Archive for the 'Company News' Category

Lightning Can Indeed Strike Twice

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

First came the Getzen Custom Series trombone line in 1992. Born of five years of success with the Edwards Instruments line of trombones, the new Custom Series trombones took the industry by storm. They quickly became some of the most sought after trombones in the world and fully cemented the Getzen Company’s place in the professional trombone market.

For nearly two decades, the full line of Custom Series trombones set the standard for what a professional grade trombone should be. Minor improvements over the years like all metal linkages, improved valve designs, and the addition of Griego mouthpieces kept the Custom Series fresh and at the top of the list, but it wasn’t until the introduction of the Custom Reserve line and the 4047DS in 2011 that a brand new model was added to the line.

The 4047DS Custom Reserve was unlike anything previously offered under the Custom Series banner. More than two years in the making, it featured an all new rotor design, wrap, bell, and handslide complimented with a Getzen exclusive fiberglass case. It quickly caught the attention of trombone players everywhere. Rave reviews showed that the Getzen Custom Series trombones were once more setting the standard of what a truly upper level trombone could be. We are extremely proud and excited to say we’ve done it again!

4147IB PowerBore Rotor and Harmonic Pillar

Introducing the all new, Getzen 4147IB “Ian Bousfield” Custom Reserve tenor trombone. Designed by Christan Griego in partnership with world renowned trombone artist Ian Bousfield, this new trombone marks another leap forward for the Getzen Company. While it may look similar to the 4047DS, the 4147IB is a completely different animal. The handslide, leadpipe, neckpipe, tuning slides, and bell are all exclusive to the 4147IB. It is Getzen’s first premium, professional trombone model built around a narrow handslide configuration. Other Getzen firsts include a single version of the Edwards trombone patented Harmonic Pillar system and a revolutionary handslide cross brace. This new cross brace is not only more comfortable in the player’s hand, but its design, material, and position dramatically improve the trombone’s resonance and response. The 4147IB is a truly premium, professional trombone worthy of the name “Ian Bousfield”.

The 4147IB Custom Reserve comes standard with the same Getzen fiberglass case as the 4047DS and a Getzen Custom Griego CS5 mouthpiece. Due to the nature of the 4147IB, initial supplies are expected to be extremely limited. Because of that, we are making the 4147IB available for pre-order now with anticipated delivery beginning in June of 2013 on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. For more model information, availability, or to pre-order visit your local Getzen dealer or www.getzen.com today.

A Peek Behind the Curtain

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

by Christan Griego

Last March I traveled to Frankfurt, Germany to visit with distributors and dealers at the annual Music Messe. While there I had my night of fun with an old friend, who happens to be a trombone player (yeah, we run in packs). At some point in the evening, he mentioned that he had a friend who was not happy on his current equipment. He knew if there was anyone that could make this player happy it was…. me. Flattery sank in and I was immediately intrigued. As we talked about how to solve all of life’s problems, the conversation continued circle back around to this friend and what he needed. During this conversation the performer’s name was never mentioned, it was like classified information that would be unlocked when the time was right.

Fast-forward a month when I received a call from one Mr. Ian Bousfield. The mystery man was finally revealed. I knew Ian professionally as one of the world’s top trombone players and personally from a trip to the UK 15 years ago when I had scheduled a lesson with him. I still remember his Eb arpeggio and him helping me through the issues I was struggling with at the time. After talking a bit about everything from brewing beer, cycling, and trombones, Ian mentioned that he was not only in the States, but that he was only three hours away from Elkhorn and that he wanted to work with me. Not some distant time in the future, but in a couple of days. It was off to the races for me to get something together that could satisfy one of the most incredibly gifted and equipment sensitive individuals I had ever met. It was a monumental challenge I just couldn’t say no to.

4147IB Bracing

With an understanding of Ian’s playing preferences, I first started with the basic body of the 4047DS trombone and added a narrow slide to it. This setup played okay, but it had some issues. Taking a narrow slide and just throwing it on a wide slide bell section caused the intonation to go sky high. Once we identified this issue, I immediately knew we had to add length not only to the slide, but to the bell section as well. Messing with tapers scares me to no end because it’s the balance within the tapers that makes or breaks a concept. It can turn a wonderful trombone into an out of tune mess if you’re not careful. The slide became longer first and from there I focused not only on the tapers of the neckpipe and tuning slide, but also on the treatments and construction of the bell. Ian tried some higher copper content bells and decided that was the direction of “color” within the sound that was needed for his demanding work. Once the bell choice was made, we needed a bit more “width” in the sound. Through what seemed like divine intervention, I realized that the outer handslide cross brace was the place to go. By changing the material, location, and removing excess weight we had exactly what we needed to move forward.

After working with Ian and watching many of his performances on Youtube, I knew that this trombone needed to be as nimble as a ballet dancer, yet as powerful as a bulldozer, and all while remaining sensitive to the player. Giving him the feedback needed to know that what is going into the instrument while on stage, is what’s coming out equally in the hall. This is very hard to explain to listeners and the focus on near feel versus hall feedback is one area that I do concentrate on. When this subject is talked about it always ends up with people shaking their heads at me like I’m the crazy one, but to a player it is known immediately from the moment the instrument resonates against their lips, through their bodies, and out into the hall.

