DATE OF LATEST UPDATE
February 20, 2015

 

This Web site was started on February 28, 2014.  There will be occasional changes.  A brief description of new content and posting dates will be added here.

Latest Update: February 20, 2015. New article added on Bach One-Valve Tenor Bugle FT9. See Instruments of Interest.

NOTES FOR READERS

This Web site was set up to provide visitors who are interested in Vincent Bach’s instruments with some source material that may be useful in understanding his instruments.  My first article about Bach bell markings was “published” in 2001.  Since then, several other articles were added and I intend that more will follow.  The following describes how the articles came to be.  Some of the information sets the framework for content found in the articles.

I came out of playing “retirement” by digging out a Mt. Vernon Bach Stradivarius cornet my father bought for me in 1957.  I immediately found that few people played cornets anymore.  I then went in search for a comparable Bb trumpet and ended up buying New York (NY) Bach Stradivarius trumpet #3134.  It was made in 1936.  It turned out to be a really good trumpet, but for all I knew, maybe I was missing something because, to my surprise, the prices of NY and Mt Vernon Bachs were as high as those of new Bach instruments.  That got my attention, and soon I was more-or-less looking at the market for vintage Bach instruments.  Pretty soon I ran into somebody who wanted to sell a NY Bach rotary valve trumpet.  Given the markings on its bell, I thought it could be a fake.  I gambled and bought it.  For quite a while, I could not satisfy myself that it was really an authentic Bach trumpet.

Almost immediately I contacted the Selmer Company and arranged to meet a company representative at the 1999 ITG Conference in Richmond Virginia.  Little did I know that my rotary valve trumpet resembled some instruments that had been stolen from Selmer.  Lying in wait for me at the conference intent on reclaiming another stolen instrument was Tedd Waggoner, a long time employee and a self-appointed re-claimer of stolen property.  Tedd and I were both surprised when we met.  I had no idea he was looking for stolen property, and he did not recognize my trumpet at all.  After a lengthy discussion, I took my trumpet home, but I was no closer to finding out anything to help validate its authenticity.

I forget now how we met, but I finally got some help identifying the trumpet from Doug Lehrer, my co-author on many of my articles.  Doug went to some efforts simply because he wanted to be helpful to a fellow trumpet player.  The details are too vague in my mind now to try and describe them, but Doug finally located an advertisement that featured a Bach rotary valve trumpet identical to mine.  The ad contained a rendition of sorts that originally appeared in Bach’s 1925 catalog.

That revelation, in turn, prodded me to contact Tedd Waggoner again and visit him in Elkhart.  Soon afterwards, my wife Gail and I went there and talked a lot to Tedd.  I found that Tedd was very knowledgeable about vintage Bach instruments.  We also got the Bach plant tour from him.  Our technical backgrounds helped us absorb a lot of detail from that tour, detail we hashed over and over on the way back home to Virginia.  We were both rather fascinated about what we saw in the plant.  Among other things, we saw many tools that came from Bach’s Bronx and Mt. Vernon plants still in use. 

That started a series of trips to Elkhart to bug Tedd for more and more information.  Gail and I visited so many times we had our own little “suite” at one of Elkhart’s motels.  Little by little, maybe out of exasperation, Tedd began to share more and more details with us.  As I began to understand more, I continued to look at instruments, and finally I bought a few more to begin assembling a data base.

I eventually suggested to Tedd that he write some articles about vintage Bach instruments.  He didn’t have time, so I offered to ghost write some for him.  I didn’t really understand the time constraints on Selmer Corporate people, but Tedd had to decline that too.  In time, Tedd and Selmer opened Bach’s archives for my research.  About the same time, I was able to buy enough instruments to corroborate what I was reading.

Articles followed, but here’s the important message.  About half of what I wrote about came from researching Bach’s archives.  The other half came from examining in detail his instruments.  It seems obvious now, but without the two halves, my research would have produced little more than guess work.  Speaking of Bach’s archives, it is important to understand that you cannot get very far just by looking at Bach’s shop cards.  I know.  I tried that as have others.  It takes examination of much more data and instruments.

