Trumpets come in different types. There are piccolo trumpets that offer higher register, and there are bass trumpets that come with a lower range of registry. The trumpet, of course, has a long history, dating back to 1500 BC. During ancient times, armies frequently used it in battle. Hunters also used it in hunting. The modern trumpet, however, first emerged in the 15th century with the addition of specialized parts.
During Bach’s time, the trumpet had expanded in length, measuring up to 8 feet. Yet, during Bach’s time, trumpets did not have the valves for altering pitches. It was only in the 1820s when the valves were added. With the addition of valves, the length of trumpets was greatly diminished.
Contemporary Trumpet and Its Different Parts
You can see the present-day trumpets in orchestras, rock bands, jazz ensembles, and many other forms of music. These contemporary trumpets come with many parts. And if you are just beginning to learn how to play the trumpet, it would be good to know its different parts. Here are the essential parts of a contemporary trumpet:
1) The Mouthpiece
The trumpet has the mouthpiece on which sits the mouth of the trumpeter. It is located at one end of the trumpet and comes in different made and sizes. You can remove it, and you can replace it. The mouthpiece, of course, is a crucial part of the trumpet. It can enable the player to change the trumpet’s sound. Different mouthpieces can create different effects. Hence, many professional trumpet players usually have a collection of different mouthpieces in their arsenal.
The trumpet player creates sound by buzzing the mouthpiece. The vibration created by buzzing through the mouthpiece produces a standing wave that creates the unique sound of the trumpet. The larger the mouthpiece’s cup, the more sound the trumpet produces.
The mouthpiece needs regular maintenance. As such, it should be cleaned before and after use. You should also engage in deep cleaning of the mouthpiece once a month to ensure its longevity and safety of use.
2) The Mouthpiece Receiver
The leadpipe comes after the mouthpiece receiver, and this leadpipe connects the trumpet to the mouthpiece. Fused at the end of the leadpipe is the mouthpiece receiver, which is a small cylinder made of metal. When you remove the mouthpiece to clean it, you will see the mouthpiece receiver.
You should be very careful when reattaching the mouthpiece to the receiver. You should not apply much pressure. Otherwise, the mouthpiece may damage the mouthpiece receiver. It may also get stuck to the mouthpiece receiver. In such a case, you should bring it to a trumpet repair shop.
3) The Leadpipe
As you peruse the body of the trumpet, you will see a tube that leads to the tuning slide from the mouthpiece. This tube is called the “leadpipe.” The leadpipe provides the anchor for the mouthpiece. To its one end is connected the mouthpiece receiver to which the mouthpiece is attached. You must regularly clean the leadpipe to prevent a buildup of gunk and dirt. This buildup can affect the distinctive quality of the sound produced by the trumpet.
4) Top Valve Cap
The top valve cap keeps the valve screwed to the trumpet. It also holds the valve in place as you play the trumpet. The valve caps work well as long as you don’t cross-thread them. You will sometimes find the valve cap difficult to screw down; it may be because of the improper orientation of the valve. Hence, you should be very careful about screwing the valve. Spin the valve slowly in the casing to get it into the right groove. The valve should be pushing all the way down before you screw the valve cap again.
5) The Valves
The valves allow you to alter the pitch of the sound that the trumpet produces. As you buzz the mouthpiece, the air moves inside the leadpipe and across the body of the trumpet. The passage through which the air moves is predetermined. However, you can alter the air route inside the trumpet via the valves’ use.
The trumpet comes with three valves. The closest to the trumpet player is the first valve, and the farthest is the third valve. These valves can’t be interchanged. Hence, you should be meticulous in aligning them after you have detached them for cleaning or oiling.
The valves are also referred to as “buttons.” They can change the notes produced by the trumpet when they are pushed down. Yet, if they are not pushed down, they only play the basic overtone series. Thus, without the valves, the trumpet can only play several notes. The valve can change the note or pitch by redirecting air through additional tubing, and thus, extending the length of the trumpet.
You should remember that the longer the trumpet’s tubing, the lower the notes that it produces. Thus, with the presence of the valves, you can alter the pitch of the trumpet’s sound and produce a kaleidoscope of notes. You can either push down a single valve or a combination of valves to produce a range of pitches.
As moving parts of the trumpet, the valves need to be maintained. You need to oil them to keep them smoothly moving. The proper way of oiling the valves, however, includes unscrewing the valve cap, then pull the valve out, and then, lubricating the valves’ exterior with several drops of oil. You should line up the valve’s holes when reattaching them. Make sure that the orientations of the valves are correct when attaching them back.
a. The First Valve Slide
The first valve is the small slide attached to the first valve. Once you press the first valve, you route the air through the extra tube. This lowers the pitch of the trumpet by a whole step. Your left thumb usually attaches to a trigger or ring while you slide the first valve. You can adjust the notes’ tuning by sliding in and out the slide.
b. Second Valve Slide
If you would look closely at a trumpet, you will see a little slide that is attached to the second valve. This slide is very small; it only lets you adjust it a bit. This is the second valve slide. When you push it down, it lowers the pitch by a halftone.
c. Third Valve Slide
The third slide is the longer slide and is attached to the third valve. It features a pinky ring on its top that is adjustable. You will often adjust this slide to keep in tune with the notes. Moving this slide, of course, is crucial to hitting varied notes.
d. Tuning Slide
You can pull in or push the tuning slide if you want to alter the overall tuning of the trumpet. It is situated near the trumpet’s front. If you push it in, you raise the instrument’s entire pitch. If you pull it out, you lower the pitch. Thus, this turning slide is so important.