The comfort a trombonist feels by playing this style of instrument is also understood as “relaxed”, “more musical” with “less tension” in the sound compared to other styles of trombones made for the masses. Every day of my job I focus on the individual performer and this attention to personal details has helped me better understand what players want and need. This is what first lead me to develop the patented Edwards Harmonic Pillar system which allows a trombone to be acoustically tuned. I quickly realized that a singular version of that system was exactly what was needed to take this new trombone from great to a world class. It was the perfect design aspect to create a more intimate relationship between the instrument and the musician. Setting the trombone apart from any other on the market and at the same time broadening it’s appeal to all trombonists. It was the final piece of the puzzle.

When I designed the 4047DS trombone, time was not an issue. I had years to trial and error every design concept that came to mind. It became as much an education into what does not work in trombone design as what does. The process with this new trombone was the exact opposite. Instead, it was a relatively short time frame filled with very intense and focused work. Ian knew exactly what he wanted and, thanks to my experience with the 4047DS, I knew how to get there. Miraculously, there were very few bumps in the road and somehow everything seemed to fall into place.

It is my sincerest hope that this new trombone, the 4147IB Custom Reserve, will not only bring Ian Bousfield and his demanding playing schedule closer to his musical ideas, but that it will do the same for you and your career goals, performances, and beyond.

Getzen Remains a Family Business

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Dear Getzen Customer,

The musical instrument industry has changed a lot over the last few decades. Consolidation and economic hardship have changed the face of the industry. Historic companies are no longer with us and long standing traditions have faded away. Change is inevitable, but it is not always a negative.

My grandfather founded the Getzen Company in a converted barn behind the family home in 1939. He had no customers and a dream. His hard work paid off as the Getzen Company grew. Not only did he start a company that year, but he also started what would become a tradition of the Getzen family in the brass musical instrument industry.

I am very proud to announce that tradition is carrying on today and growing even stronger. A life long goal of my brother, Adam, and I was achieved on February 13 when we purchased the Getzen Company, Inc. from our father Tom Getzen. Adam and I are the fourth generation of Getzens in the industry and could not be more excited to carry on our family heritage at the helm of the Getzen Company. Following the purchase, I was named President and Adam Vice President. We have some very big shoes to fill, but we feel very confident that, with our experience and your support, the Getzen Company will continue to thrive and grow.


Adam, Tom, and Brett Getzen

The passing of the torch will forever mark 2013 as an important date in the 74 year history of the Getzen Company. We are excited for the challenges ahead.

On behalf of myself, Adam, and the entire Getzen family thank you for the continued support and patronage. We look forward to working with you in the future.

Sincerely,
Brett Getzen
President,
The Getzen Company, Inc.

Introducing the 4047DS Custom Reserve

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Christan Griego recently designed an new trombone for Getzen. He shares his thoughts about it below.

A while back, I had this idea. As always, it started as the most innocent of thoughts. It was “There’s this mythical ‘Bach’ style of trombone that, while some are great, most are inconsistent. Let’s try to build on this ‘Bach’ style while maintaining what we’ve always done best”. As you are probably aware, we’re known for making the most consistent resonating instruments in the world. So we should be able to make this work.

I knew where to start and I knew where I wanted to end up. That was the easy part. I also knew I didn’t want to re-invent the wheel, but I didn’t want to just rehash the same old things either. And so, by combining time tested ideas with a few new design approaches, I started the journey of creating this dream instrument that ultimately turned into the 4047DS Custom Reserve. Here’s a little insight into the how and why the 4047DS came to be.

The Handslide

This was the easiest part for me, since I knew what I wanted. A large, .547” bore hand slide with yellow brass outer tubes, nickel silver over sleeves, and a yellow brass end crook. The end crook gives us the width of sound needed to offset what is happening a bit later in the bell section. Prior research into end crook bore selection had given me the knowledge needed and the choice was made. The entire design is balanced and offset to each component so that it all works together to achieve the final outcome we are after.

The Bell

The design of the bell took us to the machine shop. The bell shape had to be correct in order for the 4047DS to give us the enveloping quality we were after. This is always the scary part of design as you hope your initial shape concepts are right due to the high cost of bell mandrels. I study history and what has been done in the past to make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes of others. As luck would have it, we hit a winner with our bell mandrel. With the bell shape nailed we moved on to the material choice, yellow brass and that’s all I can say. We have to keep some secrets, but I can tell you it’s not a light bell nor is it a hernia maker. My whole goal was to make an instrument that will fit most professional players without them making the journey to Elkhorn, Wisconsin to work with me on fitting a trombone. It’s okay, no offense taken.

The Rotor

This is possibly the most “oversold” part of any instrument manufacturer’s claims. While I’m not refuting anybody’s self proclaimed valve supremacy, my goal was to make a professional trombone that used a conventional rotor not of a higher deity or bloodline. Listening to vinyl recordings late in the evening, I have heard players from the 1950’s through today that sound incredible on good old, conventional rotor trombones. There are many musicians that I’ve studied with that still play on standard conventional rotors that aren’t at all hampered by the rotor’s design. I did play around with port diameters and rotor passageways to come up with our final design, but with design simplicity I think we have found a great combination.

