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While trumpets and cornets may look similar at first glance, the moment that someone puts one to their lips, the differences between the two are obvious. The biggest difference is in the interior. A trumpet has a cylindrical bore that produces a more piercing tone, while the cornet's conical bore gives a warmer sound than the trumpet does.

Trumpet Basics

There are four things to think about when you're looking at a basic trumpet: the bell, the valves, the mouthpipe, and the bore. The bell is the source of the music, and for best results, you want a one-piece bell since it provides a more uniform sound. The valves give you the most control of your instrument and the more responsive they are, the better. Running from the mouthpiece to the tuning slide, the mouthpipe is where you get the air into your trumpet. Lastly, you'll want to consider the bore. As a rule, the newer the player, the narrower the bore. Narrower bores need less air, so they are easier for beginners to use as they start to play.

Brass is Brass

Despite the fact that trumpets are brass musical instruments, they are not all made from the same kind of brass. Many student trumpets use a red brass mouthpipe because it resists corrosion better. Yellow brass is a better choice for more advanced players because it requires more care and attention. Some trumpets even have sterling silver mouthpipes.

Specialty Trumpets

While the standard trumpet is easily recognizable with its three valves, there are a few variations that have a different appearance. The pocket trumpet is tiny by comparison to most of its brethren, but tight windings give it the same depth of tone. The herald trumpet moves the bell further out in front, and is popular for outdoor events. Finally, there's the slide trumpet, which looks more like a trombone because it has a slide rather than the traditional three valves.

Picking a Trumpet

The first thing to consider when picking trumpets is who is going to use the instrument and what are they going to do with it. Beginning students are best served by relatively inexpensive small-bore used trumpets, especially when it comes to children. On the other hand, more advanced players are going to want better-quality instruments with a one-piece bell.

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