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Did you hear about the trumpet player that played in tune?
Neither did I.
All jokes aside, learning how to tune your trumpet is no laughing matter. Speaking from personal experience, I know how difficult it can be for you to figure out how to tune your trumpet. If you’ve never cared much about your trumpet tuning because you’re a beginner, knowing that you’re supposed to tune your trumpet can feel like you have a whole new list of problems to take on.
Plus, there are a whole bunch of different training methods out there. You can tune your trumpet by ear, you can use a tuner, and you can use a tuning fork. But nobody ever tunes with a tuning form anymore, so we’re not going to talk about that here.
Personally, I would recommend that you always use a tuner. Even as a classically-trained musician, I can tune my instruments by ear. But I’ll always have a tuner close by to use to fact-check myself every once in a while.
Figuring out how to find the best trumpet tuner can be a little bit difficult, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. I’m here to tell you that not all trumpet tuners are made equally. Some trumpet tuners are better suited for one type of trumpet player. In contrast, other tuning options are better suited for people who play differently.
The great thing about trumpet tuners is they all work towards the same goal: tuning your trumpet. Investing in a quality trumpet tuner is important, as it’ll help you to really expand your understanding of your relationship with your instrument. Using your tuner in the different environments, different humidity levels, and even just throughout your playing session will help you understand how the environment and how your technique alters the tuning of your trumpet.
Bottom line up front: I love the KLIQ Clip-on UberTuner! This is the one tuner I would recommend to any trumpet player, no matter where you’re looking to play the trumpet. Solo work? Yes. Marching band? Yes. Orchestra? Yes.
What does a tuner do?
Using a trumpet tuner will help you to properly adjust the pitch of your instrument. A tuner will help you to understand what the pitch of your instrument should sound like and identify if your trumpet is running sharp or flat. Using a tuner will help you recognize whether you need to adjust the tuning slide of your trumpet. Plus, using a trumpet tuner will make the process of tuning your trumpet a lot faster than other training methods.
How do you tune a trumpet?
What I think is really cool about the trumpet is there are actually a few ways you can tune it! You can either use a tuning slide or you can use a valve slide. First, you should be aware that you’re almost always going to try to tune your trumpet to a concert Bb. This is the standard tuning for most trumpets unless you’ve been told to tune your trumpet differently for special purposes.
A lot of experienced musicians will listen to a piano or flute to help them tune their trumpets. You can listen to the frequency of your trumpet and compare it to an in-tune Bb. If the pitch of your trumpet is lower than the in-tune Bb, your trumpet is running flat. However, if the pitch of your trumpet is running higher than the in-tune Bb, you’re running sharp.
But, a lot of people don’t have the expertise, the ability to hear perfect pitch or knowledge on how to tune their trumpets audibly. That’s why having a trumpet tuner is so helpful. Plus, you won’t need to rely on someone else to have the perfect pitch to tune; you’ll just need to use your tuner, and you’ll be all set!
Your tuning slide
After taking a close look at your trumpet, you may be wondering what the small slide located near the front of your trumpet does. That’s your tuning slide!
If you’re having trouble locating it, you can find your tuning slide by looking at the first bend in your trumpet. You’ll need to push and pull the trumpet slide; making the tuning slide longer or shorter will adjust the tuning of your trumpet.
To make your trumpet less sharp, you’ll need to pull your slide out. However, if your trumpet is running flat, you’ll need to push your slide in.
1st and 3rd Slides
If you know your trumpet runs flat or sharp for specific notes, you shouldn’t tune your whole trumpet. Instead, you should focus on using your first and third valve slides to tune the notes you’re playing on those specific slides.
For you to properly utilize the first and third slides, you’ll use the same process as you would with using your tuning slide. You’ll need to adjust the slide accordingly to the note you’re playing.
On your first slide, you’ll tune A, E, F, and Bb. You can use the third valve to tune D. Using a trumpet tuner will help you to determine if you happen to run sharp or flat on specific notes.
How to buy the best trumpet tuner
Now that you have a better idea of how to tune your trumpet, it’s time for you to learn how to sort through all of the different tuner options on the market! Here’s how you can go about finding the best trumpet tuner for your needs:
Choose the right type of tuner
In case you weren’t aware, there’s actually more than one type of tuner! There are apps you can download on your smartphone, tuners that are also metronome that’s it on your stand, and clip-on tuners. I’m going to go over a few of the different options with you so you can make the best decision for yourself!