4047DS rotor

The Wrap

It’s possible to make an instrument play great with a conventional rotor by making sure the overall wrap design is correct. I used my knowledge of wraps and bracing concepts in this area. The “DS” double edge brace design is born of the Edwards B454-D-E bass and it works just as well here on the 4047DS. In addition to the “DS” bracing, the 4047DS utilizes the concept of Asymmetrical Bracing with both yellow brass and nickel silver bracing. This innovative bracing design frees both the F attachment and the bell from diminished resonance and response caused by invasive bracing systems.

4047DS wrap

4047DS bracing

And Finally… The Leadpipe

I’m fortunate to be friends with lots of trombone players with a wide variety of equipment both new and old. One such friend knew about the 4047DS project and offered me a decades old leadpipe to test on the horn. Man did that pipe play well. The second the brass leadpipe slid into the slide, it was an “Aha!” moment. This was the final piece of the puzzle that made the 4047DS something special.

When developing a new instrument, we test things on a daily basis and get to see the improvements made slowly over time. Moving toward a goal only to have the destination cut short is a real drag and I think that many companies do just that. Rushing to launch model after model just hoping to get one to “hit”. That is exactly the approach I wanted to avoid. We have worked on this trombone for a few years and not once was I pressured to get the horn to market. I wanted, and was encouraged, to take my time. Only when it felt right every time I came back to the horn and after hearing the 4047DS played by countless players in house did I feel right taking this new trombone public. Crafting new trombones is fun. Crafting one that plays this well is something else all together. I am extremely proud to finally provide other players with the ability to play and perform on the all new, Getzen 4047DS Custom Reserve. Enjoy!

— Christan Griego

Instrument Specs

  • Bell: 8 ½” Yellow brass unsoldered rim; B Mandrel *
  • Tuning Slide: Yellow brass; Single radius taper *
  • Bell & Tuning Slide Braces: Nickel silver construction *
  • “DS” Edge Bracing: Yellow brass construction *
  • Neckpipe: Taper evens intonation tendencies within the harmonic series. *
  • Inner Handslide: Solid nickel silver construction cork barrel assembly *
  • Leadpipe: Retro brass leadpipe born of historically proven bloodlines *
  • Over Sleeves: Nickel silver providing longer wear points *
  • End Crook: Yellow brass with large inner diameter providing a width of sound & consistent feel *

All in an optional fiberglass shell case with adjustable padding and backpack straps. It is the smallest large bore, tenor case on the market today. Providing more protection than a traditional gig bag while remaining lightweight without the use of expensive carbon fiber. *

* = Designed exclusively for the 4047DS Custom Reserve

Elkhorn, Wisconsin No Longer a Part of the United States!

Monday, December 13th, 2010

OK, not really.  However, recently one of our competitors sent out a mass mailing to all of their dealers stating that they are “the only brass instrument maker producing all its horns in the United States”.  Apparently, in their world, Elkhorn, Wisconsin is no longer a part of these United States.  Believe me, that was a shock to all of us here at Getzen.

That’s the only explanation for their statements.  After all, every Getzen instrument is manufactured at our factory in Elkhorn.  In fact, our current production facilities are less than a mile away from the converted barn where the Getzen Company built its very first trumpet.  So obviously they either think Elkhorn is located outside the borders of the United States or they are grossly misleading their customers.  And we all know the later never happens right?  Right?

The fact is we pride ourselves on the fact that all Getzen instruments are manufactured in the US.  In an industry riding the wave of outsourcing, it is a badge of honor to be part of a very small group of manufacturers holding strong to our roots.

We take the standard of “Made in America” very seriously.  It is a little known fact that the requirements for using that term are pretty loose and liberally enforced.  Basically, in order for a product to be marketed as “Made in America” a significant change has to be done to any parts in the US.  For example, Brand X could import bells, valve sections, pistons, etc… from Trumpetland to the US.  Once here, those parts could then be soldered together, silver plated, and polished and the resulting trumpet could be sold as “Made in America”.  Since the imported pieces were just that, pieces, a significant amount of work was required to turn them into a finished trumpet.  So even though the term “Assembled in America” would be a better definition, Brand X can legally claim their horns were “Made in America”.  While technically and legally true, this practice profits greatly on the market place’s lack of knowledge about the fair use of the term.  It may not be dishonest, but it is definitely misleading.

At Getzen, we take an entirely different approach.  Take our 390 student trumpet, for example.  There are roughly 97 parts used in the manufacturing of a 390 trumpet.  Of those 97 parts, 73 of them are made right here in Elkhorn, WI.  The remaining 24 parts are all manufactured in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, or other parts of the US.  And that is our lowest priced, student level instrument.  I think we can all agree that a 100% American made student instrument is a rarity these days.

