Contempora Tenor Trombones

Introduced c.1950, the Reynolds Contempora trombones were artist-grade instruments that feature the same bronze alloy bell that make the Contempora trumpet and cornet models so distinctive. But where Reynolds’ trumpets and cornets are related to the H.N. White small brass that Foster Reynolds designed, e.g. the King Master cornet, the Contempora tenor trombones have more in common with F.E. Olds’ trombones than the King trombones produced by H.N. White.

Like the Olds Super model, the Contempora tenor trombone features a nickel-silver tone ring, or “kranz”, around the edge of the bell flare. The tone ring helps focus and project the sound without breaking up at louder volumes. Both manufacturers share similar bell bracing patterns as well, with a distinctive triangle-shaped ferrule that was patented in 1938 by Reginald Olds. The larger-bore Contempora tenor trombone was available with a rotary valve and F attachment beginning in the mid-1950s.

1946-1952

F.A. Reynolds, division of Scherl & Roth (Cleveland, Ohio)

According to c.1950 catalog documentation, the Contempora tenor trombone was first created with an 8" bell. It was bumped up to 8½" by 1953-54. The .520" bore size was marketed as a "large bore" instrument at the time, though by current standards, the Contempora would be a medium-bore trombone, similar to the Bach 36. 

Model 30

Contempora Tenor Trombone

Bore: .520"
Bell: 8" bronze alloy bell with nickel-silver tone ring
Materials: nickel-silver gooseneck, tuning slide, bracing and trim; brass “R” counterweight
Slide: chrome-plated nickel-silver inner slides; brass outer slides with nickel-silver mouthpiece receiver and hand grips
Finish: polished brass with clear lacquer finish

Model 30 [SN 29676]

This Reynolds LARGE BORE Contempora Trombone gives volume and tone quality unsurpassed. Has a bell diameter of 8 inches.

c.1950 F.A. Reynolds catalog

1952-1961

Roth-Reynolds (Cleveland, Ohio)

Based on observed serial numbers, the medium-bore variant (Model 30-M, .500" bore, 7½" bell) was introduced c.1954-55, and the large-bore version with an F attachment and rotary valve followed in c.1957.

The Contempora Trombone embodies every desirable feature fine trombonists require [and] produces a superior tenor trombone tone. Slides are nickel silver, chrome-plated, drawn with one-piece stockings. Designed for beauty and rugged durability with nickel silver trimmings and Bronz-o-lyte bell. Finest metals, proper bracing and meticulous workmanship assure years of performance pleasure without costly maintenance.

1953 Roth-Reynolds catalog

Model 30 (30-L)

Contempora Tenor Trombone

Bore: .520" (large)
Bell: 8½" bronze alloy bell with nickel-silver tone ring
Materials: solid nickel silver nickel-silver gooseneck, tuning slide, bracing and trim; brass “R” counterweight
Slide: chrome-plated nickel-silver inner slides; brass outer slides with nickel-silver mouthpiece receiver and hand grips
Finish: polished brass with clear lacquer finish

Model 30-L [SN 057344]. Photos used with permission from ElShaddai Edwards.

Model 30-M

Contempora Tenor Trombone

Bore: .500" (medium)
Bell: 7½" bronze alloy bell with nickel-silver tone ring
Materials: solid nickel silver nickel-silver gooseneck, tuning slide, bracing and trim; brass “R” counterweight
Slide: chrome-plated nickel-silver inner slides; brass outer slides with nickel-silver mouthpiece receiver and hand grips
Finish: polished brass with clear lacquer finish

Model 30-M [SN 42365]. Photos used with permission from eBay Member: northstar1939.

Model 35

Contempora Tenor Trombone with F Attachment

Bore: .520" (large)
Bell: 8½" bronze alloy bell with nickel-silver tone ring
Valve: rotary valve with closed-wrap F attachment
Materials: nickel-silver bracing and trim; brass gooseneck and tuning slide crooks
Slide: chrome-plated nickel silver inner slides; brass outer slides; nickel-silver mouthpiece receiver, handgrip and outer slide sleeves
Finish: clear lacquer finish; optional silverplate bright bell or silverplate gold bell finish

Model 35 [SN 468xx]; photos used with permission from Educators Music (eBay Member: anchorclank).

