The Trumpet, Part I: Meet the UK's most popular brass instrument

Close-up of the YTR-8310Z Bobby Shew Custom Trumpet

Blow Your Own Trumpet

Part I: Meet the UK's most popular brass instrument

The trumpet is one of the most important and versatile instruments in the brass section. Its powerful yet agile tone can create distinctive harmonies and counter melodies which span musical genres ranging from pop to classical - trumpets are regularly played in jazz bands, rock and pop bands, marching bands and almost all orchestras.

The trumpet has the highest register of all the brass instruments and has a striking, triumphal sound, used to great effect for example, in classical baroque compositions from Haydn, Vivaldi, Mozart and maybe most famous of all, the high piccolo trumpet in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2. But it's also featured in pop, rock and dance - including this year’s chart-hit Giant from Calvin Harris and Rag'n’Bone Man.

Photo of a Yamaha cornet alongside a Yamaha trumpet

Trumpet vs. Cornet: What's the difference?


It’s a common misconception that the cornet is just a short trumpet. Although trumpets and cornets are both made from brass and look (and often sound) very similar, there are some important differences...


The most obvious difference is that the cornet appears shorter than the trumpet; trumpets are usually around 19” long whilst cornets can range between 13” and 16”. But were you to straighten the tubing of both a trumpet and a cornet, you'd find that actually, both have the same length. The apparent difference results from a trumpet's tubing only being coiled in one complete revolution while the cornet’s tubing is coiled in two complete revolutions. The valve cluster on a trumpet is two-thirds of the way along the length of the instrument while on the cornet, it's situated about halfway. Some younger brass players are encouraged to learn to play cornet before moving onto the trumpet, because the cornet's size and shape makes it easier to get used to.

Photo of a Yamaha cornet alongside a Yamaha trumpet


Although the cornet and trumpet can have similar timbres, each traditionally lends itself to different styles of music due to the shape of the bore. The trumpet has a largely cylindrical bore - the tubing staying more or less the same diameter along its length (until you reach the bell section). This gives trumpets a more piercing, powerful and direct sound. The tubing on a cornet is slightly conical - the diameter of the tubing increases gradually from one end to the other. This creates a softer and more mellow tone.


Both instruments are played by 'buzzing' your lips and so their mouthpieces are similar in shape - but because of their distinct sounds, the nuances of the lip shape and position changes depending on the style and genre of the music being played.

Where to spot them

Trumpets are often found in orchestras, jazz bands and the horn sections of rock and pop bands. Cornets are more often played in brass bands, whilst trumpets and cornets are both played in concert and military bands.

Yamaha YTR-8310Z Trumpet

More than half a century of Yamaha development


Our very first brass instrument was a trumpet; the YTR-1 was released in 1966. Since then, we've continuously researched and developed the way we design and make brass instruments - always putting input from world-class players at the forefront of design decisions. Our trumpets today are made using our best scientific understanding combined with the skill of our artisan instrument makers and the experience of our artists.

From our student models to our professional and custom instruments, our trumpets are renowned for their quality - as a result, Yamaha trumpets are played around the globe by musicians of all abilities.

Today, several types of trumpet are available with the most popular being the Bb trumpet with either piston or rotary valves. At the Yamaha Music London store, you can find a range of Bb, C, D, Eb and E trumpets as well as high-pitched piccolo trumpets and rotary valve trumpets.

Promotional image for the Yamaha YTR-1 Trumpet, circa 1966
Yamaha Silent Brass System and Trumpet

Keeping the noise down - Yamaha Silent Brass Systems


Practise wherever and whenever suits you, with our award winning Silent Brass technology. There are times when playing a trumpet at normal volume just won't go down well with housemates, fellow students/bandmates or neighbours. Whilst conventional practice mutes can reduce the audible volume of the trumpet, they also rob the sound of character, expression and nuance - and they can bring an unwelcome change in how the trumpet responds to your playing.

Our Silent Brass technology is effectively a complete soundproofed electronic studio - small enough to carry around. Consisting of a pickup mute and Silent Brass module, the system uses our proprietary and exclusive Brass Resonance Modelling to deliver the natural acoustic tone you'd usually hear when playing un-muted, but through headphones or earbuds instead. And thanks to the intricate design of the pickup mute, the trumpet's normal response is maintained - so it feels like you're playing mute free.

It's the perfect solution for practising at home, in halls of residence or in a studio, dramatically bringing down the audible volume of your trumpet for anyone nearby.

The Silent Brass system also offers reverb options (to simulate performing in a concert hall, church or practice room) and allows you to link in other instruments, input CDs, MP3 players and other sources for playing along to. An output socket makes recording a simple task.

