Thursday, June 7, 2018

Bach Stradivarius TRUMPETS and Imitators

Trompete der Firma Bach
Trompete der Firma Bach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For years, the Bach Stradivarius Trumpet has been the mainstay of the performing trumpet world. Sure, there were other trumpets out there, and in the Jazz world, many of them were very successful. In the classical world, the Bach reigned supreme for many years.

Today, the Bach is still the dominant instrument, but it has had its setbacks. The Bach strike a few years ago had a major impact in the Bach reputation. The strike lasted for a couple years, and many horror stories were told about poor quality trumpets being made after the strike. Also, the price increased substantially after the strike ended.

The end result of everything...the Bach trumpets made now are as good as they have been in many years, and many people think they are even better. I played on several trumpets at a convention recently, and they played better than any Bach I have played in years. I would not hesitate to recommend them right now. Bach trumpets have always played much different from horn to horn. In the past, you might get a good one, or you might get a great one. You seldom saw a bad one. A friend of mine remarked recently that even though the current crop of Bach trumpets all still play differently, they are all great horns. That is a definite positive change.

Since Bach was the predominant trumpet on the market, many companies produced trumpets that shared many of the same features. Yamaha started things with their Heavywall series...the 6335HS. The large bore version was the 6345HS. The "H" is very important in that designation. They also produced 6335 trumpets of totally different styles that did not use the "H" in the model number. These trumpets played more like a Bach, than any other trumpet up to that time, but it still did not have the Bach sound that most people liked in the classical world.

Yamaha later brought out the Xeno line of trumpets which is still made. Their model number is the 8335S. These are quite comparable to Bach trumpets. Yamaha is also considerably more consistent in their manufacturing processes. Yamaha trumpets pretty much all play the same.

The most recent addition to the Yamaha line of classical trumpets is the artist series. These are truly exceptional trumpets. Yamaha recently hired Bob Malone to design their trumpets, and he has totally revolutionized the line. These horns are some of the best available today.

The B&S Challenger line is also another option today in Bach-like trumpets, and it's a good one. There are quite a few professional players using them today, and depending on the current exchange rate, the price is often close the price of a Bach.

The Getzen custom line is also another option. The custom series is comparable to Bach and Yamaha instruments. Getzen has always been known for their valves. Once you try Getzen valves, you'll probably always like them.

There are many other copies out there, but for truly good Bach or Bach-like professional horns, this pretty much rounds out my list. They all play very well.

    Harry Richardson has been a band director for 14 years with college degrees in trumpet performance and music education. 

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