Advice · Gear Review

The ‘All Rounder’

There is a multitude of great pro trumpets currently on the market, and some wonderful manufacturers working alongside players and teachers to develop instruments for every style of music, approach and player. In a previous post I have discussed finding the right balance of resonance/resistance for you. Here I am going to be less specific!…

At some point in every player’s development, there comes a point where you are looking for that first pro-level instrument. In most cases we are advised to get something as flexible as possible and suitable for a variety of styles and settings. It is this ‘all-rounder’ that I am talking about here.

I have lined up Bb trumpets to try from Bach, Yamaha, B&S, Conn & P.Mauriat. I have played on a number of other good all-round Bb trumpets over the years from Stomvi, Getzen, Schilke, Jupiter XO and Kanstul among others, and would welcome your thoughts and opinions on these and any other instruments that fit into this category that I have not been able to line up here. Schilke I know in particular is really loved by a lot of my US colleagues. Unfortunately the full range of Bbs is not easily available in the UK so I may have to arrange a visit to Chicago in the future to finish this article properly!!!

Bach Stradivarius 180 Series

This has been the reference instrument for players across the globe for many years now. It is characterised by lots of overtones around a warm rounded-core. The bells are designed to be individual – the positive of this is that there is likely to be a trumpet available somewhere to suit most players. The negative of course is that it is advisable to try a large number of these to get one that feels right for you.

The 2 most popular are the 180ML37 and the LR180ML43. The 180ML37 has been considered the go-to 1st pro trumpet for generations. The late taper #37 bell is the one that manufacturers such as Yamaha and B&S have tried to emulate in their models over the years. The LR180ML43 is a lighter instrument with reverse leadpipe and an early taper #43 bell. This has been popular particularly in Europe with players who cover a wide variety of musical styles and genres.

Intonation is generally pretty good on Bachs, however some instruments can be very flat at the 5th Partial (top space E, Eb and D) and quite sharp at the 6th (G, F# and F) meaning that it can take some adjustment for a student to get used to it. They also for this reason generally work best when combined with a larger fuller-cupped mouthpiece so that the pitch can be adjusted easier.

Current prices in the UK are around £2,500-£2,900 (including tax) and in the US around $2,600-$3,100.

Yamaha Xeno YTR8335RGS

I have picked this instrument from the range, as although it is not the ‘basic’ model, I believe that it is the most versatile. Bach loyalists over the years have criticised Yamaha instruments for their lack of character. The RGS has a more open and less resistant leadpipe configuration paired with a gold brass bell. This gives a lovely combination of a warm even sound across lower and medium dynamics, but has a great bright ‘sizzle’ when you give it some welly!

For years, the Yamahas have been considered the cheaper and lesser alternative to the Bachs, however the improvements to this model in particular make it a good and viable option. Intonation is pretty even across the range with a much livelier response than other models in the Xeno range.

Prices however have risen a lot recently so they are no longer the ‘cheap’ alternative. £2,000-£2,300 in the UK and $2,400-$2,700 in the US.

B&S Challenger II 3137

A number of pro orchestral players have moved onto this trumpet or versions of it in recent years, most notably Philip Cobb at the London Symphony Orchestra. The Challenger II is considered to be a good Bach-copy at an excellent price. It also has elements of the Yamaha in its smooth transition across the registers, even sound and decent intonation. There is a little something missing with regard to overall resonance for my personal taste, but you cannot deny that this model proves exceptional value for money (in Europe at least!) and is a very good trumpet for someone who is just starting to take their playing and progress really seriously.

UK prices are around £1,300-£1,700. Prices in the US are $2,000-$3,300. By this from the UK people!

P.Mauriat PMT-71

Now this is an interesting one. P.Mauriat trumpets are not widely available in the UK, but are well represented across mainland Europe and the USA. I worked with P.Mauriat a few years ago so fortunately had the opportunity to try a wide variety of their models.

Their first moves into the trumpet market included some interesting designs of primarily jazz models – both heavy 600 series and lightweight 700 series instruments.

Their recently launched 71 (and 72 with a gold brass bell) have a lot of the lively and responsive characteristics of the original PMT-700, but with much more depth of sound making this a really versatile instrument. I am yet to see one ‘on the market’ in the UK or Europe yet, but I believe that some of my American colleagues are starting to be able to see them over there. Worth checking out if you get the opportunity – time I suppose will tell whether P.Mauriat make a significant impact in an area that already has some steep competition!

I imagine that prices will be around £2,000 and $2,300 respectively.

Conn Vintage One 1BS

I have selected the sterling silver bell model from this range – the resonance and brightness is astonishing. It is not necessarily your typical ‘all-rounder’, however I have selected it here because I have come across probably an even split of classical players on this as I have jazz/commercial.

I was knocked out by the ease of making a full and rounded sound on this horn, and also at how it really takes off in the louder passages with relatively little effort. The downside for me however was the intonation: Low C sits a fraction sharp for my setup and 3rd-space C is slightly flat. Not having a clean octave here takes some getting used to.

UK prices are around £2,200-£2,400. US is around $2,800-$3,200.

As I have been talking to players while putting this together, people keep raving to me about their perfect Bb trumpet from X, Y and Z manufacturer. There is wonderful research, design and craftsmanship around the globe going into trumpet manufacture at the moment, including a number of smaller specialist trumpet-builders that I will be featuring in coming weeks. Again, my emphasis here is on that FIRST PRO TRUMPET PURCHASE that generally needs to be a good all-rounder and blend easily with friends and colleagues.

I very much welcome your thoughts and comments on any of the instruments featured here, and indeed any of the multitude that are not!


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