Monette was also practicing a lot, and "conventional equipment wouldn't let me do what I wanted to" on the horn. Playing pop tunes on tour with the band for a year, Monette strained to make his instrument sound the way he thought it should. The sound that came out was too bright, reminding him of the brass section of a football marching band or the blare at a high school hop. Moreover, the sound was limited in its expression. Nothing Monette played or heard others play matched the sound in his head -- a textured, layered sound that could evoke a wide range of human emotions. To describe it in painterly terms, the standard trumpet sound was like the landscapes in an L. L. Bean catalogue -- all surface and no depth. Monette was looking for a sound that was exposed and vulnerable. Rembrandt, or Van Gogh. He was certain that something was wrong with the way trumpets played, and he was determined to change it. But how?
While he pondered this question, the band traveled the Midwest, playing clubs in East Lansing and Grand Rapids, Michigan; in Palatine, Illinois; in Madison, Wisconsin. The touring was entertaining but unfulfilling, and when Monette, at the age of nineteen, fell in love, he quit music. For a year and a half he did "nothing musical," supporting himself by working as a custodian at a JCPenney department store in Milwaukee, where he lived in the same apartment building that had housed Charlie Schlueter more than ten years before, when Schlueter was just beginning his symphonic career, with that city's orchestra. Then one day Monette was asked to deliver a package for Penney to a local music shop, where he soon found himself in a long conversation with the owner about instruments. That conversation, he says, inspired him to enroll as an apprentice at the Allied Music School, an instrument-repair school in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.
By the time he moved to Elkhorn, Monette was so frustrated by instrumental limitations of tone and timbre that he was nurturing a "crazy dream." He would learn how to make instruments and then build them himself. Most trumpets on the market were -- and still are -- mass-produced, but that was a symptom rather than the source of what Monette perceived as the basic problem. He wanted a response from a trumpet, a "completeness of sound," that he couldn't find.