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How to Make a Trumpet with Valves out of Pipe

A trumpet is one of the oldest musical instruments, dating back to 1500 B.C. Played by blowing air through closed lips to produce a buzzing sound, trumpets are usually constructed from brass tubing often bent twice into a rounded shape. Modern reproductions can be created from synthetic materials, including PVC pipe and brass valves. You can make your own trumpet from PVC pipe and other materials to produce an instrument that is pitched in B-flat.

Things You'll Need:

  • PVC pipe, 1/2-inch diameter, 5 feet long
  • Vise
  • 4, 90-degree elbows
  • Measuring tape
  • Tube cutter/saw
  • Funnel
  • Power drill
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • Whittling knife
  • Pencil
  • Adhesive
  • Trumpet mouthpiece
  • Threaded brass valves
  • Solvent cement
  • Purple primer

Assemble all the materials to your workbench. Clamp the 5-foot-long PVC pipe in a vise. Cut the pipe into one 11-inch piece, two 16-inch pieces, and two 4-inch pieces.

Pick one 16-inch PVC piece and fit an elbow over one end. Connect a 4-inch piece to the elbow. Add another elbow to point back along the first pipe. Attach the 11-inch piece and an additional elbow to point back toward the first pipe.

Attach the other 4-inch piece and another elbow so that the elbow points down, in the same direction as the first 16-inch PVC piece.

Insert the second 16-inch piece and attach the funnel into its end. Insert your trumpet’s mouthpiece 1 inch away from the end of the first 16-inch PVC piece. You may have to wrap it up with a tape so that it can fit the 1/2-inch pipe.

Tape the two longest pieces together to keep the trumpet’s shape intact or prevent it from falling into pieces.

Test the tone quality. Put the mouthpiece to your mouth and buzz your lips through it. Make a sound like you would on a real trumpet and listen to the tone quality. Note that the quality of the tone will not match that of a real trumpet since your trumpet is made of nonmetallic material.

Check condensation and air leaks. If your components are securely fastened, air may leak out of your instrument and create an incorrect pitch. Examine your instrument to make sure that the pieces are connected securely. Try out your instrument once more for several minutes. Water will begin to collect inside the pieces, resulting from condensation due to your warm breath passing through cold pipes. By installing spit valves on your trumpet, you will get rid of this water buildup.

Create the spit valves. Rotate the instrument to let the water drip out of one end. Take out the mouthpiece from the first 16-inch PVC piece. Measure about 4 inches from the end and score a mark using your pencil. Measure 1 inch from the mark, then 1 inch from the second mark. This will provide three marks for the three valves needed for your trumpet.

Use the marks as the pointer to where you want to attach three male PVC adapters. Stick your male PVC adapter at the marks, using solvent cement and purple primer. Carefully screw the threaded brass valve on the three PVC male adapters to avoid stripping the pipes. Allow the adhesive to dry for four hours.

Reinstall the mouthpiece and check the pitch again.

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