piccolo trumpet tuning problems

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpet guy, May 6, 2008.

  1. Trumpet guy

    Trumpet guy Forte User

    Feb 9, 2008
    Hi all. I just recently picked up a Berkeley Wind piccolo trumpet as a starting point in learning to play. Now as, i play, i notice something was weird with the chromatic scale so I checked all the notes (first with my ear, then piano, then tuner) and every time the G# turned out extremely flat (about 1/5 to 1/6 a tone above the G). This was true for both the lower and upper octave G#. However the Eb is perfectly in tune, as are most of the other notes (low G and F# are extremely flat). Also when i go above the low G, the 4th valve suddenly lowers the note by a major third instead of a perfect fourth.

    Are these common to piccolo trumpets, or is it the construction? It seems that no amount of lip bending can get the notes in tune.
  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    It could be a lot of things. Our choice of mothpiece can easily cause low, middle and high notes to be out of tune with one another. The octaves may be too small or too large. How far out the leadpipe is tuned and the resulting gap can change intonation. With Bb/A piccolos, it is a common practice to build the second slide a little too short for the instrument in A and a bit too long for the instrument in Bb. Our heads can mess us up, too. If we are fingering a g 13, our heads tend to think "oh, yeah, a low g--that's easy!" This can cause the note to be undersupported. The fourth valve only lowers the open instrument down a 4th--any valve combination with the fourth valve will be sharp. The piccolo tends to magnify our weaknesses.

    Hard stuff, playing in tune on any piccolo, and, uhh, I haven't seen any big name endorsements for the Berkeley Piccolo.

    Good luck!
  3. Trumpet guy

    Trumpet guy Forte User

    Feb 9, 2008
    Well the mouthpiece is the factory mouthpiece. The lead pipe was all the way in (but i did try all distances, even pulling the A slide all the way out and inserting my normal trumpet mouthpiece with its much too large shank - lowering the instrument to G) and the low 2 3 fingering was ended up dead in tune as a concert D (transposed low G). So far the leadpipe has only taken the factory mouthpiece. My trumpet mouthpiece is too big and my cornet mouthpiece is too small.
    As far as support goes, I feel I am using the proper support (since the low G on the picc is the middle G on the trumpet). The 2 3 fingering comes out with a clear tone, it's just that it's a sharp G (about 10 to 15 cents) instead of a G#. As I said earlier this problem also echoes in the higher G# as well. (although with recent fiddling around I have found the 3rd valve fixes this problem for 2 3).

    Anyway, I'm a high school student on a budget. I'll probably get a Stomvi or a Thein when I have enough skill and money.
  4. Trumpet guy

    Trumpet guy Forte User

    Feb 9, 2008
    turns out switching to A fixes the middle register but the lower register still requires the 3rd valve alone.

    edit: figured out the leadpipe is for cornet mouthpiece
    Last edited: May 6, 2008
  5. bagmangood

    bagmangood Forte User

    Piccolo tuning can be a pain to get used to, particularly with a not-so-high level piccolo. Have a lot of breath support (not necessarily all going to the horn) and control and you'll play as in tune as you can on the horn
  6. Trumpet guy

    Trumpet guy Forte User

    Feb 9, 2008
    thanks. But I think a lot of these problems I'm mentioning have to do with the equipment. the 23 combination happens to slot a half step down from where it's supposed to.

    And this is all tested below the A one line above the staff (for regular trumpet)

    When I play chromatic down from C it goes

    In order to get the Ab I need to use just 3 (not 23) My question is How does this happen when the Eb is perfectly in tune?
  7. bagmangood

    bagmangood Forte User

    Is the third slide out at all? This is the only reason i can think of,
    maybe someone with more experience can chime in?
  8. Trumpet guy

    Trumpet guy Forte User

    Feb 9, 2008
    No. all slides are completely in.
  9. stchasking

    stchasking Forte User

    Jun 11, 2006
    Berkley is a Chinese trumpet. You should not have any expectation that the horn plays well or is in tune.
  10. GordonH

    GordonH Mezzo Forte User

    May 15, 2005
    One of the main problems on cheap instruments is lack of deburring (according to the repairer who looks after my instruments).
    Another issue is things being forced to fit so there is tension on the parts of the instrument.

    However, piccolo trumpets do have a fairly narrow bandwidth of notes that are in tune.
    If you tune it for the top end to be in tune the botom end probably won't be.
    The monette piccolo trumpet mouthpieces do seem to improve this as do the blackburn leadpipes, but they are both expensive things.

    I used to play very low on the note and had real problems getting any piccolo trumpet to adjust. The slides could never go in far enough.
    You might want to try a different mouthpiece in it as this can change the pitch.
    A good old 7c Bach is not a bad starting point.

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