I am compelled to say one more thing.  I do not consider myself a Bach expert.  There is too much left that I simply do not know.  There remain data bases that would be useful if I could only lay my hands on them.  Even if I could, understanding how an immigrant with limited resources came to produce the great instruments he did would be very hard.  Making the problem harder was the complex way he developed and managed a very successful instrument business that spanned the Great Depression and World War II.  This had to do as much with Bach’s personality and determination to succeed as anything else.  Taken together, a reader can see some of this in my articles.  Make no mistake, though, understanding Bach’s instruments is necessary to understanding him and vice versa.  Vincent Bach may have been many things, but mainly he was the sum total of his instruments.

As some visitors to this site may know, many of the articles appearing here used to be posted on Selmer and then Conn-Selmer’s Web sites.  I asked to have them taken down a couple of years ago because the company didn’t have time to tinker with them as needed.  Recently I asked if our prior arrangement could continue, i.e., I asked if I could continue to use their resources in future research.  Just as before, I would in turn agree not to divulge proprietary information.  Accordingly, Tedd Waggoner will continue to review any new material I write, but that has proved to be no obstacle in the past.  I do not expect it to be in the future.

With subjects remaining to be written, I will try to continue expanding my end of the data by gathering Bach’s instruments.  If anybody has one that might make a contribution, either for sale or loan, please contact me.  I buy or borrow vintage Bach instruments, but I’m fairly picky about them.  I look for instruments to fill research voids.  In the past I have gotten a lot of support from people who lent me their instruments to examine.  I am very grateful to those people who helped me.  I also remain grateful to Tedd Waggoner and Conn-Selmer for their support.

As before, I maintain no business relationships with anybody, and I get no financial help from any source.

CONTACTS

 

To the extent that I can, I’ll try to respond to questions.  If you want to contact me, you may use my e-mail address:  bachsworld@gmail.com.  Here are a few guidelines I hope you will follow.

1.      Please look over the articles for answers first.

2.      Please do not ask me for copies of material that belong to Conn-Selmer, Inc., including copies of the shop cards.  That material belongs to the company.

3.      Please do not ask me to value a vintage Bach instrument.  Experience has taught me that I am never right.

4.      Please do not ask me for advice on modifying these instruments.  It is my view that modifications easily ruin an instrument’s authenticity.  More importantly, it will create an instrument that does not play like it was intended to.  If you do not like the way a vintage Bach plays, you can probably find a better instrument by buying a new one and maybe save some money too.

5.      If you want advice on how to restore a vintage Bach, I might be able to help, but consider that I may have to examine the instrument.  In the end, my recommendation would be my personal view on what should be done and/or how to do it.  For example, I think it is better to use thicker valve oil, if possible, rather than re-plate valves.  The oldest of the lacquer Bach used is no longer available, so what should be done if the instrument just looks ugly?  And so on…

6.      Finally, there are people I often talk to and visitors to this site may enlist for help.  Those people are shown below.

 

Talk to Doug Lehrer, the co-author on many of my articles.  djlehrer2417@hotmail.com

For questions on Bach’s Mercedes trumpets and Selmer-made Mt Vernon trumpets (made between 1961 and 1964) contact Bill Siegfried.  siegtrmpt@aol.com  Bill may also be helpful understanding Elkhart-made Bach instruments.

 

For questions regarding bugles in general, talk to Jari Villanueva.  http://tapsbugler.com/

For work on instrument restorations, I suggest you talk to Robb Stewart.  http://robbstewart.com/

You can get a lot of information (and some good instruments) from my friend Steve Dillon at https://www.dillonmusic.com/   He’s a great historian.  He also knows more about vintage Bach trombones than I do.

Understand that the Selmer Company and its successor Conn-Selmer, Inc. have not stood still since buying the Bach Corporation in 1961.  It has continued to evolve Bach instruments much in the spirit that Vincent Bach did when he owned the company.  I know only a limited amount about this.  To see what the company offers now you can link to the company Web site. http://www.conn-selmer.com/en-us/  If you own a vintage instrument made when Vincent Bach owned the company, sometimes the company can provide a copy of the shop card. It may take some time, and not all of the cards still exist, but you can ask for one by contacting the following. Marketing@Conn-Selmer.com

 

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