Shopping for a new instrument is one of the great joy’s and any musician’s life.  It is also a very complicated process if you do not know what to look for.  The information below should help you in the process.

When is it time for a new instrument??

A quality instrument is essential to a student’s musical growth and maturity.  In many cases, students enter high school still playing on the same instrument they started on as beginners.  Beginning instruments are designed for young students to make learning easier.  Although these instruments easily produce sounds, they are quite limiting to the more advanced player.

Range, tone quality, and key action are the most noticeable differences.  Beginning instruments do not have an easy, wide playing range, which is required of high school music students.  The material of which the instrument is made influences the tone of an instrument.  For better tone, as an example, look for flutes with more silver, or clarinets made of wood.  Key action is generally slower on beginning instruments, whereas better quality instruments have better quality keys and mechanisms.

A good quality instrument will provide the high school music student continued improvement and enjoyment.  A good instrument is fun to play and may add to practice time.  Not only will there be a noticeable difference in the individual sound, but it can also affect the total sound of the band.  For a high school student to make adequate progress, a better quality instrument should be a very real and serious consideration.  If a new instrument is not a reality, then a good place to start is with a new mouthpiece.  The mouthpiece is where the sound is initially started, and a good mouthpiece can make a great difference.

Know What’s In Store.

In today’s market, consumers have a full slate of retailers to choose from.  You can find online stores, auction sites, large chain stores and local merchants.  There are pros and cons to each of these options.  The larger stores deal in greater quantities, thus saving you money, but the local merchant often has years of expertise and an on-site repair tech to help you later on.  There are also instrument specific stores that may provide the best of both worlds.  The key is to speak with someone you trust for guidance…often a music director or private instructor.

Do Your Homework.

Between catalogs, your private instructor, your music director, the Internet, and your friends and colleagues, you can learn a lot in a little bit of time.  Knowledge is power, but can also be too much information.  This knowledge not only helps when you are comparing different makes/models, but will also allow you to speak with the salesperson with some degree of background. The key is to speak with someone you trust for guidance…often a music director or private instructor.

Play…LISTEN!

The most important aspect of this process is to get a feel for each instrument and how they sound.  Play on several different instruments and mouthpieces.  If possible, have your Music Director/private lesson teacher go with you to play the instruments or to offer some guidance in the selection of an instrument.

It is a good idea to look into the Return Policy.  Some stores will allow you a 1-2 week period of trial.  Some will not take returns once they have left the store.  Know the policy.

Here are some suggestions to help you with the process…

1) QUIET

Find a quiet room where you are away from noise and distractions.

2) LIMITATIONS

This is the main point of play testing an instrument.  What can the instrument do?  Does the instrument make things harder or easier?  Do not change how you play…try to make the horn work for you.

3) YOUR FUTURE

You won’t get to know your instrument well in only a few short sittings, but look to the future.  Are the notes centered?  How is the uniformity of response and sound in all registers?  How is the intonation in all registers?  How does the instrument project?  How is the mechanical function?  In general, think about how the instrument will be in the many different settings you will use it.

4) BLINDFOLD TEST

The final test should be having some trusted colleagues listen to you play the different instruments you are considering.  Tune all of the instruments uniformly and then play the same exercises/music on each of the instruments.  Have your jury decide what that they like and consider that in your final decision.

It is important to talk with your Music Director or private instructor if you have any questions before making a purchase.  To this end, we can enhance your son/daughter’s musical experience to make high school as rewarding and enjoyable.  If I may be of assistance in your musical journey, please do not hesitate to ask.

 

INSTRUMENT RECOMMENDATIONS

PICCOLO

  • Recommended Brand: Yamaha (YPC62) for indoor use (YPC32) for outdoor use
  • Accessories: Cleaning Rod, Cleaning Cloth

FLUTE

  • Recommended Brand: Yamaha (YFL381 w/B foot)
  • Accessories: Cleaning Rod, Cleaning Cloth

OBOE

  • Recommended Brand: Fox-Renard, Loree
  • Recommended Reeds: Hand-Made (Do not purchase from music store.-See Director for info!)
  • Accessories: Cork Grease, Silk Swab, Reed Case, Water Container, 4 good reeds!

Bb SOPRANO CLARINET

Recommended Brand: Buffet (R13 or E11), Yamaha (YCL64 or YCL52)

Recommended Mouthpiece: Vandoren (B45)

Recommended Ligature: Rovner (Dark, Eddie Daniels)

Recommended Reeds: Vandoren (2 ½, 3, 3 ½, 4)

REQUIRED Accessories: Cork Grease, Swab, Reed Saver, Mouthpiece Cap, 4 good reeds!

