Does it take playing skill on the trumpet to be able to select good equipment?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Spideriffic, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. Spideriffic

    Spideriffic New Friend

    Aug 16, 2009
    Plainview, NY
    I've been playing for about a half century or so. I've always struggled to play the trumpet. I've always had limited range, tone and endurance. I think that I have bad habits that are difficult (impossible?) to break at this point. I've stuck with it because, despite my difficulties, I love to play. My understanding is that an instrument and a mouthpiece are always going to be a compromise. If the mouthpiece aids you in one aspect of playing, you'll lose in some other way. So, unless you're a specialist, you go with middle of the road equipment. I also think, correct me if I'm wrong, that it requires a certain degree of chops to be able to play several instruments or mouthpieces in a row, and discern the subtle differences between them. Whenever I've encountered a colleague that said "wow, check it out, this horn is great" I've tried it and could hardly tell the difference between that horn and any other. What I'm getting at - is it worth it for me to pursue finding a trumpet or a mouthpiece that's "just right for me"? Does it make that much of a difference? Or is my time and energy better spent in just pursuing better practice and playing technique? I've played on a Bach 7C mouthpiece for most of my life. I have a Benge MLP trumpet, and also a Bach Strad. Any comments on the particular equipment that I use? How long will a trumpet last? Do you have to replace a trumpet, even a really good one, just because it will wear out over time? Thanks for responses.
  2. Newell Post

    Newell Post Piano User

    Mar 31, 2014
    Silicon Valley
    1. You already have good pro-level horns, so switching horns won't help fix "limited range, tone and endurance."
    2. You should only switch horns if you have a very specific need and know exactly which hardware might address it.
    3. You might try a different mouthpiece. Bach 3C (or equivalent) might help with endurance, but probably not with range or tone.
    4. Trumpets do eventually wear out, but it takes a long time. Even in daily, heavy-duty professional use, playing many hours per day, most pro-level horns will last 25 years with minimal repairs.
  3. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    Ya just gotta practice alot!
  4. Tjnaples

    Tjnaples Piano User

    Aug 30, 2013
    It is my assertion the more mature the musician/artist becomes with technique and sound concept (classical, jazz, bright, dark etc.), the more discerning in equipment and sound design one will experience. Equipment helps to amplify your sound as a musician and then you can progress from there.
  5. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    Me too.

    Comparing different instruments and mouthpiece/trumpet combinations is yet another skill that requires both practise and a method. Just picking up a new instrument and hammering through a tune on it is no better than assessing a car by aiming a few kicks at its tyres.

    I tend to collect instruments that have marked differences in design and sound concept. Some I take to very quickly; some take years before I start to really get the hang of them. Eventually I find that I prefer each for particular styles of music (the Yamaha for most classical, Wild Thing for '30s swing band stuff etc) and start playing each in different ways that work well for me for that particular instrument and genre. So what are at first minor differences in tone, flexibility and resistances characteristics become major differences in how I eventually approach the instrument. This doesn't mean I can't play Prince of Denmark's March on the Severinsen (actually it's pretty good on that one) but it wouldn't be the first instrument I reach for. And a good part of this choice is psychological!

    Basically if I read a post where someone has 'tested' a professional level instrument X in a shop and then claims that it's rubbish compared to instrument Y, then I pretty much automatically assume that they're talking from where the sun doesn't shine. I've seen too many beat up no-name trumpets played really well for this to be true.

    To be honest when I look at a new instrument, I look at its mechanical condition, check that it's octaves and fifths are near enough in tune to work with, and that's about it. Maybe some here are skilled enough to pick up on some minor but 'vital' feature but I'm not one of them and I'm pretty sure that's true of most.

    Don't worry about it.
    gunshowtickets likes this.
  6. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    In my experience beginners have been able to discern the difference between trumpets, especially if they are not spooked out by someone saying they cannot. In the development of my trumpets and mouthpiece I took very seriously the reactions of very inexperienced players as well as those of top professionals.
  7. Comeback

    Comeback Forte User

    Jun 22, 2011
    Fort Wayne, IN
    You possess what is most important for trumpet playing success; you love to play. We ask it so frequently that it becomes tiresome, but do you have a good teacher? What do you do when you practice? It is hard to buy trumpeting proficiency. Gear works around the edges. The core or bulk of what makes a good trumpet player is the player himself. Concerning gear, should you elect to experiment you will probably find that mouthpiece choice is more important than the trumpet. A great many of us started on a mouthpiece in the Bach 7C range and have ended up playing something in the Bach 3C range, but this certainly may not be what is right for you. Good luck.

  8. Gendreauj

    Gendreauj Piano User

    Aug 26, 2013
    As a beginning cornet/trumpet player for two years. I have found the mouthpiece does make a big difference. My first lesson, my instructor had me buy a Bach 3 C. The 7C was to small. Later I bought a Bach 3 B and then a Denis Wick 3B. After using the Denis Wick, I sold the Bach. Have owned a Denis Wick 1.5 trumpet mouthpiece, loved it. Now I am playing cornets. In my short time playing have owned 3 trumpets and 7 cornets. I can hear the difference between the beginning and professional horns.

    Buy difference sizes and brands off ebay. I like Denis Wick and Curry mouthpieces.

    Conn 17 A cornet 1963
    Conn 34 A cornet 1990
    Denis Wick 3 Heritage mp
    Denis Wick 3B cornet mp
    Kelly plastic mp
  9. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Hi Spideriffic,
    Welcome to TM, and you ask some good questions.

    Hardware: Bach Strad and Benge MLP are very good horns. If maintained well, they will do a lifetime of work for you. You could take them out of a case and play in any setting, and no-one will question the pro level horns, Maybe you can give them to a good tech to check and service the instrument - valve alignment, all slides working etc. Maybe get a clean done.

    Mouthpiece: 7C is a solid mouthpiece, Only change with good advice, there will always be a honeymoon period where a new mouthpiece will be great, but you need to take time - so a lot of time and money chasing mouthpieces,

    My only advice is to listen to the players you like, and listen to them ALL the time - in the car, on the toilet, reading the paper etc. Get the sound you want in your head. You LOve to play - so have fun.

    Now some questions back to you.
    1. Do you play with any regular bands, or groups?
    2. Do you have access to a good teacher, or a good player that can look at you, and critique your sound?
    3.. Do you have a regular practice regime?

    If we know these answers, it will help with the advice.
  10. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Tough question, and only you can answer this one. Let me attempt to start you toward an answer by more questions. How passionate are you about the trumpet? How much time do you have to invest in a day to play the trumpet? Time investment to playing is more precious than any financial investment in purchasing a horn. But if you put the time into it and the experience follows the passion, then yes I am hopeful it will be worth your effort to pursue finding a trumpet or a mouthpiece that's just right for the HORN, which the will make it just right for you.

    The right mouthpiece with the right horn does make a difference to me.

    Yes this too is true as from this experience you will better appreciate the quality and ability of each horn/mouthpiece combination that you have.

    If you can play to your goals on these pieces and trumpet combinations then my comment is that it is working for you at your current place and time. But trumpet playing is a dynamic and I cannot predict your future. I played on a Bach 10-1/2 c for the first 30 years of my playing career, then moved on to mouthpieces that better work with my new understanding of the physics of a trumpet and I have never looked back. In fact I have no freeking idea where that 10-1/2 c mouthpiece is anymore.

    I have a 1940 Olds Super Recording. It is in as good of shape as my 2012 Kanstal. Wish I could say the same about my 1955 body.

    No. Never

    You're welcome.

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