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You are here: Home > Trumpets > Trumpet Buying Guide & Tips

Welcome to our Product Knowledge Center! Our team here at InstrumentalSavings is excited to share with you all that we know about Trumpets. Making an informed decision is critical to any investment and this is no exception. We will aim to answer the questions given below in order to give you insight and recommendations on violins so that you can make a well-informed purchase.

What is a trumpet and what are its parts?

What do you need to know before buying a trumpet?

What are the different level models of trumpets?

How do you take care of your trumpet?

What is a trumpet and what are its parts?

A trumpet is a brass wind instrument noted for its powerful tone sounded by lip vibration against its cup-shaped mouthpiece. A trumpet consists of a cylindrical tube, shaped in a primary oblong loop that flares into a bell. Modern trumpets also have three piston valves as well as small, secondary tubing that act as tuning slides to adjust the tone. Almost all trumpets played today are B-flat. This is the tone naturally played when the trumpet is blown. They have a range between the F-sharp below middle C to two and a half octaves above (ending at B), and are comparatively easier to play than other brass instruments.

BellThe part of the trumpet where the sound comes out of. Mostly made of brass and can either be lacquered in gold, which produces a more mellow sound, and silver-plated, which produces a brighter sound. Other trumpet manufacturers create specially made bells such as those made of sterling silver.

MouthpieceThis is the part where the player places his lips and blows into. Mouthpieces are made in varying sizes and different materials such as brass.

Valve CasingsIt is also referred to as the three cylinders that is attached to the pistons.

Leadpipe The tube from the mouthpiece to the tuning slide.

Tuning SlideThe part of the trumpet which can be pulled or push to adjust the tune.

Valve SlideIt helps the trumpet produce sound as well as adjust the pitch of notes. There are three valve slides: the first slide lowers the highest note a whole step (also called a fundamental, which is produced when you're not holding down any valve), the second slide lowers it a half step and the third slide is commonly used to produce notes that are lower in register.

Water KeyThe water key is a small metal lever usually found on the trumpet's main tuning slide that can be pressed to open a small hole in the slide and allow moisture to escape. During a playing session, it is common for small amounts of moisture to collect in the slide. This water can be removed quickly by pressing the water key and blowing sharply into the mouthpiece.

The water key has a small felt disc on the end that helps to seal the hole when the water key is closed. Take a look at the disc on occasion to make sure it is clean and providing a good seal. You don't want dirt or mold to collect anywhere on your trumpet. If the disc appears to need replacement, take it to be serviced.

Valve Pistons The valve pistons are thin metal cylinders with holes both large and small bored through and small fingerpieces on the end. The pistons are mounted into hollow cylinders called valve casings in the center of the trumpet. They are known as the first valve piston, second valve piston and third valve piston, with the first being closest to the player when the trumpet is held in playing position.

The valve pistons move up and down in the valve casings to produce a full range of tones on the trumpet using different combinations of fingerings and varying amounts of air pressure from the player. When the player depresses a piston, the holes move and reroute the flow of air in circuits that are larger or smaller depending on the fingering. The longer the route of air, the lower the tone generally will be.

Finger HookThe finger hook is a sturdy metal hook on the top of the trumpet that allows the player to hold the instrument firmly in one hand while still allowing fingering to occur. Using the trumpet finger hook, the horn can be played completely with just one hand. The other hand is available when needed to turn pages of music, signal other players or even play another instrument.

What do you need to know before buying a trumpet?

The metal of the trumpet affects the look of the instrument, as well as the sound. Since the look is obvious, let's get to the sound. Brass trumpets are most common in student and intermediate trumpets because it costs less to manufacture than silver, and most companies do not want to spend the resources on student instruments. Brass, relatively to silver, is a softer metal, and will get a warmer, darker tone than a silver trumpet would. Silver would get a brighter sound, with more projection and "sizzle" in the sound. Although student trumpets are primarily brass (or variations of brass), you can find professional trumpets in brass or silver, and it is a personal preference which one is used. Monel is a material that some valves are made from. It is a very hard and corrosion-resistant material, making it ideal for valves. It is harder to get and manufacture, so will cost more, but will extend the playability and life of your trumpet. They will need to be oiled regularly like any valve with any of a large variety of valve oils.
All trumpets will come with a mouthpiece from the manufacturer. Most of these will be 7C mouthpieces, even if it is not printed on the mouthpiece. If the trumpeter wants a different size mouthpiece, they can be purchased separately. All trumpets come with a case included as a protection for the instrument.

What are the different level models of trumpets?

All the types of trumpets we've tackled on here come in varying level models. These levels are Student, Intermediate, and Professional. It is important to know what these levels are in order for you to buy a type of trumpet that accommodates your level as a player. Let's discuss each level and what makes them different from each other.

Made for those who are just beginning with the trumpet or for those whose commitment to playing the trumpet is uncertain.
Recommendations for student trumpets:

Made for those who have been playing the trumpet for a few years and want something a little more advanced than a student trumpet.
Recommendations for step-up or intermediate trumpets:

Made for those who are fully committed to playing the trumpet and to those who have been playing it for many years.
Recommendations for step-up or intermediate trumpets:

How do you take care of your trumpet?

After the first month or so, oil your valves two or three times a week; if you’re playing several hours a day, you might want to oil them daily. Every couple of months, give your valves an oil change.

Oiling the valves: A new trumpet has a breaking-in period of about a month during which you should oil the valves and give the valves an oil change more frequently. During the first month, you should oil the valves every day. To do this, apply just two drops of good-quality valve oil on the silver section of the valve.

In addition, once a week, do a full oil change: Carefully remove the valves and wipe them clean with a lint-free cloth; apply no more than three drops of valve oil on the silver section of the valve, and insert the valve into the casing, tightening the retaining cap without too much force. Work on one valve at a time.

After the first month or so, oil your valves two or three times a week; if you’re playing several hours a day, you might want to oil them daily. Every couple of months, give your valves an oil change.

Greasing the slides: Lubricate the main tuning slide with slide grease. Don’t apply too much lubricant, and only do this maintenance once a month. The goal is for the slide to move smoothly, but not too freely. The third-valve slide does need to move easily, so a different, lighter lubricant (called key and rotor oil) is needed.

Cleaning the mouthpiece: Mouthpieces are simple. Swab the inner diameter with a mouthpiece brush whenever you think of it.

Silver Plated Trumpets: To clean tarnishing caused by oxidation and handling by the player, we recommend using a treated polishing cloth made specifically for silver plated instruments. (We recommend
Blitz Metal Care Cloth.)