Category Archives: Trumpets and Equipment

The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast; Episode #26: Thomas Stevens

Episode #26 — Thomas Stevens

Thomas Stevens Trumpet Podcast Logo

Welcome to the show notes for Episode #26 of The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast. This episode features Thomas Stevens, former principal trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 35 years.

Listen to the trumpet podcast right from your browser:

Listen or subscribe to this podcast in iTunes by clicking here.

This podcast is brought to you by Bob Reeves Brass. Visit us at the International Trumpet Guild in Columbus, OH!

If you’re on the market for a new trumpet or flugelhorn, we carry Van Laar Trumpets Flugelhorns.

Click here to learn more about the William Adam Seminar!

Continue reading The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast; Episode #26: Thomas Stevens

Van Laar Trumpets & Flugelhorns

Van Laar Oiram II Bb TrumpetWe are excited to announce that Bob Reeves Brass now carries Van Laar Trumpets and Flugelhorns.  These fine, handcrafted instruments are a great addition to the consultations, products, and services we already offer. With our experience in matching players to the right equipment and the exquisite horns produced by Van Laar you will be able to find the instrument that best fits your needs.

For more information on Van Laar trumpet and flugelhorns, call us at (800) 837-0980, email us at, or visit us at the shop. Continue reading Van Laar Trumpets & Flugelhorns

The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast; Episode #14: Larry Hall

Episode #14 – Larry Hall

Trumpet Podcast Logo - Larry Hall

Welcome to the show notes for Episode #14 of The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast. This episode features Los Angeles based trumpet player Larry Hall.

Listen to the trumpet podcast right from your browser:

Subscribe to The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast in iTunes by clicking here.

Continue reading The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast; Episode #14: Larry Hall

12 Trumpet Mouthpiece Gap Myths

One of the most talked about aspects of trumpet equipment over the last few years has been the annulus, or gap, and rightly so because it can have a huge impact on how your trumpet and mouthpiece play.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion and plain old misinformation that gets passed around making a relatively simple adjustment much more complex than necessary.

Don’t worry, we are here to help by dispelling some of the popular myths about the trumpet gap.
Continue reading 12 Trumpet Mouthpiece Gap Myths

This One Simple Trick Can Make Trumpet Easier

Let’s face it, the trumpet can be a beast sometimes — stuffy low notes, tight high notes, quirky notes that just don’t settle or play in tune. While there is no substitute for diligent practice, there are always ways to make the trumpet easier. Maybe even a lot easier!

What if we told you that with this one simple trick, you could make one or more of the following improvements to your trumpet playing immediately:

  • better intonation
  • more open feel
  • better projection
  • cleaner articulation
  • more secure slotting

Continue reading This One Simple Trick Can Make Trumpet Easier

The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast; Episode #5: David Bilger, Canadian Brass

Episode #5 – David Bilger; Canadian Brass

Photo courtesy of

Welcome to the show notes for Episode #5 of The Other Side Of The Bell – A Trumpet Podcast. This episode features an interview with David Bilger, principal trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Bob Reeves sharing stories about his relationship with the original members of the Canadian Brass.

Listen to the trumpet podcast right from your browser:

Subscribe to The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast in iTunes by clicking here.

About David Bilger

Photo courtesy of

Here is David’s biography from the Philadelphia Orchestra web site:

David Bilger holds a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Illinois. Hailed by the New York Times for his playing of “easy brilliance” and by theWashington Post for his “engaging legatotouch,” Mr. Bilger has held the position of principal trumpet of The Philadelphia Orchestra since 1995. Prior to joining the Orchestra, he held the same position with the Dallas Symphony.

As a soloist, Mr. Bilger has appeared with The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Oakland Symphony, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York, and others. His solo appearances with The Philadelphia Orchestra include a 2008 US Premiere of Herbert Willi’s Eirene for trumpet and orchestra as well as performances of the Tomasi

Trumpet Concerto at Carnegie Hall, and on tour in North and South America in 1998; Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in February 2003; Copland’s Quiet City in October 2004; and Bloch’s Proclamation in 2006. Mr. Bilger has performed recitals in New York, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and other major American cities. 

Mr. Bilger has appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, with which he recorded Bach’s Second Brandenburg Concerto. Other chamber music appearances include Chamber Music Northwest, the New York Trumpet Ensemble, Saint Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, as well as guest appearances with the Canadian Brass and the Empire Brass. He recently released a recording of new electro-acoustic music for trumpet and synthesizers with composer Meg Bowles.

Mr. Bilger is currently on the music faculties of the University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music, and Temple University, and he has formerly been affiliated with Swarthmore College, Catholic University, Rice University, and the University of North Texas. He has performed master classes at dozens of institutions, including the Juilliard School of Music, Indiana University, the University of Michigan, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Peabody Conservatory. He has also taught at the Pacific Music Festival and the National Orchestral Institute and in the summer of 2012 at the Aspen Music Festival and School.

