The choosing of an instrument

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpetsplus, Mar 5, 2015.

  1. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    Here is how I see the typical development of a trumpet player in respects to instrument models. This is by no means set in stone, but describes the progression very often followed.

    The beginner has an inexpensive trumpet, used, new, or rented. When the player improves they might get an intermediate instrument. By no means is this the norm.

    However when they start to get quite serious about playing they look for a really good instrument and ask advice from their private teacher or band director. That person, feeling the need to be conservative, will probably recommend either Yamaha 6xxx series or better, or Bach Stradivarius. Good recommendations, as these are very good trumpets.

    When the player is out of school and looking for that tiny bit of extra from their equipment, or hoping to overcome the particular deficiency that irks them, they will look to the alternate professional models - all of which we do not need to name, but you may care to browse my signature:D:D

    It seems that the aim of some of the newer entrants to the market is to get their instruments into the minds of the band directors, so that the step to Yamaha or Bach as the second instrument is bypassed and their brand is recommended. Bach and Yamaha continue to introduce new models, possibly as a defense against this marketing challenge.

    The ultimate (or should I say Utimate) winner is inevitably the player, who has more model and brand choices than ever before - at least whilst all the companies manage to stay afloat.
  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I've always wondered why it was that the Bach Stradivarius was THE recommended pro-level trumpet for aspiring high school students. My guess is that it came about from two basic, simple reasons:

    1.) Reputation
    2.) Name

    Think about it. Both names "Bach" and "Stradivarius" were associated with excellence. When I first heard of the Bach Stradivarius, I had no idea that the "Bach" in question wasn't J.S. Bach, but rather Vincent Bach. Bach wrote some phenomenal music, and is still highly regarded today as a musical genius. If his name was stamped the horn, it HAD to be good, right? Then you have "Stradivarius." If you were to ask 10 random non-musical people if they knew what the word "Stradivarius" meant, many of them would know about that famous violin maker from Italy whose violins are treasured and are valued for millions of dollars.

    It's easy to remember, rolls right off the tongue, and they are names associated with excellence. The fact that the Strad in its original incarnation did in fact have a reputation for being a stellar trumpet didn't hurt. There's a similar phenomenon when it comes to semi-automatic pistols. The first one that pops up is a Glock - it's a catchy name that's easy to remember, and very early in the company's history it had a reputation for excellence and dependability. (Personally, I don't care for them - different topic for a different day on a different forum.)

    Looking back, I've never felt that the Strads I owned were anything exceptional. Were they good? Sure. Exceptional? I guess that's debatable, but once a mindset like that becomes entrenched, it's easier to say, "Get a Bach Stradivarius" than to say, "Get a Yamaha YTR 63....wait, I think it's 655...wait...." I think that when Yamaha decided to put the "Xeno" name on their pro line of trumpets, it helped tremendously.

    The Bach Strad legacy lives on though. Ask a handful of non-trumpet playing high school band directors to recommend a professional trumpet, and invariably, they're going to start the list with the Bach Strad, which is too bad because these days there are a dozen or so options other than a Bach that would be just as good, if not better, than a Bach. Not too terribly long ago I compared street prices of a brand new Bach Strad and a Schilke S32. At the time, the Schilke was about $100 more than the Bach. Who in their right mind would buy the Bach if they could get the Schilke, an exceptionally well made hand-crafted trumpet with unparalleled fit and finish, for just $100 more? The answer: the parents of the high school kid whose band director told them, "get a Bach Stradivarius" and may not have even been aware of Schilkes, never mind being away of the fact that they are better in almost every way.
  3. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    I believe Yamaha does it right. They have a detail representative that goes out to music stores to discuss with owners, programs and support that they can provide for the sale of their horns to school programs. I remember when playing as a mentor with an area middle school jazz band, the walls were plastered, literally plastered, with Yamaha performing artist posters. When I got Allen Vizzutti to come out to do a trumpet hang, I worked closely with a store owner that is well known for providing band instruments and the Yamaha rep to stipend Vizzutti's visit. You can bet we marketed the heck out of the Vizzutti, and at the hang, Yamaha had a whole table of cool horns, and a 25% discount off the sale of a new horn on the day of the Trumpet Hang.
  4. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Jeson Harrelson is somewhat doing the same thing but in a more personalized way. He has James Knabe going to towns around the US in a tailor introducing you to Jason's horns, usually at University jazz programs or arranging a more personalized "trumpet hang" with the local trumpet community. That is how I got turned on to Harrelson horns. Not only is James amazingly knowledgeable on Jason's products but is highly skilled and a gifted musician. He gave one of the mos informative and musically innovative trumpet talks I have heard while in our region at Wright State University. His demonstration of a students technical approach to a classical piece on piccolo trumpet by borrowing her horn and then playing lines with more interpretation was nothing short of virtuosity. And this was unrehearsed!
  5. Dennis78

    Dennis78 Fortissimo User

    Feb 1, 2015
    Back in the '90's when I was in highschool I really only knew of Bach, King, and Conn also bundy, never even heard of Holton until I stumbled upon one at a local music store that was traded in for a Yamaha, sorry I did know of that brand also. It seems like the horns that are suggested are the ones available in a given area and Bach are sold everywhere. I'm sure glad I found that Holton. Now with the net possibilities are endless but most pepole's experience with a pro horn is Bach. Better marketing?
  6. mchs3d

    mchs3d Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 30, 2005
    Provo, UT
    I would choose the Bach any day over the Schilke, if it is a Bb or C trumpet.
  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Any particular reason why? It's been my experience that Bachs are tremendously inconsistent, and it's unwise to buy one without play testing first - far too many clinkers come off the line. By contrast, I've yet to play any Schilke that wasn't decent, and they have a level of consistency that I've never seen with any other instrument from any other maker. I've played both new and old Schilke B6 trumpets next to mine - the old one was a 1960s production, and the new one was new, and both were close enough to mine (a late 1990s production) that I doubt I could have told them apart blindfolded.

