Getting a Trumpet and Mouthpiece
First, the basics: Many kinds of trumpets, and cousins of trumpets, are on the market, but you’re looking for a B♭trumpet. In North America, you want piston valves. (Many European players use rotary valves.) If you’re shopping for a first trumpet for a young child, you may want to consider a cornet; the tubing of a cornet is wrapped more tightly so that the weight is distributed differently and the balance is more comfortable for small hands.
Even though you know what kind of trumpet you want, your choices aren’t over. When you walk into a music store to buy a trumpet and mouthpiece, you have to make several decisions:
New or used? The decision whether to buy new or used is often a matter of budget. A new trumpet is a safer bet, if you can afford one. But don’t discount used trumpets or feel discouraged if you can’t afford to buy new. A used trumpet can be a real bargain — the trick is to find one that’s in good condition. You improve your odds by buying from a music store or from someone you know and trust.
If you’ve found a used trumpet you’re considering, bring a trusted teacher or advisor with you to examine and play the instrument, if you can. If that’s not possible, at least make sure that the valves go up and down smoothly and that there are no obvious dents or actual holes in the metal.
Student model or professional model? Start with a student model and upgrade to a professional one down the road, after you’ve decided to continue playing the trumpet. In the student lines, Yamaha YTR 2335, Bach TR 300, and Getzen 390/490 are all excellent makes. If you’re buying used, an older trumpet called the Olds Ambassador is another great option.
If you’re shopping for a professional model, both Yamaha and Vincent Bach Stradivarius are good choices. You’ll see so-called “intermediate” trumpets on the market; they cost more than student models but aren’t as good as professional ones; you’re better off going either with the student or the professional, and skipping the intermediate model altogether.
What finish? Most student trumpets have lacquer finishes, which is no coincidence: Lacquer is the least expensive finish. Silver plate is popular with advanced players and professionals, but it adds up to $200 to the price. Gold plating is even more expensive and uncommon, even among professionals.
What type of mouthpiece? If you buy a new trumpet, the mouthpiece will come with the trumpet. If you buy used, you’ll need to buy a mouthpiece separately. Make sure you get a medium-size mouthpiece, meaning that the diameter of the inner rim and the depth of the cup are in the middle of the range of choices. A Bach 7C is the standard make and size for a beginning trumpet student. The equivalent in Yamaha is an 11C4-7C.