Are you a professional trumpet player? Do you make a living playing your horn? Yea, me neither. But I’ve owned a Bach Stradivarius trumpet for over 46 years. Why did I get one so young after only playing for 2 years? Why didn’t I just get a beginner trumpet? How did I justify investing in a professional trumpet? And most importantly, do I still play it? Read on.
Since you are here, you want to make as informed a decision as possible. First read our thoughts on Professional Trumpet Brands . Then come back, I’ll wait.
In case you decided to just read on, these are the questions you want to ask yourself first BEFORE buying a professional trumpet:
1. Am I able to invest in a professional trumpet that will last me for the rest of my playing career?
2. Is this a professional trumpet that I can sell later on if I decide to either quit trumpet playing or get a different horn?
3. Does this professional trumpet have a reputation of holding its value over time?
What Does a Professional Trumpet Cost?
How does a professional trumpet compare to a student trumpet or an intermediate trumpet? Beyond the price, the differences are subtle, but significant. Yes, all trumpets are made mostly of yellow brass. A student trumpet can cost up to $500. An intermediate trumpet can cost up to $1000. Then the cost jumps for a professional trumpet.
A professional trumpet is made differently. The bells are usually made from one piece of brass. The brass is formed and annealed by hand. The annealing process is done by hammering the brass to compress the molecules together. This strengthens the brass. It also allows it to respond to the vibrations from the standing wave you generate in the mouthpiece and leadpipe.
The designs for a professional trumpet are to produce the highest quality sound. The artisans that build the components ensure the fit and finish is exceptional. The quality of materials is the very best such as the use of rose brass. Most use a Monel piston valve. The valve casing is hand assembled with the greatest of care. All this effort is to create an airtight seal throughout brass instrument.
This is very different than a lesser trumpet. They are usually mass produced. The attention to detail in the construction is also not as high. This is because hand assembly, testing, and quality design costs money. For more details on what is a professional trumpet, please see our post Best Professional Trumpet Brands.
Why Should You Buy a Professional Trumpet?
I invested in a professional level trumpet after 2 years of playing because I wanted to. I fell in love with the instrument and spent every day playing the smelly old band instruments that my school had. I would ask the trumpet players in the upper grades if I could try their horns. The difference was incredible. Not just the fact they didn’t smell bad. The sound, the slotting of notes (before I knew what ‘slotting’ meant), and projection were totally different. Using a borrowed professional level trumpet, I was able to get to the first chair position of the grade above me after 9 months of playing. Am I a professional trumpet player? Nope, sorry. I just loved it so much. And, more importantly, playing one showed that I could improve faster and enjoy the trumpet more. How did I get one? I got up before the sun every morning and delivered dead wood with black ink on it to peoples doorsteps. You know, a thing called a newspaper. Yes, this was before Google. I asked my parents for any jobs around the house to earn money to afford one. Here it is below. Am I still playing it? Read on.
What Does a Professional Trumpet Cost?
A professional trumpet by a high-quality manufacturer will usually start at $2,000 and go up from there. Depending on the model, finish, and other options, they can go quite a bit up from there. Yes you can buy a beginner trumpet for under $200. Will it compare to a $2000 professional instrument? Well, they may look the same, but they definitely won’t play the same. Nor will they sound the same nor hold their value. Yes, there are $20,000 trumpets. And if this is for you, awesome, wanna adopt me? Kidding. You may be talented enough to get $18,000 more enjoyment and playability over a $2,000 pro trumpet.
Most players in the band have played many different trumpets across the price range. On average, most of our horns that we currently play are around the $2,500 to $3,500 range. This is a serious investment. This investment is not just a trumpet or a hunk of shiny brass. This is an investment in you, your music, and the joy you get from playing your very best. If you used to play, stopped, and are starting up again, welcome back. As a comeback player , you likely have more resources at your disposal than when you were playing. Additionally, you can become a better player, faster with YouTube, video lessons, web content etc..
Which Professional Trumpet Is Best For Me?
I invested in a professional level trumpet (a Bach Stradivarius trumpet model 180 with a #37 bell) after 2 years of playing because I wanted to. I fell in love with the instrument and spent every day playing the smelly old band instruments that my school had. I would ask the trumpet players in the upper grades if I could try their horns. The difference was incredible. Not just the fact they didn’t smell bad. The sound, the slotting of notes (before I knew what ‘slotting’ meant), and projection were totally different. Using a borrowed professional level trumpet, I was able to get to the first chair position of the grade above me after 9 months of playing.
Which professional trumpet is best for me?
Am I a professional trumpeter? Nope, sorry not even close. I just love trumpet playing. And, more importantly, playing one showed that I could improve faster and enjoy the trumpet more. How did I get my Bach trumpet? I got up before the sun every morning and delivered dead wood with black ink on it to peoples doorsteps. You know, a thing called a newspaper. Yes, this was before Google. I asked my parents for any jobs around the house to earn money to afford one. Here it is below. Am I still playing it? Read on.
