T.J. Getzen leaves the Holton Company after nearly ten years as plant superintendent to start his own business. The Getzen Company, Inc. is born in a converted dairy barn behind the Getzen family residence at 329 East Geneva Street, Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Although manufacturing is still to come, T.J. and his three employees focus on band instrument repair.
Branching out from the band instrument repair business, the Getzen Company produces its first trombones. The trombones roll off the line in the summer of 1946. Only about 1,000 trombones are produced in that first year.
Following the success of the first trombones, T.J. Getzen again decides to expand and begins producing trumpets and cornets.
Seeing an ever-expanding market and opportunity, T.J. Getzen expands the product line once again and starts the manufacture of piston bugles. The bugles are designed for and used by many Drum and Bugle Corps gaining popularity in the country at this time.
J. Robert Getzen, son of T.J., is appointed plant superintendent of the Getzen Company after 10 years of experience within the factory. This marks the start of the long-standing family tradition that is still seen within the company today.
During the 1950s, the Getzen Company grows to 80 employees. With the increase in employees comes an increase in production numbers as well as in quality. This increased quality quickly moves the company into the higher ranks of the industry with its well-respected line of student band instruments. The competition even notes the quality of the Getzen instruments. Vincent Bach, president of the Vincent Bach Corporation, says in 1956 “They certainly are very beautiful horns, and Getzen can be proud of being able to turn out such a fine instrument…”
J. Robert Getzen follows the same footsteps as his father and resigns as the plant superintendent of the Getzen Company to start his own business. Allied Music Corporation is opened in a 3,000 square foot building just a mile away from the Getzen Company at 530 South Highway H in Elkhorn, WI. The entire company consists of Robert, one employee, and zero customers.
After 21 years of business, T.J. Getzen sells the Getzen Company to Milwaukee attorney Harold M. Knowlton. Shortly after the purchase, Mr. Knowlton moves the company from its original home in the old “barn” to another facility at 211 West Centralia Street.
With the help of Carl “Doc” Severinsen and many other well-known professional musicians, the Getzen Company begins to design and manufacture a complete line of professional trumpets, cornets, and flugelhorns. The success of the company’s student line of instruments is easily carried over to the new professional line.
The entire Getzen factory, with the exception of the offices and some storage areas, is destroyed by a late-night fire. The fire began at 12:30 am and burned until after 2:00 am. Due to the quick spreading of the flames and the extensive smoke and water damage, the factory is all but a complete loss. Almost immediately after the flames are extinguished plans were being made for the construction of a new factory.
Just a month after the devastating fire, the new Getzen factory is under construction on the same site as the destroyed building. By early December things are moving so smoothly that a target date of January 1964 has been set for the resumption of manufacturing in the new facility.
Meanwhile, Allied Music Corporation is seeing continued success. Both its customer base and full-time staff continue to grow.
A mere five months after the tragic fire destroyed the Getzen Company, the new factory opens. At first, the production is limited to few select models, but after a few months, production is back up to full capacity.
Again history repeats itself and another Getzen leaves the company to start his own business. Don Getzen, son of T.J., resigns as Executive Vice-President of the Getzen Company and founds D.E.G. Music Products in Lake Geneva, WI.
After seven successful years at the helm of Allied Music, Bob Getzen once again works with his brother Don as Allied begins the manufacture of piston bugles for the D.E.G. Music Products Company.
Following the success of Allied Music Corporation, Bob Getzen founds Allied Supply Corporation. Allied Supply specializes in replacement band instruments parts, cases, and band instrument repair tools and seeks to fill an obvious void in the industry. Despite serving band instrument repair shops throughout the world, Allied Supply consists of a few rows of shelving located in the shipping department of Allied Music.
At the same time, Bob begins the further expansion of Allied Music. The first being the creation of the Allied Music Repair School. The program is designed to teach individuals the finer points of band instrument repair. Each participant goes through a 48-week course that covers all of the necessary steps needed to repair any brass or woodwind band instruments. Many of the graduates go on to open their own repair shops, most of which are still in business today. Second is the expansion of the repair business to include a second facility in Santa Rosa, California. Unfortunately, the distance between the two locations made management of the western Allied Music very difficult and it only operated for three years until being closed down.
Allied Music begins to produce a full line of trumpets, cornets, trombones, and marching brass instruments for D.E.G. History is again repeating itself with Allied Music shifting from a repair-only business model to one that includes instrument manufacturing as well.
Allied Supply Corporation has grown to occupy its own department within the Allied Music building. Now with both companies growing larger by the year, Bob Getzen decides to sell Allied Supply to his two sons Thomas R. and Edward M. Getzen. Both sons have several years of experience working for both Allied Music and Allied Supply and are eager to take over control of Allied Supply. The tradition of the family in the business continues to grow with this, the third generation.
