Investigating the consistency and quality of musical wind instrument manufacturing

Mamou-Mani, Adrien and Sharp, David B. (2009). Investigating the consistency and quality of musical wind instrument manufacturing. In: UK Musical Acoustics Network Summer Meeting: Wind Instrument Acoustics, 12-13 Jul 2009, University of Edinburgh, UK.



For large-scale musical wind instrument manufacturers, the ability to produce instruments in a repeatable fashion is essential. However, despite the tight manufacturing tolerances used, professional musicians are often able to discern small, but perceptible, differences between the playing characteristics of instruments manufactured in an identical way. These differences are most likely a result of tiny disparities in bore profile or in the positioning/sealing of any side holes.

This talk outlines a programme of work designed to investigate the consistency with which manufacturers are able to make wind instruments and to explore the causes of any musical differences between the instruments. State-of-the-art techniques will be used to measure the internal geometries and resonance characteristics of batches of nominally identical instruments. Meanwhile, the musical qualities of the instruments will be established through a series of psychoacoustical tests. The potential effectiveness of the proposed approach will be demonstrated through a set of measurements made on two low-cost, mass-manufactured trumpets.

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