Trumpets have existed in some form for well over 3,000 years. In that time have become one of the most recognizable and iconic of musical instruments. While most of us recognize the standard shape and sound of the common trumpet in Bb (pictured below) there are many other members of the trumpet family including the coronet, the higher-ranged piccolo trumpet, the mellow-sounding flugelhorn as well as even more rarely used and seen orchestral variants such as the alternatively keyed trumpets (A, C, D, Eb, F and G) as well as natural or herald trumpets that are made without valves.
Anatomy of a Trumpet
While there are obviously many possible variations and options in the construction of trumpets, most of the instruments in the family contain the same basic and essential parts:
In addition to the many types of trumpets available, there are levels in the quality and capability within each type.
This is the starting point for almost every player and this trumpet is designed and manufactured with the learner in mind. Typically made my machine rather than by hand, these trumpets are generally more affordable than the intermediate and professional models. They provide all the tools necessary to learn the instrument, though they may lack some of the more advanced features.
Once a student has progressed beyond the capabilities of the student models and is performing in more and more varied musical ensembles, a more advanced trumpet is in order. The intermediate models of trumpets provide additional features such as slide hooks, adjustable slide stops (especially on the 3rd valve slide), more plating options and higher-quality cases. Many intermediate models can even include the weight and sound improvements provided by professional models, though to a lesser degree.
A professional trumpet is quite literally a functional work of art. These instruments are normally made entirely by hand out of the highest quality materials possible, and allow for variations on weight and the thickness of the metal, which can have a profound impact on the sound produced. For the serious college student and professional musician, a well-made and well-maintained professional trumpet can let them create decades of music.
Accessories and Options
As mentioned above, maintenance is an important part of owning a trumpet and there are many accessories that will be needed throughout the life of any instrument to keep it responsive and performing at the highest level. Mouthpiece brushes and cleaning snakes help prevent the build-up of material within the body of the trumpet that can impact air-flow and valve oil is a necessity to keep the valves’ mechanisms moving freely and quickly.
In addition to these maintenance related items, other common accessories for trumpet players often include items more suited to musical needs, such as different types of mouthpieces and several different variations of mutes. Lastly, while many intermediate and most professional cases provide some room for these additional items, custom cases can provide ample storage for all the player’s accessories.
While we are most familiar with the push-button piston style valves pictured above, trumpets can also come with rotary valves and some will include a 4th valve beyond the standard three, allowing the player better control on the lower range of the instrument. The make and design of the valves will often vary depending on the category of the instrument, with the beginner models using a hard, nickel-plated alloy that is more resilient to infrequent cleaning and oiling. The highest quality professional trumpets will have valves that are hand-smoothed and polished (a process known as lapping) to provide a quick and flawless response tailored uniquely to the instrument itself.
Brass is the standard material used in the construction in modern trumpets. Depending on the player’s preference, there are several options available for finishing. Lacquer is the most common finish and is baked onto the completed instrument. Lacquer finishes can produce an instrument with a darker tone and are available on any category of trumpet, from beginner to Professional. Silver plating, on the other hand, can give a trumpet a much brighter tone and is applied through the process of electroplating. Gold finishes, in addition to their striking visual impact, can slightly darken the tone and are available only on professional-grade trumpets.
Trust Woodwind & Brasswind
Purchasing a trumpet involves knowing what instrument best fits your player’s ensemble needs, age, and skill level. When buying a beginner’s first instrument, it is very often beneficial to speak to the student’s band director or private instructor before making a final buying decision.
No matter what type or category of trumpet you are shopping for, Woodwind and Brasswind has been meeting the needs of students and professionals for over 35 years. Each purchase is backed by Woodwind & Brasswind's 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, giving you 45 days to decide if the instrument is right for you. If it’s not everything you need it to be, you can return it for a full refund.* While making sure you found the right instrument is important, making sure the price is right matters, too, and Woodwind and Brasswind’s 45-Day Price guarantee means that even if you find the same model trumpet for less elsewhere, we’ll make up the difference. As musicians of all levels have done for decades, you can buy from Woodwind and Brasswind with complete confidence that you received the best instrument for the very best price.
*All returned woodwind and brass instruments are assessed a $10.00 sterilization fee. Instruments priced over $3,000.00 are assessed a $20.00 fee. All mouthpieces are assessed a $4.00 fee.