Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 16:11:52 -0500 (EST)
From: Alan Wallace <>
Subject: article about Eldon Benge

The following (interesting I hope) piece was found in ETUDE  December 1950 page 24.  Please excuse any typos.  I think I got them all!  Enjoy.

Alan Wallace

Members of the Benge family must have been good sports about it, for Elden soon became known as no ordinary trumpet player. At the age of 11 he made his public debut as soloist

Now at 45, Benge is known not only as first trumpet player with the WGN staff Orchestra, heard nationally on radio and television shows, but as the nations number one expert in solving trumpet problems.

After joining several orchestras in succession and traveling around the country, Benge graduated to first trumpet with the Detroit and then the Chicago Symphonies. And increasingly he became interested in attempting to solve problems presented by his instrument. He was dissatisfied especially with his inability to reach the wide range of tone he wanted, and he talked with men skilled in the construction of the trumpet.

On an ordinary tool lathe in the basement of his home Benge learned to fashion the 36 parts of the trumpet, some of which must be duplicated as many as five times to make up one complete instrument. As a result, in 1937 he was able to sell his first custom built trumpet. The buyer was a fellow trumpeter in the Chicago Symphony.       ~

Through patient experimentation, Benge had achieved his  long-sought pitch, using special alloys, and a specially designed taper in the mouthpipe.

The good word about the new Benge instrument spread among the members of the profession, and what was merely a hobby 12 years ago has become a thriving business. Today the Boston Symphony uses the Benge custom built C trumpet exclusively; the Minneapolis and Toronto Symphonies each have at least six Benge trumpets in use, and the Chicago, Pittsburgh and San Francisco Symphonies employ the Benge B-flat cornet and the E-flat and D trumpets. Top-flight trumpet players everywhere call On Benge to solve their trumpet problems.

Working in the whirring, machine-crowded basement of his home in Chicago, where he and his wife raised their non-musical twin sons, Benge employs two technicians full time. One, - a German born bell-maker, forms the one-piece shaft of the trumpet on his lathe, taking careful measurements with regard to graduations and wall thickness. After the unit casing has been stamped and scraped, Benge takes over on a smaller lathe to temper and further graduate the bell. Then the assembly man adds pistons and casings, each of which are precisely machined according to the Benge formula and lapped by hand.

Usually there's a period of two weeks between the time Benge receives an order for a trumpet with custom tuning specifications, and the time of its delivery. Benge himself spends many hours on the final inspection and testing.

He is deeply gratified when customers express their appreciation in such letters as this one from Harry Glantz:

"Your instrument is the finest I have ever played. It has tht most perfect intonation and the tone is resonant and true. I am happy and thrilled to use it in my NBC Symphony work with Arturo Toscanini."

The manufacturing that goes on in the basement is not the only industry conducted in the Benge home at 1945 Morse Avenue in Chicago. Inside the two-story white stucco house, set on a wide sweep of well kept lawn, there is also a sound proofed studio, in which Elden Benge teaches as many pupils as his schedule permits. Students curious about the inner secrets of their instruments need only step into the basement below. And what does Elden Benge do with his spare time? He says he's a bebop fan but, like Louis Armstrong, he finds it too much for him. So he relaxes by listening to symphonic music particularly works with long trumpet passages.