Resurrection Of A Chicago C


How I Came To Play Like Bud Herseth

(Roy Hempley)


            Readers of the Bachology articles will notice differences between this article and others in the series.  In the first place, my co-author had no part in writing this.  For this, I'm sure he's thankful.  Besides that, this article is written in the first person because it's a story that I was involved in.  Readers will right away figure out that this article may not exactly meet minimal standards for publication other than on Conn-Selmer's Web site.  I'm not sure why the company is not discriminating in this regard.


            Readers Beware!  Much of this article is written with the view that odd things can happen, and some of them may be humorous to some people.  I do not intend any disrespect, but I will poke a little fun.  Any potential readers suffering from overseriousitis might want to forego reading this article.


            I grew up playing a cornet, as did a lot of young players in the 1950s.  As a matter of fact, in my little area of the world, trumpet players were looked upon sort of as second class citizens.  Why it didn't occur to most of us cornet players that symphony players used trumpets or that there were lots of good trumpet players in jazz and dance bands, I can't really remember.  Looking back now, I find the situation even odder for me personally since one of my heroes was Raphael Mendez.  Not only that, Stan Kenton visited my high school, and his trumpet players blew me away, so to speak.  Nonetheless, just about everyone I knew played cornet.  To be sure, our All-State Band had eight cornet players and four trumpet players in it, but the best players played cornet.


            Things change, so when I began playing on my old trusty cornet again at a relatively advanced age, I found myself in the minority.  Social pressures more or less caused me to move to trumpet.  For reasons I should reserve for another story, I bought a New York Bach Stradivarius.


Now older and, well, with more money available, I eventually saw a need to buy a C trumpet too, but to tell the truth, playing a C trumpet was difficult for me.  The first sound I produced reminded me of my grandpappy's duck call.  Apparently someone moved the open tones compared to what I was expecting to hear.  All I can say is that C trumpets are better in this regard than D trumpets, etc.


            I write about vintage Bach instruments, so in the interest of coming clean, I should note that I actually bought two used C trumpets, and neither of them was a vintage Bach.  First I bought myself an Elkhart-made Stradivarius with a #239 bell and a #25A mouthpipe.  Then I bought a Schilke S22C for my talented high school daughter.  It didn't take long, however, for her to abscond with my Bach and relegate me to the Schilke.  I played on that until my daughter "retired" in favor of chemistry.  Then I was able to recover my Bach.


            Let it be known now and forever that I think the Schilke was a fine trumpet.  It was just cantankerous.  We fought each other for a few years until I could get my hands on my Bach.  The Schilke is now in the hands of someone who can actually play the thing.


            As I was progressing along on my trumpets and getting back into shape, my associations with trumpet players grew, and I eventually heard about Bud Herseth retiring.  This knowledge spurred me to practice harder on my C trumpet.  Sitting in my basement in the dark of the night, I could almost envision auditioning for the job.  To tell the truth about this, I guess I wasn't quite ready, but I nevertheless thought about it as I toiled along.


            Well, now I'm ready.  Whereas I couldn't play like Bud Herseth before, I can now.  No matter what they say, all trumpet players secretly think that the equipment is the most important factor in playing.  If you don't believe this, just ask some of the players who say, "Just do it", to tell you how many trumpets and/or mouthpieces they own or have owned.  As for me, I knew that success lay just around the corner if I could only find the right trumpet.  My notions about this were proven correct when I got a Chicago C trumpet, and sure enough, suddenly I began to play like Bud.  It's too late, of course.  His position in Chicago is filled, yet again, so I'll have to wait until the newest incumbent moves on.  The way things seem to happen in Chicago, you never know when that might be.  If Chicago ever does get into another round of auditions, I may still have several more years before they choose again.  Since I'm an old man now, it could be a race against time.


So, I own a Chicago C.  I want to tell you the story about how this came about.  Of course I don't mean one of the fine new-old Chicago C trumpets now being made by Conn-Selmer.  I also don't mean that I was able to entice the Chicago Symphony to sell me one of the four it owns.  No.  What I mean is that I own a Bach C trumpet that had slightly different circumstances prevailed might now be in the hands of one of the Chicago players.


