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    BachLoyalist.com - History Stories / Myths
We are always looking for more interesting stories, myths, or interesting facts on Bach instruments. These are mainly statements of various people, so I can't tell if they are all true !  They are very interesting though, and provides an insight to early days of Bach instruments.

If you have any updated information, please contact us through the link in the header.

Kennedy Bugle discussion during Reagan Funeral (June 2004)
from John Vincent Bach, Great Nephew of Vincent Bach

"Attached are two articles on the Kennedy (Bach) Bugle written for Newsday (NY Long Island paper) June of 2004. The reporter, Knut Royce, was actually the Washington Bureau National Security Correspondent at the time and suggested to Newsday, NY that they do the article since Vincent lived his life in New York, after arriving in US. They were short reporters, so they gave it back to him and he did a pretty good job with Roy Hemply's input."  John Vincent Bach

After interacting with the Reagan Foundation, it was decided that the Kennedy bugle
would not used, but rather another Bach Stradivarius Bugle.

"... does deserve in his own right his own Reagan Bach Bugle"
Knut Royce

The full size article is posted in the library section of BachLoyalist.com. 
Click on the images above, or "library" in the header of each page. 

Special thanks John Vincent Bach for providing the articles, and this story.

As a side note:
"Knut Royce has an upcoming book
coming out in late March 2007 (in collaboration with
Peter Eisner at the Washington Post), entitled "The Italian Letter" about forged letters
concerning Niger selling uranium to Iraq, which convinced Congress and America
that we should invade Iraq."

Bach Trumpets - Quality (1940's)
from TPIN archives, Erik Veldkamp's Original Bach Fan Page

"My experiences with Mr. Vincent Bach in the late forties was less than pleasant. His trumpet was full price. no discounts, $194.00 (1946). Every other pro trumpet was much less. That was a lot of money when my mustering out pay from the military service was 200.00 and average wages were 35.00. He took my trumpet to the Bronx factory several times before the valve problem was resolved.

His solution was to create leaky pistons. Mr Bach was foremost a business man and secondly a trpt player. His valve sections were not manufactured in his plant, they came the Blessing co., by a man named Olmondinger who later manufactured a trumpet under his name OLMOND. Every body asks why the Bach trumpet does not have a 3rd slide water key. The answer was and is still true today. He saved money. Mr. Bach's integrity was less than sterling. The famous story and I quote from a reliable source. He had a trumpet on display with a water hose connected to the mouth piece receiver and boasted that his pistons were so tight that when the water was turned on not a drop was evident from any of the slides. Sure why not! the slides were soldered shut. >> BACH LOVERS BEWARE!

This testimony highlights a point I have observed and made before. While some of the early Bach's played great, there were more than few shortcuts and incidents of shoddy workmanship. (The poor quality of early Bach lacquer is a classic example--while King was able to coat an instrument with lacquer that was practically indestructible, Bach lacquer perished very quickly). The value of a New York or Mt. Vernon Bach as a collector's item should not influence those looking for a great playing instrument. In my opinion the great resources of the Selmer Company in the 1960's made Bach the standard that it is today. When the operation was moved to the Mid-West they took the best (the mandrels) and left behind problems that hampered the small underfinanced operation in Mt

A careful reading of Andre Smith's Bach bio in the ITG Journal reveals
a less than rosy picture of the business. Under the Selmer stewardship the operation was moved to a modern state of the art factory that had been built by the Conn company. Selmer employed laid off workers from Martin and Conn who brought many more years of experience to the operation than ever existed in the New York and Mt Vernon years. So before you spend $1,500 or more on that vintage Bach as the magic bullet to your playing, consider an early Elkhart model instead--better and more consistent quality at half the price!

- Bob Pucci

Bach Mouthpieces - Quality
from TPIN archives, Erik Veldkamp's Original Bach Fan Page

"Why is there the tradition of starting on a 7C? Because that's the size that Vincent Bach himself played, and what he recommended as a starting point. To this day, if you buy a new Bach trumpet with standard case and mouthpiece, you get a 7C. (If you already have a different preference, most dealers will allow you to swap the 7C for the size you want--inquire at time of purchase.) Proportions of the 7C? Given the medium-small rim diameter, the cup is very deep. Why does the shape and volume of the C cup seem different with almost every different model rim? Because there is no standard C cup. When Bach began to make mouthpieces, he was a section player in the Boston Symphony. Scale was very low in those days, so he started a one-man mouthpiece making business. Mouthpieces were turned out one at a time, usually made according to the requests of a specific player. (An old friend of mine has a set of Bach mouthpieces. from Bach's earliest days--there are no numbers--they were assigned names, i.e. the "Crackerjack" model, etc.

