|Engraved Bach Bb Trumpet, 1930
| Repairing Bach Stradivarius Model trumpets accounts for a larger portion of
my work load than anything else, and occasionally, I'll be asked to restore a
very early example such as this. A 20 or 30 year old example in this
condition wouldn't be worth the expense involved but this one is very early
as well as originally having a deluxe finish. This is another restoration that I
did for Steven Ward. It's hard for us to imagine today that somebody
treated such a fine trumpet so badly, but it was obviously considered just an
old trumpet for a kid to throw around. It had also been subjected to a very
bad refinishing job many decades ago. There were a few original parts
missing such as a bottom valve cap, tuning slide brace, pull knobs and stop
nuts, but it retains the original mouthpipe in fairly good condition. Most of
this job was straightforward dent removal, straightening, repairing solder
joints etc. One challenge was that there were several cracks through the
brass along the engraved lines. Patching over these would hide portions of
the engraving and spoil the effect. Silver soldering, no matter how carefully
done, will fill up the engraved lines, which is not much better. The only
desirable choice is to re-engrave the lines into the silver solder. This is more
difficult than it sounds because the graver wants to skate across the solder
and cut into the brass.
The original shop card was located for this trumpet which indicates that it
was originally engraved and had finish number 4, which was burnished silver
plating with gold within the engraving. The engraving had been heavily
polished, but I knew from experience that the new plating would bring some
life to it. The nature of silver plating is that it brings out the contrast between
the polished surface and engraved lines, which are by nature and from
corrosion rough in texture. To achieve the best results in gold plating the
engraving and inside the bell, it was first double silver plated while detached
from the rest of the trumpet. Every part that was to remain silver plated was
carefully masked off with a special lacquer, then it was heavily gold plated.
This method not only creates a very sharp border between the silver and
gold, but also allows for the bell rim to be gold plated all the way around.
The rest of the trumpet was also double silver plated and sent back to me to
carefully solder the bell to it. The plating and masking was all done by
Anderson Silver Plating.
The fourth photo on the left shows this trumpet beside my Bach #959 which
has a very similar engraved pattern, almost certainly by the same engraver,
and original gold plating. The last two photos are more restorations of early
engraved Bach trumpets, one with new gold plating and the other with an
economical lacquered finish. Hopefully, this one will be gold plated in the
future as well. All of these trumpets were in similarly rough condition.
Click on image for larger view.