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Choosing a trumpet is no small feat. There are numerous factors to consider. Metal type and finishes are only a small portion of the aspects needed to take into consideration when making a trumpet selection. Alongside trumpet structure, genres and even rental options must be looked at before purchase.
A good way to choose the perfect trumpet would be to ask yourself what type of music you want to play. As each trumpet has similarities, there are plenty of factors that cause the instruments to differ. Some are easier to play while others are constructed for a certain range of skill.
While some of these factors might be confusing or even newly discovered, we will break down all the important elements you need to know in order to make an informed purchase. Keep scrolling to learn more about trumpet basics, skill level, accessories, and more so that you can pick out the trumpet best suited to you.
Choose Your Trumpet Structure
The way a trumpet is made can vary widely. While one trumpet may have a slide, another type may be missing this part, allowing each trumpet a particular style of play and a certain range of sound. The structure of the trumpet can also affect how easy the instrument is able to be played and if it is suitable for younger or older players.
Whether these sections of the trumpet are familiar to you or if you are in need of a tune up, below, we will go over some of the most crucial trumpet basics.
This piece of the instrument is, perhaps, one of the most integral. With so many different styles of mouthpieces, it is widely up to the musician whether they prefer a flatter or more rounded rim to place the lips to. Other elements like, cup depth, width, and length can not only affect sound, but also the level of difficulty and comfort of use.
This section of the trumpet can vary between two options, piston or rotary. While either is a fine choice, the direction of air flow between the two differs, offering a smoother transition between tones versus a sharper, more cutting alternation. Also, depending on the material used, valves can become sticky, therefore, harder to control.
The valve is such a vital part of the trumpet, largely affecting its sound as the pipes redirect air through the instrument. For this reason, it is important to take proper care of this section of the instrument for optimal performance.
Finger Hooks & Slide Rings
These might seem like tiny details but they are important in achieving the correct hold of the instrument and maintaining a good grip throughout use of the instrument. Without proper hand placement, the correct holding position required to effectively play the trumpet falters, and can even leave fingers tired, bruised, and strained.
That is why younger players, or those with smaller hands, should seek out the right hook and rings. It is advisable for those with small hands, namely children, to get a trumpet with an adjustable 3rd valve slide ring so that grip is more comfortable and efficient.
This piece refers to the diameter of the trumpet’s tubing. While most commonly used are those of the medium to large range, the smaller diameter trumpets require less air to fill the instrument. This would be ideal for younger players or beginners who have yet to develop the lung capacity needed to fill up the larger diameter bore.
While those are a few of the key features of concern when choosing the right trumpet, there are many more parts that make up a trumpet. If you want to know more about a trumpet’s anatomy and how the instrument truly produces its sounds, we have a great guide on that.
Now that we are more familiar with some of the most important parts of the trumpet, let’s take a closer look at a very complex piece.
When thinking of the trumpet and its anatomy, the grand piece of the bell or even the valves and their buttons may come to mind first. Yet, the end closest to us, the mouthpiece remains one of the most vital.
It is through this piece that we, as humans, are able to create the wonderful tunes and melodies that have driven the most classic of songs to the most exciting of marching band performances. Because of this piece, and the complexities of its integrity, the right fit is important to find.
Though small, the rim and the cup of each mouthpiece is just as important as the rest of the instrument. It is up to musician preference to choose between the two rim types, flat and round. A flat rim allows for a better lip seal and a rounded rim allows for more diversity of tune and air flow as the lips move along the mouthpiece.
Additionally, the depth of the cup affects the volume and pitch of the instrument. However, the player should also consider the diameter of the cup as with depth and diameter increasing, the more lung capacity required.
Next, we will take a look at different types of trumpets and compare each.
Choose Your Trumpet Type
Though trumpets are not a typical instrument heard in today’s music, they have their place in numerous musical genres. From the school band to a professional orchestra, the piercing sound of the trumpet stands out, grabbing people’s attention in any setting. Beginner or pro, there is a trumpet perfectly fit to your needs.
Check out the table below to compare various types of trumpets, including information regarding what type of music each is used for, what skill level is required, and their average price range.
|Genre||Skill Level||Price Range|
|Pocket Trumpet||All (Novelty)||Beginner-Pro||$90-$500|
|Piccolo Trumpet||Orchestra, Band, & Solo||Intermediate-Pro||$2000-$6000|
|pTrumpet||Mainly for Practice||Beginner||$65-$300|
Each trumpet has its own unique sound and a purpose for every player. While the Bb trumpet and the C trumpet are most popular, it never hurts to try out a new type. Maybe an instrument you once thought was in the trumpet family, is actually just a derivative of the trumpet.
Let’s take a look at some of the trumpet-like instruments.
Choose From True Trumpets
Everyone’s heard of the bugle or the trombone, but most of you probably have no idea what a flugelhorn is. Debunking some common misconceptions between trumpet and trumpet related, let’s dive into the specialty instruments that really want to be trumpets, but are simply brass instruments of their own kind:
Choosing the right trumpet is key, so don’t be deceived by some of these trumpet relatives that may look and sound like trumpets, but are not actually part of the family.
While the cornet and the flugelhorn are very similarly structured to the trumpet, the more conical shape of the bore exempts these brassy instruments from the family of the trumpet.
Though the trombone once had the name of slide-trumpet, and is still referred to as such, the trombone is its own entity, with slides instead of valves, a larger size, and a different pitch altogether. Finally, the bugle, having a history with trumpet association, is, in fact, just that; a brass instrument absent of valves or slides.