Could we reduce costs and increase profits by purchasing pre-made bells, valves, pistons, etc. from some offshore company, slapping them together in Elkhorn, and patting ourselves on the back while selling them as “Made in America”?  We sure could, but then we wouldn’t be selling a real Getzen instrument.  As long as my name is on the bell and I have any say in the matter that will never happen.

Sincerely,

Brett Getzen
Getzen Company, Inc.

Quantity vs. Quality

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

As many of you, dealers and retail customers alike, know some Getzen instruments are hard to come by these days. We face concerns about delayed delivery just about everyday. While building to order is better than having bloated inventory sitting on the shelf, people will only wait so long before they move on and buy another instrument. What’s the deal?

When you compare the last few years to 10-15 years ago, our production numbers are down. That’s despite the addition of new employees and the institution of new manufacturing techniques and processes. At the same time, our annual orders have been steadily increasing for almost every model. More orders plus less output equals long back orders. For a few specific models, we started the 2008 fiscal year with more instruments on back order from 2007 than we were able to build and ship in the previous twelve months. And I’m not talking about inexpensive student instruments. These are, unfortunately, higher end instruments. Eventually, many of these customers are going to go elsewhere. So what is the answer?

Just up production right? We could easily put the pressure on our people and start forcing horns through. Just crank them out as fast as we can. Maybe even cheapen some horns. We could take a cue from our competitors and cut corners to speed up student and step up production. Maybe even import some lines rather than building them in the US. Or, we could automate some of our production and let machines stamp out more of our horns. After all, a machine doesn’t need a break and you don’t have to pay it overtime. If we did all of these things, I’m sure we could out pace the last few years with ease and even approach record production highs in no time at all. It would definitely fill our back orders. Delivering on all of those orders means a lot more money coming in while the shorter production time translates to lower costs. Everyone knows what that means… higher profits. That’s what business is all about right? Then again, we’ve all heard some of the horror stories going around these days. “Trumpet X is great… if you can try enough to find a good one.” Or, “Every single Trumpet Z is the same… they just don’t have any character.” My personal favorite, “Sure it doesn’t perform like a trumpet, but it looks like one and it was sooooo cheap.” Maybe sometimes chasing higher profits isn’t the right answer.

Our philosophy is a simple one. Higher production is great and we strive for that every day. However, we will never sacrifice quality and craftsmanship in exchange for upped production and delivery. Could we save time by cutting short the lapping and honing time on student trumpets? Sure. Could we save time by eliminating some of the hand labor on our one piece trumpet bells? You bet. Could we get more trombone slides made if we lowered our standards on plating, barrel shaping, and hand straightening? Definitely. Would our instruments be any good? Nope, but we sure could build them fast.

Years ago, as I got more and more involved in the business, one of my main concerns was quality. I was, and still am, extremely frustrated and discouraged to hear from dealers and players whenever they purchase a horn that was sub par. It was hard not to take those complaints personally. Being the squeaky wheel that I am, I got the grease in the form of being put in charge of establishing our quality levels. I wasn’t very popular at times, but I refused to lower the standards I expected from every instrument we built. Having worked in the factory myself, I knew what we were capable of. It took a lot of work and persistence, but over time every goal I set was met and surpassed.

The quality of instruments being delivered today far exceeds those that we built back in 1991. There was a price to pay for those high standards though. Eliminating the pressure for volume and rejecting sub standard instruments will diminish monthly production output. It’s a tricky tight rope act, teetering between high quality and high production. In the beginning, we fell from that rope again and again. There were times that our quality took a step back. Other times, our numbers were far below demand. Over time though, we have gotten better at balancing things out. Now, with the addition of people like Jim Stella, we are moving ahead in leaps and bounds. Steps like refining our manufacturing, adding more people, and instilling in our existing employees just what they are capable of are adding up. Everyday we move closer and closer to filling our back orders. At the same time, our finished quality continues to rise. It’s a win-win for all of us.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have a long way to go. Even with our improvements we realize this is not a time to just sit back and relax. There are always goals to be set and broken. In some cases, even with higher production we don’t seem to make any headway. Just ask anyone waiting for a Custom Series tenor or bass trombone. The more we ship, the more that are ordered. Go figure. It’s like treading water with a weight belt on. As soon as you get strong enough to raise more than just your nose out of the water, someone adds a few more pounds and the struggle starts all over again.

This past year has taught us a lot of lessons and brought several advancements. New people, ideas, techniques, and equipment are bringing us closer and closer to where we want to be. It’s been a long and costly endeavor, but we are committed to it. Remember, at Getzen we only have to answer to ourselves, not a board of directors or sea of faceless stockholders. Cutting corners could benefit us in the short term, but in the long run it’s just going to drag us down. After all, what’s the long term benefit of quickly delivering a piece of junk to a customer? We’re committed to providing you with the finest quality instruments you can find at an affordable price. Most importantly, we’re committed to making sure that every one of our instruments is worth the wait. It’s my name on every bell and I wouldn’t accept anything less.