Continuing to grow, Allied Supply now occupies several hundred feet within the Allied Music building. The increased space is needed to house the constantly growing product line as well as the increasing staff size.
After 25 years of success as the President and owner of the Getzen Company, Harold Knowlton sells the company to Charles F. Andrews.
After more than 49 years in the industry, Bob Getzen sells Allied Music Corporation to his sons Tom and Ed. Despite being semi-retired, Bob continued to play a crucial and invaluable role in the company for many years until his passing in February of 2003.
Facing ever-crowded factory space, Allied Supply moves out of the Allied Music building and into its own quarters next door. The new Allied Supply building is over 9,600 square feet and is a vast improvement from the company’s humble beginnings.
Another big step is taken at this time as Allied Music begins production of the first Edwards Trombones. Through the Edwards Band Instrument Company, they hope to produce a trombone that meets the demanding needs of the world’s best professional trombonists. This is the first step towards the making of arguably the world’s best trombone.
After years of building horns for D.E.G., Allied Music begins the production of its own line of instruments. They work hand in hand with the famous brass quintet, The Canadian Brass, to design and manufacture instruments that will be played and marketed by the group.
Quickly outgrowing its new location and needing to expand to better meet the needs of its customers, Allied Supply again expands and adds a case warehouse. The addition of the warehouse takes the total square footage of Allied Supply to more than 11,000 square feet.
After several years of production problems and financial hardship the Getzen Company, under the direction of Charles Andrews, declares bankruptcy. Shortly thereafter, Allied Music Corporation, owned and operated by the grandsons of the Getzen Company’s founder, purchases the assets of the Getzen Company out of Federal Bankruptcy Court and after 31 years the company is once again in the hands of the Getzen family.
The employees and equipment from the Getzen Company are immediately moved from its old location on Centralia Street to its new home on Highway H. Following the move, the Getzen Company is made the parent manufacturing company and Allied Music is named a wholly-owned subsidiary and repair division.
Capitalizing on the success of the Edwards line of trombones, Getzen seriously enters the trombone market with a new line of completely redesigned, professional trombones. The ever-improving production quality of the “new” Getzen Company is being noticed in the market as Getzen begins to regain respect as an instrument manufacturer.
Tom and Ed decide to discontinue the Allied Music Repair School, choosing instead to focus the necessary resources on new horn production.
Again facing space restrictions, Allied Music discontinues its reed instrument repair services. Now the main function of Allied Music is the repair of brass instruments.
Following suit with the repair school and its reed instrument repair, Allied discontinues its brass instrument repair service. Allied Music is now dissolved and all of its resources and employees are dedicated to the Getzen Company.
Meanwhile, the Getzen Company continues to regain the respect it once had within the industry as the production of higher quality instruments and the introduction of new models goes on.
After more than two decades in business together Tom Getzen purchases Ed Getzen’s shares in both the Getzen Company and Allied Supply. Tom becomes the sole owner and President of both companies.
Edwards outgrows its corner of the Getzen factory and moves to its own building on the corner of the Getzen/Allied Supply campus. Offices, play testing, final assembly, and sales move into the renovated building while production of Edwards instruments remains in the Getzen factory.
After 23 years away from the Getzen Company, “Doc” Severinsen rejoins the Getzen family. Together with Doc, the Getzen Company announces the production of the new Severinsen Custom Trumpet. The Getzen Company is once again producing some of the finest instruments in the world.
Once again, Doc Severinsen chooses to move on from Getzen and pursue another manufacturer for his signature trumpet model. The 3001 & 3001LE Severinsen model trumpets are renamed “Artist Model” and moved into the Getzen Custom Series line of trumpets.
The drive to expand the Custom Series product line continues with the addition of a new small bore flugelhorn (3895), a new orchestral C cornet (3810), and a new brass band Eb cornet (3892). These new models, as well as improvements to existing instrument designs, further demonstrate Getzen’s commitment to regaining its position among the world’s top instrument manufacturers.
Getzen proudly introduces the all-new 907S Eterna Proteus trumpet to the extremely popular Eterna line of instruments. The versatile, all-around design of the 907S is the perfect counterbalance to the lead/commercial roots of the original 900 Eterna. This same year, Getzen partners with Griego Mouthpieces on a Getzen exclusive line of trombone mouthpieces. The new Griego CS1, CS5, and CS7 mouthpieces were designed specifically for Getzen Custom Series tenor and bass trombones. Every 3508, 3047, and 3062 Custom Series trombone now comes standard with a Griego Mouthpiece. A value-added addition that elevates the already industry-leading trombones to another level.
