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Consider the piccolo trumpet in Bb (like the normal trumpet in Bb but one octave higher). The first three valves lower the main tube by 2,1,3 semitones. The fourth one lowers the tube by a fourth (5 semitones) and would therefore be equivalent to pressing the first and third valve simultaneously.

I read somewhere that in some designs, the tubing of the fourth valve is actually an extension of the tubing of the third valve, implying that in that case, the fourth valve cannot be used without also using the third one.

Where can I find more information about the layout of the fourth valve? Which design is more common?

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    To answer your second question at least: I've never heard of a piccolo where the fourth valve didn't lower the pitch a fourth, so if other system do exist they are very rare.
    – PiedPiper
    Jan 30 at 21:26
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    It would be helpful if you provided a link to the resource that described the tubing... The usual construction seems to make the 4th valve equivalent to 1st+3rd valves.
    – Pyromonk
    Jan 30 at 23:36
  • @Pyromonk I cannot find this link anymore, but it said the tubing of the 4th valve was connected to the 3th valve, so you could only use the 4th valve if you also pressed the 3th valve. I don't know if this is true.
    – Karlo
    Jan 31 at 3:47
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    If the 4th valve (5 semitones) could only work when 3rd valve (3 semitones) was also depressed, this would make it impossible to lower the pitch by 7 semitones.
    – Peter
    Jan 31 at 9:43
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Here's a link to the Maurice Andre website which lists Maurice's opinions of the various piccolo trumpets he played over his career.

The most common design for piccolo trumpets has four piston or rotary valves, with valve 4 introducing tubing with the combined length of 1+3.

A less common design features three piston valves. Here's a picture of a beautiful Yamaha three-valve piccolo trumpet with a rotary valve operated by the left-hand middle or ring finger, which optionally lengthens the third valve tubing. It's unclear how much this tubing this adds, probably it's either the equivalent of pressing 1+3 or 1+2+3.

This design has at least two benefits:

  • Three valve casings is more comfortable to hold than four valve casings
  • The air column only has to pass through three valves, so there are fewer kinks.

The disadvantage is that you can't play as low as a conventional four-valve piccolo.

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