It is a common misconception that Bach brass instruments were named as a tip of the hat to one of the greatest composers and musicians who ever lived, Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach is named for their founder, Vincent Bach. Born Vincent Schrotenbach in Vienna, Austria, Bach’s road to the United States, and to establishing one of the premier brass instrument-makers in the world, was the product of circumstance.
The beginnings of Bach brass
Schrotenbach’s chosen profession was mechanical engineering, and his studies oriented themselves in that direction throughout his youth. He was an unusually talented cornetist, however, and his passion for it led him to defy his parents’ preference to commit wholly to his professional studies. While he was touring Europe with a band in 1914, World War I broke out.
Because Austria-Hungary was at the heart of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Italy, Austrians traveling in England, France or Russia were highly suspect. While in England, Schrotenbach detected this gathering storm, changed his name to Vincent Bach, and fled to the United States, where he secured a position playing first trumpet with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
After a botched repair on a mouthpiece, Bach began lathing mouthpieces himself beginning in 1918. His designs were popular, and by 1924, he had produced his first trumpet, which was also universally well received. One of the world’s truly elite brass manufacturing companies was born. Today, Bach produces some of the finest handmade trumpets, trombones, cornets and flugelhorns in the world.
The Bach Stradivarius has been made in a variety of differing models for decades. The most classic of this classic instrument series is the Bach Stradivarius Model 37 (180S37), usually ordered with a medium-large bore.
The number 37 refers to the type of bell taper. The “Strad” is available with other bells, some of which taper more gradually, making for a more brilliant and projecting sound. Others taper quickly, producing a mellower, darker sound. Popular versions of the Bach Bb Stradivarius trumpet include AB190 Artisan, LR180S with reverse leadpipe, and the 190S37, a faithful recreation of the trumpets produced in 1965, the first year the Bach factory moved from Mount Vernon, NY to Elkhart, IA.
Bach student trumpets are noted by the “TR” designation, and are available in four different models, the most popular of which is the TR300. An intermediate model, the TR200, is available as well.
But trumpet players don’t live by Bb trumpets alone. Bach produces a full range of orchestral trumpets, including Eb/D trumpets, Eb trumpets, C trumpets and Bb/A piccolo trumpets. They are mostly available in clear lacquer finishes or with a silver plating. Bach produces one professional flugelhorn, the Stradivarius 183, available in clear lacquer or with silver plate. They also produce an intermediate model, the FH600. Cornets include the Bach 181ML and the 184ML, both available in silver or clear lacquer. Their student cornet is the CR301H.
The other area of high achievement for Bach is trombones. Bach produces a broad line of straight tenor trombones, Bb tenor trombones, Bb/F tenor trombones, bass trombones, student trombones and more. In all, the Bach trombone inventory supports 40 separate designs.
The “Stradivarius” name was adopted from the famous Bach trumpets to the trombones, and several “Strad” trombone models are available. These are some of the most preferred trombones in the world for both jazz and orchestral players.
The Bach A47 is a beautifully designed straight tenor trombone. It resides within the Artisan Trombone Collection of the Stradivarius family of instruments. It has an 8-1/2" one-piece hand-hammered yellow brass Bach Artisan bell and a .547" large bore for a great sound, projection and feel. A reverse main tuning slide construction renders a more open response, and chrome-plated nickel silver inner handslide tubes make for lightning-fast action. The clear lacquer finish adds a reflective beauty and sonic warmth.
Most Bach trombone models are available with an optional open wrap or traditional wrap F attachment, including the Stadivarius models 36 (.525 bore) and the 42 (.547 bore). Many are also available with Bach’s patented Infinity axial flow valve, which eliminates metal-to-metal contact through the use of sealed bearings in the nose and the back plate. They are also available with Hagmann valves.
Bach’s bass trombones are as highly prized as the Bach trumpets and tenor trombones. With 12 models to choose from, deciding on Bach is easier than deciding which model to select. They are available as single rotor, dependent double rotor, or independent double rotor models. All Bach trombones are noted for their outstanding clarity and projection, and their perfectly regulated resistance.
While many of the world’s most elite symphonic, jazz and commercial music trombonists choose Bach, they also produce a fantastic-quality student model instrument in the Bach TB200. It’s not an inexpensive instrument, but if an aspiring trombone player can learn on the TB200, no impediments to progress could be blamed on the horn. It features an 8" two-piece yellow brass bell with engraving, chrome-plated nickel silver seamless inner slide brass, an outer slide chrome-plated handgrip, tubular brass body braces, clear lacquer finish, along with a Vincent Bach 6-1/2AL mouthpiece and a wood-shell case.
Among the best if not the best
For many players of mouthpiece instruments, Bach is the pinnacle of brass instrument manufacturing. For all brass musicians, they are among a hallowed few manufacturers that represent the best in the world.