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1973 P-15 "Custom" Trombone

The P-15 was the first trombone in Olds' "Custom" range. It was introduced sometime in the mid-1960's (it's not in the 1962 catalog, but is in the 1966 catalog) and remained in production into the mid-1970's (it's on the 1974 price list, but not the 1978 price list). This particular instrument carries a serial number of 8355XX, dating it to mid-1973.

Advertised specifications were a single-bore .500" slide and an 8" bell. With the exception of the bell, the entire horn is made of nickel silver. The description of the bell material is not consistent; in the 1966 and c.1967 catalogs, it's .018" lightweight "Lub-A-Loy"; the 1973 catalog just says "lightweight brass".  It's possible "Lub-A-Loy" was Olds' term for lubaloy, a family of copper-based alloys containing 3-18% zinc and 0.5-2% tin. At any rate, the bell of this particular horn looks slight darker/redder than yellow brass.

In some ways, the P-15 broke new ground for Olds. The dual-bore slide, heavy braces, and duo-octagonal inner slide tubes that characterized earlier top-of-the-line small-bore tenors (i.e., the R-15 and R-20 Recording and the S-15 Super) were abandoned in favor of a single-bore slide, conventional three-piece braces, and round inners. On the other hand, and in contrast to the later P-16 Custom, the P-15 borrowed heavily from earlier Olds designs. Based on my rough measurements, the only parts completely unique to the P-15 are the end crook of the handslide and the leadpipe. Some parts, like the slide tubes, are identical to those in other models, while others, such as the bell, use a different material but were made on "borrowed" tooling.

The "Custom" name seems to have been meant to imply a higher level of hand work. Whether or not that was actually the case, the cost of a P-15 would certainly lead the buyer to expect an instrument of the highest quality. In 1974, it listed for $520; by comparison, the S-15 Super listed for $370 and the R-20 Recording with f-attachment listed for $500. 

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Overall View
Front
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Bell Engraving
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Overall View
Back
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End Crook

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Handslide Brace
Detail