Bugles, cornets, flugelhorns, French horns, trombones, trumpets and tubas are some of the most popular brass instruments.
With their versatility of style and sound, brass instruments can be heard in every type of music - from jazz and classical to hip hop and funk.
This guide will give a brief comparison of these brass instruments and the relative advantages of buying new or buying used.
Points to think on
When purchasing your brass instrument, either new or used, you will need to include the cost of various necessary accessories in your budget. You will need bags or cases to protect your instrument, as well as mouthpieces and valve oil. The cost of these can add up quickly.
The best and trusted brands will vary depending on your choice of instrument. You will need to do your research, but good brands to begin looking at are Yamaha, Fender, J Michael and Jupiter.
Popular brass instruments and how they differ
Bugles are unlike other horns - except for the bell like end. They are generally shorter than trumpets or trombones and do not have a slide or valves.
Bugles are fairly consistent in shape and size, but the actual pitch of the bugle depends on the bell size. Some have a deeper or higher pitch because the bell size is comparatively larger or smaller.
Cornets are closely related to trumpets and have the same pitch. They have a much richer tone than trumpets due to the difference in the diameter and length of the horn.
Cornets and trumpets are used interchangeably in most modern ensembles. The cornet is well known and used for its unique rich tone even though the trumpet is the more popular of the two instruments.
The Flugelhorn is another type of bugle, and they are exception to the general type because they have valves.
French horns are made up of a tube of coiled brass with a flared bell at one end and a mouthpiece at the other, along with three valves.
They produce a mellow tone that is an octave lower than the trumpet. Beginners can find them tough to play.
In an orchestral setting, the French horn can be found serving as the bridge in between the heavier brass and the woodwind instruments.
Trombones are the only brass instruments whose sound relies on a slide rather than valves like in most horns. This makes them one of the more distinctive instruments in that the tone of the sound is determined by how far the slide is pulled out.
Of the various types of trombones, the one that is the most standard is the straight trombone. This is considered the easiest to learn and with the mellower tones produced by a trombone when compared to a trumpet, they are a good fit for beginning brass players.
Trumpets have a bright sound and are heard in everything from jazz to hip-hop, making them one of the most versatile instruments in the brass family.
They can produce different sounds with different combinations, by using the three valves on top to vary the length of the tubing.
Modern trumpets come in several different types and styles. The B-flat trumpet is one of the most popular, though many players will switch trumpets depending on the key and style of music that’s needed.
Tubas have three valves and a long tube of brass that widens into the bell. They are the largest of the brass family and compliment other brass instruments with their deep, rich tones.
Depending on the style of music you’re playing, and perhaps the region and country that you are playing in, you may be using one of four types of tubas. Tubas can be fairly expensive.
What to know when buying brass instruments
New brass instruments generally have a high price. Tubas and some of the more professional trumpets in particular.
You can be confident of the condition and longevity of a new instrument. Though if you are on a tight budget, buying a used instrument will be more economical.
One of the main concerns when buying pre-owned brass instruments, is the possibility of damage to the valves or other structural pieces. Some problems may not be apparent until you can actually play the instrument, so you would want to be sure of the instrument’s condition before you buy. Otherwise you may need to spend a lot of money on repairs.