I get angry dismissive emails every month or so, often from the strangest places. Surprisingly, the majority of my dissenters over the years were clergy of some sort, but today's angry email came from someone I considered more than a client. He has purchased two Bravura trumpets in the past and actually stood over my shoulder for the entire production asking questions and comments as he himself is a trumpet maker of sorts. The process of building my horns is not simple so I didn't see any harm in sharing as I highly doubt he could reproduce my results. He has praised my instruments for years and I have likewise praised his musical ability.
We had a casual phone conversation yesterday concerning his ideas for a new trumpet brace, which he claims to have tested superior to my own designs. Apparently using a "synthetic material" which has not been named, he modified a Getzen trumpet to play 1.5 decibels louder than his Bravura so now he is asking me to change my production. Producing just one part of his proposed design could easily consume 4-6 weeks of my undivided attention and I let him know the cost would be considerable not to mention incorporating a design change into my line of instruments. And why should I change my production to suit his idea, one that I have already tested years ago?
His email below (identity omitted):
Thanks for the conversation yesterday, its always entertaining hearing your thoughts on trumpets.
I have to say that I am disappointed that you will not offer conventional weight trumpets as part of your business model. A couple years ago you gave me the impression that you wanted to sell as many trumpets as possible, without compromising, of course.
I appreciate that you have the realities of manufacturing to deal with and that you are content with selling 200-300 horns per year. The sad reality is that people aren't going to change their minds and start buying heavy trumpets in large numbers. I'm afraid you are just going to wake up one day and on a whim stop building trumpets. Then all that will be left is 1000 or so Harrelson trumpets in existence with no one to carry on your work.
Is it really about putting a clearly superior trumpet into the hands of anyone who wants one, or is it about being another Dave Monette who doesn't really care what his customers want because his way is the right way?
As a strong supporter and repeat customer, I'm trying to make you realize that there is a huge pool of customers that just won't even consider a heavy (or "weird" looking) horn and that attitude will take decades to change, not years. By that time you likely will be bored with it all and quit.
Anyway, I again thank you for your great contributions to trumpet building science and sharing your knowledge."
My response is posted below and then I will have nothing more to say on this subject. I will not get into a "Trumpet Herald" style sparring session over how to run my own business ;)
I spent almost an hour speaking with you yesterday and never had any idea you were upset. I have devoted more than 15 years of my life to understanding the physics of acoustic instruments. Your ideas are not new, nor are many of mine, this is reality. You state that you're disappointed in me making comparison to Dave Monette. Do you realize almost every statement in your email is a contradiction and comes across as emotional? Did I somehow offend you by running my business the way my customers see appropriate? Did I not build your trumpet exactly the way you wanted with you leaning over my shoulder throughout the entire process? And now you condemn me?
And what is this controversy over standard weight instruments? Have you played my HT3, which is more efficient than any Bach or Yamaha, costs $1000 less and is almost identical in weight? Please take the time to understand my products before ripping me apart in a rude email that Paul is trained to delete before it reaches my eyes.
Weight has nothing to do with physics of trumpets. It is not a necessary component and your assumption that my goal is to add weight is misguided to say the least. Tens of thousands of hours experimenting on trumpets and you think my goal is weight? Hmm. Regardless, my goal is to offer the best playing horn to fit each individual's playing preferences and nothing more. I don't care to sell thousands of horns and hope the custom market remains relatively small. If my designs became mainstream, they'd be ordinary like a Bach. Mainstream is exactly what I do not want.
Your email is dismissive, which anyone would find disrespectful, so I imagine you'll find my rebuttal the same. Attack my life's work and I will defend. Your one idea is a small grain of salt in a massive heap that overflows my every moment. If you want your hollow braces produced, be prepared to pay the price. I don't think you'll find another shop in the world that will come close to my price and quality, though I don't believe you're remotely interested in producing anything. Maybe you simply like to throw insults at people that have more important things to do?
In your words I will, "wake up one day and on a whim stop building trumpets" and "likely will be bored with it all and quit". In reality, I will never stop thinking about how to improve the trumpet or most other things. Where do you get these ideas since we barely know each other? If I ever do retire from building trumpets, it will most likely be to avoid the arrogant and dismissive emails from people telling me how to run my business or the long hours.
You have your own ideas, put them to work and compete with Harrelson Trumpets. I welcome all legitimate innovation in the trumpet marketplace even if it comes from a former client who, after purchasing and praising two Bravuras, thinks my designs are seriously flawed. We sell more custom made trumpets than any other company in the world. Please, compete and show me how a trumpet should be built.