Vincent Bach Corporation
|Number of locations||1|
|Area served||United States and worldwide|
|Key people||Scott M. Gervais - General Manager|
|Services||Build to order|
|Owners||Conn-Selmer, a division of Steinway Musical Instruments|
|Parent||Steinway Musical Instruments|
The Vincent Bach Corporation was an American manufacturer of brass musical instruments that began early in the twentieth century and still exists as a subsidiary of Conn-Selmer, a division of Steinway Musical Instruments. The company was founded in 1918 by Austrian-born trumpeter Vincent Schrotenbach (Vincent Bach). This particular company has been voted by consumers for the Best Brass Tone, the Best Brass Durability, Best Price, and Best Overall, beating other companies such as Getzen, King Musical Instruments, etc.
Vincent Schrotenbach was born near Vienna in 1890. As a child he received training on violin, trumpet and bugle. By age 12 he had concentrated on the trumpet. After he graduated from Maschinenbauschule (Mechanical Engineering School, Ansbach) with an engineering degree, he entered into compulsory military service in the Imperial Navy, worked as an elevator operator, and then was re-conscripted during which time he served as a military musician in the Austrian Marine Band.
When he left the military the second time, Vincent decided to defy his family’s wishes and pursued a career as a solo cornetist touring Europe. At the outbreak of World War I, he was in England and was forced to change his name and flee to the United States in order to escape detention as an enemy alien. He resumed his career as a performer, interrupted by another term of compulsory military service, this time in the US military as a musician.
Vincent Bach Corporation
New York Period
First New York Period
- Time frame: 1918 - 1922
- Products: Mouthpieces
- Brand names: Vincent Bach
- Location: 11 East 14th Street, Selmer Music, New York, New York
- Serial Numbers: N/A
The Vincent Bach Corporation began when Vincent purchased a $300 foot-operated lathe and began producing mouthpieces in the back of the Selmer music store in New York. He established his shop across the street from the musicians' union. He ran an advertisement that read "How to become a wizard on cornet without practicing" and accumulated $500 in orders in a short time and began his career as a manufacturer.
Second New York Period
- Time frame: 1922 - 1928
- Products: Mouthpieces, Cornets, Trumpets
- Brand names: Stradivarius, Apollo, Mercury
- Location: 237 E. 41st Street, New York, New York
- Serial Numbers: 1-1000 (approximate)
By 1922 the company incorporated, had 10 employees  and moved into a small factory at 237 E. 41st Street in New York. In 1924 Bach began producing cornets and trumpets under the Stradivarius by Vincent Bach Corporation name. In 1928, tenor and bass trombones were added to the product line as the company expanded and relocated.
Third New York Period
- Time frame: 1928–1953
- Products: Mouthpieces, Cornets, Trumpets, Flugelhorns, Trombones
- Brand names: Stradivarius, Apollo, Mercury, Mercedes
- Location: 621 East 216th Street, Bronx, New York
- Serial numbers: 1000 – 10,999
In October 1928 the company opened a factory in The Bronx to produce cornets, trumpets and trombones (both tenor and bass). Shortly after this move, Bach removed the “Faciebat Anno” marking from his bell engraving that had been in use since before the 100th horn, and began stamping the bells with “Model” followed by numbers for the bell mandrel and bore size. Some horns have "New York 67" as the location on the bell and are sometimes mistaken for a "67" bell model, however 67 was the pre-zipcode postal code for the Bronx. This practice continued through most of this period. The bell mandrel number had previously appeared in Bach’s script “Vincent Bach Corporation” that has been an enduring marking on Bach horns.
The company experienced stresses, but survived the depression and expanded again afterward. During the Second World War, Bach coped with a shortage of workers and materials and, while not converted to produce war materials as many competitors were, the company cut back on production. Throughout the early years, Bach resorted to mixing parts and modifying earlier horns returned to their ownership during this period to provide requested instruments to customers. Some horns built from extra parts or reconfigured bear an X on the serial number on the second valve casing, others had a digit added to the original serial number. In some cases, the same serial number exists on another horn.
Mount Vernon Period
- Time frame: 1953–1964
- Products: Mouthpieces, Brass Instruments
- Brand names: Stradivarius, Mercury, Minerva, Mercedes
- Location: 50 South MacQuesten Parkway, Mount Vernon, New York
- Serial Numbers: 11,000 – 29,999
Over the years, the company produced several ranges of trumpets, cornets, flugelhorns and trombones, using the brand names Apollo, Minerva, Mercury, Mercedes and Stradivarius. The Vincent Bach Corporation moved in 1953 from New York City to Mount Vernon, New York. Mt. Vernon Bach horns are prized for being hand-assembled instruments. Mt. Vernon horns can be identified by the Bach manufacturing stamp listing Mount Vernon NY on the second valve casing along with the bore letter code and serial number.
