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The pocket trumpet is a compact size B♭ trumpet, with the same playing range as the regular trumpet. The tubing is wound more tightly than that of a standard trumpet in order to reduce its size while retaining the instrument's range. It is not a standardized instrument to be found in orchestral brass sections and is generally regarded as a novelty. It is used mostly by trumpet players as a practice instrument that can be packed in a suitcase and taken to places where carrying standard trumpets would be an issue. Although not having a reputation as a serious orchestral instrument, it has occasionally been used by soloists in jazz or other ensembles to add flair and variety.
History, design and properties
The concept of reducing the brass instrument size without reducing the resonating tube length can be seen in several 19th century models of cornet. Pocket cornets have been constructed since the 1870s, used in marching bands.
The variation in design among pocket trumpets makes tonal characteristics and playability extremely variable from model to model. Yet there are two basic design approaches to pocket trumpets:
- reduced bell and bore size design
- standard bell and bore size design.
The models with reduced bell and bore size design originate in 19th century pocket cornet design and regularly suffer from poor intonation and severely hindered dynamic and timbral range. As the bell is not the standard size, no standard mute can be applied. The models with standard bell and bore size design originally appeared in the USA in as late as 1968, mostly following the design of trumpet builder Louis Duda (one-piece hand-hammered "5X" bell, cornet-wound leadpipe, straight-back first valve slide with thumb-throw, fold-back third slide), and manufactured by the Benge Trumpet company. It has been claimed to be "the 'gold standard' by which other professional pocket trumpets are measured".
Though most often used for practicing purposes, pocket trumpets are sometimes played as auxiliary instruments by soloists in jazz and dixieland bands, as well as for some specific studio recording demands. Don Cherry's work with the Ornette Coleman quartet is probably the best known example of pocket trumpet playing.
"Dirty" Walter A. Kibby II of the band Fishbone uses a pocket trumpet for all live shows and recordings. Onetime Elevator/French Toast drummer and former Fugazi roadie Jerry Busher plays a pocket trumpet on The Evens' song, "Competing With The Till", which is on The Evens' "The Odds" album.
Prices range from about US$120 to US$5000; a professional grade instrument would bear a similar price tag to a standard instrument in the same category.
- Bell Diameter: 4.5 - 5 inches
- Bore: Medium-Large .460" or Large .468"
- Height: 6.5 - 7 inches
- Length: 9.5 inches
Common manufacturers and models
- TRISTAR TR-07 B♭ (India)
- Cecilio 77-MT B♭ (China)
- Marinelli 6500L
- Carol Brass CPT-300LR B♭ (Taiwan)
- Amati ATR 314 B♭ (Czech Republic)
- Stagg 77-MT B♭ (Flemish manufacture sold to the world)
- Jupiter 416 B♭ (Taiwan)
- Holton T650 B♭ (United States) - Discontinued
- Benge Colibri B♭ (United States)
- Kanstul CCT-905 B♭ (United States)
- Marcinkiewicz Vermeer B♭ (United States)
- De Carlis, Nick. Pocket Cornets: Actual Size. Published by the Author, 2009, p. 9.
- "Benge Product Catalog", p.3
- "Benge Pocket Trumpet Description"
- Holton T650 discontinued in 2007 http://www.musiciansbuy.com/holton_t650_pocket_trumpet_t650.html
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