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Topic: Seeking Advice on Trumpet (real thing)

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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Seeking Advice on Trumpet (real thing)

    Slightly OT -

    I played trumpet from 6th grade up until my junior year in collage, a period of 11 or 12 years. There was a time I played about 5 hours a day so, while not at a professional level, I was pretty good.

    Fast-forward about mumble mumble years later (OK, about 20 years) and I’m interested in picking up the trumpet again. Problem is I sold my trumpet about 10 years ago .

    What should I be looking for when I buy a new trumpet? I’m obviously not going to be playing with the BSO any time soon, but I would like to play with some intermediate level ensembles once I get my chops back up. I can get an intermediate level/top student model from a known brand for about the same price of a pro model from a lesser known brand (I spent, 25 years ago, more for my old trumpet, so with inflation…). Anyway, any advice....
    Trent P. McDonald

  2. #2

    Re: Seeking Advice on Trumpet (real thing)

    I say this...

    Go to a used music shop and try out every horn there.

    I've never been of the mindset that you need a particular "level" of instrument immediately. What you'll want right away is a horn that's comfortable in your hands (weight/balance) and that sounds appealing to your ears. If it keeps you playing, then it keeps you learning.

    I got my cornet this way. I had no price in mind: it just so happened that the one I liked best came in at $139 or so. Lucky me! You'll have your own preferences and price in mind, but it's likely that the shop will have something right for you.

    Once you find that you're getting your chops back (and prove that your commitment is still there!), then you'll have a better understanding of the limitations of your current horn and thus a better idea of what to shop for as your next step. Since you bought your old horn used, you can sell it back for a good percentage of what you paid originally. And if you look for your next horn in the used shop, sometimes they even give you more value in trade.

    Also as you advance, mouthpiece choice will become more important. Of course, many players will tell you that it's *the* most important choice and that you should get the right mouthpiece immediately so that your embouchure remains consistent and you don't "learn wrong". However, this is also sort of counter to my "buy used" strategy, as ideally the mouthpiece should be matched to the character of the horn.

    I've always just used the mouthpiece that came with the instrument, but I just play for fun and occasional recording on my own projects. If you take lessons, then the teacher should be able to help you with selection.

    Above all, just go for it. All the mumble mumble years in between won't make it any less fun! Heck, I started learning valved brass instruments in my late 20's from scratch (after being a trombonist into university) and it's been very rewarding: given the cheap availability of decent quality instruments, I'd encourage anyone to give it a go!

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  3. #3

    Re: Seeking Advice on Trumpet (real thing)

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd
    Slightly OT -

    What should I be looking for when I buy a new trumpet? I’m obviously not going to be playing with the BSO any time soon, but I would like to play with some intermediate level ensembles once I get my chops back up. I can get an intermediate level/top student model from a known brand for about the same price of a pro model from a lesser known brand (I spent, 25 years ago, more for my old trumpet, so with inflation…). Anyway, any advice....

    Trent, I have a very real feel for where you are in this -- I am a "comeback" player who'se been back on the horn for about three years. One piece of advice I can offer you is don't buy a cheapie student horn. That being said, there are some student horns that would be good options if you're on a tight budget. One of the best is the Olds Ambassador, which you can find in fairly large quantities on eBay. Prices vary with condition, demand, and the phases of the moon... but you can usually find one that's not pretty but is perfectly playable for under $100. I know of guys who play ambassadors and prefer them to pro horns -- really!.

    When I started playing again, I got out an old Yamaha student horn (YTR-232) and, at first, It could play much better than I could . I remembered a bit of advice I got about not buying cheap instruments when I was trying to learn guitar... "I know more people with cheap guitars in their closets than I know people who play guitar. It's hard to learn on a good instrument, and almost impossible on a bad one." I hunted around and bought a used pro horn, and the difference was incredible. A great horn won't make a poor player a better player, but a poor horn will make it hard for an improving player to get better. There's a balance point between high-dollar and cheapie, and that's the best place to be, in my experience.

    A great resource for researching horn options is Jim Donaldson's "Trumpet Gearhead" site: http://www.dallasmusic.org/gearhead/ . Jim has a great section on selecting a pro horn, and on the difference between pro and student horns.

    Don't overlook the importance of the right mouthpiece. Having the right one that really fits you and your chops is as important (or maybe moreso) than a good horn. I've tried a lot of different things over the past three years, and have settled on GR mouthpieces, made by Gary Radtke. Their website is http://www.grmouthpieces.com . Fill out the mouthpiece questionairre and Brian Scriver will email you back with some recommendations on a good place for you to start. If you're near one of their dealers, you can contact them and they'll work with you as well. GR mouthpieces aren't cheap, but they're worth every dime IMHO.

    Once you're getting your chops back and you feel like you're ready, I highly suggest that you find a group to play with -- a community band, brass band, or the like. I joined a brass band about 16 months ago, and it's been the best thing I ever did for myself as a musician. It's challenged me, for sure, and the band has also been a great source of encouragement and support.

    If you can afford to buy any horn you want, then there are a lot of choices out there and you can spend as much as you have available... just don't find yourself thinking that the right horn can be a shortcut on the road back (I got caught in that trap for a while). The formula is still the same... practice, practice, practice! Great horns are great horns, but it's still the rule... practice, practice, practice, and don't let yourself get discouraged!

