Antique Brass Instruments

What to Look for When Collecting Brass Instruments

You are a musician or a music enthusiast, and you might like to decorate with or play classical musical instruments. Whether you just want that vintage look for decoration or you want to find a usable high-quality horn, there is a lot to choose from. Here is a rundown of the most popular instruments available in the antique market.

What Are Some of the Most Popular Brass Instruments in the Last Century or So?

While some percussion instruments like bells involve the use of brass, a brass instrument is an aerophone, which means that it produces sound by blowing air through the instrument. Although use of brass instruments is probably as old as the production of brass itself, most of the instruments in the antique market are typically going to have been made in the last few hundred years. With the advent of the jazz age, brass instruments grew in popularity, but they were in prominent use for a very long time.

  • Trumpets and French Horns - These two instruments were prominent in classical music and trumpets have continued to be popular in Twentieth Century music.
  • Trombones, Tubas, and Mellophones - While these two have been around a long time, they played a supporting role more often in Classical music. Trombones have really taken off in prominence in the last 100 years. Mellophones have also been very popular in jazz and blues. Tubas have always been a supporting part of the baseline in any genre, but they have come to be center stage for many brass bands.
  • Saxophone - Technically, this instrument is a wood wind because it uses a reed to produce sound, but all saxophones use brass, and much like trombones and tubas, they took off as a centerpiece instrument for a jazz orchestra or big band.

What Are Some of the Rarer Forms of Popular Brass Instruments?

Every instrument pitches on a scale. There is usually one pitch that is the standard that beginners learn to play, but later you can apply that knowledge to other forms that play on high or lower scales. Here are a few examples.

  • Tenor Trombone - This is the most familiar for of this slide instrument, but there are also bass trombones, alto trombones, and soprano trombones. Each has a different primary pitch range. Some trombones also use valves instead of the slide. 
  • Bb Trumpet - The B-flat Trumpet is the most common form of this vintage brass sound. Other trumpets that are manufactures are the C, D, and piccolo trumpet. The difference is marked by the scale that the valves or keys tune too. As you might imagine, the piccolo trumpet is the smallest and highest pitched of these.