View Full Version : help me buy a trumpet?

09-04-2013, 06:53 AM
Not for me... it's for my kid.

The Boy has decided he wants to play trumpet in the school band. The school has a rental arrangement with some huge outfit upstate, where the student gets a 12 week trial on the instrument for a reasonable price. OK, fair enough, he has his trumpet and is happy and I think he will stick with it. So here's the rub: after the trial period, the rent-to-own period starts, and it's $30/month until I've shelled out $1,000!

From looking around online it seems like I could get a student trumpet probably for under $400 - but I don't have the foggiest idea how to go about evaluating a trumpet. What do I look for? What's a reliable brand? Does anyone around here even play trumpet? Help!

09-04-2013, 08:32 AM
Is your son taking lessons? If so, his teacher may be able to help.

I'm not a trumpet player, but I played brass for years in college (euphonium - which has the same valve scheme as trumpet).

The things I'd research are:

- instrument bore - sometimes student models are narrow bore - takes less air, but tone can suffer.
- valves - should be smooth acting and feel solid
- intonation - there are trade-offs in intonation - the math doesn't work out perfectly for all standard fingering combinations - a better instrument will make it easier to play in tune.
- mouthpiece - mouthpieces are changeable - if your son is trying instruments remember the mouthpiece makes a big difference and it can be changed. There are a couple of mouthpiece standard descriptions - getting to know them will help.

09-04-2013, 01:56 PM
Thanks for your quick reply! He is receiving instruction in school (band class 3x/week) so I will try talking to the band teacher.

Those tips give me something to work with; as I indicated I am completely at sea when it comes to brass. I'd feel pretty comfortable shopping for anything with strings, but the only experience I have with any instruments you blow into is harmonica.

09-12-2013, 05:04 AM

Anybody else give me a little help? Thanks!

09-12-2013, 05:59 AM
Look locally for a used instrument store. There's one close to me and they carry TONS of student grade players. Likely their stock came from the local schools in the area.

09-13-2013, 04:41 AM
Thanks bnolsen,
Finding trumpets isn't the part I'm having trouble with. I just have no idea how to tell if I'm looking at a good one or not.

09-13-2013, 06:57 AM
My son is going through the same thing. We are doing a month-to-month rental at $16-$22 /mo ($4 more for the damage insurance - figured that would be a good investment). We went down to the music store and he tried three different student models and chose the Bach one (made in China - but probably all of these student models are). I think a new one would be in the close to $400 range. I imagine that a used one would be a hundred or so less, depending on condition. He said this trumpet was a lot better than his school instrument, easier to play and the valves were smoother. If he continues on, we will probably buy the one he is renting now and then go from there. Just like ukes - you need to spend enough to get something that you will enjoy playing and make you want to play and practice more. And just like ukes, have your son try out a bunch of different models and choose the one that works best for him.

Skinny Money McGee
10-16-2013, 02:50 PM
You can buy a used "Olds" trumpet or cornet and have it refurbed. The Olds Student instruments built in the 50's through late 60's were really professional grade instruments compared to the 400 dollar junk produced today.

The equivalent Olds student horn today costs 1200+. Kanstul horns are a good example. Zig Kanstul designed and built the Olds student horns back in the day. This Kanstul horn is the same design as the 50's 60's Olds. http://kanstul.com/detail.php?pass_search=730.0000&pass_instrument=Cornet

You can pick up a nice Olds student horn for around 150 to 200 dollars, send it out for reconditioning like re-plating the valves, chem clean. etc... You will end up with a fabulous professional grade horn for 500 bucks.

10-17-2013, 06:53 AM
Thanks for everyone's help.

The Boy is progressing pretty nicely on the trumpet, and we went shopping over the weekend. Spent about $500 and I feel like we found a good quality instrument that will last him a few years - and I think it's of better quality than the rental one.

And, I found out that he will inherit his great-grandfather's (antique, heirloom) trumpet in a couple years - so he will have a very good one in addition to having the student-grade one to honk around on.

10-17-2013, 07:01 AM
I agree with Olds brand.

I also suggest a cornet, which has a slightly shorter case and is easier to carry.

I played an Olds cornet back in the Chuck Mangione days. I stopped when the practicing was driving my parents up the walls, and because my lips buzzed like a honeybee when I was necking with my girlfiend in the basement.

How I even got a girlfriend as a cornet player remains a mystery to me.

(maybe it was the bee lips; when I quit band, she dumped me for the lead trombone player).