Recommended Accessories: N/A

Bb BASS CLARINET

Recommended Brand: Buffet, Yamaha

Recommended Mouthpiece: Vandoren (B45)

Recommended Ligature: Rovner (Dark, Eddie Daniels)

Recommended Reeds: Vandoren (2 ½, 3, 3 ½, 4)  

REQUIRED Accessories: Cork Grease, Swab, Reed Saver, Mouthpiece Cap, 4 good reeds!

Recommended Accessories: N/A

BASSOON

Recommended Brand: Fox Renard, Heckle

Recommended Reeds: Hand-Made (Do not purchase from music store.-See Director for info!)

REQUIRED Accessories: Seat Strap, Crutch, Silk Swab, Parrafin (Cork Grease), 4 good reeds!

Recommended Accessories:

Bb SOPRANO SAXOPHONE

Recommended Brand: Selmer (Series II, Series III), Yamaha (YSS Custom)

Recommended Mouthpiece: Selmer C* (S90 or S80), Selmer C** (S90 or S80)

Recommended Mouthpiece (Jazz):

Recommended Ligature: Rovner (Dark, Eddie Daniels)

Recommended Reeds: Vandoren (2, 2 ½, 3)  

REQUIRED Accessories: Cork Grease, Swab, Reed Saver, Mouthpiece Cap, 4 good reeds!

Recommended Accessories: Mouthpiece pouch/mouse

Eb ALTO SAXOPHONE

Recommended Brand: Selmer (Series II, Series III), Yamaha (YAS62, YAS Custom)

Recommended Mouthpiece: Selmer C* (S90 or S80), Selmer C** (S90 or S80)

Recommended Mouthpiece (Jazz): Meyer 6, Meyer 7, Meyer 8 (Small or Medium Chamber)

Recommended Ligature: Rovner (Dark, Eddie Daniels), Bay Ligature

Recommended Reeds: Vandoren (2, 2 ½, 3)  

REQUIRED Accessories: Cork Grease, Swab, Reed Saver, Mouthpiece Cap, 4 good reeds!

Recommended Accessories: Mouthpiece pouch/mouse

Bb TENOR SAXOPHONE

Recommended Brand: Selmer (Series II, Mark VI), Yamaha (YTS62, YTS Custom)

Recommended Mouthpiece: Selmer C* (S90 or S80), Selmer C** (S90 or S80)

Recommended Mouthpiece (Jazz): Meyer 7*, Meyer 8* (Small or Medium Chamber), Strathon Adjustable

Recommended Ligature: Rovner (Dark, Eddie Daniels)

Recommended Reeds: Vandoren (2, 2 ½, 3)  

REQUIRED Accessories: Cork Grease, Swab, Reed Saver, Mouthpiece Cap, 4 good reeds!

Recommended Accessories: Mouthpiece pouch/mouse

Eb BARITONE SAXOPHONE

Recommended Brand: Selmer (Series II, Series III), Yamaha (YBS62, YBS Custom)

Recommended Mouthpiece: Selmer C* (S90 or S80), Selmer C** (S90 or S80)

Recommended Mouthpiece (Jazz):

Recommended Ligature: Rovner (Dark, Eddie Daniels)

Recommended Reeds: Vandoren (2, 2 ½, 3)  

REQUIRED Accessories: Cork Grease, Swab, Reed Saver, Mouthpiece Cap, 4 good reeds

Recommended Accessories: Mouthpiece pouch/mouse]

TRUMPET

Recommended Brand: Bach (LR180S-37, other models), Yamaha (8345)

*Silver trumpets are recommended because of their brilliance.

Recommended Mouthpiece: Bach (3C, 1 ½C, 1 ¼C, 1C) 

REQUIRED Mutes: Straight Mute (Denis Wick-Copper Bottom), Cup Mute (Denis Wick Adjustable) 

REQUIRED Mutes (Jazz): Bubble Mute (Jo-Ral)

REQUIRED Accessories: Valve Oil, Heavy Bodied Slide Oil (Hetman), Cleaning Snake

Recommended Accessories: Hand Guard (Leather)

FRENCH HORN

Recommended Brand: Holton (H179, H180, H181), Yamaha (YHR461D, YHR567D, YHR667D, YHR668D)

Recommended Mouthpiece: Holton (Farkas, MC, MDC), Yamaha 304C

REQUIRED Mutes: Non-Transposing Mute

REQUIRED Accessories: Rotor Oil (Hetman), Heavy Bodied Slide Oil (Hetman), Cleaning Snake

Recommended Accessories: Hand Guard (Leather)

TROMBONE

Recommended Brand: Bach (42TG-“Thayer” Valve w/Gold Brass Bell), Conn (88H), Yamaha (YSL682B)

*Lacquered trombones are recommended because of their warmth.

