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6 Great Trumpets For Lead Playing [Buying Guide]

Every trumpet player wants to play the lead part eventually.

This allows you to lead the trumpet section and the rest of the band, setting the standard for projection, interpretation, and phrasing. Lead trumpet players bring the entire band together in sync, so they are one of the most important parts of any ensemble.

Since lead trumpet playing is so important, let’s discuss which trumpet models are the best for these players:

Here Are the Best Trumpets For Lead Trumpet Players:

The best trumpets for lead players are the Callet Jazz, YTR-8335G Xeno, Bach Stradivarius 180S37, Schilke S42, Kanstul 1600, and the Calicchio 1S/2. These trumpets have a superior tone quality ideal for lead playing, but some may not be right for you.

Because every player has different personal preferences, you should playtest each trumpet before making a final decision.

1. Callet Jazz

One of the best trumpet models for lead playing is the Callet Jazz.

Jerome Callet introduced this model in 1990 with an innovative design that is great for lead trumpet players, especially those in jazz bands.

The Callet Jazz was made with a true conical bore. Callet called his design “expandabore,” where the reverse leadpipe starts with a bore size of .353 and expands gradually to .450. It then increases to .470, going into the third piston.

This new design is a true conical bore, which means that the bore size gradually increases throughout the instrument. This is generally seen with cornets, not trumpets.

With this trumpet, a player can have a response that is similar to trumpets with smaller bores. However, it will still have the volume and projection that is important for a lead player.

The Callet Jazz can produce a dark, lyrical sound that is warm and rich. At the same time, players can have a fast response time and a powerful tone.

This trumpet is very popular among lead trumpet players. It has found itself in many professional ensembles, including symphony orchestras and jazz bands.

For an in-depth review of a Callet Jazz trumpet, check out this video!

Furthermore, new models of the Callet Jazz trumpet all have a third slide conversion.

This is called an underslung third valve slide. When a player is triggering, they can use this slide with their pinky.

This offers much more stability.

2. Yamaha YTR-8335G Xeno Series

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Yamaha has a well-established reputation, and for good reasons.

They manufacture trumpet models for all levels, including professional lead players.

The YTR-8335G Xeno has high status because of its quality construction and great sound. When playing this model, you can get a quick response with a clear tone.

This trumpet has many features which qualify it as a great instrument. It has hand-lapped Monel pistons and a one-piece hand-hammered bell, making it the perfect mix of traditional with modern design.

The YTR-8335G specializes in delivering power and projection without sacrificing tone quality. Even when playing boldly as a lead trumpet player, you will still have a warm sound that is wonderful to listen to.

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You’ll find that this trumpet has a heavier weight. This allows it to have a solid tone core, building a rich and strong sound. Your tone won’t become airy or spread easily.

When playing the YTR-8335G, there is just enough air resistance to have a quick response time. Because it also blows freely, you won’t find it difficult to play.

Yamaha has developed this design from over 30 years of extensive research. They have collaborated with lead trumpet players worldwide to make the YTR-8335G Xeno the best trumpet for professional lead players.

Many symphonies, jazz bands, and commercial music use this trumpet model. Professional trumpet players around the world use the YTR-8335G Xeno Series as their primary instrument.

When looking for a great lead trumpet, you can’t go wrong with this model.

3. Bach Stradivarius 180S37

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Every professional trumpet player could benefit by purchasing a Bach Stradivarius.

These are highly respected within the trumpet community, especially the 180S37 model.

Bach manufactured the 180 series as an option for professionals, and they continue to be the number one selling professional trumpets in the world. They are qualified to meet the demanding needs of lead trumpet playing but are versatile enough for many styles and genres.

Unlike some options on this list, the 180 series has a standard weight body. This allows each player not to tire too quickly when playing through long rehearsals and practice sessions.

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Whether you want to play in jazz bands, concert bands, or play solos, the Bach Stradivarius 180S37 can meet your needs. This model is great for playing a variety of styles, so it makes a great primary instrument.

With a #37 bell with a medium-fast taper, this trumpet produces a warm, brilliant sound. The #25 leadpipe and D-style radius main tuning slide is carefully crafted to make just enough resistance.

With this construction, the Bach 180S37 centers tone and optimizes your airflow.

