Which Trumpet should I buy?

If you are a beginning student and are interested in starting trumpet/cornet, your music teacher will be able to guide you in this area. Usually your first instrument will be rented which gives you the opportunity to find out if you want to continue. If you have been renting and now want to move up to a better instrument, continue reading.

Silver Trumpet

Photo credit: raphaelstrada on Flickr

Reading advertisements on the attributes of each trumpet can be confusing for every manufacturer claims their instrument is the best. With this in mind, let me point out some important issues you will need to know when considering the purchase of a trumpet/cornet.

To better address this dilemma, I decided to do what most people would do when trying to decide on a product- I went to the internet. I typed in “best trumpet” and found these claims.

B Flat Trumpet #1

  • Professional design B-flat trumpet with full 5″ bell for better projection
  • High grade rose-brass lead pipe for better intonation
  • Monel steel pistons provide maximum corrosion resistance and reduced maintenance
  • Two push button water keys
  • Nickel-silver outer slides found only on higher quality models for smoother action and less corrosion
  • First valve slide saddle
  • Adjustable third valve throw ring with adjustable stop
  • Included valve oil, polishing cloth, portable music stand with carrying bag and 7C mouthpiece
  • Molded hard shell ABS case with shoulder strap provides the maximum in instrument protection and ease of carrying

Instrument price- $172.42

B Flat Trumpet #2

  • Key: Bb
  • Bore: .459-inch
  • Leadpipe: #25 Standard
  • Leadpipe Material: Yellow Brass
  • Bell: 4.8-inch One-Piece #43 Taper
  • Bell Material: Yellow Brass
  • Valves: Monel Piston
  • 1st Valve Slide Adjustment: Thumb Saddle
  • 3rd Valve Slide Adjustment: Fixed Ring with Adjustable Slide Stop
  • Features: Standard Water Key
  • Case: Deluxe Wood Case with Attached Cover
  • Mouthpiece: Bach 7C
  • Finish: Silver

Instrument price- $2,500

Side by side comparisons seemed to match on many feature.

  • Keyed in Bb
  • Monel pistons valves
  • Standard Water Key(s)
  • Bell: 4.8-inch/5-inch
  • Material: Yellow Brass/ rose-brass
  • First valve slide saddle
  • 3rd Valve Slide Adjustment
  • Case: Deluxe Wood Case/ Molded hard shell ABS case
  • Included valve oil, polishing cloth, portable music stand with carrying bag and 7C mouthpiece

So how can they justify the $2327.58 price difference? Again it is a similar situation as buying an automobile. “It’s all in the materials, design, manufacturing of the product”. With a trumpet, there will be a difference in sound, ease of playing, intonation, maintenance, resale, repairs, longevity, etc. In other words “you get what you pay for”.

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.

2 thoughts on “Which Trumpet should I buy?

  1. Jim Calkins

    Bruce is kind. Many knowledgeable trumpet players refer to an item like the $172.42 Bb Trumpet #1 as a TSO- “Trumpet Shaped Object.” For $2500, you get what you pay for. For $172.42 you get a TSO that will lead to quick frustration and disappointment.

    … or for $172.42, an expert like Bruce could probably help you find a vintage horn that will approach the quality of the $2500 Trumpet #2 at a fraction of the price.

    • Bruce Chidester

      I try to be as diplomatic as possible these days.

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