- Time frame: 1965 – present
- Products: Mouthpieces, Brass Instruments
- Brand names: Stradivarius, Bundy(Selmer name no longer used), Bach
- Location: 600 Industrial Parkway, Elkhart, Indiana
- Serial Numbers: 30,000 -
In 1961 Vincent Bach was 71 and the company was acquired that year by The Selmer Company, with Bach staying on as a consultant and continuing to work until at least 1974. Bach accepted the bid from Selmer even though some others of the 13 which he received were higher. It is believed that Vincent Bach continued customizing a small number of horns at the old Mt. Vernon facility for special customers.
The bulk of tooling, along with many parts and assembled horns, were relocated to a former Conn factory belonging to the Selmer Company. The Bach line of brass instruments continues to be made in Elkhart, Indiana, using the same blueprints and the same techniques as the originals. They are sold as a premium brand under the name “Bach Stradivarius” as well as the student line “Bach” horns.
On 1 April 2006, workers at the Bach plant in Elkhart began a strike that lasted three years. Production was interrupted until the company hired replacement workers, and roughly a third of the strikers returned to work. The strike ended when workers voted to dissolve the relationship between the company and the United Auto Workers union. As a result, retired employees lost their pensions.
The 70 strikers who returned to work constituted 30% of the pre-strike workforce, but they constituted 57% of the workforce after the strike, which shrank by 46% to 124. In the post-strike period amidst severe economic crisis, sales were down from pre-strike levels by 31%, but gross profit rose from 20% to 22% of sales revenues. Re-work and quality complaints dropped sharply in the post-strike period. Reductions in employee compensation were credited with returning production of student-line horns (the TR-300) from Asia to Elkhart.
- Priestley, Brian, Dave Gelly, Tony Bacon, The sax & brass book, MIller Freeman Books, San Francisco, CA, 1998, p. 1970
- History of Bach Stradivarius
- Hempley, Roy & Lehrer, Doug, Play it again Mr. Bach, 2002, Bachology essay at http://www.bachbrass.com/bachology/article.php?uid=4 retrieved 5/31/2011
- Note: Bach served in the same field artillery regiment credited with bringing the "Cassion Song" to John Philip Sousa in 1917. The result, "The Caisson Song," would become the official U.S. Army march, "The Army Goes Rolling Along." See http://skyways.lib.ks.us/orgs/mcb/Library/M0126.htm
- BachLoyalist.com Timeline of the Vincent Bach Corporation and Serial Number List at http://www.bachloyalist.com/serials/serial_trumpet.htm retrieved 6/2/2011
- Hempley, Roy and Lehrer, Doug, New York Bach Stradivarius Trumpet and Cornet Bell Markings, 2004, Bachology essay at http://www.bachbrass.com/bachology/article.php?uid=1 retrieved 5/31/2011
- Hempley, Roy and Lehrer, Doug, Bach’s X Horns, 2001, Bachology essay at http://www.bachbrass.com/bachology/article.php?uid=2 retrieved 5/31/2011
- Dundas, Richard, 20th Century Brass Musical Instruments in the United States, p. 5
- Pavlakis, Christopher, The American music handbook, The Free Press, Calhun Publishing, 1974, p. 655
- Hempley, Roy and Lehrer, Doug, Bach’s Bugles, 2004, Bachology essay at http://www.bachbrass.com/bachology/article.php?uid=7 retrieved 5/31/2011
- Vincent Bach website http://www.bachbrass.com/ retrieved 5/31/2011
- Conroy, Tommy (5 August 2009). "Conn-Selmer strike ends". South Bend Tribune (Indiana). Retrieved 23 July 2010.
- Marilyn, Odendahl (05 August 2009). "Three years later, the Vincent Bach strike -- and the union -- ends quietly ". The Elkhart Truth
- Stuckey, Mike (12 April 2010). "Little sympathy, but much at stake for strikers". eTruth. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
- Odendahl, Marilyn, Conn-Selmer leader's focused on the future, The E-truth, 5/23/2010, at http://www.etruth.com/Know/News/Story.aspx?ID=513794 retrieved 6/7/2011
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