Chicago Models

The Taylor Chicago Model Trumpets sound and feel refreshingly different, full bodied and dark, yet powerful and expressive. The sound speaks to audiences, never tiring or demanding on the ear. The Chicago’s response and stability are unparalleled in conventional trumpet design.

Approach the Chicago with an open mind, and it will reward you with a new playing experience. You may well discover why the Taylor Chicago Models have built up such good reputation over the years as a true players instrument. You could easily get hooked!

We have been making the Chicago models for early twenty years now and even though there have been constant developments and improvements, these Chicago has had basically two ‘eras’. The first years of the Chicago models were nearly all large bores, very heavy, tall and chunky horns. These trumpet had a great sound and immense character but were a bit of a handful!

The second generation Chicago was slimmer, sleeker and easier to hold and play. A little lighter as unnecessary weight was shaved off. The biggest change was the use of a smoother and quieter valve section with a shorter throw action making the response faster and more comfortable. Also with the second generation came more uniform quality control allowing us to send out service parts that we knew would fit. This enabled us to reach a wider range of trumpet players. Remember these are still custom horns so no two are the exactly the same, so this is actually quite a deal.

2011 and its time to move on to the next phase of development. How do we move forward, improve quality even further and not take away from the hand made feel and character that has defined Taylor as a market leader in hand made trumpets and Flugelhorns?

New for 2011 is a redesigned valve section where the valves are now closer together so the fingers are not so stretched. A small thing on paper but makes the trumpet feel even more comfortable and speedy to respond. The knuckles leading in and out of the valve block are slimmer profiled now so the overall width of the trumpet is reduced. This again makes the valve section sit in the hand that little bit more comfortably. Team this with the slightly wider more rounded finger rings and player comfort is all the better for it. For any reasonably heavy trumpet, the ergonomics of balance and comfort are vitally important and we take this very seriously at Taylor.

Other improvements for 2011 are improved quality slide fit. The nickel silver used for the outer slide legs has a higher nickel content than before. This make them more wear resistant and smoother to operate. Another big wear improvement has been to upgrade the valve section to have all the knuckles (tubes between the valve casings) in nickel. Nickel silver is much harder therefore more resilient to the casual dents these areas usually collect over time. This area of the horn is also in contact with the hand and prone to corrosion. Nickel is much better than brass in this respect and will stay looking good a lot longer.

We have also made strives toward better fit and finish through out the trumpet. We feel that no longer is ‘its hand made therefore’ a good enough excuse for file marks being left in, wobbly bell seams, lumps of solder on joint work or wonky tube alignment. At Taylor we have always tried to build to a higher level than this, but 2011 has shown a marked improvement on fit and finish to a point where ‘Custom’ can now rival the best of CNC robot engineering without ever loosing sight of innovation and character.

A change in spec to the Phat Boy flugel has helped make this instrument a true leader in its class. The new valve section and very slight bore change has help in all areas of performance. It still keeps its jaw dropping good looks, and is now even more comfortable to hold and easier to play. A tall order for what was already regarded as such a fine instrument!


5 Models.
Custom The heaviest
Standard The Middle weight
Lite Lighter (but still a sturdy horn)
X-Lite The Lightest
‘VR’ The more 'legit' option

2 Bore sizes.
ML .460” (Standard on all models)
L .470” (Optional only on Standard and Custom)

2 Bell Alloys.
Yellow Brass 70/30 (copper/ zinc ratio)
Red Brass 90/10 (gives a slightly warmer sound)

Finishes. The most common are:
Raw Brass (No finish at all) Will turn a mellow brown colour in time.
Clear Lacquer Traditional transparent gloss lacquer. Looks great over polished or brushed surface.
Tinted Lacquer Clean gold colour, or rich vintage tint for more mellow aged look
Silver with Gold Hi-lights Very shiny, a bit Glitzy, looks expensive, but isn’t! There are plenty of other more custom options, just ask.
Gold Plate Very nice, but very expensive. Can only be quoted accurately at the time it is done due to ever fluctuating gold prices.

The Chicago Custom (Click for more details)

This is the big boy of the Chicago range. Massive big, dark sound. Capable of tremendous volume and extreme subtlety as well. Blow it hard and the sound just gets bigger and bigger, never really introducing much cut. It just gets louder and louder. There is no shut off point either. It will just keep increasing in volume till you physically can’t give it any more air.