A clip-on tuner is a type of chromatic tuner that uses vibrations to sense the pitch and the sound that you’re making. I think clip-on tuners are great if you’re planning on playing in large venues or in a band where other people are going to be training at the same time period. Clip-on tuners work great when you’re in a loud environment because you don’t have to worry about your tuner picking up the pictures that other people are playing. Instead, it does focus on the vibrations from your instrument and only tunes that.
However, a clip-on tuner is only a clip-on tuner. There aren’t any additional features that will come with a clip-on tuner. Plus, I find that this type of tuner is actually very easy to lose because they’re small. And if the clip-on breaks, they’re basically useless. Plus, to get replacement batteries for a clip-on tuner is kind of expensive. I would only recommend buying a replacement turn if your batteries in the clip-on tuner run out.
External chromatic tuner
An external chromatic tuner will sit on your music stand and respond to the sound your instrument’s producing. But, this type of tuner is tricky to use when you’re in a large group. If you don’t have a quiet space to tune in, your tuner is going to pick up all of the noise in the room. Ultimately, this will give you an inconsistent reading. For you to get the most out of your tuning session with an external chromatic tuner, you need to tune your instrument in a quiet area.
We all have our phones attached to our hips 24/7 now. Thankfully, there are companies that have introduced tuning apps that you can download on your smartphone!
But, phone apps aren’t the most reliable option out there. And there are a few reasons why. With a phone app tuner, you’re completely reliant on the overall quality of your phone’s microphone. So if you’ve got a bad microphone (or your mic’s got damage), you could be getting inconsistent tuning readings.
And if you’re looking around for a tuner for your child, a lot of schools won’t allow your child to have their phone on them while they’re playing. This means they won’t have a tuner readily accessible to them when they need it.
Do you want extra features to come with your tuner? There are some simple tuners out there that highlight whether you’re running flat or sharp. But, there are other tuners that come with metronomes installed too.
However, that’s not all that you can find in terms of extra features. There are some tuners that come with an adjustable temperament. Basically, an adjustable temperament adjusts how individual notes tune in relation to each other. I would only recommend tuners with an adjustable temperament to anyone who’s looking to take their tuning to a professional level.
It doesn’t make sense to drop a decent chunk of change on a tuner if you aren’t sure you’re going to stick with playing the trumpet. There are plenty of affordable tuners out there that’ll do a great job of tuning your trumpet, without you having to spend too much money. Plus, tuners can take a lot of wear and tear; for example, if you were to buy a handheld tuner, you’re probably going to knock it off of your stand often.
I wouldn’t recommend you spend more than $50 on your tuner (unless it does something super fancy).
I wouldn’t recommend you try to buy a tuner from a small name; there’s a lot of science that goes into making a quality tuner. Its important quality materials (such as a microphone) are used in the manufacturing process of your tuner. If cheap or low-quality materials are used while your tuner’s manufactured, it’ll throw the tuning of your entire instrument off. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it. I would only buy a tuner from a brand name that’s well-known and reliable.
Best trumpet tuners
Now that you have a better idea of what a trumpet tuner does, it’s time to take a look at the best trumpet tuners on the market! In my opinion, having a good tuner is one of the most important practice aids you can have in your arsenal.
I don’t think that having a good quality tuner is important when you’re a beginner. But, as you begin to advance and improve your technique, I do think there’s a lot of that a trumpeter can help you to unlock. It’ll help you to focus on your pitch stability and your intonation. Plus, if you don’t have a teacher with you all the time while you’re practicing, it’s the only device available that’ll give you immediate feedback while you’re playing.
I’ve chosen the trumpet tuners in this list based on my personal experience with each tuner. I’ve had good experiences with each of these tuners. Plus, I’ve chosen these tuners based off of affordability and made sure they’re super easy for anyone to find online or in-store (no weird off-brand recommendations here).
This is a clip-on tuner! All you’ll need to do is clip this tuner onto the bell of your trumpet and start tuning your heart away. My favorite part about this tuner is the screen. I love how there are a bunch of different colors on the screen. It makes it super easy to tell whether you’re running flat or sharp once you learn which colors are associated with running flat or sharp.
I love using this tuner when I’m tuning for marching band or a concert. It’s super easy to clip this tuner onto my trumpet, get my tuning straight, and move on. I also haven’t had any problems with the battery in my tuner dying (yet), and I’ve had my tuner for a few years!
