Trumpets and baritones may seem similar at first look, but there are some major differences. I have played the trumpet for +30 years and my brother plays the baritone.
Let’s uncover which is the easiest and which is the hardest to learn (and why!).
Are Trumpets Or Baritones Harder to Learn?
The baritone horn is easier to learn to play than the trumpet. The mouthpiece is bigger on the baritone and that gives the beginner more control over the tone early on. On the other hand, the trumpet is three times lighter which makes it easier to hold the instrument when standing up.
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Let’s dive deeper into the details because there are actually quite a lot of factors to take into account before you decide which one you should go for.
7 Important Factors When Choosing Trumpet Vs. Baritone
There are some major differences between the trumpet and the baritone. Most of what we uncover in this article can also be said about the trumpet, so keep that in mind as we go over the differences.
Let’s go over each of them and look at the impact it plays for beginners.
1) The Size of the Mouthpiece Plays a Role
The main difference between the trumpet and the baritone, for a complete beginner, is the size of the mouthpiece.
The trumpet has a smaller mouthpiece and that also makes it harder to control the tone in the beginning.
This is even more true if we compare the baritone to the French horn. The French horn has an even smaller mouthpiece than the trumpet which again makes it even more difficult to master.
The mouthpiece of a baritone or euphonium is quite a lot bigger than the mouthpiece on the trumpet. This makes it easier to get to the point where you can produce a clear and stable sound on the baritone.
You simply have more space to work with and that makes it a bit easier to get a good tone out of a baritone when you’re completely new to this.
2) The Baritone Is a Lot Heavier
Just from the look of it, you can easily tell that the baritone instrument is a lot bigger than the trumpet. But you might be surprised to hear that the baritone is actually 3X heavier than the trumpet!
The baritone instrument typically weighs around 6 pounds and a trumpet typically weighs around 2 pounds.
This makes a big difference when you need to carry the instrument to class but also when you hold it while playing. Not so much when you sit down and play but often you will have to stand up and play, and then it makes a huge difference. The same goes for a euphonium.
My brother played the baritone for many years (check the photo on the about page) and he often complained that my brother and I got off too easy with such light instruments!
3) The Baritone Requires Less Embouchure Than the Trumpet
I played in a brass band for more than a decade and we often joked that the baritone and trombone players didn’t need to practice much. The joke went that they often were a bit lazier and didn’t practice at all because they didn’t need to in order to keep a decent embouchure going.
There is actually some truth to that joke!
The baritone plays in a much lower register and therefore requires much less muscle tension in order to play for an extended time.
On the trumpet, however, you need to practice weekly in order to keep the muscles sharp and fit (a good embouchure) to be able to play a full concert with a brass band.
Trust me, if you place the trumpet on the shelf for a month or two you will really struggle with the high notes and you will quickly start to struggle even keeping a good consistent tone.
Read more about differences between trumpets and horns.
4) The Trumpet Require Less Air
It can be tough to play the baritone for an extended time at full volume. It simply takes a lot of air to play the baritone and this can be too demanding for younger players. Kids can have a hard time producing enough air flow to make a good clean sound on the baritone.
For people with reduced lung capacity it can also be struggle to play the baritone.
The trumpet, however, is a smaller instrument and the tubing is also shorter. This makes it easier to produce enough air for a good stable tone.
5) Trumpeters Often Play Harder Parts Than Baritone Players
Trumpeters often play solos. They will typically get the harder parts of the music piece while the bigger instruments, such as baritones and euphoniums will have easier parts to play.
When you look at the role of the baritone instrument in a brass band it’s similar to that of a cello in an orchestra. They both play longer notes and will have very few fast parts.
The trumpets, on the other hand, will often have have to play quick runs and generally faster parts.
This can make a big difference as the trumpet parts often are more demanding and it requires the trumpeters to practice more to keep up when learnings new parts.
6) The Trumpet Is Louder Than the Trombone
The trumpet is louder than the baritone because the pitch is higher and you need a high air pressure to produce the sound.
This also means that the French horn players and the clarinet players often need earplugs as they are positioned right in front of the trumpets.
This is also an important point to make for parents as it can get quite annoying with kids who try to master the trumpet. The baritone will be easier to listen to as the pitch is a lot lower and they don’t need as much volume to hit the high notes in the beginning.
Beginners will often blow harder into the trumpet in order to hit the higher notes. This can be a problem if you are living in an apartment or close to other people.
7) Which Is More Expensive?
This point doesn’t have anything to do with how hard it is to learn the instrument, but I still think it’s worth mentioning when comparing the trumpet to the baritone.
The baritone instrument will typically cost two times more than a trumpet!
This is a significant difference and it also makes it a bigger decision to start learning the baritone as you will need to do a significant investment to get a decent baritone horn.
You can easily find a new decent student trumpet at around $400-$8,000 while you will have to pay double that amount to get a good decent beginner baritone horn.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Each Instrument?
Both instruments are relatively easy to learn to master to a decent beginner’s level.
You should expect to practice 3-4 times per week for at least 6 months, before you get a decent tone out of the instrument. That’s also the time it typically requires to build up some embouchure.
The trumpet probably takes a few extra months to master as you will need to get more control over the buzzing tension around the lips.
Which Is More Popular, the Trumpet or the Baritone?
We find more trumpet players than baritone players.
This has to do with the fact that the pitch and sound of the trumpet is more widely applicable in band settings. The trumpet can play the same notes as the human voice whereas the baritone plays at a deeper register.
This makes the trumpet more widely applicable altogether and it’s probably the reason we find more trumpet players than baritone or euphonium players.
This is also very apparent when you look at the number of reviews on Amazon.
You’ll quickly find trumpets that have more than 3,000 reviews while it’s hard to find a baritone for sale there with more than 100 reviews. That alone tells me that there are way more trumpets sold than baritone horns.
Bass Trumpet Vs. Baritone
The bass trumpet is not used much in orchestras but it does compare more to the sound of a baritone. The bass trumpet looks like a horizontal baritone. It is played like a trumpet but has a deeper register due to the larger tube and the wider bell.
The mouthpiece on the bass trumpet is more similar to the mouthpiece from a baritone or that of a trombone.
This makes the bass trumpet pretty similar to the baritone when it comes to playing.
You might also want to check out the flugelhorn if you’re interested in a deeper sounding trumpet.
Which Brass Instrument Is the Easiest to Play?
The alto and tenor horns are the easiest brass instrument to play due to the size of the mouthpiece. These horns are relatively small compared to euphoniums, so they don’t require a lot of air either. The trombone models with valves are also very easy to learn because they also have the same size mouthpieces.
It’s simply easier to learn how to do the buzzing sound with your lips on a mouthpiece that is bigger than those you find on trumpets, cornets, and French horns.
What’s the Hardest Brass Instrument to Play?
The French horn is the hardest brass instrument to master. It has a very small mouthpiece which makes it hard to control the sound and the total length of the pipes along with the small width of the main pipe also makes it hard to hit the right note. The French horn has an incredible range but it’s is hard to learn to master it well.
This is also the reason why most people who play the French horn started out on a trumpet or an alto horn.
These are much easier to learn and it’s a great idea to start with either of these instruments before taking on the French horn.