King B-Flat Trumpet, used by Dizzy Gillespie

King B-Flat Trumpet, used by Dizzy Gillespie

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This custom–made "Silver Flair" trumpet belonged to renowned trumpeter, bandleader, and composer John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, a founder of the modern jazz style known as bebop. Renowned for his musical virtuosity and for his impish good humor and wit, Gillespie played this trumpet from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Its uniquely shaped upturned bell was Gillespie's internationally known trademark.
Object Name
date made
Gillespie, Dizzy
Gillespie, Dizzy
King Musical Instruments
Place Made
United States: Ohio, Eastlake
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
organic material (shell) (overall material)
overall: 17 in x 11 in x 5 in; 43.18 cm x 27.94 cm x 12.7 cm
case: 52.5 cm x 36.6 cm x 16 cm; 20 21/32 in x 14 13/32 in x 6 5/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
serial number
Credit Line
Gift of Lorraine Gillespie
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Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Popular Entertainment
Entertainment Nation
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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"I've long known that Dizz played King trumpets out of Eastlake Ohio as did Al Hirt.. King had a division that catered to pros back in the day and would make just about anything you could design and/or afford. Myself I played the Silver Flair [Diz's horn] only without the Bell Flair. I also played an Al Hirt horn which was available on the market as a Super 20 Symphony. The Flair came in ML and Large bore as I recall, while the Super 20 came in ML, L and Xl bores. My ML Silver Flair had an extremely quick response, excellent projection and furthermore was the easiest horn to slot I ever played including my 60's Martin Com and Getzen 900 Eterna. In ways it was better than my Bach Strad. I really liked the valve action and placement. Great for my smaller hand. The most dramatic of my trumpets has to be the Super20Symphony II. It'll burn the paint off the back wall of a 1200 seat auditorium. Valve compression was second t o none! Anyway, that's my take on Diz and his King horn. His Silver Flairs were Gold and Silver and heavily engraved. Beautiful horns!"
" Hi! I am Rick "C-6 " Delair, a lighting collector and historian at The Edison Tech Center in Schenectady, NY. I am also a beginning trumpet player as well as accomplished drummer. My main horn has been autographed twice in 2 separate areas, and dated for each time by the great Chris Botti. I also just picked up a horn today which I had customized to have the same bent-up bell that Dizzy Gillespie's horn(s) had. This was on 11/24/2014. The horn is an old Berkeley, and I purchased this horn (no case) at The Warrensburg Garage Sale in Warrensburg, NY, in October 2014. It has been fitted with a Holton bell section in place of the original Berkeley bell section, as the brass tech for Hilton Music center in Colonie Center Mall, Albany, NY, already had the bell from the Holton horn bent and ready to go. The end result is absolutely authentic to Dizzy's horn(s), and it sounds GREAT! I haven't played it much yet, as I have only had it for about 3 hours now, but While looking up Dizzy's bent-up bell horns, I found this site and was inspired to let you all know that there is definitely still much interest in this unique modification, and even though I still use my autographed standard straight bell horn (an MYW/Oxford) as my main horn, I will likely get alot of use and enjoyment out of this 'new' upturned bell model! I am still a novice, and have a long way to go before I play anywhere NEAR Chris Botti, or Dizzy Gillespie, if I EVER do, but can't wait to "paint " some Jazz music with the colors I will get out of both my custom Berkeley/Holton upright bell horn and my beloved, beautiful Oxford standard horn! I hope to one day find a vintage Martin Committee #3 large bore horn, like Chris Botti, Dizzy Gillespie, and so many of the true greats played--that Committee large bore sound is just the best ever! I was kind of surprised to see that your Dizzy Gillespie horn is made by King! These weren't necessarily considered 'professional' horns, since King catered to the student horn market, but nevertheless, it is cool to see that Dizzy chose a King to do an bent-up bell! (his main upturned bell horn was likely the Martin Committee #3 large bore he ordered with the bent-up bell in 1953.) I saw him playing this very horn with Arturo Sandoval, probably not too long before he passed away. The tone is unmistakable and martin Committee #3 large bore all the way! The tone is slightly altered by the bent bell, but not enough to affect the horn's "signature " sound at all! The projection of the sound is very likely much improved, but in certain venues, the upturned bell might negatively affect projection--overhead microphones are really helpful with such a unique horn. I, of course, will find all this out when I start playing my "Dizzy Gillespie Special "! I just wanted to make this comment about Dizzy's horn, and my adaptation of a lowly poor old garage sale horn into a gorgeous replica of Dizzy's incredible creation that occurred quite by accident in 1953! 35 dollars for the horn, 100 dollars for the work to make it like Dizzy's, and some other repairs and replacement parts, like new felts in the valves, water key corks, cleaning, etc, and for a meager 135 dollars, I have a very nice and beautifully playable and great sounding replica of one of the most if not the most famous trumpets in music and Jazz history! May Dizzy RIP and I hope he's playing an upright bell horn in heaven! Thank you for your time! Rick "C-6 " Delair. "

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