Well, here I am about to sound like a real “waffler” and contradict a previous post of mine titled “What Trumpet Do You Play?” In that post I said that I have owned many brands of trumpet throughout my career. In each horn, at that time, I truly felt that that particular trumpet was the best trumpet I could find – at the time. Time goes on, manufactures come and go. Innovations happen or become fads. And, I think in my case, my age plays a part in what horn works for me. I had a bunch of great years playing Eclipse trumpets. They are wonderful instruments, beautifully made. I played the new version of the Eclipses at this summer’s ITG and they are even better than the vintage I had!
However, I have recently decided to join the artist roster for Conn-Selmer. It was one of those chance situations where I played on a friends Bach Artisan and was really taken by it. I talked with a Bach dealer and he was able to let me try 5 Artisan C trumpets and 4 Bb Artisans. I had the horns for over a week and put a ton of time into playing them. (What a blast!) It was very interesting because I would have to say that these Artisans each had their own personality, but I would not say that one was better than the other. The quality was consistent but because so much of the horn is hand made, there were subtle variations. The Artisans are now Bach’s top of the line horn and there is much more hands-on time put into the making of them than the other traditional Bachs. There are subtle differences in bracing, valves, and materials. There are not-so-subtle differences in the bell material and the way the bell is made. I don’t know the technicalities with that but it is spelled out on the Artisan website. My first impression was that these feel light, both in the actual weight and blow. The horns I was coming from were larger and beefier so it took me a little while to adjust to the new resistance. Once I stopped over blowing these Artisans I found they were incredibly efficient horns, especially in terms of articulation. I find myself much more aware of the resistance balance happening withing the horn and my oral cavity. This gives me the feeling that I have much more subtle control of the timbre of the instrument. Maybe this is an age thing and I just want to work less hard as I get older. I can’t help but feel there is more of a connection between the physical me and my sound. I know that sounds lame and cliche, but I’ve not described other trumpets this way. Other horns “feel fun”, “feel dark and warm”, “feel zippy and electric”, but this one feels like me.
I played a Bach Strad during the foundational years of my playing in early college. Once I started looking at other horns, I primarily wanted to be different and not play what everyone else played. That took me on a journey through all kinds of horns and for the last dozen years or so, I was looking for a horn with that “Bach Sound” but without all the old Bach idiosyncrasies. I believe the the Bach company has gone through some kind of restructuring because they are really reinvesting into their trumpet line. There are many more models now than in the past and their “stock Strads” play way better than they did 10-20 years ago. These Artisans hit all the right buttons for me. They have the sound I want, they are beautiful to look at, wonderfully and carefully made, and I just feel good playing them. I am a proud owner of Artisan Bb, C, Eb/D (long bell), and piccolo. The instant they come out with an Artisan Flugel I’ll have one of those as well.
Clicking on the thumbnails below with open the pictures up so you can see some of the design details.