By now readers will probably note that perhaps, just perhaps, I can stretch the truth a bit.  Most of what I say is true, however.  Let's get on with it.  Maybe something will prove interesting if you stick around.




            Many readers of the Bachology articles know that I have an understanding with Conn-Selmer.  The company provides access to Vincent Bach's original material.  In exchange, the company gets advance rights to the articles for its Bachology Web site.  The company limits the use of proprietary material.  Of course I'm always trying to sneak information by them while the company is always trying to figure out just how much damage I might be doing.  In this article, you'll see where the company "censors" were at work.  Censors make marks like the following.  Censor Mark 


            When my co-author, Doug Lehrer, and I began writing the Bachology articles, we never intended to do more than write about New York Bach instruments.  So many readers asked about those Chicago Cs, however, that I began to wonder what all of the fuss was about.


Then one day I found myself in the Bach plant rummaging around what passes for archives when I ran into some data that I recognized just might be pertinent to the Chicago Cs.  Before going on, I want readers to know what I mean by "archives".  The following photograph shows where a lot of data are stored.  My company sponsor, Tedd Waggoner, is holding the cabinet door open for me to take this picture, but don't let that fool you.  He's cooperative, but he's also there to guard the data.  That may look like a mandril in his hand, but it's really a stick.


Let the record show that the "archive room" is tiny, and it's always locked, as is that cabinet.  Tedd keeps the keys, and that fact causes him to call himself the "Keeper of the Keys" from time to time.  There are a lot of people who work at the plant who don't even know where this room is located.  Anyway, some of the Chicago C data is in there.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


Now back to my discovery, which was about two years ago.  I casually announced this to Tedd.  What I said was that I knew how the Chicago Cs were made.  Perhaps I overstated.  On the other hand, Tedd has an unjustified faith in my work, and he took that opportunity to announce to Bach dealers worldwide that a new-old Chicago C trumpet might soon to be on the way.  Readers may want to look over what Tedd said.  The announcement is shown below.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


            Now, I'm an engineer by trade.  Try as I might, I just can't shake the mindset that goes along with it.  In the back of my mind a nagging voice told me that it just might be a good idea to try and verify the data I'd turned up.  The problem was that checking the data meant that I needed a trumpet.  I was discouraged from asking Bud Herseth if I could borrow his, so I did the next best thing--I advertised.


In the lead-in portion of the Bachology site is a section called "Bachology Notes".  In there, I asked anyone who owned one of these instruments to contact me.  Bud didn't call, but to my surprise, I found two such instruments, #13,960 and #13,964.  Both were used in trying to verify my research.  Not only that, I now own one of the two, but at first it didn't quite measure up to my hopes.


Here's a little background on this.  In the spring of 1955, Bach actually made 12 C trumpets that might rightfully be called Chicago Cs because they were all made to the same specifications.  I know; I know.  Tedd's notice to the Bach dealers said that there were seven, but that's because I hadn't noticed the rest of them at the time.  Anyway, the first six were identical instruments that included a newly designed first valve slide and a set of Bb slides.  Chicago picked four of them, and they were sold to the symphony through Reynold Schilke's company, Music Products, Inc.  The other two trumpets were eventually sold to other dealers.


The next six trumpets were completed about a month later, although they have serial numbers that are sequential to the first six.  These had neither the new first valve slide nor Bb slides.  Otherwise, they were made the same as the first ones.  It was not a surprise to me to find that one of these trumpets also was sold to Music Products, but it was not for the Chicago Symphony.  That one, #13,964, ended up in the hands of one of Schilke's students.


For those who, like me, can't quite read the small print in the Bach announcement, the serial numbers of actual Chicago Cs are #13,958, #13,959, #13,961 and #13,962.  It's apparent from comparing numbers where trumpets #13,960 and #13,964 fit into the scheme of things.


