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Considering Upgrading Your Bb Trumpet?

My name is Tim Saeger. Performing, teaching private lessons, and coaching trumpet in the schools for the past 20 years has given me quite a bit of experience to help guide you in choosing your next trumpet. 


There are many trumpet brands and models with even more variations to consider, all in which come in a wide variety of price ranges. It’s hard to make sense of it all.


If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask me. If I am your private instructor or coach at your school I welcome all inquires, I am here to be a resource for you.


You need to know a few basics when choosing to upgrade your trumpet. 


1.) The key and type of the instrument. Trumpets come in many different keys (Bb, C, Eb, D, G, A) as well as different style wraps (cornet, rotary, trumpet, etc). If you’re reading this, then you are likely looking to purchase a Bb Trumpet (piston trumpet) for school. 


2.) Level/Classification - Typically, there are three levels within a brand of trumpets; Beginner/Student, Intermediate, and Professional. Each brand (Yamaha, Bach, etc.) have slightly different classifications. For example, Yamaha has Student, Intermediate, professional, Xeno, Artist, and Custom models. If you understand there are basically three classifications we can move forward with some decisions. 

If you are considering an upgrade, then in my opinion, you should be looking for a professional model. Besides the superior quality of intonation and sound, a professional level instrument is just built better and will last forever if you maintain it. However, if you are considering an intermediate model, Yamaha is a great choice and the only one I would recommend. Why Yamaha? They are very high quality instruments and mass produced making them more affordable. (Note: you can find used professional models in near mint condition for the price of a used intermediate model… more on that later)

3.) Plating - There are many different finishes to choose from. Trumpets come in Lacquer Coat, Silver Plate, Gold plate, Brushed, and a few more obscure options. Each finish cost is different. The most common and affordable options are lacquer coated and silver plating. On a REALLY high professional level, musicians will choose different finishes that they believe or perceive to affect the sound of their instrument.  

I recommend silver plating or lacquer coated as they are the most cost effective and you will not likely be able to tell the difference from gold. Be aware, what many students perceive to be “gold” is only polished brass with lacquer coating. In other words, when a student says they want a gold colored trumpet, often they mean they want the lacquer coat. But if money is no object and you want the “gold” color and want it to last longer than lacquer, by all means get the gold plated instrument. As I mentioned, I recommend Silver plating as it is only about $200 more than lacquer coating, however it lasts MUCH longer than lacquer and will keep your instrument looking newer for a longer period of time, even forever with regular maintenance/cleaning.

4.) Model types - Where do I begin…. There are so many different model types/variations, it’s a daunting task to even begin to write a coherent sentence about it. What you need to know is that all these different models/variations are there for a specific purpose. In other words they exist to create a specific outcome such as, tone color, intonation, resistance, efficiency, flexibility… to name a few. Trumpet is one of the most versatile instruments played in a wide variety of musical styles. The needs of the musician vary greatly depending on whether you are an orchestral trumpeter, jazz/lead trumpeter, or a mariachi trumpeter. Instrument makers have made specialty models for these varying styles and different needs of the player. If you’re reading this, you are likely in middle school, high school, an adult student, or a parent wishing to learn about upgrading an instrument. Taking that into consideration, l will keep the conversation narrowed to models that are well suited for “everything”. If you wish to discuss options with more of a specialty, please feel free to contact me. 


The easiest answer:

The easiest answer is to get anything Yamaha. There are many quality instrument brands out there (Bach, Schilke, Sonare, Schagerl etc.), but very few have the reputation, precision, and quality of Yamaha. I will also add that Yamaha trumpets are known for having incredible consistency. Very often with other popular models you get a wide variation of “playability” within the same model. With Yamaha, you can count on identical copies within the same model, saving you time from having to play test several different trumpets of the same model. You can find them everywhere as they are mass produced, making them very affordable.


