Bach Trumpet Number 16
This trumpet, built by Vincent Bach in 1925, was recently brought into a west coast music store for some repairs and cleaning. The owner wanted it playable so that she could give it to her children to play. The repairman there put it into playable condition, but realized that it would not be a good trumpet for grade school kids to start on and he told the owner that there was a local professional trumpet player that he knew had a similar instrument and might be interested in purchasing it. Not wanting the music store involved in a possible sale, the owner tracked down this trumpet player through the local symphony orchestra. She had been given the trumpet by her father, who had owned it since the early 1940s, and having strong sentimental attachment to it, had not previously wanted to sell it. She did think that selling it to a professional orchestral trumpet player would be the best end of her ownership and agreed on the very generous offer that he made for it.
The last photo on the right shows the state of the instrument at that time, its appearance being quite nice overall. It had been refinished in silver at least once previously and had much abuse and repairs over the decades. The most recent repairs were functional, but a little unsightly and nothing seemed straight on the trumpet. The valves were very leaky from wear and damage to the casings. The bell rim had been worn through in two places and there were green deposits where the brass was corroding under the silver plating in various places. The original shop card, shown on the right, does not indicate if the trumpet had been silver plated originally and it seems unlikely in the experience of those most knowledgeable. The silver had to be stripped in order to restore it properly, anyway, and we were rewarded by the discovery of the red brass bell metal. It is very possible that this is not the original bell on this trumpet, but if it was changed, it was done early on, before Bach stopped using the "T" bell mandrel indication. Also, this trumpet predates the use of the "Stradivarius" trademark, so either that stamp was added later (this is known to have been done in other cases), or the bell was made a year or two later. The shop card appears to have been marked "T Bell Mandrel B" first and then altered to read "Mandrel T". Like so much information on Bach's early shop cards, this is ambiguous. The meaning of the word "Auran" (?), which is written in pencil, is not known and it appears on several other very early shop cards. If you want the most correct information available on early instruments made by Vincent Bach, you must read the various articles on Roy Hempley's website "Vincent Bach's World". Roy continues his study of Bach's early instruments and promises that there is much more to be learned in the future.
In spite of its long, rough life, this trumpet has survived mostly intact, and after restoration, is quite a good player. The only parts that are not original, are the upper inside tuning tube and ferrule, two pull knobs and the third slide crook. It appears to be missing the third slide stop mechanism, but there are no traces that there once was one and Bach's 1925 catalog illustrates the Stradivarius Model trumpet without one. That early catalog illustration also shows a brace between the first valve slide tubes as seen on other very early Bach trumpets, but once again there were no traces that there ever was a brace there, so one was not made. The overall length, with mouthpiece removed, is 19" the bell rim diameter is 4 3/4" and the bore measures .462".