How to Buy a Trumpet on eBay

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How to Buy a Trumpet on eBay

Dating back to at least 1500 BC, trumpets are one of the oldest instruments in the world. Played by blowing air through pursed lips, the trumpet is a type of brass wind instrument. The trumpet, popular in jazz music and marching bands, features a twice rounded oblong shape.

Of the entire brass family of instruments, the trumpet has the highest register. What this means is that the trumpet has the highest range of notes or set of pitches. This offers trumpeters a wide range of possibilities when it comes to creating melodic harmony. It is for this reason that the horn has remained so popular and widely taught over centuries of musical evolution.

Due to their popularity as a band instrument, parents frequently find themselves needing a trumpet for their child, without much previous knowledge of the instrument. Due to the high price tag of most new trumpets, parents frequently seek deals on sites like eBay to keep their child's extra curricular activity affordable. eBay sellers offer an array of trumpets, from vintage to top-of-the-line modern, in both new and used variety. Buying a trumpet on eBay is relatively simple and when one's child outgrows the need for said instrument, consumers can resell the instrument on eBay, recouping a good portion of their investment.

Trumpet Styles

Trumpets come in a variety of slightly different octaves, though nearly all trumpets follow the same basic construction. To achieve the slightly varied range of pitch, these instruments do come in several minor size variations, particularly in relation to the flare of the instrument's bell. Additionally, consumers have the option of choosing between a student, intermediate, or professional trumpet.


Student trumpets are typically the least expensive of trumpets. They are designed to go through rougher treatment than the professional trumpets and also tend to be looser and feature fewer options, to make tuning a far simpler process.

Student trumpets from brands like Yamaha and Bach are great starter trumpets. They are made with high enough quality standards to not frustrate the user, while remaining at a relatively reasonable price. They are widely available in both new and barely-used condition and make a great starting instrument for a budding trumpeter.


Intermediate trumpets are often little more than pricier versions of a student model. They frequently feature silver plating and slightly more advanced tuning capabilities, but overall, the biggest difference is looks. There is nothing wrong with purchasing an intermediate trumpet as a stepping stone from a student model, or even to use as a more stylish looking student model; however, the difference between the two models tends to be very minor. As a result, the next big advancement in one's musical education should be a professional trumpet.


Professional trumpets are top-of-the-line brass wind instruments, expertly crafted to provide the best range of sounds and easiest performance. Though it is possible to learn the instrument on a professional model, it is generally best to stick with a student or intermediate until the basic skills have been mastered. Whereas student trumpets are built to withstand rough handling, professional trumpets are not. Professional trumpets are very sensitive to mistuning, a side effect of their precise sound.

Trumpet Terms

When reading information about a certain trumpet, consumers who are new to the instrument may become overwhelmed with some of the more professional language. Understanding the pieces used to construct this type of brass horn may help to reduce some of the confusion, making it easier for consumers to make an educated decision prior to purchasing a trumpet.


The bell of the trumpet is the open-ended portion from where the sound spills out. Most bells are made out of brass and then coated in silver or lacquered in gold. Some speciality bells are forged from pure sterling silver. Though the makeup of the bell can sometimes affect sound, many argue that the material used to form the bell makes no difference at all.

Some bells feature a wider opening than others. Some high-end trumpets even come with adjustable or interchangeable bells. This is because the flare of the bell is said to alter the tone of the music. Larger flares produce more mellow sounds, while smaller flares offer sharper tunes.


The bore is the tubing used to make the trumpet; similar to the flare of the bell, the diameter of the bore is said to affect the sound and tone of the music. The bore sizes for standard trumpets typically fall between .450 millimeters and .472 millimeters. The difference between the sound produced is pretty easy to understand. Smaller bores tend to produce softer, lighter sounds. Big bores tend to emit louder, more boisterous tunes.

The large-bore trumpet is great for solos and other instrumentals where the trumpeter is the primary performer. However, the smaller bore creates more demure sounds that work well within orchestras and bands, where the trumpeter is only a portion of the sound, helping to keep harmony rather than lead the performance.


