Accurate tuning - advice requested

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BJA, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. BJA

    BJA New Friend

    Aug 18, 2009

    As a fairly new trumpet player, I am hoping that someone can either offer me advice or direct me to the answer. I have searched the forums and not come across the same question.

    I am familiar and competent at tuning the main slide to get the overall pitch of the open valve notes. However, it seems to follow that the slides on the valves should also be tuned to obtain the correct distance of tubing for each valve position interval, but I cannot find this written anywhere, since the tuning guides I have found online talk about tuning the main slide.

    Therefore, my questions are:
    a) am I right that I should be tuning the other two slides, to counteract temperature, tuning changes, etc, rather than relying on tuning the main slide?


    b) what are the best notes to use to tune the other slides? I have been using Bb and Ab?

    All advice, criticism and help gratefully received.


  2. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vidin, Bulgaria

    Feel most welcome (I saw your intro thread as well). Now, main tuning slide purpose is general tuning of the instrument. The other too movable slides are used for "fine" tuning. It is a very personal thing, as there is no 2 players with same intonation tendencies. First of all, trust your years. Explore how your instrument and yourself a behaving intonation wise and use those 2 slides to correct sharp notes. The most popular notes to correct are: low C# and D (below the stuff), High A (1 ledger line above the stuff). These slides are used to LOWER notes. If you need to raise the intonation of some notes, you will either lip them up or use ALTERNATIVE FINGERINGS.

  3. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    It is usually the bottom notes with 23, 13 combinations, perhaps 123.
    There are many threads discussing this point. It does change to a degree when you warm up, but use a digital tuner to help you, if you do not trust you ears.
  4. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    I am personally averse to using any electronic tuning device for any single instrument. It is better to tune to an accompanying piano or organ, which cannot be tuned 'on the fly' like a trumpet, cornet, etc.. In the event that the trumpeter is playing in an ensemble, his/her trumpet MUST BE in tune with that ensemble, even if that ensemble is out of tune with any form of electronic tuning device.

    In addition to the above, temperature variances will drastically alter the tuning and intonation of any brass instrument. In the cold of a northern winter when a trumpet has ridden in a relatively cold car until it is cold soaked it will have shrunk in overall length, thus making it play a bit sharp. After that same horn has warmed up in a rehearsal hall or concert room it will start to play a bit flat. Constant adjustment of tuning to the ensemble is an absolute.

    My Conn 2B trumpet has both a ring to adjust the 3rd valve slide and a spring loaded trigger to adjust the first valve slide. I rarely use either of these, except for slightly sharp long tones. I usually just revert to my ancient training and simply "lip em into tune" on the short notes.

    Last edited: Aug 18, 2009
  5. rahorstjr

    rahorstjr New Friend

    Jun 23, 2009
    I think there is some good advice above, as well as some things I would disagree with.
    1. An electronic tuning device is not a bad instrument when working on your own. You can see the natural tendencies of the horn, one note from another. I agree with the concept that it really is not what you want to use in an ensemble, except to tune your horn, ie: the main tuning of the open horn, AND the entire ensemble is tuning to the same calabration (A=440, A=442, etc.).
    2. Please do not "lip it", meaning, changing your embouchure to get the correct intonation, when you can fix it with the 1st and/or 3rd valve slides. This process causes your tone to suffer and be inconsistent. These are two very important thing every trumpet player should be working for, not against (Good beautiful sound, consistency of tone). To take that concept further, you could never touch your tuning slide, or any other slide and lip everything in tune, but you're hurting your final product, and most likely the ears of anyone listening.
    3. Your question of when/how to use your slides is excellent. Someone above said you must listen and use them accordingly. GREAT ADVICE! Also, as a rule of thumb, when you are between middle C and 2nd line G, and are using the 1st or 3rd valve (alone or in combination with others) you will probably notice pitch issues. You can practice this concept a number of ways.
    A. Play open G (2nd line), than play it 1/3. Manipulate your slides to get the pitch to match.
    B. Play a C scale down from 3rd line to middle C. Play it slowly enough to hear each pitch in tune. When you get to the D, you may hear it less full and clear then the other notes. That is because it is not in tune, or you are lipping it in tune. Again, at that point, manipulate your slides to where you have the same beautiful sound as the other pitches.
    These are physical exercises as well as an aural (listening) ones. They are examples that can/should be adapted for other notes including C#/Db, E, Eb
    It is always great to see someone trying to get the most out of their musical experiences. I wish you well. It's never bad to ask for advice. I'd even recommend finding a teacher who can give you live feedback in real time.
    Have fun!
  6. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Hi Lou,
    I agree with you about tuning, however it is more about having a relative point to understand where to use the slides. So BJA cannot trust his ears in the early stages, so a tuner will give that reference. In a band/group setting, of course we blend and tune as directed/required.

  7. BJA

    BJA New Friend

    Aug 18, 2009
    Thank you for the advice, I have gone throught all the comments carefully. I have a digital tuner, although I am reasonable at hearing the notes "by ear". I will experiment with the valve slide tuning based upon the advice above.

    To RAHORSTJR - I have made arrangements for a music teacher colleague to tutor me, but it will be a few months before he gets an available slot. Until then I am flying solo.

    Thanks to all

  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Do a search on "drones" here. That is my recipe.
  9. whathefayla

    whathefayla New Friend

    Jan 15, 2009
    Burbank, CA
    Second the drones thought. Wonderful way to "feel" your intonation and play long tones at the same time.

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