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Why would any major manuf make sub-par horns?



 
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:31 pm    Post subject: Why would any major manuf make sub-par horns? Reply with quote

I hear people say for example that Bach Strads are hit and miss in quality.

The company has been making horns since forever, surely they must have gotten the process down long ago - everyone who works there must realize they're in a tight economic place with a lot of competition for a relatively small market and it would behoove them to make every horn as good as they can make it, why wouldn't they? Or do you think the problem is overstated?

I mention Bach only because I see them talked about a lot, I don't have experience with Strads and don't have any agenda other than curiosity. I also have no experience working in instrument manufacturing.
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trumpetchops
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They make trumpets to make money.

They make a really good trumpet. There is a big demand so they make more. Soon they are putting them together so fast that they aren't consistent.
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giakara
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

trumpetchops wrote:
They make trumpets to make money.

They make a really good trumpet. There is a big demand so they make more. Soon they are putting them together so fast that they aren't consistent.


Exactly, Roy Lawler had make around 1500 horns in 35 years and Bach company made around 10.000 in a single year , this is the secret.

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razeontherock
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Bach got it's act together, as I have not played a new one in a store that wasn't really good since the 90's. I've read about how the Artisan is made better, but I don't like it. I also still prefer their large bore, so the Artisan probably just has too much resistance for me.

I don't like their student models at all.
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jadickson
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Almost all of their market is high school kids. And the kids will buy them regardless of the quality, because they don't know the difference.
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yourbrass
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Factories are run by human beings, who make mistakes. All of us do, no?
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TKSop
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yourbrass wrote:
Factories are run by human beings, who make mistakes. All of us do, no?


Bingo.

And putting processes in place to catch those mistakes (ie: QA/QC... or allowing more time per instrument, requiring more assembly staff to meet production quotas) costs money - and that cost either gets passed onto the customer, or impacts the profit margins.


So why would a company (any company, at any pricepoint - pointing no fingers at any makers or models) allow sub-par instruments out of the door?
Simple - because it saves them money on the production side, and you're not paying them enough (or rather, they're not asking you to pay enough) to put more controls in place.


And this goes right up to some of the very, very best instruments that money can buy...
There might be one or two brands that include a PVA and blueprinting as standard - but most don't.
Doesn't really matter whether that's because these top brands consider standard tolerances to be more than enough (and for most players, they will be), don't believe that the extra work makes a noticeable enough difference or simply don't feel capable of asking the higher prices that such extra work would pass on to the customer.

There always comes a point of diminishing returns.
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dstdenis
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Competition, or lack of it. If a maker could hold onto market share despite less-than-stellar quality, why would they ever change?

They wouldn't, unless new competitors introduced instruments built to higher quality standards at competitive prices, customers began buying the better instruments, and the original maker lost market share. Only then would the maker consider quality improvements. Same thing happened in the auto industry.
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TKSop
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dstdenis wrote:
Competition, or lack of it. If a maker could hold onto market share despite less-than-stellar quality, why would they ever change?


I suppose it goes further than that, too - if a maker has an effective monopoly, they might even get complacent and cut costs (at the expense of quality) to increase profit margins?

Quote:
They wouldn't, unless new competitors introduced instruments built to higher quality standards at competitive prices, customers began buying the better instruments, and the original maker lost market share. Only then would the maker consider quality improvements. Same thing happened in the auto industry.


Indeed - it's the loss of market share that would really make them act, I would've thought?
But it's the presence of an acceptable, high quality and reasonably priced (same amount or cheaper) alternative that see's market share begin to shift.


If we accept that Bach's output has become more consistent and higher qualilty (I'm not sure I do accept it, but since it's a prevalent narrative around here, let's assume it for a minute)... would it be reasonable to assume that it's the massive strides made by Yamaha that might've driven that raising of the bar?
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boog
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was a band and orchestra teacher for a LONG time. I have seen, played, and listened to a LOT of instruments, from "student" to "professional" over the years.

I also took a hiatus from teaching for about a decade and worked in manufacturing (not musical instruments, but electronics) in both "Quality Control", "Test" (of things that come off of the assembly process to insure that they worked as designed), and in plant maintenance (fixing and maintaining machines that make the products). So, I have some experience in making products that will be marketed to the public.