But it also has a softer side. This is probably the main reason for the Chicago Customs popularity with Jazz soloists. A warmth of sound at lower volumes that other trumpets so rarely possess. The ability to taper off the volume to little more than a whisper without loosing control. The way you can change the tonal colours within the same musical phrase. This makes it one of the most expressive and lyrical trumpets you could ever play.

The Chicago Custom in the photos has been finished in Vintage tint lacquer.

Chicago custom
Chicago Custom

The Chicago Standard
(Click for more details)

The Taylor Chicago Standard possesses most of the attributes of its heavier brother, especially in the softer touch department, but with one main difference. It can and will brighten up a bit on demand. This makes it more adaptable to differing environments. It also makes it a terrific recording instrument.

Pictures show a regular Chicago Standard and a most attractive special order Custom Shop copper Chicago Standard with extra engravings and pearl buttons. These extras can be done to most of the models at extra cost.

Chicago Standard Chicago Standard

Chicago Lite
(Click for more details)

The best selling of the Chicago range. Lighter still than the Chicago standard but still a substantial trumpet. This is great all round horn. It can blend in sections, cut when needed, and still has a certain creaminess and body to the sound. It is open and easy to play with just the right amount of feedback to the player, it’s also comfortable and reliable. If you work mostly in the commercial domain and want one horn to do most of your work then this is about as good as it gets. Its natural tone colour is not as dark as the Custom or brighter like the ‘VR’ but it treads the middle ground with extreme confidence.

The Chicago Lite in the pictures has a combined Brush and polished finish with clear gloss lacquer.

Chicago Lite Chicago Lite

The Chicago X-Lite
(Click for more details)

If you need a horn with the big wide sound yet can still cut and blend then the X-Lite is well worth a look. This one can bark on demand and still mellow off enough for mainstream playing as well.

Chicago X Lite Chicago XLite

The Chicago 'VR'
(Click for more details)

If you need a trumpet to do the B**h, S****ke thing but ‘even more so’, then this is it. It’s a mainstream, non threatening, .460” bore, easy to play, take anywhere anytime trumpet that’s been force fed steroids and taken to the gym. Hey, you could even take this one to a symphony orchestra gig! And it uses the same silky smooth and quiet valve section all the other Chicago models have AND at a great price too.

Chicago VR Chicago VR

Bore Size and Bell alloy choice

This is essentially a personal thing. But a few words of wisdom might help. Large bore instruments do need more air to fill them and while they will often sound bigger and can ultimately be louder they can also be more tiring to play over the length of a gig. If you are only going to be doing ‘lounge lizard’ gigs, or small jazz combo jobs where you get a good rest while the piano player, the sax player, the bass player and the drummer all get 5 minute solos in every song then this is not likely to affect you, and the broader sound of the larger instrument can and most probably will work to your advantage.

However, if you need to be playing almost constantly for 2-3 hours while standing on your feet, trying to look like you’re having fun, sweating under the lights, playing in a Blues Brothers review, or Earth Wind & Fire tribute show and have only ever played ML bore horns, I would suggest you would probably be better off staying with a bore size that feels familiar. It may seem like common sense, and it is common sense, but its worth being reminded anyway.

The bell material issue is also worth a mention. One of our more popular options of late has been the Chicago 46 (ML) Standard with the Redbrass bell. There is a good reason for this. Adding the Redbrass bell will put back the fatness and warmth the L bore has over the ML. So now we have a horn that sounds like a Large bore, but blows like an ML. And being a Standard its not to heavy either.

That’s only one side of the coin. Another consideration could be, if you need to fill big spaces efficiently with lots of sound (like in chapel for example) then I’d recommend the yellow brass as it projects slightly better. Another issue worthy of some thought is, what are the other trumpeters around you playing on? If its your regular playing partners and they all have yellowbrass bells on their trumpets then it could be a wise move to stick to yellowbrass on yours as well as this will blend better with their horns.

I hope that helps to remind you of what does what and how it affects you, as a player, and your audience (be it your mum, your teacher, your mates, your congregation, your adoring fans or just the dog who has to listen to you practice) for one must never forget just how important ‘they’ are (no matter what instrument you play). They can and will accept the odd duff note, but a duff sound….. NO.

For more information and insight into how these trumpets work it's worth checking out the Frequently asked questions (FAQ) page.

Chicago Standard with options
Click for Large picture

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