Mellophones and trumpets are similar in various ways. In fact, it is very common to find musicians who can play both the trumpet and the mellophone well.
Notwithstanding, it is still important to understand the differences between the two instruments, and what both offer, in terms of musicality.
A mellophone is an instrument that is more closely related to an euphonium or flugelhorn than a French horn. Marching bands commonly use it in place of French horns. A mellophone appears vaguely like a trumpet with more tubing and a larger bell.
The main difference between the two is the keys used with both. The mellophone usually comes with a default key of F or E♭. On the other hand, the trumpet comes with a default key of B♭.
Key Differences Between The Two Instruments
It may become a bit of an onerous activity to try and differentiate the different equipment that entails brass instruments. This fact becomes proliferated when it comes to Mellophones and trumpets.
The direction of the bell, coupled with the reduced amount of tubing, as compared to the French horn, means that the mellophone does physically resemble the trumpet, though it looks a bit larger.
In more than one aspect, these two instruments are uncannily similar to one another. So, what is the difference between the two?
In terms of fingering, the mellophone and the trumpet are very similar. As a result, you will find that most trumpet players can actually pick up the mellophone and play it without any fuss. However, this entirely depends on the key being played.
Mellophones are typically lower-pitched than trumpets, with the key being that of F or E♭. The default key for trumpets is B♭, though most orchestras use trumpets in the key of C. Thus, even the places where the instruments are played in differ.
Another key difference between the two is the mouthpiece used. As a result of the difference between the key in which the instruments are set in, a change of mouthpieces is required for the mellophone to produce a trumpet-esque sound or vice versa.
The mellophone a mouthpiece whose size is similar to that of the alto horn. The inner diameter of the said mouthpiece is wider than what you would find with a trumpet.
Consequently, in order for trumpet players to get the trumpet to feel while playing the mellophone, they typically deploy a parabolic mouthpiece akin to that of a trumpet.
With its original mouthpiece, the mellophone radiates a dark, round sound. By using a trumpet mouthpiece, the mellophone gets a warmer sound, akin to the one that an actual trumpet would produce.
Which One Is Easier To Play?
Playing brass instruments isn’t mutually exclusive. As stated earlier, it is very common to find mellophone players playing the trumpet and vice versa. They use a variety of tricks to do so.
Through changing the mouthpiece of the said instrument, like playing the mellophone with a trumpet mouthpiece, it becomes easier to get the sound you want, without the player having to change the instrument’s embouchure.
The question at hand, however, is between the mellophone and the trumpet, which is easier to play. Again, there is a lot of factors that can contribute to which particular instrument a certain person finds easy to play, the most obvious being personal preference.
That being said, most trumpet players find it very easy to play the mellophone, mainly because all they have to do is change the mouthpiece to get the key the desire. In fact, the fingering for the two instruments is very similar.
Many players do in fact consider the mellophone as a simpler instrument to play. Unlike other instruments, it is far easier to play the mellophone more accurately as compared to other brass instruments.
Which One Should You Learn First?
This entirely depends on where the instrument a person is using the instrument. Being that the mellophone and the trumpet are similar, they are often interchangeable.
The mellophone is often used in marching bands. This is because it is a bell front instrument, and can thus project the sound in the direction the player is facing. This is essential for marching bands because the people listening are typically on one side of the band, and thus the minimal sound is lost.
Additionally, mellophones are constructed with a smaller bore, which gives them a louder volume as compared to trumpets and French horns.
Another reason why some may say that the mellophone is a better instrument compared to the trumpet is the ease of use.
As stated earlier, most brass instrument players find it easy to play the mellophone as compared to the trumpet. With instruments like the trumpet, the bore size, and the length of the tubing places the partials much closer together.
The direct effect of this is that, unlike other brass instruments, they are a bit harder to play accurately. The mellophone, on the other hand, has half the length of the French horn.
This gives it the feel of a trumpet and other instruments. Additionally, even though it is a bit larger than the trumpet, it is much easier to play.
Related: How Much Do Trumpets Cost?
At the end of the day, marching and the mellophone have become almost synonymous with one another. Outside of marching and the marching setup, however, you will find that the trumpet is ubiquitous with the orchestra and other musical scenes.
To establish which one of the two is better, you have to factor in the place in which the instrument is being played in.
However, as is the case with the aforementioned question, many players and music aficionados find the mellophone appropriate for numerous settings.
Not only is the mellophone easier to play, but it is also easier to change into another setting. You can do this with a mouthpiece since the mellophone accepts different mouthpieces, not that just a trumpet-esque mouthpiece.
Additionally, you can use an adapter to transform the mellophone and play whatever key you find most comfortable.