Whereas you would normally find the flugelhorn’s bell placed to the right of the valve set, the Supreme’s bell is placed to the left, allowing it to be detachable and to float free of any stays, so maximising the resonance. This repositioning of the bell has meant that some sort of hand hold has had to be fashioned to the right of the valve set and with typical individualism Rawbrass have incorporated an odd length of lead pipe – quirky or what. But it works. Like other instruments in the range that we have reviewed previously in this column, the Supreme Flugelhorn is solidly built, beautifully finished and with an almost fastidious attention to detail. It’s actually a little more compact than the standard instrument and the fitted, quality Monet valves are about an inch shorter in length – maybe this is to compensate for that extra length of lead pipe. Perhaps also to do with the compact nature of the design of the body, the trigger positon is placed a little higher than normal, which means that you need to take care that your finger doesn’t get pinched in the third valve trigger.
Fitting the supplied mouthpiece, we found the Supreme to be a very easy blower and the floating, rimless bell certainly gives the instrument a brighter sound with more presence, although we felt that the overall quality of sound was more that of a mellow trumpet than the traditional flugel. Fitting our house Taylor mouthpiece with its deeper cup and wider bore however immediately produced a more mellow and (for us) a more satisfying flugel-like sound. That said, the brightness and the projection of the sound really does cut through and may well suit the soloist who’s looking for something more individual. This is clearly a very versatile instrument and we would ideally liked to have had the opportunity of trying alternative bells, but at the time of our test, sadly none were available.
For more go to www.rawbrass.co.uk