Professional Trumpet Reviews And Recommendations
Here are the best professional trumpets for the different kind of horns you may be looking for. We are talking about B-flat trumpets here. If you are interested in a Piccolo trumpet or Flugelhorn, please click on those links for those posts. We have put multiple choices in each category and explain the subtle but important differences. This is so you can choose the best musical instrument for your trumpet playing. Please, please, please. Play as many pro trumpets as possible before purchasing one. Ideally you have a fellow trumpeter or three nearby.
Best Professional Trumpet- All Around Performer
Vincent Bach Stradivarius Model 180-37
The Vincent Bach Stradivarius Professional Trumpet, model 180 with the standard #37 bell is far and away the number one most popular professional trumpet available. It has the longest history of professional trumpets still being made today. The refinements over the decades make it the best all-around professional trumpet.
This Bach Trumpet is used by middle school to professional concert musicians alike. The Medium Large bore of 0.459 with a standard weight and taper bell (#37) is considered by many the “gold standard” of professional trumpets.
The bell’s shape and taper have been copied by many, duplicated by none supposedly. The #37 bell is made with yellow brass and provides a compact, rich sound with excellent projection. It is made from one piece of yellow brass and the seam where the braces are soldered to. This allows it to ring more freely.
The “Bach Strad” is at home in an orchestra, jazz ensemble, high school marching band, and in a lead trumpet role. The sound is consistent from low notes below the staff to as far above it as you’d like to take it. The tonal quality is consistent, full, and colorful. With a different mouthpiece, the same musical instrument can sound very different. The Bach Stradivarius trumpet has a distinctive sound that everyone knows. Even the soft thunk noise of the Monel piston valves springing upwards against the felt pads is distinct.
The first and third slides are tested repeatedly at the factory to be airtight, smooth, and effortless to move. The third valve slide has an adjustable length stop rod with 2 lock nuts. This is another signature feature of a Bach trumpet. Once you tune your lower notes using the third slide, you can set the lock nuts and know exactly how far to slide it out. You have to empty the third slide of spit by removing the end part of the slide as there isn’t a spit valve.
A lacquer finish will provide a slightly warmer tone than the more durable silver finish. The lacquer finish is on the bell with parts of the slides having a nickel finish. Having the valve cluster nickel finished helps resist the acids from our hands. The silver finish will be a little more focused and brighter than the lacquer finish. This is because the extra weight of the silver plating reduces the vibrations slightly compared to the lacquer. They are both very warm and can play dark or bright depending on your choice of mouthpiece. Bach backs each professional instrument with a 5 year warranty.
Vincent Bach Stradivarius Model 190-37 50th Anniversary
The ultimate All Around Performer to consider is Vincent Bach’s newest release, the 190 model with the #37 bell. This is the 50th anniversary model of the Bach Stradivarius. The 50th anniversary is when the moved the factory from Mount Vernon New York to Elkhart Indiana. Many Bach enthusiast search for these early model horns from Bach on the used market and they command a premium price. The company went back to 1965 to replicate the professional trumpets made then.
The standard weight #37 one-piece bell generates a full, rich sound with solid core of sound. The side seam is run under the braces which helps control the vibration. The bell has a steel ring instead of brass one, just like they did long ago. The bell is also engraved as is the valve casing noting the Anniversary model.
The valve cluster casing is made of nickel-silver for the upper one third and yellow brass for the rest. This is how they made the Stradivarius professional trumpet from 1925 through the late 1970s. This gives you a bit more feedback and a more responsive, colorful sound. This also increases the mass of the trumpet which makes the core sound very rich. This trumpet is definitely at home in an orchestra, jazz ensemble, and soloist roles. It feels and sounds just like the early Elkhart Bach Stradivarius trumpets.
They come with nylon and brass valve guides. The older trumpets came with brass guides so you can replicate the feel you’d like. You can change the valve guides inside the Monel piston valves easily. They come in the standard Medium Large bore size of 0.459, lacquer or silver plated finish, a 3C mouthpiece, and a special edition case with a rich wine color interior. It is available in either a silver plated finish or a lacquer finish. Bach backs up this Stradivarius professional trumpet with a 5 year warranty.
Best Professional Trumpet- Lead Trumpet Player
The Yamaha YTR-8335II Xeno Professional trumpet
This Yamaha professional trumpet has a bell tapered and weighted specifically for a powerful tonal core and ease of upper register slotting. The bell is hand annealed and formed into shape to exacting standards. The valve cluster case is lightweight relative to the two Bach trumpets in the “All Around Performer” category.
The tubes between the Monel piston valve casing are optimized to reduce resistance. These two features combine to provide a brilliant tone. Even the valve pistons are considered lightweight to provide excellent tonal flexibility.
This brass instrument represents Yamaha’s research and development for over 30 years. This trumpet will be at home in an orchestra, jazz ensemble, and marching band first chair position. It really shines in the upper register because of its highly responsive design. Professional trumpet player, Wayne Bergeron was instrumental in the design of this trumpet. This horn has a first and third valve tuning slide. Unlike the Bach Strad trumpets, Yamaha installs a third valve water key or spit valve. The gold brass leadpipe resists corrosion.
