B-flat v. C trumpet...
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[Solved] B-flat v. C trumpets for general learning

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Topic starter

Thanks to this post by Estela, I understand a little better the idea of concert pitch. I am still rather confused about the B-flat vs. C (inter alia) trumpet/brass phenomenon, though. Is this just an outcropping of trumpet/brass  production methods from ages past that has carried into contemporary time? Or does production of differently pitched brass instruments continue because the range available on a trumpet is expanded or limited according to its created natural pitch? 

And why call a B-flat note a C note? Why not just call the note by its correct pitch, if that is the note being sounded? I suppose I am still quite confused, but I don't understand the purpose of incorrectly labeling a pitch, and it makes my practice rather confusing—I don't really understand what I'm playing when I play. I would like to call the notes by the note-names that correspond to my piano, but then the videos I watch here at THQ call the note something different!

Are the majority of trumpet pieces written for B-flat instruments, or for C? Or is it kind of evenly mixed? Perhaps I should opt for a C-tuned trumpet after I return my B-flat rental, since this is so troubling to me? 

6 Answers

If you have any further questions let me know!


This all makes more sense when you start playing trumpets in different keys. First thing to remember is all trumpets play with the same fingering chart. Also to a certain degree all brass instruments play with the same fingering chart. So I can put down my B flat trumpet and pick up my C trumpet and not have to worry about using different fingerings. Now here is an example of this there is a song I have played in church many times. On a C instrument it has 4 sharps so on a B flat trumpet I would have to play with 6 sharps. I don’t really like to play with that many sharps. Now if you use a D trumpet you only have 2 sharps. I have posted videos of B flat, C, D, E Flat trumpet playing. As far as learning on a B flat verses a C. Probably 99% of all method books are written for B flat trumpet. If you want to play in a band the music is written for B Flat trumpet. If you want to play in an orchestra then the music might be for a C trumpet. I don’t find a C trumpet any more difficult to play then a B flat. Now price is something to think about there are not really student model C trumpets on the Market and there are not as many used C trumpets on the market. You can find playable used B flat trumpets for $100 dollars good luck finding a used C trumpet for under $1000 brand new there are $300 dollar b flat trumpets that are good enough to play in a high school band. Brand new you are going to pay over $3000 for a C trumpet. I love my C trumpet I would never tell someone not to get one but in my opinion C trumpets are a better second trumpet then first trumpet. So learn on the B flat then if you want to latter add a C trumpet. Also welcome.


Hello Lito. I had the same questions or similar when I first began. Luckily I opted for learning the scales as are written for the trumpet. Not by pitch. Then with time; It is now instinctive and can play it naturally. 

therefore try and find sheet music that has accompanied music. Check out the beginner section of song from Estella. Those are very cool. I’ll get the link 



Topic starter

Thanks a bundle, @roger1982! Your comment on fingering cleared up my confusion about why call a B-flat pitch C. As I understand it, concert C is the note objectively called C according to its pitch, while other times a C could be B-flat, E-flat, D, etc., depending on the tuning of the instrument itself. 

I do find it somewhat bemusing (and amusing) that in a concert situation, where precision and accuracy is required more than in most casual or jazz bands situations, an objective means of communicating the required notes predominates, whereas for the rest of the trumpet world, it's just come-as-you-are... why not just communicate about the actual pitches, and leave the instrument-specific adjustment up to the players? Quirk of the trumpet world, I suppose. *shrug*

I will continue on with the B-flat instrument, for now, and just adjust my pitch-checking on the piano, but at least in my piano playing, I almost always choose classical or church music, so I think a C trumpet will be more my style. Thanks, again, Roger! 


If you need to purchase one; I’d save you lots of time with a gem I have here. It’s a cornet that is pitched in C Bb and A 🙂