You need to grease this slide once a month, as recommended by experts. If you do this, you can prevent the slide from getting stuck. Once it gets stuck, it will no longer function. Thus, you need to engage in regular maintenance and greasing of this slide to keep it in topmost condition. Moreover, with proper maintenance, you can avoid the more expensive acid bath and repair.
The trumpet is like a steam engine. It has valve pistons. The valve pistons change the path of air inside the trumpet. There are three pistons corresponding to the three valves. The first piston is part of the first valve and is closest to the mouthpiece while the third piston is farthest to the mouthpiece and closest to the bell.
Just like the slides, the valves need to be regularly oiled twice a week. This will help you prevent early wear of the instrument. It will also help flush out debris. The oil likewise fills any gaps, which, in turn, lessens air leakage.
Made of metal cylinders, the valve pistons come with small and large bored holes and finger pieces on every end. The hollow cylinders allow for the mounting of the pistons. These hollow cylinders are referred to as “valve casings.”
The valve pistons produce a range of tones once they are moved down and up inside the valve casings. Using different fingering combinations as well as applying varying levels of air pressure, the trumpeter can create a full range of notes and tones.
The main purpose of the pistons is for rerouting the airflow inside the trumpet. As mentioned before, the longer the air route, the lower the pitch, and the shorter the air route, the higher the pitch of the trumpet’s sound.
Each piston creates a unique effect on the overall tone of the trumpet. The first piston, for example, lowers the instrument’s tone by a semi step, while the second one lowers it by a full step—the third piston by a minor third.
Each piston has its specific casing likewise. Hence, you should ensure that, after cleaning, you replace every piston in its designated casing. Moreover, you should realign each piston every after maintenance or cleaning.
7) Valve Casings
The pistons, as mentioned earlier, are placed inside the cylinders. Each piston has its specific cylinder called “valve casing.” The casings of the 3 valves are situated in the middle part of the trumpet. The first valve casing, of course, is nearest the mouthpiece, while the third valve casing is nearest the bell. The valve pistons are held by these cylinders. The pistons move down and up inside the valve casings to produce different tones. The trumpet player does this by employing various fingering combinations and applying different levels of air pressure.
The bell is the ultimate part of the trumpet that processes sound. It is also the most obvious part of the trumpet. It is made of gleaming metal, in and out. Most bell has the logo of the manufacturer on it. The bell is made specifically to shape and amplify the trumpet’s sound. The sound of the trumpet comes out of the bell. You can find the bell at the other end of the trumpet.
The bell is like a speaker that broadcasts the sound of the trumpet. It is named “bell” because of its shape, just like the shape of the church’s bell. The bell is commonly made of brass. It is also generally coated in silver or gold. Silver-coating produces brighter sound while the gold-coated bell produces mellow sound.
The size of the bell is referred to as the “flare.” You don’t need to alter the bell of the trumpet because it will affect the sound of the trumpet. The sound of the trumpet is usually commensurate to the size of its flare. Smaller flare produces sharper sound while larger flare gives off a mellower sound.
To clean and polish the bell, you need to use a soft cloth. You should avoid touching the bell nor putting the trumpet down with the bell on the ground because this may put the bell at risk of being scratched.
9) Finger Rings
The finger rings or hooks are made of durable metal, located on top of the trumpet. The finger hook lets you hold the trumpet in one hand while using your other hand for fingering. With the finger hooks at hand, you can play the trumpet with just one hand. You can use the other hand to turn pages or play another instrument or even signal other players.
The trumpet is usually equipped with 3 finger rings. Each ring comes with a specific purpose and varies a bit from the other ring. The finger ring, for example, may not be specifically involved in producing music. Yet, it allows the player to play the trumpet using one hand. You can rest your smallest finger, not on the hook, but the hook’s top.
a. Pinky Ring
The pinky ring is located on the trumpet’s top. When you play the trumpet, you usually use the index and middle finger and the ring finger. Yet, the pinky is generally on standby or just hanging out. So, if you position your pinky over the pinky ring, you get the right angle or position to enable your hand to press the valves quickly. This also helps you avoid having a painful finger due to your pinky curling under.
b. First Valve Ring
The first valve ring is positioned right over the first valve slide. You should position your left-hand thumb through this ring. You do not put your left-hand thumb on the first valve ring just for comfort. You do it for better tuning of the first valve slide.
The first valve, of course, is out of tune without some manipulation from the player. So, you need to push out the first valve using the first valve ring to achieve a better tune.
c. The Third Valve Ring
The third valve ring casually fits your left hand’s pinky. Yet, you can adjust this ring to fit the size of your hand. As you hold the trumpet in position, you would find the correct spot for this ring. You should not attempt to fit your little finger snugly into this ring. Just let it find its right position. Then, adjust the ring to perfectly match the natural position of your pinky.
The third valve ring helps you fine-tune the third valve when you play the trumpet. Of course, the third valve will not be in tune when you play the trumpet. Yet, you can use this third valve ring to adjust the tune of the third valve until you get the right pitch.
The trumpet, as a musical instrument has a long history dating back to 1500 BC. Its evolution, however, is gradual until it reaches its present-day form. Its different parts are designed to help in producing a full range of tones.
If you will specialize in playing trumpet, it behooves you to memorize the essential parts of the trumpet. You should also learn how to manipulate these essential parts to produce the exquisite sound of the trumpet and to create the different effects and notes with much ease and fluidity.
Knowing the different parts of the trumpet will also help you zero in on the right trumpet for your personal use. With this knowledge, you could buy the necessary parts that need replacement. You would also know the different replaceable parts. This knowledge will help you tinker with your new trumpet and engage in regular maintenance.