Here are a few observations on this:

SO MUCH depends on the craftsmanship of the workers, supervisors, and management in any given manufacturing facility.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to find labor that gives a rat's behind about anything but the paycheck. It exists, but is becoming much more rare than it was in past decades in the United States.

With a company, especially one that makes 1000's of ANY widget, ESPECIALLY something that is designed for creating "art", finding people willing to put their hearts, minds, and souls into products that are totally dependent on tolerances and assembly procedures (that cannot be done by machine) is indeed a daunting task! Even computer-controlled manufacturing processes are, unfortunately, dependent on human set-up, maintenance, and programming.

Products that are aimed for the mass market (school band, etc.) have to make a profit. If they don't, companies cease to be able to manufacture! C.G. Conn and F.E. Olds are prime examples. They made "boutique" horns for the, basically, "mass" markets. You get my drift.

Bach is to be commended for providing instruments that are reasonably priced (for what you get) that still maintain some semblance of "artistic" quality. Yamaha, also...considering their yearly output.

Distilled down, you STILL get what you pay for! That's why there are people that "blueprint" racing engines, and trumpets, to correct manufacturing tolerance and assembly errors. A fact of life...

My .02 cents worth. Cheers, Dave
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chuck in ny
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

in every field of endeavor you need a very unpleasant, or potentially unpleasant, individual to maintain standards.
back in the last century you would have a master carpenter or builder on a home construction job who would not allow sub par materials to be delivered to the site, and knew where to get the different better quality materials. fast forward that situation to the 1980s and beyond and expensive houses were run up out of spruce and somehow offshore wallboard was also a pretty neat concept. rich people would move in and spend the next decade tearing out bathrooms and such dealing with the settlement and other problems. it costs a lot of money to be cheap.
if your outfit is tightly run it is far better. at getzen you have adam inspecting and rejecting questionable rolls of brass and dutifully making the necessary quality checks. there is no reason for getzen or anyone else to send out a wonky playing trumpet as they can be checked by blowing them.
as they are manufactured goods you have to allow a small reject rate and expect some problems but that should be about it and you should not have models of horns notorious for their issues.
running an artisan business with a corporate bean counter mentality can get you into trouble. it is far better to have foster reynolds and zig kanstul patrolling the factory floor. that's how foster reynolds died, too, apoplectic about an employee's messing up the production process and drawing his last breath lying in the aisle at olds.
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joe1joey
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting conjecturing offered. Is there a current insider at Getzen for example, to offer their view?
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Adam R. Getzen
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

joe1joey wrote:
Interesting conjecturing offered. Is there a current insider at Getzen for example, to offer their view?


I will tomorrow as I am on my phone. I’ll check back when I’m at work.. I can’t give any meaningful insight into one of the big three but have some things to say from a “small” factory’s point of view.
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Adam R. Getzen
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reading the original post it seems like they are referring to QC rather than a lesser quality horn. I will try my best to explain some factors that lead to substandard horns making their way out the door.

1. Process Error
I'm not sure about the big three but with the exception of parts that used to be made on a lathe that are now made on a CNC we still make bells, tubing, crooks, bows, etc. the old fashion way. By hand. While this certainly gives us more ability to make a bell or other part with more "character" than one made by an automatic process it does leave room for some irregularities that if missed could be detrimental to the horn.

2. Human Error
We all make mistakes, that's part of the human condition, but the biggest mistake we as manufacturers make is failing to "catch" those errors preventing them to make it out into the wild. There are times in the course of a year we get a few returns and are dumbfounded that the horn ever made it out. Such an obvious mistake or slip in quality and only explanation as to how we shipped the horn was someone failed to hold to the standards we have put on ourselves. Knowing our craftsmen and the pride we take in our work rules out any malicious intent to ship sub-par horns.

3. Timed Errors
Sometimes plating or lacquer issues, material failures or joint issues pop up some time after the horn has shipped. These are issues that were checked for prior to shipping a horn and weren't noticeable until they experienced real life use.

With all three of these issues the best we can do is quickly rectify them and use them as motivation to continually improve our processes. We are always balancing production and the constant strive for higher standards. I don't believe any manufacturer is satisfied with putting out sub-par work if they rely on their current work and reputation to sell horns.

