Late Olds Quality Problems

Robb Stewart states "By 1970 there was a noticable decrease in the quality of construction that made Olds famous". The general consensus seems to be that this decline is seen mainly in the Ambassador line of horns, and that the pro horns continued to be of high quality. In any event, the designs of the later horns were undeniably topnotch. The problem seemed to be with consistency, due to costcutting in the assembly process. Some horns of outstanding quality continued to be built, but there were apparently some "lemons" as well.

The following was posted on the Trumpet Players' International Network mailing list, and is used here with permission of the author.

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 11:18:54 -0800
From: John Hensley
Subject: Late Olds quality

I play in a group with a fellow who assembled instruments for Olds, shortly before they closed their doors, and then for Kanstul. He doesn't like to reminisce too much, but the brief stories he's told have been moderately eye-opening. They really point out where the expense is in constructing trumpets - in the labor, not the components. On the Ambassador and bugle lines, you started with a pile of pieces (valve sections already assembled) and stared putting things together *very quickly*. If anything went wrong, you set the unfinished instrument aside and started a new one. The undesirable position in the assembly department was to be the guy who took all the unfinished seconds, as well as any that didn't pass inspection, and try to quickly assemble usable instruments out of the seconds. Any components that couldn't be utilized quickly were dumped - there simply wasn't enough profit in the student and marching instruments to allow for much labor.

My acquaintance much prefered working on the professional-quality instruments, because on those you could spend some time dealing with a component that didn't quite fit initially and make everything just so.

Even in the declining days of Olds, this fellow says he did the best job he possibly could on Ambassadors, given the aggressive production quotas. OTOH, he admits that some of the other assemblers just slapped horns together quite sloppily.

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