Johnny Zell

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Blind Bruce, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. Blind Bruce

    Blind Bruce Pianissimo User

    Apr 17, 2009
    Winnipeg Canada
    I like the sound eminating from Johnny Zell's (Lawrence Welk) trumpets.
    I have Emailed him and asked what brands he used on the show but he doesn't respond. He is still playing and has several CDs so I know he is still around. Any ideas on what he uses?
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Most of the pros that I know don't like the idea of the trumpet brand being significant - unless they are artists under contract. If someone emailed me and said "boy did you sound great on that album, what horn were you using?" I would be insulted and would not answer.

    The player makes the music. Once all of that has been discussed, THEN hardware could be something fun to talk about.
  3. study888

    study888 Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 22, 2005
    Darlington S.C.
    Hello Blind Bruce, I believe Mr. Zell was from and maybe still lives in California. I am pretty sure He played a Calicchio. Do not know with model he used. Along with Al Hirt,he is one of my favorite Trumpeters. Mr. Zell appears to be a very classical trained type Trumpeter. Holds the Horn,and hand holds etc. just perfect. The you tube has some of his Trumpet clips. Enjoy
  4. larry tscharner

    larry tscharner Forte User

    Apr 30, 2010
    dubuque iowa
    Boy.. I agree. I watch Lawrence Welk whenever I see it on. Watching a great band perform is a treat for me. Johnny is one of my favorites too. Best wishes.
  5. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    It's a Bach. Can't tell the model yet.
  6. John Mohan

    John Mohan Pianissimo User

    Aug 11, 2004
    For all but the final year or two of the show, Johnny Zell played on a 1947 French Besson Meha model trumpet (with .470 bore). This is the same model and approximate vintage Claude Gordon played during his long studio career and he used his as the modifications to the leadpipe and bell of the Benge 6X to create the Benge CG model, and later the Selmer CG model (the Selmer was a "from-the-ground-up" design) incorporating the extreme thinness of metal, the leadpipe taper and Bellpipe taper of his Meha.

    Back to Mr. Zell's trumpet: It is now my trumpet. I bought it off of eBay of all places back when I lived in Germany around the year 2001. The eBay auction description claimed it was formally Johnny Zell's horn. Back then, I found Mr. Zell via the Internet and sent him a message, using the horn's serial number asking him to confirm whether or not it was actually his horn. Within just a few days Mr. Zell wrote back, confirming that it was his former horn. He told me that it was the horn he used for almost his entire career on the Welk show. He also suggested that I have it silver-plated (instead of lacquered as it originally was), because he felt that would last longer and prevent the horn from needing another refinishing as soon (the horn already was worn through in several spots and had patches, and needed one more).

    I had already had the horn sent direct from the seller to John Lynch who restored it for me. I stuck with lacquer because I wanted to preserve its original playing characteristics, as the main point in my purchase was to be able to compare a vintage French Besson Meha to the horns that were designed with it as the basis (the Benge CG and the Selmer CG).

    The feel of the horn is very similar to my Benges and Selmers. It is VERY light weight - lighter than either of them - that could be due to the years of use, combined with a probably two if not three refinishings over the years. The horn really "sizzles" in the upper register.

    Best wishes,

    John Mohan
  7. fraserhutch

    fraserhutch Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 23, 2004
    Novato, CA, USA
    There are reasons most players play the horns the do. Sometimes, it's the sound they get. I have no problem if someone asks me what horn I play.

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, we all know it's the t's the player not the horn, it's 90% mental, it's all about the player's sound concept, yadadadadada...... true to point of course. BUT - to totally and glibly dismiss the horn as a factor in a player's sound is silly, imho as it I believe it does play a role to some degree.

    Does anyone here think for a minute that Chris Botti would sound EXACTLY the same on a Calicchio as he does on his Martin Committee? I'll bet my last dollar Mr Botti doesn't.
    rettepnoj likes this.
  8. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008

    I agree.

    I've only met 6 "big name" pro's, but all of them were more than happy to talk about their gear, even when they weren't endorsing anything...
  9. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    That isn't this one is it John?

    YouTube - My Tribute

    This looks Bach all the way
  10. John Mohan

    John Mohan Pianissimo User

    Aug 11, 2004
    Yes, that's definitely a Bach. Must be the horn Mr. Zell went to after wearing through his French Besson in several places. I found a single (photo) shot of what I think is the Besson (the picture's a bit blurry) at 0:40 on this YouTube video:

    YouTube - What a Wonderful World

    You can see the dual knobby things on the end of the first valve slide and the single tuning slide brace.

    Also found this photo:

    Last edited: Dec 6, 2010

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