What Is a Piccolo Trumpet?

Piccolo trumpets are the tiniest trumpets available; in fact, piccolo is an Italian word that means “small.” Piccolo trumpets are Bb trumpets that play an octave higher than regular Bb trumpets. A piccolo trumpet also has four valves, one more than most regular trumpets. Because it has far less tubing than other trumpets, the piccolo trumpet produces a higher pitch. Piccolo trumpets have a smaller bell and bore than full-size trumpets, measuring 3.7 inches (94 millimeters) at the bell and 0.413 inches at the bore (10.5 millimeters).

Piccolo trumpets are easy to distinguish from regular trumpets due to their distinctive appearance. They usually have an extra valve and are much shorter than other trumpets from mouthpiece to bell. The player blows into the mouthpiece, and the bell releases the sound at the opposite end. A piccolo trumpet has much less tubing than a standard trumpet, which accounts for the instrument’s higher pitch.

A piccolo trumpet’s pitch is much higher than that of a regular trumpet. Both instruments play in Bb, which is the most common key for brass instruments, but the piccolo plays notes one octave higher. Piccolo trumpets in the keys of Bb/A/G and G are also available, in addition to the more common Bb/A and C/Bb varieties. This means that when a C note is played on the trumpet, the sound produced is the same as a Bb on most other instruments and on digital tuners.

Some trumpets have four valves, but the majority have only three. The valves are used to change the instrument’s pitch and can be pressed in a variety of ways to produce different notes. Unlike ordinary trumpets, piccolo trumpets have four valves instead of three. Players can increase the range of the piccolo trumpet lowering the pitch of the note produced pressing the extra valve. While piccolo trumpets are better at producing high tones, the player must have the range to reach those notes in order for them to be heard.

The piccolo trumpet’s parts are generally smaller than those of a regular trumpet. A standard trumpet’s bell is approximately 4 7/8 inches (123 millimeters) in diameter. A piccolo’s bell is usually around 3 7/10 of an inch in diameter (94 millimeters). A normal trumpet’s bore size is 0.459 inches (11.65 millimeters), while a piccolo’s bore size is 0.413 inches (10.5 millimeters).