The bore is .459 inches, making it a medium-large size. This creates a rounded sound that won’t make any player overextend their embouchure or endurance.

This professional horn has Monel valves which produce great seals against air leaks. You won’t have to worry about any performance problems that come with wear-and-tear valve damage.

Any lead player can have great performances using the Bach Stradivarius 180S37. Many trumpet players mention that it has a deep sound with rich tone color. Additionally, it will provide an even intonation and quick response time.

To see the Bach Stradivarius 180S37 in action, check out this video by Music & Arts:

4. Schilke S42

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If you are looking for a trumpet that fits well into both classical and commercial sounds, a Schilke S42 would be a great option.

Schilke is a well-known trumpet brand among professionals, with many trumpet players loving their B and X series. These have a very bright, clear sound that many professionals love.

The S series was made with a slightly heavier bell to rival the infamous Bach Stradivarius sound.

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The Schilke S42 generates a sound with a resonant, compact center. Lead players often choose it because of its focused sound.

With a .450 bore, the S42 has a medium amount of resistance. This is a smaller bore than other professional trumpets, which typically have a .460 bore size.

This trumpet by Schilke is similar to the older Schilke series but is made with yellow brass and a soldered bell bead. This allows the sound to be centered and clear even with increased dynamic levels.

For lead players, you would benefit from playing a Schilke S42. Roger Ingram, a famous lead trumpet player, loves playing on this model. Jon Faddis is another trumpet player who uses a modified S42L in his daily playing.

5. Kanstul 1600

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Because the Kanstul 1600 Bb trumpet was constructed for big bands and studio work, making it ideal for lead trumpet playing.

Its sound has many characteristics required for lead playing, so a Kanstul 1600 would be a great choice for a primary instrument.

Many trumpet players love that this model has a warm and lyrical sound when playing notes in the staff. It also provides some contrast in the upper register. High notes have some extra sizzle and power that will project to any audience.

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With a lightweight yellow brass bell, medium-large bore, and special mouthpiece, the Kanstul 1600 is very free blowing. Any trumpet player can make a clear tone while playing a wide variety of genres.

Many famous professional trumpet players have used this horn for their daily playing.

Kanstul designed this model for Wayne Bergeron, who played in Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. Whether in this jazz orchestra or on other soundtracks, Bergeron had a lot of success.

Many other professional players use the Kanstul 1600 because of its power and precision. You can hear this horn featured in Michael Buble’s music, Al Chez & the Brothers of Funk Big Band, and Reel Big Fish.

Whatever genre you want to play, the Kanstul 1600 can handle it. It is a great choice for any lead trumpet player because of its high-quality tone and distinctive timbre in a higher register.

6. Calicchio 1S/2

The Calicchio 1S/2 is a favorite trumpet model among professionals.

It is used in a variety of ensembles but is popular in the commercial trumpet playing community.

This trumpet has a medium-large bore of .460. It was constructed with beautiful yellow brass. A unique feature of the Calicchio 1S/2 is its bell flare design. With this, any player can achieve a great amount of projection and focus on their sound.

When playing on a Calicchio, many trumpet players mention a “sparkle.” This is because of its rich, vibrant sound, making it a perfect choice for lead playing. Because it is free blowing, each trumpet player can easily project this unique sound.

Like the other models on this list, the Calicchio 1S/2 has a fast response time, meaning that you can play quick notes without disrupting the sound.

Because of its stellar craftsmanship, the Calicchio has made some of the best trumpets for lead players since the 1960s. When it comes to quality in construction, Calicchio is one of the best brands you can buy.

You can hear this horn in action in this trumpet review by HornTrader:

Final Thoughts

For aspiring lead trumpet players, there are a few well-known professional trumpets that are great options.

Whether you purchase a Callet Jazz, YTR-8335G Xeno, Bach Stradivarius 180S37, Schilke S42, Kanstul 1600, or the Calicchio 1S/2, your lead playing can improve to the next level.

However, it’s all about personal preference. Many professional players say that the secret to lead playing is not about the horn but the player. To become a great trumpet lead, you’ll have to dedicate a lot of time to practice.

You can likely become a great lead trumpet player with the instrument you already have.

As long as you have a clear, bright sound with great projection, you might not need to worry about buying a new instrument.


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