Contempora Double Horns

Bernie Marston notes that after Richards Music went bankrupt in 1964, Chicago Musical Instrument Co. purchased the Reynolds assets and sent the existing inventory of horn valves, bells and other parts to the F.E. Olds (also owned by CMI) plant in Fullerton, California for evaluation and to set up production lines. After the existing Cleveland-made inventory ran out, the new horns used the design of the Chambers Model horns as a general template. Bill Bamberg comments on the updated models:

There was a design change to the Chambers model, but there is little consensus exactly what was changed. The bell thickness was reduced to about .012″ inch. This took away the awesome power potential of the heavy bell, but made the horn a little more forgiving to play in smaller ensembles. I was a believer that the new design was more of a student instrument until I did a restoration of one for my wife. I discovered that a universal problem with all the FE01s and FE03s (Chambers in NS and Brass) was solder rings left in the interior tubing. Reaming the bore to a uniform .0468″ made the Texas horn play every bit as well as the Cleveland models.

1964-1979
Model Size Description Example
FE-01 Bore: .468″
Bell: 12″
Contempora B♭/F Double French Horn | Medium weight bell (.012″ thick); medium-large bell throat | Kruspe wrap style | Materials: solid nickel silver | Finish: baked epoxy finish Model FE-01. Photos used with permission from Bruce Tubbs [eBay: frugalhorn].
FE-03 Bore: .468″
Bell: 12″
Contempora B♭/F Double French Horn | Medium weight bell (.012″ thick); medium-large bell throat | Kruspe wrap style | Materials: brass; nickel-silver slide tubes, bracing and trim | Finish: baked epoxy finish SN 215755; photo source: eBay.
Notes and Quotes

1966 Reynolds catalog:

Finest possible horn for professionals. Solid nickel silver [model FE-01] throughout produces a resonant ‘dark’ sound. Quiet floating-type rotary valves with long shafts and bearings give exceptional ease of operation. Extremely wide range.

1977 Reynolds catalog:

[FE-01] The choice of symphony, concert and professional artists, the FE-01 is extremely flexible with excellent intonation thoughout the entire range. Solid nickel silver construction produces a dark, resonant sound. Quiet, floating type rotary valves afford quick resonse and ease of playing.

[FE-03] Superb craftsmanship and engineering produce a French horn capable of satisfying the most exacting demands of advanced players. Features the same distinctive characteristics and quality of the FE-01 Contempora French horn except that it is solid brass with nickel-silver tubes, bracing and trim. Use of brass rather than nickel-silver gives the instrument a somewhat brighter, freer tone.


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  • French Horns