I am going to discuss Yamaha because it's the highest quality, best bang for your buck, and easiest to find new and used. Other brands label their instruments differently, so rather than attempt to list every single option out there, I am going to keep the conversation narrowed to Yamaha. However, if you wish to discuss with me different options from different brands I am happy to do so. You can contact me from my website;



The short answer with consideration for $$$:


  • If you have $1,900-$2,500 buy a new Yamaha YTR-8335 or a 8335R (find deals and try not to pay more than what I listed). 


Why the YTR-8335 or 8335R? It is known as the “everything” trumpet with no speciality. It does everything well, perfect for most players, especially in high school. This is a top tier classification in Yamaha. The number “8” in that model is the important one. You might find 8345 or other variations etc. The one consideration among the 8335 models that has the most impact on how it plays is the “R” which stands for reverse lead pipe. Most players feel that it “blows easier”. If I know you well I could probably suggest what you would like, but the easiest way to tell is to try both in a music store. You will likely be able to tell immediately which you prefer.  


  •     If you have $1,000-$1,900 buy a used Yamaha YTR-8335 or 8335R. You might consider 6335. 


  •     If you can only spend approximately $400 and you are patient you can find a used Olds Ambassador (preferably a Fullerton or LA model) online. 


Why olds ambassadors? These are professional quality trumpets that play really well. They were mass produced and you can find them at various online selling platforms like ebay. They are built like TANKS! They are also very old and... well, ugly. Which is why I suggest to my students to get these for marching band rehearsals. You WILL damage your trumpet in marching band. Consider an olds ambassador as a second instrument to protect your investment or as your main playing instrument until you can buy some of the models I have already mentioned. I have too many students to do the search for you, but if you send me links I can tell you if it's a good deal or not.  


  •     Can’t spend at least $400, rent from a store for about $25 a month until you can. Some stores have a rental program that allows you to credit the money you spent on renting towards buying a new instrument. Just be aware that you would have to buy from their store, which means buying new and whatever models they have in stock. 


Used vs New

There is nothing like a new shiny and perfectly working instrument. The pride of ownership feels extra special and you know you’re getting a perfectly working instrument. However, not all brands are created the same. Great instruments (certain brands) do not age if they are taken care of, but they do depreciate fairly quickly. So if you are patient and willing to do a bit of research you could end up saving a thousand dollars or more by buying used. If it’s the right brand, it can play just as well as a new instrument, but may have some cosmetic wear. 

Some tips for buying used: 

1.) Make sure you buy with a return policy. 

2.) Have your teacher/coach check out the link before purchase. 

3.) Have your teacher/coach play test it for you, if possible before purchase or before the return policy is up. 

4.) Make sure there are no leaks, holds compression, valves work, and no red rot or corrosion in the lead pipe. 

I have bought used instruments off of Craigslist, Ebay,,, and from Some were duds and others were incredible deals. I am amazed at what some of my students’ parents have found online. 





  • Don’t buy a trumpet from Costco, Walmart, Amazon or Target. 

  • Don’t buy a trumpet without a return policy. 

  • Don’t buy a blue, red, green, orange, or any other colored instrument other than silver plate, gold plate, or lacquer coated brass. 

  • Don’t buy a pocket trumpet… well you can, but just understand that this is a novelty instrument… well, very specific and expensive models are ok but still are not appropriate for school… some people purchase these for practicing while on travel… personally I always bring my trumpet every where I go, and occasionally use my plastic trumpet, see next bullet point.

  • Don’t buy a plastic trumpet… well you can, but just understand that this is a novelty instrument, and if you do, get only the tromba or the p-trumpet. Also understand this is not appropriate for school or regular practice. If I am traveling I sometimes use my p-trumpet just to keep in shape, this is not ideal, but it is cheap and I don’t have to worry about hurting it. I literally throw it in the car. Note: ALWAYS use your own mouthpiece, not the plastic one. 




As Always, If you have any questions, want to send me a link before a purchase, feel free to contact me.

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