What Makes a Step-Up Instrument, Pt. 1

What makes a "Step-Up" Instrument?

When deciding to upgrade your instrument, there are plenty of key factors in how to select the best fit for your budding musician. This month we will be covering one of the questions most asked by parents during an upgrade: why is this horn better than what we have? In truth, there are many differences between a student level instrument and a step-up level instrument (intermediate or pro), but we will discuss the two biggest factors.

  1. One of the biggest changes is the process for how these two instrument groups are made. The majority of student level instruments are mass produced and assembled, while step-ups are made mostly by hand. This extra care and detail-work forms the foundation for improving the quality of these instruments. Also, hand-making instruments creates tiny differences in each individual model, which we will cover the significance of in next month’s article.
  2. Second, many step-up instruments feature a change in materials. For trumpets, almost all student instruments are a lacquered brass, gold or yellow in color, while step-up trumpets are predominately silver plated. This metal change affects the tone and resonance of the instrument, even without changing the dimensions of the instrument. Even on woodwinds such as clarinet, the quality of wood and the metal plating for the keys will change between instrument levels.

These two main factors, production and materials, comprise the two biggest differences between the rented, student level instrument and a step-up level instrument. This is a very basic explanation of these broad topics, so if you ever have any questions please ask your local WM1ST store for more info!

Written by : WM1st