Welcome to the Getzen Team

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Dave KaminskyWe are proud to announce the addition of Dave Kaminsky to the Getzen sales force. For nearly 30 years Dave has been in the industry with both Leblanc and Conn-Selmer working in sales, educator relations, and establishing education programs. Mr. Kaminsky will be handling Getzen representation for the South-Eastern United States.

Happy Anniversary!

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Happy AnniversaryThe year 2009 marks a great milestone for the Getzen Company. It is the 70th Anniversary of the company’s founding. That means over 70 years of family involvement in the brass musical instrument industry. It also means four generations of family tradition and commitment. In an industry dominated by corporate giants, that is truly something special.

This special edition of the Getzen Gazette celebrates our great achievement. Please join us as we take a look back at what got us to where we are today.

A pdf version of this issue of the Gazette is available for download. It includes a photo montage of our company’s history.

A Family Tradition Begins

It all started in 1939 when Anthony Getzen decided to take a chance. He had recently resigned his position as the Plant Superintendent of the Frank Holton Company to take his shot at achieving the American dream. After nearly 20 years in the musical instrument industry, Tony put his knowledge and skills to the test and the Getzen Company was born.

Things started out slowly on Geneva Street in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. On its first day of business, the company opened with just Tony and his three employees working in a converted dairy barn behind the Getzen family home. At the time, the company’s focus was on band instrument repair. The Getzen Company quickly began to earn a name for itself as a well respected repair shop thanks to the hard work of Tony and his staff. Working so closely with so many brands of instruments exposed Tony and his crew to the good and the bad of instrument design and build quality. All of that acquired knowledge would come in very handy, but new horn manufacturing was still years away.

In 1946 the benefits of a rapidly growing, post World War II America prompted the shift from instrument repair to instrument manufacturing. It all started with a relatively small line of trombones. Only 1,000 trombones were built that first year, but a quickly growing market and fan base showed that there was indeed a place for Getzen in the world of brasswind manufacturing. Capitalizing on that success, the first Getzen trumpets and cornets were being delivered to customers around the country the next year. It wasn’t long before these new Getzen instruments were gaining popularity in the music world. Tony and his staff drew on their experience in both production and repair to design instruments that not only had an emphasis on playability and performance, but also on durability. As market share continued to grow, another product line expansion came in 1949 with the addition of a full line of piston bugles. In just under a decade, the company had gone from a small, repair shop to a full fledged manufacturer of brasswinds.

During the growth of that first decade, the family tradition of the Getzen Company was firmly established. Tony’s three sons, J. Robert, William, and Donald all worked for their father during breaks from school and after returning home from the military at the war’s end. After working closely with his father since the early days of the company, Tony’s eldest son Bob was promoted to the position of Plant Superintendent in 1949.

Over the next ten years the company continued to grow. By the end of the fifties, the Getzen Company employed over 80 people and the annual production ballooned as well. Following this boom came advances in the quality and design of Getzen instruments, most notably their industry leading student instruments. The company was an undeniable success and even the competition took notice. In 1956 Vincent Bach was quoted in a Getzen print ad as saying, “They certainly are very beautiful horns, and Getzen can be proud of being able to turn out such a fine instrument…”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Bob Getzen resigned his position with the Getzen Company in 1959. Later that year, Bob founded Allied Music Corporation, a wholesale instrument repair shop. Allied Music opened in a brand new, 3,000 square foot building less than a mile from the Getzen Company’s location. The first day of business for Bob and his one employee marked an exciting new start. However, that first day was a quiet one as they opened the shop with zero customers. Around this same time, Bill Getzen decided that the music business wasn’t for him. Instead, he chose a career in law and became a very successful attorney. The third brother, Don Getzen, remained with the Getzen Company having made the shift from manufacturing to focusing more on the management side of the business.

The following year, family ownership of the Getzen Company came to an end. Late in 1960, after 21 years in business, Tony sold the Getzen Company to Milwaukee attorney Harold M. Knowlton. Initially, the terms of the sale had Tony staying on with the company in a management role. However, this working relationship lasted less than a year. Shortly after the purchase, Mr. Knowlton moved the company from its original home in the old "barn" to its new location at 211 West Centralia Street. All of the original employees remained with the company, including Don Getzen. He was the final Getzen to be involved with the company for years to come. It would take another 31 years and the success and prosperity of two generations before the family would own its namesake once again.

Family and Company Move Forward

Two years after purchasing the Getzen Company, Harold Knowlton wanted to put his mark on the company and began making a push into the professional instrument market. With the help of a young, up and coming trumpeter named Carl “Doc” Severinsen, Getzen seized on an opportunity. The company was already well known for its popular student horns and they looked to capitalize on that popularity with a new line of professional instruments. Through the union of Doc and Getzen, the 900 Severinsen Model Eterna trumpet was born. Word quickly spread through the trumpet world and it wasn’t long before everyone wanted to try this exciting new horn. Following the stunning initial success of the Eterna trumpet, Getzen began working to expand its product line. New cornet and flugelhorn designs were in the works and the company was quickly carving out a place for itself in the professional instrument market.

