A constant question I am asked is where I purchase the valvesets used to build Harrelson Trumpets. The answer has been different depending on when the question was asked. Previous suppliers have included Kanstul, Bauerfeind, numerous unknown factories overseas kept secret by middlemen, B&S and others. Complications arose with all of these companies and/or their products. For instance, the casing material was often too thin after threads were cut for top and bottom caps eventually causing premature wear and shrinkage when caps were over-tightened. Another company builds the highest quality stainless steel pistons, yet they forced us to wait 6 months for each order creating slow supply headaches. I have spent ten plus years searching for the best supplier of valvesets and found them a few years ago. My supplier told me they were made in Germany, which was a blatant fabrication I learned just last year.
Believe it or not, the best valvesets are made in Taiwan. This doesn't surprise me as many of the best machine shops are now located in Taiwan producing everything from high-end cnc machinery to extremely common auto parts to the majority of high quality valvesets for brass instruments. Our supplier builds valvesets for Bach, Conn, Taylor and many many other brands you know and trust. Chances are a good portion of your vehicle, regardless of make and model, was produced in Taiwan.
Coming from a man who believes you should buy locally and support your own economy, it is interesting that I buy from Taiwan. Here's why... they do it better, they do it faster and they do it they way I asked. Unfortunately, there isn't an American company that could live up to my expectations and Germany was too slow. In a world where the number of suppliers are shrinking while the few remaining producers capture more of the market, I chose the very best.
So why not produce my own valveset? I'm working on it and intend to someday produce a Harrelson valveset along with just about every other piece of the trumpet. But my design is dramatically different from the 1800's design in use by virtually every trumpet brand today. The new Harrelson design will likely meet a great deal of opposition simply because it is different and extremely simple. It is in the prototype design stage and this is something I'm putting a great deal of time into along with numerous other projects. You could see the first Harrelson valveset within a year and as with almost everything I produce, the prototype is usually only a few weeks from becoming production should there be enough demand.
With all this said, the very best valveset is nothing more than a commodity when sold in mass quantities. So why produce a commodity with my name on it when I can focus my energy on SWE, aesthetics and variations in components? Do Dell or Apple produce their version of Intel processors or simply buy what is proven to be the best? And are the end products the same or drastically varied depending on who designed a product based on the exact same processor? Had either company focused on producing every single piece of their computers, we'd likely have two small companies capturing relatively small and unknown portions of a huge market. Instead, they bought the best (which happened to be the same product) and built around it to create a loyal following of die hard fans. Valvesets and processors are commodities.
Back to milling that insanely complicated Summit Art Nouveau trumpet...