Recently a young trumpeter asked a great question–he wanted to know if he should buy a C trumpet to improve his playing.  This is not the first time I have been asked this, and I, too, wondered this as a teenager. I thought I would share the question along with my response. Let me know if you find it useful!
Hello Mr. Coletti. I recently had the opportunity to tour and test bach trumpets in Indiana. I am only fifteen years old. I have noticed more than once that in your videos you are playing  more than just the b flat trumpet like cornet, c trumpet, piccolo, etc. I was wondering if you knew any good places and links as to finding a LOW PRICE  c trumpet.  The  horn I am looking for doesn’t need to be the quality of my b flat bach artisan trumpet. I just want a c trumpet to learn and inhance my trumpet playing.

I know you are busy. So it’s not the end of the world if you don’t respond to me.
I really appreciate the consideration and time!
I am looking forward in the future to hearing one of your live concerts. You guys sound great.
Thanks
-A

Hi A,

Thanks for visiting my website!  I have a few comments/suggestions. I hope they help!
I strongly urge you not to buy an instrument that you know to be of low quality.  That being said, you can certainly find a nice C trumpet without spending too much money–your best bet is probably seeing if a teacher or friend is willing to sell you a used one that they know plays well.  You can also use eBay or a local repair shop that also carries used instruments.  trumpetherald.com also has used instruments for sale.

I would not purchase a C trumpet to improve your trumpet skills.  C trumpet is not different enough from Bb trumpet to justify practicing it as a separate instrument.  This would not be the best use of your time–especially if the C trumpet isn’t as good as your Bb.  If it helps you to know, I never practice C trumpet specifically (unless I have a performance coming up on C trumpet).

If your goal is to improve as a player (which it sounds like it is) I recommend that you focus on the following (in order of importance):

1. Musicianship/phrasing
  • listen and play along with as many great recordings (not just trumpet music) as possible!! Many people skip this step, but the best never do.
  • see as many great performances as possible
  • take or make as many performance opportunities you can (join every band, orchestra, jazz band, start a band, etc.)
2. Fundamentals
  • work on getting a gorgeous sound, light articulations, clean slurs, resonant low and high range, and improve your general level of comfort and ease on the instrument, etc.
  • Work all this stuff out before you’re 20 (if possible); you will be glad you did!
  • Work on transposing.  This takes time but is extremely important if you ever play in orchestra!
A C trumpet has 2 main purposes.  It makes transposing in certain keys easier, and it has also become the standard instrument for most trumpeters in North America orchestras.   If you want to buy a C trumpet for any of the reasons above, you DEFINITELY want a good one, especially since finding a good C trumpet is generally more difficult than finding a good Bb trumpet, particularly in older and cheaper C trumpets.
Let me know if this helps.  Stay in touch!

Best,
Chris