David Bilger Lessons on

David Bilger has joined with ArtistWorks to give the aspiring trumpet player a unique opportunity to study with one of the world’s foremost musicians and teachers at a fraction of the cost of a private lesson.


You get unlimited access to an essential collection of HD video classical trumpet lessons, fundamental skills, etudes, key orchestral excerpts and solo repertoire created by David Bilger to help you with auditions and competitions. Whenever you need advice you can show Mr. Bilger what you’re playing and get personalized video feedback designed to take your playing to the next level. These interactions are paired together online for you and all the students to learn from.

You can sign up for for eight free sample lessons here by going to:

Special Trumpet Lesson Discount for Our Podcast Listeners!

We have arranged a special discount just for you, our podcast listeners. You get one month of access free when you sign up for a three month subscription. That’s 4 months of access to David Bilger’s video lessons, one-on-one personalized video feedback, and access to the worldwide community of David’s students for the price of 3 months.

To get your discount code to use during checkout, just take two steps:

First, follow Bob Reeves Brass on Twitter (requires a free Twitter account):

Second, send a tweet using the following link that will automatically populate the tweet. If you want, you can include a reason why you would like lessons with David Bilger:

We will send you a direct message (DM) with your discount code to use during checkout. Please note, it could take up to 24 hours for us to contact you with the code. Also, we cannot send you a direct message unless you follow @bobreevesbrass on Twitter.

Offer expires 8/01/2013.

David Bilger’s Equipment

David Bilger plays on a C trumpet build in collaboration with the S.E. Shires Company. Click here for more information on the Bilger 419 Orchestral C Trumpet.

The Canadian Brass

Here are some photos of Bob Reeves with the Canadian Brass taken during the time he worked with them:

bobandfred bobandcanadianbrass


Previous Trumpet Podcast Episodes:


The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast; Episode #4: Malcolm McNab

Trumpet player Malcolm McNab in the studio.
Trumpet player Malcolm McNab in the studio.

Welcome to the show notes for Episode #4 of The Other Side Of The Bell – A Trumpet Podcast. This episode features an interview with first-call studio trumpet player Malcolm McNab.

Listen to the trumpet podcast right from your browser:

You can also subscribe to The Other Side of the Bell – A Trumpet Podcast in iTunes by clicking here.

Win an Autographed Copy of Malcolm McNab’s CD Exquisite or Infinite Trumpet!

We have four copies of Malcolm McNab’s CDs to give away to four lucky podcast listeners. In order to win one of these CDs, leave a comment on this post that mentions your favorite part of Malcolm’s interview. We will choose four comments at random and contact the winners through Facebook. Each winner will receive one autographed copy of either Exquisite or The Infinite Trumpet. Comment must be posted by Monday, May 20th at 12:00pm Pacific Time to be eligible.

**Please note: we have changed our commenting system since recording this podcast, so you must have a free Facebook account to comment. In the podcast we say to leave your email — this is no longer necessary! We will contact you directly through Facebook if you win.

About Malcolm McNab

Malcolm McNab in his home studio.
Malcolm McNab in his home studio.

Malcolm McNab has been playing trumpet for over 60 years, and in the Hollywood studios for over 40 of those. Malcolm grew up in Southern California and studied with James “Jimmy” Stamp who he credits as being his most influential teacher.

He has been the first trumpet on over 2000 motion pictures over his career. His solo trumpet playing can be heard on movies such as Dances With Wolves, Cars, L.A. Confidential, Independence Day, and The Gambler.

Malcolm has recorded two solo CDs, Exquisite and Infinite Trumpet. You can find all of Malcolm McNab’s recordings on iTunes.

Camp McNab

Mike Zonshine, Dave Evans, Tom Stevens, and Malcolm McNab at last years Camp McNab.
Mike Zonshine, Dave Evans, Tom Stevens, and Malcolm McNab at last years Camp McNab.

Camp McNab is a multi-day trumpet workshop where you can learn from Malcolm McNab the warm-ups and routines he uses to maintain the highest level of performance.

There will guest lecturers and master classes during the camp. Also, participants will participate in chamber ensembles.

Camp McNab culminates with a performance of all the participants.

For more information on Camp McNab, visit Camp McNab on Facebook.

Mouthpiece buzzing with Malcolm McNab at Camp McNab
Mouthpiece buzzing with Malcolm McNab at Camp McNab

Malcolm McNab’s Equipment

Malcolm plays on instruments of his design made by B & S Instruments. You can learn more about these instruments on the B&S website.