All my best,
Adam R. Getzen
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jadickson wrote:
Almost all of their market is high school kids. And the kids will buy them regardless of the quality, because they don't know the difference.

This.

That doesn't mean that the Bach Strad is a bad horn - they are pretty solid. But, with that said, there are better horns out there, at least in terms of of how they play and respond.

The one thing Bach seems to have a pretty solid lock on is bell design, which in turn leads to sound.
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jadickson wrote:
Almost all of their market is high school kids. And the kids will buy them regardless of the quality, because they don't know the difference.

Sure a student horn wouldn't be expected to be equal in playing characteristics to a pro model horn but I was thinking largely about pro horns that I've heard are inconsistent in comparison to traditional Bach standards, if it's actually true.

Even with less expensive horns, mechanical defects are going to result in returns or warranty repairs/replacement and customers possibly being put off on a brand, all of which are detrimental to the bottom line. How would a horn with badly sticking valves for example, ever make it out of the factory?
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robert P wrote:
jadickson wrote:
Almost all of their market is high school kids. And the kids will buy them regardless of the quality, because they don't know the difference.

Sure a student horn wouldn't be expected to be equal in playing characteristics to a pro model horn but I was thinking largely about pro horns that I've heard are inconsistent in comparison to traditional Bach standards, if it's actually true.


The “student horn” category only came to be when the baby boomers entered school by the millions. Companies like Horton and Buescher offered lower priced alternatives using more off the shelf parts but they had the same quality and playability as the top tier.

They didn’t know how to make junk.

Tom
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

there is also the phenomenon of going to the bach factory, and somebody there has a table full of Bb's and they are going down the line playing a few phrases on each one, and separating the "good" from the "dogs". I've seen it a couple of times. They end up with two separate tables, one with the dogs on it.

The times i saw it, there was a university prof doing the testing and then several students would go through the "good" ones and pick the one they liked.

We used say to never go to a store to get a bach, cuz the ones they got were off the Dog table.

ultimately there may have been some substance to it, but there is also a lot of truth to the idea that just cuz a horn plays bad with one player/mouthpiece combination it might still have magic for someone else. The most variable area on a horn is the receiver/venturi/optimum gap issue. That is personal to a pretty high degree.

Bach Makes great horns, so does yamaha, and so does Conn selmer (vintage one trumpet, conn trombones like 88H etc) and so do nearly every other company that makes "pro" line horns. That doesnt mean that every horn is going to hit spot for what you want in an instrument.
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LittleRusty
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I might have posted this before, but in a discussion I had with Dick Akright he stated that the variations in the Bach horns actually benefitted him as a seller. That one that didn't work for one would work for another. I am sure he wasn't referring to the total failures however.

trickg wrote:
jadickson wrote:
Almost all of their market is high school kids. And the kids will buy them regardless of the quality, because they don't know the difference.

This.

That doesn't mean that the Bach Strad is a bad horn - they are pretty solid. But, with that said, there are better horns out there, at least in terms of of how they play and respond.

The one thing Bach seems to have a pretty solid lock on is bell design, which in turn leads to sound.

I think this is on the right track. It is even bigger than just school kids though.

I believe that most of us cannot determine what specifically makes a great horn. We can tell when one plays better for us than another. So if we try a horn and it works better for us than others we can compare it to, we are willing to purchase it.

And...

If we can make beautiful music on a sub-par instrument, does it really matter if it is sub-par?
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boog
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have never been a fan of Bach Strads. They seem to be making some pretty good horns these days., though. Back a few months ago, I traded for a Strad that I had intended to "flip" at some point, serial in the 736xxx range, which puts it's manufacturing date somewhere after 2015, as far as I can tell from the limited research I have put into it.

The horn was used by a kid, and is lightly "pecked up" on the bell in spots, nothing really noticeable unless you look hard for them. I spent some time getting the pizza and chips out of the pipes and it plays really nice. Good horn, I think it is going to be a keeper! Nice intonation, incredible valves and slides, and a very pleasant sound spread to my ears. AND, it plays really easily to me. Most of my other trumpets are from the '80's and back, (WAY back, in some cases!) so I guess I was expecting it to be of poorer quality and playability, which is not the case at all. Only thing I don't care for is the laser etching on the bell, but that is a personal preference and really doesn't matter.

I am pleasantly surprised!

Cheers, Dave
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