Eventually, the owner of one of the first six contacted me, and he loaned it to me for a few months to help me check my research.  That trumpet is #13,960.  I will discuss some aspects of it in this article.  The following is a picture of #13,960.  It's a nice looking trumpet.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


            The owner of trumpet #13,960 also put me on the trail of #13,964.  That one is my trumpet now, and its story is the main subject of this article.   Trumpet #13,960, by the way, has continued on its own path to a new owner since I got a chance to examine it.  I will discuss it a little in this article, but not much.


            At this point, I think it advisable to put all of my cards on the table.  The following is a picture of most of trumpet #13,964 as I got it.  You can imagine my reaction when I first unpacked what I thought was a damaged trumpet.  Damaged?  The word hardly describes what I saw.  Readers might like to contrast the features of trumpet #13,960 above with those of #13,964 below.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


            Really, who else could want a trumpet in that condition?  I knew before I bought it that it was in bad shape, but who would have thought to even call this thing a trumpet.  Still I thought that maybe I could get some data from it.  After all, a Chicago C is a Chicago C.  Well, not quite.


            Unfortunately, Schilke's student had made some modifications to it.  Some of them were minor.  For example, the main water key was changed to an Amado water key, and another one was added on the third valve slide.  But, horror of horrors, the mouthpipe was changed to a Pilczuk.  Now, I know nothing about these mouthpipes.  Good mouthpipes they may be, but they are not exactly what ol' Vincent had in mind.


            Eventually, a member of a well-known symphony bought #13,964 and used it successfully for some years.  Then, of all the really bad things that can happen, the guy ran over it with his car.  I know that I've thought of running over one of my trumpets from time to time, but I've talked to this gentleman, and he assures me that this was an accident and not some fit of pique.


            Following this disaster, its owner took #13,964 to a repairman who pronounced it DOA.  With permission from the owner, the repairman then offered it to a local high school band director.  The band director then attached this fine example of trumpetdom to a board and hung it in his band room where it stayed for the next 20 years or so as an example of how not to take care of a trumpet.


After making sure that the symphony player and the band director could agree on which of them actually owned it at this point, I bought trumpet #13,964.  I paid too much.


            The main problems with trumpet #13,964 were a flat bell, a missing mouthpipe and a missing valve piston.  Now, if you want to break down a trumpet into its vital components, surely the bell, mouthpipe and valve pistons have to be considered among them.  In the final analysis, trumpet #13,964 proved invaluable for learning things that I didn't know about the Chicago Cs.  It just wouldn't prove quite as valuable as I originally hoped.


It was then that trumpet #13,960 arrived and saved the day.  A little more will be said about this later.  At that point, however, I recognized that data would be available to verify my research after all.  The question then arose about what to do with trumpet #13,964.




            I have a good friend who I have played with for many years.  His name is Bob Pallansch.  Bob is a tuba player who retired some years ago from the U.S. Army Band in Washington, D.C.  I guess to be precise about his skills, Bob plays more than a tuba.  He plays a lot of different tubas, and he also plays a lot of other oddities as well, things like the serpent and ophicleide.  To give you some clue about Bob's personality, the license plate on one of his previous cars read "I Cleid".


            Bob is also a brass repairman extraordinaire.  He is pretty famous around the Washington, D.C. area where I live.  When I got trumpet #13,964, I couldn't wait to show it to him, and he said, "Well, why don't we get it to play again?"   The following photograph shows Bob examining the bell of #13,964.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


            I wasn't really sure that Bob meant it.  He's pretty inscrutable sometimes.  I think the following close-up captures Bob's concern when he first got a good look at my new acquisition.  That look worried me.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


            I could look at the situation two ways.  Maybe Bob was serious and maybe not.  I'm not saying that I was skeptical; I'm just saying that I know Bob never turns down a challenge.  He may have said we should see if we can get the trumpet to play again, but his eyes didn't give me great comfort.  Nonetheless, I've known Bob for a long time, so I decided to go along for the ride.