    If you are referring to that whole "Bach sound" thing, I think that's more myth than reality, especially considering that once production of Bach trumpets left Mount Vernon and moved to Elkhart, they changed it almost entirely, leaving only cosmetic details the same. How can the "Bach sound" be the Bach sound, when they no longer resemble the trumpets that initially gained the reputation for excellence?

    Aside from that, without actually knowing what they are playing, can one listen to a recording of trumpet and actually be able to hear the brand or model of the trumpet being played? If you can, you've got much better ears than me.

    When it comes to fit and finish, the Strad doesn't even come close to the Schilke - not by a long shot. Stray blobs of solder, joints that aren't meshed well - that was commonplace on Strads. You will NEVER see any of that on a Schilke. They are, in my opinion, the very best value a person can get in a trumpet these days. They are finely crafted hand-made horns that cost marginally more than assembly line schlock coming out of other places.
  8. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    I played a new Schilke S32 last week - and it was one of the easiest, and most desirable horns I have played in a long time. I bought along my best Stad - a horn that the Schilke player has coverted for a while. I must say, if I was to buy a new horn, I would be looking at a Schilke S32. That is a beauty. Reverse lead pipe, and the wrap is a little tighter than the Strad. The finish is just simply Schilke -Best quality finish.

    I do agree with Patrick.. and my opinion has changed since playing that horn. I still love that Bach Strad, but I would put money down for that Schilke.
  9. MiragePilot

    MiragePilot New Friend

    May 2, 2011
    Fort Worth, TX
    I think the best way to compare the instruments is to have someone (preferably a competent/professional player) play the instruments side by side in a concert hall. I recently did this with my teacher (he did the playing and I did the listening) after one of my lessons. I play a Schilke B2, and he plays a Bach Strad 43. He also borrowed the University's Bach 37 for the comparison test. He played excerpts from the Haydn, Hummel, Mahler 5, and the opening of Pictures at an Exhibition on all three instrument. The results were very interesting:

    I stood near the back of the hall/sanctuary and focused on what I was hearing. I also recorded everything on my iPhone, but it really didn't do it justice, compared to hearing it realtime in the hall.

    When comparing the B2 to the Bach 43, there is a definite difference. It is difficult to describe what I heard, but I will try. Hopefully it will make sense to you. The B2 filled the hall/room with its sound before it entered your ear, whereas the Bach 43 sound was more like a laser beam and shot directly from the bell to your ear. The B2 sound for those licks, in that hall, was far superior IMHO. My teacher commented that the B2 articulation was better and it was easier for him to play in the "high" register on the B2 than on his 43. The crispness/preciseness of the articulation between the two instrument could definitely be heard.

    The Bach 37 sounded a lot more like the B2, than the 43. In fact, all of my comments above (comparing the B2 to the 43) are also applicable to the 37 vs. 43 comparison. The 37 also filled the room with sound before it entered your ear, just like the B2 did.

    As far as the "Bach sound" goes, the 37 and B2 were very close to each other (which surprised me, since the B2 is said to be the "brightest" of all the Schilke B variants), with the 43 noticeably different from the other two. The 37 seemed to have a slightly more complex sound than that of the B2. It is tough to describe, but it almost sounded like the B2 was a cleaner, more acoustically precise/accurate sound (maybe that's what they call, "bright"??); whereas the 37 seemed to had some additional overtones that "complicated'/added to the sound. It was very subtle difference, but noticeable if you were looking to hear any differences.

    It would really have been interesting if we had been able to get some of the Schilke HD trumpets (S33HD would have been a good one, since it has the same bell as the B2) in the test, because I suspect that they probably would have sounded a lot more like the 37, than the B2 did.

    Based on this test (IMHO):

    If you want to buy a Bach, it is my opinion that the Bach 37 is a better choice than the 43 if you are going to be playing in a concert band/orchestral/chamber group. If you need an instrument that needs to stand on its own and project over the other instruments (i.e. a lead player scenario) the 43 would do the trick. It has been said on this forum, in numerous threads, that the 37 is an excellent all-round horn, and I would agree with that statement.

    As far as the Schilke goes, since I own the instrument it is tough not to be just a little biased towards it :-). But I definitely preferred the sound of the B2 over the 43 (no contest in my opinion) and it was on par with the 37. The next comparison would then come to, "How do the instruments compare as far as "playability" goes?". Based on my teacher's comments, the B2 was significantly lighter than the two Bachs, easier to play in the upper register and had better/more precise articulation. It is worth pointing out that he is a Bach player (both his Bb and C axes are Bachs, but he plays a Schilke P5-4 piccolo) and he could not find any fault with the Schilke. He only had positive comments for the B2 when compared to 37 and 43.

    The final take away/closing comment: My teacher is seriously looking at switching from Bach to Schilke for his Bb and C trumpets.

  10. Newell Post

    Newell Post Piano User

    Mar 31, 2014
    Silicon Valley
    Reputation, name, and tenure. Bach has been at it longer than many of the others except Conn-Selmer and a few others. In the I.T. world the old saying was "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM." Same thing here. Bach does the job and nobody ever got fired for showing up at the gig with a Bach Strad. Showing up at the gig with a Bach Strad and not knowing how to play it, now that's a different matter....


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