Trumpets come in many different shapes and sizes, which has a significant effect on the ease of playing each instrument and the type of sound produced. Beginners and more experienced players are encouraged to evaluate their options and find a trumpet that best matches their skill set.
In terms of trumpet types, you have the Standard Bb Trumpet, the C trumpet, the pocket trumpet, and several more challenging types that experienced players are encouraged to learn so that they may expand their range. Size is differentiated by bore size, bell diameter, and mouthpiece size, which you'll learn more about if you continue below.
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Pocket trumpets are smaller versions of the standard B flat trumpet. These are excellent companions for travel and for playing in confined spaces. Any player who plays a standard trumpet can transfer their same mouthpiece to the pocket trumpet. Pocket trumpets produce a warm sound said to mimic voice articulations.
|Bell Diameter (in.)||3.75-4|
|Bore Size (in.)||0.460 – 0.468|
Is the Pocket Trumpet Hard to Play?
If you've never played the trumpet before, then you wouldn't be encouraged to start with a pocket trumpet, since it can be more challenging to play than a standard trumpet. However, anyone with experience playing other trumpets should have no trouble transferring their skills to this smaller instrument.
Choosing A Pocket Trumpet
Since pocket trumpets are typically seen as secondary instruments, you may not necessarily want to spend too much. An exception to this would be jazz players, who would be looking for a higher-end pocket trumpet.
3.75″ Bell, 0.46″ Bore
This Mendini Pocket Trumpet is a suitable companion for experienced players. Based on the dimensions, you can see how much easier it would be to travel with a pocket trumpet versus a standard Bb trumpet. This is suitable as a secondary instrument but unlikely to be a primary instrument due to its limited applicability.
3.98″ Bell, 0.457″ Bore
This Eastar Pocket Trumpet has a slightly larger bell, registering at a size of 3.98″. This should make it easier to project noise over a wider area. It also may be enough to make the tone darker, which is typically the case with bells in all trumpets.
4.8″ Bell, 0.46″ Bore
This Jupiter Bb Pocket Trumpet is a specialty instrument with a bell that is the same size as what you would see with a standard Bb trumpet. This allows players to enjoy many of the same features of the standard trumpet but in a compact design. This does come with a slightly higher price tag, so it likely appeals most to professional trumpeters or routine trumpeters interested in expanding their range.
Standard B-Flat Trumpets
The B-flat is the standard trumpet that beginners learn how to play. It is also the most versatile of trumpet types, being used to perform many of the most popular songs. Most B-flat trumpets have a key range of F sharp to lower than Middle C, to several octaves higher.
|Bell Diameter (in.)||4.5-5|
|Bore Size (in.)||0.460 – 0.468|
Are Bb Trumpets Hard to Play?
Trumpets, in general, are perceived as challenging instruments to play. Players are required to use muscles that they do not regularly use for the extended periods required to properly learn the trumpet.
New players should always start with the B Flat trumpet, regardless of age. These are the same sizes and types of trumpets that students in grade school are introduced to if they decide to participate in school band.
Choosing A Standard Bb Trumpet
Introductory level players should choose a Bb trumpet that is affordable and durable. Look for trumpets with a smaller bore diameter, which will be easier to project sound from with less effort. Experienced players are encouraged to find intermediate-level trumpets containing advanced features that are sure to deliver a richer sound.
Beginners: 5″ Bell, 0.460″ Bore
This Mendini Bb Trumpet has a 5″ bell and a 0.460″ bore diameter. Thanks to the larger bell, players should have no trouble projecting sound. Combine this with the bore size, and you have a trumpet that is well-suited for beginners.
Beginners: 4.84″ Bell, 0.459″ Bore
This Eastar Bb Trumpet set comes with a 4.84″ Bell and 0.459″ bore diameter, making it another trumpet well-suited for beginners. Smaller bell diameter is known to provide a sharper and brighter tone. In terms of bore size, this trumpet meets the standard range of approximately 0.460-0.468″.
Intermediate/Advanced: 5” Bell, 0.464” Bore
The Kaiser C-Series Trumpet combines a larger bell and bore diameter, which yields an instrument capable of producing dark, mellow tones. Add in the lacquer rose brass, and you have a trumpet that can be enjoyed by experienced players who are ready to move on from a beginner trumpet, such as the choices mentioned above.