At the time we made a decision to go ahead with the restoration, neither Bob nor I could foresee the twists and turns this project would take over the next couple of years.  From that point on, I was on the outside looking into a fabulous trumpet restoration project.


The first thing that Bob did was to give the trumpet a name.  Now, a tuba player does not hold the same reverence for a Chicago C as do members of the trumpet community, so it did not surprise me when Bob named this fine instrument the "taco bell" trumpet.  A closer look at the bell makes it easy to see why this struck Bob as appropriate.  (The astute reader also will note that I did not use capital letters in its name to avoid any trademark infringement of my favorite Mexican fast-food joint.)


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


After appropriately naming the instrument, Bob said that he thought he should start by seeing how much progress he could make opening the bell up again.  If he could do nothing with the bell, then the project was not going to work.  I suggested that he try using a crow bar.


            The following picture shows Bob proudly displaying the results of a lot of tedious work on the taco bell.  It's a No. 229 bell, and I think it's a lot more recognizable now than when he started.  Everyone who has seen this picture and compared it to the original is just amazed.  So am I.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


To be candid about the situation, the bell did not turn out perfect.  The brass around the bell rim is a little ragged.  The bell has a French or flat bead, and that made a difficult situation even harder to cope with.  Still, it's hard for me to imagine how Bob resurrected this bell.  We knew it had to be heated as it was opened and that might affect the tone quality some.  Still, from taco-shaped to conical, this bell job was not shabby.


            Well, after we knew we had a bell, there was nothing to do but to proceed on to getting this trumpet back into playing condition.  The following is a picture of Bob beginning work on other aspects of the project.  I will not let myself note that Bob is holding one of the precious valves with a, gasp, pair of pliers probably left over from World War Two.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


(I do have to note here that Bob wears that green shirt a lot.  Its appearance in the above photograph and in a previous one is purely coincidental.  The photographs were taken on different days.)


            I'll stop the main flow of conversation at this point to make some observations about Bob.  First of all, his workshop is a mess.  I hardly see how he keeps track of stuff in there.  Just look at his workbench.  The second observation is that he must hail from "the islands", but perhaps those shirts just put him in the mood to work.  Last, but not least, you can always find him at work on some of the most interesting brass projects just about any time you stop by to see him.  Readers should do that if they're in the Washington, D.C. area.


            Brass magician or not, Bob is no dummy.  He noticed right away that we didn't have an appropriate mouthpipe for trumpet #13,964.  I told him not to worry.  I had a plan.  The next part of my story focuses on that topic.  It took well over a year to get a mouthpipe to go with the taco bell trumpet.




            Conn-Selmer and I set out to make our respective Chicago Cs at about the same time.  The company wanted to make new-old Chicago C trumpets with most of the features of the originals.  I, on the other hand, wanted to restore mine.  We each had an advantage.  I had the taco bell carcass and Bob Pallansch to start with.  The company had some parts it makes for its current line of C trumpets, resources ($) for constructing other parts and my research.


Conn-Selmer faced a lot of problems getting components that would fit their new Chicago Cs because the design was different from current-production C trumpets.  The Chicago Cs were made during Bach's 1947 though 1956/7 design period.  After that, Bach changed his instruments.  Selmer, now Conn-Selmer, inherited the later design.  Ultimately, modernization altered Bach instruments even further as new technology was introduced.  The point is that Conn-Selmer could not just round up a #229 bell and #25 mouthpipe, slap them on a trumpet body and declare it to be a Chicago C.  In fact, not only were some of the components different, the company did not readily have the means available to make some of the old ones without some effort and expense.  This, however, is not the company's story, but mine.  There is naturally some overlap, and no more so than in the mouthpipe area.


