FAQ: Monette Instruments
How do I order a Monette trumpet or other instrument?
Short answer: Just contact the shop!
Longer answer: Contact our shop directly be email or phone. Click here to send an email to Jason Gunderson, who handles our instrument consultations in conjunction with Dave Monette. We also recommend looking at all the information on our website that describes the horns, and checking out this video of Charlie Porter playing eight different extremely popular types of horns so that you can get a sense of similarities and differences between them.
Once you have made contact with Jason, he will send you a link to our Instrument Consultation Questionnaire, which will allow us to get to know you as a player. We make custom one-of-a-kind instruments for individual players. We want to know who you are, what you do, and what you need, so that we can make you not only the best horn you’ve ever played, but a better horn than you ever dreamed you could have. We need to know what equipment you’ve played in the past, and especially what you would like to find in a Monette instrument that you’ve never found in any other instruments you’ve played. Filling out our detailed questionnaire doesn’t cost you anything, and does not obligate you to place an order. Once we’ve received this information from you, Jason Gunderson and Dave Monette will confer to figure out what we can do for you that no other company can do.
What makes a Monette trumpet different from other kinds of trumpets?
Short answer: All custom made, all parts made in-house, 'man-hours,' & Constant Pitch Center
Longer answer: Monette instruments are all custom-made, one-at-a-time, for each player that we work with. Virtually every part is made in our shop in Portland, Oregon, out of materials sourced from suppliers in the US, and hundreds of hours of work are required to produce each instrument. Every Monette instrument is designed, built, and adjusted to respond with Dave Monette’s acoustic innovations, referred to as Constant Pitch Center, allowing the player to make music without having to compensate with tension or adjustments in the body (that a player often employs without awareness), which have a limiting effect upon sound and endurance, and are detrimental to the player’s body over time. Constant Pitch Center just means that the ‘slot’ on every note – on every partial and with every valve combination – remains consistent through the full pitch and dynamic ranges of the instrument. This can be likened to the way in which a piano can be played with the same amount of physical effort in its low register or high register. Likewise, with Monette instruments the pitch, timbre, and resistance can all remain the same regardless of a change in register or loudness, giving the player enhanced freedom in their body use and music-making.
To encourage players to become more conscious of how they are using their body and the adjustments they are likely to have been making, which are no longer needed when playing a Monette instrument, check out the Monette Concepts page that includes information about body alignment, the ability to take an effortless breath, and how to use the entire body as a resonance chamber. Much of this approach is not practical (or possible) when trying to play in-tune with inconsistent, conventional equipment.
Why do Monette instruments look weird?
Form follows function. We consider the acoustic properties of our instruments in terms of things like: shapes of bends, airflow, weight of parts, and configuration of bracing to match and compliment the airflow. There are so many elements involved in designing an instrument, and our instruments do indeed look unique. But our design elements, while visually distinctive, are simply practical, and acoustically critical. They are incorporated to enhance the overall resonance of the instruments that we make for our clients.
Are all Monette trumpets heavy?
Short answer: No!
Longer answer: We make trumpets in an extremely wide variety of different weights, with a large portion being as light or lighter than conventional production trumpets. Because of the distinctive visual appearance of our heavier trumpets, there can be a misconception that those are the only instruments we make. While many of our most well-known clients prefer a heavier instrument for the enhanced resonance that it provides in their specific musical applications, many players that we work with are better served by a lighter instrument. Our job is to make custom instruments, and we make whatever weight of instrument best serves the client. Our lightweight LT, XLT, and MF Bb trumpets are extremely popular, particularly among lead, commercial, and Broadway show trumpet players.
I'm an amature player. Will a Monette trumpet be a good fit for me?
Absolutely! Players of every skill level enjoy the benefits of Monette instruments and mouthpieces.
How long does it take to make a Monette instrument?
Due to the extreme level of precision in everything we do, a Monette instrument requires hundreds of hours of work to produce.
Do all Monettes have built-in mouthpieces?
Approximately half of the instruments we build have threaded integral mouthpieces. These are called RAJA instruments. Most Monette instruments can be built in either a RAJA configuration or a non-RAJA configuration that incorporates a more standard type of non-threaded, tapered-shank mouthpiece.
How long does it take to change a threaded RAJA mouthpiece?
It takes about 1 to 2 minutes to change a RAJA mouthpiece. With their delicate threads it is best to go slowly and carefully!
Why do you recommend against repair work being done to a Monette instrument by anyone outside of the Monette shop?
