Olds Custom CHR Trumpet
reviewed by Alan Rouse

During the 70’s Olds produced a specialty trumpet called the Custom CHR (“Custom High Range”). I believe this horn was equivalent (probably identical) to the Reynolds ERA horn (“Extended Range Altissimo”). This horn has an unusual design intended to improve slotting in the upper register. The quite unusual bell reminds one of a piccolo trumpet, remaining very narrow until the very end, then flaring abruptly to a full 5″ bell rim. The horn employs a tuning bell design, and completely eliminates the traditional main tuning slide. The extraordinarily long leadpipe extends from mouthpiece receiver all the way to the entrance to the third valve casing. This eliminates the unevenness in the inner taper that normally occurs at the main tuning slide, and also provides additional tapered tubing where effective adjustments could be made to improve slotting of individual notes.

The first time I played the horn it sounded quite nasal and shrill, but after a few minutes I was able to get a surprisingly “normal” tone out of the horn all the way down to F# below the staff. Pedals were no more difficult than on my Mendez. The sound benefitted noticeably when I switched from my normal Schilke 15A4 mouthpiece to the more “orchestral” Yamaha 17C4 GP… although that’s an unfortunate adjustment to have to make for a high register trumpet! And even then it still could not compete with the sound of my other Olds horns (Mendez, Super, Special, and Ambassador). In checking out the design goal of the horn to improve slotting in the extreme high register, I found that the horn performed similarly to my Olds Special, which has an excellent high register. Starting on high C (two ledger lines above the staff) and going up, the horn did slot cleanly as I played C-D-E-F-G (using the same fingerings as are normal for an octave below), but that was not noticeably better than the Special. Continuing up, the A was just a bit dicey, perhaps a bit less so than on the Special (but it’s hard to say whether this was the horn’s fault since I am not exactly a rock of stability up there myself). It seemed to me that the B natural slotted just a bit sharp. Double high C slotted cleanly, and seemed to be reasonably in-tune.

As far as my abilities could distinguish, the Custom CHR succeeds in providing a stable upper register from high C to double high C. It won’t give you any notes you don’t already have, but it might help you eliminate a few clams in that register.