Super, Recording and Super Recording
Trumpet Herald post by Perry D’Andrea
“The diff between a Recording and SuperRecording is just the “tone ring” around the end of the bell. I don’t think it makes much of a difference, actually. It is just a little more rare.”
This is one difference between the two, but far from the only difference. They are truly not the same horn. I have two of each, and *of* each model, I have both an original unaltered condition version and a restored version. They all play incredibly.
I have over a dozen Olds trumpets, from a near-mint original condition 1930 “The Olds” to Ambassadors, a Special, and a Studio.. Seven of the horns are Supers, Recordings, and Super Recordings.
I have a restored 1956 Recording and an original 1962 Recording. Also there’s a ’54 Super (restored), ’56 Super (original), and a 1940 Super (original). And I have two 1946 Super Recordings which were, in all likelihood, made directly in succession, one right after the other, as far as Super Recordings go. The serial numbers would indicate this, supported by the fact that ALL Olds trumpets AND cornets (AND flugels?) of each and every model were stamped in the same single serial number sequence. That there would be another SuperRecording with a serial number between these two seems unlikely. Just an interesting tidbit. I got ’em on two completely different occasions from two completely different parts of the country.
The grandaddy of all these models is the INCREDIBLY underrated OldsSuper.
The Supers, since the beginning, have had the extra metal engraved tone ring just behind the rim of the bell, about 1/2″ wide. I believe that, from the 40’s onward, these rings were made of, or plated with, nickel. The very early Super tone rings (or at least a great number of them) were brass, just like the rest of the bell. The font, style and wording of the engraving was identical from the late forties through the late fifties, stating that it was a “SuperOlds” made in “Los Angeles” even years after the plant moved to Fullerton.
ALL other Olds horns from Fullerton on were engraved “Fullerton, Calif” except the Supers which still said “Los Angeles” until the late 50’s or 60’s. Guess they had a major surplus of those tone rings when they moved down near Disney. The style of engraving on my 1940 satin silver Super, though, is sort of block lettering, but the font on the tone rings of my two 50’s Supers (again, one original ’56 and one restored ’54) was the more recognizable scripted font that remained on the tone rings of the Supers for the last 30 years of its manufacture.
The “Super Recordings” all had the tone ring that the Supers had (They are listed in some of the earlier catalogs as a “Recording,” WITHIN the SUPER line of Olds horns- that’s the confusion. There were actually no “Recordings” per se built prior to 1950, and no Super Recordings built after 1950). The departure from the Super design was the forward placement of the valves and the offset second valve. When the SuperRecording gave way to the Recording, the tone ring was dropped, and the bell section (along with the leadpipe) was made with rose brass.
But there’s more to it than that. The Super Recordings were built with apparently the best level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that those guys could muster, and I’ll tell you why I think that aspect of the SuperRecording is a notch above all other Olds horns later in this post.
First I gotta say a little more about the Super, itself.
The playing characteristic of an OldsSuper, particularly from the 50’s and 60’s is really unique: they play like a fireman’s hose on full as opposed to a car wash jet spray- the tone is the densest I’ve ever heard on any model of any make of horn I’ve played to date. But I say fireman’s hose as opposed to garden hose because it IS a big, hugely projecting sound. The ONLY reason this unbelievable model of horn is not revered far and wide TODAY like the Recording is, in my opinion, because the horn doesn’t produce a very “wide” or “fat” sound. But hear me good, brothers and sisters, it aint no small sound that the Super produces. In fact it’s bigger than the sound of the average trumpet, but it stands far apart from the new ones in that it’s tone is as thick and dense as iron. If you were painting a wall with the sound of a 50’s or 60’s Super versus most trumpets, you would only need one coat. The other aspect of this incredible horn is that it plays solid as a rock all over the scale, particularly on up past high C, with NO indication that you’re entering the “next zone”. Not to say it plays all by itself; I have to be in good shape to take the Supers up there, but when I do, they are dead center, tuning wise and tonewise. Moreso than any other horn I’ve played to date. John Lynch, developer of the Asymmetric mouthpiece, has said that the Super plays more centered above high C than perhaps any other horn ever made. It’s like the road gets steeper up there, but it’s the same exact road in every aspect of its pavement. That’s the 50’s and 60’s Super. It is an absolute solid powerhouse.
My 1940 Super has a darker sound to it with more warmth and doesn’t seem to play quite as densely as the 56 and 54 when the volume is poured on (the early Supers are also noticeably lighter in weight), but it is a SWEET as HELL horn when playing jazz rides. No wonder Jonah Jones swore by the OldsSuper to the end. The OldsSuper is truly the Rock of Gibraltar among trumpets.
Here’s the difference I notice between my Recordings and my Super Recordings.
