Discerning between Cornet Trumpet Flugelhorn

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BrassFriend, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. BrassFriend

    BrassFriend New Friend

    Jan 29, 2010
    Greetings! I have some questions regarding measurements in order to discern more easily from a Cornet to Trumpet to Flugelhorn. This all started when I acquired a very used cornet, but now I am not sure what I have exactly. I noticed that cornets in general tend to have a 4 1/2 inch bell. This one looks like a cornet but has a 5 inch bell. I noticed that Flugelhorns run about a 6 or plus inch bell. But yet, when I read online there seems to be various ranges of bell sizes altogether. I also perceive (I do not own one - yet) that flugelhorns have more length to them???
    Okay, with that being said, I would like to inquire, what are the obvious points to quickly discern between a Trumpet, Cornet, and Flugelhorn? Please pardon my ignorance, but suddenly I am not sure how to identify them anymore. I see so many of these instruments online now and so many different loops of brass tubing styled differently, I am getting confused. I do know that cornets and flugelhorns taper whereas the trumpet is more evenly tubed throughout, but now I am wondering about other features to take note of when identifying one from another online.
    For example, also, I see some cornets that have really long valves, where others are a bit shorter. Does this make a difference?
    Are there some cornets with a lot larger bells? And the same with the other two?
    What is it exactly that is key in separating each instrument?
    Thanks so very kindly.
    I am so very glad that this forum exists to help with these questions!
    Thank you in advance!
    Blessings to all of you!!!!!!!!!
  2. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    A true flugel directs the leaderpipe into the first valve and then the second, followed by the third, from which the elongated bellpipe exits. The tuning method is in the adjustable length of the mouthpiece receiver. Cornets and trumpets direct the leaderpipe from the mouthpice receiver through an adjustable slide to change primary pitch, and thus into the third valve, from whence it travels consecutively to and through the second valve, and finally into the bellpipe. All of them are 'somewhat' conical in construction with the flugel the most so. The primary design trait of a flugel is that the tuning adjustment occurs before the valves, while 'MOST' trumpets and cornets tune after the valves. There are radical variances to these prime design features, like tunable bell pipes, etc. found on various horn designs. The only major difference between 'modern' cornets and trumpets is the overall lengthvariance between them. 'Modern trumpets' are just misshapen cornets, or the other way about, depending upon your choices.

  3. BrassFriend

    BrassFriend New Friend

    Jan 29, 2010
    Greetings Old Lou,
    Wow, I did not know that. Thank ye kindly.
    Do you happen to know how much longer the length of the tubing is on a flugel horn versus a cornet? Is there a tube length difference? I am assuming there is??? And what about the bell sizes? Is there any standard size? Are there certain set ranges? And what do the various bell sizes achieve?
    Any information is greatly appreciated by me.
    Thanks again!
    God bless you.
  4. trumpetup

    trumpetup Piano User

    Jan 12, 2009
    Godley, Texas
    Hello BrassFriend,
    A Yamaha 2310 and 321 cornet have large 5 1/4" bells. Look at web sites that sell trumpets, cornets, and flugelhorns to see the general differences. As oldlou pointed out there are some unusual cornets that look like trumpets. But this will be a good general starting point. http://www.wwbw.com/Brass-Instruments.wwbw
    Good Luck,
  5. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    They are all the same pitch (as long as you're talking about Bb instruments), so the length of the tubing is the same in all three. They are wrapped differently, so a trumpet usually looks longer than a cornet. Generally, a flugel has a very short leadpipe (in this example, by leadpipe, I mean the tubing from the mouthpiece receiver all the way to the valve) and a very long bell; a trumpet has a longer leadpipe and shorter bell - almost equal length; and a cornet has a very long leadpipe and a very short bell. You can generalize about the shapes of the 3, but there are many exceptions. Flugels generally have much larger, fatter bells than either trumpets or cornets. The bigger the bell, the more mellow the sound...but that's also a generality. Here's another one that's usually true - each type of horn takes its own mouthpiece size. A trumpet mouthpiece won't fit in a cornet, and won't fit correctly into a flugel, and so on.
  6. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Follow the air flow -- a cornet makes 2 360-degree redirections of the air, a trumpet and flugelhorn each make 1 360-degree redirection of the air. A flugelhorn and a trumpet are very easy to tell apart, because you can't put a trumpet mouthpiece into a flugelhorn and you can't get a flugelhorn mouthpiece to work in a trumpet with some masking tape to get it to stay in the receiver. :-)
  7. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Brassfriend, the previous posters are all correct. But, as you can see from just the few posts so far, there is already a large amount of variation - and we have not even begun to scratch the surface of this issue. There is probably no precise answer. You just need to read enough and look at enough instruments that you start to create your own personal mental database about all of this.

