Brass instruments are valuable creative tools for performing musicians. However, no matter how careful you are, accidents can happen. Fortunately, there are shops that specialise in restoring these beautiful instruments, no matter how badly damaged. Recently, J. Landress Brass, a New York-based brass instrument store and repair shop, received a lot of attention for its impressive work restoring a broken trombone. The result is a shiny instrument that looks almost new. The team at J. Landress Brass recorded an interesting video to document the repair process. The fact that the instrument has long since lost its beautiful shine was the least of the problems. According to the store, the trombone "came into contact with the hydraulic seat," resulting in the unfortunate condition. The bell (the wide, speaker-like part) is badly bent and looks like a wilted flower. "They say it's impossible to repair, but we'll walk you through the steps to fix the problem," says shop owner and repairman extraordinaire Josh Landress.
The process is far from smooth and seems almost experimental. After shaping the trombone by pounding it like a blacksmith, Landress uses a buffing cone on a car wheel to try to buff it into shape with his body weight. With little success, Landress resorted to using a blowtorch and then smoothing out the burrs with a metal roller.
“This particular bell had sustained severe damage, resulting in work-hardening of the metal,” the team explains. “In cases like these, the appropriate response is to anneal the bell, which rearranges the structure of the metal, softening it. Subsequently, the metal will re-harden as we work out the ridges and dents from the bell.”
Once the bell has returned to its original shape, the next step is to remove the wrinkles and re-solder the ends. After a thorough cleaning and a lot of scale buffering, the trombone is ready. Landress modestly describes his work as "100% brand new, not perfect, but pretty good," but the restoration he carried out can be described as nothing short of miraculous. The trombone doesn't look out of place compared to the other instruments in the store, and it shines brightly enough to stand out on stage. While it's not ideal for a trombone to survive such a traumatic accident, there's no denying that seeing a repair like this is extremely satisfying.