If you’re here, you’ve probably come across Gerhard Baier instruments either in person, on forum posts, or in random listings on sites like Reverb. But up until now, there hasn’t been any reliable information about these instruments online.
I was an employee of the music store that brought these horns to the US, and personally sold many to local customers. In this guide, I’ll tell you everything I know about Gerhard Baier brass instruments and whether or not they’re worth your time.
What is Gerhard Baier?
Gerhard Baier is a private label of musical instruments owned by Summerhays Music Center in Utah. Most of them are stencils of horns made by B&S and their family of brands, including Hans Hoyer, Meinl Weston, and Courtois. They were all made in Germany in those respective factories.
Summerhays positioned these instruments as affordable alternatives to big brands like Yamaha, Bach, Conn, and others. Overall, they’re excellent horns that should be worth checking out.
What Instruments Were Made with the Gerhard Baier Name?
Everything was imported between 2001 and 2012. This was before the Buffet Group acquired B&S and its subsidiaries. There was a full lineup of brass instruments, including trumpets, trombones, French horns, euphoniums, tubas, and saxophones. They also produced a run of saxophones under the Ernie Northway brand (more on that later).
To my knowledge, there’s no comprehensive list of models available. That said, I’ll go over instruments I know of, providing model numbers when possible.
By far the most abundant of the Gerhard Baier instruments. The most common one was the 3137, a copy of the B&S Challenger I professional trumpet. The one difference is that it had a rose brass leadpipe instead of a yellow brass.
Baier 3137 trumpets come in three finishes:
- 3137-S – Silver plating with gold trim
- 3137-SNS – Black nickel plating with silver trim
- 3137-SNAU – Black nickel plating with gold trim
Other Bb and C trumpets were made under various model numbers. There was also a stencil of the B&S 31312 piccolo trumpet.
There was also a big supply of flugelhorns. These are stencils of the B&S Challenger 3145. There were two models I’m aware of:
- 3145-L – Lacquer finish
- 3145-S – Silver-plated finish
Baier trombones were either duplicated from B&S trombones or the B&S-made Courtois trombones. The same trombones were made under the F. Schmidt label for Brook Mays Music in Texas.
There are three models I’m aware of:
- Small bore jazz trombone similar to the current Courtois AC402T
- Large bore, open-wrap tenor modeled after the Bach Stradivarius 42BO, but with a thinner bell
- Bass trombone stenciled from the Courtois AC502
Baier French horns were stenciled from Hans Hoyer models. Some of them had the name “Bruce Woodward” stamped on them. Bruce was a former member of the Utah Symphony and a consultant with Summerhays.
Most of the French horns were variations of the Hans Hoyer 6801 with detachable bells. Some single horns were also made.
Euphoniums & Tubas
The low brass instruments were stencils of Meinl-Weston models. At least two models of euphoniums were available:
- Student-level 3-valve euphonium
- Fully compensating 3+1 valve euphonium
Some Gerhard Baier tubas also made it over:
- 3/4-size student tubas. I don’t know much about them, just that they exist.
- 3/4-size professional BBb tubas with three pistons. These came in both lacquer and silver-plated finishes.
- 4/4-size professional piston BBb tubas. These were stencils of the Meinl Weston 2011FA.
- 4/4-size professional rotary BBb tubas. These were stencils of the B&S 3103-L.
Summerhays brought in saxophones under both the Gerhard Baier and Ernie Northway labels. These are identical saxophones in everything but name. Northway saxes are named after the saxophonist and mouthpiece maker Ernie Northway. Both Baier and Northway saxes are stencils of the series 2001 B&S pro saxes.
The first run was under the Gerhard Baier label. But once B&S stopped saxophone production, Summerhays bought much of the remaining supply and put the Northway name on them. These saxes are possibly some of the last B&S-made saxophones in circulation.
Are Gerhard Baier Instruments Any Good?
As someone who sold these instruments alongside horns from Yamaha, Bach, Conn, Eastman, and other major brands, feedback was generally positive. But each group had its fans and critics. Here are my takes on whether these are worth your time or not:
- Trumpets – The trumpets were especially popular among high school students. They’re a fantastic value for the price. As a friend put it, “It’s not a Stradivarius, but it’s 85% of the way there.” All in all, worth checking out.
- Trombones – The small-bore tenor is an impressive jazz lead, and the bass trombone is also solid. But something about the large bore tenor made it a hard sell for most people. If you run into one of the Courtois-style horns, you’d be safe to grab it. But double check the large bore tenor if you can.
- French Horns – The French horns were also fairly popular, at least in some circles. Some local band directors also liked the horns enough to buy sets for their schools. These are worth checking out if you’re a fan of Hans Hoyer or Kruspe-wrap horns.
- Euphoniums – For whatever reason, the euphoniums had a more mixed reception. While they’re a significant step up from student horns, some teachers and pro players weren’t fans. The most common criticism was that the sound was great, but their intonation wasn’t up to snuff. If you see one, try it for yourself before you buy.
- Tubas – Baier tubas were pretty well received. Several university-level tuba players had these for a while. Finding one of these tubas would be a great deal.
- Saxophones – As a sax player, I loved the Ernie Northway tenor and bari saxes. They all had a deep, rich sound with plenty of substance — I was even tempted to buy the bari for myself! The alto saxes didn’t impress me as much, though. While mechanically excellent, the sound quality was very thin to my ears. That said, a good friend of mine swore by the alto as his main horn.
Depending on the horn, Gerhard Baier and Ernie Northway instruments are potentially fantastic finds. If you stumble on one in person or online, you should definitely at least check it out.
Most of this information comes from my personal experience working with Gerhard Baier instruments as a salesperson, and from conversations with the owner of Summerhays Music in Orem, UT, the company responsible for importing them.