Old Bach Mercedes same as a Strad?

Discussion in 'Horns' started by trickg, Aug 3, 2005.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    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.
  2. fundenlight

    fundenlight New Friend

    Aug 2, 2005
    It depends if it is a Mercedes cornet or a Mercedes trumpet. The trumpets were more or less student level horns, while the cornets by the same name were custom horns built for particular professionals at the time by their request. I have what is probably the last cornet hand built by Bach (a Mercedes) and it is the best horn I have ever played. I wish I could find more situations in which to use it though as a lot of people tend not to like the cornet for whatever reason.
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I'm referring specifically to pre 1970's Bach Mercedes - probably the ones made while the Bach shop was still in Mount Vernon.

    I have this thread going at TH too and it seems that the Mercedes was built from Strad seconds, with a 2-piece bell, (can't decide whether it was a 37 or 38 mandrel) adjustable 3rd valve slide ring, and different engraving on the bell.
  4. wiseone2

    wiseone2 Artitst in Residence Staff Member

    Nov 19, 2003
    Lou Opalesky, my Philly buddy, played a Mercedes in the 50s when we were studying with Sigmund Hering. His horn did not have the nickel trim that the Strads had. It was a great playing ML horn. The third valve ring was fixed, it was just like a Strad.
  5. rdt1959

    rdt1959 Pianissimo User

    Oct 31, 2003
    I palyed a Bach Mercedes from 1976-1980 (when I got really...REALLY stupid and sold it). I remember when I...or, more accurately...Mom, bought it the owner of the music store (a valued and trusted professional that had been helping out band parents for 20 years or more at the time) kept saying that the Mercedes played at 95% of the Strad. Never have figured out what he meant by that. Coincidently I met a college student that was playing a refurbished Mercedes last summer. He let me try it out, and told me the same thing!

    What ever these people meant, when I went to college my proffessor (who played a Strad) said that the Mercedes was just as good as a Strad until you go to the professional orchestra level. I also remember him mentioning that the Mercedes was made from Strad "second" parts (although I don't recall many of the details).

    I want to make it clear though that my experience was with the Bach Mercedes, purchased new in 1976. NOT the Bach Mercedes II.
  6. Heavens2kadonka

    Heavens2kadonka Forte User

    Jun 17, 2004
    Lebanon, TN
    Bach Strads use one-piece bells, though I am not all that sure on the vintage Bachs.

    I would love to play an old Mercedes.


    HOFBUGLE New Friend

    May 3, 2009
    It's been quite a while, but I just came across this post.
    I have a Mercedes serial 8530. It was made around 1945.
    I talked to a person that worked for Bach during that time period. He worked on the floor, but also in sales.
    He told me the Mercedes was essentially a Stradivarius trumpet with a Mercedes name so that he could sell trumpets to the military at the price they required without cheapening the Stardivarius name. It would have cost them more to retool for a cheaper horn, so they just renamed the trumpet and usually installed a first valve trigger. Most horns were silver plated.
    The Navy nickel plated the valves and he correctly told me that my valves probably had some pronounced pitting, as the Navy did a terrible job. My valves are indeed pitted.
    The horn is a small bore .453".
  8. Hoosier303

    Hoosier303 Pianissimo User

    Nov 2, 2008
    I'm an original owner of a Mercedes circa 1968, as a matter of fact it's my only horn currently. I've always heard that other than the 2 piece bell and 1 less brace at the tuning slide it's the same as a Strad. I've also heard that the valve casings are the same on both, at least back then. I'm going to be sending mine to Tom Green in the near future for her 2nd replating and then maybe a slight retirement and pick up another horn.
  9. blacklungsjoe

    blacklungsjoe New Friend

    Feb 15, 2010
    Northern Arizona
    Much to my luck, i play one of these horns. I have loved it immensley for what i use it for. I am strictly a rock/blues/jazz player and it seems to have a bad-ass tone for this music. I am glad to hear it is a sought after instrument.
  10. BrassKicksArse

    BrassKicksArse New Friend

    Jul 14, 2012
    i just bought an old mercedes (cornet) for 250 dollars at my local music store. What a player! i does infact have a one piece bell, and i prefer it over my olds super (trumpet).

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