Also known as a step-up trumpet, an intermediate trumpet falls right between a student trumpet and a professional trumpet.
This means the horn suits a player who’s playing at a more advanced level but doesn’t qualify to be a pro just yet.
Intermediate trumpets widely vary in nature. While some may be closer in quality to the basic student models, others are more advanced.
The one striking difference you will notice is that an intermediate trumpet comes with a third valve ring, which allows you to tune the horn to a more precise sound.
In addition to the finer tuning, the design of intermediate trumpets is also lighter than beginner models.
This lightweight nature of the finishes is to help with the vibration of the horn.
Improved vibration and finer tuning result in a deeper and more authentic sound that’s much better than what you get with a student trumpet.
Furthermore, an intermediate trumpet also has a better material composition, better built, better functionality, and as you may already have guessed, they cost more as well.
Using varying lead pipe (mouth pipe) configurations, intermediate trumpets just stop short of being specialized for a single genre.
When It Is Time to Move from Beginner Trumpet to Intermediate Trumpet?
If you find that your beginner trumpet no longer fits your playing ability or that you don’t appear to be learning anything new while playing with that trumpet, then that means it’s time to advance to an intermediate model.
Often this happens when you have been playing a beginner trumpet for a couple of years and now feel that you are well versed with how to play it.
As you advance musically, you will need a higher quality instrument that complements your developing skills.
Do you feel like you want to try out different types of music? This could also be an excellent reason to transition to an intermediate trumpet.
Trying out new types of music would challenge you to play the instrument differently, and this could also help expand your repertoire of music.
Ultimately, there is no set timeline for shifting from a student trumpet to a more advanced one. It all depends on the player and how their current horn feels.
Once you’ve exhausted all possibilities with your current trumpet, then that’s a good indication that you are ready to move onto the next level.
Keep in mind that outgrowing your beginner trumpet could happen both musically and physically.
What to Look for When Buying Intermediate Trumpet
An intermediate trumpet is ideally meant to help the player expand past the limitations of their current student trumpet.
While some intermediate level trumpets are relatively straightforward and easy to master, others are more complicated leaning more towards a professional level trumpet.
Once you’ve decided that you need to change trumpets, be prepared for an endless world of possibilities when it comes to what you can choose next.
Similar to other wind instruments, trumpets also come tuned to various keys.
A Bb is by far the most common type of trumpet. In fact, your student trumpet is likely a Bb.
Also knows as the B Flat trumpet, this one has a warm tonal quality and can be used across virtually all types of music.
C trumpets are also fairly common, especially in orchestras. They are slightly smaller than their Bb counterparts and have a brighter tone.
For an intermediate trumpet, this would be a strong choice that expands your skillset.
The bore is the inside diameter of the second valve’s tubing.
Why this is important is because the bore dictates how much effort you will put in while playing the instrument.
A larger bore delivers more power, but then this also means that it would require more effort to play the instrument.
The average bore size is between .450mm and .472mm.
The size you choose will depend on the sound you want to achieve.
Smaller bores make it easier to support a good controlled tone that’s soft and mellow.
Larger bores deliver brighter, aggressive tones that are more pronounced.
Lead pipe Material
On a trumpet, the tubing that goes from the mouthpiece to the main tuning slide is what’s known as the lead pipe.
This component may be made from red brass, yellow brass, or sterling silver.
Red brass is commonly used on student trumpets, and this is because the material and is less susceptible to corrosion resulting from acidic dirt/saliva.
Another advantage is that it also requires less cleaning.
Yellow brass will require more frequent cleaning.
Valve pistons come in a variety of metals.
Nickel-plated pistons often found in student trumpets are hard, durable, and can do without frequent cleaning. (guide to cleaning trumpets)
Monel pistons are also quite popular, especially in professional trumpets. Monel is softer than nickel plate and would also require frequent cleaning and lubrication.
The advantage is that this metal is super resistant to corrosion, and so can last much longer.
