I have played Schagerl trumpets since 2010, but only rotary trumpets, never pistons. I, of course was aware of their earlier piston models, which are all fine instruments, but I was never tempted to switch away from my Bach or Blackburn C and B flats.
In 2021 after a COVID-induced year and a half absence, I was able to visit the Schagerl factory in Mank, Austria, in August and October. During that visit, I was able to see many friends, socialize, and also interview many artists for the Schagerl social media sites.
During that visit, Karl asked me to playtest a new model they were working on – a piston series, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of their company – intended for the American market. I was a bit hesitant, and for good reason. It is a tough sell, I thought, for an Austrian trumpet maker, known for fine rotary instruments, to make a piston model for the American market. We are an opinionated, demanding lot. Not to mention it is a crowded market, with many great instruments to choose from! Nevertheless, I gave them a try.
After having spent time with these horns, I have come away convinced that this new series, the ‘1961 Model” C and B flat trumpets, are some of the best piston trumpets I have ever played. Schagerl has well and truly hit it out of the park! These horns are “dead, solid perfect”, “straight down the middle”, American style trumpets. They found the sweet spot. Their sound is exactly what you would expect from a classic American orchestral trumpet: clear, rich, focused, brilliant and solid. Yet, and this is crucial… they offer more.
Not only do I get the sound I have always wanted on a piston C or B flat, but, I am producing it with less effort, more ease of flexibility and locked in intonation than ever before. My accuracy on both horns is better than ever. I never feel as if I am fighting the horn.
Some trumpets make you work too hard to achieve what you want, and are always a struggle. Others seem to do it for you, like “bowling with bumpers in the gutters” as one colleague described it. They play more easily, but the result is less than satisfying. The ‘1961’ Series has neither of those faults. They are free blowing, responsive, and beautiful. It feels like a friend who wants to go wherever you want to go. They are a joy to play.
As always, with Schagerl, the workmanship is world-class. The Schagerl valves are smooth as silk, and the finishing is superb. Do yourselves a favor, find one, and give it a try!
Jack Burt, Professor of Trumpet – University of Maine – Orono, ME USA