The trumpet has existed ever since the Middle Ages although, admittedly, it has developed a lot over the years. Today the trumpet is one of the most popular musical instruments. This is, among other things, due to its unique sound and the fact that it is very easy to transport. The trumpet is used in many different genres of music; everything from pop to its perhaps most popular genres: jazz music and classical music.Trumpets on Amazon
The trumpet is a good choice for a person who wants to play on a good-sounding and popular instrument, but who perhaps wants to play an instrument that is not played by everyone. You can thus be a little unique, but still have an easily accessible instrument (in terms of learning and buying the instrument).
Top 5 Best Trumpets
To make the choice of trumpet easier, here are my recommendations of the best instruments on the market. Common to all is top notch quality. These are the results of trying out 100+ different instruments.
Best beginner trumpet
Best intermediate trumpet
Best professional trumpet
Best student trumpet
Best jazz trumpet
Best pocket trumpet
Best mic for trumpet
Best trumpet mouthpiece
The first documented trumpets date back to around 1500 BC. These trumpets were very primitive and were not made of brass, as we see today. They were made of silver and bronze. They were found in Egypt and, unlike trumpets today, they could only play a single note. These trumpets were used for warfare – battle calls, like you may have seen in big Hollywood movies.
The good things about the trumpet were its relatively simple structure and its loud sound when it was used. This made it easy for the soldiers to hear the sound, no matter where they were placed. However, the trumpet, as we know it today, did not really get its breakthrough until around the 19th century. Here it had been developed for what we know today, and it became a solid fixture in solo music and in orchestral roles. At that time, Mozart and Beethoven made use of the instrument. The reason for this was because the newly developed trumpets had a very important role. The instrument could give symphony orchestras a great, grand sound.
Trumpet construction and parts
The modern trumpet is made up of a helical cylinder, typically made from brass. On this cylinder there are three valves, which are called the 1st, 2nd and 3rd valve. On rare occasions, you may see that the three valves are designed differently. The other types of valves are called rotary valves, but the normal valves are made so that the trumpet player can change the notes you are trying to produce. Each of these three valves therefore have their own function.
The first valve’s function is to lower a half tone. That is, when a trumpet player plays a note, you can press the valve down, after which the tone is lowered by half a tone. The second valve is designed to lower the note by an entire tone. So it’s the same principle, just a whole tone. Last, you have a valve that lowers the tone with one and a half tone. The idea of the three valves is therefore the same. The difference only lies in how much they actually change the tone.
To get sound through the trumpet, the musician blows through the trumpet, more precisely the mouthpiece, to force a note. This technique may be very difficult to learn for beginners. The reason for this is that it requires the musician’s lips to vibrate before a sound can be forced. The sound is very characteristic and you have no doubt when you have learned the technique properly. A real tone should sound like humming. From here, the sound process is similar to that of a saxophone. What happens is that the sound, which in fact is just vibrations in the air, cuts into the trumpet through the mouthpiece. From here it travels out through the bell. The bell is the end of the trumpet, which may remind you of a coffee funnel. The bell is intended to give the trumpet a stronger sound, making it sound clearer.
As a starting point, a trumpet can seemingly only play one note, without using the valves. However, as a trumpeter, you also learn to place the lips differently on the trumpet, in order to be able to induce overtones. These overtones, plus the function of the valves, allow the trumpet player to play all of the 12 chromatic tones we find in modern western music.
In the past, say, in the Baroque period, trumpeters also used tones that you cannot play on modern trumpets. Of course, it creates some problems for Baroque playing musicians. The trick they use to perform this type of music is therefore to acquire another type of trumpet, which is differently constructed. These trumpets typically have multiple valves. It means that each valve no longer lowers the tone with another half (semi) tone. Instead, it is lowered with only a quarter tone. Thereby, they can create notes that sound unfamiliar to us.
If you go to India or China, you will quickly notice that they have a much larger musical register. There are more notes in their normal scales. For musicians and listeners in these countries, it is quite normal to listen to, but for us in the western world it may sound weird, or maybe even bad, as our ears are not used to it.