I also love how durable this tuner is too. I drop it all of the time (I’m not that great with clipping the tuner on properly), and I haven’t had any problems with it not working. Plus, it’s super easy to share with others. I can just pass this tuner down the line, and an entire trumpet section is able to tune themselves up in no time!
- Bright and eye-catching colors make it easy to see if you’re in tune or out of tune
- The batteries last a long time
- The display is very easy to see, even in low-light settings
- It isn’t waterproof, so don’t take this with you if you’re going to be outside and there’s a chance of rain
- It doesn’t come with any additional features
Now, if you’re looking for a device that’ll give you a tuner and metronome in one, look no further than this beauty! This is a handheld tuner that comes with a metronome. I like using this tuner during band practice; it’s easy for me to throw it up on my stand. I’ll sit in front of the tuner, read my sheet music, and watch my tuner to see if I’m running sharp or flat.
And it makes brand practice easier with a metronome too. But I don’t love the screen. It’s hard to tell what’s going on with your tuning because the screen is small and isn’t lit up very well. I wouldn’t say this is the best for anyone who’s going to be moving around a whole lot while they’re tuning. I think it’s great to sit on your stand and keep with you while you’re practicing, but I wouldn’t push it for anymore.
- Comes with a metronome
- I think it’s great to keep on your stand to give you consistent readings on whether you’re running sharp or flat
- Very affordable
- The small screen isn’t very readable
- This doesn’t give accurate tunings if you’re in a room full of people who are also trying to tune at the same time
Pano Tuner is a free app you can download on your phone. I’ve used the Pano Tuner for many years, but it’s only a tuner I use in an emergency. If I forget my other tuner or if I’m afraid to pull my tuner out in the rain, I’ll grab my Pano tuner. I feel like anyone with a bit of music experience already knows what Pano Tuner is.
- Easy to download and use; it’s accessible to anyone with a phone
- It’s as cheap as cheap can get; it’s completely free
- Isn’t super accurate
- Doesn’t come with additional features
- Ads pop up on top of the tuner while you’re using it
Here I am recommending another clip-on tuner, simply because I think they’re the best type of tuner out there. Again, I absolutely love the display on this tuner. The only problem I have with this tuner is that the batteries aren’t cheap to replace. But, the simplicity of the design on this tuner makes up for that. There’s only one button for you to worry about using, so if you’ve got a young student who’s starting to learn how to tune their instrument, you won’t have to worry about giving them a tuner that’s too complex!
This is another tuner I would recommend if you aren’t too gentle on your tuners. I’ve flung this one across the room, and the screen didn’t shatter.
- Comes with a lifetime warranty
- Super easy to use
- Another amazing LED screen
- I wish it tuned a bit faster; I have to wait a few seconds for the notes that I’m playing to register with this tuner
Answer: Yes, trumpets can get out of tune. Actually, trumpets are prone to Getting Out Of Tune in the higher registers. Even if your trumpet is already in tune, the higher up you get in your range, the more likely your trumpet is going to be out of tune.
Answer: The tuning of your trumpet will affect the tone quality of your instrument. If you don’t play in tune, it actually affects the fullness of your sound. By playing in tune, you’ll actually be able to create a larger sound!
Answer: The trumpet can play around 39 notes in total, which is three octaves!
Answer: There isn’t a set tuning routine that you need to follow to keep your instrument in tune. Personally, I would recommend Tuning your trumpet every time you go to pick it up. But, this isn’t something that’s necessary, especially if you are a beginner. I would only recommend tuning your trumpet every time you go to play if you are an intermediate or advanced musician.
If you are a beginner, you should focus on getting other techniques down first before you really begin to focus on tuning.
Answer: There are a few different reasons why your trumpet can go out of tune. Sometimes it says something as simple as a tuning key and moving out of place. However, your trumpet can go out of tune due to changes in humidity and temperature. The changes in the environment can cause parts of your trumpet to actually change, which causes an alteration in the pitch of your trumpet.
Finding the best trumpet tuner
Personally, I would highly recommend the KLIQ Clip-on UberTuner! This is my favorite tuner for private use, using while I’m in a band, and for sharing with my fellow musicians. It’s super easy to use, very accurate, and it’s easy to carry around. Plus, it’s not too expensive either!
I know there are some people who really love the tuner and metronome combinations, but I’m just not a huge fan of the options out there, especially when they’re compared to the clip-on tuners. You could always download a metronome app on your phone if you want a metronome that’s readily available to you!
Do you have a favorite tuner that you use to tune your trumpet? Let me know in the comments below!
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