mendez1Since buying a couple of Ambassadors, I have become intrigued by the Olds trumpets; their history, the different models, and what the differences are between them.

The types of Olds trumpets that I have seen (so far) include:

  • Ambassador
  • Special
  • Studio
  • Mendez
  • Custom Crafted
  • Recording
  • Super Recording
  • Super
  • Military
  • French Model
  • Symphony
  • Opera
  • Super Star
  • (and there are more)

Some say that all these models are “the same”.

Other than different leadpipes, bell alloys, bell thicknesses, bell tone rings, bracing, valve clusters (Recording models had the offset valve cluster with balance forward) and a few other variations even within the same models (Studio & Special)…. they’re all the same. Ha.

Olds is said to have run a “single tolerance” shop. So the attention to both accuracy and precision, regardless of materials, shapes, orientations, or tapers, was the same. Some people feel the SOUND of the entire line might therefore be the same. It’s not, but the craftsmanship was excellent across the board.

One forum member described this discussion of the differences as opening a huge can of worms. That much is true. Finding accurate information about the different models and why one might be “better” or “worse” than another is like the hunt for the needle in the haystack.

Robert Dale Olsen, R & D Director at Olds in the 1960’s, shared his insight to the Olds Ambassador with the Trumpet Player’s International Network (TPIN) in 2007. Of particular interest was this paragraph comparing the Ambassador to the Mendez. (Rafael Mendez was associated with the Olds company, and the Mendez was the Olds professional-level trumpet.)

… As part of their plan to develop a student model trumpet, it was decided that the new model would be called the Ambassador It would essentially be the same as the Mendez, but would have to sell for much less. There was great concern among Olds management that the new Ambassador could not be inferior in quality to any other Olds trumpet. The differences between the Ambassador and Mendez are largely observable; the Mendez has two triggers, the Ambassador has none; the Mendez has a more expensive claw type bracing system, and a more expensive case, etc. etc. The essential tapered sections which govern the basic musical characteristics are thought to be the same. It is Zig Kanstul’s recall that the leadpipes may be somewhat different. Notwithstanding myth, both trumpets were constructed using the same thickness brass for the bell. The Mendez model did not have a thinner bell. — R. Dale Olsen.

According to Zig Kanstul, the models of trumpets made by Olds in the late 1940’s, 1950s and 1960’s all were made with the same bell mandrel, to the same specifications — from the Ambassador all the way to the Mendez. (although some models used different materials). The only exceptions were the Opera (which had a larger bore) and the Custom.

Since I personally have only played Olds Ambassadors, I can’t offer an opinion (yet). I hope to acquire one of the various pro-level Olds horns in the future, so I can compare it with the Ambassadors. I have to unload some of my existing “inventory” first, though.

frumpetAnyone need a Getzen F trumpet (aka “frumpet”)???   No?   How about a Bundy Trombone?