Dating a bach trumpet
In his ten years bending, tweaking and molding brass, Landress has made forty-nine.
He earns money mainly by repairing factory-made trumpets—Bessons, Bachs, Benges and Schilkes—hammering out dinks, filling up cracks, cleaning gunk that has accumulated inside, replacing mouthpieces, tweaking valves. He sells new trumpets made by a company named Adams, the only mass-produced horn maker whose craftsmanship he trusts.
Besson, Bach, Benge and Schilke are people for whom a design for a trumpet turned into a model and a model turned into a prototype that factories now mass produce, many, many years after the maker’s hands last touched one.
Big businesses ask consumers to behave somewhat unreasonably—buy this because you trust our brand even though the technique used to establish the brand no longer exists.
But Landress doesn’t want to compete with big factories.
He simply wants to grow his business mindfully, give musicians what they need, and be a one-stop shop for horns. “Schilke started making horns in late ‘50s and then this horn is 1969 to ’70 and this is serial number 4,005, so no, not in his life,” Landress said.
If he’s going to build a trumpet, he wants it to do it well. “When Schilke became a big factory, like it is now—they are still made very high quality, very close to Schilke’s standards—but they make way more now than they ever did when Schilke was running the show.” * * * The oldest variant of a trumpet, dating to about 1500 B. Since then, the tubing has been lengthened, shortened and coiled, and valves have been added, turning something used to amplify sound, into an instrument with many sounds.
“Besson is kind of considered the inventor of the modern trumpet, and companies for the past one hundred years, eighty years, have been copying Besson designs.
The way Landress works will never again be the norm, not when horns of similar quality, using the same brass, can be produced faster and more efficiently in factories.
In 1973, three documentarians made a short film about trumpet craftsman Dominick Calicchio titled “The Last Trumpet Maker.” But Landress is not an old-timer.
“If I were, I wouldn’t have to work fifteen hours a day.” Landress takes enormous pride in his inventory.
When he told this customer that he owns any horn the gentleman could want, he wasn’t being showy; he was simply telling the truth.
“On a factory level, a lot of instruments these days often seem like they’re rushed through,” says Landress.