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My PVC Alphorn

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Sound Samples

Tuning and Range Trials

Note: The deficient tonal quality can be attributed to at least two main causes:

  1. I recently began to relearn playing the trumpet. Things do not sound so great even when I practice with a professional instrument :)
  2. A series of PVC pipes connected together with a range of different connectors cannot be expected to produce awesome musical tones :)

I used the Android App "Pitched Tuner" by Stonekick to check the tuning.

Since alphorns have no valves or slides, note pitches are generated by the flow of air out the mouth and the position and pressure of lips against the mouthpiece. Some tones are pretty close to a standard tone while others are a bit flat or a bit sharp. Those tones need to be "lipped" into better tonal positions. The alphorn design itself could also be improved.


Sound Trials for the 3rd Alphorn Build

  1. The Sound of the Ring-Added Oak Mouthpiece (23 mm opening)
  2. The Sound of the Trombone Mouthpiece
  3. The Sound of the Hemlock Mouthpiece


Sound Trials for the 2nd Alphorn Build

Video (mp4)

PVC Alphorn Tuning Trial


Mouthpiece Sound Trials

Sound Trials with the 6 Mouthpieces, from left to right (mp3):

  1. The Sound of Hemlock (Larger)
  2. The Sound of Oak (Larger)
  3. The Sound of Oak (Smaller)
  4. The Sound of the Trumpet Mouthpiece
  5. The Sound of the Oak Mouthpiece with Pine Ring
  6. The Sound of a Trombone Mouthpiece

Mouthpiece sizes:

  1. Hemlock, 23 mm opening, about 23 mm deep (larger)
  2. Oak, 23 mm opening, about 23 mm deep (larger)
  3. Oak, 20 mm opening, about 18 mm deep (smaller)
  4. Trumpet, Bach 5C (smallest)
  5. Oak, 26 mm opening, with a pine ring, about 22 mm deep (largest diameter, mid-depth)
  6. Trombone Mouthpiece, Cecilio 12C (Silver Plated, $10, about 25 mm opening, about 24 mm deep)


I like the larger (not largest with the ring) oak mouthpiece the best. I can generally produce clearer tones especially in the lower ranges. The worst sound and feel is the smaller oak mouthpiece. I think the 5 mm shallower depth might have more of a negative effect than the diameter of the opening.

The smaller oak mouthpiece does, of course, allow for reaching higher notes with greater ease, which makes sense. The smaller the mouthpiece, the more accessible higher notes are. The highest notes are most easily produced with the trumpet mouthpiece.

I do like the trombone mouthpiece quite a lot. The larger sizes of the trombone and oak mouthpiece with the ring enable the lowest notes, which are a lot of fun to play!

With each mouthpiece I have to slightly adjust the length of the mouthpiece pipe to which it is attached. I used the 9-1/2 inch pipe for the trumpet mouthpiece, and an 8-inch pipe for the wooden and trombone mouthpieces. This could all just be an artefact of homemade materials.


Audio (mp3) Files

I need to find some tunes to try other than "bugle calls" :)

Range Check 1: Trumpet Mouthpiece

Range Check 2: Trumpet Mouthpiece


Header Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alphorns_Grindelwald.jpg