Trumpet vs. Flugel conundrum

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Asher S, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. Asher S

    Asher S Pianissimo User

    Sep 20, 2009
    Suburban Boston
    I just acquired a very inexpensive flugelhorn, a Barrington, for $150 off the 'bay, just to play around with it. My only other horn is a restored 1958 Olds Ambassador with LA valves and #8 CCAP bottom caps. I've been playing trumpet on and off for about 30 years, always as an amateur (with no plans to ever turn pro- i.e. this is purely for fun for me).

    Immediately I noticed that the inexpensive, Chinese-made flugelhorn slotted much easier all through my range (up to high C) and generally felt much more responsive than my Olds Ambassador. I noticed this using the same mouthpiece on each horn: a Monette Prana B2S3, which fit into the flugel and was in tune with the tuning slide left all the way into the lead pipe. The flugel valves seem to have a bit stronger spring-back action vs the 50 year old Olds, but this does not seem like a significant difference.

    I went back and forth between the 2 horns several times, always with the same mouthpiece, and my observation held up consistently.

    So my question is: Why might the flugel perform like this? I don't know any of the specs for it (bore size etc), but from what I've read on this site, those differences generally don't account for something this blatantly different. Could the difference in age account for this in some way?

    Any insights are greatly appreciated.


    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  2. SmoothOperator

    SmoothOperator Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 14, 2010
    These kinds of statements are sort of dangerous.

    I am not aware of the situation for trumpets and flugel horns, but recently I was researching violins and saxophones from China.

    In general the problem with Chinese imports, is that they are stencils, and it is very difficult to track the precise maker of saxophone or violin and I expect rumpets are no different.

    However these days many name brand instruments are made in China, and the instruments are selected from lots by professional musicians, then stenciled with a makers name.

    The initial saxophones and violins made in China were rubbish, however the makers have been very industrious and have improved craftsmanship very quickly to quote a factory owner, "It is very easy to replicate a 1000 year old instrument construction process". And in many ways the Chinese are improving upon the designs, though in some cases they come out sounding like something a Chinese person would like to listen too, rather than the European traditional sound.

    Often times though the instrument may be well designed, but the actual components themselves may be no good, and will fall apart in a short period of time.
  3. Asher S

    Asher S Pianissimo User

    Sep 20, 2009
    Suburban Boston
    Thanks... by "cheap" I meant inexpensive. I've edited the original post as such.

    All insights into the question in my original post are much appreciated...

  4. hup_d_dup

    hup_d_dup Piano User

    May 28, 2009
    Tewksbury, NJ, USA
    Asher, you seem to be implying that because the flugelhorn slots easier, it is a better performing instrument. In my opinion, slotting is a double-edge sword. No trumpet, cornet or flugelhorn is fully in tune, and when an instrument slots well, it is playing the pitch it wants to play, not necessarily the pitch that is correct.

    The first impression of an instrument that slots well is that it is easy to play, but it can actually be more fatiguing to play because it takes more effort to constantly fight the instrument on the notes that need to be corrected. This is assuming that you have a good ear and are constantly doing your best to stay on-pitch. I had a Yamaha C trumpet that slotted beautifully but was a beast to play because of the corrections that had to be made.

    This problem might be even worse on a flugelhorn, because many flugelhorns have more out of tune notes than trumpets and cornets of equal quality.

    It might be interesting to check all the notes individually with a tuner, and compare the effort it takes to play them all in tune, compared the the effort it takes to play all the notes in tune on your Olds.
  5. Asher S

    Asher S Pianissimo User

    Sep 20, 2009
    Suburban Boston
    Thanks- I will try what you suggest re: checking notes vs. a tuner on both instruments.

    I appreciate your points about slotting. Perhaps I am not using the correct term, but based on what you are saying, I think I do mean slotting. I don't know whether the flugel is a "better performing instrument"; I just don't know enough about trumpet physics to determine whether what I am experiencing is related to any fundamental differences between the 2 instruments.
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Right - like it's a stretch to think that there are things manufactured in China that are cheap. I think he probably called it for what it was fairly accurately and without prejudice. Sometimes it just is what it is and we'd do well not to read anything else into it.

    Back to the topic, sometimes an instrument just plays well because the right variables fall into line. I've played some fantastic Bach Strads. I've also played some real stinker Bach Strads - "pro level" trumpets that I wouldn't wish on a beginner. By that same token, I've played some fantastic student model Yamaha trumpets - they were just put together right and worked well - possibly the mouthpiece gap just happened to be dialed in correctly, or the valves were naturally aligned well - it could have been any number of things.

    Who can say -there might be a reason, but why not just play the axe and enjoy that it plays well? :D
  7. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    You know, the only way I can really evaluate a horn is to play it during a rehearsal with one of the good groups that I regularly play with, on some fairly demanding music. That way any and all shortcomings come to light fairly quickly - things that a home test doesn't expose. I've played many newly-purchased e-Bay instruments at home and thought they were pretty good players, and then took them to a rehearsal to find out either: the intonation was all over the place, or it wore me out quickly, or it didn't respond well, or whatever. These things really stick out in the "heat of battle", but may go unnoticed with leisurely solo practice at home.
  8. nordlandstrompet

    nordlandstrompet Forte User

    Apr 5, 2008
    The flugel performs like this because you use a trumpet mouthpiece
    which will make the flugel sound "trumpetty" and since this mp is far
    shallower than a flugel mp, it is easier to play and slot in the higher register
    than with a flugel mp.
    I guess that you will get a very different result if you use a flug mp on the flugel,
    or worse, if you use a flugel mp in the trumpet
  9. Asher S

    Asher S Pianissimo User

    Sep 20, 2009
    Suburban Boston
    That is exactly my plan :-)

    Dale: Point taken- thank you. I will try that as well when the opportunity arises...

    nordlandstrompet: I played the flugel for a while with the included unmarked flugel MP and noticed the same "slotting". I decided to try my little experiment with the trumpet MP to remove a major variable. I don't know what kind of MP the flugel mp is. It's definitely a much deeper cup and larger bore mp than my B2S3.

    Thanks to all for your replies.
  10. uatrmpt

    uatrmpt Piano User

    Nov 29, 2003
    I wonder if the heavy valve caps on your trumpet are negatively impacting the response. Try playing it with the bottom caps off and see if you notice any difference, positive or negative.

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