Everything was going great for the company until shortly after midnight on October 14, 1963. That Monday morning a fire was sparked in the extreme rear of the factory in what was the bell and small parts department. A passing police officer noticed the flames and called it in to his dispatcher. Several explosions rocked the factory as flames reached flammable and volatile liquids (lacquer, solvent, etc…) used during production. Those explosions and a brisk fall wind quickly spread the fire through out the factory. By the time the fire department arrived, flames had already broken through the roof and much of the factory was burning out of control. The fire department remained on the scene until after six o’clock in the morning when the flames were finally extinguished. When it was all said and done, the entire production section of the factory had been leveled by the fire. The warehouse storage area and offices had also sustained severe damage from the fire as well as smoke and water damage. This effectively rendered the factory on Centralia Street a complete loss. News of the fire made the front pages of several newspapers across the Midwest including the Milwaukee Journal, Kansas City Star, and Chicago Tribune. Immediately after the fire, fellow instrument companies in Elkhorn extended offers of help. Both the Holton Company and Allied Music offered the use of their facilities to salvage the instruments damaged during the fire. Many Getzen dealers also sent in letters of sympathy and encouragement pledging to continue doing business with Getzen as soon as the company was back on its feet.

Despite the devastating loss, just hours after the flames were extinguished plans were already underway for the construction of a new factory. In less than a month, the debris of the destroyed building had been cleared away and construction of the new building had begun. A target of January 1964 was set for the opening of the new Getzen Company factory. That target date was missed by just a month when the new factory opened in early February. Initially, production was limited to just a few select models as production slowly ramped up. However, it was only a matter of months before Getzen was up and running at full capacity again, rapidly trying to fill orders that continued to come in during reconstruction.

In the following years, Getzen’s popularity continued to grow with every instrument they shipped. This was thanks, in no small part, to the stellar success of Doc Severinsen and the 900 Eterna trumpet. The Eterna trumpet was so successful that for a time it was the best selling pro trumpet in the United States. Professional musicians from around the world coveted the Eterna trumpet and were eager to work closely with Getzen. Through these relationships, Getzen was able to draw on the musicians’ expertise creating a vast network of designers and play testers. With this invaluable tool, Getzen was able to continually improve their entire product line. Soon the company was rolling out new, professional cornets, flugelhorns, and trombones. During the second half of the 1960’s the Getzen Company grew faster and larger than its founder could have ever imagined. That same meteoric rise continued throughout the 1970’s. The Getzen Company had moved from a small, four man repair shop to being firmly planted in the upper echelons of manufacturers in the industry.

During these same years, Bob Getzen was experiencing great success with Allied Music. Bob’s extensive knowledge in the field of instrument repair combined with his unequalled work ethic and a large customer base rapidly propelled Allied Music from a small, two man operation to a nationwide leader in band instrument repair. By 1966, Bob had once again entered into the field of manufacturing when he started to work with his brother Don Getzen. Don had, in 1965, resigned as Executive Vice President of Getzen to venture out on his own. At that time, he founded DEG Music Products Inc. in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Don hoped to take advantage of the skilled employees at Allied Music and their experience with brasswind instruments. The two brothers worked together and Allied Music expanded to begin the production of a complete line of marching bugles for DEG.

The expansion continued in 1967 when Bob saw a void in the industry just waiting to be filled. It was then that he founded Allied Supply Corporation. Allied Supply serviced instrument repairmen around the world by supplying them with instrument parts, repair tools, and replacement cases. Supply’s real forte was specializing in carrying replacement parts for almost any wind instrument, including obsolete and hard to find parts. For the first time, repairmen had a one stop shop for all of their store’s needs. That same year Bob offered an even greater service to repair shops when he founded the Allied Music Repair School. The program was designed to offer a comprehensive course of hands on training to teach students the finer points of band instrument repair. Each participant went through an in depth, forty-eight week course that covered all aspects of brass or woodwind band instrument repair. The students would study under the experienced employees of Allied as they worked on hundreds of instruments during their stay in Elkhorn. The program also covered non-repair related aspects of the industry including business practices, customer relations, shop management, pricing, etc… This advanced education combined with their own natural talents allowed many of the graduates to go on and open their own successful repair shops, many of which are still thriving today. Some have become well known and respected within the industry with names like Wayne Tanabe and Dave Monette to name a few.

Much like the Getzen Company, Allied Music and Allied Supply continued to thrive during the early seventies. In 1972 the partnership between Allied Music and DEG grew as Allied began to expand its manufacturing base. That year production began on a full line of trumpets, trombones, cornets, and marching brass horns under the DEG name. At the same time, Allied Supply was expanded from just a few shelves in the shipping department to its own dedicated section of the factory. In 1974, with both companies growing larger, Bob decided to sell Allied Supply to his two sons Thomas and Edward Getzen. The brothers had several years of experience working in both instrument repair and manufacturing. Just like the companies they founded (Getzen, Allied Music, Allied Supply, DEG), the Getzen family’s involvement in the band instrument industry continued to grow as Tom and Ed marked the third generation of Getzen horn builders.