Recommended Mouthpiece: Bach (6½AL, 5G)

REQUIRED Mutes: Straight Mute (Jo-Ral Aluminum)

REQUIRED Accessories: Slide-O-Mix, Rotor Oil (Hetman), Heavy Bodied Slide Oil (Hetman)

Cleaning Rod, 4” x 4” Cotton Rag, Cleaning Snake

Recommended Accessories: Hand Guard (Leather)

BASS TROMBONE

Recommended Brand: Bach, Conn, Yamaha

Recommended Mouthpiece: Bach (5G, 3G, 2G, 1G)

REQUIRED Mutes: Straight Mute (Jo-Ral Aluminum)

REQUIRED Accessories: Slide-O-Mix, Rotor Oil (Hetman), Heavy Bodied Slide Oil (Hetman)

Cleaning Rod, 4” x 4” Cotton Rag, Cleaning Snake

Recommended Accessories: Hand Guard (Leather)

EUPHONIUM

Recommended Brand: Yamaha (YEP642), Willson (2900DS), 

Recommended Mouthpiece: Schilke (51D), Bach (5G, 3G, 2G, 1G)

REQUIRED Accessories: Valve Oil, Heavy Bodied Slide Oil (Hetman), Cleaning Snake

Recommended Accessories:

TUBA

Recommended Brand: Getzen, Canadian Brass (CB50), Yamaha (YBB621)

Recommended Mouthpiece: Perantucci, Schilke (69C4, Helleberg)

REQUIRED Accessories: Valve Oil or Rotor Oil (Hetman), Heavy Bodied Slide Oil (Hetman)

Recommended Accessories: Non-Slip Lap Pad, Cleaning Snake

 

PERCUSSION

ALL BAND PROGRAM MEMBERS

MUSIC STAND

Recommended Brand: Any brand is OK!

TUNER

Tonal Energy

METRONOME

Recommended Brand: Boss (Dr. Beat DB90, DB66, DB12), Tama (Rhythm Watch), Korg (BeatLab)

Flute & Piccolo

Material

  • Nickel Silver: Copper Alloy (60% Copper, 20% Nickel, 20% Zinc) Lively sound and solid tone.
  • Silver-Plated: Produces a warmer, darker sound than nickel (bright sound)
  • Sterling Silver: Produces a darker, purer  sound than Silver-Plated..
  • Gold:  Warmer, Richer and more resonant sound than Sterling.

Construction

  • Plateau Keys: Closed hole. 
  • Open Hole Keys: French style. Vents better, improves tuning & insures better finger position.
  • Ribbed: Posts are soldered onto a plate which is soldered onto body. Spreads force of impact to prevent denting. Added mass dampens (darkens) the sound.
  • Non-Ribbed: Posts soldered directly on body. Reduced mass brightens sound, improves response, more prone to damage.

Lip Plates / Head joints

(produces 80% of sound – different shapes create different sounds)

Lip Plate: 

  • Sterling silver lip plate & riser produces a warmer, richer sound – better tone production.  (Also easier to carve)
  • Gold Plated lip plate will counter allergic reaction to the skin from other metals.  The interior of the Headjoint is usually gold plated as well which eases in cleaning the Head joint. Also a “cosmetic” attraction.  

Head Joint:

  • Armstrong: Rich sound, even throughout all registers.
  • Galway Spirit: More over & under cutting for quick response and increased projection.
  • Avanti: Sweeter tone, wide tone color range, flexible.

Keys

  • Forged/Stamped:  Pressed or punched from sheets of metal into key shapes.  
  • Cast:  Formed by pouring molten metal into casts to create smoother keys.  Able to form pieces with less soldering required.
  • Machined:  CNC Machined to produce a flat pad seating surface.  Eliminates shifting and need for shims.

Pads

  • Bladder:  Fish skin over a felt and cardboard plate  to allow for easy sealing and increased durability.  Most common option on flutes and clarinets.
  • Synthetic:  Resistant to moisture with long life span.  It will not change form or give so it will hold seal longer than other pad options.  

Springs

  • Stainless Steel:  Corrosion resistant and extremely durable.  
  • Blued Steel:  Similar to Stainless Steel but heat treated to make them harder.  More “spring” at smaller diameters than Stainless Steel.
  • White Gold:  Lighter feel than steel options but higher cost.  Found on more expensive flutes.