The C Trumpet is the second most common type of trumpet, next to the standard Bb. This instrument is known for producing a brighter sound. This is a feature that makes it a must-have for any professional trumpeter. Compared to Bb trumpets, the C is smaller.
|Bell Diameter (in.)||4.5-5|
|Bore Size (in.)||0.460 – 0.468|
Are C Trumpets Hard to Play?
For someone who is used to playing the Bb trumpet, playing the C can be more challenging. Although the finger combinations stay much the same, the players have to think differently about how they are playing the notes.
Choosing C Trumpets
The C Trumpet is preferred by trumpeters who play in orchestras. This is because they can better cut through the masking sound of all the instruments within an orchestra. Players of the standard Bb trumpet may take an interest in this instrument to expand their skill set.
4.92″ Bell, 0.459″ Bore
This Stagg WS-TR255 C Trumpet is equipped with a 4.92″ diameter bell, which is well-suited for projecting sound over a wide area. It is also suitable for a trumpeter interested in transferring their skills with the Bb trumpet to the C trumpet.
Piccolo trumpets are the smallest type of trumpet available, with the tubing being half the length of the tube for the B flat. The piccolo trumpet is a requirement for professional players performing solo repertoire, orchestra, chamber music, and wind band.
Piccolo trumpets produce a tight and bright tune, particularly when they are played in high registers. Most models are played in the keys of A and B Flat.
|Bell Diameter (in.)||3.5|
|Bore Size (in.)||0.401-0.417|
Is the Piccolo Trumpet Hard to Play?
The piccolo trumpet is not easy to play, so beginners are not encouraged to pick up one of these. Even professional players struggle to play piccolo trumpets, but it does enable them to play the most complex parts of Baroque music, including Bach's second Brandenburg Concerto.
Choosing A Piccolo Trumpet
Since piccolo trumpets are marketed towards more experienced players and professionals, you may notice that many of the instruments on the market are made of higher-end materials. You will also notice that the bell diameter is significantly smaller than what is seen in most other trumpets.
This Classic Cantabile Piccolo Trumpet comes at a cost that makes it practical for most players to add to their collection. You'll notice that the bell size is much smaller than the standard trumpet, which helps give the Piccolo trumpet its unique bright tune.
Slide trumpets are similar to B flat trumpets and soprano trombones. They are not a common choice for beginners, but they may entice those who also play the slide trombone.
Slide trumpets allow trumpeters to expand their range with an instrument that plays at a lower pitch than they are accustomed to. The slide trombone's price makes it suitable as a secondary instrument for trombone players and trumpeters alike.
|Bell Diameter (in.)||4.5-5|
Is the Slide Trumpet Hard to Play?
Since slide trumpets are smaller than trombones, they may be used as an introduction instrument for those learning how to play the trombone. The lack of any valves makes things interesting since there is an infinite tuning capacity. Players of the slide trumpet must maintain the perfect balance of air pressure and tension, which can improve their accuracy on other trumpets.
Choosing A Slide Trumpet
The larger bell size contributes to a fuller sound. As you can see below, there is no significant difference in bell size between these two options. While large bell diameters contribute to darker tones, bells smaller in diameter are known to produce a sharper sound.
Here are some popular slide trumpets:
Bass trumpets are set a sixth, ninth, or octave below a traditional trumpet. The key that the trumpet is set in determines which of these categories it falls in. Many bass trumpets are set in either the C or Bb key. Orchestra professionals will most commonly use bass trumpets that are set in the C key.
Both the pitch and mouthpiece of a bass trumpet are similar to that of a trombone. This means that the mouthpiece is slightly larger than the mouthpiece of a standard trumpet.
|Bell Diameter (in.)||7|
|Bore Size (in.)||0.484|
Is the Bass Trumpet Hard to Play?
Bass trumpets are not commonly played, with usage typically limited to orchestras and jazz. There may not be much of a reason to learn how to play a bass trumpet for beginner players. More experienced players can enjoy the satisfaction of being able to expand their repertoire. Trombone players may also take a particular interest in learning this instrument.
Choosing A Bass Trumpet
To produce the desired sound, bass trumpets have a significantly larger bell diameter than what is seen in most other types of trumpets. As an example, this Bb bass trumpet has a bell diameter of 6.1″.
