Which Brass instrument is hardest work?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Thirteen Ball, Jan 30, 2006.


Which instrument is the hardest to play?

  1. Eb Soprano

    80 vote(s)
  2. Bb Cornet

    6 vote(s)
  3. Bb Flugel

    2 vote(s)
  4. Eb Tenor Horn

    7 vote(s)
  5. Bb Baritone Horn

    11 vote(s)
  6. Bb Euphonium

    4 vote(s)
  7. Bb Tenor Trombone

    12 vote(s)
  8. Bass Trombone

    13 vote(s)
  9. Eb Bass

    4 vote(s)
  10. BBb Bass

    23 vote(s)
  1. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Just one of those chats which started on a band bus after a few beers and spiralled upward.

    Taking ALL things into consideration (including the physical demands of the instrument, the nature of the parts usually written for it etc…) what is, in your opinion, the hardest brass instrument to play?

    I’ve always said the two sets of players I have the most respect for are soprano players (how on earth do you get a note out of that!?!) and trombonists. (No valves…Eeek!!!!)

    But I’ve had both sets of players say similar things about BBb Bass, which seems a rather natural instrument to me.

    What does everyone think?
  2. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I think BBb bass is the most physically demanding because of the air that needs to be put into the horn.
  3. meandmycornet

    meandmycornet Active Member

    I think trombone, cus you have to remember exactly where the slide has to be to make the note.... i think anyway :tongue: and that requires cleverness!
  4. tenor trombone is easily the hardest instrument to play coz if you are playing notes not in closed position, tuning and intonation is a GIT!

    bass trombone comes in a close 2nd, although for me maybe it should have had my vote coz i strtuggle to read bass clef, although I can read bass clef as if it was treble so it aint all so bad ;) :) :p
  5. lausonbass

    lausonbass Member

    well being an Eb bass player it has to be the sop cornet, don't think i'd ever get a proper note out of one


    I'd say the two extremes of the band, sop & Bb bass!
  7. persins

    persins Member

    Much as it pains me to say it, my vote has got to go with the Sop.
    How anyone manages to play that instrument for extended periods of time without passing out is beyond me.
    I've played it a few times and although it's fun for a while, I wouldn't want to do it permanently. It's also particularly difficult to keep in tune as the harmonics are closer up in the gods.
    It also stands out like a sore thumb when not played well.
    There are also a great many people that just treat it as a laserbeam and an excuse to induce tinitus rather than an extension to the full brass sound.
  8. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    Just like many soprano cornet players then :biggrin:

    For the record, I've voted sop too. My head hurts just thinking about the back pressure involved on those things....
  9. Mister 4x4

    Mister 4x4 Member

    Not having much experience with any other instruments besides Tenor and Bass Trombones, I'd say the Euphonium/Baritone - simply because the parts are all over the staff - Treble or Bass clefs. I mean, you can be stretching for a top C and then be down in the weeds with a low G the next measure.

    Probably not so much for you guys, but I'm still getting used to it.
  10. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    Ah, but is that the instrument, or the way the part is written? :confused:

    If we are talking about which is the hardest part in the band, then my money is on 1st baritone.
  11. Di

    Di Active Member

    What no percussion? No, I know they're not brass, but they're in a brass band. :) No one thinks that getting both hands and both feet to do differnt things all at the same time isn't difficult? ;)
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2006
  12. Mister 4x4

    Mister 4x4 Member

    Oh, for sure we're talking about the part as written. Sorry - I thought I had pointed that out. :)

    Actually, hitting top range for me is tough... but I'm pretty sure I'd have and even tougher time with a smaller mouthpiece.
  13. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    Repiano cornet & solo baritone are hugely demanding as you are generally playing non stop, stuck at the top of a stave then racing back down it and having to tune yourself to every other player in the middle of the band at some point of a piece. And baritones are rock hard to get in tune :(

    The 2 basses are obviously physically demanding, sop is an exceedingly hard instrument to play (well) and trombone due to the constant movement and the way you hold the instrument.

    They all have their difficulties but my vote would probably go to bass trombone. Getting the slide in the right position is the least of the problems and if you have a good bass trombone the lower end of a band sounds a million miles better. The diversity from complete raucus edge to hugeness of sound from the top bass bone players is something to behold and it takes a lot to fill those things, especially while co-ordinating 2 valves, 7 positions, a million alternatives, a stupid clef and moving your arm while resting a ton on the other shoulder.
  14. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    Well as a Baritone player i have to say Soprano.
    Nerves of steel needed.
  15. Baritonedeaf

    Baritonedeaf Member

    Agree with the hardest part being 1st Bari - not sure that the instrument is hardest to play though...

    Its got to be Sop really.
  16. Janet Watkins

    Janet Watkins Member

    <whisper> It does say 'Brass instrument' in the title! </whisper> ;)

    I've voted for 'soprano'. As a Eb Bass player I have difficulty getting one octave out of a Bb cornet and I've seen the colour our sop player goes at times!
  17. Di

    Di Active Member

    *whispers back* see my edited post */whisper* ;)

    OK, so I didn't read the THREAD title properly. :rolleyes:

    But in my defence, the title of the POLL itself says "which instrument is the hardest to play". ;)
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2006
  18. its gotta be trombone!!! tuning is really hard to get right!! and the occasional fast bits which are so hard due to the whole arm moving rather than you softies who use your fingers!!
  19. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Old-style G bass trombone - no triggers :eek:

    French horn is no picnic, either (although it's not a choice in this poll) - playing off the extreme high end of the harmonics, loads of tubing with a little tiny leadpipe, awkward to hold, have to use the left hand for the valves, and modern double horns are really heavy compared to say, the average tenor horn or baritone.
  20. hellraiser

    hellraiser Member

    I voted for Sop. I played Sop for a few months last year, having played Bb all my life. Getting a nice sound out of Sop is difficult. Many people make it sound harsh and razzy and struggle to play quiet- even in Championship section. Playing nice and quiet & in tune is hard on any instrument, but especially on Sop- if I missed a day of practice I found it twice as hard to achieve this. It's difficult to describe but I felt the Sop really pushing back on me on the neck area compared to Bb, perhaps as it was a smaller instrument, as I get that discomfort when playing with medium bore Bb cornets too. You can't really get away with squeezing it on your chops to sneak out high notes (!!) as you might on Bb- by doing that you will get a real bad sound. Have to use diaphragm properly and get the pressure on there. I could feel my diaphragm aching after playing a lot. I have witnessed some people pass out on Sop. Finally, you just can't hide on Sop. It's an instrument which only you play and you got your own part.

    I can't comment on other band instruments. Perhaps Glyn Williams is the best person to answer this question as he's played them all! :)

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