Even the most conventional-looking Monette instruments are unique in concept, design, materials, construction, and fine adjustments. While there are many skilled repair technicians around the world, it is just not possible for anyone outside of the Monette shop to have access to the specialized knowledge or proprietary techniques that Dave Monette has taught to the Monette staff in order to ensure that the positive qualities of the instruments are maintained - or even enhanced - when an instrument is repaired. This is in contrast to the all-too-common scenario of a musician taking an instrument to a repair shop for an overhaul or a cosmetic or mechanical fix, only to find that it does not play as well as it did before the work was performed. If a repair technician does not fully understand the acoustic and musical consequences of every physical operation undertaken, the playing characteristics of the instrument will be altered. Even seemingly minor repairs, such as small dent removal, can change the way a horn plays. And once metal has been moved or stretched, it cannot be stretched back. While we often remove dents from clients' instruments, there are some instances wherein removing a small dent would be more detrimental to the instrument than the dent itself, and so we will deem it preferable to leave the dent as is. If a cosmetic fix will be detrimental to the musical and acoustic properties of the instrument, we will not pursue it. We cater to the acoustic and musical ear, and not the so-called 'visual ear.' We feel that it is better to have an instrument that performs impeccably with a cosmetic imperfection, rather than an instrument that is impeccable in appearance but suboptimal in performance. Please contact our shop if your Monette instrument is in need of repair.
Why do Monettes require special care?
See info above about repair work. Monette instruments are made from unique materials, with extreme precision and proprietary build and adjustment techniques. Improper maintenance will cause damage that leads to the instrument not performing as it should. Instruments that aren't kept clean and lubricated will develop problems. What may appear to be a minor or even unnoticeable bend in the bell or leadpipe, commonly cause by use of a trumpet stand or carrying the instrument in a non-Monette case, will cause inconsistencies in the pitch-center and response of the instrument. Please contact our shop if you have any questions about caring for a Monette instrument.
FAQ: Monette Mouthpieces
What is a Classic mouthpiece?
Monette mouthpieces that were made in the 1980s and 1990s, before Prana mouthpieces came to be had an internal configuration that we now refer to as 'Classic.' Compared to a Prana mouthpiece, or the most modern Prana-style mouthpieces called Unity mouthpieces, a Classic mouthpiece will respond a bit more like a non-Monette mouthpiece. This means that Classic mouthpieces can feel very forgiving for players who are new to Monette equipment, and whose physical approach and ingrained compensation habits have been adapted to the response characteristics of conventional mouthpieces. Players who want the best mouthpieces we make, and who want to play with a neutral physical approach free from excess tension and other compensation habits, will want a Unity or Prana mouthpiece. But some players will feel more comfortable with the Classic configuration, especially if they struggle to let go of old habits.
What is a Prana mouthpiece?
Prana mouthpieces became widely available in 2002 and ushered in a new era for Monette mouthpieces and instruments. Compared to a mouthpiece with the Classic internal configuration, a Prana will allow for a more resonant sound, more effortless playing through the full range of the instrument, and greater ease of dynamic control. Prana mouthpieces work best for players who use an open, neutral physical approach. In 2021 newer, more advanced Prana-style mouthpieces became available. These are called Unity mouthpieces.
What is a Unity mouthpiece?
Between 2002 and 2021, Prana mouthpieces were the best mouthpieces we made. But after years of mouthpiece design advancements that came out of our work on special new custom instruments, an entire new generation of Monette mouthpieces was the result. The first Unity designs were such a huge leap forward that we felt obligated to adapt their characteristics into many additional rim and cup sizes. We also wanted to be certain that these new mouthpieces were perfectly optimized for players to use in common types of non-Monette production trumpets, and the standard line of Unity mouthpieces are the first series of Monette mouthpieces ever developed specifically for use in non-Monette instruments. Unity mouthpieces provide all the benefits of earlier Prana designs - consistency of pitch-center (pitch and timbre) through the pitch and dynamic ranges of the instrument, and allowing for an effortless approach and highly resonant sound in all registers - while providing very significant additional benefits. Compared to a Prana mouthpiece, a Unity mouthpiece sounds even more resonant, feels and sounds even more consistent, and allows for even more effortlessness. Click Here for more info.
Are Monette mouthpieces only for Monette instruments?
No! This is a common misconception. While Monette instruments are designed to only be played with Monette mouthpieces, Monette mouthpieces can be used on virtually any brand of instrument. While the Classic and Prana both work extremely well with non-Monette instruments, Unity mouthpieces are the first line of Monette mouthpieces developed specifically for use with non-Monette instruments.
I have a mouthpiece that says 'S1' on it. What does that mean?
The original Monette mouthpieces designed in the 1980s and 1990s had simple names to indicate their size and depth, such as B2 and B4L. In the early 2000s we transitioned into using computer software for mouthpiece design and computer-controlled machinery, which allowed for a much higher level of precision in our mouthpieces, and many improvements to our designs soon followed. Newer, more efficient cup designs were referred to as 'Slap' cups, and the letter S began to be included in the names of new rim/cup combinations. As each specific size was being developed with an improved cup, variation numbers were used to differentiate between different cup design iterations for each specific mouthpiece size. Most of the original mouthpieces sizes like the B2 were eventually replaced with the modern cup variation that worked best. In the case of the B2, the 'version 3' Slap cup was deemed optimal and the B2 S3 was born. The number following the letter S does not indicate anything specific about the size or depth of the cup, and variation numbers for one mouthpiece usually are not related to variation numbers for a different mouthpiece. For example, the B2 S3 and B1-1L S3 do not have the same cup.
The old original cup designs quickly became obsolete, as the newer cups responded faster, sounded more resonant, felt more efficient, and provided clearer articulations. We occasionally receive a request for one of our old, original cup designs. Most of these can still be made as a special order if requested, but we do not recommend them. The latest generation of Monette mouthpieces - called Unity mouthpieces - have all-new cup designs and do not use the older 'Slap' variation numbers.
