How to Buy a Trumpet

The Trumpet is the highest voice in the Brass family. Within the Trumpet family there’s the Cornet, Flugelhorn and several specialty instruments such as “C” trumpets and Piccolo trumpets (Mainly used in symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles.) For students, the most common is the Bb (B-flat) Trumpet. This is the horn that is most commonly used for jazz, concert and marching bands. In our Buyers Guide we will show you the differences between the different levels and how they affect price and performance.

Student These trumpets are machine made and built for economy and durability. They play well, but don’t have all the high-end features and craftsmanship found on intermediate and professional models. Most student horns are made with a two-piece bell as opposed to a one-piece. While this affects sound and projection, it also makes for a more affordable instrument. A student horn should fit the bill for most players for the first 2 to 3 years.

Intermediate After 2 to 3 years, a player should consider moving up to an intermediate level trumpet. There are 2 different types of intermediate horns:

* Student horns with added features such as 1 st valve slide/thumb hook, deluxe cases, silver plating and adjustable 3 rd valve slide stops. These features improve durability and tuning.

* Intermediate trumpets based on comparable Professional horns built with less expensive manufacturing techniques that affect resonance, looks and intonation.

Professional These are high-end instruments made with the finest materials and craftsmanship. Features such as one-piece bell, stainless steel pistons and heavy or lightweight versions are features usually found on pro horns. A professional trumpet is worth the investment for a long-term player of any age.

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The player pushes down on the Valves or “valve pistons” to sound different notes. They are the main moving parts of a trumpet. The ease and accuracy with which the valves operate, plays a major role in the quality of the horn.

The valves on a student instrument are usually Nickel-plated. They are hard, durable and tolerant of infrequent cleaning. They are made with slightly looser tolerances so they should always move freely as long as they are regularly cleaned and oiled.

Many intermediate horns feature valves made from Monel®. Monel is an alloy that is softer than nickel plate. It’s very resistant to corrosion and it “wears in” for a very comfortable feel. Professional horns are usually made with either Monel valves or Stainless Steel.

The goal is to have valves play quickly and smoothly. This is the result of valves having been properly “lapped” (Polished and honed for a smooth, close fit). Intermediate horns often have hand-lapped valves, which means an expert has performed this finish work by hand to assure perfect function. Finish

All trumpets are made of brass, but most are commonly available with a lacquer or silver plated finish. There are three main types of finish for brass instruments:

* Lacquer – A lacquer finish is sprayed on and then baked in an oven to cure it. A coat of lacquer slightly darkens the sound. All levels of trumpets are available in lacquer finish. * Silver-plating – This finish is applied by dipping the instrument into a tank of silver. It’s more durable than lacquer and slightly brightens the sound. * Gold Plating – This finish slightly darkens the sound and is found on professional instruments only.

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