If you play a brass instrument, you’re familiar with its leadpipe. Although you might not have known its name until now, this component is where you place the mouthpiece to play. It’s the instrument’s primary receiver, connecting the sounds you produce to the main tuning slide.
When you have a standard leadpipe, the primary tuning slide fits into the instrument.
If you have the reverse option, the leadpipe fits into the tuning slide instead.
You’ll move both options inward or outward for the tuning you need for the trumpet. Each one contains a spit valve at its end for easy water removal, which also lets you know that you’re using the correct side with the instrument.
Most student instruments use a non-reverse design. If you’re ready to take your playing to the next level, it might be time to purchase the reverse choice.
What’s the Difference Between a Reverse and a Non-Reverse?
A trumpet with a non-reverse leadpipe has the tuning slide go into it when making adjustments to the instrument’s sound. With a reverse leadpipe, the tuning slide fits over it instead. When either option is correctly connected, it is almost impossible to tell the difference visually.
The non-reverse leadpipe is usually shorter than the reverse option. The latter slides into the tuning slide so that you don’t have a narrower tube in that portion of the trumpet. Since that means you’ll get less resistance to your airflow through that region, there isn’t any pushback from your breath as it moves toward the valves and out of the bell.
Players who like the reverse style take advantage of the extra intonation and tone control that occurs with this style. If you’re not careful with it, this design can also cause more distortion with the notes you play, especially when you need to hit the upper register or add volume.
It can take some time to adjust to how the reverse style plays when you are used to a trumpet with a non-reverse design.
As for the non-reverse leadpipe, it’s the standard option for a trumpet. When you shop for an instrument, it’s a safe assumption that you’re getting this design unless the listing specifically states that it is a reverse.
Since the tuning slide fits into the leadpipe, it takes a little extra effort to push out the sounds you want to make. That creates less control over the tone, but it delivers extra attack and brightness to the notes you want to make.
The disadvantage with the standard design involves dents or damage. If the tuning slide or leadpipe gets impacted by this issue, it might not be possible to achieve the tone quality you want without having the instrument repaired professionally.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Playing the Trumpet?
Since the trumpet is the smallest of the brass instruments, it’s often easier for younger students to learn the brass family from its foundation. You’ll get a bright sound with its high notes, making it one of the loudest sounds you can hear from a band.
If you’re thinking about learning how to play the trumpet or have someone at home who wants to try it, here are some of the pros and cons to consider.
|List of the Pros of Playing the Trumpet||List of the Cons of Playing the Trumpet|
|• Since the trumpet is a relatively popular and trim instrument, the rental price for new students is often reasonably affordable.|
• You don’t need many supplies available to take care of the instrument. Some valve oil, a couple of brushes, and a polishing cloth works well.
• Musicians can transfer from the trumpet to several other brass instruments. It’s not unusual to see them switch to the French horn or the T.C. baritone.
• The trumpet performs as both an orchestral and a jazz instrument.
• It often carries the melody, making it one of the band’s most important assets.
• High-end trumpets are naturally designed to reach the upper register better through improved airflow and saliva management.
|• Since the trumpet’s sheet music is written on the treble clef, musicians must learn different note fingerings if they switch to the tuba, trombone, or B.C. baritone.|
• Trumpets are somewhat difficult to hold or play because of the upright style needed due to how the airflow moves through the instrument.
• If you use a standard trumpet, significant resistance can develop when trying to make sounds.
• When students wear braces or have dental needs that cause changes to the mouth shape, it might not be possible to continue playing this instrument (or other brass instruments).
• Entry-level instruments don’t have the quality needed to withstand more than a couple of years of playing.
• It’s easier to get a used trumpet from a better brand if cost is an issue.
Why Is the Trumpet Such a Difficult Instrument to Master?
Whether you prefer the reverse or the non-reverse design for the trumpet, you’ll find that this instrument tends to be more challenging to master than most others. It’s not just the playing style, with the smaller mouthpiece, that creates potential issues for musicians.
Here are some of the reasons why it might be better to look for a different instrument to play other than the trumpet.
1. Trumpets almost always have the melody.
If you make a mistake when playing the trumpet, people are going to hear you. The only question for the audience involves which band member created the error. There isn’t any room for error in most compositions with the high sounds coming from this brass instrument.
2. You might need hearing protection.
The trumpet is a loud instrument. Depending on where you sit in the band, you might notice note reflection because of where the music stands must be.
That issue creates higher decibels that could harm your hearing with enough exposure. If you thought the percussion session was the noisiest, you’ve never stood in front of a dozen trumpets playing three-part harmony.