Eventually, when he had established quite a few models, he needed to assign permanent numbers which suggested their relative sizes. The numbers he chose do seem to identify an orderly progression in cup diameters, but the letters describing cups are incredibly arbitrary. (Compare a 2.75C to a 3C--despite the similarity of diameter, their cup shape and depth are vastly different, the 2.75C being one of the very deepest C cups era in the entire line.) The RELATIVE proportions of each variable in a given mouthpiece are critical: cup diameter, cup shape, cup volume, throat size, backbore shape, length, and contour, and the amount of gap between the end of the mpc and the start of the tapered lead pipe. IF YOU CHANGE ONE OF THESE VARIABLES, EVEN MINUTELY, YOU HAVE CHANGED ITS RELATIONSHIP TO EACH OF THE OTHER VARIABLES, THEREBY HAVING A DRAMATIC EFFECT ON HOW THAT PARTICULAR MOUTHPIECE PLAYS. This explains why several "identical" mouthpieces, produced in series by the same crafts persons, with the same tools, will each seem to play differently when being tested by an experienced player.

Why do so many of the Bach rims have that sharp inside edge? In his own writing about his mpc. design, Bach said that this is a deliberate feature. He intended that any improper forcing of the tone would be punished by pain (!). Many players also feel that this well-defined inner edge helps slurred notes to "slot in" more precisely than than they do on a more comfortable, rounded rim. ("Shaped like a toilet seat" is how one of my great teachers, William Vacchiano, memorably described the latter type rim.) Beware of the relationship between mouthpieces of the Mt.Vernon era to mouthpieces manufactured by Bach before and after that period. For some unknown reason, Mt.Vernon mouthpieces got smaller. (Compare virtually any mouthpiece of the Mt. Vernon years to recent ones bearing the same model designation. Typically, they are dramatically different. Tool wear?)  Read the story behind the creation of the 1X as published by Bach/Selmer.  When Selmer bought Bach, to their credit, they went back to Vincent Bach's original specs."

- Louis Ranger

Getzen bought Mt.Vernon parts when the factory moved to Elkhart
from TPIN archives, Erik Veldkamp's Original Bach Fan Page

"might've told this once or more, but when Bach moved to Elkhart, IN the Getzen company bought all remaining "parts" for the Allied Corporation, which at the time was doing their own manufacturing, overhaul repair work AND selling replacement parts for everyone's stuff to stores (as they still do today). I was informed (by and ex-Getzen employee) that it wasn't unusual to see someone "building" a Mt Vernon trumpet for a buddy or for (backdoor) sales using these parts (on their own time of course). I was told there were a "fair amount" of parts leftover (especially bells), and even matching serial numbers to valves and casings weren't a challenge to a factory equipped for such things...
anyway, I've seen a couple of these horns over the years, (that my friend assures me were built by his comrades) and the workmanship is usually better than the stuff the Bach guys were cranking out (put together without extra solder glooping out...no tension on the braces, light buffing and better lacquer jobs, etc...)"

-Russ Smidt

Some insight about Mercedes and Mercury models in the early days
from TPIN archives, Erik Veldkamp's Original Bach Fan Page

"I own a Bach Mercury trombone made in 1939, and it's a very fine
instrument, except that the slide and the bell are from two different Strad models. An old ITG article on Vincent Bach provides some insight into the Mercury and Mercedes models which he produced at both NY and Mt. Vernon.

First of all, he was a hoarder, and kept various bins of misc. parts. Secondly, he always seemed to be strapped for cash. Thirdly, he didn't produce a so-called "student horn" of inferior quality. So, when customers demanded a cheaper "student horn", and he needed the cash, he'd go to his bins and pull out the various parts and assemble them from Strad stock, stamp Mercury or Mercedes on them and sell them cheaper. The different name was used in order not to devaluate the Strad name. There were also times when the Strads simply got stamped Mercury, because the order for cheaper student or military horns was too huge to assemble anything from the bins. Vincent's wife actually kept the books, and although Vincent was in charge of production, his wife would dictate what needed to be done to stay in the black, which included using different names on the Strads in order to market a cheaper horn to demanding customers Much to his credit, Vincent wasn't about to cheapen the quality of his Strad horns or their reputation."

- Mike Terry

Early Elkhart Quality Bach Trumpets

"Early Elkhart means (to me) those made from the time of the move from Mt. Vernon in 1965 to about 1970 or so, roughly serial number 30000 to 50000.

