Friday, June 7, 2013

Cheap piccolo trumpet

I came across a cheap chinese rotary valve piccolo trumpet on Ebay and paid about $400 for it. The brand is "International Sound" but I happen to know that its made by Jinbao, China's largest group of instrument factories. Its clearly based on the Scherzer design but this one has a bore of 11.5mm compared to the Scherzer's 10.4mm. (Update: I eventually found out that it is copied from the "Melton" branded rotary trumpet which was made by Scherzer in the 80's).






Does it work? Well, yes it does. When it arrived I discovered it takes normal trumpet shank mouthpieces so I could not use my piccolo trumpet mouthpiece (which is cornet shank). There was a rather dodgy looking mouthpiece in the box which said 7c on it so I put that in, played a couple of scales and then turned on my webcam. This is the result:



It sounded a bit flat towards the top of the range. I managed to find an adaptor to fit my normal mouthpiece to it and that seems to have corrected the intonation. The alleged 7c was far too deep, closer to a Bach 6 in cup shape.
I spent most of a day working through lots of literature from Bach, Handel and Telemann and it sounds very lyrical as you would expect from a rotary trumpet.
The problem is that quality control in China is so poor its possible the next one in the batch would be a real dog, so if you decided to take the chance on one you should try and play a few.
Obviously another important issue is that it is a rotary valve trumpet. If you have never played a rotary then you will find the adjustment quite difficult so first impressions might not be very good. For example, slurring on a rotary is not as good as on piston valve instrument because the valves cut the air flow more abruptly.

Update 28th January 2008

Well, I am doing the Telmann Concerto for trumpet and two oboes with orchestra in March and have decided to give the rotary piccolo a chance to perform. I am now using my Monette AP1-5 mouthpiece jammed into a cornet to trumpet adaptor with some insulating tape.
This is some video of me practicing the concerto. Poor audio is due to the webcam microphone.
Some general practicing of the Telemann, working on my trills and tone:


Telemann 1st movement:


Telemann 3rd movement:


The other Telmann concerto in D last movement (bad top notes - sorry)


How to hold a rotary valve piccolo trumpet:


These two clips were done on a different microphone and the trumpet has a Blackburn leadpipe fitted which makes the intonation better but impedes the upper register a bit on the very open mouthpiece I am using. I think to get the best from that setup you would need to be using a conventional Bach, Yamaha or Schilke mouthpiece set up.

Telemann La Majeste from 12 Heroic Marches


Telemann La Vaillance from 12 Heroic Marches



Update 7th June 2013

Well, five years later and as I move this web age to my other hosting account I am still playing this trumpet. I bought a Blackburn leadpipe for it in the key of A which significantly improved the playing. This cost me about £100 at the time as the exchange rate was good. I eventually switched to using a Josef Klier 7DW mouhpiece which is like a Bach 7DW, but with a bigger backbore.


Update 21st December 2015
My love of this trumpet has not diminished. It is still in regular use. A tiny amount of lacquer has come off, but it is still playing well. I am about to embark on a recording of the Vivaldi double concerto on it. The same instrument is now being sold by John Packer and Dillon Music with their respective names on it. Prices have gone up since I bought mine, but it is still a good buy I think. I believe they sell in reasonable numbers but I rarely see them come up second hand which suggests to me that people are happy with them. I had the opportunity to switch to buy a new Yamaha piccolo trumpet recently, but decided I wasn't going to gain anything by switching. I might have gained a slightly easier upper register, but would have lost some tone quality.



9 comments:

  1. Which Blackburn Leadpipe did you buy? the P1C or the P2?

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  2. I checked and it has P2 stamped on it.

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  3. I just bought this trumpet not being able to afford the more expensive ones. Seems to be workable and you are right about tweeking it with different mouthpieces etc...
    What are the 4 different lead pipes...First timeer here. :)

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  4. I just bought this trumpet not being able to afford the more expensive ones. Seems to be workable and you are right about tweeking it with different mouthpieces etc...
    What are the 4 different lead pipes...First timeer here. :)

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  5. Hello Jane,
    Mine has four leadpipes.
    The long one is for the key of A.
    The three short ones are for the key of Bb and have different resistances.
    If you look inside them you will see that each has a slightly different bore and taper.
    The middle sized one is the best place to start.
    I also have a Blackburn leadpipe for A which improves it further.

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  6. Thanks Gordon. Also, could you give me an idea what a good size mouthpiece for baroque music would be? I currently use a Bach 10 1/2 CW on my B flat. I ordered a schilke 11Ax and a Bach 10 1/2 EW to test. What is your opinion for supporting the high range on this trumpet.

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  7. ...Oh and one last question. Do you have any video's on how to maintain this rotary valve trumpet. i.e. oil to use on the valves?

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  8. Mouthpiece choice is very difficult to advise on. I have tended to play quite large mouthpieces on piccolo trumpet. Bach 6 for many years, then Monette AP1-5. I currently play on a Josef Klier 7DW which is like a Bach 7DW but with a more open backbore. This is not unlike a 7C, but with a more comfortable rim (for me).

    Oiling is the same as for a French Horn. Look on youtube for a video of that and you should find one. The only problem you will have is getting oil into the second valve. I put it into the first, work the valves and let it get round into the second. Its better to use a specific rotary valve oil as most piston valve oil evaporates too quickly.

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  9. You are most kind Gordon. I will keep viewing your blog and youtube posts. I really enjoy them.

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