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I play trumpet in a band with: drummer, bass, guitar and vocals. Drums are loud enough, and everything else is amplified. Usually I play without amplification, because places are small enough, so audience hear me and I hear myself. But last gig we played in larger place, without many reflecting surfaces, and I barely heard myself. Audience heard me OK.

In general question is 'how to monitor a trumpet right?' I guess the simpliest answer is to place a mic and play in it. But in my situation - it is not always available: sometimes we have ~5 min to prepare, sometimes place is short on mics or mic stands. Also it seems quite unnecessary, because I don't need to amplify my sound.

I'm thinking of bying portable amplifier + mic + headset and play with it. Is it right decision? I don't have an option to buy mic+stand+amplifier and transport all these in a car, because I will need a car for that.

tl;dr I cannot hear what I play over other instruments. I am occasionaly not able to request a microphone to monitor. So:

  1. What is right way to monitor trumpet?
  2. What can I do in my situation?
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As an alternative option, which will be much lower tech and easier to deal with, you can look into a sound reflector---they're basically a piece of plexiglas on a stand that redirects some of your sound back to you. For examples, see here or here. With a little bit of ingenuity, you could even rig up your own with a few bucks at the hardware store.

Much less expensive and more manageable than dealing with another microphone and amp, especially considering that you say the audience can hear you without amplification.

As a slight cheat, you can somewhat emulate the effect by placing a music stand nearer to the bell of your trumpet (don't play directly into your music though!).

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Used to play with a harp player who had the same sort of problem, and preferred to be in control of his own sounds. Problem solved with a mic, stand and wedge powered monitor, 60 watts was enough. Took a couple of minutes to set up, and was used both as his amp and/or 'foldback' at different gigs. Could even have used an in-ear monitor with the set up. It could also be DI'd into a p.a. if needed. You've realised by now that you can expect mics, etc. to be provided at some gigs, and get let down. That's the way it often is, so be prepared, be tooled up, and leave the stuff in the car if you don't need it - on those rare occasions... There are trumpet mics that clip on to the bell that may be better for you, and going wireless these days is pretty inexpensive.

  • Bear in mind that if you have an instrument-mounted clip-on mic it will always be a fixed distance from your bell, so you can't move away from the mic as you play louder, or move in closer for a more intimate sound. But depending on the type of music you play, that might not be an issue. – Brian THOMAS Oct 12 '16 at 17:19
  • @BrianTHOMAS - given that you can't do that when playing without a mic anyway, it's not going to be too much of an issue. As you say, it depends. – Tim Oct 12 '16 at 21:54
  • Using mutes with a clip-on mic can be awkward too. Also with a clip-on there will be mechanical thumps due to valve action. Also, with a clip-on you're tethered via a cable (which can limit your freedom to move about on stage) or you have to rely on a wireless pack (flat batteries can be a pain). Also a clip-on changes the balance of the instrument, making the bell heavier. For all these reasons, if I had the choice I'd go for a directional mic on a stand over a clip-on. – Brian THOMAS Oct 13 '16 at 11:54
  • @BrianTHOMAS - mutes may be problematic, but probably wouldn't be used; clip-ons have rubber mounts, so no mechanical noise; the very idea would be to have freedom of movement, and batteries aren't a big problem; clip-ons are only a few grammes. Playing at the same level as the audience ( no stage), I know that a mic on a stand isn't always a stable affair... Have you used a clip-on while playing trumpet? I haven't, but have worked with guys who do. – Tim Oct 13 '16 at 13:42
  • Actually, trumpet clips are placed on trumpet pipes, whereas mic is on extended "arm" and is faced before the bell, so mutes and valves clicks are not problem. – DoctorMoisha Oct 13 '16 at 14:19
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Start out by testing with passive noise control ear plugs. It will be strange in the beginning, but you get used to it. Noise diminishing ear plugs allows you hear yourself better as you hear the sound "inside" your head. In addition, it will save your hearing.

I give one link to an example ear plug, not to "plug" that type explicitly.

  • I don't know much about trumpet, but this sounds like a very plausible suggestion to me. I sometimes use my in-ear plugs without any actual signal, because this makes it much easier to hit the notes when singing backing vocals. (In fact I feel it even makes my cello better audible, but that's likely just a psychoacoustic phenomenon.) – leftaroundabout Dec 31 '17 at 10:54
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Don't fuss. If you're audible to the audience without amplification, this isn't too big a problem. If you need amplification, use the same monitors that everyone else uses. If you play into a reflector, remember this is restricting what the audience hear.

Don't look for a complicated solution to a non-problem. Particularly one that involves MORE amplification!

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