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Brass, Silver, Or Gold Trumpet? Main Differences (Explained)

If you’re ready to upgrade your trumpet, you may wonder what metal to get.

Gold, brass, and silver can all work well; some metals are better for you than others.

Here’s How Brass, Silver, and Gold Trumpets Differ:

Brass trumpets are the standard and can project well through a group or large playing space. Silver trumpets tend to project well, too, and offer a brighter tone. However, gold trumpets sound more mellow and can be harder to project.

Do Brass, Gold, and Silver Trumpets Sound Different?

The different materials can affect how brass, gold, and silver trumpets sound. Many players believe gold sounds more mellow while silver is a bit brighter.

Brass can project your sound well and help you sound louder. However, other factors come into play regarding how a trumpet will sound.

Also, consider the brand, model, and build quality. The size of the bell and bore also matter whether the trumpet is well maintained.

If you compare two similar trumpets with different materials, they will probably sound different, but the difference may not be as noticeable to others as it is to you when you’re the one playing.

What Are the Main Differences?

When comparing trumpets of various materials, considerable differences come up. Some factors are more significant than others, but it helps review all the changes.

That may help you decide which metal is better for you. Or you may need to test all your options to determine the best fit for your playing.

Consider the following differences between gold, silver, and brass trumpets. Then, you may be able to narrow your search when looking for a new instrument:

1. Price

One of the first differences you’ll notice is the price. A brass trumpet may feature a brass lacquer or no lacquer, so it will usually be the cheapest option.

Silver will usually be a bit more expensive when you control other factors, such as the brand and model. However, gold will cost even more than silver since it’s a more precious metal.

Of course, other things affect the cost of an instrument or mouthpiece. So you may find some silver trumpets cost less than some brass models, for example.

Regarding similar models, the materials can greatly impact the final price.

2. Tone

Silver can offer a brighter sound, while gold is more mellow. Brass can fall somewhere in the middle, and you can get a good amount of volume from all materials.

You might find blending with others is a bit more difficult on a silver instrument. Gold and brass can easily change your tone quality to fit in with the rest of the section.

All metals can sound great; otherwise, none would be popular choices for trumpets. It often comes down to your personal preference and the music you tend to play.

If you’re more of a soloist, you may find a silver trumpet works well. But a brass model could work better if you like to play in ensembles.

3. Tarnish

Believe it or not, brass and gold can tarnish just like silver. However, silver is more likely to tarnish due to the alloy of metals that make up silver.

If you get a silver trumpet, you may need to take better care of it to prevent the buildup of tarnish. You can use anti-tarnish strips in your case to absorb some chemicals that cause tarnish to develop.

A silver trumpet might need more frequent trips to the repair shop. A technician can use their tools to remove the tarnish for you.

Still, brass and gold models could develop tarnish over time. It usually takes much longer than a silver trumpet, but it can happen.

4. Models

You can find brass trumpets at almost any level, from beginner to professional.

However, silver and gold trumpets aren’t as common at the student level. There are some options in the intermediate range and more for professional players.

If you want the largest possible selection of trumpets, you should consider all three metals. If you only want to try one metal, brass will be your best option.

While there are quite a few silver and gold choices, they’re less common. Brass is the most popular metal for trumpets and other brass instruments.

5. Weight

You might also want to think about how heavy the trumpet can be. Brass trumpets usually weigh the least, though they can still feel heavy for beginners.

Silver weighs more than brass due to the silver plating or lacquer over the brass body. The weight difference isn’t massive, but it can weigh you down over a long practice session.

Gold trumpets will be even heavier than silver ones. A lot of the time, the gold plating will go over a layer of silver plating on top of the brass body.

Even if the change isn’t huge, it’s still there. You might not notice it at first, but it could cause discomfort if you don’t have enough upper body strength.

Are Silver and Gold Trumpets Better Than Brass Trumpets?

When comparing the materials, it usually seems silver and gold will be better than brass.

Some players prefer the sound or feel of gold or silver, but others love the sound and look of brass. Cost and appearance don’t always mean something is better or that it’s the best for everyone.

It would help if you also considered silver and gold lacquer versus plating:

Lacquer vs. Plating

You can find trumpets with brass, silver, or gold lacquer or silver or gold plating. Lacquer is a very thin layer of metal; its main job is to protect the brass underneath.

That means it may not have much of an effect on the instrument’s sound. It will also be cheaper than a full layer of plating.

Plating requires more of the given metal, which raises the cost and can impact the sound more. It will cover the brass underneath but may be more durable than lacquer.

Be sure to try trumpets with just lacquer and those with a layer of plating. Then, you can decide which is a better fit for you.

What Metals Are Professional Trumpets Made Of?

Professional trumpets can use brass, silver, and gold, among other metals. Many models feature a red brass leadpipe, a combination of copper, tin, and zinc.

The base metal is almost always some brass, such as yellow or red. Solid silver and solid gold trumpets are rare, even at the professional level.

If you want a solid silver or gold model, you can expect to custom order it. You’ll also probably have to pay more than you would for a silver or gold-plated model.

What Is the Best Metal Material for Trumpets?

The best base metal for a trumpet is brass since it’s common and easy to use to make the instrument. Regarding lacquers, you have more options, like silver and gold.

At that point, it comes down to personal preference, and no material is always the best. Some players love the sound of a silver-plated instrument, but others don’t like that sound.

It would help if you tried various metal combinations to find one you enjoy. Then, you can look for trumpets with those materials to help find the ideal setup for you.

Of course, you might also need to look into your budget. A brass trumpet could be your best choice if you don’t have much money.

Do Silver Trumpets Tarnish and Turn Black?

Silver trumpets can develop tarnishes, which causes the outside to turn black. Tarnish happens when the metals oxidize, and chemicals, such as sulfides, react with the silver.

Fortunately, you can have a professional technician remove the tarnish for you. Don’t try to remove the tarnish yourself unless you have intense training or experience cleaning your trumpet.

You can also prevent tarnish with anti-tarnish strips. Place one or two in your case to absorb the sulfides and keep them from reacting with the silver.

Of course, those strips only work when your trumpet is in its case. However, that can help greatly reduce the tarnish that builds up.

You might even want to place anti-tarnish strips in the case with your gold or brass trumpet. At worst, they won’t do anything, but at best, they could prevent tarnish over the long term.

What Trumpet Material Looks Best as They Age?

Gold trumpets probably look the best as they age. For one, they aren’t as susceptible to tarnish as silver trumpets and have thicker plating layers than other models.

In a brief search of vintage trumpets, many of the gold instruments looked in better condition. But you could find a vintage brass or silver model that looks better.

A lot of that has to do with how well the owner takes care of their trumpet. Some gold trumpets may not look good if the owner neglects the instrument for years.

On the other hand, if a player takes their brass or silver trumpet to a tech regularly, the instrument could look great. Then, there’s the fact that you may prefer the look of a vintage silver trumpet over a vintage brass model, for example.

Sources:

The Trumpet Blog: Trumpet – Brass or Silver Finish

Musicians Buy: What is the difference between gold and silver finishes on Trumpets, Trombones, and Saxophones?