Recently (within the last year or so) there have been a couple of horns that have been sent around for play testing and road testing. Tom Turner and Flip Oakes blessed us with the opportunity to test the Wild Thing, and currently the Stage 1 California is finding it's way into the hands of some players, and I'm on the list to try out the Phaeton when my turn comes around. Recently, I have really been enjoying my Schilke that I picked up a couple of months ago, and although I know that Schilkes have been around a while, is there anything that really makes them any different from the other "custom" hand-made trumpets out there? The fit and finish of my Schilke is flawless. When I was cleaning it the other day, I noticed that the valve caps, top and bottom, are NUMBERED! This would explain why when everything is together, all of the hex facets line up with the horn and with each other. All of the solder joints are extremely tight and I read somewhere that the excess solder from those joints is painstakingly scraped and hand strapped, rather than removed using a de-lead solution. Schilke, like many of the other new custom horns, also start from the valve block and are built outward from there. And you have to admit, the Schilke valve block is a valve block to be envied. All braces are hand fit, which means that there is probably very little internal stress on the instrument to impinge resonance. I'm not sure about brace placement though - I think that this was something that was worked out long ago on the original prototypes and I don't know if braces are attached custom, horn by horn based on the response. Schilke also has very unique bells which I have read are fabricated by a secret process where a cylinder of brass is somehow stretched over a mandrel, creating a truly seamless, one piece bell. The beryllium bells are fabricated electrolytically over a mandrel. These trumpets are truly custom, yet these days, while I do hear from a Schilke loyalist or two, it seems that they are largely overlooked and for the most part, are not placed in the custom horn or "superhorn" category. It would be interesting to see how a B1 or a B5 (or even a B6 like mine) would fare on a testing tour. I wonder how they would stand up to the other current custom horns such as the Stage 1, Lawlers, Blackburns, Eclipses, and the Phaeton.