Also, the more Monel wears in, the better it feels. On an intermediate trumpet, you’ll find that Monel is considered a step-up feature.
Stainless steel pistons are quite good and can be found on both intermediate and professional trumpets.
Despite the material used, it is essential that the valves play smoothly and quickly. Step-up trumpets may be indicated as having “hand-lapped” valves.
This means that the finish work on the valves has been expertly done by hand to guarantee the valves work correctly.
The bell, also known as the flare, is the horn-like part of the trumpet. Here, your focus should be on the bell’s shape, size, taper, and material.
All these variables can affect the sound quality, even if subtly so.
The best bells consist of one piece, rather than two separate pieces. One-piece construction allows for more uniform vibration, which produces clearer sound.
The sound quality could further be enhanced by going for a handcrafted bell that’s been hand hammered into shape over a mold.
Besides handcrafting, plasma welding has, in recent years, been used to manufacture one-piece bells used for intermediate instruments.
When it comes to materials, yellow brass is the industry standard that can be used on all levels of trumpets.
The resonant alloy delivers bright and direct tones which ‘cut through’.
Red brass, also known as Rose brass, produces a warmer and mellower tone.
However, seeing as this material is softer, the sound doesn’t project as well.
Silver bells are rare, and this material is only used in high-grade trumpets.
The elegant core tones sound much brighter, and the hard material allows for amazing sound projection.
Now have you considered the bell size?
Larger bells create darker tones with a softer mellower feel. Smaller bells create sharper, brighter tones.
A finish is usually applied for the primary purpose of protecting the metal from rust and dirt.
However, what you might not know is that the choice of finish could affect the timbre of the brass instrument.
Typically, most student trumpets have a clear lacquer finish applied over the buffed brass surface. Lacquered horns tend to have a solid, dark tone that projects well.
A silver plate finish may also be used, and this is considered superior to the latter because it’s a thinner coating.
So, the metal can vibrate more, thereby giving rise to deep resonance and brighter tones.
Most intermediate level trumpets have this silver plate finish.
For a player who’s not so crazy about the traditional look of a trumpet, they may opt for a lacquered nickel plate finish that’s available in various colors.
FAQs About The Best Intermediate Trumpets
How Much Does an Intermediate Trumpet Cost?
An intermediate trumpet often costs anywhere between $1,500 and $2,500.
The price will depend on a variety of factors, including the finish applied, the manufacturer, the quality of the case, the mouthpiece, design features, and after-sale service.
What Is the Difference Between Student and Intermediate Trumpets?
Intermediate trumpets could come with a larger bore size, and this is done to produce bigger fuller sounds.
Also, they often feature a silver plate finish as opposed to the lacquered finish on most student trumpets.
This silver finish is not only more attractive, but it also creates a slightly darker tone.
You will find that on a step-up trumpet, the valves and slide are fitted to closer tolerances.
This is done to minimize air leakage, so the player doesn’t have to use too much effort.
Another difference you might see is the larger, more open mouthpiece found on an intermediate trumpet, as well as slide rings and triggers which allow for intonation adjustments.
All the differences contribute towards the larger, fuller sound that also has clearer tones.
An intermediate trumpet is designed to have a quicker response time, powerful resonation, and better dynamic control.
What Are Good Brands of Trumpets?
Yamaha – the trumpets have excellent build quality.
Rossetti – a great affordable choice for new players.
Merano – features handcrafted pieces.
Jupiter – trumpets come with reliable warranties.
Cecilio – well-known trumpet makers.
There is a perfect trumpet for every trumpeter out there.
There is no need to keep using an instrument you’ve outgrown, all the while feeling stifled.
If you found the perfect student trumpet once, then you will find the perfect intermediate trumpet and, years down the line, the perfect professional trumpet.
As long as you’ve established your skill level and are decided on your expectations, you can easily find an intermediate level trumpet that perfectly suits your preferences.