The wife insisted on taking me for a pre-Father's Day visit to Dillon's Music today. We are approximately an hour drive from Woodbridge and it was raining this morning (AGAIN, as it has been almost every day for over a month here) so I was making excuses but, fortunately, she wouldn't take no for an answer.
We parked just two short blocks from Dillon's Brass store. I brought both of my Buescher horns along for new corks and felts, a 1960 Super 400 and a 1961 Super Aristocrat, and I wanted to find out if I'd have to leave the Super Aristocrat to have four minor dents removed. I also wanted to check out a Best Brass practice mute and purchase a trumpet stand.
We opened the door and walked into a very busy store but Jim greeted us immediately and offered sales assistance. I was dissapointed to find the Best Brass mute was out of stock but Jim said Dillon's had a copy of the Best Brass mute made by Faxx, and he suggested I try it. I inquired about repairs and Fred came out of the shop. Fred took a quick look at both Bueschers and said he could do the repairs while I waited! Excellent!
Jim said I could check out the Faxx practice mute if I liked on any of the used horns in the next room while Fred repaired my trumpets. We walked into a room whose walls were covered with vintage and newer used horns. I was in trumpet heaven. There, hanging on one peg was a Harrelson Bravura. I picked it up immediately realizing this would probably be my only chance to play a Bravura unless I win the lottery.
There was a gentleman checking out the used horns with his son and granddaughter. He was playing a Paris Selmer. He sounded quite good and I complimented him. He said how much he liked the horn and we both took a moment to admire the engraving. Then I handed him the Bravura. He commented on the weight of the horn but was very surprised at how easily it played.
I learned the gentleman was a former band director at a high school in New Jersey. Then he told me he was eighty years old. He didn't look anywhere near eighty, he had plenty of air, an effortless style of playing, and excellent tone and range. I hope I can play half as well if I reach eighty years of age! I asked what was the secret to his effortless high range and he answered without missing a beat, "PRACTICE!" (As I should have very well known)
We played a few more horns, including a very nice German-made rotary trumpet with a very mellow, almost flugel like sound quality. Then Fred brought both of my Bueschers out already repaired. The dent removal was excellent and new felts and synthetic corks were installed. My Super Aristocrat was in excellent condition for a forty-eight year old horn and now, thanks to Fred's expert workmanship, it looks even better!
I am very pleased with the speed and quality of Fred's work (as well as the very reasonable price), the Faxx practice mute performs very well (and at half the price of the Best Brass mute), and I picked up a K&M five leg stand at a very reasonable price, comparable to prices I'd seen on the internet even with tax included -- and I couldn't have spent all the time I liked in a room full of incredible trumpets on the internet!
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Dillon's DON'T PASS IT UP! I can't think of a better way to spend a rainy (or sunny) afternoon!