There are 3 models to choose from, all in a Medium Large bore size of 0.459:
- 1. YTR-8335RS: This silver plated Yamaha professional trumpet model has a reverse tuning slide on the leadpipe which reduces the resistance and transition of your sound coming off the mouthpiece. It blows a little freer in the upper register.
- 2. YTR-8335S: This is the standard model with a silver plated finish.
- 3. YTR-8335IIGS: This is a silver plated model with a gold brass bell. The higher copper content of gold brass gives this horn a slightly warmer, richer tone. Yamaha provides a lifetime warranty on this professional trumpet
Vincent Bach Professional Trumpet Stradivarius 180S43
The Vincent Bach Stradivarius 180S43 is a 180 model with the #43 bell. This is arguably the most popular lead trumpet used by amateurs and professionals. This bell is made of yellow brass with a slower taper than the #37. This produces a brighter, more open feel and tone. The horn will blow freer in the upper register as you can put more air and power behind those notes. The yellow brass helps with the brilliance of the sound for a perfect balance of tonal color for notes below the staff and those screamers way above it. The slower taper on the bell gives you more control and projection. You will feel at home in your jazz ensemble or soloist position. The Medium Large bore of 0.459 makes a perfect lead trumpet with just enough resistance for accurate slotting in the upper register. The silver plated finish is preferred by most as it adds tonal stability and durability for the professional trumpet player. All Bach Professional trumpets comes with a 5 year warranty.
Best Professional Trumpet-Mariachi Player
Bach Stradivarius Model LR190-43B
The Bach Stradivarius model LR190 with the #43B bell is specifically designed for the mariachi player. Bach designed this trumpet in partnership with one of the top mariachi trumpet players in the world, José Hernández. The LR series is a lightweight model which makes it more responsive than the standard Bach Stradivarius model.
The valve body is lightweight, and the #43 bell is standard weight. The bell is made of bronze brass with the slower #43 taper. This makes it easy to play the brilliant, fast tempo staccato and melodious notes characteristic of mariachi music. The bell is beautifully adorned with decorative engraving (see the above video). The horn can be played soft and delicately and the #43B bell allows you put power behind your sound when called for. The reverse leadpipe makes the horn a bit freer when you need to play louder and higher.
Like the 190 model above, it comes with both nylon and brass valve guides so you can customize the feel of the Monel piston valves. It comes with a Bach 3C mouthpiece.
The clear lacquer finish shows off the bronze brass bell while giving a little warmer color to your sound. The silver plated finish is a touch brighter and more durable. Like all Bach professional trumpets, it comes with a 5 year warranty.
Best Professional Trumpet-Value
Getzen 907S Eterna Professional Trumpet
The Getzen 900S series Eterna professional trumpet was first made in 1962. It has been refined for decades with the support of the famous Doc Severinsen. Doc’s powerful, dynamic sound was supported by the free flowing nickel silver leadpipe and Medium Large bore size of 0.460.
The Getzen 907S (Silver finish) Proteus is the result of these refinements The two piece, specially heat treated yellow brass bell and nickel silver tuning slides deliver a dynamic, solid core. The gold brass leadpipe provides a colorful, well centered sound. It’s a more well rounded horn than its ancestor the 900 Eterna Classic Professional trumpet. Many felt it was a bit too bright for general use.
This easy flowing, powerful professional trumpet is at home in an orchestra, marching, or jazz setting. One unique feature of Getzen trumpets is their use of Amado style water keys (or spit valves). They are small, round, and require regular oiling and cleaning to keep functioning properly. The 907S has standard, lever style water keys which are easier to maintain. They are on the main and third slides.
The valves are nickel silver which come with a lifetime transferable warranty. The trumpet itself comes with the Getzen Gold, 5 year warranty. This silver plated professional trumpet comes with a Getzen 7C mouthpiece, valve oil, polishing cloth, and hard sided case.
Best Professional Trumpet – Customizable
Schilke B1 and B5
The Schilke B1 is the trumpet Renold Schilke himself liked the best. It is also the most popular Schilke trumpet model by far. It has a more open feel than the B5. The B1 has their #1 bell taper which is conical taper. This makes for a darker sound than the B5.
The Schilke B5 is identical to the most popular Schilke B1 model. The difference is that it has a bit more resistance and a warmer sound. Those in the band that have played/owned them compare them to the Bach Stradivarius 180/190 with the #37 bell. Both Schilke models feature a reverse leadpipe and a rounded main tuning slide with no bracing for a more responsive feel. The silver finish, one piece copper brass bell adds to the warmth. Like all Schilke professional instrument, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
As you’ve probably figured out by now, the answer is yes. I’m still playing my 1970’s Bach Stradivarius with a #37 bell. It is similar to the 190-37 above. And yes, I still love it. And I did receive an intermediate trumpet as a Christmas, Birthday, Groundhogs day present. And yes, I sold it to help purchase my professional Bach.
Thanks for playing along !