The mouthpipe on the Chicago Cs is a #25 mouthpipe.  Everybody is familiar with that mouthpipe, are they not?  Well, lots of people think they are, and lots of people might be wrong.  First of all, there are sets of dimensions in Bach's archives for at least four #25 mouthpipes.  The trick, of course, was to identify the one that matched up with the Chicago Cs.  That was not as easy as it might sound, since some of the data are dated and some are not.  One of them is dated 1954, however, and that date matches up pretty well with the Chicago trumpets.  Notice the boilerplate below.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


            For those without technical training, all old technical drawings had boilerplates on them that identified things that someone might need to know.  At the very least, boilerplates identified the culprit, i.e., the person who drew the drawing.  In this case, this boilerplate identified a lot more than that.  It tells us that this #25 mandril is for Bb and C Stradivarius trumpets in three different bore sizes.  Well, who would have thought that?  To my mind, that's quite a stretch, but Vincent didn't really ask me about this.


            Now, since the Chicago Cs were completed just a few months later, a reasonable person might conclude that the drawing surrounding this boilerplate would define the mouthpipe used on the Chicago Cs.  I thought that this was an important find.


            So, the company was good-to-go for the new-old Chicago C mouthpipes.  I, on the other hand, was so confident in finding this drawing that I hinted that I might not do any more research unless I got a mouthpipe assembly that included this particular mouthpipe.  I wasn't really trying to hold the company up; I just needed a mouthpipe.


Ok.  I was trying to.


It wasn't too long after deciding that this was the Chicago C mouthpipe that I showed up in Elkhart with trumpet #13,960.  To double-check the data, Tedd Waggoner and I both measured its mouthpipe.  Now, it's not all that easy to get accurate measurements of mouthpipes.  Fortunately, Vincent Bach left some handy tools that do just that.  Then, whoa!  The mouthpipe on trumpet #13,960 was nothing like the mouthpipe in the drawing.  I mean it was from a different universe.  Now, that'll set a researcher back a notch or two.  It's also possible that I saw Tedd Waggoner sort of roll his eyes a little.  To my everlasting consternation, I had tried to hold the company up for the wrong mouthpipe.


            I nearly panicked when I learned that some of the technical data I had identified turned out to be wrong.  Not only that, another quick search showed that identifying the right data was not going to be easy.


            Before 1954, Bach of course already had a #25 mouthpipe to match his latest instrument design from 1947.  The Chicago Cs met those instrument specifications with some more-or-less cosmetic changes made at Mt. Vernon to streamline production.  It would have been reasonable to think that the #25 mouthpipe from that period might have been used on the Chicago Cs had the mouthpipe design from 1954 not been discovered.


The earlier 1947 #25 mouthpipe turned out to be a little too tight, however.  What can be made of the fact that the 1954 mouthpipe was even tighter?  There is no conclusive proof of what I'm about to say, but there was a lot of experimentation of components going on as a result of collaboration between Vincent Bach and William Vacchiano.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but some of the mouthpipes that Bach made for Vacchiano were very tight mouthpipes.  My best guess is that the 1954 #25 mouthpipe emerged from that collaboration.  I do not know if it was ever used on a production trumpet.  It was not used on the Chicago Cs.


Eventually the smoke cleared, and the dimensions of the Chicago C mouthpipes became obvious.  This took more than a little sleuth work.  Then all that was needed was a new mandril and some scut work at the Bach plant.  Among the little secrets of the Chicago Cs is their unique mouthpipe design.  This design wasn't used on many Bach instruments.


            The mouthpipe that Bach chose for the Chicago Cs was fairly large.  It was larger than the 1947 #25 mouthpipe and much larger than the 1954 version.  On the other hand, it was not as large as a modern 25H mouthpipe.  It will be interesting to see what trumpet players think of it as they try the new-old Chicago C trumpets being offered by Conn-Selmer.


            I have in my possession the first production new-old Chicago C-type mouthpipe assembly, and it was installed on my trumpet.  I suppose I might consider it my reward had I not goofed up the research in the first place.  As it is, I have to consider it fortuitous that the company would still make one for me.


