"C" Trumpet Wonderings.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by paultandberg, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. paultandberg

    paultandberg New Friend

    Nov 25, 2006
    In the course of trying to learn a little bit about the whats, whys, and wheres of C trumpets in order to help me find a C trumpet for my kid, I have read several of this forum's archived C Trumpet threads. I have also read a bunch of other "general" trumpet threads. One question (of no import other than my own curiosity) has arisen:

    Why don't lead players that strive to play extremely high use C trumpets? (or do they?) I am not implying that "high is it" or that high is the goal for most trumpet players. But, being able to play extremely high leads does seem to be a goal for at least some players at some times. I have read discussions about seeking out thin but "hot" mouthpieces that sizzle out those really high licks. I have read discussions concerning techniques and horn mods that allow super high licks. And I have also read that a C trumpet, naturally, by its design, will play a step higher than a Bb horn. So, why wouldn't a player who wants to play extremely high licks (by ear, I'm assuming) use a C trumpet in order to, by trumpet magic, turn those high Cs into Ds and those high Ds into high Es, and those high Es into high Fs and, well, you get the picture.

    I mean, who would even know (in the audience, that is). The audience would be amazed at the seemingly effortless stream of unusually high notes coming out of the horn. If a trumpet player spends most of his time in the stratosphere and wants to zoom "to infinity and beyond", why not use a horn that has a built in advantage?

    Or do they.

    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  2. jjcousin

    jjcousin Pianissimo User

    Apr 21, 2011
    Cleveland, OH

    Even though is has less piping to make it a step higher, your lip / embouchure still has to "earn" that same frequency to make a particular note sound.
    In other words, when playing a C trumpet, when I want to play a high "C", I better prepare to play that note the EXACT SAME WAY I would if it were a D on my normal trumpet (Bb).

    Better yet, when playing the C, you have to adjust your embouchure to play EVERYTHING as though you were playing a step higher than you'd be on your Bb. Because of this, I don't like playing it as I really have to adjust my brain to make things sound without being inaccurate and missing notes).

    So, in reality there is no magic and you'd have the same range.
    As others may point out, there may be other factors that (to me) are insignificant to the explanation.

    A piccolo trumpet has 1/2 the tubing so is technically an OCTAVE higher, though you will NOT SOUND an octave higher than you normally could (let's not get into which octave you're really playing here).
    You probably WILL be able to play a LITTLE bit higher than normal because of the smaller bore and smaller mouthpiece you'd use to play the Picc (these are the insignificant issues in my previous statement about the C).

    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  3. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    To reinforce jjcoisin's post, the C trumpet doesn't play a step higher than a Bb...it is pitched a step higher, but it's up to you to play it a step higher. The magic of a C (or other higher-pitched) trumpet is: different sound, easier fingerings and/or transpositions, and less compression of the scale for a given series of higher notes.
  4. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    The most difficulty that comes to a player changing instrument keys IMO is embouchure and to some extent some can, some can't and some won't. Personally I've never played a C instrument or have a need to as I sight read the transposition from piano/hymnal/music for C instruments to play on Bb instruments, whereas I find it so simple by adding 2 sharps to whatever the C instrument music key signature is and playing two semitones (half steps) higher than what I'm looking at. Too, I've never known a player of a C trumpet to be a "screamer" on it. Likewise, I've never known a mouthpiece that will automaticaly allow a player to "scream" into the altissimo if they can't already do it on common mouthpieces, and I do have my own Lead 342 Assymmetric and Parduba 4.5 HJ mpcs. That said I've transposed the C piccolo part of The Stars and Stripes, Forever! to play on my Schilke P5-4 piccolo trumpet, and I've also transposed several violin parts.
  5. mchs3d

    mchs3d Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 30, 2005
    Provo, UT
    I play almost exclusively my C trumpet. I don't even particularly like playing Bb trumpets, although a good one is still fun to play. You just have to get used to it. But, it could never be used in Jazz Band because the sound is....undesirable in that setting.
  6. edfitzvb

    edfitzvb Forte User

    Jun 10, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    AS AN EXAMPLE.....
    I can't imagine playing Harlem Nocturne on a C trumpet. To me they are just a shade brighter (maybe it's just in my head, but I hear a difference.) C Trumpets are wonderful in orchestral settings, but they don't sound "right" in jazz, blues, R&B, et al. Different tools for different jobs. I thought the same as the OP until I found a C trumpet and quickly discovered JC's point. The only thing t5hat changes is the fingering and the sound/timbre.
  7. paultandberg

    paultandberg New Friend

    Nov 25, 2006
    Ok, wondering over. Everything said makes sense to me.

    To switch horses, (and this probably should be a different thread, but ...) I am having a great deal of fun with my son's trumpet playing (maybe more than he is, which is yet another thread), anyway, Gus is darn good and his teachers are pretty excited about him (he made All State Band as a 9th grader). He is getting solos in both concert band and jazz band. And I am very proud and enjoying it all immensely. To the point that now, having just purchased a C trumpet for him to go with his main horn, a Yamaha 8335G, I am already thinking about...

    ... buying him a Yamaha 8310Z Bobby Shew trumpet so that he can really light up the auditorium when his next jazz solo comes up (for me, it would be just like having my kid sink the game-winning basket in the championship game. I would linger in the auditorium afterwards, accepting the congratulations of other parents, perhaps looking for a moment to bring up my high school trombone fame, just as a casual aside...

    Which, ignoring my issues for the time being, does bring up some horn and kid issues. While fully granting that any type of music can be played on any type of horn, and that the music is in the player, not the golf club (whoops, another one of my issues, never mind), while granting all of that, would a Bobby Shew be a better/more fun horn for a good player holding down the top dog seat in a high school jazz band than a 8335 (heavier, concert-type, horn)? Or is it best to have him stick on one horn and learn it well (advice that also might apply to the spinning wheel of mouthpieces)?

    I do also have my pocketbook in mind, but it looks like there are used Bobby Shew Z's on the market ranging between $1,000-$1,500. And considering how much fun I'm having with this kid already, that amount seems almost reasonable, especially if it would a fun and useful instrument for him to have on hand, one that could, perhaps, open up some new music doors for him.

    Not everything has to be done right away, but, I am getting the trumpet bug.


    (kind, understanding, sensitive advice)

    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  8. A.N.A. Mendez

    A.N.A. Mendez Utimate User

    Oct 25, 2005
    Sunny Ca.
    If you haven't already, check out vintage prewar Olds super.... They peel paint.
  9. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    I tend to like a Bb that is lightweight--they offer a very broad sound pallet , and can be used in any situation. I should add that my C is heavier than my Bb, and my D trumpet even more so. As to the original post, C trumpets can work really well in a funk setting, and I've played some Gospel Masses that are part symphonic, part jazz, and the C works just fine.
  10. amzi

    amzi Forte User

    Feb 18, 2010
    Northern California
    Why not a Jupiter 1600i or a Schilke B6--in my opinion both are better lead horns than the Shew. But that's just my opinion. I use my Strad MLV as a lead horn but I'm not sure a lot of other people would. I'm just trying to say that you shouldn't lock in on a particular horn--your son needs to play many horns and figure out the one he wants to play.

Share This Page