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Schilke Bb Trumpets

Schilke Music Products was founded in 1956 by Renold O. Schilke, formerly 2nd trumpet (and for a time Principal) in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra alongside Elden Benge. He had begun his professional career working from an early age for Holton Company where he learned the basics of making brass instruments. During his studies he became a skilled tool maker, discovered the joy of acoustics as applied to brass instruments, and investigated the effects of different metals and the physics in sound production. This would lead to him designing and making his own instruments to overcome the dissatisfaction with instruments commercially available at that time. Possibly most famous for being part of the committee behind the Martin Committee trumpet, and latterly for his small trumpets, Schilke Bb trumpets are sometimes overlooked despite the pedigree of design and craftsmanship being second to none. Hopefully the next few paragraphs will encourage you to consider the range and help to understand how the range works.

We should probably start with the Custom Range, any of the models starting with a B or X. The range covers a mixture of bore size and bell combinations all designed to give players of any style the right feel for them. Although you can now find numbers that give you the bore size, when originally designed by Renold O. Schilke they were only classified as Medium, Medium Large etc, because his research into the work of Mahillon had convinced him that by adjusting the bore at specific nodal points you could dramatically improve the intonation of each individual instrument. Therefore the bore was not exactly the same throughout and should be considered as within the designated class. Those wishing to investigate the full range of options can find that information here , but I will concentrate on the most popular models which we normally hold in stock.

The B1 remains one of the most popular models despite the design being at least 60 years old. It is classified as ML bore partnered with a #1 Large taper bell. Like the rest of the Custom range the B1 features lightweight materials and minimal bracing to give a consistently even feel over the whole range and a natural brilliance to the sound. It works in all genres of music from Orchestral to Big Band jazz. 


The X3 is next on the list of popular models. This features the same bell as used on the B1, but is a Large bore. Obviously, the bigger bore produces a bigger sound and is considered by many to be more free blowing. Arturo Sandoval played a B1 for many years but switched to an X3 after moving to the USA. The X3 is also the 'weapon of choice' for Andrew Crowley - one of the busiest studio musicians in the UK and leader of the world famous London Brass. The B5 is worth a mention as it is ML bore with ML bell. The bell on the B5 is also solid copper which creates a different feel. We also try to have the B6 available, which is a Medium bore with a yellow brass ML bell. This produces a tighter sound and is good for studio type work. The other 7 variables of the original designs are less likely to be stock models, but the build quality is superb, and you really get a sense of what Renold O. was trying to achieve.

I'm going to jump from the originals to the newest models next before working back to fill in the gaps. We saw our first 'Soloiste' models in 2019 and they were an immediate hit. The Soloiste Bb Trumpets have exquisite bell engraving befitting of an elite series, and they come complete with a newly designed Soloiste Series double case and Symphony Series mouthpiece. There are 2 Bb models both featuring an entirely new valve block design, special bracing and new mouthpipe design. Both are ML (.460") bore trumpets and bear the initials of the Artistes who helped develop them - MG for Marc Geujon or OT for Osamu Takahashi. The MG has a Large Bell and the OT a medium large. These are beautiful trumpets to play and own - see what Schilke say about them here


Working chronologically backwards the previous newly launched models appeared in 2013 and in many ways are something completely different in the Schilke stable, but pay an enormous homage to the design history of Renold O. Schilke. The Handcraft models cater to the fan of the sound of Vintage trumpets with the beauty of modern build quality. The two models vary only in bell material. The HC1 has a yellow brass bell, whilst the HC2 has a solid copper bell. The bells are made on an entirely new #0 mandrel and they are very large in the taper. Married to an XL bore valve block they produce a dark velvety tone reminiscent of smoky jazz clubs of yesteryear. If you want to hear one in action check out Schilke Artist Steve Fishwick playing his HC1. (NB Steve plays a B1 on some of his earlier recordings)


A major landmark in the history of Schilke trumpets was the sale of the company to Andrew Naumann in 2002. The HD or Heavy Design trumpets were developed from the earlier S range instruments (more on those below). Heavier gauge materials are utilised alongside other design features to produce a trumpet that has a solid core to the sound and possibly a more traditional feel in the hand. These are not heavy in the way a Taylor or Monette instrument is heavy, but more of a standard symphonic weight of instrument (though that doesn't mean they don’t work in other genres). the model range is a mix of 3 bore sizes and two bell sizes. the numbering system is easier to understand than the custom range as the numbers directly relate to bore/bell combinations. So S22HD is Large bore/medium large bell through to S43HD which is medium bore/medium bell. A special version of the latter model is the S43HDL-F - a tuning bell instrument designed for and with Jon Faddis. With this model more is less - no water key on the main tuning slide, no nibs on the 2nd valve slide - but you do get heavy valve caps and optional crown.

The S range was developed by Renold E. Schilke, son of Renold O. who ran the company, with his sister Joan, from 1982 until it's sale to Andrew Naumann. Anyone who plays a Schilke Custom trumpet will tell you they feel different to other makes, not only because of their lightness but also because of the slotting of the harmonics. From the front they sound very little different to other Schilke models, but behind the bell you feel that you are getting more coming back to and around you. The S range trumpets have soldered bell wire, more bracing and a squarer tuning slide which help to give a solid feel to the core of the sound. There are 3 basic models all featuring a medium large bell on Large/Medium Large/Medium bore valve blocks. The earlier version of the Faddis was an S42L.


You may occasionally come across an M range instrument. I think the M stands for 'Mass produced' as they were a collaboration with Yamaha, for whom Renold O. Schilke did a lot of consulting and design work. Yamaha made a lot of parts to Schilke designs and did some of the assembly.  

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