Take A Tour Through The Bach Trumpet Factory

Submitted by: DuckBoy87 3 months ago in Misc Weird


Many on here know that I play the trumpet. I'm not shy about that. But, most probably don't know that for awhile, I studied Music Education. Music is a big part of my life. So, I figured I'd share the process of making a trumpet. This post was inspired by buttersrules post about making glass where daegog asked for "MOAR manufacturing pron!"

Unlike buttersrules, though, I don't have a career making trumpets.

I'm not sure if the featured image worked, but the following picture is actually a small sample of my personal horns, and yes, one of them is a Bach Strad.
There are 10 comments:
Male 22
Very nice video. My dad has instrument repair shop and disassembling and assembling trumpet is something i can do in my sleep. It is actually quite rewarding job, not at all hard apart from the temperature control, which take quite a lot of practice; tin has to melt before the laquer burns.. Factories get it easier, they apply the laquer after soldering, we have to desolder it after. It takes just couple of seconds too long with gasflame (propane+air mix) to burn it when the solder starts softening up.

Largest tool in the shop is 6 feet tall puller that can eat a sousaphone. It allows 360 degree movement on 4 axis to orient the instrument so that we can start applying pulling force just to the right direction, takes surprisingly lot room to do it. The whole thing relies on that metal ring embedded in the bell, without that one it would be manual pulling and often two men to do it. Resurfacing valves is another common task, there are multiple ways but most commonly we use electrolysis to make a new surface. Had takes decades to get that process right, it is not always so clear what alloys to use and there was no google in the 80s and 90s.. Now the resurfacing is so good that it matches the factory coating, good longevity and does not stick to other metals. Cold welding happens a lot with these things...metals start quite literally to weld on their own, galvanic action is also a problem, there is moisture, spit to act as electrolytic too and ions travel around.

Newer metals are better than old so if you are on a look out for good instruments, by modern, not old legends.. Legends belong to museum already, which is a bit sad but machines just make better instruments and metallurgy is leaps and bounds ahead. All that hand made stuff; instruments are all about precision and accuracy, machines beat us by magnitudes of order. Blind testing instruments shows pretty much every time that brand new, high tech, heavily automatized manufacturing produces better instruments. This is not very popular opinion and i admit that when things get REALLY expensive, handmade rules (there is no point making manufacturing line to produce 5 instruments a year so there is HUGE gap there).

It is an industry that has centuries old knowledge and is at it's best when mixed with ultramodern manufacturing. methods. Really interesting but the sad facts are that even thou i want to, i can't continue the shop. New instruments are way too cheap and that beginner to semipro level is where instrument repair has half of the business. Other half is orchestras and schools but they too can replace some of their inventory cheaper than it takes to repair them, repairing is really expensive as it takes lots of hours, it is highly specialized so some parts and tools are expensive, nothing can be sourced locally but has to be imported all over the globe etc etc. 

If you can, support your local repair shops, they WILL save your ass one day but if they can't keep their lights on, they will not be there for long..
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Male 4,893
I blow through here
The music goes 'round and around
Whoa-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho
And it comes out here
I push the first valve down
The music goes down and around
Whoa-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho
And it comes out here
I push the middle valve down
The music goes down around below
Below, below, deedle-dee-ho-ho-ho
Listen to the jazz come out
I push the other valve down
The music goes 'round and around
Whoa-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho
And it comes out here
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Male 548
Watching the cnc lathe is satisfying.  Good post.
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Male 4,013
good post!
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Male 5,676
Wouldn't it be great if America could become the land of Artisans and master crafted items for all walks of life?

Probably not the road its going, but its a nice idea.
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Male 22
daegog I know a thing or two about this but generally over the decades it has been: America = Good materials, poor assembly, fit and finish.
Japan = Cheaper materials, excellent assembly, fit and finish.
Design is global so there are no differences, if it is USA made and it happens to be one of the good ones, they are the best but Japan is same, everyone in the same batch is the same, it can be years of NOTHING changing. We have instrument repair shop so i've seen quite a lot of them over the years..

Now, China is making excellent metals, they are really making good stuff and since a lot of this can be and should be automated (machines sadly do better work quality than us, the main problem is how to make the machines). So.. it does not look good, US does not really have good reputation, the quality in the entry level is and has always been utter shit and it has to be almost custom made to be good. Easter Europe in the olden communist days did about same quality but their material quality was the worst that this business has ever had, few good artisans and lots of demotivated builders. It shows as the same kind of problem US built has: inconsistent. Things got better for a while until.. they didn't, the level is not awful but is not what it should be. Decent, can be better.
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Male 220
daegog Great comment. We could become producers of these items if the cost of materials & labor were more in line with rest of the world. Watch Shark Tank and listen to the verbage regarding manufacturing. Hopefully things are on a better track now. 
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Male 9,490
Excellent video, Duckboy.

While my embouchure is more suited for Trombone and Baritone, I just happen to own a Bach Stradivarius that I purchased in the 70's.  Beautiful instrument. Just wish I could do it justice.
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Male 4,093
megrendel I only play euphonium when no one else will. Because I'm the only one that has one, in most cases. 1930-something Boosey & Hawkes, with the 4th valve
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Male 1,923
DuckBoy87 excellent post duckboy87.  I loved the way they separated out the different processses.  There is a ton of craftsmanship in these horns.
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