Tone Holes

  • Drawn:  Pulled from the body material outward.
  • Soldered:  Holes cut in the body with the tone hole soldered onto the body.

Clarinet & Oboe

Material

  • Resonite: Thicker, denser material that combines plastic and hard rubber resulting in a darker, richer tone closer resembling wood.
  • ABS:  Resin plastic and hard rubber composite
  • Lustran: Resin used in situations requiring strength, heat resistance, stability and finish options.  
  • Grenadilla: A dense, dark wood that produces a rich, warm tone quality. Aged for three years and treated with a special mixture of linseed oil and other organic materials to repel moisture and reduce cracks.

Bore Size / Shape / Taper

  • Molded Bore: Uses an injection mold process to create the body / bore of the instrument. Can (rarely) cause some inconsistency in the bore due to shrinking of the plastic as it cools.
  • Reamed Bore: Bore of the instrument is reamed from a piece of plastic or wood. Process removes the inconsistencies of a molded instrument.
  • Smaller, Highly Tapered: Produces a rich, dark sound.
  • Larger, Straighter Taper: Produces a brighter, vibrant sound with minimal resistance.

Tone Holes

  • Straight: Tone holes drilled into the body from above.  Leaves a sharp angle inside the bore.
  • Undercut: Tone holes drilled from inside body creates a full, even sound and improves tuning and intonation.  Eliminates the turbulence caused by the sharp angle.  Improves response and intonation.

Keys

  • Forged:  Pressed or punched from sheets of metal into key shapes.
  • Cast:  Formed by pouring molten metal into casts to create smoother keys.  Able to form pieces with less soldering required.

Key Plating

  • Nickel:  Improves the corrosion resistance of the metal being used in key manufacturing.  Most common plating material in student instruments.
  • Silver:  A brighter finish than Nickel plating but will typically show tarnish or discoloration faster.
  • PVD:  Thin coating that provides a high resistance to pitting, corrosion and abrasive wear.  Has a very smooth feel.

Pads

  • Bladder:  Fish skin over a felt and cardboard plate  to allow sealing over uneven tone holes.  Most common option on flutes and clarinets.
  • Leather:  Leather over felt and cardboard plate.  Adapt to slight imperfections in the key or tone hole.  Will return to shape after becoming wet easier than bladder pads.  Most widely seen on Saxophones but occasionally used on the register key on the Clarinet.
  • Cork:  Resistant to moisture but very little give.  Will eventually compress and need to be replaced.  Needs a flatter surface than a skin or synthetic pad to seat.  Mainly used on Oboes but occasionally used on the register key on the Clarinet.
  • Synthetic:  Resistant to moisture with long life span.  It will not change form or give so it will hold seal longer than other pad options.

Saxophone

Material

  • Yellow Brass: Standard material. Lively sound and solid tone. 70% copper, 30% zinc. 
  • Red Brass: Standard material. Darker, richer tone. 85% copper, 15% zinc.
  • Brass Alloy: Warmer, darker sound, and increased projection. Increased copper content. 
  • Sterling Silver: 92.5% pure sterling silver.  Unique rich sound, full overtones.

Bore Size / Shape / Taper

  • Smaller, Highly Tapered: Produces rich, dark (typically more classical) sound.
  • Larger, Straighter Taper: Produces brighter (typically more jazz) sound.

Construction

  • Ribbed: Posts are soldered onto a plate which is soldered onto body. Spreads force of impact to prevent denting. Added mass dampens (darkens) sound the sound.
  • Non-Ribbed: Posts soldered directly on body. Reduced mass brightens sound, improves response, more prone to damage.
  • Mini-Rib: Posts are soldered onto small plates which are soldered onto the body. Improves response with increased degree of durability.

Finishes

  • Lacquer: Slightly darkens the sound
  • Silver-Plated: Slightly brightens the sound
  • Black Lacquer: Darkens sound more than lacquer

Trumpet

Bell / Body Material

  • Yellow Brass: Standard material. Produces a lively sound and solid tone. (70% copper, 30% zinc).  Quicker response compared to Gold Brass.
  • Gold (Red) Brass: Warmer, darker sound than yellow brass with more carrying power. (85% copper, 15% zinc). 
  • Sterling Plus:  (Bach only)  99.9% pure sterling silver. Creates a richer sound with full overtones – more projection.
  • Sterling Silver: 92.5% pure sterling silver.  Unique rich sound, full overtones.

Bell Construction  (Determines the characteristic sound of the instrument)

  • One-Piece Bell: (Professional) Bell formed from one continuous piece of metal producing a greatly improved tone over a two-piece bell.
  • Two-Piece Bell: (Student & Intermediate) Bell flare soldered on stem.