The Recordings, no question about it, have a “bigger” and “fatter” tone to them than the Supers or Super Recordings. Maybe even potentially a more searing edge. They seem to push the envelope just that one notch farther in the paint peeling department and seem to have an endless capacity for more volume and huge sound, limited only by the player. Since, in THESE days, “big” and “fat” seems to be the vogue sought-out sound in a trumpet (and unfortunately, too many new, modern top-line horns have just that, at the expense of a great deal of tone core density and richness), it’s no surprise that the Recording is experiencing a major revival. But the revival is indeed justified: these babies STILL have a WAY more *dense* tone quality in their *fatness* (a difficult feat in trumpet design) than new modern horns have, HANDS DOWN.
Just make no mistake about it- the Supers do produce even a denser core to *their* sound than the Recordings- they just don’t have that big wide aspect that the tone of the Recordings have.
Now- the SUPER-Recordings.
These horns are pure magic. I think some sort of elven fairies fluttered their way into the Olds L.A. plant in the middle of the night back in those days and whispered magic spells onto the Super Recordings that were sitting on the workbench. It’s very hard to put their playing characteristics into words, but I’ll try to put it into down-to-earth terms. Thes horns play masterfully. They play with unrivaled precision and evenness of response throughout the range of the horn. Compared to the Recordings, my Super Recordings have a much more sensitive and quick response. When going through a high-speed run, there is a slightly higher degree of solidity in the “footfall” and slotting of each note, but it also has a more fine-tuned ultra-precision responsiveness in its playing that is found only on the very very VERY best hand-crafted horns in the world. The tone, though denser and thicker than the tone of the Recording, is noticeably warmer and broader than that of the Super.
And it really IS an amalgam of the Recording and the Super, but that amalgam delivers a tone resultant that ONLY belongs to the SuperRecording, not either of the other two- a diamond-dense core with a warmth and richness, coupled with the ability to soar at full throttle in a combination that is hard to find on any other horn. It’s no wonder that this model stole the heart of Raphael Mendez and sold him on the Olds line. God only knows why he then specified an Olds-manufactured Besson copy as the Olds model that would carry his name. And Who KNOWS why they cancelled the SuperRecording in 1950, other than the probability, in my suspicion, that they simply could not afford to spend so much time handmaking Super Recordings and keep the price affordable for even the most discriminating trumpet-buyers. If only they could’ve held out until THESE times, when folks are apparently willing to fork out more than $5,000 for certain models made by Leblanc-Courtois, for example, that are, forgive me, absolute pieces of metal ****.
The verdict? A tie perhaps? The way my Recordings, and Super Recordings play:
As for my two Super Recordings, the one in all-original but used condition plays with a gorgeous rich, dark, warm tone and an excellence in its response that I would stack up against ANY new trumpet made. Vintage One, Monette, whatever. The SuperRecording I have that was restored to new condition has practically as good a response, but with a slightly bigger, fatter (though less dark), edgier, more modern tone. Both Super Recordings have the best valve action of any trumpet I’ve ever played. Probably a tribute to the painstaking handwork of that model.
The two Recordings are like this: my original but very-used condition ’62 Recording has a dark but fat tone with an edge that will hurt the listener if they’re not careful- I’m serious- this baby can peel. As for my Recording that was restored to new condition (the ’56 Recording), this model, though maybe not as exquisite as the SuperRecording in its perfection of response, and though maybe not quite as dark as its brother (the original ’62 Recording), this ’56 Recording has the biggest and most powerful tone with this level of density of any horn I’ve ever A-B’d it with, topped with an edge that is an absolute danger to society. And I’ve A-B’d it in countless instrument stores in front of store staff who invariably say- “Wow- that one’s got a much bigger sound!” This has happened with Schilkes, Yamahas, Bachs, Kanstuls, Vintage Ones, Getzens, Benges, Callichios, on and on and on. I’ve yet to find any new horn anywhere that can top it in that respect. It’s just huge and monstrous. A product of both its marque AND the fact that it was overhauled? Yes, I think so. When you overhaul a trumpet, you’re changing it. But in this case, if it was a compromise in its sound, I’d give anythng to hear how big she sounded originally.
The Recordings, like the Super Recordings, and seemingly much moreso than the Supers, are capable of a much wider range of timbres, limited only by the player. Under this heading, the Recording probably has a wider range of sounds and may be where Olds wanted to go with this whole thing.
So, an oversimplification:
EARLY Olds Supers – dark yet very focused, rich sound
50’s and 60’s Supers – densest tone in all of trumpetdom, big (but not a wide or fat) sound, rock solid response with thick, solid tone up above high C that matches an octave lower in terms of response (though not ease, of course)
50’s and 60’s Recordings – Big, Wide, Fat tone that is uncanny in its density by today’s standards, with an edge that will slice through tungsten steel, and an ability to produce a wide variety of tones and timbres
40’s Super Recordings – maybe in some respects the finest made trumpets in history, uncanny precision of response and warm purity of tone that doesn’t weaken when pushed into the fortississimo range of intensity. I consider myself very fortunate to have two of these models- they are absolutely exquisite.
Super – Workhorse
Recording – Showhorse
SuperRecording – Unicorn
here is the entire discussion