Both flugelhorn and trumpet stand out as distinct brass instruments in the orchestra. While sharing some common features, they also differ from each other in crucial aspects. Let’s investigate common features and differences between the flugelhorn and trumpet, to guide you in selecting the perfect option.
Speaking about common features, the first thing you may notice is their brass construction. They are typically made of brass or other alloys, which influences their bright and resonant sound. Like the trumpet, the flugelhorn employs a similar valve system, and the fingerings are often transferable between them. This peculiarity allows musicians easily switching between the two instruments. Sliders on the first and third piston valves are features they both share. The bore size, or the diameter of the tubing, is an important factor for each of them too. However, the flugelhorn generally has a larger bore than the trumpet, which directly affects the tone and projection.
Sharing so many common characteristics, each instrument has its own features. The most noticeable difference lies in their shape and design. Trumpets have a straight and compact form, while flugelhorns boast a distinct, conical shape with a wider bell. Such a construction of flugelhorns allows them to sound mellower and warmer.
They also differ in tone quality: the flugelhorn produces a round tone compared to the brighter and sharper sound of the trumpet. This makes the flugelhorn ideal for performing ballads, jazz music, and ensemble masterpieces, while the trumpet is irreplaceable for soloistic roles in a variety of genres. In fact, the flugelhorn is actively used by British brass bands, while the trumpet, due to its unique tone, can be present even in hard rock bands.
Both instruments have a noticeable difference in their mouthpiece construction. The trumpet has a shallow cup-shaped mouthpiece, while the flugelhorn is characterized by a deep funnel-like mouthpiece.
When comparing their range and projection, trumpets generally have a higher range and better projection due to their smaller bore and straight design. Flugelhorns, on the other hand, lack the same level of projection but offer a unique, expressive sound. Although the two instruments can be used as backing and lead instruments, it’s not typical for the flugelhorn to be used as a lead instrument in jazz.
Who Fits Each Instrument Best?
Jazz musicians: The flugelhorn's mellow and warm tone makes it a number one choice for jazz musicians, especially those performing ballads and expressive solos.
Ensemble players: Its blending capabilities make the instrument a great fit for brass ensembles and concert bands.
Lead players: Bright sound and excellent projection make trumpets the preferred choice for lead roles in big bands and orchestras.
Soloists: The trumpet's piercing sound and higher range make it suitable for virtuosic solo performances.
Advantages of Flugelhorns
Although some musicians can find the position of its pistons a little strange, players with larger hands might feel the flugelhorn very comfortable. What definitely makes the flugelhorn so popular among musicians is its unique ability to blend seamlessly in ensemble settings.
The mellow sound makes it the best backing instrument. It adds depth to the overall sound of the ensemble and makes the musical texture richer without overpowering other instruments. The flugelhorn's unique timbre also enhances the emotional impact of the music pieces.
In certain musical arrangements, the flugelhorn might play a complementary or contrasting melody to other instruments. It’s not common to use it as a lead instrument, however there can always be exceptions, especially in jazz music and other genres.
Some useful tricks
If you still have doubts about whether you need to spend money on one more instrument but really would like to experiment with the flugelhorn sound, you can try an adaptor for the flugelhorn mouthpiece.
This valuable accessory allows trumpet players to compensate for the difference between the flugelhorn and the trumpet mouthpiece by adding some length. Thus, the trumpet acquires a mellow flugelhorn sound without distorting the register, which is the best way for ballads and slow jams. The adaptor saves you from the need to switch between two instruments and will definitely save place in your baggage.
However, if you’re interested in buying an additional instrument, we recommend that you pay close attention to our collection of customized trumpets and flugelhorns with enhanced unique design and beautiful sound characteristics.
The Final Point
As you see, the choice between the flugelhorn and trumpet depends on the genre of music and your personal preference. Each of them has its own unique charm, so in order to choose the one that complements your style, consider your musical aspirations and explore the possibilities each instrument has to offer. However, you can always start experimenting by equipping your trumpet with the flugelhorn mouthpiece and the above-mentioned adaptor.