Brass players often say that silver plated instruments have a “brighter” sound, but is this a trick of the eye? Once again we have put this to the test with a handy bit of spectral analysis. The question is: will there be any difference in sound?

For the test we used the same model of trumpet: the Yamaha YTR-8335 and YTR-8335S. The trumpets are identical except for the coating. As standard the 8335 has a gold lacquer, while the “S” model is silver plated.

Let’s compared the two, and I can reveal which trumpet is silver once we’ve had time to consider the results.

Trumpet A:

The YTR-8335 is a high quality instrument, and you can see this in the spectral breakdown, with many clear peaks going up the harmonic series. The peaks rise up to about 1.5kHz and drop off around 7.5kHz

Trumpet B:

The same note was played at the same volume, and as you can see the waveform is very similar. There are slight differences this time, as before there was a peak around 1.5kHz, this time the highest peak is around 700Hz. Instead of a cluster of peaks around 5kHz, there are two clear peaks at 6kHz and 8kHz.

So we have minor differences, and we can infer that Trumpet A is a “brighter” sound with more and more strong upper harmonics. But is that the silver trumpet?

I can reveal that Trumpet A is the gold lacquer, and Trumpet B is the silver plate!

Of course this result is based on just a few samples we’ve taken using simple software, and the differences are so minor I don’t really think you’d hear them every time. But for now Ackerman Music will recommend gold lacquer instruments for a nice “bright” sound.

Feel free to prove us wrong! We’d love to hear your take on silver instruments in the comments.