Squeeze Horns, Meet Game Calls

Behind the scenes I’ve been fascinated with the horn reeds. I’ve been learning about manipulating pitches etc. But there’s only so much you can do with a hack. So my friend Alvin in India has had the word out about my search for custom reeds and we may have finally found our reed guy. Fingers crossed. In the meantime I recently discovered a whole other world of reeds around the topic of ‘game calls’… these are calls hunters use to attract their prey. It turns out I can use them in our horns. Probably just for novelty, but it may eventually lead to a way I could manufacture my own reeds here or have them made for me. Because what I’d really like to have is the ability to sell pitched horns or sets of horns. Though I have made a few ‘Gershwin Kits’ for smaller orchestras over the last few years successfully, I’d like to have more control and more precise tuning.

Here are some recent videos I shot showing off the horns with game call reeds installed. You probably just need to watch the short one 😉

 

BSA

Allyne sent along some photos of this beautiful, I think 1940s, BSA, now outfitted with one of our 18″ straight horns. Great match.  Love that we can help folks add that extra touch. Thanks for the photos!

18" straight horn on classic BSA motorcycleAllyne fabricated their own attaching bracket. I would love to find a source for all-brass attaching brackets. I had some custom made at one point but they weren’t strong enough. Still on the case though.

Eric’s Wild Ride!

Check it out!
I did write Eric back to suggest attaching his horn to the larger tube. When I hear of folks damaging their horns, the issue is usually that join where the thinner tube meets the fitting to the larger tube. By the way, that’s a fairly easy repair with some JB Weld or a bit of braze if you’re handy with a torch. Also want to link to another more permanent method of mounting your horn with a bit of kit from the hardware store. Thanks for the photos Eric!

The Knights Who Say Bee at Kinetic Grand Champion 2023

The Kinetic Sculpture Race in Arcata CA, since 1969!
Team HalfFast matched one of our replica King of the Road squeeze horns with their amazing ‘The Knights Who Say Bee’. A perfect fit! They took 2nd prize in the Art category, and 1st price in the Pageantry category. Check out the flaming antennae! Watch videos from this amazing event here.Kinetic sculpture, The Knights Who Say Bee used one of our King of the Road bulb horns in this year's race.Kinetic sculpture, The Knights Who Say Bee used one of our King of the Road squeeze horns in this year's race.Kinetic sculpture, The Knights Who Say Bee used one of our King of the Road bulb horns in this year's race.

Louder Than Their Earbuds!

John, the horn arrived early this morning, and has already made it’s maiden voyage.  It’s mounted on my wife’s recumbent trike, and she couldn’t be happier with it. 
Thanks for the great product and prompt service.
I asked Jim how he found us.
We have been experiencing difficulty on the bike paths that we frequent with walkers and slower cyclists who are wearing earbuds and do not hear our overtaking bell rings.  I was looking for a squeeze horn, but all I could find was junk. You’re right! You were near the bottom of my search, but I’m glad that I kept scrolling. Best wishes for your continued success with your small business!
Go ahead and post the picture and the review.  I hope it will help you out.
Thanks for sharing Jim!

Gershwin American In Paris Taxi Horns

A few months later and David has a report from his experience using the Gershwin horn set I put together for him…

The horns were perfect. It took a bit of work on the highest horn, but the concert went without a hitch. Please feel free to use that video!
What I ended up doing was marking the reed with a sharpie on both sides on the correct placement of the zip tie. They moved after a number of honks in rehearsal, so I ended up resetting them each session.

It’s happening! Very excited to report that the set of Gershwin horns I put together have found a home and will be used in a production of American in Paris in the next few months. I will definitely be updating with hopefully some video then. David sent me this image of his mounted set of horns. Ready for rehearsals!

A set of Gershwin Taxi Horns
I’ve been trying to put a set of Gershwin’s ‘American In Paris’ (1929) taxi horns together. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with tuning the reeds. What I really need to be doing is making my own. At some point I will. In the meantime this is about as far as I’ve been able to get so far. Some of the reeds in the video have been manipulated by sliding a zip tie down the length of the reed. Problem there is each reed will only take so much manipulation before it stops vibrating. I’ve seen things like the tuning change a bit from one day to the next… Weather? Zip tie expanding? Not quite ready for a mission-critical performance. But maybe perfect for your high school orchestra! If you’re willing to work with me, and not be too fussy over the exact pitches, I can put a set together for you. $200 + shipping. Contact me john@squeezehorns.com to discuss. This would be without mounting hardware, horns only. If you’d need them mounted we could discuss that as well I have some carpenter friends who are very handy. (Larger version video here.)

Tuning a horn. It’s an art not a science (yet).

I thought to include this video for comparison. The pitches in this performance don’t correspond to either of the versions we’re used to, but in the end it’s more about the effect. I don’t know, but my sense is that that is what George was going for in the first place. (An American In Paris Percussion Frank Lao)

Tijuana Taxi

James recently bought one of our replica King of the Road horns to add to his drum kit. He has a family band. He tells me the horn has the exact sound he needed to play Herb Alpert’s ‘Tijuana Taxi’.

Here’s the horn in James’s drum kit.

 

And what do you know! You can hear the Tijuana Taxi horn yourself in this Herb Alpert video from 1966! (P.S. If anyone has any info on these horns being used in taxis in Mexico, please post a comment or send me an email john@squeezehorns.com)

Virginia City Players

Before movies had sound, silent films were often accompanied by live musical performances. Often a single piano or organ. But what I didn’t know was that at one time there were elaborate one and two person keyboards, one-man-bands, that some high-end theaters would acquire for their film accompaniment.
That is, until Bill from the Virginia City Players bought a few horns from us and Lindsey, their musical director, sent me photos of the horns set up for use.
The Virginia City Players have a working Cremona Photoplayer, one of the last few in existence.
Lindsey built a stand for the horns and keeps them close at hand.

We’ve made use of them in a couple numbers that we do in our vaudeville show. We don’t allow video/pics during show, so can’t show you those. One is a crazy chicken number, the other is of a traffic jam with wooden cars that people are carrying around.

Thank You Bill and Lindsey for sharing your story and these photos. Check out their website for more information about their shows and amazing old musical instrument collection. VirginiaCityPlayers.com. Here’s the story of their Cremona Photoplayer and its use in our not so distant past.
Virginia City Players Squeezehorn Virginia City Players Squeezehorn Virginia City Players Squeezehorn

 

Not a Cremona and it uses a player piano roll to make most of the music but you can get the idea here…

Or listen to an NPR story on the Cremona Photoplayer.

King of the Road Double-Twist Squeeze Horn!

(Click image to watch the video). These beautiful horns, hand made in India and imported with love and care. For your golf cart, mobility scooter, Tiny Car, bicycle, motorcycle. Our homepage has pricing and ordering info. The YouTube version of the video is here. Please share!