Wayne Bergeron is one most well respected musicians alive today and is currently setting the standard for how to be a consummate studio and live player. I could use up all my space here just listing his stunning resume, but instead I’ll refer you to his website at //www.waynebergeron.com. I had the chance to interview Wayne and ask him about the gear he’s using these days.
TG: What is your main trumpet these days?
WB: The Yamaha 8335LA, which I helped design.
TG: And what sets that horn apart for you?
WB: Well, what originally happened is that Bob Malone approached me about becoming a Yamaha artist and the idea of designing a custom horn. I tried some of the Yamaha stock line and found some stuff that I liked, and then we modified and built parts from there. It was designed to be a horn that anybody could play for any style of music. For example, I know they’re being used in the Orlando Symphony as well as by a lot of jazz players and lead players as well, so I feel we succeeded in that. It’s just a good, solid all-around trumpet. It’s a little more open-blowing, a medium large bore but more on the open side because that’s what I’ve always played and gravitated to. It’s probably a bookend to the Bobby Shew trumpet (YTR-8310Z) from Yamaha. It shares a lot of the same parts, the same bell, just more open out of the first valve. It shares the same lead pipe taper as well, it just starts and stops at a different place. So, the front and back end of the horn are very similar to the Bobby Shew horns.
TG: What about some of your secondary horns?
WB: I have a Yamaha C trumpet, the YTR-9445CHS Chicago model, which I play. I actually have a Yamaha student model cornet that I’ve had for years, long before I was affiliated with Yamaha, and I can’t find anything I like better than that. I think I paid $300 for it, used! It’s just an instrument I love, so I’ll play that on occasion. And then I have a Yamaha four-valve long bell piccolo trumpet (YTR-9835) that I use quite a bit. Of course, I still have my old Kanstul trumpet, but I’m really just using the Yamaha now.
And your flugelhorn?
Again, Bob Malone at Yamaha asked me about contributing to the design of a new flugelhorn model (the YFH-8315G). I told him what I didn’t like about most flugelhorns: that they play flat on top of the staff, which is kind of the opposite of the trumpet. So, Bob put a tapered lead pipe on that horn, instead of a straight tube – more like a trumpet. It actually went through a bunch of redesigns in Germany and Japan, but we ended up going mostly with Bob Malone’s original.
I have always liked Yamaha flugels, but when I played this horn for the first time, I couldn’t put it down. I love it!
All the Yamaha flugels are pretty good. I had a Shew model (YFH-8310Z) I liked a lot, but for me the 8315G is just great. It’s got a heavier bell, and I think it has a nice complex sound. And the intonation is great.
Tell me which mutes you’re using.
Well, I have an arsenal of mutes, like most guys. I probably have four or five of each type, and I switch depending on the situation or who I’m playing with. For my harmon mute I have a new Best Brass copper harmon that I just purchased and really like a lot. I heard Matt Fronke play a solo on it and I loved the sound, so I bought one the next day. I have a Charlie Davis harmon that I like a lot, especially for theater dates. It’s probably the most in-tune harmon. I have a Leblanc and I like it’s sound, and a great sounding Bobby Shew mute. Usually, the shorter harmons have the better sound but more pitch issues, the longer the harmon the better in tune it plays, but it may lose the character.
I’ve used the Charlie Davis one for years, but I’ve been eyeing the Best Brass when I’m sitting next to Jamie Hovorka, who plays one.
That mute has a good sound. It’s really good on the pitch – a little bit sharp but very negotiable. It’s kind of the best of both worlds.
Have you checked out the Soul-O Tone mute?
I have one and have done a little endorsement for them. It was intended as a solo mute, but I also use it as a bucket mute. I love it for solos though. If I were playing “American In Paris”, where it calls for “velvet mute” I might use it on it’s open setting.
As for straight mutes, I have a barrage. I have a Charlie Davis. I have some of those Bach plastic mutes, which work great in the theater shows, because they play in tune and have a nice barky sound. I have a fiber Marcus Bonna that I like a lot. And again, I decide on the mute depending on the situation, like if I have to match the other players.
For cups, I’m kind of a purist. If I could find a Ray Robinson I’d use it, but they’re hard to come by. So the Humes & Berg red and white mutes are the classic and they give you what you want.
Any particular valve oils?
I’m not a valve oil snob, but I really like the Yamaha Light Synthetic oil right now, especially for a new horn. They have a “vintage horn” oil, too…it seems to last the longest. I’ve used other synthetic oils, I’ve used Al Cass for years, and the Ultra-Pure oils seem to work great.
What about any “can’t live without” accessories?
I just bought a Snark Tuner and I love it. The perfect size, they aren’t jumpy, nice and bright. Now a bunch of guys are using them. Tuners don’t lie, man! You can say you’re in tune all you want, but they don’t lie.
Finally, anyone in particular you’re listening to right now?
I listen to a lot of cats. My favorite classical players right now are Hakan Hardenberger and Sergei Nakariakov – just don’t ask me how to spell them. Trumpet players in general, probably too numerous to mention. I was on a big Nicolas Payton kick for a while based on his “Dear Louis” record. I’m kind of a traditionalist - I like the swinging players. Probably my favorite jazz player right now is Til Bronner. I just can’t stop listening to him. It’s just beautiful playing, intimate, chops, feel, he can be fluffy or clear. Of course, I was very influenced by Maynard and Doc, and then Vizzutti. Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw – I was listening to Woody this morning and thinking, “Man, he died way too soon.”
I just admire anybody who plays the instrument. You being a trumpet player, you know – the dedication and everything that goes into it to play it any level, just to make the sound. I mean, what other instrument requires you to work so hard just to make the friggin’ sound? Beginning piano players sit down and, boom, they have the sound of a piano. A beginning trumpet player has to listen to two years of farting noises before you can make music! No wonder so few stay with it. So, I admire anybody who does this!
Thanks, Wayne, I appreciate your time and willingness to talk to the readers here at Woodwind & Brasswind.
Sure, man, any time!