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The 9 Types of Trumpets Every Brass Player Should Know

21/08/2023

Trumpets. They’re loud, they’re commanding, and they’re used in a variety of different applications. Whether it’s a film score, military use, or jazz band, there’s a trumpet in there. But this isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of situation; in fact, there are nine common types of trumpets, each with a slightly different tone, construction, and purpose.

So, if you want to learn the trumpet yourself, or you’re just an intrigued brass player, read on as we discover what these nine types are!

In a hurry?

Here are the nine types of trumpet we’ll discuss in this article and a recommendation for each!

Type of TrumpetInstrument Recommendation
Bb trumpetStudent Trumpet by Gear4music
CornetStudent Cornet by Gear4music
C trumpetCoppergate C Trumpet by Gear4music
Bb pocket trumpetPocket Trumpet by Gear4music
Flugel hornLevante by Stagg FH6205 Flugelhorn
Plastic trumpetpTrumpet Plastic Trumpet
D trumpetCoppergate D/Eb Trumpet by Gear4music
Piccolo trumpetCoppergate Piccolo Trumpet by Gear4music
BugleBugle by Gear4music

9 types of trumpets

1. Bb trumpet

Diving into the world of trumpets, we come across the Bb trumpet. The story of this instrument dates back to early 19th Century Germany and Austria, where it was invented.

Boasting a tubing length of approximately 4.8 feet, the Bb trumpet strikes a harmonious balance between the longer C trumpet and the petite piccolo trumpet.

Legendary virtuosos like Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis have graced the stage with the Bb trumpet, showcasing its remarkable versatility. What sets its tone apart is its distinctive blend of brightness and articulation, spanning classical music, jazz, and pop.

When it comes to playability, the Bb trumpet is moderate in weight, ensuring it’s comfortable to hold. In terms of cost, it often lies within the mid-range of trumpet prices, meaning it’s usually accessible to aspiring musicians.

Crafted in the key of – you guessed it – Bb, this instrument is a transposing instrument, and it thrives in orchestras, marching bands, and jazz ensembles.

We recommend…

Student Trumpet by Gear4music

Bach TR650 Bb Trumpet Outfit


2. Cornet

Student Cornet by Gear4music, Light GoldThe cornet gained popularity in the mid-1800s as a versatile alternative to the trumpet.

It boasts the same tubing length as a trumpet, but it is crafted into a more compact conical shape. This makes them suitable for children who need a smaller instrument with a tighter centre of gravity.

Pitched in Bb, the cornet produces a warm and expressive tone that’s a staple in classical music and, more recently, contemporary music scenes. However, though it does find its place in various genres, it’s more known for its use in brass bands.

We recommend…

Student Cornet by Gear4music

Besson BE120 Prodige Cornet


3. C Trumpet

The C trumpet, a staple in the world of brass instruments, boasts a rich history and versatile characteristics. Invented in the 19th century, it was created as a solution to the limitations of earlier trumpet designs.

With a tubing length slightly shorter than the Bb trumpet, the C trumpet produces a brighter, more focused tone. Renowned players like Wynton Marsalis and Maurice André have used this type of trumpet to achieve exceptional performances.

The C trumpet’s distinct tone makes it a preferred choice for orchestral and chamber music settings, and its weight is often lighter than other trumpets, making it easier to hold during extended playing sessions. Costs can vary widely, with student models being more affordable, while professional-grade C trumpets are priced significantly higher due to their superior craftsmanship.

Playing in the key of C, this trumpet showcases beautiful melodic and expressive capabilities, suitable for both classical and contemporary genres alike.

We recommend…

Coppergate C Trumpet by Gear4music


4. Bb pocket trumpet

Pocket Trumpet by Gear4music, GoldThe Bb pocket trumpet is ideal for players who have a multi-instrument case and want a portable, lightweight instrument they can take around with them.

It’s a popular choice for travel and practice, and despite its small stature, it retains a tubing length similar to standard trumpets, ensuring a full sound.

Characterised by a slightly brighter tone compared to larger trumpets, it suits jazz, pop, and even some classical music styles.

The cost of a Bb pocket trumpet varies depending on the brand and craftsmanship, making it an accessible option for students and professionals alike.

We recommend…

Pocket Trumpet by Gear4music

Stagg TR245S Pocket Trumpet


5. Flugel horn

The flugel horn has a distinctive conical shape and adds a slightly mellow tone to the world of brass instruments. It originates back to Germany during the 19th century, designed to bridge the gap between the trumpet and horn, and does so by favouring a warmer tone.

Such a warm, rich, and smooth sound is made possible by the flugel horn’s tubing length, which is longer than that of a trumpet. Renowned players like Chuck Mangione and Art Farmer have embraced its unique timbre, using it to add depth and emotion to their performances across various genres.

The instrument’s tone can be described as lyrical and expressive, making it a favourite in jazz, ballads, and even some classical compositions. And with a slightly heavier build than a trumpet, the flugel horn’s weight enhances its stability and resonance.

Most flugel horns are pitched in Bb, so they seamlessly blend into ensembles alongside trumpets, trombones, and saxophones.

