Choosing the right trumpet – Student, Intermediate, or Professional

GENERAL
The trumpet is a timeless instrument and has the highest voice in the brass family. There are many different varieties including the cornet, flugelhorn and specialty options such as the piccolo trumpet (mainly used in symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles). Students and those just starting out often choose a Bb (B-flat) trumpet. These are regularly seen in for jazz, concert and marching bands.

Some of the questions answered below
What type of trumpet is right for me?
Tell me more about the valves of a trumpet.
In what finishes are trumpets available?

Trumpet Categories

STUDENT

Student trumpets are machine made and intended to be highly economical and long-lasting. In most cases, a student horn is a perfect choice for the initial 2 or 3 years. They perform very well but lack some of the higher-end features and construction seen in intermediate and professional models. Such things as valve to valve casing tolerances, mouthpipe design, and slide tubing tolerances. As well they normally are crafted with a two-piece bell instead of a one-piece. The end result is a good sounding trumpet with good intonation and a trumpet that can be easily maintained with little attention from a beginner.
Some popular student models listed in my personal preference order are:

  • Olds Ambassador
  • Bach TR300
  • Blessing BTR1277Yamaha YTR2335
    Olds Ambassador
    King T600
    Getzen Series 300
    Holton T602

STUDENT TRUMPET PHOTOS:

77S1
Blessing BTR1277S Silver Student Trumpet

 

bhtr3_1
Bach TR300 Trumpet
rb1
Olds Ambassador Trumpet
rb4
Olds Ambassador Trumpet

 

INTERMEDIATE TRUMPETS


Intermediate trumpets come in two basic types and are an ideal choice for those looking for an upgrade after the first couple of years. The first type is a student horn with additional features to improve sturdiness and tuning like 1st valve slide/thumb hook, deluxe cases, silver plating and adjustable 3rd valve slide stops. A second choice is intermediate horns which are comparable to professional ones but manufactured in a less expensive manner that could impact resonance, aesthetics and intonation. The result is a trumpet that is easier to play in the upper register with better tone and better intonation. The closer tolerance on the valves and valve casings and the slides require more attention from the trumpet player to keep the valves and sides clean and lubricated so they function correct. Care normally provided by a trumpet player after playing
for 2 or more years.
Some popular intermediate models listed in my personal preference order are:
Blessing BTR1460S
Bach TR300H
Yamaha YTR2335
Olds Ambassador s/n 3xxxxx to 5xxxxx
King T600
Getzen Series 400
Holton

INTERMEDIATE TRUMPET PHOTOS:

1460
Blessing BTR1460S Silver Intermediate Trumpet

 

bte
Bach TR300H Trumpet

 

rb1
Olds Ambassador Trumpet s/n 3xxxxxx to 5xxxxxx

PROFESSIONAL TRUMPETS

Professional trumpets are the cream of the crop in instrument selections and feature the highest quality materials and craftsmanship. These horns typically have a one-piece bell, stainless steel pistons and can be either heavy or lightweight. If you plan to play the trumpet at an advanced level for a significant period of time, a professional version is an excellent investment. The result is a trumpet that is easier to play in the upper register with great tone and correct intonation. The closer tolerance on the valves and valve casings and the slides require more attention from the trumpet player to keep the valves and sides clean and lubricated so they function correct. Care normally provided by a trumpet player after playing
for 2 or more years.

Accessories

There are a few cleaning accessories you should keep on hand to ensure your trumpet is in tip-top shape. Items like valve oil, mouthpiece brush, and a cleaning snake can make a big difference in the sound and proper working order of your horn.

Valves

The main moving parts of the trumpet are the valves or “valve piston” as the player pushes down on them to make different notes. The quality of the horn is largely dependent on the ease of use and accuracy of the valves. Student horns typically have nickel-plated valves which are hard, sturdy and work well even with less frequent cleaning. They tend to be a bit looser in order to move freely as long as they are well oiled. A large number of intermediate horns are made with Monel® alloy which is softer than nickel. Sturdily designed, it’s quite resistant to corrosion and is comfortable on the fingers. Lastly professional horns are normally made of either Monel or stainless steel.

Valves should play quickly and smoothly and need to be well lapped (polished and honed for a smooth, close fit) to reach this goal. Higher grade trumpets frequently have hand-lapped valves, performed by an expert in the field to ensure flawless performance.

Finish

All trumpets are constructed of durable brass; however there are a number of different finishes to choose from. Lacquer is sprayed on then baked in an oven to ‘cure’ it; this finish is available in all levels. This process makes for a slightly darker sound. Silver-plating is applied by electroplating. This is more resilient than lacquer and slightly brightens the sound. Gold-plating is only available on professional horns and slightly darkens the tone.

In summary, selecting a trumpet involves a number of considerations including the player’s age, skill level and the venue (school band, marching band, orchestra). If the player is a student, you should consider chatting with the band teacher to get their thoughts.