Yamaha Silent Brass System


Trumpet being played

Bold as Brass: From marching bands to rave music

From the mines to the Royal Albert Hall

The UK has a rich tradition of colliery bands. Along with the likes of the world famous Black Dyke Mills Band (which began in 1855), the UK is home to the most prestigious brass band competitions in the world. The National, as it is often referred to, is the brass band equivalent of the football league – a first-past-the-post championship involving around 600 bands in eight regional qualifying heats staged up and down the UK, with two finals.

The last few years have seen a renaissance in the popularity of the National, particularly the Championship Section event held in the Royal Albert Hall, London, which now attracts over 4,000 each year to hear the band world’s top ensembles battle for the UK’s top title. The Championship Section Final is further enhanced, regularly, by a glittering concert showcasing the brass band world’s top talent. Recent years have seen a plethora of stars appear in Kapitol Brass in Concert, including the country’s leading trumpet players, Tony Fisher and the late Derek Watkins and Don Lusher, the dazzling international euphoniumist, David Childs, LSO Brass, the Band of HM Royal Marines, Black Dyke and Cory Band, the eclectic Mnozil Brass and many, many more performance giants.


Acid Brass

In the late 1990s, conceptual artist Jeremy Deller and Stockport’s Williams Fairey Band collaborated in a landmark event which showed the potential of the brass band in the burgeoning rave culture of the time. It set the tone for a new generation of brass bands. Subsequently, the irresistible energy of the brass sound was harnessed in the US and the UK by the likes of Youngblood Brass Band and Hot 8 Brass Band and, on the fringes of British pop, Manchester‘s 9 strong Riot Jazz Band (with their signature sound featuring 3 trumpets and non-stop dance floor anthems).

Inspiration for contemporary live brass bands draws from New Orleans with elements of hip hop, funk, classical and electronic music. Their material blends jazz, hip-hop, drum ‘n’bass, Balkan, grime and dubstep and enjoys chart success. In 2011, Brighton hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks were in the Top 40 for 13 weeks with “Down with the Trumpets” and this year’s gospel-inspired house hit Giant – the collaboration with Rag'n'Bone Man and Calvin Harris - has topped charts around the world.

The versatility of the Brass sound crosses the musical spectrum.

Photo of Bobby Shew

Working with Legends: Yamaha Trumpet Artists & Their Signature Models

We're proud to make some of the world's most sought-after trumpets. But we wouldn't have been able to do this without the invaluable input of some of the world's most sought-after trumpet players. And, sometimes, we'll work with an artist to create a brand new instrument perfectly tailored to their needs and playing style.

Bobby Shew, Eric Miyashiro and Wayne Bergeron are three of those artists - here are their stories...

Portrait of Bobby Shew

Bobby Shew – Soloist of distinction

The Man Behind the Legend

Legendary jazz trumpet player Bobby Shew began playing the guitar at the age of eight and switched to trumpet at ten. By the time he was thirteen, he was playing at local dances with a number of bands. By fifteen, had put together his own group to play at dances, occasional concerts and in jazz coffee houses. He spent most of his high school nights playing at a dinner club, giving him an early start to his professional career.

He spent three years as the jazz trumpet soloist in the famed NORAD multi-service band. Shortly after leaving, he joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under the direction of Sam Donahue, which gave him the chance to perform with trumpet legend Charlie Shavers. After his stint with Tommy Dorsey, Bobby was asked to play with Woody Herman's band upon Bill Chase's recommendation. He then spent some time playing for Della Reese and Buddy Rich, whose big band had just been formed.

Many similar situations followed, and Bobby played lead trumpet for a number of pop stars. This brought Bobby to live in Las Vegas, where he became prominent in various hotels and casinos. By this time, Bobby was widely known for his strong lead playing rather than as a jazz soloist. So, late in 1972, he decided to make a move to the Los Angeles area in order to develop as a jazz player.

Once in Los Angeles, Bobby spent time with the groups of Art Pepper, Bud Shank, Horace Silver Quintet and Frank Strazzeri-Sam Most, as well as numerous big bands such as Bill Holman, Louie Bellson, Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin, Oliver Nelson, Bill Berry, Nat Pierce-Frank Capp Juggernaut, Ed Shaughnessy, Terry Gibbs, Benny Goodman, Maynard Ferguson, Neal Hefti, Don Menza and Bob Florence.

In addition to being a sideman, Bobby also became a leader, recording many of his own albums. Several received very high accolades from critics and high placement on the airplay charts. Outstanding In His Field was nominated for a Grammy in 1980, while Heavy Company was awarded the Jazz Album Of The Year in 1983.

