Some of my students ask me to recommend various trumpet accessories and related equipment. Here’s some of the stuff that has served me well:
I utilize several mouthpieces for the various horns and situations I encounter:
Some people debate whether it is a good idea to have use several different mouthpieces. I say “yes” provided you are experienced, and have a reason to do so. For my students, I would say “not a great idea” at least until you are more advanced… consider:
Mutes are a personal thing so try different types and brands and use what you think plays in tune and sounds good. When purchasing a mute, try to play play test it first if possible. Play the mute through your entire range to check tuning. Try to compare several mutes of the same type to compare tonal quality & resistance. I find many harmon mutes have poor intonation starting at about low C and below, and have an overly “brittle”, “metallic”, harshness to the tone. I want a harmon mute that has some “sizzle” but also one that helps me project “warmth” of tone when I want. If you are new to playing with mutes and don’t yet a have a specific sound in your mind’s ear then just try to buy the best quality mutes you can afford. You can’t go too wrong with any of these quality trumpet mute makers:
(Note: the term “Harmon” confuses some newbies. Harmon is a specific brand, but harmon is also a generic term for this type of mute… (think about someone who tells you: “I have to make a Xerox copy of this document”).
Here are the trumpet mutes that I am currently playing:
If you are shopping for a trumpet mute or two, check out some offerings from my friends at Tapestry Music.
“Really? You’re adding valve oil to your list of gear?” Yes… Yes I am! Valve oil is important. Not only does it keep your pistons working smoothly, it also helps to keep them clean. Here’s a video by master trumpet builder Dave Monette showing the best way to oil your valves and why you should use this method. I am amazed at how lax many of my students are about oiling their valves! Remember, the best oil in the world will be of little use if you don’t use it! My Monette’s valves were built with very close tolerances, and as a consequence I can’t use just any old valve oil. I need an oil with a very light, low viscosity, and high film strength. Here’s what I use in order of preference and depending what is available when I pop into the store:
All of these oils (along with others) are stocked at Tapestry Music. For most students any of them would be just fine. If you have a horn that has has finicky valves make sure your horn is clean. If that still doesn’t do it try another oil. Make sure you clean your horn before using a new oil. Often times different oils do not play well together… mixing them can cause the horn to stick. Seems weird but it’s true! If that happens just keep applying the new oil until the old is washed away. It could take 3 or more applications for the old oil to be replaced. Once you have a bit more experience playing you will probably find an oil that works best for your horn and becomes your favourite.
This is only a partial list of gear that I use to ply my trade! If you have any questions about any other related trumpet gear not listed here, feel free to talk about it with me at our next lesson.
The best oil I have used, ever, bar none. ‘Nuff said!
Hetman Synthetic #1 (light viscosity) & #2 (medium viscosity). The #3 (heavy) is not carried at Tapestry.
I can always use the ‘ol reliable and ubiquitous Al Cass! This oil is great and works for almost everyone.
Honourable mention and very cheap! I keep a bottle of this around for emergencies!
Valve Oil Buying Tip:
When selecting a valve oil look for one with a high film strength. A high film strength is an oil that resists breaking down and thinning out due to the mechanical shearing action of the piston moving up and down inside the valve. You may ask: How can I know if an oil has good film strength? Answer: shake it! Shake the bottle vigorously for 5 seconds then stop and watch the bubbles. The faster the bubbles dissipate, the better! A good quality oil will have bubbles that dissipate in 1-
If you really wanna geek out, check this link. Probably way more than you ever really want to know about valve oil and the science behind it. It may make your eyes glaze over a bit (hey, I told you it was geeky!) but you’ll have a better understanding of most about what makes a good trumpet valve oil.
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