how to tune a trumpet!!! help please!!!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by lpuppy79, Feb 20, 2010.

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  1. guyclark

    guyclark Piano User

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    Feb 28, 2008
    Los Gatos, CA
    HI, Guys!

    At the risk of stepping into another religious discussion, I'd like to describe how I tune a new horn, one whose tendencies are not yet known to me.

    I first warm the horn and my chops up by playing it for a few minutes. Long tones are good. With a good electronic tuner, running, I play an open, in-the-staff C WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE TUNER YET! I play the note until I feel that I'm right where the horn wants to be. I then (while still playing) look at the tuner and see where I am. I then correct for the error with the tuning slide. I repeat the C without looking at the tuner and then when the horn feels good, I look again. I repeat these steps until the C keeps being in tune without my looking.

    If you look at the tuner WHILE tuning, you will correct for the errors by lipping them up or down, and negate the whole point of using the tuner in the first place!

    I then repeat the above steps on the other open notes, then on the second valve notes, the first valve notes, the 1 and 2 notes, etc.

    The key here (no pun intended) is to allow the horn to play in the middle of it's slot before trying to correct it with the tuning slide. I may find that keeping a pencil and paper record of the tendencies of the horn is a good thing to have. In general, however, once I'm familliar with a horn, I rely on my ear to play in tune with those around me, piano, orchestra, band, whatever.

    DON'T be one of those people who I see so often with a tuner on their stand all through rehearsal or concert, relying on it to tell them if they are in tune, because if they follow the tuner, they won't be! Some notes have to be flattened, some sharpened, in order to be in tune for the position in whatever chord is being played at that time. My wife knows all of these and can rattle them off if asked, I only know that it sounds right when I'm doing the right thing, and the correction is automatic and nearly instantaneous for me.

    Be aware, also, that using a mute will also likely alter your intonation. You need to know what direction the mute(s) affect your sound!

    I hope this helps!

    Guy Clark
    South Bay Brass
    Silicon Valley Brass Band - A Traditional British Brass Band
     
  2. Markie

    Markie Forte User

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    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Guy sez:
    DON'T be one of those people who I see so often with a tuner on their stand all through rehearsal or concert, relying on it to tell them if they are in tune, because if they follow the tuner, they won't be! Some notes have to be flattened, some sharpened, in order to be in tune for the position in whatever chord is being played at that time.
    -------------
    I have to agree 100%. I've seen people do this and it is something to be avoided.
    Very good point Guy!
     
  3. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Age:
    67
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    Dec 7, 2003
    Unless I have some pertinant information to add, I generally stay out of discussions. In this instance, I do have some thoughts on the subject of tuning.
    In the Bach Brass catalogue circa 1990, in the pitch and pitch adjustment area, it states Bach Bb trumpets are (at least were back then) built to have about a 9/16" pull to play at A = 440 in tune. This distance allowed for considerable adjustment for individual players. In my personal experience with Bach Bb trumpets, my slide was generally out to a 3/8" distance.
    Good manufacturers do build their trumpets to have a specific average pull out in mind and while some folks push in, others may pull out a bit.
    What one must bear in mind is intonation is affected by many different variables such as conditions in the venue playing in, lip intrusion into the cup itself, how the player is feeling that particular time and day, cup volume, throat size, backbore, and lip fatigue of the player during the performance, lesson, or practice session.
    I remembered the Maurice Murphy YouTube from 2008 and his discussion of a particular trumpet passage that was in the first part in the YouTube Symphony auditions. His tuning slide was out what appeared to be nearly an inch on his Bach trumpet. He was playing to the resonant spot for him and the horn. No one can argue about Mr. Murphy's stunning ability nor should anyone "think" he shouldn't have his slide that distance out.
    Here is the link and at the 53 second mark, you can see where his slide is. YouTube - LSO Masterclass - Trumpet
    Also, when using a tuner, how certain can you rely on a $50 tuner's microphone? This mic may have been a whole 40 cent expenditure and may easily overload resulting in a false reading of pitch. You could be spot on, but the distortion may "show" you are not in tune.
    My last point is simply this, how well in tune was your trumpet built? Even the very best horns can not be built in perfect tune, but the best do get quite close and require little adjustment.
    There are many other good postings here and I just thought I'd add my own experiences.
    Rich T.
     

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