During this time, Bobby also found a great deal of studio work, including TV shows like "Hawaii 5-O," "Streets of San Francisco," "Bob Newhart," "Mary Tyler Moore," "Midnight Specials," "Don Kirschner Rock Concert," "Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley" and "Eight is Enough". His work on soundtracks includes Grease I and II, Rocky I and II, Six-Pack, The Muppet Movie, The Drivers and Taxi. He has even held a few minor acting roles in movies and TV shows.

In addition to a busy performing and private teaching schedule, Bobby spends a considerable amount of time actively involved in the educational system, conducting clinics and master classes all over the world. Bobby has been active on the Board of Directors of the International Trumpet Guild, and acted as National Trumpet Chairman for the International Association of Jazz Educator's for 16 years. He authors numerous articles of educational interest in various trade magazines, translated and distributed worldwide. Bobby has been an artist-in-residency all over the world.

He continues to tour internationally and produce and record excellent music. He has released several albums for the MAMA Foundation, including Playing With Fire with Tom Harrell, Heavyweights with Carl Fontana and Salsa Caliente. In addition, for other labels, Bobby released a highly regarded CD recorded with the The Metropole Orchestra and a double-CD set for Seabreeze Records, The Music of John Harmon.


Yamaha YTR-8310Z Bobby Shew Signature Trumpet

The Instrument: The YTR-8310Z Bobby Shew Signature Trumpet

Designed and refined over many years in collaboration with Bobby Shew, the versatile tone of our YTR-8310Z Signature Trumpet means it's suitable for a wide range of musical styles - and perfect for its co-creator and the wider jazz trumpet playing community.

The YTR-8310Z's solid tonal core especially makes it ideal for all types of jazz. This exciting trumpet makes use of our latest Yamaha structural technology and other features refined through countless evaluations by Bobby Shew and our R&D team at Yamaha.

Eric Miyashiro

Eric Miyashiro: Musical Polymath

The Man Behind the Legend: Eric Miyashiro

Eric Miyashiro: Composer, writer, trumpet player and band leader. Born and raised in Hawaii to a musical family, Eric is now one of the most in demand soloist/clinician in the world. He spent his early days in Honolulu studying both classical and Pop/Jazz music, later moving to Berklee College of Music to continue his education. Since leaving school, he has toured worldwide with: Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Stevie Wonder, Tower of Power, and performed with many other artists and orchestras around the globe. Eric now resides in Japan, where he is the first call studio/session/solo player, and is also very active as a leader of his own bands; EM band and the Blue Note All Star Jazz Orchestra.

Eric Miyashiro


Eric's versatility has been showcased in many television shows, radio, and film scores. He is also known as an accomplished composer, arranger, and producer. Eric is a visiting trumpet/popular music professor at Kunitachi College of Music, Showa Music Academy, Senzoku Gakuen College of Music, and Osaka University of Arts. Eric Miyashiro is an International Yamaha Performing Artist.


Yamaha YTR-8340EM Eric Miyashiro Signature Trumpet

The Instrument: The YTR-8340EM Eric Miyashiro Signature Trumpet

Our YTR-8340EM Mk II Trumpet was developed in collaboration with Eric Miyashiro. From its triple ring finger hook, large bell with French bead, side seam finish and customised mouthpiece design to its semi-hard double backpack case, the instrument showcases our attention to detail - and the precision demanded by Miyashiro himself.

Wayne Bergeron

Wayne Bergeron: Rockstar of the Brass World

The Man Behind the Legend: Wayne Bergeron

Wayne Bergeron is enjoying a career as one of the most sought-after musicians in the world. Studio sessions, film dates, international touring, jazz concerts, guest appearances and clinics keep him busy not only in his hometown of Los Angeles, California, but worldwide.

As a sideman, Bergeron's list of recording credits reads like a "who's who" in contemporary jazz and pop, running the stylistic gamut from Ray Charles to Green Day. Other names include Beyoncé, Barbra Streisand, Michael Bublé, Dirty Loops, Seth MacFarlane, Natalie Cole, Celine Dion, Seal, Diana Krall, Tito Puente, Christina Aguilera, Dianne Reeves, Michael Bolton, Earth Wind & Fire, The Pussycat Dolls, My Chemical Romance, The Mars Volta and many others.

Bergeron has worked on over 400 TV and motion picture soundtracks. A partial list of recent film credits include Incredibles 2, La La Land, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Crazy Rich Asians, The First, Smallfoot, The Predator, Sing, Moana, Frozen, Rocky Balboa, Bridge of Spies, Get on Up, Toy Story 3, Monsters University, Planes, Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2.


Bergeron's passion for big bands has led to his inclusion in some of Los Angeles' most well-respected bands. He has recorded and played with Quincy Jones, Gordon Goodwin, Arturo Sandoval, Pat Williams, Sammy Nestico, Jack Sheldon, Chris Walden, Tom Kubis, John La Barbera, Bob Florence, Ray Anthony, Bill Watrous and Bob Curnow.

