My Trumpet Stuff


  Louis Armstrong - "Summertime"

Began trumpet lessons.

Many years ago, my mother and dad scraped together the money to buy me a new trumpet. The horn was an F.E. Olds and Son Studio Model. I played that horn through high school and through 4 years of college. Three of my college years were on a partial trumpet scholarship. This picture was taken when I was playing college gigs at 18. When I completed my short naval career and continued my education, I sold the horn for around $75.00. New it cost around $175.00.

Last year while visiting my sister in Austin and a dear friend of many years in Houston, my interest in the trumpet was renewed -- mostly by my friends 15 year old son, Eric, who played trumpet very well, and partially by my sister who wanted me to play with her in their church group. Jeanne plays the clarinet.

I researched the F.E. Olds and Son company on the internet and found that they had gone out of business in 1979. However, the quality of their vintage horns made them collectors items and if a good one could be found, it would be a better horn than many of today's brands. After about a month or so on eBay, I found not only an Olds trumpet, but a Studio Model that was made within a few years of my original Studio Model. I won the bid at $218.00. The horn was pretty beat up and obviously not cared for. It was found in an attic antique sale in Pennsylvania and put up for bid by the dealer that found it. Here's what it looked like when I received it from that antique dealer.

The lacquer was about gone, the bell and tubing had dings and dents, the center valve did work well, the tuning slide was frozen solid, water corks missing, and the rear tubing was bent into the valve casing. My next chore was to find the right brass repair person to restore my vintage horn. Harry Siverly at The Horn Shop in Fresno (check it out) had a very good reputation - so that was the next stop for my vintage horn. Harry sounded like the right person for the job.

Here is what the horn looks like now after a complete restoration:

A unique feature of the Studio model by Olds was that parts of the tubing and all of the bell back to the engraving were nickel silver whereas the rest of the horn is brass. Also, note that the bell tubing is longer than on most trumpets. This Olds design plus the silver bell produces a sound that cuts a lead player above the rest of the orchestra.

My task now is to see if after so many years, I will be able to play again. I plan to practice scales and such until I can find a good instructor to work with - and to decide if my horn will just be a sentimental possession, or a horn that I can learn to play music with once again. 

February '05: Found an excellent instructor, Allyne Baker, in Austin. He first played and evaluated the horn and found it to be in excellent playing shape. He then set up a series of 4 lessons for me and is using the Arban conservatory method of trumpet instruction. It seems my tone is still there, but the lips and embouchure are many years out of shape - so we will see how it goes with the notes above middle "C" that I can't seem to find yet. It "does" feel good to begin playing again.

September '05: Continued private lessons in Rocklin, CA. I sat in with a local Jazz and recording trumpet player -- Michael. He was really good, but unfortunately, was only able to sit with him for one 1/2 hour lesson. Took one other lesson from Steve out of the same music store -- and learned a few more tricks to get myself back into playing shape.

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