Whether trumpet or trombone all of these instruments are constructed with a metal mixture makes their sounds sharper and brighter; it makes them more durable, and, at times, easier to clean. However, not all of these instruments are made the same. Let’s take a look at the other types of materials “brass” instruments are built from.
Choose The Right Trumpet Materials
Though each brass instrument may have a similar shiny, metallic look, not each contains properties of metal. Some, like the pTrumpet, are made entirely of plastic. However, this affects the sound, pitch, and volume of the instrument’s melody.
Instead, most trumpets are made up of brass, which is a durable mixture of copper and zinc. Sometimes, nickel is added with zinc to create the silvery hue some trumpets possess. Check out the percentage of each metal within the various colors of brass:
- Yellow Brass-70% copper and 30% zinc.
- Gold Brass-85% copper and 15% zinc.
- Rose/Red Brass-Upwards of 90% copper and 5-10% zinc.
- Nickel-Silver-60% copper and 40% nickel & zinc.
Each of these metals has different properties of strength and lastability; they also have an effect on sound. Moreover, sometimes certain sections of the trumpet are made up of one type of brass while the majority is another type.
For instance, in a lot of student-used trumpets, the leadpipe is often made from rose brass due to its resistance to corrosion from acidic substances, such as saliva. In altering these metals, which is often within the bell of the trumpet itself, the sound of the instrument is affected.
A good rule of thumb is that the lower the zinc, the less projection of sound the trumpet will have. While most trumpets are made from yellow brass, and it is used heavily in the bell section of the instrument, the softer metal of copper, in high content, can cause the projection of the instrument to shrink, resulting in lower tones and quieter volume.
The loud, sharp rings of the common trumpet, made of yellow or gold brass, rely on stronger metals to rattle against and produce their cutting-edge tone. With zinc being a harder metal, the more of this element that is mixed into the alloy of brass, the more projection the trumpet will have.
Though the harder brasses are still corrosion resistant, they tend to be more susceptible to rust than the softer, red brass and the silvery nickel alloy. Having a lighter hue, the Nickel-silver mix can produce deep, resonating sounds, as the soft metal of copper remains low in its mixture.
Although the trumpet can be made up of one type of brass or multiple types of alloys, the finishing touches on the instrument also have an impact.
Whether made of yellow brass or nickel-silver, the coating or plating determines color and, yes, still affects sound, but subtly. Luckily, the timbre is the only sound slightly affected by any plating along the trumpet exterior. Intended for protection and keeping the instrument clean, the finish of the trumpet changes the intensity of its sound a bit.
Here are the differences to look out for between each finish:
- Gold Lacquer-There is no change. This is the normal, sharp tone of the trumpet.
- Clear Lacquer-There is no change with this finish. It produces sounds clearly.
- Gold Plate-There is a slightly less piercing, or sharp, sound.
- Silver Plate-A more gentle sound is produced with only slight alterations being heard.
Thankfully, the finish of a brass instrument is not detrimental to its sound, but it is something to be aware of. Though each finish has its function of keeping trumpets clean and sturdy, instrument care is another cost to consider when purchasing any instrument.
Though plating and lacquer make the trumpet a fairly sturdy instrument, there are still plenty of cleaning measures needed. Alongside the best cleaning products to keep your instrument in peak condition, there are steps to be taken if you want to keep a trumpet working smoothly and producing high-quality sound.
Here are some of the best supplies to give your trumpet the finest hygiene practices:
- Bore Snake
- Mouthpiece Brush
- Valve Oil
- Slide Grease
- Polishing Cloth
Even if you are an expert in cleaning your trumpet, everyone could use a little brush up on their skills. Check out this video on how to thoroughly clean and care for your trumpet.
Bathing, polishing, and greasing are not the only practices needed to keep a trumpet in its best condition. In addition to cleaning, after care like cases and gloves can further protect your instrument from any dings, dirt, or scratches.
Storage and Accessories
One of the best ways to keep your trumpet clean is by storing it properly after use. This requires the purchase of a case that properly fits the type of trumpet you own or intend on purchasing. While there are hundreds of types of bags on the market, finding the one that fits all of your needs is important. If you are in need of a case for your instrument, a quick search will bring up some good options.
Gloves might also be considered, not only for the comfort of the player, but for extra protection of the instrument. Nails can scratch up quite a few surfaces, but while that is a lesser concern, what can begin to corrode brass, especially in the hot months, is sweat. Sweat can be very acidic and, as a result, cause these brassy alloys to rust over time. When sweat is no longer an issue in the summertime, the gloves can keep fingers warm from icy weather.
Another expense to be considered are accessories like extra mouthpieces and mutes, which help to control and change the sound of the trumpet.
Before considering the purchase of your perfect trumpet, consider one last factor: renting.
Choose Between Renting Or Buying
While the thought of a brand new, shiny trumpet can be appealing, the expense for this instrument can skyrocket. As shown above on the table, prices can be in the hundreds to upwards of five or six thousand! That is a lot of money to fork over. Luckily, there are other options.
Renting allows you to get in all the practice you need without having to spend a salary’s worth of cash on an instrument. At prices ranging from $100 and below, you can spend your time learning your favorite instrument without the stress over how to afford it.
Some places offer upgraded packages and plans that provide renters protection and maintenance for a small additional fee. If you rent a used instrument versus purchasing a new one, the cost could be even lower.
How To Choose A Trumpet, Final Thoughts
As you ponder over all your options, revisit the most important ones and take your time in choosing a trumpet that has all the features you want, that will help you in achieving your goal, and that you can afford to maintain.
Though renting is a great option to bypass a lot of the major expenses, it can add up in the long run. Owning your own trumpet is still a great choice. Remember to consider all of these factors in picking the perfect trumpet for you.