Quick guide to popular Trumpets

The Trumpet

The trumpet or trompette in French, or Trompete in German, is a brass/wind instrument frequently used for classical and jazz music,  and that is sounded by vibrating the lips that are almost closed (embouchure) against the cup mouthpiece while blowing air. The word trumpet was used by ethnomusicologists for any instrument that used lip vibration to create sounds.

Among these are instruments used for hunting and war – the horn, the nafir of the Arabs, the kakaki of Africa, the conch (used 4000 years ago by Krsna in Hindu literature in the Pandava war), the dung-chen of China, as well as western brass, reed or wood instruments.

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History of the Trumpet

Early trumpets did not have the ability to change the length of their tubing. There were often just about 2 feet long. Early trumpets such as those in the Bible and ancient Egypt which had trumpets that sounded only a single note or two at the most similar to the Greek Salpinx or the Roman tuba.  In the middle ages, the trumpet became the most prominent musical instrument.

The buisine of the Middle Ages reached a length of 6 feet. And then further lengthened and that necessitated the need to bend it into an S-shaped instrument for better handling. In the 1600s, with only kettledrums to accompany them, trumpets were able to play natural notes (or melodies in a higher scale). Trumpets with slides called Tromba da tirarsi appeared during the Renaissance and were used in some of Bach’s pieces. The Flat Trumpet of 1695 reappeared in the 19th century. The valve appeared in 1828 in Germany and eventually got accepted in the US and Britain where the cornet was then preferred over the trumpet.

Modern valve trumpets appeared in the 1800s and nowadays trumpets have the standard 3 piston or rotary valves and sometimes a 4th valve to lower pitch. Valves have the effect of lengthening the tubing. The bend just before the terminal bell flare, gives flexibility to the tone.  The key could easily be changed with the use of a crook, a tubing coil inserted next to the mouthpiece. The crook produced sound in the Key of D but often, the crook can bring it down from F to B Flat.

The trumpeter or trumpet player sometimes inserts a mute into the bell made of a conical straight mute or aluminum.  Various variations of the trumpet are as follows: the piccolo trumpet or the Bach trumpet invented in 1890, the Eflat Trumpet, the trumpet in C, and the bass trumpet.


Trumpets for beginners

The trumpet, with its clear sound and few mechanical parts, is durable and a beginner whether for hobby or learning will find a lot of joy owning one. Trumpets sell at $700 or as much as $10,000. There are also used trumpets that can be bought for $200 of the price of a new one. Best to bring with you an expert, a teacher or a professional who will advise you as to the things to look out for when buying. Trumpets with two piece bells create inferior sound compared to one with a solid bell. But for a beginner, who wants to learn the basics, a two-piece bells and not so shiny finish, may do well as long as the trumpet gives a basically good sound.

Check the parts. Push down the valves and these should spring back and move freely. They should make a light pop because if they don’t, there may be a leakage somewhere. The weight of the trumpet is not a portability issue. They are light but vary a little between models and brands.


Purchasing a Trumpet

When buying, ask for a warranty. And when you have it, make sure that the information in the warranty is clear, complete and filled out.

Run your palm on the finish of the trumpet to feel for dents and dings. Red spots may indicate corrosion on the underside. These things will not only make your trumpet ugly, but also could affect sound.

Check the mouthpiece if it fits your mouth well. Learning difficulties are sometimes traceable to the mouthpiece.

When looking for brands, the Bach Stradivarius is a good choice. Or one may opt for the Kanstul 1000 is an excellent professional trumpet.

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