What makes a bad Bach bad?

Discussion in 'Horns' started by RichN, Oct 21, 2004.

  1. RichN

    RichN Pianissimo User

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    I tried this one on Trumpet Herald, and have achieved 98 views with absolutely no response. That is poor even by my low standards :( . So I'll try it here, with due apology to anyone who gets annoyed by cross-posting.

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    Following on from a number of current conversations, it seems generally accepted that there are good Bach Strads and bad ones. I've even experienced this myself. I'm sure that this isn't limited to Bachs either, but lets pick on them as an example anyway.

    So, are there identifiable causes for these differences? Are there particular areas where Bach's manufacturing processes are shoddy / badly controlled? Is it...

    Over-soldering joints?
    Badly deburred tubes?
    Poorly matched receiver / mouthpipe?
    Rushed finishing?
    Any other suggestions?

    And, importantly, can you match effect to cause? For example, if the trumpet's got a tight upper register can we say that someone probably left the burrs on the end of the leadpipe when it was cut? Or someone used too much solder on the bell / valve joint?

    And then, can these problems be fixed by a decent repairer?
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    Rich.
     
  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    It would seem from personal observations and conversations with people that would know, that the biggest factors regarding Bach Strads and what makes them bad are two things:
    Receiver
    Leadpipe

    Let me explain what has been discussed.

    It would seem that for some reason or other, Selmer/Bach decided to go with a tight receiver. So tight in fact, that it completely ruins the mouthpiece/receiver gap, which leads to some of the "problems" associated with Bach trumpets. The gap is too big. It has been suggested to me, by someone that would know, but who will remain nameless, that there is a possibility that the gap being too big thanks to the tight receiver, is actually a marketing ploy of sorts. It sounds crazy, but it makes sense.

    When you look at the demographic for who buys the most Bach Strads, it isn’t the discerning professional who is likely to buy one horn every 5 - 10 years or so, it’s the aspiring high school trumpet player. There is a tendency by high school kids when they are play testing horns, to over-blow them. On a horn where the gap is too big, to the un-experienced player, this can result in a horn that sounds and feels big and open, and that sort of thing sells horns. The problem is, once the player has become accustomed to the horn and stops over-blowing it, thanks to the over-large gap, the horn winds up being stuffy, un-centered, has poor response, doesn’t slot for beans, and doesn’t project. The end result is that the player ends up fighting the horn and they wind up working too hard trying to play it. Whether or not Bach does this on purpose is anyone’s guess, but I believe it because I have experienced it, and I have a horn that was picked from a line up of about 20 Strads.

    Here is my experience in a nutshell. I was looking to pick up a good mouthpiece so I went to a local guy who makes custom mouthpieces. While I was in his shop, he set about measuring everything – my mouthpiece, how far it went into the receiver, the depth of the receiver and the resulting gap between the mouthpiece and the leadpipe in the receiver. He found that due to the tightness of the receiver, I had a larger than optimum gap and he offered to turn the shank of my mouthpiece down in his lathe so that in the interim while I was waiting for my mouthpiece, I had a properly adjusted gap. However, he warned me that once the metal was taken off, there was no putting it back. Since he was the expert, I agreed and he made the adjustment.

    The difference was immediate from the first note that I blew. It took me about a week to adjust to how efficient this "new" mouthpiece was but once I did, everything was more focused. I had better endurance, better sound, better intonation, better range, better accuracy, and better flexibility. I had no idea how much I had been fighting the horn, and the adjustment was minor, all things considered. It was like I was playing on a brand new horn.

    I know a couple of guys that have installed Blackburn leadpipes on their Strads, and every last one of those horns are real players. I have a firm belief that the biggest deficiency in Bach Strads are the receivers and leadpipes, and that if you can either adjust the gap, or change out the leadpipe altogether, you can take a horn that you hate, that is stuffy, and uncentered, and turn it into a horn that you love.

    I also think that the bracing on Bachs is something else that can and should be adjusted, again from personal experience. I had the forward bell brace on my Strad moved back about an inch, and I removed the rear brace from the leadpipe/tuning slide altogether and it completely changed how that horn blows.

    Anyway, that’s my take, for what it’s worth.
     
  3. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

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    Nov 2, 2003
    i want to say that what trickg wrote is very good but i will add that sometimes a PVA will help sort out some probelms. i find that certain parts of the horn feel stuffy if the valves are out of whack.

    any one like Melk or Tannabe would be able to fix any problem you have.

    hope that helps,

    jason
     
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    I've never had a PVA done to any horn of mine so I can't speak firsthand on that, but aren't Bachs usually pretty good in that regard?
     
  5. bigaggietrumpet

    bigaggietrumpet Mezzo Forte User

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    Jan 23, 2004
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    meh, more or less. My Omega, which uses the same valve body as a Strad, doesn't have MAJOR alignment issues, but it isn't perfect, either. I think most Strads will have alignment, that while it is far from perfect, also isn't bad enough to have the kind of effect that the leadpipe/receiver problem that trickg wrote about.

    Also, here's another thing that kinda turns me off on Bachs. I've recently been looking to find a new concert horn (actually been looking for several months). Among the horns I've looked at are the Kanstul 1500 and the Bach Strad model 72. The Bach, according to Woodwind&Brasswind, is about 1-200 dollars cheaper, depending on who you check on the Kanstul. But, add into that the fact that if you go with the Bach, you might need a new leadpipe, which costs around 200 dollars, maybe more depending on if you install it yourself, maybe a PVA, which is another 200 dollars, now the Bach is more expensive than the Kanstul. To me, it just doesn't seem worth it, and much easier to go with the Kanstul, a horn that doesn't have to have all of that done (ok, ignore the fact you have a 2 month valve break in).
     
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    One of the problems that I see with the current Bachs, is that they can be fantastic horns with a little bit of tweaking and customization, but the problem, just like BAT has suggested, is that you wind up spending enough money on aftermarket customization, that in the end you end up spending as much as it would have cost you up front to go with a different horn. And then, you wind up with a horn that really isn't a Bach anyway.

    Seriously, is a Bach with a Blackburn leadpipe and other customizations such as moving or removing of braces still a Bach? Yeah, probably, but it's far from being a stock Strad. I shoudn't complain since I have spent nearly 20 years on Bach Strads almost exclusively, but now that I have made some customizations to my own horn, it has opened my eyes to the fact that I have spent years working harder at playing trumpet than I needed to.

    I should have just bought a Schilke. :twisted:
     
  7. musicalmason

    musicalmason Forte User

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    I have always noticed (but never thought much about it) that my mp's dont go in as far as they do on my other horns. Is this something I should worry about, I never thought of my bach as a bad bach, and being that my other two horns are completly different from it I never questioned it. could I be fighting my horn and not even know it?
     
  8. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

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    Nov 2, 2003
    :lol:
     
  9. RichN

    RichN Pianissimo User

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    Thanks everyone! Has anyone had their mpc gap adjusted? Is this something that's easy to do? Actually, doesnanyone know what the gap should be? Someone's bringing one round for me to try in a couple of weeks, at a price that I really can't refuse (a second hand horn) and it's easy enough to measure.

    Rich.
     
  10. chetbaker

    chetbaker Pianissimo User

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    Nov 17, 2003
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    Try a Reeves piece that's cut for sleeves. They allow you to adjust the gap simply by changing the sleeve size. Find one that feels good..have your valves aligned (PVA) by Wayne Tanabe at "The Brass Bow"...and you're good to go!

    Butch
     

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