            That's not quite the end of the story on mouthpipes, however.  It turns out that the mouthpipes on the Chicago Cs are a little longer than modern Bach C mouthpipes.  Because of this and the narrower tuning slides, modern mouthpiece receivers just did not work.  The company inadvertently tried to use them, but the mouthpipe mounting point was located at the wrong place.  In a nutshell, the situation called for making new receivers that exactly met the 1947 design specifications (except for the taper).  After this little faux pas was discovered, the company jumped on making some 1947 receivers right away.  Well, it was either that or somebody was going to find the mouthpiece in the wrong place when attempting to play the trumpet.  Now both the company and I have mouthpipe assemblies that fit the new-old Chicago C trumpets as well as my taco bell trumpet.


The following picture shows the Chief Brass Technician in the Bach Pro Shop at his workstation.  His name is Wilbur Wurtsbaugh.  Wilbur is now retired, but he worked for the company for over 38 years.  I seem to recall Wilbur walking out of a meeting in the engineering office at the Bach plant, 1947 technical drawing in hand, muttering to himself that he should have been given the correct dimensions of the mouthpiece receivers in the first place.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


Wilbur taught me some things about making Bach instruments.  I found that he was excited that I was trying to resurrect an old Chicago C, and he was happy to put together the first complete mouthpipe assembly for the new-old Chicago C trumpets so I'd have one for my taco bell trumpet.  That is, he was happy about it once he had the correct mouthpiece receivers.


The new assembly is shown in the photograph below.  This thing caused so much time and effort (and money on the company's behalf) that it deserves its own picture.  It is shown next to the Pilczuk mouthpipe that was with the taco bell trumpet when I first got it.  The new one is a lot better looking, don't you think?


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)




Valve pistons number one and three on trumpet #13,964 were in pretty good condition.  Valve piston number two, on the other hand was not.  It had to be replaced.  I guess replaced isn't the right word.  The piston was missing, so one had to be found.


Unlike the mouthpipe assembly, Conn-Selmer could not easily make and supply a piston.  Currently manufactured pistons are larger than those used in early Mt Vernon trumpets.  While it's fairly easy to build up a piston, it's not so easy to whittle one down.  A new piston had to be found elsewhere.  Bach's trumpets had rather narrow pistons.  There are other differences as well depending on when the pistons were made.


Ebay to the rescue.  A bunch of New York Bach trumpet parts was offered for sale on Ebay, and, as luck would have it, a set of valve pistons stamped #6,174 was among them.  The parts cost over $150, but that was a cheap price to pay to find a piston that would fit trumpet #13,964.


Trumpet #6,174 was sold to the U.S. Army early in World War Two.  There's no telling what happened to the trumpet during the war, but it ended up in pieces.  Happily, one of its parts is going to be used again.  Bach's production consistency was such that a valve made in June of 1942 slipped right into the valve casing of a trumpet made in the spring of 1955 and fit like a glove.


The following is a picture of the valves from #13,964 with their new companion that survived the Big One (World War Two).  It's obvious that the valve from trumpet #6,174 is a little worse for wear, comparatively speaking, but all three valves are nickel-plated, and all three are in good condition.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


            Not immediately evident from the above picture is that the valve from trumpet #6,174 has a valve stem that's too short.  Bob had to find something to make it fit.  I tend to think of making or crafting new parts for trumpets, but to a brass repairperson, the rule is to never make what has already been made.  In this case, I'm talking about a metal O-ring.  You can tell in the following picture that something is a little odd here.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


            Some people might not think it possible to find an O-ring that would make the valve fit in the up-and-down direction, but this one does.




There is one aspect of this restoration that will just drive some people nuts.  Until it was put on the trumpet, a person could not exactly tell that the tail of the bell is a little shorter than it should be.  That's because a quarter of an inch was cut off and sent to a laboratory to be assayed.  An extra long sleeve had to be constructed so the shorter bell could be coupled to the body of the trumpet.


            Here's a little better look at the part I'm talking about.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


            I have to confess that this illustrates one big fat difference between a trumpet-playing engineer and a real trumpet player.  A trumpet player would just not cut the tip off the tail of his bell.  I'm not sure why.  Lots of things might be discovered that way.  And discover something, I did.


