Trumpet question (by request)

Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2011 01:40 pm
So the kid's going to start playing trumpet soon. (They had some sort of instrument try-outs at school and that was the one that was selected as the best match based on skill and her interest.) SHE started doing some research on which trumpet would be best. (I have to buy one for her, oh joy.)

I haven't done any research at all but I was on A2K for a minute while doing computer work (she's sitting next to me for "take your kid to work day") and asked me to post this for her.

She says she wants a beginner or student trumpet.

I would like it to be not super expensive -- I have some options for where to get it (I'm on an email list for local moms and every now and then instruments come up that kids have grown out of/ moved on from). But posting this for her.

She says hi. (She insisted on typing that "hi" so that it was actually from her.)

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Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2011 01:50 pm
Hiya Sozlet! So, what is it like being at work with your mom all day? Better than school? Are you getting paid for helping with any tasks? Some of my favorite memories of my dad are when I used to go to work with him and help him with his accounting work.

Trumpet, eh? I played the violin in school so can't be much help there, besides, it was about 40 years ago.

Here's a website that may help a bit:


Here's the table of contents specific to purchasing a first trumpet:

Table of Contents

Beginning trumpet lessons

I like these suggestions from the article:

How do I start the process of buying an trumpet for my child??

1. Check with their band director to make sure it is okay for them to play trumpet. Not everyone has the jaw structure or teeth and lip characteristics to play trumpet successfully. Please, check with your child's teacher first.

2. Check with local music stores. Most schools have music stores come in and do an instrument display night. Representatives are on hand to answer questions and sell/rent instruments and accessories. Some schools invite more than one store to come in the same night to provide parents several choices.

Instruments can be purchased on a rent-to-own basis from the music store with payments normally lower than $30 a month.

The pros to this approach:

--If your child decides they don't want to continue in band, you lose only the money you paid to rent the instrument.

--Most of the time, you can purchase (for an additional monthly fee) a maintenance/insurance plan for the instrument that covers any or all repairs for the instrument while it is being rented.

The cons:

--You will pay much more for the same instrument by renting to own. Most stores charge a small interest rate on the remaining balance on the instrument.

--Most stores will give a significant discount (one store I deal with gives a 25% discount) for purchasing an instrument outright.

3. You may choose to buy an instrument from someone other than a local music store. Please make sure that it is one of the brands I listed above. I have no problem with people buying instruments online on Ebay, at a pawn shop, or from a individual so long as they are quality instruments.

4. Consider buying used. I would rather a parent buy a used name brand instrument than a brand new generic instrument. In fact, many times, older instruments, so long as they have been maintained properly are superior to new instruments. Older instruments were heavier and made with more metal, giving them a darker, richer sound.

Note: with any used instrument, you will need to send it to the shop before use. At a minimum, the instrument will need to be professionally cleaned. It may also need to be adjusted, have parts replaced, new corks, etc. Check with a local music store, but I would allow an additional $100 for brass instruments to get it in ideal working condition.
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2011 01:54 pm
Here's another site you may like as they go into detail about the various qualities to look for:


It covers questions such as:

What are the differences between a beginner's trumpet and a pro's trumpet?

So, where do I start?

How to test a trumpet?

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.

Plan ahead:

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
a tuner
music with which you are familiar and which you would probably play with the new horn

Visual inspection:

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.

What am I testing for?

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.

and evaluates various brands and new vs used.
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Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2011 03:11 pm
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.

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Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2011 03:17 pm
What are her chances of needing braces?

Braces and brass instruments don't mix. And band directors have been known to discriminate against those needing braces. (As in, kid finds out they need braces and are moved down to last chair before the braces ever go in.)

Also, if this is the elementary music teacher doing the suggesting, you should probably take her to an unbiased source.
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2011 03:17 pm
Oh, yes.

Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2011 03:21 pm
The suggestion of "one knowledgeable friend" is a good one. Preferably someone who can play the instrument.

Go to a music store, ask if ya'll can test each instrument.

Have them listen for differences in the timbre of the instruments. While it won't matter to a novice, it will matter later. Some players will very quickly find themselves limited by the quality of their instruments
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Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2011 03:24 pm
Hi sozlet,

Congrats on choosing to play the trumpet! I hope you love it. My girls played various instruments when they were going through school. One chose cello and is still playing cello 15 years later. The other chose viola but didn't like it so much once she started playing it. She switched to piano. She didn't like that so much either. She switched to guitar. Um... nope, not a good fit.