Here's why: After Selmer bought Bach, as I understand it, they purchased a fairly new state-of-the-art factory from Conn (who was bailing out to Texas for cheap labor), hired the experience Conn workers (as a group probably more skilled and experienced than those working for Bach in Mt. Vernon), and started making a few horns. The average production for Bach in that period is about 3000 horns a year, compared to 16,000 to 20,000 horns per year during the last decade or so. The time and quality shows. The fit and finish is superb, the horns do not come standard with a first valve saddle (a trigger was an extra cost option) and don't need it. The intonation is better and the notes center better, in my opinion."

- Jim Donaldson

The Brand New 40 year old Bach

This story is one of those mythical opportunities you "dream" of when looking for older Bach instruments.  I'm jealous, and even more surprised it was on eBay and I missed it.

"I located this horn on E-Bay, cornet not a Trumpet (but wait). An absolutely and completely original (not refinished/refurbished) 1965 Strad Cornet 37 bell in lacquer, SN #. 30,8XX. This is the first year I believe that Elkhart was in operation since leaving the Mt Vernon location. The sellers family has owned a music store since 1889 in Akron, Ohio. The shop has been inactive for 20 years or so. They located this and a Strad trumpet several years ago in a storage area in the shop and they are frozen in time!

The 3rd valve slide stop is in the reverse position from the current style.

Case original, serial numbers on each valve the keys are in the small envelope and the flap is still stapled. Case is plush blue velvet, with the old emblem inside the case and outside, craftsman building a horn. No scratch, no dents, no marred, the case is also absolutely pristine and brand new. The original warranty card is in the case. Absolutely perfect and brand new although 40 years old! Tedd Waggoner from Bach and Roy Hempley who writes the "Bachology" articles for "Trumpet Corner" were surprised to see one like this.

I knew that it would be nice, but never dreamed that the reality would be this incredible. The case hasn't even be carried, the handle doesn't even have a curvature to it. Absolutely perfect pristine inside/out, original warranty card, case keys still in small envelope and still sealed. Original valve oil and cleaning rod. No scratch's, dents or anything! It hasn't ever been sold! The seller wrapped it beautifully for me and this horn slots incredibly well and has the sweetest sound. The 3rd valve slide stop is in the opposite direction. I know that trumpets are usually the focus of interest but I thought that you might appreciate this horn. How many brand new all original 1965 Strads that have never been sold or hardly even played are even in this world today? The sellers also sold a 1965 Strad trumpet SN # 39,XXX also never sold previously/brand new however the 3rd valve slide stop is in the traditional position. Both were available for bid, and fortunately for me the focus was on the trumpet and I was the only bidder for the cornet."

Tom D'Antoni from N.J.

Interview w/ Trumpet Tester; Ken Hocker (early 2000?)
Trumpet tester at Conn Selmer; Elkhart, IN
  • How many people work at the Bach plant?

    • We have about 500 people working in the Bach plant.

  • How did you get a job testing trumpets at the plant?

    • Back in 77, I was playing in the South Bend Symphony, and Craig, the assistant principal, was testing at the time. He said they were looking for another tester, and wanted to know if I was interested. Sounded good to me, so I went in the next day, and have been there ever since. If you can find the Bach brochure from 1986, there are pictures of people who work there. There I am, in the test room, playing a horn.

  • How do you actually test a horn?

    • When we test a horn, we set the venturi (the opening of the leadpipe). Different leadpipes have different openings. We swedge, or drill, to the correct size. We set the mouthpiece receiver, we check the valve port alignment, we check for solder inside the tubes, and we check the alignment of the mounting, slide action, valve action, and response and sound of the model. A 43 bell is more open and very bright compared to A 37. A 72 is darker etc.

  • What happens if a horn is bad?

    • If a horn is bad, it is my responsibility to determine what is wrong. I then have the horn repaired as needed. It is rare however that any playability problems get to me. The horns are checked all the way down the line.

  • Have you met anyone famous working at the plant?

    • I have met a lot of people, mostly Symphony guys, and educators. I have never met Doc, but talked to him once. He never knew who I was, I just took a message for my boss, but I thought it was pretty cool!

  • How big is the plant and how can someone get a tour?

    • The plant is just one floor, and to get a tour, call customer service, they can help.


Stories from TPIN and courtesy of Erik Veldkamp
Story from Tom D'Antoni
Story from John Vincent Bach on Reagan Bugle



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