            It has always been a matter of great (and grave) discussion among Bachophiles as to the type of brass Bach used in his Mt. Vernon bells.  To put this matter to rest, at least regarding the Chicago Cs, the assay results follow.  The alloy used for the bells of the Chicago Cs was made of Censor Mark Censor Mark Censor Mark Censor Mark.  These results were reported to Conn-Selmer as a courtesy to the company.  If there is yet another secret (in addition to the mouthpipe) to the taco bell trumpet, it is this alloy.  It might be interesting for readers to know that I talk to people who are trying to clone the Chicago Cs.  A couple of them are doing fairly good jobs.  But then there's the alloy…


            Incidentally, I'm very, very sure that most of Bach's Mt Vernon bells used a different alloy than the one found in the Chicago Cs.  That may be the subject of another story--unless the censors strike again.


            Bob made some other parts as well.  For instance, he had to make a new rear bell brace because I only had the front one, which to my mind is the most important one.  Conn-Selmer came through with valve casing braces.  These were needed because the early Mt Vernon trumpets were narrower (left-to-right) than we're used to.  It may not have been immediately apparent from the first picture of the taco bell trumpet that two lower valve caps were missing.  This time Ebay failed me as my bid to buy a set of Mt. Vernon caps was thwarted by some dastardly sniper.  I'm still looking for a couple of those.  Notwithstanding, this great collaboration pulled the trumpet together.




            The following photograph shows Bob in his dungeon during final assembly.  Perhaps he was gleeful that there was light at the end of the tunnel.  Maybe at this point he just wished the whole project could be made to go away.  Quite frankly I liked the forlorn look in his eyes when he first saw the taco bell trumpet better than this one.  Regardless, when Bob lights a blowtorch around a trumpet, I can't watch for too long.  One slip of that thing and the damage the car did to my trumpet would be trivial.  You can undo car damage but not blowtorch damage.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


            Well, I watched as long as I could.  Eventually Bob emerged from his workshop with a trumpet intact.  He's shown in the following picture preparing to hand it to me along with a bill.  Well, Bob doesn't work free, but he's not too expensive either.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


            It wouldn't do, I suppose, not to put in a picture of the trumpet alone.  I haven't seen one yet, but I expect that Conn-Selmer's new-old Chicago C trumpets will be prettier.  But will they be constructed with the loving attention this one got?  (You'll just have to ignore that blowtorch in Bob's hands.)


            I think the taco bell trumpet turned out to be beautiful, although I suppose that this is all in the mind's eye of the beholder.  After I pried it out of Bob's hands and raced home, the second thing I did was take a picture.  The first thing?  Well, you can guess what that was.  Here it is all assembled.


(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)


            Every time I talk to Bob about my trumpet, he wants to know whether or not I'm ready to have it re-plated.  Now I ask you, how much prettier could it be?  Besides, if I want to be reminded about which pieces are original and which are not, all I have to do is check the colors.  Besides, we all know what kind of sins can be covered with silver plating, don't we?  Besides, silver-plated, the taco bell trumpet might be confused with the new-old Chicago Cs being made by Conn-Selmer.




            From my perspective, the taco bell trumpet plays a lot better than it has any right to.  It exceeds my expectations, but then again, I caution readers to consider my background.  What could a cornet player really know?  Anyway, the only way I can tell how a trumpet of any kind plays is by playing on it for some time, and I'm just getting started with it.  I already know, however, that the valves are not as tight as they should be.  On the other hand, its intonation seems to be pretty good.  As for the all-important ability to project, I think it's great, but, then again, I don't have to play over a 100-piece orchestra.  Not yet, anyway.


Soon I'm going to take my trumpet to Elkhart where Tedd Waggoner and I can make side-by-side comparisons to one of his new-old Chicago C trumpets.  In the interest of both parties, the playing comparisons will not be reported.  One of us might be disappointed.  Then again, maybe not.


All the information on this site is © copyright 2001-2014,
All Rights Reserved.
If you wish to use any material on this website
contact Roy Hempley for permission




Website Designed and Maintained by © Copyright 1996 - 2014