Engraved Bach Trumpet, 1930
Repairing Bach Stradivarius Model trumpets accounts for a larger portion of my work load than anything else, and occasionally, I'll be asked to restore a very early example such as this. A 20 or 30 year old example in this condition wouldn't be worth the expense involved but this one is very early as well as originally having a deluxe finish. This is another restoration that I did for Steven Ward. It's hard for us to imagine today that somebody treated such a fine trumpet so badly, but it was obviously considered just an old trumpet for a kid to throw around. It had also been subjected to a very bad refinishing job many decades ago. There were a few original parts missing such as a bottom valve cap, tuning slide brace, pull knobs and stop nuts, but it retains the original mouthpipe in fairly good condition. Most of this job was straightforward dent removal, straightening, repairing solder joints etc. One challenge was that there were several cracks through the brass along the engraved lines. Patching over these would hide portions of the engraving and spoil the effect. Silver soldering, no matter how carefully done, will fill up the engraved lines, which is not much better. The only desirable choice is to re-engrave the lines into the silver solder. This is more difficult than it sounds because the graver wants to skate across the solder and cut into the brass.
The original shop card was located for this trumpet which indicates that it was originally engraved and had finish number 4, which was burnished silver plating with gold within the engraving. The engraving had been heavily polished, but I knew from experience that the new plating would bring some life to it. The nature of silver plating is that it brings out the contrast between the polished surface and engraved lines, which are by nature and from corrosion rough in texture. To achieve the best results in gold plating the engraving and inside the bell, it was first double silver plated while detached from the rest of the trumpet. Every part that was to remain silver plated was carefully masked off with a special lacquer, then it was heavily gold plated. This method not only creates a very sharp border between the silver and gold, but also allows for the bell rim to be gold plated all the way around. The rest of the trumpet was also double silver plated and sent back to me to carefully solder the bell to it. The plating and masking was all done by Anderson Silver Plating.
The fourth photo on the left shows this trumpet beside my Bach #959 which has a very similar engraved pattern, almost certainly by the same engraver, and original gold plating. The last two photos are more restorations of early engraved Bach trumpets, one with new gold plating and the other with an economical lacquered finish. Hopefully, this one will be gold plated in the future as well. All of these trumpets were in similarly rough condition.