When most people think of portable music, they think harmonica, mouth harp, kazoo or something of that ilk. What if you play the trumpet, you’re about to go on vacation or a hike or something and feel that you might come across a pickup improv jazz show? Well thank God you brought your pocket trumpet!
A pocket trumpet is tuned the same as a regular trumpet (b-flat), but is folded up into a smaller package. Believe it or not, but if you stretch out the tubes of a pocket trumpet and the tubes of a regular trumpet they would extend to approximately the same length – the pocket trumpet just has more compact tubes.
Much to my surprise, I found out that these pockets trumpets are actually serious instruments. Some of them are upwards of $1500, like this hand-hammered Benge Colibri. This thing sounds pretty close to a pro full-sized trumpet.
Of course there are a ton of crappy pocket trumpets out there made by companies in India. You can usually find them on eBay for around $100 or so, but they are utter garbage.
There are a couple of companies that make good quality pocket trumpets for around the $500-$600 mark if you want something that actually works and sounds good.
A company called Jupiter makes the 416BL (made in Taiwan) that sounds decent – the best one in this range will set you back about $600. Another company makes pocket trumpets in the Czech Republic and sells the Amati ATR 314 for $699 – it’s available in all sorts of crazy colors.
Vintage you say? One of the more interesting things about pocket trumpets is that they have some history. This isn’t an invention by some company in the late 80’s to cash in on people who want to play while they sit waiting in line to get on the ski lift. They’ve been around for a long time. Here is a really interesting site with tons of vintage pocket trumpets and cornets.
Here’s what they sound like.
Of course there are other uses for a pocket trumpet.
Who would have thought?