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Balu Musik is proud to present a new brass company, Valhalla Brass, which aims to provide a quality line of brass instruments for both students and professionals alike. Stay tuned for more updates over time, as Valhalla Brass will create and produce each instrument one at a time, starting with a revolutionary new mellophone that will change the way brass bands sound.

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The Evolution of the Mellophone

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It is well-known that the mellophone is a problematic instrument to play as a horn player in a marching band setting. The problem resides in either having to use a mellophone mouthpiece OR a french horn mouthpiece with an adapter. The first issue is detrimental to the player’s established embouchure, and the main reason many horn players dread playing the mellophone. The second issue is caused by the adapter for the horn mouthpiece, which, while it does allow the player to maintain their established embouchure, results in terrible intonation due to the sudden change in diameter within the intake, causing instability in pitch and center of the sound.

This is especially a problem in the transitional period for band students going from middle school to high school. Horn students going from 8th to 9th grade are now having to play the mellophone in marching band, changing their embouchure completely at a key time in the development of the embouchure. This is extremely detrimental to the learning process, for the student now has to juggle two separate embouchures, neither of which is improving anymore due to the constant back-and-forth between mello and horn playing. Additionally, a horn student playing the mellophone will have to learn mellophone fingerings, further complicating the learning process.

Both of the above issues, however, pale in comparison to the fact that the mellophone is notorious for its lack of middle and low range, limiting its application as a mid-voice instrument. This is due to the fact that the mellophone is NOT really an instrument in F, but an instrument in HIGH F (half the tubing length of an F horn, for example).

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HOW DID WE FIX IT?

Balu Musik rectified the above problematic qualities with the creation of a new instrument, a great leap forward in the evolution of the mellophone. How did we do it?

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We have created interchangeable leadpipes:one copying the measurements of our Balu custom french horn leadpipes for the horn players that want to use their own mouthpiece and maintain their embouchure and the feel of a hornone with the measurements of the typical mellophone leadpipe, for those players that prefer use of a trumpet/mello mouthpieceThe option to choose which leadpipe to use gives players the ability to play this new instrument with the correct embouchureFurthermore, we have fixed the anxiety caused by the limited range of a mellophone by constructing this instrument in F, with the entire range of a french hornThis not only allows players to play a wider range of repertoire, but also will change how music is written for mid-voice brass instruments, for the now-complete range increases the versatility a hundredfoldStudents will not have to learn a new set of fingerings, for the Balu Mellophone is essentially a horn in F, an already familiar conceptThe Balu Mellophone is a very balanced instrument. One would expect that due to extra tubing, the Balu Mellophone would be substantially heavier. However, we have managed to save weight in the piston cluster body and through elimination of unnecessary or redundant braces, so the Balu Mellophone only weighs a negligible 4 oz. more than the typical mellophone (3.11lbs versus 3.7lbs). HOWEVER, this weight is centered in the middle of the instrument, not the bell, resulting in a much more balanced and easily-held instrument, reducing fatigue.Additionally, the ensemble’s sound will dramatically improve, for the notes are now very stable and locked in, rather than unstable and out-of-tune, as is the case with the mellophone section in almost any marching ensemble. If a marching band has a section of these new Balu Mellophones, that old sound will be replaced with a warm and in-tune more horn-like timbre, giving the ensemble, as a whole, a more complete sound

Our Balu Mellophone comes with both leadpipes. The french horn leadpipe comes with one of our famous Balu Musik custom mouthpieces, as we designed them to work perfectly together for the complete experience.