What do all the markings on my Monette mouthpiece mean?
Mouthpiece names begin with a prefix that indicates the instrument for which the mouthpiece was designed:
B = Bb trumpet (or cornet)
C = C trumpet
D = D trumpet
E = Eb trumpet
AP = A piccolo trumpet
BP = Bb piccolo trumpet
FLG = flugelhorn
FL = Flumpet
TS = Trombone (small shank)
TT = Tenor Trombone (large shank)
BT = Bass trombone
After the prefix, the first number indicates the rim size. Smaller numbers indicate larger rim sizes, and larger numbers are smaller rim sizes. The B1 trumpet mouthpieces have the largest rims, with B2 mouthpieces being slightly smaller. BL mouthpieces are small 'lead' rim sizes.
The letter W indicates a wider-diameter version of a rim. The B2 S3 W is a wider-diameter version of the B2 S3, and the BLW S1 is a wider-diameter version of the BLW S1.
Subsequent letters and numbers generally indicate cup depth:
L = lead (shallow cup)
LV = lead, very shallow
LS = lead, shallower
LD = lead, deeper
M = medium deep
D = deep
FL = 'Flumpet' cup, deep and V-shaped
CUP VARIATION NUMBERS
Additional markings such as S1, S2, S3, S5, etc., are cup contour design variations. These numbers generally do not indicate anything specific about the size or depth of the cup. Different sizes with the same 'S number' are generally not related.
Prana = Prana internal configuration
P = Prana internal configuration
81, 82, 84, 88, or similar number= backbore numbers
10, 12, 15, 17, or similar number = throat size
359, 375, FT = flugelhorn mouthpiece shanks
350, 355, or similar number = custom, nonstandard specs
2-3 letters likely indicate the initials of a player for whome a custom mouthpiece was designed or made
Should students and less experienced players use Monette mouthpieces?
Yes! Players at all levels of ability and experience can benefit from the advantages of using a Monette mouthpiece, even beginners. Players who use a Monette mouthpiece early in their development get to enjoy not having to learn the compensation habits that most players develop when learning to play on conventional mouthpieces.
What makes Monette mouthpieces different from other kinds of mouthpieces?
Short answer: Constant Pitch Center!
Longer answer: Given a neutral physical approach, free from unnecessary constriction in the body, conventional mouthpieces respond with inconsistencies in pitch, timbre, and resistance through the range of the instrument, and dynamic changes exacerbate these inconsistencies further. Monette mouthpieces are designed to correct this problem so that the player can make music with less physical effort, a more consistent and resonant sound, and greatly reduced potential for physical problems that can result from the misalignment and excess tension that have been part of most players' approach for many years, whether they are aware of it or not. Most players are not aware of how much more effortless and consistent their playing could be, given a better mouthpiece and improved body use.
Can I use the same mouthpiece on Bb and C trumpet?
We discourage using a mouthpiece that was designed for a different key of instrument. Pitch, timbre, and resistance will be most consistent with the correct key-specific mouthpiece, and playing through the pitch and dynamic ranges of the instrument will be most effortless.
The lighter-weight Tradition PLUS and Silver Series mouthpieces, while designed mainly for Bb trumpet and not as 'dialed in' for C trumpet as a key-specific C trumpet mouthpiece, still respond with greater consistency on C trumpet, when compared to a conventional mouthpiece, and many players will find them to work very well for them on both Bb and C trumpet.
What is 'Constant Pitch Center'?
Unlike conventional mouthpieces, every Monette mouthpiece is painstakingly designed, developed, and manufactured to respond with consistent pitch, timbre, and response through the full pitch and dynamic ranges of the instrument, thereby eliminating the need for the physical adjustments and constriction in the body that most of us have learned, consciously or subconsciously, in order to play in-tune and with a resonant sound on conventional equipment.
Playing a Monette mouthpiece (or instrument) with the same physical approach and habits that have been a part of virtually every player's muscle memory will negate many of the fundamental advantages that our work offers. By using Monette mouthpieces with a more aligned, neutral, un-constricted physical approach, your instrument may be played more consistently on its 'sweet spot,' resulting in a more resonant sound and improved response, range, endurance, and musical freedom.
Can I visit the Monette shop?
The Monette shop is always very busy and we have somewhat limited availability for visitors. Players that are ready for an in-person consultation so that we can determine the details of a custom instrument that they want us to make for them are welcome to schedule an appointment to visit the shop to work with Dave Monette, Jason Gunderson, B.J. Cord, and the rest of the Monette staff.
We usually are not able to accommodate walk-ins or last-minute scheduling, but appointments for mouthpiece consultation can be scheduled in advance. Click here to contact the shop.
How many people work at the Monette shop?
The Monette shop employs nine staff, plus our case maker, and one canine.
How long has Monette been making trumpets and mouthpieces?
The first Monette trumpets were made in 1983. The first Monette mouthpieces were made in 1985. Check out the Monette History page for more info. [Coming Soon!]