How to Pick the Right Trumpet Size
Picking the wrong trumpet size can make it challenging for first-time players to learn the instrument. In the section below, you'll learn more about the size categories that set trumpets apart from each other.
Pay Attention to Bore Size
The bore is the interior diameter of the trumpet's tubing measured at the second valve slide. The majority of trumpet players look for a bore diameter ranging from 0.458″ to 0.460″. Anything larger in diameter than this can produce a lot more in terms of power, but it is also challenging for anyone other than a well-trained musician.
The valves on trumpets come available in a variety of metals, including nickel-plated and monel. The nickel-plated pistons are typical in trumpets for beginners because they are both durable and require less frequent maintenance.
Look at The Bell Diameter
Most trumpets have a bell diameter of 4.5″, but there are some other sizes available. Piccolo trumpets have 3.5″ diameter bells, and some trumpets have bells larger in diameter than what is standard. Larger bells can project noise more effectively and cover a wider area.
Materials also matter. You'll notice that trumpets for students will tend to have two-piece bells rather than one-piece bells, which are more expensive. The one-piece option produces better sound, but it may not be worth the cost for those who only play casually.
Choosing the Right Mouthpiece
Trumpet players are encouraged to begin with Bach 7C mouthpieces. As the number of Bach mouthpieces decreases, the size of the mouthpiece increases. The specific measurement that grows, in this case, is the cup diameter. The “C” in 7C refers to the cup depth, with cups getting shallower as you progress to the letter “D” and so forth.
Here is a recommended progression for beginner players:
- After practicing for 30 minutes per day and being able to play from low C to top-of-the-staff G with a good tone, the student can move on to the 5C mouthpiece.
- Beginners can move on to the 3C mouthpiece as soon as they can play from low F# to high C and practice at least 45 minutes per day.
Experienced players should let the desired sound dictate which mouthpiece they decide to go with. From deepest to shallowest cup depth, you have: A, B, C, D, E, and F. If you go with a deeper cup (like an A or B), you will notice a darker tone and lower pitch. C and B cups are the most frequently used sizes.
Weight of Trumpet
The weight of the trumpet has an impact on the way that the sound of the trumpet is produced. You may notice manufacturers having both “heavyweight” and “lightweight” models. Generally, the thicker the brass on the instrument, the darker the tone is. This professional Bb trumpet weighs 9.15 lbs. While this student trumpet weighs 5.44 lbs.
A recent development in the industry has been to make trumpets out of plastic. This drops down the instrument's weight even further, which makes it easier for introductory-level players to handle. The bonus here is that the dimensions are the same, so players can later transfer their skills to heavier brass instruments.
Why Does My Trumpet Sound Weird?
If your trumpet doesn't sound quite right, there could be several reasons why this is the case. The size of the trumpet or mouthpiece could be a potential cause of airy or fuzzy sounds. Introductory-level and experienced players alike could benefit from a review of the equipment they have on hand.
Bigger Mouthpieces Do Not Lead to Louder Sound
One myth that has been busted relates to the size of the mouthpiece. Some players may believe that a bigger mouthpiece could lead to a louder sound. This can be a counterproductive strategy, particularly for younger players.
Switching mouthpieces to a larger size can cause trumpeters to make their high notes sound either forced or squeezed. In the end, tone quality matters more than the ability of a player to play high notes. Beginners should spend an adequate amount of time practicing before switching off the 7C mouthpiece.
Young Players May Need to Start on Cornet
If young or inexperienced players are having trouble learning how to play the trumpet, they might consider starting with the cornet. The cornet is an instrument with similar finger positioning to the cornet but at a lower weight. After finding success on this instrument, they may transfer their newfound skills to a trumpet.
Best Trumpet Sizes, Final Thoughts
Trumpets are set apart by both size and structure, which dramatically affect the playability of the instrument. Bore diameter and bell size are among the top categories that matter.
Beginner trumpeters will most benefit by starting with a Bb trumpet with a bell diameter from 4.5-5 and a bore size of 0.460-0.468, with an appropriately-sized mouthpiece for their current skill level. More experienced players can move onto the likes of the C trumpet, Piccolo trumpet, and Bass trumpet if they want to extend their range even further.