Elden Eugene Benge, born July 12, 1904 in Winterset, Iowa, was the principal trumpet of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 1928–1933; he held the same position in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1933-1939. After moving to Chicago he began to experiment with designing his own trumpet, taking measurements from his personal instrument, a French Besson. By the end of 1935, using pre-made components along with parts he fashioned, he constructed a trumpet for his own use.
He continued refining the process and began selling the instruments, until, in 1937, he was able to manufacture and assemble trumpets using parts solely made in his home workshop. In 1939 he started to advertise the Benge Company, and he continued making trumpets in his Chicago home until 1953. In part due to a severe case of spinal arthritis, he moved to Burbank, California, where he continued to make “The World’s Finest Trumpet” until his death on December 13, 1960.
After Elden Benge's death, the company was run by his son Donald Benge, who later went on to be the creator of the widely successful Conquest_(board_game). The company enjoyed a very strong reputation among professional players in the Los Angeles area recording industry during the 1960s. In general the company did very little advertising and sold trumpets mostly to professionals and serious students through a network of professional players. In December 1970, Donald Benge sold the company to Leisure Time Industries and production was moved from the Benge garage to a small shop in downtown Los Angeles in the back of Lockie Music, also owned by Leisure Time. It has been claimed that "in 1972 the company was bought by H. N. White Co. who moved production to Anaheim, California, and increased production substantially"; however, H. N. White ceased to exist as a musical instrument manufacturer in 1965. Therefore, the King Musical Instrument company must have purchased Benge, as Benge became part of UMI (Conn) in 1985, production of Benges having been moved to Eastlake, Ohio in 1983.
Benge trumpets continue to be manufactured by Conn-Selmer,a subsidiary of Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc. in its Eastlake, Ohio facility. Some of Elden Benge's original design models are being marketed as "The Burbank Trumpet", by the Michael Thomas Music Company.
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