A Flugelhorn for you

The flugelhorn is a german instrument designed in 1828 by Michael Saurle when he developed a bugle with keys called chromatic flugelhorn, but some say it was Adolphe Sax in 1845 when he patented the saxhorn. 1

Also named

You may hear about it with other names like flugel horn or flügelhorn. Pronounced fluːɡəlhɔːrn, from the German meaning “wing horn” or “flank horn” and called fiscorno in Spanish, bugle in French (not to be confused with the actual bugle), and fiscorne in Portuguese.

A person that plays it it’s called a horn player or hornist, but to avoid confusion with other horns they are just referred to as flugelhorn players.2 

What’s the difference?

A good rule of thumb to distinguish between a cornet, flugelhorn, and trumpet is that the flugelhorn is ⅓ cylindrical and ⅔ conical, the trumpet bore is ⅔ cylindrical and ⅓ conical and the cornet is ½ and ½. The more cylindrical the brighter the sound and the more conical the warmer it is.

Category

The Brass family meaning it makes sound from a vibration on the metal when you blow air. 

Variants

The types are determined by pitch3:

  • Bb: Standard.
  • C: Rare.

And by number of valves:

  • 3 valves: Standard
  • 4 valves: The 4th lowers the tone to a fourth.

For example a bass flugelhorn in C is called “fiscorn”. 

The best for you

For a beginner, we suggest a 3 valved Bb brass flugelhorn since it is the most common and used type of flugelhorn.

For kids a flugelhorn may be too much to start with because of the 3 valves, especially if he doesn’t know or plan to know music theory; if they do, our recommendation is the same as the beginners, if they don’t a bugle or even a plastic bugle may be the answer.

Famous players like Chuck Mangione and Roy Hargrove had a 3 valve Bb flugelhorn so if you’re going professional, you don’t have any excuse with one of those, leave the 4 valves and C flugelhorns for further experimentation.

It’s important to mention that you can play the instrument with only one hand, so some disabled people can still play! This also applies to the bugle, cornet, trumpet, and mellophone, so you can choose multiple of them.

Don’t worry about brands and don’t worry too much about models and series. What matters is the store you buy them from, shipping cost, and warranty. Now that you know, you can check on Ebay here.

Getting it another way

So far we have talked only about the physical instruments, but there are more options than that.

You can get an app for android or ios called virtual trumpet 2, if you want to play for free, right now, but of course, it’s no flugelhorn and it doesn’t have all variants, but it will get you started.

If you are on a computer you can try “ecarddesignanimation trumpet online” on any browser, the website is old and the instrument is not that responsible, but it’s also free and it has preloaded songs that you can autoplay and then try to play yourself with your computer keyboard.

Prices

VariantLowest priceHighest price
Bb 3 valve$150 USD$2,000 USD
C 3 valve$700 USD$3,000 USD
4 valve$250 USD$500 USD

For reference, the cheapest was a brand new nickel-plated flugelhorn with a case and a mouthpiece and the most expensive was a new silver-plated C flugelhorn.

Sizes

VariantsSmallestBiggest
Bb 3 valve20 x 14 x 9 In (50 x 35 x 22 Cm)22 x 13 x 11 In (56 x 33 x 28 Cm)
C 3 valve19 x 10 x 8 In (48 x 25 x 20 Cm)20 x 11 x 9 In (50 x 28 x 22 Cm)
4 valve18 x 10 x 6 In (45 x 25 x 15 Cm)19 x 11 x 6 In (48 x 28 x 15 Cm)

Weights

VariantsLightestHeaviest
Bb 3 valve8 Lbs (3.6 Kg)11 Lbs (5 Kg)
C 3 valve7 Lbs (3 Kg)10 Lbs (4.5 Kg)
4 valve8 Lbs (3.6 Kg)12 Lbs (5.4 Kg)

Materials

Brass (copper with zinc) and it might have a lacquer (layer) of gold, silver, or steel with some additional painted color on top of it. Material has no effect on sound but it does in price and durability.

How to play – first lesson

Basics

This instrument is easy and fast to learn. You will start by getting comfortable with the instrument, then you can start learning each note and once you have them down, you can start learning full songs.

We recommend learning to read sheet music or any of the different notations, (options for learning). Don’t forget all the details that combined make a big difference like the way you hold it, efficient warmups.

To learn to play each note you need a finger chart (or position chart), since the length of the tubing is the same as a trumpet, you can use a finger chart for trumpet and it will work.

Flugelhorn –  “My main horn is a hybrid of a flugelhorn, a coronet and a trumpet, but that’s really because, for me, each instrument to me had a different voice, and I liked them all, but I didn’t like any one of them singularly.” -Christian Scott

References

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Yamaha
  3. Simply Knowledge

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