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I'll try to make my story short as possible, sorry. I have ear training, not perfect, but good. I've never been able to attend music school as child, so no academic music education. After trying with different musical instruments(guitar, bass, piano) I've stopped at trumpet. I've played it for a year and a half and there always were two things bothering me:

  1. I never ever understood am I playing good or bad. Everything confused me: Is note clean? Is attack right? I tried to ask people, but their answer varied.
  2. Trumpet in Bb supposed to have 5 basic notes 3 F's and 2 Bb's, and I achieved only 3: 1 F and 2 Bb's. I am really sorry, if I'm saying something stupid, but it is the best how I can express: if no pistons are pushed you can make 5 notes, only with changing your embouchure. And I have never learned how to do all 5.

So now I think of switching to saxophone, because I think it is easier. So the questions are:

  1. Is saxophone equally temperamented instrument like guitar? So there is no way to get dirty note, like for example on guitar?
  2. In playing trumpet lips do the sound, which is amplified by instrument. Saxophone does not rely on lips, and all the sound is made by reed, right?

P.S. I assume, that I offended many people with academic learning of 10+ years. I did not want to. I just don't know who else can I ask my stupid questions.

Thank you!

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    I think it will be more productive and cheaper to take some lessons. – david strachan Apr 26 '15 at 21:44
  • I agree with david strachan but would add "from a teacher who plays the styles of music you like." If you want to play jazz you don't want to learn from someone who teaches marching band trumpet to little kids all day. – Jay Skyler Apr 27 '15 at 9:12
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Since your central question is if you should switch to sax, I'll start there. My opinion: probably. Trumpet is not something you can play casually, you need to stay in shape with a nearly daily routine or the muscles rapidly deteriorate. Saxophone can be played more sporadically with less detriment. It's also just an easier instrument in general.

That being said, it sounds like you'd benefit from simply sticking with one instrument for a while. Nobody ever got good at any instrument overnight, and it sounds like you're looking for an easy solution when there really is none.


I never ever understood am I playing good or bad. Everything confused me: Is note clean? Is attack right? I tried to ask people, but their answer varied.

Do you have a specific question?

Trumpet in Bb supposed to have 5 basic notes 3 F's and 2 Bb's, and I achieved only 3: 1 F and 2 Bb's. I am really sorry, if I'm saying something stupid, but it is the best how I can express: if no pistons are pushed you can make 5 notes, only with changing your embouchure. And I have never learned how to do all 5.

Any wind instrument can play a theoretically infinite number of notes for any given fingering, which is the overtone series. A Bb trumpet plays Bb3, F4, Bb4, D5, F5, (Ab5), Bb5, C6, D6, (E6), F6, etc. Notes in parentheses are too far away from our modern equal temperament to be usable. You play higher ones by producing a faster airstream, supported by a stronger embouchure.

Is saxophone equally temperamented instrument like guitar? So there is no way to get dirty note, like for example on guitar?

It's designed to play the notes out of the 12 tone equal tempered scale, yes. That's not to say it's always perfectly in tune; instrument engineering is always a compromise of lots of factors with the end result being that some notes will naturally be a little off. However, it's very much possible to bend notes. Jazz ballads commonly involve "scooping" into notes from below. It's also possible (and I would say easier) to bend on a brass instrument.

In playing trumpet lips do the sound, which is amplified by instrument. Saxophone does not rely on lips, and all the sound is made by reed, right?

For a brass instrument, the lips vibrate and that sound is refined and amplified by the body of the instrument. For a reed instrument, the reed vibrates and that sound is refined and amplified by the body of the instrument. The physics is fairly similar, just with a different source of vibration.

  • "It [the Sax]'s also just an easier instrument in general." - I have to disagree with this. While it is true that the saxophone is easier to learn in the beginning (due to the pressing keys = mostly correct tone), it provides way more different techniques to play [altissimo, subtones, growling, slapping, etc.]. Learning the trumpet is harder, that is true, but mastering the sax is no easier feat than mastering any piston instrument. – Mafii Jul 16 '18 at 13:08
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Answer 1 - they're different -sax, equal temperament, like a guitar, but trumpet needs adjusting by the player, as the natural notes are from the harmonic series so are 'slightly out of tune' (desafinado?) and yes, a 'dirty' note can be produced by both. I hope you mean a note 'in the cracks', rather like a bent note on guitar.

Answer 2 - on sax, once you've found your embouchure, it varies little for each basic note, which is found using the keys. On trumpet, the lips do much of the work, tightening as the notes get higher. Once you're on a particular overtone, the valves will lower it by a semitone, a tone, etc.

Suggestion - as ever, and as David says, a teacher will sort out the conundrums far more easily than any other method. You can ask and get the answer there and then, with demonstrations and explanations. Even a couple of lessons are worth their weight in gold.

As Matt says, sax is going to be the better option, as it can be picked up at will without the previous hard work having to be done again - the embouchure for trumpet seems to be more difficult to keep without using daily. The other thing is that on sax, there's a good two octaves available without too much effort; on trumpet, as you found, two octaves is hard work for the lips.

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    Trumpets (and brass in general) are not equal tempered. They produce notes of the harmonic series, which is just tempered. Brass players have to adjust tuning to fit equal temperament. – Natalie S Apr 28 '15 at 6:19
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    @NatalieK - thanks. Being wrong gives me a chance to do some more homework and learn something new. Edited answer. Hope it's better! – Tim Apr 28 '15 at 6:44
  • Real-life instruments don't behave QUITE like laboratory experiments! Their tubing has bends, the bore is not constant, the mouthpiece has an effect - what comes out is rarely the strict harmonic series! But trumpets have finger-operated slides on 1st and 3rd valves, plenty of "alternative fingerings" and there's considerable scope for "playing in tune" (equal tempered or otherwise) by adjusting the embouchure. – Laurence Payne May 27 '16 at 15:07
  • @LaurencePayne - my trumpet has slides on all three valve tubes, but once they're set the thing's in tune. – Tim May 27 '16 at 15:23
  • All trumpets have slides on all three valves, which may be preset. Professional-grade trumpets also have a dynamically-adjustable third valve slide, often also one on the first valve. youtube.com/watch?v=10jSplHmvQU – Laurence Payne May 27 '16 at 15:49
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Brother, I feel your pain. I played with a trumpet for ten years but just got serious this week. I have a chart that can help you. The top two fingerings are wrong and I need to fix them but it will help you to make some progress. I have played sax for 25 years but I'm switching to trumpet. I like the purity of it. See my chart at http://sharkcow.com/a-great-simple-trumpet-fingering-chart. It's just what you need.

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