Nearly 23 years after the company returned to the Getzen family, the torch passes on to the next generation. Brett and Adam Getzen, great-grandsons of the company’s founder, purchase the Getzen Company from their father Tom. Brett and Adam have decades of combined experience in the business having spent summers and school breaks working in the factory from a young age. Most recently, Brett has been involved with sales and marketing while Adam has focused his time on production and design. The purchase fulfills a lifelong dream of the brothers and both are extremely proud and excited to be carrying on the family’s rich history and tradition.
An 18,000 square foot addition is built onto the Allied Music building. The new construction effectively doubles the size of the factory in order to accommodate the new equipment and employees from the Getzen Company. Once the addition is completed, the Getzen Company and Allied Music operate together splitting resources and personnel between new horn manufacturing and instrument repair. As Tom and Ed pledge to improve the quality of the instruments they produce, the long journey to return the Getzen Company to its former greatness begins.
For nearly two decades, Getzen Custom Series trombones set the bar for what a professional-grade trombone should be. This year, that bar was raised even higher with the introduction of a brand new line of instruments anchored by a new, flagship trombone. The 4047DS Custom Reserve was more than two years in the making and unlike anything else in the Getzen line with an all-new rotor design, wrap, bell, and handslide. Once again, the Getzen name became synonymous with premium trombone production.
Following the introduction of the 4047DS Custom Reserve, Getzen is contacted by world-renowned trombone artist Ian Bousfield. Immediately, Ian and Christan Griego begin collaboration on a new trombone design. By the end of the year, the 4147IB “Ian Bousfield” Custom Reserve is born. A premium, professional-grade trombone that is truly worthy of the name Ian Bousfield. Launched for pre-sales in early 2013, the 4147IB quickly became, and remains, one of the best-selling trombones in the Getzen line.
The successful Custom Reserve line of premium, professional-grade instruments receives its latest addition. This time on the small brass side. The all-new 4895 Custom Reserve small bore flugelhorn is the result of years of testing and marks an evolutionary approach to instrument design. Every aspect of the instrument from the slide positioning to the bracing systems is designed to not only improve the playability of the flugelhorn but to also improve its ergonomics. Creating a wonderfully rich, responsive instrument with superb balance and hand feel.
In celebration of the company’s 80th Anniversary, Getzen introduces the Eterna Deluxe line of instruments. Inspired by the historic Super Deluxe trumpets of the 1950s and capitalizing on the time-tested performance of the legendary Eterna line, the 900DLX and 907DLX Eterna Deluxe trumpets are born. Both professional-grade trumpets, designed for the modern-day musician and handmade in America with the old world, artisanal craftsmanship expected from a Getzen. By the end of the year, a third instrument is added to the line with the introduction of the 800DLX Eterna Deluxe cornet. All three instruments are much more than the same old thing wrapped up in a fancy new package. Instead, they are instruments inspired by the past but elevated and crafted for today.
The entire world, and the music industry specifically, is rocked by the Covid-19 pandemic. A 3+ month shutdown coupled with an industry-wide slump forces Getzen to make the hard decision of scaling back its workforce. When employees do return and production resumes it is at a smaller, more social distancing friendly, level. The one bright side is that our relatively small size, lack of corporate bureaucracy, and this “extra” time has given us the ability to focus on new things. Several additions and enhancements are currently in the works so that, when things do return to normal, we will be ready with some exciting new offerings. Looking forward to continuing our 80+ year tradition of providing musicians with the high-quality, American-made instruments they deserve.
Look who’s playing Getzen now! The list of artists choosing Getzen instruments continues to grow. Most notably, Peter Moore, Principal Trombone of the London Symphony Orchestra (4147IB) becomes the newest addition to the Getzen family of artists. Members of the award-winning Bone-Afide trombone quartet also join the Getzen team. This new generation of established and up-and-coming musicians is proudly making their choice known and that choice is Getzen.
Over a decade after its debut, the Custom Reserve line of trombones gets a major shake-up as the original trombone in the line, the 4047DS, is discontinued to make room for the new, 4047ET Custom Reserve. The 4047ET is the signature model of Mr. Enzo Turriziani, Principal Trombone of the Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera Orchestra. Enzo joins Peter Moore (Principal Trombone of the LSO) and Ian Bousfield (former Principal Trombone of both the LSO and Vienna) on the list of elite trombonists choosing Getzen.
With the recent overhaul of the 4147IB trombone and the addition of the 4047ET model, it is clear to see innovation has not taken a back seat at Getzen and we aren’t done yet. We continue to push beyond conventional limitations to develop the next generation of Getzen instruments. You’ll just have to wait and see what we come up with next.