The Instrument Place The Instrument Place

 
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Slide 29
ANATOMY of the TRUMPET
 

If you know how to make a beautiful sound on a trumpet, then you might already know all the parts and pieces of a modern trumpet listed below. Combined into one, the trumpet produces a sound that is like no other instrument in the orchestra.

To be the best you can be at your trumpet playing, you should know all the common names of the parts of the trumpet and what function they perform. You should also know how individual trumpet parts can be removed and replaced, how trumpet parts should be serviced and maintained and what to do if you think a part of your trumpet is damaged or broken.

Let's learn about about the anatomy of a typical trumpet from end to end. If you'd like to jump ahead, use the anatomy chart above to click a part you'd like to read about first.

 

WHAT IS THE BELL?

The bell is the final step of the process the trumpet uses to produce its tone, but it is usually the first thing to be noticed. It is the most visible and eye catching part of the trumpet, with a vast area of gleaming metal inside and out that reflects every light around it. You'll usually find the manufacturer's logo lightly etched into the bell.

The bell has a unique profile that amplifies and shapes the sound of the instrument. Bells come in a wide variety of flares, or sizes, which make the sound of the horn less sharp as they get larger.

Also important to the tone of the trumpet are the materials used to make the bell and other parts. Brass trumpets plated with gold have a rounded tone while brass trumpets plated with silver tend to sound brassier.

The bell can be lightly polished with a soft cloth to remove fingerprints. Never put the trumpet down on the ground balanced on the end of the bell, which will quickly scratch the bell visibly. It also risks the trumpet being knocked over accidentally and damaged. Avoid touching the bell with bare hands and clean it immediately if you notice any dirt or fingerprints. Oil and moisture from your hands can break down the finish of the trumpet over time if not removed promptly.


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WHAT IS THE FINGER HOOK?

The finger hook is a sturdy metal hook on the top of the trumpet that allows the player to hold the instrument firmly in one hand while still allowing fingering to occur. Using the trumpet finger hook, the horn can be played completely with just one hand. The other hand is available when needed to turn pages of music, signal other players or even play another instrument.


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WHAT IS THE LEADPIPE?

The leadpipe is a metal tube that extends all the way from the mouthpiece to the main tuning slide. Be careful when handling your trumpet to be sure accidental bumps don't create dents in the leadpipe. Even a small change to the air flow can radically change or destroy the trumpet's pure tone.


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WHAT IS THE MOUTHPIECE?

The mouthpiece is a small metal device with a cup on one side that opens into a small tube, similar to a funnel. A player can choose from a variety of mouthpiece sizes and materials to customize the size and feel to their own playing style. Many mouthpieces are made from brass.

The mouthpiece directs a precise flow of air from the player into the trumpet. To produce a sound, the player creates a buzzing effect with the lips.

The mouthpiece is removable from the trumpet and is typically cleaned lightly after every use and stored separately from the trumpet.

Look at your mouthpiece closely, especially if it has been accidentally dropped, to be sure that it hasn't developed any marks or nicks that could hurt your lips if played.


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WHAT IS THE MOUTHPIECE RECEIVER?

The mouthpiece receiver is a small metal cylinder fused to the end of the leadpipe that connects the mouthpiece to the trumpet. The mouthpiece, which is removable, is gently pressed into the leadpipe before playing and taken out for cleaning and storage after playing.

Be sure not to apply too much pressure when placing the mouthpiece into the trumpet mouthpiece receiver, as the mouthpiece could get stuck or damage the mouthpiece receiver. If your mouthpiece gets stuck, do not try to remove it yourself. Take the trumpet in for repair.


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WHAT IS THE TUNING SLIDE?

The tuning slide, which is the largest slide on the trumpet, is a c-shaped metal tube that can slide in and out to finely adjust the tuning of the instrument. The further out the slide is placed, the lower the tone the trumpet will produce.

The tuning slide also typically has a small water key on the end for the player to blow excess moisture out of the trumpet.


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WHAT ARE THE VALVE CASINGS?

There are three cylindrical valve casings on a trumpet, positioned in the center of the instrument. The first valve casing is nearest to the player when the trumpet is held in playing position, the second is in the center and the third is farthest away.

These cylinders hold the valve pistons, which move up and down in the valve casings to produce a full range of tones on the trumpet using different combinations of fingerings and varying amounts of air pressure from the player.

Each piston is unique to its casing, so be sure that they are each replaced in the proper casing and realigned inside properly if they are removed for cleaning or service.

To keep the valve pistons moving properly in the casings, remember to lubricate each casing lightly occasionally with a few drops of valve piston oil. Without the oil, the pistons can scratch the inside of the casing and damage the playability of the trumpet.


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WHAT ARE THE VALVE PISTONS?

The valve pistons are thin metal cylinders with holes both large and small bored through and small fingerpieces on the end. The pistons are mounted into hollow cylinders called valve casings in the center of the trumpet. They are known as the first valve piston, second valve piston and third valve piston, with the first being closest to the player when the trumpet is held in playing position.

The valve pistons move up and down in the valve casings to produce a full range of tones on the trumpet using different combinations of fingerings and varying amounts of air pressure from the player. When the player depresses a piston, the holes move and reroute the flow of air in circuits that are larger or smaller depending on the fingering. The longer the route of air, the lower the tone generally will be.

The first trumpet piston acts to lower the tone of the instrument by a half step, while the second lowers the tone a full step. The third lowers the tone by a minor third.

Each piston is unique to its casing, so be sure that they are each replaced in the proper casing and realigned inside properly if they are removed for cleaning or service.

To keep the valve pistons moving properly in the casings, remember to lubricate each casing lightly occasionally with a few drops of valve piston oil. Without the oil, the pistons can scratch the inside of the casing and damage the playability of the trumpet.


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WHAT ARE THE VALVE SLIDES?

There are three valve slides on the trumpet, the first valve slide, second valve slide and third valve slide. Each is placed at a precise point in the flow of air inside the instrument to allow the trumpeter to change pitch by depressing pistons while playing or make micro-adjustments to the tuning of the trumpet by moving the slides in and out. The slides are fitted tightly so they hold their position by themselves but can still be moved in and out with a small effort.

The valve slides should be removed and cleaned periodically and lubricant reapplied. If the valves become stuck, do not attempt to force them loose. Take the trumpet to a technician for service.


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WHAT IS THE WATER KEY?

The water key is a small metal lever usually found on the trumpet's main tuning slide that can be pressed to open a small hole in the slide and allow moisture to escape. During a playing session, it is common for small amounts of moisture to collect in the slide. This water can be removed quickly by pressing the water key and blowing sharply into the mouthpiece.

The water key has a small felt disc on the end that helps to seal the hole when the water key is closed. Take a look at the disc on occasion to make sure it is clean and providing a good seal. You don't want dirt or mold to collect anywhere on your trumpet. If the disc appears to need replacement, take it to be serviced.


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