Advancements in Trumpet Design

robot trumpet

Photo Credit: Aaron Webb on Flickr

The changes made in the design, materials and construction of new trumpets has exploded in the past decade. The change has been so sudden and drastic that it is difficult to keep up with the advancements. The reason for this dramatic change is highly debatable but for what ever the reason, our trumpet world is shifting tradition to its breaking point. Are all these changes beneficial? Only time will tell. I do remember how earth shaking it was to have one of the “new” Rose colored liquored Olds Recording cornet. We were at the cutting edge of decadence. And to think that at one time I actually owned both a rose colored cornet andtrumpet. I felt that I had finally made it to the big time. Shortly after that, horns were being sold in bold colors of red, white, black and blue.

I will present some of the more radical changes in trumpet design in the following page and it is neither my intent to endorse nor condemn any of the changes. My efforts in this blog are only to share some of the new ideas and give you the opportunity to investigate further into these advancements.

The Continuation of Tradition

When first looking into the current trends in trumpet development, I would like to suggest that you first visit the material at Dave Monette’s site.

This first site will show you not only one of the most talented trumpet and mouthpiece designers in the world, it will also give you an example of current trumpet design from the “mild to the wild”. I would be foolish to try to summarize Mr. Monette’s thinking on trumpet design but for the time being, I will try to summarize some of his changes from my point of view. The Monette influence has been in the primary directions of materials, dimensional changes, bracing and weight. My first observation when playing his horns is the increased weight. Most current designers are going this route and it does change the sound as well as response of the instrument.

Another trumpet designer who is traveling in the same direction as Monette can be found at this site –

Mr. Thomas Inderbinen has an interesting approach to trumpet design and his web site will give you his philosophy pertaining to instrument design. His trumpets are more traditional with interesting additions to the design. His has incorporated similar design changes as Monette.

I wanted to include this site even though the changes were not performed on a traditional piston valve trumpet.  Rotary valve instruments have a long history and as talented performers begin to utilize these distant cousins, we need to include them in our listing. Check out this site-

See it in action

I have included this trumpet innovation only because of its uniqueness and many people ask about it. That would be the pocket trumpet which you can read about at this site.

One major contribution to trumpet design was first introduced by Don Ellis in the 1960’s. His innovative quarter tone trumpet was built for him by the Holton Company.  The trumpet featured four valves. The fourth valve enables the player to lower any combination of the other three by exactly a quarter–tone.

Don and his four valve trumpet can be seen and heard here –

Electronics which are not part of true trumpet design have been slow to develop. One of the earlier electronic device first introduced to the populace back in the 60s and 70’s was the King Vox Octavoice. This device was reportedly used by Don Ellis. When this device was attached to a mouthpiece pickup, the performer could not only be amplified but also had the choice of amplifying the trumpet sound, adding an octave below which replicated the note of a trombone or an additional tuba sound an additional octave below.

If you happen on to one of these gadgets, please be informed that at the current time the asking price is around $550. I still have mine and would sell it for less than that amount.

The Continuation of Evolution

That now brings us to the end of my contributions but still in line with early electronics, we will now explore the fascinating world of the Midi trumpet.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.

4 thoughts on “Advancements in Trumpet Design

  1. Richard Gordon

    Don Ellis was an innovator and a musical genius. He was also one hell of a trumpet player.

  2. Ruari Wilson

    Really enjoy your blog – thank you for a stimulating topic. IMHO trumpets sound like trumpets, regardless of the huge range of designs. I have listened to a wonderful trumpeter play a Monette, Schilke, Bach etc and did not notice a great difference from the bell end. Ofcourse the marked differences are for the player – as you said – weight – feel – resistance – rotary – piston.

    • Bruce Chidester

      It’s like everything else, its the nut at the wheel that makes the difference.

      Thanks for your comments, stay well and live long!

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