We recommend…

Levante by Stagg FH6205 Flugelhorn

Flugel Horn by Gear4music


6. Plastic trumpet

Red playLITE trumpetThe plastic trumpet showcases modern innovation in the world of brass instruments. Invented in the early 21st century, this revolutionary trumpet-like instrument uses robust plastic materials, designed to provide an affordable, accessible, and portable option for beginners.

With its unique construction, the plastic trumpet offers a lighter weight product than traditional brass trumpets. This design choice makes it more manageable for beginners.

The plastic trumpet is pitched in Bb, akin to traditional trumpets, meaning it can be easily integrated into various musical contexts. While its unique tone might not entirely replace the traditional tone of a brass trumpet, the plastic trumpet is great in educational settings, casual playing, and experimental music.

We recommend…

pTrumpet Plastic Trumpet

playLITE Hybrid Trumpet by Gear4music


7. D trumpet

A slight variant of the traditional Bb trumpet, the D trumpet offers a unique tonal palette that’s favoured by many professional musicians. Its history traces back to 18th Century Vienna when it was crafted for compositions that required a slightly higher pitch.

With its slightly shorter tubing length compared to the Bb trumpet, the D trumpet produces a brighter and more focused sound that suits orchestral music, chamber ensembles, and solo performances. This distinct timbre has attracted notable players like Håkan Hardenberger and Maurice André, who’ve used the D trumpet to add character to their performances in classical and modern contexts.

Weighing similarly to its Bb counterpart, the D trumpet is relatively lightweight and easy to handle and its expressive upper register makes it ideal for those seeking a slightly more distinctive trumpet sound.

We recommend…

Coppergate D/Eb Trumpet by Gear4music


8. Piccolo trumpet

Coppergate Piccolo Trumpet by Gear4musicThe piccolo trumpet is recognisable for its small size and high pitch, making it a very specialised instrument that is mainly used in Baroque-era music.

Distinguished by its shorter tubing length, its compact design produces brilliant and piercing tones with a bright, crisp sound. Renowned players like Maurice André and Niklas Eklund have showcased its capabilities in various musical genres, and it’s ideal for solo passages and intricate ornamentations.

With a smaller size comes a lighter weight, and this makes the piccolo more portable and manoeuvrable. However, despite being smaller, the unique characteristics and premium craftsmanship that goes into a piccolo means it’s usually more expensive than a Bb trumpet.

Typically pitched in Bb or A, the piccolo trumpet finds its home in classical orchestras and modern contexts like jazz and even some contemporary music styles.

We recommend…

Coppergate Piccolo Trumpet by Gear4music


9. Bugle

A time-honoured brass instrument with a captivating history, the bugle emerged in ancient civilizations as a signalling instrument, with early versions appearing in Egypt, Greece, and Rome. However, it was in the military context during the 18th century that the bugle gained prominence, finding its place on the battlefield as a tool for commands and alerts.

You’ll notice the lack of valves on the bugle; its tubing length is relatively short, resulting in a limited range of notes. But while the bugle lacks complex melodies, its simple and haunting tones have been utilised in countless war songs and solemn ceremonies.

With a minimalistic design, the bugle is lightweight and portable, fitting for military applications. Plus, it’s usually quite affordable – making it accessible for enthusiasts and learners.

We recommend…

Bugle by Gear4music

Levante by Stagg Bugle

Some extras a trumpet player might need

So, you have your trumpet, but you need some accessories to ensure you can play comfortably and with the tone you want.

Firstly, you’ll want a trumpet case for taking your instrument from A to B. Opt for something with a hard foam construction and a plush interior that is moulded around your instrument, this means it can’t move around whilst being transported.

Something like this Bach Valve Oil is also super useful for minimising friction. It’s slightly thinner than standard oils, which prevents any build-up of the oil.

Of course, you’ll also need a trumpet stand for when your instrument is not in use. And for beginners or those who want to practise without disturbing others, the Yamaha SB7J Silent Brass for Trumpet is a game-changer. This mute is easy to attach, and it simply silences your mute whilst ensuring you can hear it exceptionally clearly through headphones.

FAQs

What’s the name of a small trumpet?

The name of a small trumpet is a piccolo trumpet, which is half the size of a Bb trumpet and is higher in pitch. It’s mainly used for music from the Baroque era.


What is the most common version of a trumpet?

The most common version of a trumpet is the Bb trumpet. It’s a transposing instrument that you’ll find in orchestras, jazz groups, and marching bands. Other types of trumpets include the C trumpet and D trumpet.


What is a circular trumpet called?

A circular trumpet is known as a cornet. This instrument dates back to ancient history as its loud, distinctive tone made it a good signalling instrument.

Final thoughts

If you’re a trumpet player looking for your second trumpet and want something a bit different to what you already own, we hope this guide to the different types of trumpets has helped! There are so many versions of the trumpet out there, each with a rich and interesting history. Take a look at our full range of trumpets to find the exact right one for you!

 

Content Writer - Guitars

Maisie is a pianist who's interested in pop, rock, and the role of women in music. She spent her degree focusing on music journalism, specifically the way in which female artists are portrayed in the media. Sometimes, she plays guitar, but this is very rare.

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