Argenta Trombones

Introduced in 1959, the Argenta model is a larger-bore (.520″) tenor trombone made of solid nickel-silver. Models made after 1964 are lighter weight in construction and sound than the original Cleveland horns. Bell and slide sections from the different manufacturing plants do not fit perfectly together and the slide lengths and widths are slightly different as well. The Argenta model was discontinued c.1973 and its place in the Reynolds catalog was taken by the nickel-plated Onyx trombone.

1959-1964
Model Size Description Example
48 Bore: .520″
Bell: 8½”
Argenta Tenor Trombone | Materials: solid nickel silver (all) | Slide: chrome-plated inner slides, nickel-silver outer slides | Finish: clear lacquer finish; optional silverplate bright bell or silverplate gold bell finish Model TBD [SN 61290]. Photos used with permission from Norman Rowe.
1964-c.1973
Model Size Description Example
TO-26 Bore: .515″
Bell: 8½”
Argenta Tenor Trombone | Materials: solid nickel silver | Slide: chrome-plated inner slides, nickel-silver outer slides | Finish: baked epoxy coating Model TO-26 [SN 238062]. Photos used with permission from ElShaddai Edwards.
Notes

The Argenta line of horns were some of very few band instruments, other than French horns, made completely of solid nickel silver. According to Reynolds’ trademark application, the name “Argenta” was taken from the Spanish word for “silver” even though, despite its close appearance, there is no actual silver in nickel silver. Nickel silver, also known as German silver or neusilber, is an alloy of copper, zinc and nickel. A representative alloy mix contains 65% copper, 17% zinc and 18% nickel (compared to 80% copper and 20% zinc for standard yellow brass). Nickel silver has similar characteristics to brass, but is harder and stiffer, making it a durable alternative often used on high-wear areas of a horn, including valve casings, hand grips, tuning slides and trim.

Instruments made of solid nickel silver tend to have a darker, clearer tone compared to standard brass alloys. Nickel silver emphasizes the lower and higher overtone series, resulting in a sound that resonates very clearly in the corresponding registers. Nickel silver horns also tend to project more dramatically than other brass alloys and can easily throw an ensemble section out of balance without care; they are often used where a homogeneous section balance isn’t emphasized, e.g. as a soloist instrument or in a small mixed-instrument horn line. That said, many have found satisfaction using Argenta instruments within big band groups and other similar settings.

Quotes

1959 Roth-Reynolds catalog:

Solid nickel silver. This exciting new creation has already won wide-spread acclaim amongst professional musicians who admire its fuller more robust tone and excellent high register. The most remarkable trombone in any band because of its brilliant quality and very striking appearance. Built in large bore .520″ with 8½ inch bell, slide and bell lock. One piece light weight slide hard chrome plated. Tone starts without effort and is easily developed to astonishing proportions.

1966 Reynolds catalog:

Pure nickel-silver with large bore and 8½” bell to produce that “big dark sound.”

1970 Reynolds catalog:

Solid nickel-silver construction darkens and softens the tone to produce the timbre sought by many of today’s top players. Very responsive throughout all registers. Straight .515″ bore; 8½” bell.