Besson Trumpet Rebuilt by Reynold Schilke
After more than 35 years in the business, I still occasionally see something unexpected. By "unexpected" I don't mean shattering foundations, but rather changing the story slightly. This Besson trumpet number 86,697 was once owned by Clement Volpe of the Minnesota Orchestra and Harry Glantz before him. By thelate 1960s belonged to a high school kid, David Hans, who lost one of the pistons. He brought it to the Schilke shop hoping that Mr. Schilke could make a new piston to replace the missing item. Reynold Schilke told the boy that it would be easier tobuild a whole new valve section for the trumpet and that's what he did. The most surprising details are the ballusters, caps and buttons that were made to closely match the originals and the serial and valve numbers: 11, 12 and 13 that presumably match the originals. For the Schilke shop to rebuild a Besson trumpet with a new valve section is not so unexpected but rather taking the trouble to make these parts differently than their production parts. Those of you that are closely acquainted with the earliest Schilke trumpets will notice that the name stamp on the second casing and the placement of the upper third slide tube are as were done by Schilke only on those and changed by the early 1960s. I can only assume that he used a valve section that he had originally made in those earliest years and still had on hand when this project came in. It is not surprising that he would not have wanted to use the old design, once the new assembly was in production. It hppears that the slide tubing was all new at the time, but original Besson bell, mouthpipe, crooks, waterkey, braces and pull knobs were re-used.
Another bit of history that relates to this story is that before Reynold Schilke began manufacturing his own trumpet designs, like most other players who became makers, customized used Besson trumpets. He considered the valve section to be the weak point, having fixed valve guides and being rather heavy. Schilke had a relationship with Frank Holton's factory for many years and he began purchasing valve sections from Holton for use in his work. Just as in this instrument, he would use the original bell, mouthpipe and all crooks, braces, knobs etc. Because of his meticulous work, these trumpets were very successful and desirable to trumpet players.