Q: How should I test a new trumpet?
What follows approaches the ideal for testing sound, response, intonation and resistance. There are few things in life that can be experienced at the ideal level, but try to get as many of these things together as you can.
1) Test the horn with at least one knowledgeable friend. You need someone to listen and compare. The sound is different on the audience's side of the horn.
2) Try to make arrangements to test the horn in a hall that you will be playing. Some horns sound better in different settings, so you should try the horn out, if possible, where it will actually be played.
3) Make sure to take with you
your old horn for comparison's sake
music with which you are familiar and which you would probably play with the new horn
1) Check for dents, dings and finish problems.
2) Check out the valves for the feel. Oil if necessary. Rock the valves back and forth to see if there is excess looseness. Make sure the stems and valve buttons are screwed in tightly.
3) Check the valve caps, water keys, and slides to see if they are movable and functional.
4) Check for valve leakage by removing a slide crook, placing a finger over the outlet port, and blowing on the leadpipe. To test the entire horn for leaks, you can put a soft rubber ball into the bell and blow on the leadpipe. This also helps to check to make sure the water key corks are sealing. It is not very illuminating to test a horn with a leaky water key.
5) Pull out the second valve slide (push the valve down first) and look in the ports. When the valve is pushed down, all you should be able to see is the inside of the valve bore. If you can see any of the exterior of the valve itself, the valve is way out of alignment and the horn will not play as well as it should if the valves are aligned. Kinda like test driving a car when one of the cylinders isn't hitting.
6) Check the seal on the valves buy pulling out each valve slide half way, then depressing the valve. If the seal is satisfactory, there will be a light "thunk" made as the vacuum is opened by the valve.
7) Check the condition of the leadpipe by removing the tuning crook and looking through the pipe for dirt or corrosion or red rot.
Playing the horn.
1) Play a few long tones in the middle register. Bend pitches until the center is found and the horn resonates as much as possible. Play a few long tones very softly.
2) Play a few long leisurely scales at mp over the range of the instrument to check the uniformity of the sound throughout the horn's full range. Slur some and tongue some to see how easy it is to get the horn to speak. Play a couple as soft and as loud as you can.
3) Check intonation. Play several octave intervals in the mid range. Often the defects in intonation in the higher range is more a result of the horn/mouthpiece match, than it is of the horn itself. Schilke recommends playing the B major scale, a scale notoriously out of tune on many horns. If you've brought a tuner and are in a quiet location, playing the normal range of the instrument on the tuner will reveal the horn's individual tendencies and weaknesses.
4) Play some lip slurs and shakes to determine the flexibility and response.
5) Play a few scales or arpeggios to try the high register to see how the horn responds and the resistance encountered.
6) Play the music that you've brought to see how the horn performs on music that you are familiar with.
7) Listen to what your knowledgeable friends say about the sound, let them help you by instructing you what to play again or to adjust. Alternate playing your old horn with the one you are trying out, giving the friends time to respond. Have the friends move around the hall, listening both beside you (as a player in your section might) and at the back of the hall.
Go out and play a bunch of horns. The one that sounds the best, feels the best, and you can afford--is the one to buy.
Q: When I am testing a trumpet, what exactly am I testing for?
I think that
sound (what is the quality and timbre of the sound? is it the same throughout the range?)
response (how quickly does the horn do what I want it to do?) and
intonation (does the horn play in tune?)
are the primary criteria for choosing a trumpet. These are all quite subjective, which is why there are lots of different trumpets on the market. Putting the criteria in a hierarchy is almost as subjective. Different folks, given the requirements of the music they play and their tastes, rank those criteria differently.
Resistance, another criterion for choosing a trumpet, is equally subjective and even more complex. Some folks like the feeling of "blowing against" something and favor medium bored horns and mouthpieces with smaller bores; others prefer the feeling of "blowing through" the horn and prefer medium large or large bore horns and mouthpieces with enlarged bores. Where that resistance comes from is also very complex. Some folks who play small mouthpieces with small bores like to play large bore horns because they get all the resistance they want from their chops and the mouthpiece. Others may play more open mouthpieces and "need" to get the resistance from the horn. In addition, the following all have some effect on resistance: the size of one's oral cavity, the size and shape of the lip aperture, the mouthpiece cup diameter, shape, depth and volume, the mouthpiece bore size, the size and shape of the backbore, the gap between mouthpiece and leadpipe, the taper of the leadpipe, the weight of the materials, the shape of the tuning slide, the location and weight of the bracing, the number of braces, the bore size of the trumpet, and so forth. While the majority of players prefer at least medium large bore horns, Bobby Shew and John Faddis are evidence of why they continue to make medium bored horns.
Go out and play a bunch of horns. The one that sounds the best, feels the best, and you can afford--that is the one to buy.
Yamaha (models 1335/2335) and Besson (model 1010) seem to be the most popular instruments for beginners. They are reliable, have good sound and are easy too play.
You should attempt to stay away from the cheap Indian/Chinese instruments as seen on eBay - although cheap, they are unlikely either to last any length of time, or stand up to the rigors faced by a new instrument.
What bias do you think there would be? Like, suggesting she take something up that nobody else wants to?
While researchers have not looked specifically at infection rates in musicians, there have been numerous case reports of lung problems linked to instruments. One published in the journal Chest last year described a 35-year-old trombone player who had suffered a bad cough for 15 years; it went away after he started disinfecting the instrument with rubbing alcohol. In another, also published in Chest, a 67-year-old saxophonist with shortness of breath saw the problem disappear after he made a habit of washing his mouthpiece.
Experts say that in addition to regularly cleaning mouthpieces, musicians should routinely disassemble and clean wind instruments with soap and water or alcohol wipes, especially if it’s shared.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Certain instruments can raise the risk of infections if not routinely cleaned.