Alto Trumpet by George Strucel
This is another historically interesting instrument from Boyde Hood's collection. It was given to him in about 1985 by Ralph Pyle, formerly second horn in the Los
Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
One name that I heard more than any other regarding high quality brass repair, modification and custom building before I got into the business was George Strucel. Like Larry Minick, who came along a bit later, he seemingly could accomplish almost any task needed by a brass musician. He made a specialty of modifying brass instruments for professional musicians in southern California and his work always shows excellent grasp of design and clear skill in execution. A good example is Tommy Johnson's double bell tuba pictured on my cimbasso page. I saw his work so often in my early years, that I can almost always identify it on sight.
This trumpet in F was built shortly after the formation of the Los Angeles Brass Quintet in about 1967 by members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. The members (colorful characters all), were Tommy Stevens and Mario Guarnari on trumpet, Ralph Pyle on horn, Miles Anderson on trombone and Roger Bobo on tuba. They decided to perform certain pieces on all trumpets and approached George Strucel about designing and building the larger trumpets. Roger Bobo's contrabass trumpet is somewhat famous as is almost everything he was involved with. If I understand correctly, Miles Anderson used a variety of bass trumpets including a Bach, but also one custom built by George and culminating in what he called a bass flugelhorn. This was built by Larry Minick and has a forward facing euphonium bell somewhat like Jim Self's Fluba. This alto trumpet was requested of George by Ralph Pyle with the idea that he wouldn't have to spoil his horn embouchure too badly. It is pitched in F an octave above a French horn and the bore measures .468", a very common horn bore size. The valve section came from an Olds Ambassador cornet. The straight section of the mouthpipe is obviously from a Schilke Bb trumpet, but the curved section must have been custom made by George. I don't know where the bell came from, but it could have been a Conn Victor. Conn used this bell successfully on their alto trumpets of similar size, although with .485" bore. George was working at Lockie Music at the time where Metro, Nova and other brass instruments had been made and probably had access to a variety of parts. He must have been happy enough with the resulting instrument that he engraved "George / Strucel / Los Angeles" on the bell. Ralph had Irving Bush make him a special mouthpiece using his horn rim size, but on a mouthpiece appropriate for an alto trumpet. This is quite a good playing trumpet and can be heard on the recordings made by the Los Angeles Brass Quintet.