Bach: Brazed (soldered)

Conn, King, Holton: Plasma fused (no filler material)

Bell Weight

  • Lightweight - Lighter, thinner brass. Responds faster to attack. Brighter sound. (no tuning slide brace)
  • Heavy - Thicker brass. Restricts the sound more and creates a darker tone. Good for situations involving high dynamic levels without distortion. (2 tuning slide braces)
  • Standard - Falls in-between light and heavy. Good for all around uses. (1 tuning slide brace)

Bell Flare (Determines the characteristic sound of the instrument)

  • Fast Taper - Creates a warmer, darker tone (solid line).
  • Slower Taper - More brilliant sound (dotted line).

Bore Size (Determined by measuring the inner diameter of second valve slide)

  • Medium: .453”
  • Med. Large: .459” – (Most popular Bb bore)
  • Large: .462” – (Most popular C bore) & .464
  • Extra Large: .468”
  • Vindabona: .453”/.459”

Finishes

  • Silver: Slightly brightens the sound.
  • Lacquer: Slightly darkens/dampens sound. 
  • Gold: Darkens sound more than lacquer.

Pistons

  • Plated: Designed for students. Have wider tolerances & require less cleaning / lapping than Monel.
  • Stainless Steel: Designed for students. Have wider tolerances & require less cleaning / lapping than Monel.  Does not wear off like plating.  
  • Monel:  All intermediate & professional. Non-corrosive, very hard & durable. Must be hand-lapped into valve casing & fit much tighter than plated pistons. No plating or finish applied. May discolor w/use of different oils, lack of cleaning.

Trombone

Bell / Body Material

  • Yellow Brass: Standard material. Produces a lively sound and solid tone. (70% copper, 30% zinc).  Quicker response compared to Gold Brass.
  • Gold Brass: Warmer, darker sound than yellow brass with more carrying power. (85% copper, 15% zinc).
  • Rose Brass:  Warmer, darker sound. (90% copper / 10% zinc)
  • Sterling Silver: Richer sound, more projection (92.5% pure silver)
  • Sterling Plus (Bach):  Richer sound with full overtones (99.9% pure silver) 

Bell Construction  (Determines the characteristic sound of the instrument)

  • One-Piece Bell: (Professional) Bell formed from one continuous piece of brass producing a greatly improved tone over a two-piece bell.
  • Two-Piece Bell: (Student & Intermediate) Bell soldered on stem.

Bell Weight

  • Lightweight - Lighter, thinner brass. Responds faster to attack. Brighter sound. (no tuning slide brace)
  • Heavy - Thicker brass. Restricts the sound more and creates a darker tone. Good for situations involving high dynamic levels without distortion. (2 tuning slide braces)
  • Standard - Falls in-between light and heavy. Good for all around uses. (1 tuning slide brace)

Finishes

  • Silver: Slightly brightens the sound.
  • Lacquer: Slightly darkens/dampens sound. 

Bore Size (Determined by measuring the inner diameter of inner slide tubes)

Tenor

  • Small = .485” - .490”
  • Medium = .500” - .509”
  • M Large = .525
  • Large = .547”

Other

  • Medium (Alto) = .468”
  • Large (Bass) = .562”
  • Dual = .495” / .509” >481” / .491”

Slides

  • Standard: Yellow or Rose brass outer slides, chrome-plated, nickel-silver inner slides.
  • Lightweight (LT): Nickel- silver outer slides, chrome-plated, nickel silver inner slides. Produces a lighter feel, quicker response and more resistant to corrosion. 
  • Narrow:  Slide width is reduced for playing comfort

F Attachment Configurations

  • Traditional Wraps: Tighter wrap with more bends in tubing. More compact, provides more protection.
  • Open Wraps:  Eliminates sharp crook tube bends within the rotor section; allows for a free and unimpeded flow of the air column. 

Rotor Options

  • Traditional Rotor:  Rotary style with 90o and 180o bends in the tubing.
  • Axial Flow/Thayer:  A Conical style valve deflecting air at 25o bends, freeing up the response in the valve section.
  • Hagmann:  Rotary style valve with less harsh bends than a traditional rotor (60o to 66o) and less maintenance than an Axial Flow Valve.
  • Greenhoe:  Rotary style valve using angles of tubing to minimize the degree of bends through the valve section.  Unique vented airways in the brass rotor to allow constant airflow and minimize pressure when playing.
  • Lindberg (CL2000):   Rotary style valve with a direct path through the valve when open and diverting air through smoother bends to produce a more open response.