3. It takes a lot of air to play the instrument.
Trumpeters need massive lung support to play their different melodic phrases. It takes almost as much wind to hit the lower notes as it does to stay in the upper register. During the first year or two with this instrument, you’ll try to get more air for those long notes and phrases that pop up in some compositions.
4. You must control the tone with your mouth.
This issue is the reason why the reverse vs. non-reverse debate comes up with the trumpet. Since you only get three valves to use for your notes, it’s up to your lip shape and airflow to determine where you are on the scale. Although the clarinet uses nine fingers, it’s ultimately easier to learn because you don’t have as much variability to manage.
5. You need a solid upper lip.
The trumpet relies on strong lip muscles to execute the high notes found in many classical passages and phrasings. That’s why it takes time for musicians to hit the phrases you can see above the scale on the treble clef.
There isn’t time for any rest unless you get rest designations in the music. Even when you do, carrying the melody usually gives you a beat or two to catch your breath and nothing more.
If you have any dental injury, such as a cavity that needs addressing, the pain you get from playing can be extraordinary. Even something simple, like a cold or canker sore, can take you off the instrument for a few days.
How to Care for a Reverse or Non-Reverse Trumpet
When you purchase a high-quality trumpet, it’s not unusual for the manufacturer to include gloves with the instrument. That’s because skin oils and sweat can damage the finish. Whether you choose yellow brass, gold brass, or another metal, the sound quality changes once the lacquer starts wearing out.
You’ll also need to take some specific steps with your trumpet each month to ensure that it can perform as expected whenever you practice or perform.
|Clean the Valve Casings:||• Wrap polishing gauze around a cleaning rod to prevent the metallic tip from getting exposed.|
• Wipe dirt from the casings and pistons.
• Apply 2-3 drops of valve oil to the casings to ensure smooth movement. If you’re changing the brand or type of lubricant, it helps to wipe the area clean before applying the product.
|Clean the Instrument Body:||• Soak a cleaning brush with a flexible rod in a brass soaking solution to wash the inside tubes.|
• Use clean water to remove the brass soap before adding clean water to remove the brass soap.
• Thoroughly dry the tube interiors with gauze before applying grease and oil. All moisture must be gone to have this final step be successful.
|Replace the Cork:||• Remove the soft cork after it absorbs enough moisture from the water key.|
• Use a quick-setting adhesive to place the new item.
• You can choose standalone products that you cut at home or buy a direct replacement.
|Clean the Slides:||• Carefully remove the slides from the trumpet.|
• Wrap polishing gauze around a cleaning rod to prevent tip exposure.
• Remove the dirt and debris from the outer and middle slides first.
• Lubricate the slides with triggers using oil. You might need to work both of them back and forth a few times to work in the product.
• Apply grease to the ones that don’t have triggers, which are the main and second slides.
|Wash the Mouthpiece:||• Use a solution of brass soap and warm water to clean the mouthpiece.|
• A brush that fits through the mouthpiece can remove dirt, grime, and slime.
• Rinse the metal with clean water to remove any lingering debris or soap.
When you first start learning how to play the trumpet, it isn’t always easy to remember to clean the instrument’s intricate parts. If you twist the polishing gauze into thin strands, you’ll hit the other areas that don’t get as much love each week or month.
The final maintenance step is to use a tone-hole cleaner for the water keyhole. This area tends to be the first one to start corroding on a trumpet, so you’ll want to check it twice per week when playing full-time.
What Is the Best Reverse Trumpet You Can Buy Today?
I was fortunate enough to start my musical career on a Bach trumpet. Although it was more of a student model, my folks trusted me enough to purchase the instrument so that I could practice whenever I wanted.
Many students end up needing to leave their instruments at their school unless formal leasing arrangements occur.
Although I moved to the baritone after three years of taking professional trumpet lessons, I still love to have a pro-quality instrument available for gigs and recording.
That’s why I highly recommend the Bach Stradivarius Mariachi Series B-Flat Trumpet.
Although the Jupiter professional models are about $1,000 less, I’ve found that the smaller bore bronze bell delivers a fantastic tone. It has the reverse tuning construction for extra intonation and note control without feeling overbearing.
I particularly love the slow taper with the design, delivering fast and responsive sounds for virtually any melody. Although I don’t play Mariachi music, the staccato this trumpet produces is the best I’ve ever played over the years.
It delivers a regal sound that leaves a shimmering echo whenever you get a moment to rest.
Even when you have a pianissimo passage to navigate, the sweet and soft sounds that come from this trumpet are impressive. You can shift moods on a dime when making this investment.
If you have a young student learning how to play the trumpet for the first time, any Jupiter or Bach instrument will meet your needs.
When it is time to show off all of your skills, you’ll want the Bach Stradivarius Mariachi Series B-Flat Trumpet by your side.