The late Bobby DeNicola is the creator of the Puje, (pronounced pudgy). He devised a way to build a hybrid horn from stock trumpet and cornet parts. His horns were reasonably priced and played well, but retained a certain hand-built aesthetic. One unique feature of the Puje is a thumb-controlled tuning slide that tunes the whole horn.
How Many DeNicola Horns?
We will never know
There is no documentation on the horns Bobby built. They were built one at a time using mostly Blessing parts. I am not sure there are any two that are identical and the design was constantly evolving. No dates or serial numbers were recorded and there is no firm number as to how many were produced. He also issued a number of Puje 2 instruments. As with the Puje there is no recorded information about this horn.
What happened next?
I had always wanted a Puje, but they are hard to find in good original condition. I had begun designing my own horn in 2013, when I saw this horn for sale on eBay. It was listed as a new prototype. I purchased it. By chance I contacted the seller, Joe, after the sale and it turned out he had it built with the intention to resurrect the Puje. His plans had changed.
A New Era Begins
In a Cellar Shop in Maine
I saw the merits of Mr. DeNicola’s design and purchased the Puje name from Joe. Armed with the prototype and my own ideas I began to design my first horn, the Puje 3. The horn on the left is serial number 0, my first horn I built from new parts. It was my personal horn that was to be kept to remind me how it all started. Of course I was persuaded to sell it. It now lives in Budapest.
On the Move
Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon
I have been refining my craft and always looking for improvements, but in the end, there are only two things that I feel are requirements when I create a Puje: first, it has to be pudgy, second it must have a whole horn tuning slide. After that, there really are no limits. Just like Bobby, I will continue to experiment with the Puje design to bring you a fun and innovative instrument.