Previous Trumpet Podcast Episodes:


Developing Trumpet Practice Priorities and Working With Your Equipment by Roy Poper

I am continually grateful for the care and attention that was paid me by my teachers in the areas of foundation, mechanics, technique and musical perspective. Where equipment was concerned they made it clear that the sound must be heard first in my mind, that I must solidify my musical ideas with strong repeatable skills, and that only as those skills gained in strength would good equipment become more and more meaningful. The message they gave to me is the same one I give to my students: In order to get the most out of your practice time you need to prioritize your practice categories. After you have developed efficient and appropriate practice habits you can then look for optimal equipment.

Although the beauty of a trumpet sound, along with its power and brilliant color is what we initially fall in love with, it is our foundation on the instrument that provides the superstructure upon which we build our mechanics and technique. The foundation of our playing is developed and perfected on a daily basis. It is often called the “warm-up” and usually includes mouthpiece work, lip slurs, scales, rapid articulation studies, double- and triple-tongue drills, and lip flexibility studies. My own foundation practice is a combination of selected exercises from the Max Schlossberg book (“Daily Drills and Technical Studies for the Trumpet”) and the James Stamp exercises from the book “Warmups Plus Studies”. I believe that these two books are the most important books of foundational studies for all players, regardless of the musical genre (classical, jazz, commercial, etc.) in which one performs. My advice to a developing player is to choose a teacher that teaches a strong foundation as the basis for subsequent technical and artistic achievement.

Good mechanics are built upon the foundation that we put into place for ourselves on a daily basis. The terms “mechanics” and “technique” are often used almost interchangeably, though I believe that is a mistake. They are two very different things. Proper mechanics create ease of production. Ease of production then supports consistent facile technique. Therefore, good technique is a result of correct mechanics. As an example, if I execute a passage with fast finger technique well on an occasional basis, it means that I am capable of mastering physical speed against a metronome. It does not mean that my finger rhythm is even or that the sound is beautiful, or that I will always be able to produce that technique on demand. Good mechanics will promote a facile and reliable technique, but executing feats of fast technique does not necessarily promote good mechanics.

Musical perspective is the “total picture” that results from combining intuitive and learned musical knowledge. It is the total of what we know expressed in sound. One’s musical perspective is most effectively expressed when one’s foundation, mechanics, and technique are in good working order. Oftentimes, a player’s musical perspective is more developed than his or her mechanics or technique. This is fine because it is still possible to achieve an excellent musical result at each technical and mechanical level. A strong foundation, a high level of mechanical skill, and a strong technique coupled with well-developed musical perspective will produce a superior and clearer sound picture every time. Practice time therefore, should be devoted to each of these aspects on an on-going and consistent basis.

A few words about equipment: I believe strongly in the value of the after-market valve alignment. When the valves are aligned properly the “bugles” in each combination become unified in color and timbre and instrument will then blow evenly. The horn is then optimized and will play as it was meant to play. I prefer the Bob Reeves valve alignment and have been depending on it for over 20 years. It never ceases to amaze me how happy my students are with their trumpets after they have invested in a valve alignment. The current-day valve alignment is one of the significant advances in trumpet technology because in optimizing the instrument it promotes correct trumpet mechanics by encouraging players to blow straight through the trumpet instead of “tipping” the air in the direction that the pitches are moving.

If after a valve alignment the instrument is still unsatisfactory, instead of immediately running out and buying a new mouthpiece you should first examine the resistance created by the relationship between the mouthpiece and the mouthpiece receiver. If your mouthpiece fits in the mouthpiece receiver too far or not far enough its resistance may be wrong for you. Your mouthpiece might need to penetrate the receiver a little more, or be pulled back a little in order to discover a more favorable resistance. If this produces the sound and ease of blowing that you prefer then purchasing a new mouthpiece is unnecessary. If you still find the sound and/or the “blow” lacking you may wish to buy a new mouthpiece and repeat the fitting procedure.

My last point is about trumpet mouthpieces. We are in a golden age of choice where mouthpieces are concerned: there are many fine manufacturers producing excellent models from which to choose. Try everything you want to try. When you hear what you like buy it, have it fitted properly to your instrument, and begin to work with it. Bear in mind that when you first try a mouthpiece and find it attractive, you are just getting a glimpse into what it can be and can do for you. Your facial muscles will not immediately be accustomed to the new position appropriate to the new mouthpiece. Consequently, the mouthpiece might play nicely for you for a week or less, and then begin to give you trouble by making you tire quickly, making your tone airy, marginalizing your range and so on. If you work with it, play scales on it, articulate on it, practice your lip-slurs, all the while practicing carefully and correctly, in about four weeks the mouthpiece will begin to give back to you what you first found attractive about it and you will enjoy its benefits.

This article is aimed at high school and college students in the hope that they may gain a little perspective about what they have ahead of them in studying trumpet. Practice “smart”, get a good teacher and good information about your equipment, and you will enjoy the learning process more and make greater strides in achieving your technical and artistic goals.

