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Five Common Brass Instrument Problems To Consider Before You Buy

August 17th, 2022 | 4 min read

By Ewan Moore

So you’re thinking about buying a brass instrument? Wonderful! Brass instruments are versatile, fun, and sound fantastic. But as with any group of instruments, there are problems to consider before you buy. Luckily for you, that’s what we’re here for!

In this article, we’ll discuss:

Brass instruments are expensive

Yes, brass instruments can be very expensive. But as ever, it depends on a variety of factors, including the brand, skill level, and type of brass instrument.  Tubas, for instance, are far larger than trumpets and typically cost a lot more as a result. A high-end trumpet could cost around £5,000, but the priciest tubas out there can easily set you back more than £15,000. 

The good news is that not everyone needs a brass instrument that costs quite so much, and affordable options for beginner and intermediate musicians are plenty. 

The Yamaha YTR-2330 Trumpet, for example, is a well-reviewed starter trumpet at £375. You may also consider the Thomann TR 620 L for £168. But if you’re looking to go cheaper still while ensuring a high level of quality, plastic brass instruments are an increasingly popular choice.

As with anything, there are both advantages and disadvantages to plastic instruments, and we’d encourage you to read up on the facts to see if they’re right for you. 

What we can tell you is products such as the pCornet and pTrumpet, which are £99 and £129 respectively, are comfortable, easy to use, and specifically designed to help build essential music skills that can be transferred to any number of other instruments. There’s also the pBuzz, which is just £19.99 and an excellent choice for much younger children looking to start their musical journey. 

Read more…

How Much Does A Trumpet Cost? A Beginner’s Guide

Brass instruments can break easily 

This really depends on where you buy and the level of quality of the instrument, but even the sturdiest brass instruments are susceptible to nasty knocks, drops, and bumps that can cause serious damage. 

We all know accidents can happen. Even the most careful of musicians could dent or scrape their precious brass instruments while in transit or during practice. This can often lead to expensive repairs which may even lead to the need to replace parts of the instrument. This is usually not cheap. In other words, a fragile trombone or trumpet might not be the best option if you’re buying for a child with infamously buttery fingers. 

While you’d assume plastic instruments are just as fragile (if not more breakable), they can in fact usually take much more of a beating. For example, the entire range of pInstruments is made from a virtually indestructible ABS design, which means they can withstand the clumsiest players out there. 

Brass Instruments are difficult to maintain 

The vast majority of instruments require semi-regular maintenance to keep them in the best condition, and brass instruments can be particularly needy on this front. 

Traditional brass instruments need a properly thorough cleaning at least once a month. And if you’re serious about doing it right, you’ll want to invest in a special kit like valve oil, cloths, and brushes to really get down into the hard-to-reach areas and give ‘em a proper scrub. 

The good news is that you can get a basic Stagg Trumpet Maintenance Kit for less than £20, with fancier and more expensive kits available depending on your needs. 

It’s also worth pointing out that plastic instruments are pretty hassle-free by comparison. The slide on pBone and the valves on pTrumpet require little maintenance. No water and gunk on the slide is needed and oil on the valves will slow them down. These instruments really have been designed to pick up, play, and enjoy with no fuss and zero stress. 

Brass instruments are hard to master 

Well, yes and no. Honestly, this depends on a huge number of things that we’ve covered in more detail elsewhere on the blog. We’ll leave links for you below if you’re interested in reading more, of course. 

The long and short of it is that some brass instruments are harder to get to grips with than others. 

For instance, The trumpet is arguably the second-hardest brass instrument to properly learn after the French horn. Conversely, the trombone can be a lot easier to get those first sounds on and start playing properly. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of specially designed paths for learning a brass instrument, especially for younger players. As we’ve already mentioned, the pBugle is a fantastic and affordable first trumpet, while pTrumpet and pCornet are robust and hassle-free beginner trumpets that offer a fun and engaging experience for slightly older kids 

The pBuzz is also a fantastic starter instrument for younger children looking to make their first sound, while the pBone Mini and pBone are great options for newcomers and students alike. You can also check out our own online learning resources for the trumpet and trombone

No matter which brass instrument you choose, there’s no getting around the fact that mastering it will take time, skill, and patience. 

Read more

What Is The Easiest Instrument To Learn?

How Long Does It Take To Learn A Brass Instrument?

Brass Instruments are too loud 

Okay, there’s no getting around this one. Brass is one of the loudest families of instruments around, with the trumpet and trombone usually the loudest instruments in an orchestra! 

In a performance, the trumpet can range between 80 and 110 decibels, while the trombone can peak at around 115 decibels. Need some more context? Here are a few other noises that typically hit around 80 decibels:

  • A hairdryer
  • A busy downtown street
  • A loud alarm clock
  • An old vacuum cleaner 
  • A dishwasher 

So yes, brass instruments are loud. But don’t let this put you off! If you’re conscious of annoying the neighbours with practice at home, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the noise. 

The first (and possibly easiest) option is to purchase a mute. You can buy mutes for various brass instruments online for anywhere between £25 to £100 depending on the level of quality and sound you’re after. No matter which mute you choose, it will quieten your instrument. Just remember that some mutes require extra pressure to play, which could affect your technique once removed. 

You could also try playing on just the mouthpiece, removing the brass instrument from the equation. While this might seem a bit silly at first, it’s a great way to try out some simple buzzing exercises and strengthen your embouchure - this is what we call the all-important position of our tongue, teeth, and lips while playing. Consider making use of things like BrassTabs and the Brass Blast UK YouTube Channel for simple and accessible exercises you can try just on your mouthpiece! 

Find out more 

Convinced a plastic instrument is the right instrument for you? Feel free to browse through our comprehensive learning guide, or take a look at the full range of pInstruments to see if there might be a better fit for you. 

And if you’re still not sure, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions you might have!

Ewan Moore

After seven years writing about video games, Ewan made the jump to the music instrument industry to stop his family asking when he was going to get a real job. Mostly, though, he adores music and is passionate about its vital role throughout life - especially in education. He also played guitar in several bands with deeply embarrassing names that won't be revealed here. With a degree in journalism from an NCTJ-accredited university under his belt, Ewan uses everything he learned as a writer over the last decade to help answer any questions you might have about pBone Music in an accessible (and hopefully entertaining) way. Because if you can write 1,000 words on SSDs and ray-tracing, you can explain why plastic instruments are accessible, sustainable, and fun.