Trumpets actually consist of few and rather primitive elements. First you have the mouthpiece on which the lips are placed. From here, the trumpet player blows and the sound enters into what is called the leadpipe. If you follow the pipe from here, you can see that it bends around. This circular piece of the trumpet can be removed and is called the tuning slide. Depending on how far inside or outside the tuning slid is placed, you can tune the trumpet, so that it matches the other instruments in the group. The tuning slide also has a small valve. It has a single function, which is quite important. It is so that when playing the trumpet, condensation water is formed due to the temperature difference between the instrument, the air and the musician’s breath. Therefore, the trumpeter can open this valve and thereby remove the condensation water. If you do not remove the water, the instrument will not continue to sound properly, as the trumpet will be clogged with condensation water. Neither as a listener nor as a musician is this something you want 🙂
Then the sound goes into the valves and if one or more of the valves are pressed down, the sound will change. It is so that if the valves are pressed down, the air’s path is expanded (via the extra pipe that sits on the side of the trumpet). Then the sound goes out through the bell, and you hear the sound.
You can also see some small brass circles on the trumpet – both one after and before the valves. One typically has an O-shape and the other is similar to a crescent. These are called slide rings, and this is where the trumpeter places his fingers to support and hold the trumpet. Trumpets do not weigh very much and so you don’t need to use much strength to hold it. As a trumpet player, you almost always stand up when you play. You don’t have the limitation of a neck strap like you do with a alto or tenor sax, for example, and therefore it is quite convenient to hold and play.
Different types of trumpets
There are several different types of trumpets. The most common is the Bb trumpet and the C trumpet. But there are also trumpets tuned in D, Eb, E, F, G and A. It is very rare that these are used. The fact that they are tuned in Bb means that they do not tune like a piano and guitar (which is tuned in C). This means that when a pianist plays the tone c and the trumpet player subsequently plays his c tone, the trumpeter actually plays a Bb in relation to the piano. Therefore, it is also incredibly important that a trumpet player can transpose, since songs are typically numbered (written down) to C instruments. If a piano plays C-D-E, the trumpet player must know that they must play D-E-F#.
Of course, this does not apply to the C trumpet, which of course is tuned like the piano. The C trumpet is, however, somewhat smaller than the Bb trumpet, and therefore you often see in American symphony orchestras that both are used. The sound of the trumpet is typically slightly higher than the Bb trumpet, and therefore they complement each other extremely well in musical contexts. They are often used at the same time in classical music. It is most common to play a Bb trumpet and you always start learning how to play that type of trumpet. The vast majority of songs for the trumpet are written in Bb.
Choosing a trumpet
Buying your first instrument is always difficult. You may not know much about the different models and types of trumpet. And, more importantly, you don’t know much about what you actually have to look for. What makes an instrument good? How do you ensure that the instrument you buy meets the requirements that apply to a good trumpet?
First and foremost, it is important to ask yourself the question: how much am I prepared to invest, and will I actively and willingly learn the instrument? Or is it just an idea I want to try for fun? If you have a clear idea that you would like to spend a lot of time learning the instrument, then it would be better to buy a slightly more expensive instrument, as it will last in the long run. Price and quality often coincide However, if you just want to try it out, then you don’t have to spend many hundreds of dollars. You can get a really good trumpet for just over a hundred dollars. Scroll further up the page and see what I recommend.
If you just have the courage to give it a try, then it is recommended to look at the slightly cheaper alternatives. Flea markets and eBay good places to look for used instruments. Any trumpet can be a nice starting trumpet, as long as it is not leaking and has been properly cared for by previous owners. In fact, buying a good mouthpiece can pay off and you can then pay a little less for the trumpet itself. It is the mouthpiece that you start off learning to use, and so a better mouthpiece gives you an easier start.
If you have started well or if you want to invest a little more from the start, you can look at slightly more expensive trumpets. Here it can always be a good idea to get a friend who plays or a professional to try it if possible. They know exactly what is good and bad. If you do not have the opportunity, there are some factors that should be emphasized when purchasing a trumpet. After all, the most important thing is that an instrument sounds and feels good. So try some different ones and find out what type you like the best – find out what kind of valves you like best. And if you already have a mouthpiece that you are familiar with, bring it along and try it out. It is important to mention that you do not need to try your trumpet before buying. You can easily order your instrument online. There are so many reviews of trumpets online. In fact, I have selected some of the market’s best trumpets that you can see further up the page.
Remember that it is not always the most expensive trumpet that is the best. But, most often, price is related to quality!