    The problem is two-fold: historical and marketing.
    Historical: Many people have - and continue to - research the history of brass instruments to determine exactly how the different forms evolved and which "branch" of the brass family different instruments followed. From what I have read, there is no consensus regarding how the families developed over the years. So, to some extent, a given instrument can be classified as a trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn or even trombone (or ?) depending on which part you look at. There are literally thousands of variations in design and no two follow exactly the same path.

    Marketing: As with any product, different designers/manufacturers have - and still do - try to come up the "latest and greatest" features and will play with all sorts of combinations of bends, turns, sizes, shapes and materials to try and gain an edge. In the process, they give all sorts of names to these creations with little regard for whether the name is consistent with any pre-established pattern. So, the manufacturer's sales brochure may or may not give you any help. There is a video on the website of our member of NickD (link at the bottom) playing a "bass trumpet" but it, for all the world, sounds just like a valve trombone and looks like a marching trombone. What is the difference? Whatever the manufacturerer called it. There are many other examples of that on this forum. I, for one, have a vintage cornet that looks exactly like a trumpet but it is classified as a cornet. Why? (I'll answer that below).

    Summary: Obviously, all of the above is of no real help - but just gives some broad perspective about the arena in which you ask the question. So, I will try to boil it down to a few key items:
    Bell size - this has no bearing on the "family" there are trumpets, cornets, flugelhorns and many others with large bells, small bells, medium bells, etc. This has very little bearing on the identification.
    Bore size - This has no bearing. Generally cornets will have a bit larger bore than a comparable trumpet but again, there is really no rule here. Any one can have small bore, medium bore or large bore - depending on what the designer was trying to accomplish.
    Valve length - This has no bearing. Some cornets will have longer valve casings because of the way the wrapped pipes are anchored to the casings but again there is no rule. Olds advertised the longer valve casings as simply a feature that made holding the instrument easier. (My aforementioned cornet has very short valve casings).
    Taper (conical vs cylindrical) - As you mentioned, the general rule is that flugelhorns have the most conical shape, cornets have more moderate conical shape and trumpets are "cylindrical". But, again, there are many exceptions to all of this rule as well. (My aforementioned cornet is just as cylindrical as any trumpet).

    So, then what really makes the difference? I have to agree with Dale Proctor - at the very end of his post he says the mouthpiece makes the difference. So, this is the answer to the issue about my cornet. It looks like a trumpet, is shaped like a trumpet, plays like a trumpet and sounds like a trumpet. So, why is it a cornet? Because the designer called it a cornet and designed it to take a cornet mouthpiece. That is all. And, that is the only real consensus that you will find on this forum. I believe the bass trumpet is classified as a trumpet and not a marching trombone because it uses a trumpet mouthpiece rather than a trombone mouthpiece.

    I hope this has not discouraged you. But, I thought it would be useful to have some perspective about why you seem to be confused and continue to run into seemingly contratdictory views about this issue.

    Link to NickD's video (look at the end part of lesson #3):Nick Drozdoff :: Online Lessons

    Here is an anomoly - see if you can figure why this is listed as a flugelhorn (Hint-it uses a Flugel MP):

    Why is this Alcazar (Conn 90A) a cornet? (it has a cylindrical - not conical - bore) - Hint- it uses a cornet MP:

    Hmmm - In going back and reviewing Nick's video, I realized that it appears that the bass trumpet is using a trombone mouthpiece - so I guess that shoots my theory in the head. Oh well, back to the drawing board.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  8. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    The flugelhorn which looks like a cornet is a flugelhorn because of the very open wrap into the large bell with the flare which starts way back before the bend. It also has essentially 1 360-degree wrap from mouthpiece to bell, except there's a bend in it where it comes out of the 3rd valve.

    The cornet which looks like a trumpet is actually a cornet because the air flow wraps around 2 360-degree wraps.
  9. nieuwguyski

    nieuwguyski Forte User

    Aug 9, 2004
    Santa Cruz County, CA
    So the Martin Committee flugelhorn is really a cornet,

    Martin Committee Flugelhorn

    the Conn 28A cornet is really a trumpet,

    The Conn Loyalist

    the Eclipse Equinox is really a cornet,


    and all pocket trumpets are more cornet-like than most cornets (three 360-degree wraps)?
  10. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    You've got me there -- except the pocket trumpet, which is really none of the three that the original person asked about. It's not quite sounding like a trumpet, and not quite sounding like a cornet, it's in a class by itself.

    Anybody can call any instrument anything they want, so ultimately, the answer to the original question is that there is no way to know the difference except to read the publicity from the people making the instrument. :-)

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