Copy Cat Trumpets

One of our readers brought up an interesting issue which I thought would be helpful to other readers and that was the quality (or lack of) of many imported trumpets on the market.

As the unaware shopper begins to search for the perfect instrument for their kids or themselves, the first place many go to find such an instrument would be on ebay……so let’s take a look.

Type in and in the search box, enter trumpet.

The first thing you see is “Mendidi Bb Beginning Trumpet in Gold, Silver, Black, Red, +CaseKit+ Case”. My goodness they might think, “I didn’t realize that trumpets were so inexpensive! List price of $339 reduced to only $99. What a bargain!

Now let’s look closer at this Super Buy.

It says that they have sold 4,296 and one was just sold an hour ago. This must be a good trumpet if all those people are buying it.

Now we start looking closer at the pictures to see the product better.

Things I notice-

1. It looks like a trumpet but now you have to decide which color would be the best. Gold would be a good investment but perhaps it isn’t real gold at that price. Black looks striking but I don’t think I have ever seen one in a band. I think the silver would be best.

2. The trumpet case looks familiar. It looks just like Uncle Bob’s Giardinelli trumpet case. Wow! He would be surprised that I got a Giardinelli trumpet case with the trumpet, and for less than $100.

3. This trumpet looks like every other trumpet. Although the finger hook at the top of that tube looks much thinner and cheaper than the others I have seen.

4. The bell looks exactly the same as other trumpet bells, other than the fact that it has a slightly different shape. I’m sure the shape doesn’t matter much for all trumpets are the same. Aren’t they?

5. I recognize the saddle on the first valve slide. It looks just like the one I saw on a Schilke although this one is much higher and thinner.

6. The ring on the third slide looks just like that on an old Getzen I saw one time. Maybe the old style is coming back. That lockdown knob sure looks much higher than I remembered and the bracing doesn’t look as substantial as I remember.

7. Something about that water key bothers me. It looks as if it were stuck on with glue and the water key itself looks as if it were stamped out of tin.

8. That’s interesting, in one picture, there are rubber rings inserted in the first second and third valve slides, and in the other photos there are none. I guess they just forgot to put them on. But wait! In the full shot of the silver trumpet there are rubber rings also on the tuning slide! But wait, again! They placed them at the wrong section of the tuning slide! In that position, they are useless! Now what do they know that the rest of the world doesn’t?

9. There is something also unusual for in one picture they show black, rubber water key stoppers and in another they are made of cork. I wonder why they did that.

10. Now I am confused for in the next picture the rubber rings are gone …….. and so are the black rubber water key stoppers.

11. This is getting spooky for in the next picture they are back again!

12. In the next picture the rings are again placed in the wrong position on the tuning slide. And the black rubber water key stoppers are back!

13. What do the gloves have to do with trumpet playing? I guess they are for marching bands that perform in Iowa during the winter. I’ve heard it gets very cold up there.

Although this shopping spree was written as a humorous tale, it illustrates the frustration and confusion a shopper might have when searching for their first trumpet.

As I have tried to show, the market is filled with “copycat” instruments which try to copy the most easily recognized features of our top line instruments in hopes of tricking the unaware buyer into purchasing the lesser priced and equally lesser quality instruments.

In my next post, I will try to walk the less knowledgeable buyer through the maze of instrument features in hopes that they make an educated decision on the purchase of a fine instrument.

P.S. Don’t buy the “Mendidi Bb Beginning Trumpet in Gold, Silver, Black, Red, +CaseKit+ Case”….at any price!

The practice of other countries coping from us is not new as this true story illustrates.

In the 1950’s, the United States exported a huge printing press to Japan. While loading this massive machine on the ship to transport it to this distant country, the cable broke and the printing press fell on the dock. After close scrutiny, it was discover that a crack had formed in the side of the press. In order to make the shipments deadline, it was decided to weld the crack shut and send it on its way. Years later when following up on the shipment, the inspector found a strange discovery. The Japanese had duplicated the original printing press all the way down to the emergency weld on the side of the machine.

“And now you know the rest of the story”.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.