The trumpet leadpipe is a piece a piping connecting the mouthpiece to the rest of the trumpet. There are variations in types of leadpipes, including the reverse leadpipe. There can be some advantages to using either a reverse leadpipe or a standard, non-reverse leadpipe. However, the type of leadpipe that works best is often dependent on the individual preferences of a particular trumpet player.
The Leadpipe and Its Function
The leadpipe is the section of tubing that runs from the mouthpiece, past the valves, to the first tuning slide (the first curve). It is usually somewhere around 8 inches in length. The leadpipe tapers very gradually, starting slightly narrower at the mouthpiece end and increasing in diameter. The purpose of the taper of the leadpipe is to help with control of airflow and intonation (accuracy of pitch). The taper allows the trumpet player better control over the air as it is forced through the instrument.
The Reverse Leadpipe
At the point where the leadpipe connects to both the mouthpiece and to the tuning slide, there are slight bumps, which cause a disturbance in the airflow. With a standard, non-reverse leadpipe, the tuning slide fits inside the leadpipe. This bump causes a bit of resistance where the air hits the bump and is pushed back. In a reverse leadpipe, the tuning slide instead fits outside the leadpipe. While there is still a slight bump, the air is not pushed back. Reverse leadpipes are also usually longer than non-reverse leadpipes.
Advantages of a Reverse Leadpipe
The advantages and disadvantages of a reverse leadpipe are mainly an area of personal preference. The main purported advantage is that the reverse leadpipe eliminates any air push back at the intersection of the leadpipe and the tuning slide. This may help the player with control over tone and intonation. The longer length of the reverse leadpipe also allows for a more gradual taper, which may also help with tone and intonation.
Disadvantages of a Reverse Leadpipe
Some players have reported that reverse leadpipes cause distortion when playing at high volumes. Also, if a player is accustomed to playing with a non-reverse leadpipe, it can take some adjusting to get the same tone quality with a reverse leadpipe. But again, it mostly comes down to personal preference. Trumpet players may wish to experiment with both types of leadpipes to determine which works best.