Modern Field Trumpets and Bugles
The sounding of Taps on a field trumpet or bugle rather than a valved trumpet or cornet has a long and proud tradition. With the number of U.S. veteran funerals rising and a need for live buglers increasing, many trumpet players have been searching for an adequate instrument on which to sound Taps. The style of bugles (outside of the drum and bugle corps movement, which added valves to their instruments) has changed little since the introduction of the M1892 Field Trumpet by the US Army. The M1892 Field Trumpet (also called a bugle) was the main signal instrument for the U.S. military and was adopted by various organizations such as the American Legion, V.F.W. and Boy Scouts. These field trumpets are in the key of G and many are made of poor quality.
The US Army Band (“Pershing’s Own”) has, for almost fifty years, used a B flat bugle (signal trumpet) Bach Stradivarius model made by the Vincent Bach and later Selmer Corporation. These bugles are based on the M1892 model but pitched in the key of B flat and made to higher specifications than commercially available bugles. The original Bach bugles were gold plated and the second batch manufactured were lacquered. Two original ones are on display; one at the Army Band Building at Fort Myer, the second in the Visitor Center at Arlington National Cemetery. The latter is, of course, the famous “Kennedy Bugle.” All the bugles have been used to sound Taps at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington as well as the many simple honor funerals at the cemetery. For years Selmer has refused many official and private requests to manufacture any additional bugles past the original twenty or so they made for the band in the 1960s. In 2007, Bach produced about two dozen gold plated bugles to update the US Army Band’s inventory. A few of them made their way into private hands.
For the longest time there was no American-based company making a good quality bugle for ceremonial use.
In the spring of 2003, following a news article about a refurbishing of a bugle for a West Virginia Air National Guard Honor Guard bugler, the Getzen instrument manufacturing company was approached with the idea of producing a ceremonial bugle for use at funerals and ceremonies.
The new Getzen American Heritage Field Trumpet (named by Jari Villanueva) is pitched in B flat, made of the finest brass, with a medium large bore. The bugle has a tuning slide, water key and two tabard rings. The American Heritage is a free blowing horn without any of the resistance found in the valve tubing found on regular trumpets. The intonation is superb throughout. It is a double twist horn measuring 16 inches from bell to shank with a 5 inch diameter bell. The bore size is .459. The American Heritage Field Trumpet also has an extra slide to lower the pitch into G. This addition came after many players expressed the desire to have a G horn instead of B Flat. The American Heritage Field Trumpets are used by Bugles Across America, an organization dedicated to providing live buglers for funerals of veterans.
You can find more information HERE
Kanstul entered the bugle market and has produced a superb bugle for use at funerals and ceremonies. It is a double twist horn measuring 16 inches from bell to shank with a 5 inch diameter bell. The bore size is .460 and the intonation is excellent.. They produce horns in B Flat and G
Information on the Kanstul Bugle in B Flat can be found HERE
Information on the Kanstul Bugle in G can be found HERE
Also, after a long process to acquire a replacement bugle for use, the US Army Band in 2002 decided on using bugles manufactured by Stomvi. They were modeled on the 1892 pattern, had two water keys, a tuning slide and two cord rings. The horn is sixteen inches in length (without mouthpiece) and has a five inch bell diameter. It is pitched in B flat and is gold plated.
In 2007 after some use at Arlington National Cemetery, these horns were taken out of service when Bach produced new bugles.
The Getzen and Kanstul instruments are bugles that would be appropriate to sound Taps at a funeral or to bugle at a ceremony. I know that there are many trumpeters in police and fire honor guards throughout the country who are looking for a good B flat bugle to use rather than a valved trumpet. The regulation G (Boy Scout) bugle and the “Gunga Din” bugle just do not cut it for intonation and beauty of sound.