Rich, full, responsive tone -- superb intonation -- excellent ease of playing. These remarkable qualities are embodied in our popular Tenor Trombones with F attachment and it is, therefore, that Roth-Reynolds also leads in this category.

1959 Roth-Reynolds catalog

1961-1964

RMC/Reynolds (Cleveland, Ohio)

Sometime after Richards Music purchased Reynolds in 1961, the product catalog was renumbered. The old numbers were replaced with a new scheme that reflected the type of instrument. To the best of knowledge, the instrument specifications did not change, just the model numbers.

Model TO-11

Reynolds Contempora Tenor Trombone

Bore: .520" (large)
Bell: 8½" bronze alloy bell with nickel-silver tone ring
Materials: solid nickel silver nickel-silver gooseneck, tuning slide, bracing and trim; brass “R” counterweight
Slide: chrome-plated nickel-silver inner slides; brass outer slides with nickel-silver mouthpiece receiver and hand grips
Finish: polished brass with clear lacquer finish

While a model number is not listed, the Contempora Tenor Trombone was also available in .500" medium bore and 7½" bell

The top artist-grade tenor trombone in the Reynolds line with all of the features expected by the professional. Choice of large bore with 8½ inch bell or medium bore with 7½ inch bell. Bell is special bronze alloy.

The Contempora large-bore tenor trombone with 8½ inch bell has the F attachment that both extends your lower range and increases your slide facility.

c.1963 RMC/Reynolds catalog

Model TO-12

Reynolds Contempora Tenor Trombone with F Attachment

Bore: .520" (large)
Bell: 8½" bronze alloy bell with nickel-silver tone ring
Valve: rotary valve with closed-wrap F attachment
Materials: nickel-silver bracing and trim; brass gooseneck and tuning slide crooks
Slide: chrome-plated nickel silver inner slides; brass outer slides; nickel-silver mouthpiece receiver, handgrip and outer slide sleeves
Finish: clear lacquer finish; optional silverplate bright bell or silverplate gold bell finish

Model TO-12 [SN 65002]

1964-1970

Reynolds (Fullerton, Calif.; Abilene, Texas)

After CMI purchased the assets to Reynolds, trumpets, cornets, trombones and French horns were made at the Olds factory in Fullerton, Calif. There were slight adjustments to the model specifications compared to the Cleveland instruments. The Contempora tenor trombone was now offered in a single .515" bore size, with or without the F attachment. The distinctive bronze bell was labeled variously as "Bronz-O-Lite", "Red Bronze" and a "special bronze alloy".

Model TO-11

Reynolds Contempora Tenor Trombone

Bore: .515"
Bell: 8½" bronze alloy bell with nickel-silver tone ring
Materials: solid nickel silver nickel-silver gooseneck, tuning slide, bracing and trim; brass “R” counterweight
Slide: chrome-plated nickel-silver inner slides; brass outer slides with nickel-silver mouthpiece receiver, hand grips and outer slide sleeves
Finish: baked epoxy coating

Model TO-11 [SN 236434]. Photos used with permission from eBay Member: northstar1939.

Model TO-12

Contempora Tenor Trombone with F Attachment

Bore: .515"
Bell: 8½" bronze alloy bell with nickel-silver tone ring
Valve: rotary valve with closed-wrap F attachment
Materials: nickel-silver bracing and trim; brass gooseneck and tuning slide crooks
Slide: chrome-plated nickel silver inner slides; brass outer slides; nickel-silver mouthpiece receiver, handgrip and outer slide sleeves
Finish: baked epoxy coating

Bell SN 233698; slide SN 226785; photos used with permission from Kay Keßler.

Top artist quality with a large straight bore for maximum volume of sound. Bronz-O-Lite bell flare has a distinctive nickel-silver tone control band which centers and projects the tone. Bore measures .515; 8½" bell.

The Contempora TO-12 is the ultimate in F attachment trombones. The F attachment extends the range, while increasing slide facility. This distinctive instrument features a Red Bronze Bell. Solid Nickel-Silver outer slide and Tone Ring, with .515 Straight Bore.

