Trumpet finishes and effect on brightness/darkness of tone

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Bwanabass, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. Bwanabass

    Bwanabass Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 20, 2013
    Syracuse, NY
    Hi all!

    With so many options in terms of finishes on trumpets these days, I was hoping that the experts could shed a little light on the subject for me. In terms of brightness/darkness, where on the tone spectrum would the various finished land?

    I know that there are many other variables, but generally speaking, are heavily lacquered horns darker than silver plated or raw finish trumpets? Is silver plate the brightest option out there, or does a raw finish outshine it? Then there are "antique" brushed, matte finishes... What impact does this have on brightness and tone?

    Problem is that I live in a smallish city, with only a couple stores that carry trumpets. Stock available to try includes Bach, Yamaha, Cannonball, but there are others out there that I would like to check out. The stores seem to carry silver plate exclusively, likely because it is the most popular seller, but I am very curious about other finishes that I should also consider.

    I recently returned to the land of trumpets, and my chops are coming back nicely, with daily practice. My ultimate goal is to get a small trio or four piece combo going for some regional gigging, so I am looking for a somewhat darker solo sound versus a screaming lead sound. Currently, the top of my range is around the high C, but I am working on it :)

    The Silver Flair has been doing well for me since addressing some slow valves, but I would eventually like a horn more suited for professional use.

    any thoughts?
  2. Richard Oliver

    Richard Oliver Forte User

    Jul 18, 2006
    Casper, WY
    There's a conventional wisdom to the finish question. I'll leave it to others to state it.

    Practically, especially for a hack like me, it doesn't matter. The sound "I" make overrides finishes.

    But it can be fun to talk about.

    Double blind studies and all that jazz.
  3. Conntribution

    Conntribution Fortissimo User

    Dec 25, 2010
    Lloyd Harbor NY.
    A great deal of ink has been spilled on this. Just search the archives.
    The general consensus that lacquer, being the thicker finish, tends to inhibit brightness and promote warmth.

    Personally, I think it's all bunk, as it's up to the player to create/perceive the sound they are aiming for. The right MP can make all the difference. As an example I have an Olds Studio....not only heavily nickel plated, but lacquered as well. One of the brightest horns I've ever blown.
  4. Dave Mickley

    Dave Mickley Forte User

    Nov 11, 2005
    a few years ago I bought a raw brass Lawler C7 and played it for 2-3 months before deciding I wanted it silver plated. when it came back all nice and shiney it sounded exactly the same as when it was raw brass. my wife [who is a great trumpet player and has perfect pitch] said it sounded exactly the same. I believe the difference in sound is due to what we see. I will say years ago they used a different laquer so it may have had an effect on the sound but probably a very small effect. of course this is just an old mans opinion.
  5. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    My advice: pick a finish for the looks and durability, because that's what their real functions are.
  6. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    "Thick, heavy" lacquer is a thing of days gone by. Even then it wasn't very thick. Modern epoxy has been used for 40+ years, so unless you're buying real vintage, it's not really a problem or an issue. Mere mortals can't tell, but accoustacrats can. :D
  7. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Okay, here is a short overgeneralized answer.
    Raw brass- true sound of horn
    Sliver finish- no difference but looks tend to psychologically brighten
    Gold finish- no difference but looks tend to psychologically slightly darken
    Nickel finish - slight brightening
    Lacquer finish- slight darkening (may be psychological)

    As Oliver said, the player matters more than any of these regarding the sound. The best bet is to play horns until the right one finds you.
  8. Bwanabass

    Bwanabass Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 20, 2013
    Syracuse, NY
    Thanks for the responses! I like Steve's suggestion the best. Let the right horn find me - good advice for sure. Perhaps my best bet would be to wait until I have a bit of time to get to the nearest Sam Ash, since they seem to carry a pretty good variety of horns, and then head there to try some out.

    Some of you mentioned the psychology factor, and that may well have been what got me thinking that finishes had a significant impact in the first place. Interesting, for sure. If I have a chance to test play some different some different finishes, I will, and if I can't, then i'll just go with the flow.
  9. J. Jericho

    J. Jericho Fortissimo User

    Mar 16, 2011
    The truth of this concept cannot be overstated. It works for mouthpieces, too.

    As far as finishes are concerned, I doubt that any differences in timbre can be perceived nor possibly even measured. Are there any technophiles out there that can confirm/deny?
  10. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    Don't worry about the effect of finishes, because there isn't enough of a difference to matter. Pick the horn that plays and looks best to you.

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