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Anyone have any experience with a rotary-valve trumpet or flugelhorn? Would like to hear about a comparison to piston valves.
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I haven't tried the flugels but as a tuba player I go back and forth from rotors to pistons quite often. I personally prefer the feel of the pistons but I do find that the rotors are a little bit quicker. How much quicker on smaller valves, who knows if it makes that much of a difference.
I know that a lot of the European orchestras use rotor trumpets and flugels so they are a common instrument, just not as much here in the states.
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The standard rotary trumpet sound is much broader and darker than the standard piston trumpet sound. Very warm, and while dark the sound is not dead. If you've played a Bach Stradivarius with the 72 bell, that will give you a little idea of what rotary trumpets sound like.
It seemed to me that the rotors themselves moved slower than a good set of piston valves, but the length of travel is about half as far. They may have needed fresh oil as well. With a little time for adjustment, I think most piston players could adapt to rotary valves pretty easily.
The feel in the hands is very different. The shape forces you to hold the horn differently, and it'll feel a little odd at first.
If you are really interested in a rotary trumpet, I recommend sticking with the real German makers. I've played rotary trumpets from both Yamaha and Kanstul and while both were good horns, they sound like piston trumpets. I've also played a Scherzer, which was the horn that got me interested in rotaries. That horn had a sound that was distinct from piston horns.