1970 Reynolds catalog

1970-1979

Reynolds (Fullerton, Calif.)

Production of both models continued into the 1970s. By 1976, however, the bronze bell had been replaced with "red brass" and the distinctive nickel-silver tone ring had disappeared. The TO-12 (with F attachment) was missing in the 1977 catalog and both models were absent from a 1978 price list.

Model TO-11

Reynolds Contempora Tenor Trombone

Bore: .515" straight bore
Bell: 8½" bronze alloy bell with nickel-silver tone ring
Materials: solid nickel silver nickel-silver gooseneck, tuning slide, bracing and trim; brass “R” counterweight
Slide: chrome-plated nickel-silver inner slides; brass outer slides with nickel-silver mouthpiece receiver, hand grips and outer slide sleeves
Finish: polished brass with baked epoxy

Model TO-11 Bell Section. Photos used with permission from Mikhail Denysyuk.

[Contempora TO-11] Used and recommended by top artists everywhere. Acoustical design allows a fuller sound with improved response and flexibility. Top artist quality with a large, straight bore for maximum sound and tone projection. Bronz-O-Lite bell flare centers and delivers the tone.

[Contempora TO-12] The trombone used and recommended by advanced students and professionals. Featuring a red bronze bell, it has an F attachment which extends its lower range while simultaneously offering optional slide positions. The F attachment improves intonation and adds flexibility.

1974 Reynolds catalog

Model TO-12

Contempora Tenor Trombone with F Attachment

Bore: .515" straight bore
Bell: 8½" bronze alloy bell with nickel-silver tone ring
Valve: rotary valve with closed-wrap F attachment
Materials: nickel-silver bracing and trim; brass gooseneck and tuning slide crooks
Slide: chrome-plated nickel silver inner slides; brass outer slides; nickel-silver mouthpiece receiver, handgrip and outer slide sleeves
Finish: polished brass with baked epoxy

Model TO-12 [SN 307896]

Note: 1976 example shown above with "red brass bell" and no tone ring.

NOTES

Mouthpiece receiver size

Contempora tenor trombones seem to have a non-standard mouthpiece receiver size of .495" (.020" larger than a standard Bach), causing small-shank trombone mouthpieces to insert slightly deeper than in trombones with a standard receiver. Played "as is", this can affect tuning and response, especially in the higher registers. I have an example of a "Roth" trombone mouthpiece that appears to be the proper size for the Contempora; there have also been conflicting reports as to whether some of the "medium shank" euphonium mouthpieces fit properly. The most convenient solution is to add plumber's teflon tape (or some other waterproof tape) around a standard small shank until the desired fit/insertion depth is achieved with respect to tuning and overall response.

Unique Variations

Tony Herrara sent in photos of this unique c.1956 Contempora trombone, which has a tenor trombone sized bell (8½") but features the F attachment of the "Philharmonic" bass trombone with the dual tuning slides for F and E tuning (to enable the low C and B notes). The engravings also match the bass trombone style, but Tony was clear in his note about the bell size and his description of the mouthpiece receiver matches the note above.

SN 43339; photos used with permission from Tony Herrara.

Here's another custom factory horn from the mid-1950s. The bell is sterling silver, like the Professional models, but at 8½" and finely engraved with the "Contempora" script and gold inlay. (Note that this is the basic script style and not the stylized trademark script from the trumpets, cornets and tenor trombones.) The rest of the horn is claimed to be nickel silver, including outer main slide tubes, and the bore size is .520", matching the larger Contempora version.

Finally, Fred Land has an example of c.1951 Contempora tenor trombone with the characteristic bronze bell, but without a nickel-silver tone ring. There are engravings around the bell rim where the ring would be. The inscription is “F.A. Reynolds Co. Inc. Cleveland Ohio U.S.A.”, placing it in the period before the Roth-Reynolds business name was used.

Model TBD [SN 29297]. Photos used with permission from Fred Land.

The purpose of this website is to preserve the history of the F. A. Reynolds Company and the distinctive qualities of its brass instruments. Contempora Corner and contemporacorner.com are not related or associated in any way to the former or current F.A. Reynolds Company.

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