About Roy Poper

Roy Poper has for more than 30 years maintained an active performing career of a breadth rare among musicians. His engagements span every facet of trumpet performance including symphonic principal player (Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and L.A. Opera), film studio work (over 500 major motion pictures), chamber music (founding member, The Modern Brass Quintet), and “popular” genres including jazz ensembles, Broadway shows, and even recordings with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.

Equally respected as a teacher, he was for more than 20 years a member of the faculty of the University of Southern California School of Music prior to moving to Oberlin, OH in 2002 to assume the duties of Associate Professor of Trumpet at the Oberlin Conservatory. His book, Roy Poper’s Guide to the Brasswind Methods of James Stamp (Balquhidder Music), which serves as a companion to James Stamp Warm-ups and Studies (Editions BIM) has become an acclaimed addition to the trumpet method-book literature, thoroughly explaining how to execute and effeciently utilize James Stamps’ teaching methods.

He continues to be in demand as a performer, performing frequently in the greater Cleveland Area and Los Angeles. He has commissioned numerous works, some of which appear on his forthcoming CD, L.A. Trumpet Works. Roy has been recorded on the Crystal, Orion, Nonesuch, and Dorian labels.

Four Ways to Improve Your Bach Stradivarius Trumpet

Here at Bob Reeves Brass Mouthpieces we provide many services and products that can improve the playability of your trumpet, including the most popular professional trumpet model, the Bach Stradivarius. Over Bob’s forty-five plus years of experience, he has found that these methods create real and immediately perceptible results.

1) Clean your trumpet and keep it that way!

If yesterday’s tacos and last Monday’s cheeseburger are still in your trumpet, they’re not helping you play better. An acid wash, or chemical cleaning, like our Premium Service acid wash removes all the gunk built up inside your trumpet. Part of our service also includes brushing out the inside of the entire body and slides of your trumpet, and the exterior brass legs of your slides. When your horn is clean inside and outside, we then lubricate all the slides and valves, getting the instrument into ready to play condition.

Once your instrument is cleaned out, you need to keep it that way to keep it playing consistently. For decades we have sold our Leadpipe Swabs to trumpet players, instructing them to swab out their horns at the end of each playing day. Our swabs remove the moisture and food particles from your leadpipe, stopping them from getting further into your horn, causing build up on the interior of your horn.

Another product we now offer to players is Blow Dry Brass. Blow Dry Brass is designed to be used on a cleaned brass instrument, drying out the inside with alcohol loaded foam BIT’s. The foam BIT’s are blown through the instrument, removing moisture, and the residual alcohol then drys out the inside of your horn, keeping it clean from day to day.

2) Bring your horn in for a Bob Reeves Valve Alignment!

Every horn manufactured today needs a valve alignment. Your 1960s Olds Ambassador, your early Elkhart Bach Strad, even your $30,000+ decorated Monette PRANA has misaligned valves. Not only will our valve alignment improve the way your horn plays, but it will keep it consistent from day to day. Bob first discovered the valve alignment working with top studio musicians after he opened his shop in Hollywood. These musicians would come into Bob’s shop complaining about consistency issues, and, knowing that the players weren’t changing, he looked to the instrument. When he aligned their valves, their equipment hunts would end. They no longer needed to play to how the trumpet was aligned each and every day, and had much more direction concerning improvements to their setup.

3) Find the gap that works for you!

Once you’ve had your valves aligned, you can really start making your equipment work for you. After a valve alignment, many players find it possible to play on a more efficient mouthpiece than previously. While a complete mouthpiece change may be deemed unnecessary, many players find it beneficial to “dial in the gap”. Our sleeve system allows the player to experiment with the gap, allowing them to find the correct gap that works for the trumpet, mouthpiece, and — most importantly — the player. Converting for sleeves also allows you to use one mouthpiece in two horns with the correct gap on both instruments. Not all trumpets are the same and not all mouthpiece receivers are the same; this is why the gap must be discovered on each individual instrument you play.

4) Accessorize!

Now that you have your horn cleaned, your valves aligned, and your gap dialed in, (or you just want a quick experiment) Bob Reeves Brass offers two products that improve the slotting of your trumpet. The Cylinder Reinforcer and Receiver Ring both work in similar ways. The receiver ring is a small silver plated ring that fit onto the hexagonal end of your Bach’s receiver, while the cylinder reinforcer, on a Bach trumpet, is a replacement bottom valve cap. Neither of these accessories cause a dampening affect to your trumpet, they instead solidify points on the instrument, preventing the loss of energy that you put into it. The junction between the mouthpiece and the receiver is a point where energy is commonly lost, but a receiver ring will solidify that junction, allowing the energy to continue through the horn. In the same way, the bottom of the third valve casing is a location where energy is lost, but the cylinder reinforcer prevents that dissipation.

Now that your trumpet is in it’s best playing condition, you can focus more on playing the music, so go and have fun!