Sistek Band Instruments (Sistek Music House)
By Ron Berndt, 2015
One of the founding five partners in the Cleveland Band Instrument Company in 1919 was “Jas. Sistek”. This was James W. Sistek (1881/2-1976), but is often mistaken as his son James J. Sistek Jr. (1909-1970/1). Sistek was the proprietor of a local music store well before joining in the Cleveland Company.
Sistek Music primarily sold used and new band instruments. Sistek placed classified advertisements in publications such as Billboard Magazine by 1917 and continued doing so through World War Two. The store moved at least twice with addresses on Broadway in Cleveland, first at #4248, then #12912, and
finally at #4628 by 1964. James J. Sistek joined his father’s company in 1925 at age 16 and may also have apprenticed as an engraver at H.N. White around that time. His son, James R. Sistek also joined the firm.
Sistek Music had been capitalized at $10,000 while by comparison, Cleveland was capitalized at $25,000. Although Sistek’s 1917 advertisements were strictly for cornets and trombones, Sistek went on to develop a reputation for trumpets. The Cleveland company was likewise best regarded for its trumpet. The early Sistek trumpets have many parts in common with the Cleveland trumpets made at the 6th street facility such as Holton-like caps and buttons, King style ferrules, and some escutcheons. The first trumpets have bell art that closely matches the 1908-1931 Holton standard bell art. However, this changes to a Cleveland style pattern by #1000. One of the first Sistek trumpets, #265 is below.
In 1918 Sistek quickly signed the new Metal-workers Union contract undermining Conn, White, Holton and others during the big strike that followed. Possibly raised pro-union, James J. was a member of the American Federation of Musicians as a performer. While building trumpets, Sistek manufactured over 5000 units with their own serial number sequence. The subsequent stencil line of six trumpets included “New Wonder”, “New Jewel”, “Artist” and “Soloist”.
The Sistek Music Company ended in 1970 or 71, despite being listed as active in the 1971 Music Trades Purchaser’s Guide to the Music Industry, when robbers shot and killed James J. Sistek, and then burned the store.