    FWIW, I've developed a pretty good collection of horns over the past three years. In fact, when I was rolling my Soundwear triple case out of church one Sunday not long ago, someone commented on it and I realized that I had more money tied up in my 4 main horns than I do in my vehicle! Yeesh! I have a Conn Vintage One Bb trumpet (1BR-46R), a Conn 51B C trumpet, a Conn Vintage One flugelhorn (1FR) in that case, and a Yamaha YCR-6335HS cornet that I play in my Brass Band (a British-style brass band).

    One other resource you might check out is a site called The Trumpet Herald -- http://www.trumpetherald.com... Enough information and discussion to put you into overload, and a marketplace where you can find some good horns (and a few not-so-good ones)

    Whatever you do, Trent, get yourself a horn and play it with all your heart. I like GPO, but it's no substitute for putting the horn to your lips and singing through it with your heart!

    Enjoy!

    D.
    "He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds"
    --Psalm 147:3

  4. #4
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Trumpet (real thing)

    Trent,

    I agree with the others. Get a good horn. By showing interest in getting back to playing, you're going to be more aware of what bad habits to avoid. Don't let a bad horn cause additional problems for you. You probably don't have to buy something brand new. Contact some other trumpet players in your area. Try different instruments out. See what feels good. If you're not sure if you're going to stick with it, rent something for a few months.

    When I stopped playing about 10 years ago, I sold my flugel and piccolo. But I kept my Bach Strad. I take it out about once a year now just to laugh at myself.

    Jeff

  5. #5

    Re: Seeking Advice on Trumpet (real thing)

    Quote Originally Posted by dancase
    Trent, I have a very real feel for where you are in this -- I am a "comeback" player who'se been back on the horn for about three years. One piece of advice I can offer you is don't buy a cheapie student horn. That being said, there are some student horns that would be good options if you're on a tight budget. One of the best is the Olds Ambassador, which you can find in fairly large quantities on eBay. Prices vary with condition, demand, and the phases of the moon... but you can usually find one that's not pretty but is perfectly playable for under $100. I know of guys who play ambassadors and prefer them to pro horns -- really!.

    D.
    This is good advice - of the student models the Olds Ambassadors have a sort of 'legendary' status.
    I would advise looking for a used pro horn - they aren't called 'pro' for nothing, they are more playable instruments - it will actually make things easier for you as a 'come back' player.
    I am actually in the same situation, my trumpet biography would read almost identically to yours. After some searching I was able to identify a beautiful top quality vintage Conn that was practically being given away. I am able to get sounds and high notes on this thing that I was never able to on the rather awful and mistreated instruments my schools had (and obviously I had much more practice back them - I don't have much time to play these days... ).

  6. #6
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Trumpet (real thing)

    Thanks everyone. I'm giving up my original plan of buying from an on-line discount music store and I'll try to find something used locally. I've called a few stores and found one that has a few pro level trumpets in stock - unfortunately they are 30 miles the opposite direction from work.

    My intention is to start playing in an ensemble as soon as possible. I think actually playing with real musicians should help my composing considerably. Not to mention it should be fun.
    Trent P. McDonald

  7. #7

    Re: Seeking Advice on Trumpet (real thing)

    Since you are trumpet lovers, here a nice "photo link" from the Zeus atelier:

    http://www.zacharymusic.com/Zachary_...900Factory.htm

    Enjoy it!
    Marcelo Colina

  8. #8

    Re: Seeking Advice on Trumpet (real thing)

    Very nice tour! Thanks!

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  9. #9
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
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    Re: Seeking Advice on Trumpet (real thing)

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd
    Slightly OT -

    I played trumpet from 6th grade up until my junior year in collage, a period of 11 or 12 years. There was a time I played about 5 hours a day so, while not at a professional level, I was pretty good.

    Fast-forward about mumble mumble years later (OK, about 20 years) and I’m interested in picking up the trumpet again. Problem is I sold my trumpet about 10 years ago .

    What should I be looking for when I buy a new trumpet? I’m obviously not going to be playing with the BSO any time soon, but I would like to play with some intermediate level ensembles once I get my chops back up. I can get an intermediate level/top student model from a known brand for about the same price of a pro model from a lesser known brand (I spent, 25 years ago, more for my old trumpet, so with inflation…). Anyway, any advice....

    Well, my cornet gets very little usage lately. But I do think the right mouthpiece is extremely important. This is your immediate contact with the music, and can drastically change the character of the horn and your performance. So I would suggest trying any potential instrument with various mouthpieces. The most common size seems to be Bach 7, but depth of cup will be an important choice. I like the 7a. I like the Schilke 11E better, but it is harder to manage. Obviously, I prefer the mellower tone! My favorite mouthpiece has been reposing on the bottom of Yokahama Harbor for about 53 years. If you are a scuba diver, and in the neighborhood, you could try to find it.


    Richard

    Richard
    Last edited by rwayland; 04-27-2005 at 06:45 PM. Reason: typo

  10. #10

    Re: Seeking Advice on Trumpet (real thing)

    Quote Originally Posted by rwayland
    My favorite mouthpiece has been reposing on the bottom of Yokahama Harbor for about 53 years.
    My favorite trombone mouthpiece got accidentally returned with a loaner horn from OSU music department and they weren't able to find it for me! ::cry::

    Oh, the sorrow of loves lost, eh?

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

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