The mouthpiece of the trumpet is, as one would imagine, the part where the trumpeter blows air into the instrument to produce sound. Though primarily made of brass, there are some mouthpieces available in other types of metal or sometimes even plastic. As with all pieces of the instrument, there are some individuals who believe the material the mouthpiece is made up of can affect the final sound. However, style and comfort should be the primary determinants of mouthpiece material.

Mouthpieces also come in a variety of different sizes, with each having its own set method of determining these sizes. When purchasing a mouthpiece online, consumers may ask the seller to measure the mouthpiece or take close up pictures of it to get a good idea of how it looks. However, many consumers prefer to replace the mouthpiece altogether, especially when purchasing a used trumpet.

Valve Slides

Valve slides help trumpets produce a specific type of sound by making it possible to adjust the pitch of the notes being created. The standard trumpet features three valve slides. The first is capable of lowering the highest note by an entire step, the second can lower it by half a step, and the third slide induces slight differences capable of producing lower pitched sounds. On student trumpets, these valves are often made of durable nickel, to withstand lots of wear and infrequent cleanings. On intermediate and professional trumpets, the valves tend to be made out of monel or stainless steel, which is less forgiving of misuse but provides smooth performance.

Silver Plate vs. Lacquer

When consumers set out to purchase a trumpet, they will find that most come in raw brass, silver plated, or gold lacquer finish. Beneath this exterior, all trumpets are made out of brass. Though some musicians argue that this plating creates a slightly different sound, most agree that it is purely cosmetic.

Originally, mostly all trumpets were made out of solid, raw brass. However, as technology improved, designers realized that a coating of lacquer or a plating helped to preserve the finish of the instrument, as it did not tarnish in the way that pure raw brass does.

As designers began to produce trumpets made with these special coatings, some musicians felt it ever-so-slightly changed the sound they were able to produce, and thereby devoted themselves to one type of trumpet or another.

Some individuals still feel that the pure brass produces a richer sound, yet there is very little evidence to support this notion. What is known, however, is that lacquer will flake off after a period of time, but brass remains solid. It can also be difficult to repair dents and nicks in an instrument that is coated with some sort of exterior plating or lacquer coating. For these reasons and others, many experienced musicians just stick to the classy appearance of raw brass and maintain a routine polishing ritual to reduce signs of tarnish.

Finding a Trumpet on eBay

Finding a trumpet on eBay is as simple as typing a few related keywords into the search bar on any eBay page. Search terms can be as vague as "trumpet" or as specific as "used piccolo trumpet silver." The broader the search terms, the more listings you are likely to receive. Adding descriptive terms to the search will narrow the amount of listings, but the listings provided are likely to be closer to the specific type of trumpet you are interested in finding.

Once listings appear, refinement options from eBay make it possible to weed out unwanted results. For this reason, some consumers prefer to start out with a broad search term, like "trumpet," and then use the filter options to hone in on something closer to what they desire. This is also a good way to get an overview of what is available, if you are not yet sure of the exact type of trumpet you want to purchase.

Get to Know the Seller

Before making a purchase on eBay, you can review information about the seller with whom you intend to do business by visiting the seller's profile. From there, you can read reviews from previous clients, see other items for sale by the same user, and even contact the eBay member with any questions or concerns you may have.


The trumpet is a traditional brass wind instrument that has existed for hundreds of years. The varied history of the trumpet includes everything from leadership use during war, to famous jazz musicians, and a ubiquitous position in high school marching bands.

Trumpets are available in many levels of quality, but nearly all follow the same, classic design of several centuries past. They are easy to learn, with proper instruction, making them a well loved choice for the musical instruction of youngsters.

Regardless of whether you are a parent seeking a student trumpet for your child to practice on or an adult hoping to acquire a new professional-grade model for your weekend band, the eBay makes it easier than ever to find a variety of trumpets and accessories, both new and used, at a wide-range of affordable prices.

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