Wallace Williams #1 “Spike Wallace” Trombone

One of the most famous and possibly the original boutique trombone builder, Earl Williams, got his start with the Olds Musical Instrument company around 1915, possibly getting his start in 1910 at the Conn factory. Around 1928 he began a partnership with J.K. “Spike” Wallace, bass trombonist of the LA Philharmonic (and later president of AFM Local 47) to produce custom made trombones under the Wallace and Williams brand. The rest as you say is history… Earl becoming one of the most famous and prominent custom trombone builders in the United States up until his death in the early 1970s.

This trombone is special, it was originally made for Spike Wallace and is serial number 1… yes, serial number 1. However, the trombone you see here is not in its original configuration. After the partnership was dissolved, Earl went on to make trombones on his own under his own namesake and Spike went into union politics. When Spike died, his widow gave Earl this trombone back as a memento of their early collaboration. It hung on the wall for many years, originally being a large bore tuning in the slide instrument. As it was told to me, in the 1960s, Dick Nash, a frequent visitor to the Williams shop was always trying to get Earl to sell his Spikes trombone. Finally Earl gave in and modified this instrument to Dick’s specs. The bell remains as it was on the original, silver plated and highly engraved by the master engravers at Olds. Earl made a new .525/.547″ dual bore slide and installed one of his pigtail F attachments, converting the fixed J bend into a movable tuning slide. You can still see where the original solder points were for the horn in its original configuration. Eventually this special instrument made its way to my museum and it’s one of my most treasured horns as it is an important piece of Los Angeles brass making history!