Fortunately, our local music store had a rental program that allowed us to rent instruments (well, not the piano) and allowed a portion of the rental fee to be applied toward a future purchase.

Tell your mom that I said that rental is the way to go!
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2011 03:34 pm
She will indeed be getting braces next fall. She already has a retainer. She says she's talked to the music guy about that and he said it was OK -- and she practiced with the retainer in. But you remind me that I want to double-check that before I actually commit to buying anything.

The fourth-grade music guy is also the fifth-grade band guy (free lessons through school but we need to buy the instruments). He's the one doing the suggesting, yep. What bias do you think there would be? Like, suggesting she take something up that nobody else wants to?

Butrflynet, she was next to me for only a bit -- she'd hoped to accompany E.G. to work today but it was not a good day for it and so she ended up just going to school as usual. After school we were talking about it and she said "well I can go to work with YOU" and we trooped over to the computer. I didn't get a lot done and what I did get done was not that interesting, but she was engrossed for half an hour or so.

Thanks for the resources, they look promising.

She says thank you to both of you!
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2011 03:38 pm
Hi, missed ya there!

Rental does make sense, especially at the beginning. If it turns out that she loves it then maybe we can buy.

Again I haven't done ANY research yet (usually I do at least a little before asking something here), she just really wanted me to ask for her so I went for it. And very good advice so far so I'm glad!
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Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2011 03:56 pm
sozobe wrote:
What bias do you think there would be? Like, suggesting she take something up that nobody else wants to?

I think that they make suggestions in such a way that there's somebody playing each instrument, yes.

Trumpet's pretty popular, though.
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Tai Chi
Reply Thu 28 Apr, 2011 04:01 pm
Oh, I was going to mention jaws/teeth too but I see I've been beaten to it.
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Reply Thu 26 May, 2011 01:47 pm
The new trumpet topic reminded me I didn't update this one, I talked to the band guy and he confirmed that it should be fine. He has been doing this for a while and has had a bazillion kids with braces come through who played the trumpet, he said that they sometimes sit out on the day their braces have been tightened but otherwise it's generally not an issue.

So she's gonna try it!

Definitely won't be buying a full-priced, expensive one, not sure yet if we'll get a rental or if I'll buy a hand-me-down (band is big here and then once the kids grow out of it/ move on they'll sell their instruments). Will also be cleaning it carefully, just read this:



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.


Certain instruments can raise the risk of infections if not routinely cleaned.
Reply Thu 26 May, 2011 01:57 pm
ahhhh cleaning

I remember much time with the bottle of Dettol, cleaning the clarinet. The smell never leaves your memory.
Reply Thu 26 May, 2011 05:20 pm
How long did you play the clarinet?
Reply Thu 26 May, 2011 05:23 pm
at least 10 years - started in Grade 7

picked it up briefly again as an adult - had a neighbour with access to great instruments

now I'm back to my childhood instruments - recorder and ukelele as they work better for my musical interests

(and of course drums and zills for dance class Very Happy )
Reply Thu 26 May, 2011 06:57 pm
10 years, that's quite serious then.

What are your musical interests?
Reply Thu 26 May, 2011 07:02 pm
The recorder works for the medieval/baroque music I've been getting more interested in/involved in over the past 20 years.

The ukelele. That's a bit harder to explain. I've been following some jazz musicians who are using the ukelele in new (to me, at least) ways. I brought my old ukelele here from my dad's place when we were getting ready for his move. I want to play more more more.

Both of them fit into my interest in how music and instruments have developed over the years. Fun stuff!

I still dream of going to adult recorder camp one summer.
Reply Thu 26 May, 2011 07:09 pm
That makes sense.

What sort of contexts do you play in these days? Like, on your own, or any sort of group/ jam/ band situations?
Reply Thu 26 May, 2011 07:16 pm
Mostly on my own, though I've been playing a bit in situations related to dance class - sometimes voluntarily, sometimes a little less than voluntarily.

With the ukelele, I'm not past playing along with stuff I find on Youtube. I could probably go public with the easier stuff, but I'm still intimidated by the great things I'm hearing.

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