The decade of the 1980’s brought with it more and more changes for both Getzen and Allied Music/Supply. In 1985, after twenty-five years at the helm, Harold Knowlton sold the Getzen Company to Charles Andrews. This marked the end of an era for the Getzen Company. Three years later, at the age of sixty-two, Bob Getzen decided to “retire”. That year, Bob sold Allied Music Corp. to his sons ending his twenty-nine year run as the company’s owner and president. Despite his retirement, Bob kept an office in the factory and remained heavily involved in its operation for the next several years. In 1989, Allied Supply’s continued growth required it to move out of its corner of the Allied Music factory and into its own 9,600 square foot building next door; a stark contrast to the company’s humble beginnings. Perhaps the biggest change of the decade came in 1989 when Allied Music seized on the revolutionary development of the Axial Flow Valve and began the production of the first generation of Edwards trombones. Through the Edwards Instrument Company a goal was set to build a trombone unequalled in quality and unparalleled in design that met the demanding needs of the world’s top musicians. This was the first step in the journey to craft what is now, arguably, the world’s finest trombone.

With the initial success of the Edwards trombone came a need for a shift in the company’s priorities. It was then that Allied Music began to make more of a switch from instrument repair to instrument production. In 1990 that new manufacturing emphasis paid off when the company teamed up with the world famous brass quintet, The Canadian Brass. The two worked closely together to design a line of instruments that were to be manufactured by Allied Music and played/marketed by the quintet. With that, the stage was set for yet another successful decade for the Getzen family and its company. Nobody in the family could foresee the once in a lifetime opportunity that was looming just over the horizon. It would be another year before the life long dream of a generation would become a reality.

The Company Comes Back Home

Following the founding of the Getzen Company and after decades of success with Allied Music and Allied Supply, the Getzen family was firmly established within the musical instrument industry. Those years of hard work and great success provided the family with an amazing opportunity in 1991. That year, the family was finally able to regain control of the family namesake. Several years of production problems and financial hardships came to a head and the Getzen Company, under Chuck Andrews, was forced to file for bankruptcy. Although it was a dark time for the company, it was a high point in the lives of Tom and Ed Getzen. The grandsons of the company’s founder were able to purchase the Getzen Company out of federal bankruptcy court. After 31 years apart, the Getzen family and the Getzen Company were finally back together again.

Immediately after the purchase, the hard work of bringing the Getzen Company and Allied Music together was started. The first step was to begin moving Getzen’s employees and equipment from its location on Centralia Street to Allied’s home on the outskirts of Elkhorn. Of course, the factory was overwhelmed by this new influx of staff and equipment. To accommodate this sudden growth, an 18,000 square foot addition was built onto the Allied Music building effectively doubling the size of the factory. The addition included a new bell department, buffing room, water treatment center, dent department, and several offices. As the Getzen employees moved into their new home the skilled Allied Music staff met them with open arms. They were also met with new and repaired equipment along with improved working conditions. Shortly after the addition was completed, both two companies were once again up and running at full speed. Resources and manpower were split between new horn manufacturing and instrument repair with Getzen as the parent company and Allied Music operating as a subsidiary. The long journey to return the company to its former greatness had begun.

The first obstacle that had to be overcome was the degraded reputation of Getzen. Years of production and design changes had led to a product line that was sub par when compared to past levels. Re-establishing the company’s place in the industry was difficult. Changing the public’s negative perception of the Getzen name became a key goal as Tom and Ed pledged to do everything possible to improve the quality of the company’s products. The first step was working closely with the employees to let them know that things had to change and that the company needed their help. Together, management and the employees wasted no time as the entire product line and manufacturing standards/techniques were re-evaluated. All existing models were closely examined and necessary design improvements were made. New models were added to incorporate successful instrument designs previously used by Allied Music. At the same time, every single aspect of production was evaluated to improve not only labor time, but also finished instrument quality. As Tom Getzen put it, "It wasn’t a quick or smooth process by any means, but it had to be done."

The remaining years of the 1990’s saw many more changes with both Getzen and Allied. In 1992, Getzen capitalized on the great success of the Edwards trombone line with the introduction of the all new, Getzen Custom Series trombones. This marked the first serious re-entry of the company into the professional instrument market. With the introduction of new models and a surging demand for instruments, production needs prompted Tom and Ed to discontinue the Allied Music repair school in 1993. In 1994, production demands forced the discontinuation of Allied Music’s reed instrument repairs, freeing up more factory space for expanded production. Continually improving quality led to even higher production demands. Just a year later, Allied Music was dissolved entirely when brass instrument repairs were stopped. All of the company’s resources, both man power and equipment, were free to focus entirely on new horn production. The revolving cycle of increased production leading to increased orders leading to increased production etc…continued. The increased sales allowed the company to continually make more advances in quality. It also led to the introduction of even more new models and improved designs. Finally, the Getzen Company started to regain some of the respect it had lost within the industry.

One of the biggest changes for the new Getzen Company came in 1999. That year, after several decades of working together Tom and Ed Getzen went their separate ways. Tom purchased all of Ed’s shares in both the Getzen Company and Allied Supply and became the sole owner and president of both companies. At the time, two of Tom’s four children worked full time at Getzen and his youngest son worked part time during breaks from high school. This continued family involvement, along with Tom’s purchase, ensured that the company would stay in the family for many years to come.

