I got to thinking about something today related to a recent experience I had in Ocean City Maryland. There was a guy on the boardwalk with a couple of trumpets, a flugel and a trombone, playing for the masses to a boom box with some old jazz and dixie recordings. Of course I had to go talk to the guy. Anyway, he had this OLD Bach Mercedes and from what I could see, there was very little difference between a Mercedes of that time frame and a Strad. Keep in mind, that when I say "old", this bad boy had two piece valves that to me were indistinguishable from Strad valves from the same time frame. I think that the biggest difference might have been that I think it had a 2-piece bell, and the bracing was slightly different. Can anyone shed some light on this? One of the things that has sparked my interest in this is that I'm currently shopping around for a good, used Ludwig snare drum, and they had a similar situation with the Supraphonic, their higher end snare drum, and the Acrolite, the student drum. The basic difference between these two drums are as follows: Different lugs (yet same drilling) Different number of lugs (Supra had 10, Acrolites only 8) Different finish (Supras were generally chrome plated whereas the Acrolite was painted - otherwise the shells are virtually identical aluminum shells) Sorry to bore you with all of the drum speak. If is true that the Mercedes was basically a Strad with less work put into the appearance, it wouldn't be the first time that basic cosmetics and other minor differences were the only things different between mid-level and pro.