Trumpet Gearhead

Jim Donaldson’s answers to a few frequently, or at least occasionally, asked questions The Gearhead Consumer Report How should I test a new trumpet? When I am testing a trumpet, what exactly am I testing it for? What pro quality B flat trumpet should I buy? (revised and updated as of May 2008) Yeah, but … Continue reading “Trumpet Gearhead”

Car Guide

 Q: If my trumpet were a car, what make would it be? A: Monette: Rolls RoyceBlackburn: JaguarCalicchio: FerrariLawler: PorscheSmith Watkins: Aston MartinSchilke: MercedesKanstul: BMW (15xx series = Signature Class, 9xx series = Custom, etc.)Flip Oake’s Wild Thing: Range RoverTaylor: MorganSelmer (Paris): PeugeotCourtois: CitroenCallet: AudiStomvi: Pegasos (a classic Spanish auto)Bach: Volvo (solid cars, but boring)F. Besson: … Continue reading “Car Guide”

Dealing with Braces

 Q: Now that I have braces, what do I do? A: First, adjust your attitude. You come home with braces. They feel funny in your mouth and your teeth hurt. You’ve heard the terrible rumors. You can’t imagine playing the trumpet with your mouth the way it is. Your teeth just hurt too much. A … Continue reading “Dealing with Braces”

Emptying Water

 Q: How do I empty all the water from my trumpet without using the spit valves? A: 1. Hold trumpet as normal; 2. Tilt 90 degrees to the left (i.e., counter clockwise) so that the valves are horizontal, with the valve buttons pointing to your left; 3. Angle the bell up a few degrees; 4. … Continue reading “Emptying Water”

Martin Committee

 Q: Who was on the committee that designed the Martin Committee? The Martin Committee, a trumpet with an unusual name, earned its name by being designed by a committee. It went on to dominate the jazz trumpet market from the late 1940s until the mid 1960s or so. Committees were played by Miles Davis throughout … Continue reading “Martin Committee”


 Q: Have we mourned adequately the fate of Benge? A: Once upon a time, Pat Olguin had a web site called “The Benge Nut” that one day just disappeared as a result of disturbances, convulsions, and mergers in the force. This humbly takes its place. Photo on this page courtesy Paul Ayick. Check out Paul’s … Continue reading “Benge”


 Q: Whatever happened to Couesnon? Couesnon is one of the great names in brass instruments, in business over 170 years. It grew to include eight factories employing, at one time, over 1800 people in France. In the USA in the 1950s, the Couesnon flugelhorn became very popular as a doubling instrument for jazz trumpet artists. … Continue reading “Couesnon”

Baroque Trumpet

 Q: How can I make (a fake but serviceable) baroque trumpet at home? A: This was a newsgroup post written by Dwight Hall, a clever and handy amateur trombone and cornet player from Lakewood, Colorado. When he completed his horn, he contacted me, as a “real” trumpet player to test it and I did. It … Continue reading “Baroque Trumpet”

Renzuit Mute

Q: How can I make a practice mute out of a Renuzit air freshener? A: These instructions are adapted from the directions given to me by Flip Oakes, if not the father of the Renuzit Practice Mute, certainly its leading proponent. Flip is also the designer and seller of the acclaimed Wild Thing trumpet, a … Continue reading “Renzuit Mute”

Pulling mouthpieces

 Q: Is there anything I can do to remove a stuck mouthpiece, without hurting my horn, before I take it to the repairman? A: Editor’s note: Lots of people damage their horns and mouthpieces trying to remove a stuck mouthpiece. The safest course is taking it to the repairman or music store and letting them … Continue reading “Pulling mouthpieces”