With a renewed family dedication to quality and performance, things at Getzen really started to take off in the following decade. In 2000, Edwards Instruments had outgrown its small corner of the Getzen facility and was moved into its own building next door to Allied Supply. This provided Edwards with a dedicated showroom from which to sell their top of the line trumpets and trombones while the production of Edwards instruments remained in the Getzen factory. In 2001, Getzen took a substantial leap forward in the trumpet world when, after nearly 30 years apart, Doc Severinsen and Getzen teamed up once again. Together with Doc, Getzen launched the 3001 Severinsen model trumpet. Soon after, Getzen expanded on this design and introduced an all new line of Custom Series Bb and C trumpets marking Getzen’s return to the ranks of the world’s finest trumpet builders. The partnership between Doc and Getzen remained in effect until 2003 when Doc once again left for other ventures. The 3001 & 3001LE trumpets were renamed “Artist Models” and both remain in the Getzen line of Custom trumpets today.

That same year marked a sad time for the Getzen family and company. In February, J. Robert Getzen passed away following a lifetime dedicated to the music industry. Throughout his life, Bob had worked extensively in both instrument manufacturing and repair. Over the years, he was responsible for advancements in both production and repair techniques including the invention of several tools used by repairmen around the world. His skills and dedication were passed on to countless other repairmen through his commitment to the Allied Music repair school program. Bob was also influentional in the formation of the National Association of Band Instrument Repair Technicians (NAPBIRT). NAPBIRT is an organization intended to bring together instrument repairmen from around the world to share everything from repair techniques to shop management skills. Through his years of technician education and involvement with NAPBIRT, Bob Getzen was able to give many great professionals their start. Not only did he cement his own family’s presence within the industry, but the positions of many other men and women as well.

Over the past five years Getzen has demonstrated its continued dedication to quality instrument manufacturing. Constantly striving to meet the needs of musicians everywhere has prompted Getzen to introduce seven new models including the 3001MV Mike Vax and 907S Eterna Proteus trumpets. The dedication doesn’t end there. Getzen has also recently partnered with Griego Mouthpieces and Blackburn Trumpets. With Griego, Getzen is supplying top of the line Griego mouthpieces with all Custom Series trombones, elevating an upper level instrument to an even higher point. Through their partnership with Blackburn, Getzen is answering the call of many players by combining the tried and true 940 Eterna piccolo trumpet with the outstanding performance of Blackburn leadpipes. Quality, American made instruments and unmatched customer service have combined to elevate the Getzen Company back to its position at the top of the musical instrument industry.

The long standing tradition of the Getzen family and the Getzen Company continues to this day through two of Tom Getzen’s four children. Brett Getzen, Tom’s second oldest, spent years working in both instrument repair and new horn production starting at the age of eleven. Today, at 31, Brett is involved in many aspects of the company from production to sales and marketing as Getzen’s Special Project Manager. At 24, Adam Getzen, Tom’s youngest, has worked for the company for nearly half of his life. As a student, Adam worked part time in several different departments within the factory. Since making the switch to full time, Adam has taken over and now runs the company’s plating department. Together, the two sons make up the fourth generation of Getzens in the band instrument business. Both are striving to ensure the company’s success for generations to come.

In recent years, the band instrument industry has seen many changes, such as the emergence of more off shore production, the consolidation of many independent companies, and the closing of others. It is refreshing to see a thriving, family owned company like Getzen that still holds dear its founding principles after 70 years. A commitment to crafting the finest, American made instruments possible at affordable prices while providing the service their customers deserve.

An Exciting New Partnership

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

An exciting new era has begun with the creation of a new partnership between the Getzen Company, Inc. and Willson Band Instruments of Switzerland. Following a very productive visit from Willi Kurath in September, Getzen is pleased to announce that it will be the new United States distributor of Willson band instruments. Particularly, Willson’s stellar line of tubas, euphoniums, French horns, and other background brass.

“This is an exciting time for both companies,” commented Tom Getzen. “The partnership of two storied, family owned businesses should be a refreshing change of pace in an industry filled with corporate giants and takeovers these days.”

Beginning October 1, 2007 Willson instruments will be available for sale by Getzen District Managers. Anyone interested are encouraged to contact the Getzen Company at 1-800-366-5584 or via email at information@getzen.com. The full line of Willson instruments can also be seen by visiting www.swissprofi.ch/willson

An Exciting New Partnership
Tom Getzen, right welcomes Willson President Willi Kurath to the Getzen Company in Elkhorn

Getzen and Blackburn: A Perfect Combination

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

After working with well known trumpet maker Cliff Blackburn, Getzen is eager to announce an exciting addition to the 940 Eterna piccolo trumpet.  Beginning in late 2007, all 940 Eterna short model piccolos will come standard with a set of Blackburn leadpipes.  This is a response to the overwhelming number of comments we have received from players expressing their belief that using Blackburn leadpipes with the 940 elevates the overall quality and playability of the 940 piccolo.