The Model 1 is a beautiful tenor trombone hand built in Germany by Manfred Schmelzer. It has gorgeous hand engraving, silver plate finish with gold plated trim.
This is the horn for when you need to lead, to solo, and make it happen. If you know the Williams style trombones from eras past, and similar designs from Zig Kanstul and Steve Shires, you'll love the Schmelzer models.
Manfed Schmelzer has been building trombones for many years and has fans worldwide. Doug Elliot, master mouthpiece maker and lead trombonist, has been a Schmelzer proponent, along with many others.
A good client from Wisconsin phoned and wondered what I thought of the Schmelzers. Today I got out the model 1 and a 20 year old King 2BPL. These horns have similar specs.
The Schmelzer trombone in the photos is the instrument I'm writing about below.
The King hand slide is a little lighter, having no oversleeves or extrusions at the top. The King tone is snappy but soulful, it has some weight to it, some warmth. Not as barky as a 2B nor as bazooka as a 3B. King is good.
The Schmelzer hand slide when dry has an unusual feel, like there's some light machining texture on the inside of the outer tubes. I thought I'll be hand polishing these, but with some slide cream and water, this slide is really smooth. Maybe the texture will help hold the lubricant better? Alignment was ok, the outer didn't sit quite flat on the alignment stone, but I encouraged it and we're good. Slight bow of tubes straightened out. Action is as good as the King but more inertia due to the slide tube extrusions. I'd call this slide action as being between XO and Yamaha, pretty good. Better than Conn-Selmer, not quite Getzen-Edwards. :-)
I like the curved hand brace, but those with smaller hands may find the grip a bit large. The bell brace is also fairly large diameter and is mounted higher up the connector sleeve than the King brace. Players with smaller hands seeking a comfortable grip might consider the Kuhnl & Hoyer BVL 500 with two curved braces. Its grip is very compact.
The bell section alignment is pretty good, mostly everything is parallel, it's close. A couple of plating goobers near the connector remind us of humanity. It's still really impressive: the two-tone gold and silver. the curved braces and the ornate hand engraving? Yes please.
Balance is OK. King feels good with a a balance weight. The Schmelzer feels a bit more bell heavy, but not uncomfortable. The tuning slide braces may be solid to help. I can't ascertain if this is a 1-piece (like Bach) or two-piece (like King) bell. Either way it's very clean. Thickness is similar to the King but the rim bead is a little smaller.
The Schmelzer bell could be lighter but likely the plating makes it feel lighter. This horn has some snap to the attack and sound. It's lively and it can bite, but it still feels larger than the King. The Schmelzer neckpipe is one inch shorter than the King, and the extra tubing is added back in the large bow of the tuning slide. That was the secret to Earl Williams' trombone design going back 100 years. This inspired not only Manfred's design, but also other Williams style trombones with the large tuning bow by Shires and Kanstul.
The Schmelzer 1 isn't yet my high range best friend. The King centers on the I'm Getting Sentimental high C# very well, and I almost do it as well on the Model 1. I need more power or a little more volume of air than my Ferguson 11 will accept. The Schmelzer is clearer yet less centered or compact, if that makes any sense. Little bigger, little lighter, little bit more vibratey.
The Schmelzer 1 plays well with a Bach 7C and I'm getting used to it with the 11. This reminds me a little of the XO Fedchock models which are very light. Those sort of buzz more than project, and the Schmelzer splits the feel of the XO and the King 2BPL.
FWIW, this is a very cool horn that Manfred built. I'd use it for section playing and bebop, close to the mic work, and 40's music where some clarity and presence is preferred. It's artful and hand built and terrific value. - SF
Other bell materials or custom finish are available by special order.