Just as the name of the instrument group to which the trumpet belongs suggests (brass instruments), the trumpet is typically constructed almost entirely of brass. Although some portions of the instrument may be constructed of other materials, the main portion is made up of a combination of copper, zinc and nickel. There are, however, variations of materials used to construct a trumpet.
The majority of trumpets are made of yellow brass. This alloy consists of 70 percent copper and 30 percent zinc. Most student models and many professional models are constructed primarily of this alloy.
Some trumpets use a brass alloy that contains 80 percent copper and 20 percent zinc. Not only does this allow give the instrument a reddish hue (often referred to as "rose brass"), many players find that simply having a gold brass bell darkens the tone (sound quality) of the instrument.
Some trumpets are made by using the original materials of copper and zinc while adding nickel. This gives the instrument a silver look. The only reason that the zinc is left in the alloy is to allow the metal to be molded when cold.
Some trumpets are made of gold for ceremonial purposes, but these are rare. Much more common is the request for a portion of the instrument to be made of an alloy called ambronze, which is made up of 85 percent copper, two percent tin and 13 percent zinc. The addition of tin gives the instrument a slightly brighter tone.
Trumpet screws are usually made of stainless steel rather than brass. In addition, there is some cork used in the water key, and the top portions of the valves are usually made of mother-of-pearl.