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Vincent Bach and the Stradivarius
Vincent Bach was an Austrian trumpet player who moved to the USA at the turn of last century. Having become fed up with buying inferior trumpets he set up his own trumpet and mouthpiece making business aiming to make higher end quality instruments. Now owned by the Selmer Company, Vincent Bach trumpets are known for quality and purity of sound. They specialise in brass, unlike Yamaha, only making trumpets, cornets, flugelhorns and trombones. Not even all orchestral brass instruments are covered.
The Stradivarius is the flagship of the company; named after the famous violins after a customer referred to this model as 'a real Stradivarius of a trumpet'.
Distinctives of this trumpet
The trumpet is a full size standard Bb trumpet. It has semi-precious gemstones on the tops of the valves which protects one of the most heavily used parts of the instruments. The mouthpipe has a hexagonal end for inserting the unusual mouthpieces rather than a simple circular end which would fit only the standard mouthpieces. The 25 refers to the size of the mouthpipe (the first part of the instrument which is blown into). They do a larger 37 also.
This is a standard Bb trumpet but the L stands for the larger bore. I was advised to order this size to improve my tone. It does improve tone but takes greater puff to achieve this. Vicent Bach also do a range of C trumpets, piccolo trumpets and Eb trumpets in the Stradivarius range. But the standard is the Bb.
It is rather heavy weight. They do produce lighter weight versions but I haven't had any problems playing it since my mid-teens. The weight does give it a certain gravitas and quality, however.
The Bach website describes this as a professional trumpet, which I think is overegging the case a little. It is an intermediate trumpet which can be used further. They have a list of professional players who use their instruments but I hadn't heard of any of them. As I'll describe later it will suffice for the professional but I would imagine a serious full-time professional will want to move on to something hand built.
Experience and use
I can honestly say that this instrument is a pleasure to play. It produces a rich tone and is streets ahead of any other mass made trumpet. To get better, I believe, you would have to start spending in the tens of thousands. My trumpet has picked up some 'stories' over the years, dints and scratches that speak of memories and gigs that we have shared together. But these have never affected the quality of sound which comes out.
I use my trumpet on the whole for playing jazz and it has a lightness and versatility which suits that genre. However I have also played classical pieces and it has no problem adjusting to the demands of each genre. The responsiveness is high when moving from soft to a loud brassy sound, whatever you ask it to do it will do effortlessly.
I never considered becoming professional, I was never good enough, but I always presumed that if I did then I would have to spend out. However I bumped into a friend who graduated in music and he was still playing a Stradivarius and swore that there was nothing better. They seem to have produced an instrument of just the right price and quality for covering intermediate to semi-pro musicians.
The only problem I have had with my instrument is that the valves were sticking and I had to have them shaved and this took some time to get right. But it was worth the wait. It may, of course, have been due to bad technique on my part. There is no sign of corrosion on the pistons and now that they are working well they spring back up very quickly.
The trumpet comes with a beautiful leather case. Some trumpets seem to arrive with disappointing and sparse boxy affairs, but Vincent Bach seem to have taken almost as much time on their cases as they have on their beautiful instruments. The inside is sensible with a space for music beneath the trumpet and cubby holes for the usual things a trumpet player needs; valve oil, mutes and Vaseline! There are two holes for mouthpieces, a necessity when alternating between genres and musical styles.
The only problem that I have had here is that the handles have begun to break over time which detracts from the look and feel. But it was worked pretty hard in its early days.
This instrument really is a thing of beauty. For those who are beginning to advance in their trumpet playing, say grades 5-6, I would say that they could not buy better than this.
Beginners would perhaps be better starting with a Jupiter or a Yamaha model at a quarter of the price, as when you are shelling out £1500 you have to know that you are going to stick at it.
Not being limited to the L bore, any of the Stradivarius instruments will delight. I enjoy every minute my Stradivarius and I blow!