who has transitioned from fixed to detachable. Can't say I'm good enough to tell any difference in sound quality but I really can tell you that screwing on the bell and taking it off each and every time is pain in you know what. Also it is tricky to put it on and off and if you are not careful will end up with a ding on the bell like I did by hitting the thread rim to bell. The only advantage I see is in storage and traveling as detachable case is more like a small luggage. My suggestion is get the detachable bell and just the case for nondetachable horn to get the best of both worlds. Only take the bell off if you need to travel or want to carry it like a back pack.
I've never had a problem with screw-bells, but you do need to hold the horn and the bell right when putting on the bell.
Assuming you're right-handed, hold the corpus of the horn by the bell spout in your left hand so the screw thread is uppermost and horizontal. Use your middle, third and fourth fingers. The body of the horn should be away from your body. Put your remaining finger (index) and thumb on the screw thread. Take the bell in your right hand by the rim and lower it so the (male) thread on the bell rests on the (female) thread of the horn's body. Move the thumb and index finger of your left hand up a bit to grasp the thread of the bell, so as to steady it as you start the thread with your right hand. Don't force it and be prepared to back off the bell (i.e. rotate anti-clockwise a little) to engage the thread. It may be easier to do all this while sitting down.
You don't need to screw the bell on very tight.
Use the same grip when removing the bell. If you have accidentally tightened the bell too much, put the body of the horn between your legs, grip it lightly and use both hands on the bell to loosen it. Then resume the grip described above. As you replace the bell in the case, don't rotate it at all. You'll find it will be pretty much in the right position when you next put it on the horn.
I have three screw-bell horns and I've never messed up the thread, nor caused any dents. There seems to me to be no point in having a screw-bell horn if you don't take advantage of the better portability.
As for sound - I bought a Paxman triple with fixed bell, had it cut and couldn't tell any difference whatsoever.