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Wow, thank you all for all the pages of replies! Sorry it's taken so long to get back to them.
As many of you suggested, I have been starting to toy around with 20-40 minute sessions before my main practice session of only playing at pp, only from around low C to top of the staff E, doing long tones, bends, and melodies. From what I can tell so far it has made my tone a bit clearer and warmer, but I still have that awful duck calling sound at the heart of it. It's not like what most people consider bad tone (airy/spitty, weak, too bright, etc.), but it certainly is hard to listen to.
Many of you also said that listening a lot to pros with great tone will help improve my tone as well. I have become more and more sure over the years of doing this that it isn't working for me. I have listened to people like Doc, Arturo, Freddie, Maynard, and many other trumpet players with beautiful tone enough that I have developed a very solid concept of good tone, I am just not physically able to emulate it. This is not merely a psychological problem.
That is why I wanted to know if anyone has had a similar problem as me, the distinctly duck-calling sound and the inability to change or fix it despite practicing and working on it hours and hours more than my fellow classmates who all still have much better tone than I do. I'm starting to worry that it's a physical issue with my playing, because as I said, I've tried mouthpieces as deep as a Bach 1 1/4 C and as shallow as a Yamaha Bobby Shew Lead, and the duck sound does not go away.
I think we need to hear a recording of this sound... because playing with a rich, resonant sound can sound like crap behind the bell if you're not used to it.
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Hello, I too am in my school's jazz band (but as second trumpet), and I'm in my school's top band and I'm a junior. I've skimmed through some of the posts here and here's my take on this: singing does help a lot (like HUGE amount) because it teaches you to keep your throat open and your teeth spread. Mess with how open your jaw is as well. The jaw can affect a bunch of aspects in terms of sound quality. The positioning of your tongue can affect pitch, tone, and tuning, so try adjusting the height of the back of your tongue as you play. As far as mouthpieces go, (I realize you have said mouthpieces aren't the issue) what is the first mouthpiece you started on? Like what was your original beginner mouthpiece? And I've noticed you've mentioned the 1 1/2 C mouthpiece...TRY a 5B. I've been playing on a 5B since beginner band (I have since bought a 3C and a 5C too) and the 5B is great to assist in giving you tone but also in building better embouchure technique because it's hard to play high on it. I can pop out a high E (above the staff) on my 5B and then go higher on my smaller mouthpieces, but the main focus of using the 5B is to get better tone. As one of my previous band directors said, "The 5B is a bucket! It is absolutely great for tone and getting a nice dark sound". I hope everything I've said is relevant.
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If your horn (especially your mouthpiece) is dirty, you will get a duck call type sound.
The only two things I can think of would be the tongue raised too far at the back of the mouth, or a valve put in wrongly.
"A tool good enough to be so used and not too good"C.S. Lewis That Hideous Strength
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