After being behind the scenes for so many years, Bergeron stepped out on his own with his first solo effort, You Call This a Living?, in 2012. This debut project earned him a Grammy Award nomination in 2004 for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album as well as rave reviews from fans and press worldwide. Bergeron's second CD, Plays Well with Others, was released on the Concord Jazz label in 2007 and was met with the same acclaim. Full Circle was released in January 2016.


Yamaha YTR-8335LA Wayne Bergeron Signature Trumpets

The Instrument: The YTR-8335LA Wayne Bergeron Signature Trumpet

Our YTR-8335LA Trumpet was developed together with Wayne Bergeron. Bergeron's incredible attention to detail has resulted an instrument which includes lavish French bead and side seams and a medium-large bore tubing - so that the trumpet offers superior operability with strong, brilliant tonal colours. It's suited to various genres, inparticular jazz and popular music.

Man playing the trumpet against a clear sky in Cuba

Great reasons to play trumpet

Learning to play any instrument can be a rewarding experience and provide years of enjoyment but the trumpet in particular has some very specific benefits...

Large and in charge

Some people may steer clear of the trumpet because it is a loud instrument but trumpeters are often the lead players with the spotlight fully on them. In general, the brass section of any musical group will carry the melody and be on display. It can be a powerful wall of sound!

Improve your breathing and core muscles

Playing any wind instrument requires advanced breathing skills. It’s important to be able to inhale and exhale correctly so that you can play all of notes and musical phrases on the page. This means that you need to hone your breathing skills and develop them. In doing so, you’ll improve your lung capacity and strengthen your core muscles. Most players stand when they practice and play in performances, which makes it an active exercise.

Getting started

Musical instruments come in all shapes and sizes, and as a result, there is a broad spectrum of prices that you can pay for instruments. In general, larger instruments tend to be more expensive even for beginner models. A trumpet is a great starting point for beginners and few supplies are required other than a trumpet mouthpiece and a few accessories such as a sturdy case and stand.

As you improve your playing skills you can move up to a more advanced model that will provide even better tone and control.

Travelling light

The trumpet is lightweight and easy to transport. A trumpet player can simply put their instrument into a compact carrying case and go wherever they need to.

Versatility across musical genres

There are a number of instruments that allow you to play in different styles. For example, you can play jazz or classical music with the piano and many other instruments can be used in different stylistic ways. The trumpet is especially unique because it is featured in a variety of styles of music. In fact, there are some forms of music that simply don’t sound right if they don’t include at least one trumpet part. If you choose to play the trumpet as your primary instrument, you’ll have the opportunity to play orchestral music, jazz, chamber music, rock, Latin and band music.

Easy to start, rewarding to master

For those who are just starting out or those who are at an intermediate level, the trumpet is a fairly easy instrument to get going with. There are three valves on the trumpet that can be pressed down in different combinations to create all of the notes. There is also the open note, which means the note that comes out when you don’t hold any of the valves down.

Unlike the piano, which requires playing lots of different combinations of notes and chords with both of your hands and often requires playing different melodies and lines of music with each hand, the trumpet player plays one note at a time. Much of the skill centres around developing your breathing skills and mastering music theory. Learn to play the trumpet and you will have transferable skills to other brass instruments such as the French horn, trombone, baritone horn and tuba.

In Demand

Playing music with other people can be an extremely rewarding experience. You'll meet new friends and share a love for art and music. The trumpet is in high demand thanks to the many music genres (from pop to classical) which benefit from the trumpet's sound.

Relieve stress and anxiety

People who play a musical instrument say that it helps them with stress and anxiety and can be a welcome distraction from everyday problems. Even if you don’t plan on becoming a professional trumpet player, this can be beneficial for your mental and emotional health.

Playing music makes you smarter

Playing the trumpet is a great way to develop your musical theory skills. Musical theory is the science of music. It explains how certain notes come together to produce chords, phrases, songs and movements. Understanding this and using it to produce music alone or with others can actually help increase your mental capacity. There are numerous studies that have proven that knowing, understanding and playing music on a regular basis improves your mental agility.

Go for it!

As you can see, there are a number of advantages to learning to play the trumpet. In general, learning to play any instrument can be a rewarding experience and provide years of enjoyment. But the trumpet especially will give you the biggest benefits overall. When well played, it’s a beautiful sounding and versatile instrument.

Whether you’re just in the beginning stages of learning or have been playing the trumpet for a while, make sure that you keep practicing. Music, as with many other skills, takes practice, and there’s no better time to start than now.

Finally, if you’re in the market for a new trumpet visit and discover the best trumpets for beginners, intermediate players and professionals.